Pittsburgh Update

Pittsburgh Update publishes weekly summaries of recent developments in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion that affect or could affect Pittsburgh Episcopalians. Emphasis is on reporting, not interpretation. This is a service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh. This site is in no way affiliated with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh or the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

A Pittsburgh Episcopal Voice          

A Service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh         

Monday, June 29, 2009

News for Week Ending 6/29/2009

Robert Duncan installed as archbishop of new church

As reported by Pittsburgh Update last week, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) held its Inaugural Assembly June 22–25, 2009, in Bedford, Texas. As expected, deposed Pittsburgh bishop Robert William Duncan was elected and installed as archbishop of the new church. Whereas the new church has stressed its desire to be part of the Anglican Communion, it presently has no official status with respect to the Communion. According to a story on its Inaugural Assembly Web site, nine Anglican provinces sent “formal delegations” to the Bedford gathering, and representatives of other provinces sent greetings. Only the Church of Uganda is said to have declared itself to be in full communion with ACNA. Other recognitions are likely, however. No recognition is expected by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The ACNA affair was covered extensively by the press. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sent reporter Ann Rodgers to Texas to cover it. Her stories can be read here, here, here, here, here, and here. Other stories were published by Episcopal News Service, The Washington Times, The Living Church (here, here, and here), and elsewhere. As usual, Thinking Anglicans has collected news and comment, which you can read here and here.

Episcopalians encouraged to complete on-line survey about church direction

To help The Episcopal Church do strategic planning, Episcopalians are being asked to complete a brief Web-based survey about what the church should be doing in the next decade. The survey is being sponsored by the Strategic Planning Committee established by Executive Council at its January 2009 meeting. The survey, which can be found here, may be completed anonymously. Episcopal News Service published a story on the survey on June 24, 2009.

Congo archbishop-elect visiting Pittsburgh

The Rt. Rev. Henri Isingoma Kahwa, archbishop-elect of the Anglican Church of the Province of Congo, who is in the U.S. to learn more about The Episcopal Church, is visiting the Diocese of Pittsburgh this week. The diocesan Web site lists some of the events in which the archbishop-elect will be participating. (The announced first public event of the visit is a Eucharist and reception June 30 at Holy Cross, Homewood.) The diocese published an earlier story about the visit here.

NOTE (6/30/2009): We have been informed that Bishop Henri Isingoma Kahwa has been delayed in his travels and will not be at Holy Cross tonight. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Monday, June 22, 2009

News for Week Ending 6/22/2009

More ACNA bishops chosen

The Living Church reported June 19, 2009, that three new bishops were elected June 13 by the Church of Rwanda to serve the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA). The elections come just before the Inaugural Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). (See story below.) The AMiA is a part of the ACNA. Five additional bishops for the new ACNA “province” were elected by the ACNA’s College of Bishops meeting June 20–21, according to the Web site of the Assembly.

ACNA Inaugural Assembly to be held this week

Deposed Episcopal Bishop of Pittsburgh Robert Duncan will lead members of the Common Cause Partnership in the official formation of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), billed as a new Anglican province. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Inaugural Assembly of the ACNA is being held in Bedford, Texas, June 22–25, 2009. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette carried a long story on Duncan’s experience in Pittsburgh and another story on the ACNA. Other stories can be found on the Web sites of USA Today, the Dallas Morning News, and NPR, which includes an audio report. Duncan is to be recognized as the archbishop of the ACNA on Wednesday, June 24. The ACNA is likely to receive some recognition from the Anglican Communion, but it is unlikely to become an official province (like The Episcopal Church) anytime soon.

Episcopal bishops’ role in ACNA controversial

Episcopal News Service reported June 15, 2009, that Bishop Peter Beckwith of the Diocese of Springfield and his assisting bishop, Keith Ackerman, were to attend the Inaugural Assembly of the Anglican Church of North America. (See above story.) Ackerman resigned his position of Bishop of Quincy shortly before that diocese, at his urging, voted to “realign” with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. According to The Living Church, Beckwith first indicated that he was going to Bedford, Texas, as an observer, but that he has now indicated that he will not attend. It is unclear whether Bishop Ackerman will attend, and, if he does, what significance should be attached to his presence.

Monday, June 15, 2009

News for Week Ending 6/15/2009

Testimony ends in New Westminster case

Anglican Journal has reported that the Supreme Court of British Columbia has completed its hearing to determine who owns the property of four parishes that have left the Diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada for the Anglican Network in Canada. (See most recent Pittsburgh Update story here. Coverage of the hearing by the diocese can be found here. Coverage from the ANiC perspective is here.) It is unclear when the court will rule in the case.

Diocese of San Joaquin sends letters to parishes inviting return of property

The Rev. Jerry Lamb, provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, has sent letters to leaders of nine parishes that left The Episcopal Church inviting them to arrange for the transfer of all property back to the Episcopal Church diocese.The story was reported on the diocesan Web site. A press release about the letters quotes the bishop as saying, “I hope these churches will respond to this invitation, and that we can begin a conversation to move forward with this transition.” The diocese also reported that St. Paul’s, Modesto, has agreed to return its parish property to the diocese on July 1, 2009. The Modesto Bee ran a story on St. Paul’s, Modesto, June 14, 2009.

Los Angeles dioceses regains property

Episcopal News Service reported June 10, 2009, that a California appellate court has determined that the Diocese of Los Angeles is the owner of property now occupied by the breakaway St. Luke’s Anglican Church in La Crescenta, California. A statement from the church can be found on its Web site.

Albany defeats resolution supporting Episcopal Church

The Diocese of Albany, which held its annual convention June 5–7, 2009, failed to pass a loyalty resolution put forward by supporters of The Episcopal Church. Instead, the original resolution was amended to affirm that “the Diocese of Albany recognizes the legislative authority of The General Convention of The Episcopal Church as outlined in the Bishop’s [sic] Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church.” The statement referred to was issued by a group of conservative bishops, including Albany’s Bishop William Love, and posted on the Web site of the Anglican Communion Institute. That statement promotes the unorthodox view that The Episcopal Church is composed of independent dioceses capable of withdrawing from the church. Albany is one of the dioceses thought to be a candidate for a withdrawal such as was made in San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, and Quincy. (Pittsburgh Update reported on “Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of The Episcopal Churchhere.) Details about the passage of the resolution were reported by Openly Episcopal in Albany, the blog of Albany Via Media.

Presiding Bishop deposes two bishops

VirtueOnline reported June 14, 2009, that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has deposed two bishops, the Rt. Rev. Edward H. MacBurney, Bishop of Quincy (retired) and the Rt. Rev. David Bane, Bishop of Southern Virginia (resigned), under Canon II.12.7 (“Renunciation of ordained ministry by a Bishop”). Episcopal News Service has not posted a story on the depositions.

MacBurney was nearly deposed for interfering in the Diocese of San Diego, but Jefferts Schori lifted his inhibition after he apologized to Bishop of San Diego Jim Mathes. MacBurney then became interim bishop in the “realigned” Quincy diocese. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Bane, who resigned his episcopate in the troubled Diocese of Southern Virginia, left The Episcopal Church to accept a position under deposed Pittsburgh bishop Robert Duncan. He was reputedly frustrated in his attempts to find another position within The Episcopal Church. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Monday, June 8, 2009

News for Week Ending 6/8/2009

Closeted committee rankles gay advocates

The decision of The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops to form a committee to study same-sex relationships has provoked an angry response from advocates of inclusiveness within the church, in part because the chair of the House of Bishop’s Theology Committee, the Rt. Rev. Henry N. Parsley, Jr, has refused to release the names of the committee members. In a statement, Parsley said, “It has always been the committee’s intention to publish the names of the panel when the work has reached the appropriate stage. We believe that for a season the work can best be accomplished by allowing the panel to work in confidence.” The committee work is to be completed by 2011. Parsley indicated that names of the committee will be released eventually, and, in the mean time, comments can be sent to the Theology Committee for forwarding.

The Rev. Susan Russell, president of Integrity USA, said, in a press release, that credibility requires that work such as that of the committee be carried out “in a context of honesty and transparency.” “A ‘closeted’ sub-committee studying same sex unions,” she continues, “seems too bizarre a thing to even make it into a Monty Python episode, much less be a course intentionally taken by a church that committed to full and equal claim for its gay and lesbian baptized 33 years ago.”

The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, co-convener of the Chicago Consultation, commended the bishops in a statement for the Consultation for their continued study. “However,” she said, “we are saddened that the House of Bishops Theology Committee has chosen to begin this important scholarly work without making public the names of the bishops, theologians and scholars who are serving on this panel.”

The failure to disclose the names of those on the committee has also occasioned a good deal of comment on the House of Bishops and Deputies e-mail list.

Episcopal News Service reported on the controversy on June 3, 2009.

Pasadena church declines to perform civil marriages

The Living Church reported June 7, 2009, that All Saints, Pasadena, will not perform civil marriages until all couples, including same-sex couples, can Wed in California. The right of same-sex couples to marry in the state, which the California Supreme Court had established, was repealed by Proposition 8 in the November 2008 election. In a recent decision, the Supreme Court declared that Proposition 8 was constitutional, but the court refused to nullify the 18,000 or so same-sex marriages performed while they were legal.

The church’s vestry approved a resolution June 2 stating that “the sacramental right of marriage is available to all couples, but that the clergy of All Saints Church will not sign civil marriage certificates so long as the right to marry is denied to same-sex couples.”

Episcopal News Service posted a longer story on the All Saints decision on June 4, 2009.

Colorado property dispute ends

The litigation between the Diocese of Colorado and former members of Grace and St. Stephen’s Church ended June 2, 2009, as the result of an extended mediation session between representatives of the diocese and what is now St. George’s Anglican Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. St. George’s is affiliated with Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), described on its Web site as “A Mission of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).” The story was reported by The Gazette, by Episcopal News Service, and by The Living Church. (See recent Pittsburgh Update stories here and here.)

The substantial property of the parish was awarded by a Colorado court to the diocese in March, but the congregation was expected to appeal the decision, and the diocese was attempting to get damages from the breakaway vestry. All such legal matters are now ended, and, as reported here earlier, Grace and St. Stephen’s is once again occupied by an Episcopal Church congregation.

Diocese of Fort Worth growing

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has announced that three of the congregations in the diocese have had to find larger accommodations because their congregations have outgrown their current quarters. All three congregation are meeting in rented space because their church buildings are in the possession of those who left The Episcopal Church. The need for a larger space for St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Hurst was especially acute because its Sunday School is growing. All Saints Episcopal Church and Good Shepherd parishes in Wichita Falls worship together while waiting to see what the courts will say about their parish buildings. The space this combined group has rented has finally given the wandering congregation a home.

Women clergy find new roles in San Joaquin

Under Bishop John-David Schofield, the Diocese of San Joaquin refused to let women serve as priests. Now there are three women serving as priests-in-charge of parishes, and a fourth is the chaplain at the University of Stockton. A fifth woman, Deacon Suzy Ward, will be ordained priest on June 27, 2009, and will serve as priest-in-charge of still another congregation. Hers will be the first ordination of a woman to the priesthood within the diocese. In addition to the five women already named, seven more serve as deacons in the diocese. The Fresno Bee provides more information on this major change in the diocese in a story here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

News for Week Ending 6/1/2009

Church of Sweden makes history in bishop election

The Rev. Eva Brunne was elected Lutheran bishop of Stockholm May 26, 2009. Brunne, who is currently dean of the Stockholm diocese, is thought to be the world’s first openly lesbian bishop. She lives with the Rev. Gunilla Linden in registered homosexual relationship that has been blessed by the Church of Sweden. The story was reported here by Religious News Service. Note that the Church of Sweden is in communion with the Church of England.

Canadian Council will not ask for same-sex blessings in 2010

According to Anglican Journal, the Anglican Church of Canada’s Council of the General Synod will not ask the 2010 General Synod to extend marriage to same-sex couples. The General Synod roughly corresponds to the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, and the Council is analogous to the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church. The Council met May 8–10, 2009, and reviewed various reports on how the church should deal with same-sex relationships. The group decided not to bring forward any resolutions favoring the blessing of same-sex unions, as explained in a message to the Anglican Church of Canada published on its Web site. The Council concluded that there is no consensus in the church as to what action should be taken. It will develop a resolution for the 2010 General Synod that will “ask for continued study, discussion and discernment within the church of what God is saying to us about publicly authorized rites for the blessing of unions, the blessing of civil marriages, and marriage in the church, of same-sex couples.”

British Columbia Supreme Court begins hearing New Westminster case

The Supreme Court of British Columbia has begun hearing the case that will decide the disposition of property of four Diocese of New Westminster parishes that have left the Anglican Church of Canada for the Anglican Network in Canada, which claims to be in the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The court action is being covered extensively on the Web. The Anglican Network in Canada is maintaining a page with links to not only its own material and commentary about the case, but that of the Diocese of New Westminster and other sources as well. You can find that here.

Group named to revise covenant

Anglican Communion News Service reported May 28, 2009, that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, have announced the composition of the group that will study section 4 of the latest draft for an Anglican covenant. The working groups consists of the Most Rev. Dr. John Neill, Archbishop of Dublin (Chair); the Most Rev. Dr. John Chew, Primate of South East Asia; Dr. Eileen Scully, Anglican Church of Canada; and the Rt. Rev. Dr. Gregory Cameron, Bishop of St. Asaph in the Church in Wales and former Deputy Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.

As reported by Pittsburgh Update here, at the recent meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, sections 1–3 of the proposed covenant were well received, but section 4, a controversial section focused at enforcing doctrinal conformity within the Anglican Communion, was singled out for revision. Churches of the Communion are to send comments on the section to the working group by November 13. The working group will meet November 20–21 and report to the Standing Committee (formerly, the Joint Standing Committee) at its meeting December 15–18, 2009.

Anglican Journal offers a longer story on the appointments here. According to its story, responses to section 4 need to be submitted by “late October.”

Bishop deposes 61 clergy in San Joaquin

Bishop Jerry Lamb, provisional bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, has deposed 61 priests and deacons for abandonment of the communion of The Episcopal Church. The deposed clergy had been resident in the central California diocese and chose to leave The Episcopal Church with now-deposed bishop John-David Schofield in December 2007. They were accused of abandonment in October and November 2008 and were given six months to recant or request to be released from their vows to The Episcopal Church. Episcopal News Service reported the story here. The Living Church ran a story here reporting the reactions of Schofield and Lamb. Material from the Diocese of San Joaquin can be found on its Web site here. Anglican Mainstream has published additional comments from Schofield here.

Fort Worth clergy invited to talk with provisional bishop

Shortly after the depositions in San Joaquin were announced, the Diocese of Fort Worth reported that its provisional bishop, the Rt. Rev. Edwin F. (Ted) Gulick Jr., has written to members of the clergy who have apparently followed former Fort Worth bishop Jack Iker into the Southern Cone. In his May 26, 2009, letter, Gulick invited recipients to talk with him about their circumstances. “In fairness to you, ” he wrote, “I would like to be absolutely sure that your decision to leave the Episcopal Church is final and that your conscience and soul are at peace.” The bishop indicated that he would be free to meet with individual clergy on June 9–12. “If I do not hear from you by return mail, I will assume that you have made your decision,” he explained. Episcopal News Service reported the Fort Worth story here.