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 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.