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.

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A Service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh         

Monday, August 24, 2009

News for Week Ending 8/24/2009

Lutherans approve partnered gay pastors

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in a week-long meeting of the Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis, Minnesota, took two actions likely to have repercussions beyond the ELCA. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

On August 19, 2009, the governing body of the largest Lutheran church in the U.S. adopted a “social statement” titled “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust.” Such social statements are guides to church action, and adoption of the statement was a prelude to consideration of a more controversial decision two days later on partnered gay pastors. The statement addresses, among other things, “lifelong monogamous same-gender relationships,” acknowledging that members of the ELCA are not of one mind about such relationships. The statement was passed by the required two-thirds majority. Attempts by conservatives to amend the statement were defeated.

The ELCA press release concerning “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust” can be read here. News stories include those from Episcopal News Service and Associated Press.

The biggest news of the week from the Lutheran meeting, however, was the passage, on August 21, of a proposal (in the words of the ELCA press release) “to open the ministry of the church to gay and lesbian pastors and other professional workers living in committed relationships.” Previously, such pastors were expected to be celibate. The usual arguments were advanced against this move, and some are threatening to leave the ELCA as a result of the church’s decision. The Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, expressed the hope that a way could be found to keep Lutherans in the church whose conscience cannot accept the decision taken by the ELCA. (See the press release here.)

Other stories on the ELCA decision to remove the celibacy requirement for pastors are available from The Living Church, Episcopal News Service, Los Angeles Times, and The Christian Science Monitor. Associated Press has summarized the positions on gay clergy of various churches here.

Savannah church case in hands of judge

Savannah, Georgia, TV station WTOC reported August 17, 2009, that the matter of ownership of the property of Savannah’s Christ Church is now in the hands of Chatham County Superior Court Judge Michael Karpf. A hearing was held in Judge Karpf’s courtroom August 14 to argue whether the Diocese of Georgia or the Christ Church congregation should have control of the property. Christ Church was established in 1733, but the congregation, unhappy with actions of The Episcopal Church, is trying to leave the church while retaining parish property.

More bishops sign on to Anaheim Statement

According to an August 24, 2009, story by The Living Church, two additional conservative bishops have signed on to the Anaheim Statement, a declaration of commitment to the Anglican Communion and to the moratoria urged by elements of the Communion on The Episcopal Church. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Rt. Rev. Charles E. Jenkins, III, Bishop of Louisiana, and the Rt. Rev. Harry W. Shipps, retired Bishop of Georgia, have now signed the statement. Signatories are mostly conservative bishops, but also include several moderate bishops who voted for Resolutions D025 and C056.