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, December 28, 2009

News for Week Ending 12/28/2009

Anti-gay bill in Uganda continues to spark controversy

The anti-homosexuality bill before the Uganda parliament continues to draw fire from outside Uganda, including from such conservative organizations as Focus on the Family. Opinion within Uganda, including from Ugandan churches, has been mixed. (See earlier Pittsburgh Update story here.) It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of who has said what and even more difficult to discern the significance of what has been said. The pro-gay Web site Box Turtle Bulletin has done a particularly good job of tracking commentary on the Ugandan legislation, however, and has provided a useful summary here. “Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate” is dated December 15, 2009, but it is updated through December 26.

Briefs filed with Va. Supreme Court in church property dispute

Supporting its appeal of lower-court findings in favor of congregations that left the Diocese of Virginia to join the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA)—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal have filed briefs with the Virginia Supreme Court. Supporting briefs have also been filed by other religious denominations. All these briefs can be found here on the Diocese of Virginia Web site.

Moyer case takes surprising turn

David Virtue reported December 21, 2009, that David L. Moyer, the Anglo-Catholic priest deposed by Diocese of Pennsylvania bishop Charles E. Bennison in 2002, is suing his lawyer for malpractice.

When he was deposed, Moyer was rector of Good Shepherd, Rosemont. Although Moyer has now been consecrated a bishop in the Anglican Church in America, he is still rector of Good Shepherd. He recently lost a suit against Bishop Bennison and is engaged in litigation in which the diocese is trying to reclaim the Good Shepherd property.

Moyer has now charged John H. Lewis, Jr., and his law firm, Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, with malpractice in his dispute with Bennison. The defendants have argued that Moyer’s suit has been brought in bad faith. The Virtue Online story provides substantial details about the client-attorney dispute.

The Moyer saga has several connections to Pittsburgh. After his deposition, Moyer, for a short time, was claimed by Bishop Robert Duncan as a Pittsburgh priest. Also, Lewis and his law firm currently represent Duncan and other defendants in the Calvary litigation.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

News for Week Ending 12/21/2009

Final version of covenant draft released

The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion (formerly the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council), met privately in London December 15–18, 2009. Its main business was the approval of a revised Section 4 of the proposed Anglican Covenant. On December 18, it released a completed draft, with a revised Section 4, to be sent to the churches of the Anglican Communion for their adoption or rejection. A video statement concerning the completed draft by the Archbishop of Canterbury was made available on the Web at the same time. Both Episcopal News Service and The Living Church have provide helpful stories on the release of the completed draft covenant, and each contains helpful links to the draft itself and related material. An additional comparison of the old and new versions of Section 4 is a somewhat different format from that provided by the Anglican Communion Office can be found here.

Before the release of the final covenant draft, the Standing Committee issued a statement reaffirming support for the moratoria on the consecration of partnered gay bishops, on the blessing of same-sex unions, and on episcopal border-crossings. Episcopal News Service reported the story and provided background here.

South Carolina churches distance themselves from Episcopal Church

The Post & Courier, of Charleston, S.C., reported December 19, 2009, that St. Andrew’s Church of Mount Pleasant has voted to leave The Episcopal Church and join the Anglican Church in North America. According to the story, two other congregations in the Diocese of South Carolina, Trinity Episcopal Church of Myrtle Beach and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church of Hilton Head Island have removed references to The Episcopal Church in their governing documents. The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, South Carolina’s bishop, insisted that neither Trinity nor St. Luke’s is about to leave the church. He has claimed to be in close contact with all three churches. “These are challenging times for all Episcopalians both in the Diocese and in the larger church. Such times I believe call for a pastoral and creative response. I will continue to strive to offer it,” Lawrence said.

Washington bishop praises D.C. action

The Rt. Rev. John Chane, bishop of the Diocese of Washington has praised the D.C. City Council for passing a provision to allow same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia. The bill has been signed by the mayor, but Congress has 30 days in which it can veto the legislation. According to Episcopal News Service, priests in Chane’s diocese may already bless same-sex unions. The bishop may eventually allow them to solemnize marriages and sign marriage licenses if the bill becomes law.

California church appeals to U.S. Supreme Court

According to the Los Angeles Times, the congregation of St. Luke’s Anglican Church, which lost its legal battle to retain parish property when it left The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Los Angeles, has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The attorney for La Crescenta, California, church is Eric Sohlgren, whose Supreme Court appeal on behalf of another breakaway Los Angeles congregation was rejected by the court in October. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

News for Week Ending 12/14/2009

Condemnations of Uganda anti-homosexual bill continue

This past week saw more comments on the anti-homosexuality bill before the Uganda parliament. (See earlier Pittsburgh Update story here.) Perhaps those of greatest interest to Pittsburgh Episcopalians are a statement from Saddleback Church paster Rick Warren, who has, in the past, supported dissident Episcopalians, and comments in an interview by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

Warren addressed Ugandan pastors in a strongly worded video expressing his unqualified disapproval of the Ugandan legislation. Williams, who had been widely urged to make a public statement about the legislation and to encourage its opposition by the Church of Uganda, has still not issued a formal statement on the legislation, but, in the remarks he made in an interview with George Pitcher, referred to the “shocking severity” of the bill and suggested that it was contrary to positions taken by the Anglican Communion. He noted, but did not actually condemn, the failure of Uganda’s Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi to take a position on the matter.

The Vatican issued a statement that has been seen as aimed, in part, at the Ugandan bill. A Vatican representative, speaking to a United Nations panel, opposed “all grave violations of human rights against homosexual persons” and expressed the Holy See’s concern for “the inherent dignity of the human person.” Box Turtle Bulletin reproduces the statement but remains skeptical about its full meaning.

The Anglican Church in North America released a statement praising the Church of Uganda. According to a communiqué from its first annual Provincial Council, the ACNA group affirmed the “sacredness of every human person” and urged the Church of Uganda “to stand firm against all forms of sexual exploitation and in their publicly stated commitment that ‘the Church is a safe place’ for all persons, especially ‘those struggling with sexual brokenness.’”

L.A. suffragan election draws commentary

The election of the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool as suffragan bishop by the Diocese of Los Angeles—see Pittsburgh Update story here—has been the subject of many commentaries and interviews. If confirmed, she would become the second openly gay partnered bishop in the Anglican Communion. An interview of Glasspool in The Times offers insight into the bishop-elect’s take on her election.

In a somewhat surprising move, the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith, and Order, which happened to be meeting when Glasspool was elected, commented on the episcopal election in its communiqué. “The Commission expressed the fervent hope that ‘gracious restraint’ would be exercised by The Episcopal Church in this instance,” the group said in its report of its work, echoing the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Chicago Consultation, on the other hand, urged the archbishop to reconsider both his silence on the Uganda legislation and his opposition to Glasspool’s Consecration.

The Living Church summarized some early responses to the Glasspool election here. Episcopal News Service did some of the same in an article that also reviewed the current climate and the consent process. The first bishop to express an intention to withhold consent for Glasspool’s consecration is Bishop of Texas C. Andrew Doyle. (See story by The Living Church here.)

We can expect a good deal to be written about the consent process for Glasspool in the coming months. Readers not wanting to miss any of the commentary are urged to check Thinking Anglicans frequently.

Monday, December 7, 2009

News for Week Ending 12/7/2009

Church leaders condemn proposed Uganda legislation

President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson asserted that passage of the proposed anti-homosexual legislation before the Uganda parliament would be a “terrible violation of the human rights of an already persecuted minority,” according to a November 30, 2009, story from Episcopal News Service. Anderson’s remarks came as pressure has increased for church leaders both in The Episcopal Church and in other churches of the Anglican Communion to speak out against the Uganda measure. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Referring to an anticipated December 7 teleconference meeting of the church’s Executive Council called by petition of Council members, Anderson said, “I hope and believe that a vigorous statement will be forthcoming, and that I will be able to support this statement wholeheartedly.”

As it happens, however, the request for the December 7 meeting was withdrawn by the petitioners after Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori issued a statement December 4 on the Ugandan situation. Jefferts Schori declared that “as a Church we affirm that the public scapegoating of any category of persons, in any context, is anathema. We are deeply concerned about the potential impingement on basic human rights represented by the private member’s bill in the Ugandan Parliament.” Echoing the language of the recent report “Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, & Homophobia” (see Pittsburgh Update story cited above), the Presiding Bishop said:
Finally, we note that much of the current climate of fear, rejection, and antagonism toward gay and lesbian persons in African nations has been stirred by members and former members of our own Church. We note further that attempts to export the culture wars of North America to another context represent the very worst of colonial behavior. We deeply lament this reality, and repent of any way in which we have participated in this sin.
Episcopal News Service reported the story of the Presiding Bishop’s statement.

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, along with the Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, also issued an expression of concern about the Uganda legislation.

Los Angeles elects two suffragans

In convention on December 4 and 5, 2009, the Diocese of Los Angeles elected two women to be suffragan bishops of the diocese. On December 4, the Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce, rector of St. Clements by-the-Sea Church, was elected in three ballots from a field of six candidates. She became the first woman elected a bishop of Los Angeles. A second election from the remaining candidates resulted in the election of the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool on December 5 on the seventh ballot. Glasspool, canon to the bishops of the Diocese of Maryland, has been partnered with Becki Sander for 19 years. Before they can be consecrated, both suffragan bishops–elect must receive consents from a majority of the church’s bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees.

Canon Bruce’s election is not likely to prove controversial, and her consent process should proceed smoothly, but Glasspool will face opposition from those seeking to avoid further unrest in the Anglican Communion over ordination of gays and lesbians. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was quick to issue a statement saying that the election of Glasspool “raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole” and implying that consents should not be given.

Needless to say, news stories and commentary on the Glasspool election are legion and are continuing to appear. Readers should consult posts on Thinking Anglicans beginning with this one to sample what is being said about the situation.