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, January 25, 2010

News for Week Ending 1/25/2010

Church of England covenant approval process outlined

According to Thinking Anglicans, members of the Church of England’s General Synod have been sent a description of how approval of the Anglican covenant will be considered by the Church of England. According to that description, the Faith and Order Advisory Group will make a recommendation to the church’s House of Bishops, so that bishops may consider the covenant in May. According to the author of the paper, William Fittall, the church’s decision will require 18 to 24 months from December 18, 2009. As indicated in a comment on the Thinking Anglicans post, Articles 7 and 8 referred to in the paper can be found here.

The Lead reports on Glasspool consents

The Episcopal Church maintains no running tally of votes to consent to or withhold consent to the consecration of newly elected bishops. On January 25, 2010, however, The Lead, a blog sponsored by the Diocese of Washington, offered an unofficial tally of decisions made so far by diocesan standing committees about the consecration of Los Angeles suffragan-bishop-elect Canon Mary Glasspool. Glasspool could become the second openly gay partnered bishop in The Episcopal Church if she gets the consents of a majority of the church’s standing committees and a majority of bishops with jurisdiction. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) According to The Lead, 15 standing committes have voted their consent, and 5 standing committes have withold consent. The Diocese of Los Angles reported that requests for consent for Glasspool were sent January 5. Standing committees and bishops have until May 5, 2010, to act on the election of Glasspool.

Bennison appeals sentence

According to Episcopal News Service, on January 19, 2010, Bishop Charles Bennison, the currently inhibited bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, appealed his conviction for conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy. Bennison was found guilty in 2008 of failing to act on the knowledge that his brother, a youth minister at the time, was engaging in sexual misconduct. Bennison was denied a new trial or dismissal of the charges against him by the original trial court (see Pittsburgh Update story here). He has now appealed to the Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop.

Bishop Price invites conversation

On January 20, 2010, Bishop Kenneth L. Price, Jr., Pittsburgh’s provisional bishop, sent letters to “lay leaders and clergy of 40 congregations that have not actively participated in the Episcopal Church since October 2008,” according to a story on the diocesan Web site. In his letter, Price invited recipients to meet with him face-to-face to discuss what he called “misunderstandings about the Episcopal Church.” Price noted that the diocese still views the parishes that consider themselves members of another diocese as being part of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. His letter can be read here. Episcopal News Service wrote about the reconciliation effort here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

News for Week Ending 1/18/2010

Earthquake devastates Haiti

Worldwide, the big story of the week was the earthquake that largely destroyed Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, on January 12, 2010. The story is of special interest to Episcopalians because Haiti is a diocese of The Episcopal Church, one that has companion relationships with a number of other Episcopal Church dioceses. Pittsburgh is not one of those dioceses, but Bishop Price issued a statement calling for prayers, gifts to Episcopal Relief & Development, and encouraging others to pray and give. Episcopal News Service has written a number of stories about the catastrophe and the relief efforts, beginning with its story of January 13. Additional stories can be found (and, presumably, will continue to appear) on the News page of Episcopal Life Online here.

Cause of women bishops in Communion suffers setbacks

Supporters of women bishops in the Anglican Communion were disappointed on two fronts this past week. The Rev. Alison Peden was one of the finalists being considered as the new bishop for the United Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway in the Scottish Episcopal Church. Her election would have made her the first woman bishop in Britain. Reuters reported January 16, 2010, however, that the Very Rev. Dr. Gregor Duncan was selected for the post instead. (The diocesan press release can be read here.) Peden was the first woman finalist for an episcopal position since the ordination of women was approved by the Scottish Episcopal Church in 2003.

The committee drafting proposed legislation to allow women bishops in the Church of England has failed to produce a report in time for consideration by the church’s General Synod next month. Church Times reported that the legislation cannot now be considered until the next Synod meeting in July. (See earlier Pittsburgh Update story here.)

CoE Synod may increase gay clergy benefits

The Church of England’s General Synod will be asked next month to give the same benefits to clergy living in civil partnerships as it does to married clergy. (CoE clergy can register their civil partnerships but are expected to remain celibate.) The move to equitable compensation may be derailed by financial considerations, however. The Lead reported the story and provided links here.

More on CoE/ACNA Communion

Last week, we reported that communion between the Church of England and the Anglican Church in North America will be considered at the February meeting of the CoE General Synod. More information is now available. According to the newly released full agenda for the February 8–12, 2010, meeting, the exact motion to be considered is the following: “That this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America.” Papers from the supporters of the motion can be read here and here.

Appeals filed in New Westminster case

In response to the November 25, 2009, decision by the British Columbia Supreme Court largely favoring the Diocese of New Westminster in its property dispute with congregations that have left the Anglican Church of Canada—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the dissident congregations have filed an appeal, and the diocese has filed a cross-appeal. According to Anglican Journal, the diocese has not sought to evict the congregations that are now part of the Anglican Network in Canada, but diocesan bishop Michael Ingham has insisted that he must appoint clergy working in Anglican Church of Canada churches. Because the congregations filed an appeal, the diocese is now seeking to reverse one of the issues on which it was not victorious.

Monday, January 11, 2010

News for Week Ending 1/11/2010

CoE to consider communion with ACNA

Times columnist Ruth Gledhill reported January 8, 2010, that a motion will be considered at next month’s Church of England (CoE) General Synod that would declare the CoE in communion with Robert Duncan’s Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). (See business for February 10 on the Outline Agenda for the General Synod.) Approval of such a motion would not, of course, add ACNA to the Anglican Communion. Gledhill, describing the General Synod as “dominated by evangelicals,” suggested that the motion might indeed pass. Others have questioned both that characterization and Gledhill’s speculation.

ACNA introduced a new Web site and Web address this past week. The new Web site can be found at http://anglicanchurch.net/.

Pastoral visitors bash Episcopal Church

Anglican Journal ran a story January 9, 2010, on the report of two “pastoral visitors” sent by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to observe a meeting of the Anglican Church of Canada’s House of Bishops last November. The report was written by Bishop Chad Gandiya of Harare, Zimbabwe, and Bishop Colin Bennetts, retired bishop of Coventry, England. According to the Journal, “Archbishop Williams is seeking ways to heal divisions among member provinces of the Anglican Communion.” (Anglican Journal also published an earlier interview with Bishop Bennetts.)

The report was largely positive with regard to the Anglican Church of Canada, whose bishops were described as weary of the same-sex blessings issue. The main reason the report received attention in the U.S., however, was its criticism of The Episcopal Church, though the visitors did not set foot in the U.S. (See, for example, this post on The Lead, which inspired an unusual number of comments, as well as this post on Thinking Anglicans.)

Fort Worth diocese prevails on procedural matter

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth was victorious on procedural matters December 29, 2009, in Hood County, Texas, in litigation involving St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Parties who left The Episcopal Church and who are claiming St. Andrew’s property attempted to disqualify attorneys and documents representing the position of the Episcopal diocese. District Judge Ralph H. Walton, Jr., ruled in favor of the Episcopal parties on all motions. (Details can be found here on the Diocese of Fort Worth Web site.) The strategy pursued by the former Episcopalians had been rejected in September by a Tarrant County, Texas, judge in a related case. (See Diocese of Fort Worth Web site here.)

Robinson blesses civil union

Civil marriages of same-sex couples became legal in the state of New Hampshire on January 1, 2010. According to The Living Church, Bishop of New Hampshire V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Anglican bishop, blessed the civil marriage of the Rev. Eleanor “Ellie” McLaughlin and Elizabeth “Betsy” Hess on January 2, 2010.

Monday, January 4, 2010

News for Week Ending 1/4/2010

Covenant draft sparks commentary

As one might expect of Anglicans at Christmas time, the Anglican Communion generated little news not related to Christmas this past week. The “final” draft of the Anglican covenant has, however, provoked a good deal of commentary. (See earlier Pittsburgh Update story here.) Neither now nor in the future will we try to track everything being said about the covenant, but we will try to highlight particularly notable remarks. For now, Thinking Anglicans has done an especially good job of linking to essays exhibiting all degrees of enthusiasm for the covenant. Its large collection of links can be found here.

Closer to home, The Living Church reports that Bishop of Central Florida John W. Howe has encouraged his diocese to adopt a resolution at its January 30, 2010, convention that “affirms” the entire covenant draft.