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, February 22, 2010

News for Week Ending 2/22/2010

Forward in Faith Australia votes to go to Rome

The Anglo-Catholic organization Forward in Faith Australia Inc. (FiFA) has decided to work with the Roman Catholic church to set up an Australian Ordinariate in response to the offer made to Anglicans by the Vatican. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Members of FiFA, in a special meeting February 13, 2010, passed resolutions declaring their intent to unite with Rome. Links to background and commentary can be found on Thinking Anglicans. A story from Sydney from the Roman Catholic point of view can be found at Catholic Online.

General Synod ACNA vote sparks comment

The February 10, 2010, resolution by the Church of England’s General Synod regarding the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA)—see Pittsburgh Update story here—has inspired a good deal of commentary. Thinking Anglicans has collected links to much of the available material. “ACNA Debate Continued” contains links to some commentary, but also to documents, transcripts, and audio and video of the General Synod debate. Links to other material may be found here and here.

Executive Council meets in Omaha; Jim Simons is new member

Executive Council of The Episcopal Church met in Omaha, Nebraska, from February 19 to February 22, 2010. An Episcopal News Service story reported on the first day of the meeting and provided background information. Items of particular interest mentioned:
  1. The Presiding Bishop discussed the situation in the Diocese of South Carolina at some length. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)
  2. Executive Council will defer to its next meeting the selection of an episcopal representative to the Anglican Consultative Council. Bishop Catherine Roskam’s term has expired. Clergy representative Ian Douglas will have to resign his position, as he is bishop-elect of Connecticut. He could possibly be designated the episcopal representative at the Council’s June 16–18, 2010 meeting.
A second ENS story was published February 21. It reports on information showing an ongoing decline in Episcopal Church attendance. The Presiding Bishop pointed out that the current decline began before the 2003 General Convention consented to the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, an event to which some have attributed attendance decline.

A message to the church from the Executive Council was released February 22. Of the situation in South Carolina, the Council noted:
The Presiding Bishop’s update on the rising tensions in the Diocese of South Carolina kept us mindful of the work we all face in teasing out threads of honest theological differences from a fabric of misinformation and misunderstandings in more than one place in our Church and the Anglican Communion.
The message also noted changes in the composition of the Executive Council: the Rev. Ian Douglas is out, as he is becoming a bishop; the Rev. Jim Simons of Pittsburgh was elected to join the Council.

ENS provided a list of Executive Council actions here.

Springfield to elect new Bishop

Bishop Peter Beckwith stepped down as diocesan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield February 1, 2010, expressing weariness after 45 years of ministry. Beckwith is a conservative bishop who has shown much sympathy for dissidents who have left The Episcopal Church, though he has stayed in the church. Diocesan leaders expect to have a replacement bishop in place in little more than a year, a schedule that some see as unduly compressed. The State Journal-Register of Springfield discussed what may be a contentious episcopal election in a February 20, 2010, story.

Monday, February 15, 2010

News for Week Ending 2/15/2010

CoE General Synod makes news

As noted here last week, The General Synod of the Church of England met February 8–12, 2010. The General Synod made some news and avoided making other news. Most notable among what did not happen was the lack of progress on the implementation of women bishops. The failure of a committee to deliver a report on how this should be done required that the subject would be deferred to the next meeting of the General Synod in July.

In a move that was not necessarily anticipated, the General Synod voted to provide the same survivor benefits to partners of clergy in civil partnerships as is provided to surviving clergy spouses. Details may be found at the Christian Today Web site and elsewhere.

Of greatest interest to Episcopalians is the General Synod’s disposition February 10 of the resolution declaring that the Church of England desired to be in communion with Archbishop Robert Duncan’s Anglican Church in North America. The resolution was amended to acknowledge the desire of ACNA “to remain within the Anglican family” and to request a report on the implications of that desire from CoE archbishops in a year. The resolution was widely seen as a defeat for ACNA (see the Episcopal News Service story, for example), though both ACNA and Archbishop Robert Duncan managed to find a positive message in the General Synod measure.

San Joaquin initiates new litigation

According to a February 10, 2010, press release from the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, the diocese has initiated a new round of litigation aimed at returning church buildings “that are currently occupied by former members of The Episcopal Church who have sought to affiliate with a different denomination.” The diocese reports that earlier invitations from Bishop Jerry Lamb to discuss the return of parish property have largely gone unanswered. The litigation is separate from the dispute over the proper episcopal authority in San Joaquin. A court declared that Lamb is the legitimate bishop in San Joaquin, but that decision is under appeal.

Rio Grande wins court victory

The Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande announced on its Web site February 11, 2010, that an El Paso, Texas, judge entered summary judgment in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande and The Episcopal Church in litigation involving St. Francis on the Hill Episcopal Church, El Paso. The congregation had voted to leave The Episcopal Church and went to court to retain the property for what was simply being called St. Francis on the Hill Church. Judge Gonzalo Garcia denied the request of the breakaway congregation and declared the property to be that of the Episcopal diocese.

S.C. bishop postpones diocesan convention

Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence wrote a letter to members of his diocese on February 9, 2010, announcing that the diocese’s annual convention is being postponed from March 4–5, 2010, to March 26. The reason given for the postponement is the need for more time to consider an appropriate reaction to the activities of a South Carolina attorney claiming to be acting on behalf of The Episcopal Church. Thomas S. Tisdale, Jr., has asked for various diocesan and parish documents. Tisdale has expressed concern about the threat of certain parishes to “withdraw” from the diocese and The Episcopal Church. Via Media alliance member Episcopal Forum of South Carolina has provided excellent summaries of the South Carolina dispute, along with links to material on the Web. Its two newsletters on the subject can be found here and here. The Post and Courier, of Charleston, S.C., offers additional perspective in its February 14 story.

Ninth annual Lenten Preaching Series features Episcopal Church bishops

For eight years, East End Episcopal Church have sponsored series of events during Lent involving dinners and Eucharist services on Tuesday nights during Lent. In 2010, the series will feature preaching by Episcopal Church bishops, beginning with our own bishop, the Rt. Rev. Kenneth L. Price, Jr. The theme of the series is “Ancient Wisdom, Modern Hope.” The first event takes place at St. Stephen’s, Wilkinsburg. Dinner begins at 6 PM, and the Eucharist begins at 7 PM. Details of the series can be read here.

Monday, February 8, 2010

News for Week Ending 2/8/2010

CoE General Synod begins

The Church of England’s General Synod is meeting February 8–12, 2010. Of greatest interest to Episcopalians is the debate over the powers of women bishops and whether the CoE will declare a desire to be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America. Episcopal News Service has published a story about the General Synod on the first day of its week-long meeting.

Central Florida blazes trail on right

At its 41st annual convention in Lakeland, Florida, on January 30, 2010, the Diocese of Central Florida, led by its conservative bishop the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, passed a number of resolutions taking positions sharply to the right of the Episcopal Church mainstream. The Living Church reported on the convention February 3, 2010. The convention passed resolutions that “affirmed” the Anglican covenant and the position taken in the Anaheim Statement; “dissociated” the diocese from the church’s connection to the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; declared that, if Mary Glasspool is consecrated by the Diocese of Los Angeles, episcopal consecrators will have “walked apart” from those in The Episcopal Church who “remain committed to the Faith proclaimed in the Scriptures”; and asserted that there is no theological need to broaden the definition of marriage.

CANA and supporters file briefs in Virginia case

The Commonwealth of Virginia, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) churches directly involved, and various other organizations have filed briefs with the Virginia Supreme Court in the appellate phase of the property dispute with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. (Pittsburgh Update reported here the earlier filings by the diocese.) Amicus briefs have been filed by the American Anglican Council and other conservative religious groups. The diocese, meanwhile, has asked to be allowed to file additional material. All the briefs can be found on the Web site of the diocese here.

Pittsburgh diocese celebrating busy weekend

On Saturday, February 13, 2010, a Leadership Day is being held at Calvary Church for various diocesan leaders. That evening, the Rev. Gay C. Jennings will be giving a talk sponsored by Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh at Church of the Redeemer, Squirrel Hill. The title of Jennings’ presentation is “Where We Are: Reflections on the Path from B033 to D025 and Beyond.” (Jennings chaired the committee that was responsible for Resolution D025 at the 2009 General Convention.) All are invited to attend. Another diocesan-wide event is being held Sunday afternoon. A Celebration of New Ministry for the Right Reverend Kenneth L. Price, Jr., will take place at Trinity Cathedral at 4:00 PM and will be followed by a reception.

Monday, February 1, 2010

News for Week Ending 2/1/2010

Conservative primate resigns from Standing Committee

The primate of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East (and bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Egypt) Mouneer H. Anis has announced his resignation from what has lately been called the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion (formerly the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council). In his five-page explanation of this action, dated January 30, 2010, Anis, who stressed his faithful attendance of Standing Committee meetings, declared that his participation “has no value whatsoever” and that his voice “is like a useless cry in the wilderness.”

Anis’ seems most unhappy with the failure of the Anglican Communion to discipline The Episcopal Church, but his letter contains additional complaints and observations. Episcopal News Service has a story describing his letter and providing background information.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams issued a brief statement of regret in response to the Anis announcement.

CoE/ACNA resolution amendment announced

As reported by Pittsburgh Update here, next week’s Church of England General Synod is to consider a resolution asserting the desirability of the CoE’s being in communion with Archbishop Robert Duncan’s Anglican Church in North America. According to Thinking Anglicans, Bishop Mike Hill will introduce an amendment to the resolution that acknowledges that ACNA wishes to remain in the Anglican Communion and that this raises issues that “relevant authorities” need to explore.

ENS launches new publication

Episcopal News Service announced the mailing of the first issue of Episcopal News Monthly January 27, 2010. The publication replaces the 20-year-old Episcopal Life. The new publication, like its predecessor, is being mailed to Episcopalians in many Episcopal dioceses. (The undivided Diocese of Pittsburgh sent its own publication, Trinity, to Pittsburgh Episcopalians. The reorganized Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has not yet established its own print publication.) Two new church magazines from ENS, Episcopal News Quarterly and Quarterly Magazine will debut later this year.

Former Pittsburgh priest named Kentucky bishop candidate

On January 21, 2010, the Diocese of Kentucky announced its slate of four candidates to succeed Bishop Edwin F. “Ted” Gulick Jr., who intends to retire in August. One of the candidates for his post is the Very Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely, dean of Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix. Knisely served as rector of St. Barnabas’, Brackenridge, from 1993–1998. Biographical information on all the episcopal candidates can be found here.

Liberal bishop announces retirement

At the annual convention of the Diocese of Washington, Bishop John Bryson Chane, 65, announced his intention to retire. According to a press release from the diocese, Chane believes it is “time to elect a younger person” to lead the influential diocese. Chane has been a strong defender of The Episcopal Church and an advocate for the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church. Chane predicted that his successor could be elected in May or June 2011. The Washington Times covered Chane’s announcement here, calling his episcopate “lackluster.”

Judge orders property transferred to Episcopal Diocese

On January 29, 2010, Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas judge Joseph M. James gave Archbishop Robert Duncan and his diocese 20 days to turn over to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh financial records and other material needed to “hold and administer” diocesan property properly belonging to the Episcopal Church diocese. The judge’s order implements the October 2009 determination by the court that the Episcopal diocese is the proper custodian of property held by the diocese before the 2008 vote of the diocesan convention to leave The Episcopal Church. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The court order includes a list of assets to be given over to the Episcopal diocese, including cash, cash equivalents, liturgical furnishings, and real estate. The list of real property includes Sheldon Calvary Camp, the Donegal property, Old St. Luke’s, and more than 25 churches being used by the Anglican diocese. The Anglican diocese announced in November that it intended to appeal the court’s decision. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh issued a statement here. Nothing has yet appeared on the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh site.