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, March 29, 2010

News for Week Ending 3/29/2010

Bishops’ report on sexuality released

The Episcopal House of Bishops has released a draft of the document on same-sex relationships discussed at its recently concluded retreat in Camp Allen, Texas. The document was prepared under the auspices of the bishops’ Theology Committee. Although bishops expected a single paper from the committee, the document, “Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church,” includes an essay from the “traditionalist” viewpoint, an essay from the “liberal” perspective, as well as rebuttals from each side. Apparently, the authors were unable to agree on a single paper. “Same-Sex Relationships” is considered a draft and will undergo future changes. Episcopal News Service reported on the document here. The ENS story also includes details of other matters dealt with by the bishops at their retreat.

Living Church urges PB not to be Glasspool chief consecrator

In a March 26, 2010, editorial, The Living Church suggested that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori not be the chief consecrator of the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool on May 15. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The editorial suggested that the Presiding Bishop “consider exercising her own gracious restraint” by not attending the consecration.

Newport Beach case moving toward conclusion

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles announced March 29, 2010, that the California Court of Appeal has instructed the Superior Court of Orange County to enter an order for judgment enforcing diocesan property rights over the property of St. James’ Episcopal Church, Newport Beach, California. The congregation of St. James’ voted in 2004 to leave The Episcopal Church. The court action follows the determination by the California Supreme Court that parish property is held in trust for the diocese and The Episcopal Church.

South Carolina convention passes proposed resolutions

Episcopal News Service reported March 26, 2010, that the convention of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina approved all the resolutions brought before it. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The resolutions, as passed, can be found here. Taken together, the resolutions attempt to assert diocesan authority over that of the General Convention. Bishop Mark Lawrence’s address to the South Carolina convention can be viewed and read here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

News for Week Ending 3/22/2010

Episcopal bishops meeting in Texas

The spring retreat of the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops is meeting in Camp Allen, Texas, March 19–24, 2010. A major item on the bishops’ agenda is discussion of the results of a study, “Same Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church.” Details of this and other business can be read in the story from Episcopal News Service.

Glasspool achieves consents for consecration

The Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool received the necessary consents from bishops with jurisdiction last week to be consecrated a suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles on May 15, 2010. It had only recently been announced that Glasspool had received sufficient consents from diocesan standing committees. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Episcopal News Service published a story about Glasspool’s receiving the needed consents from both standing committees and bishops, as well as a story about reactions to the prospect of adding another openly gay, partnered bishop to the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops. The Living Church also published a story about Glasspool’s receiving consents, as well as a story about the somewhat unremarkable reaction from Lambeth Palace, and a story on the stronger reaction from the Communion Partners. ENS published a second story on reactions to the Glasspool consent March 22.

Judge: Connecticut Church belongs to diocese

Episcopal News Service reported March 18, 2010, that a Connecticut judge has ruled that the property of Bishop Seabury Episcopal Church in Groton, Connecticut, is held in trust for the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut and The Episcopal Church. The court decision is available on the diocesan Web site as part of the diocesan press release. This ends a conflict that began in 2005, when then rector, the Rev. Ronald S. Gauss, became one of the “Connecticut Six,” conservative rectors who wanted to remove their parishes from The Episcopal Church. The congregation affiliated with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) in 2007. According to the ENS story,
In his March 15 order, [Judge] Stevens prohibited Gauss and his associates from using the parish’s real and personal property and ordered them immediately to turn that property over to church officials. The judge also barred the defendants from interfering with those officials’ right to immediate possession, custody and control of the property. Finally, he prohibited the defendants from “wasting, selling, transferring, conveying or encumbering” any of the property.

Bennison hearing set for May

The long-running disciplinary proceedings against Bishop of Pennsylvania Charles Bennison will reach a climax on May 4, 2010. That is when, according to Episcopal News Service—see story here—Bennison’s final appeal will be heard to the 2008 trial verdict that he engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy by covering up sexual improprieties by his brother 35 years ago. Bennison appealed the verdict in January. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

“Local” priest nominated for Bishop of Rio Grande

The Living Church reported March 22, 2010, that the Rev. Dr. Leander S. Harding, of Trinity School for Ministry, has been added by petition to the candidates vying to become the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande. That diocese has had a troubled history in recent years. Harding joins five other candidates, whose photos, answers to questions, and résumés can be read on the diocesan Web site. Although Harding was formerly canonically resident in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, his canonical residence is now South Carolina, which is presumably a more felicitous ecclesiastical home for him than would be the present Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. (His résumé suggests no professional connection to South Carolina.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

News for Week Ending 3/15/2010

Canadian and African dioceses discuss homosexuality

The Anglican Church of Canada issued a communiqué from London on March 11, 2010, describing an ongoing theological dialogue between Canadian bishops and bishops of various African dioceses. Discussions “on matters relating to human sexuality and to mission” have been going on for more than a year. The dialogue grew out of the Indaba and Bible study pursued at the 2008 Lambeth Conference.

The communiqué reported on discussions held at the Anglican Communion Office in London February 24–26. The discussions are designed to deepen understanding, rather than to change minds. No specific results of the process were reported.

Standing committees approve Glasspool consecration

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles reported March 10, 2010, that the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool has received the necessary consents from standing committees to be consecrated a suffragan bishop of that diocese. Earlier in the week, Episcopal News Service announced that the Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce, who was also elected a suffragan bishop for Los Angeles, has received the necessary consents both from standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction. Assuming that Glasspool also receives the approval of Episcopal bishops, both she and Bruce will be consecrated on May 15. Glasspool would then become only the second openly gay partnered bishop in the Anglican Communion. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

South Carolina resolutions challenge PB authority

As we reported earlier—see Pittsburgh Update story here—Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence postponed his diocese’s convention to March 26, 2010, in order to respond to alleged incursions by the Presiding Bishop into the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. The diocese has now posted five resolutions on its Web site to be considered at the March 26 gathering. South Carolina, in these resolutions, continues its assertion of independence from other institutions of The Episcopal Church. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Living Church published a story March 10 describing the motions on which the diocese will vote.

San Joaquin continues to seek return of parish property

According to a March 12, 2010, story from Episcopal News Service, the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has again gone to court to regain control of property taken by congregations that left the diocese for the Southern Cone in 2007. (See earlier Pittsburgh Update story here.) The diocese filed a complaint March 11 seeking return of the property of St. Columba Church in Fresno, California. The Fresno Bee also published a story on the filing.

Forth Worth litigation continues in April

The “Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth”—the diocese led by Bishop Leo Iker that withdraw from The Episcopal Church—has announced that the Texas Second District Court in Fort Worth will hear on April 27, 2010, the diocese’s plea to remove the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth—the Episcopal Church diocese—from property litigation that began in Tarrant County (Fort Worth), Texas. See earlier Pittsburgh Update story here.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Editorial Note

Changes Coming to Pittsburgh Update

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Monday, March 8, 2010

News for Week Ending 3/8/2010

English bishop calls for acceptance of diversity on sexual issues

Times columnist Ruth Gledhill reported March 6, 2010, that Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt. Rev. James Jones, whom she describes as a “leading evangelical,” is calling on Anglicans to accept a diversity of opinion on matters of sexual ethics in order to maintain unity and to move forward on mission. Breaking ranks with many on the Anglican right, Jones asserts that homosexuality is not a choice. According to Gledhill
Even if the traditionalists are right, he [Jones] says, and gay sex is wrong, it is unclear precisely what sin will have been committed by gay couples other than “in a world of such little love two people sought to express a love that no other relationship could offer them.”
More information on Jones’s address to the Synod of the Diocese of Liverpool is available from The Lead. The complete address can be read on the Diocese of Liverpool Web site.

ACA votes to join Rome

The Anglican Church in America, a member of the Traditional Anglican Communion, voted March 3, 2010, in Orlando, Florida, to join the Roman Catholic Church, thus taking advantage of the offer by the Vatican to become Roman Catholic while maintaining certain Anglican traditions. The Traditional Anglican Communion is not part of the Anglican Communion. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Spero News has reported on the decision by the ACA House of Bishops. More information is available in an editorial by Catholic Online.

Glasspool nearing approval by standing committees

The Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool, one of two priests elected suffragan bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles on December 4, 2009, now has 55 of the needed 56 consents from diocesan standing committees to her consecration. (See Pittsburgh Update story on the election here.) The news about Glasspool, who has been partnered for 19 years with Becki Sander, came in a weekly update on the consent process published by the diocese on 3/3/2010. The Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce, the other suffragan-bishop-elect achieved sufficient standing committee consents on February 17. To allow for her consecration, each candidate will also need consents from a majority of Episcopal bishops with jurisdiction. The Presiding Bishop’s office does not announce those votes in advance. It has just been announced, however, that Canon Bruce has now received all the consents required for consecration.

The Living Church has published a story about various comments made about consents for Glasspool by bishops and members of standing committees. Pittsburgh’s Standing Committee has not yet acted on the Glasspool election. Consents must be received by the Diocese of Los Angeles by May 5.

Judge backpedals in El Paso case

The Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande thought it had won a quick victory over a breakaway congregation, but Judge Gonzalo Garcia changed his mind and has ordered parties to appear in his court March 3, 2010. The judge had initially entered an order for summary judgment February 10 in favor of the diocese in its dispute with the congregation of St. Francis on-the-Hill Episcopal Church in El Paso. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The congregation voted in 2008 to leave The Episcopal Church and now operates under the name of St. Francis on-the-Hill Church. Its property is said to be worth millions of dollars.

It appears that the El Paso dispute will be decided by an actual trial. Details of the affair can be found in a March 5 story by Episcopal News Service.

Virginia case to go to state Supreme Court

On March 3, 2010, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced that the Virginia Supreme Court will hear the appeal of the diocese in The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia v. Truro Church, et al. beginning April 12, 2010. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) A lower court awarded parish property to breakaway congregations on the basis of a nineteenth-century law peculiar to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Property litigation continues in Fort Worth

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth filed a brief March 3, 2010, in the ongoing property litigation resulting from the schism in that diocese. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The diocese has responded to, among other arguments, the suggestion that The Episcopal Church is not a national church but a regional one in which the diocesan bishop, not the General Convention is the supreme authority. The brief can be read here.

Washington bishop lets priests preside at same-sex marriages

On March 4, 2010, one day after same-sex marriages became legal in the District of Columbia, Bishop of Washington John Chane announced that priests of the diocese may preside at same-sex weddings, though no priest will be required to do so. Episcopal News Service reported the story here. The diocese issued a press release and a six-page set of guidelines.

Dallas endorses covenant, declares nullification of GC resolutions

Meeting in special convention March 6, 2010, the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas passed a resolution endorsing the Anglican covenant, while simultaneously affirming “our full membership and participation in The Episcopal Church and the world wide Anglican Communion.” Bishop of Dallas James M. Stanton made it clear at the outset that separation from The Episcopal Church was not an option. The convention also passed a resolution “dissociating” the diocese from acts of the 2009 General Convention: Resolution C056 and Paragraphs 4–7 of Resolution D025. The Living Church reported on the convention, as did David Virtue. The diocese itself has posted the resolutions here.

Pittsburgh Cursillo meeting scheduled

A meeting of Cursillistas interested in revitalizing the Cursillo movement in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will take place March 11, 2010, at the diocesan office. Under former bishop Robert Duncan, Pittsburgh Episcopal Cursillo became closely associated with the bishop, and many Cursillo leaders were among those who left The Episcopal Church when the diocese experienced its October 4, 2008, schism. Provisional Bishop Kenneth Price will meet with the group.

Cursillo is a movement that began in the Roman Catholic church and seeks through various programs to develop lay church leaders. Cursillo is active in many Episcopal dioceses, always under the auspices of the bishop.

Details of the March 11 meeting can be found on the diocesan Web site.

Monday, March 1, 2010

News for Week Ending 3/1/2010

Supreme Court rejects La Crescenta appeal

Episcopal News Service reported March 1, 2010, that the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of St. Luke’s Anglican Church. The church, formed by the breakaway congregation of St. Luke’s of-the-Mountains Episcopal Church in La Crescenta, California, had lost its property to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles when it appealed to the high court in December. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Both the diocese and the new church have issued statements.

Defendants appeal in Calvary case

On February 25, 2010, attorneys for deposed Pittsburgh bishop Robert Duncan and his fellow defendants filed a notice of appeal to various findings and orders of the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas in the so-called Calvary lawsuit. Such an appeal was promised last October 29—see Pittsburgh Update story here—in response to Judge Joseph M. James’s October 6 ruling that property controlled by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh before the schism of October 4, 2008, should remain under the authority of the Episcopal Church diocese.

Although the notice of appeal to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania lists various Common Pleas Court actions dating back as far as May 2007 as being the subject of the defendants’ appeal, the filing gives no hint as to the basis for the appeal.

Calvary Episcopal Church first sued Bishop Robert Duncan and other diocesan leaders in October 2003 in an attempt to keep church property within The Episcopal Church in the event of schism. Litigants reached a settlement two years later embodied in a stipulation that declared, among other things, that diocesan property “shall continue to be so held or administered by the [Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America] regardless of whether some or even a majority of the parishes in the Diocese might decide not to remain in the Episcopal Church of the United States of America.” Litigation in the past year has focused on enforcing this provision and has not touched on property held by parishes.

Their appeal notwithstanding, the defendants have been co-operating in surrendering diocesan property to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.