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, April 26, 2010

News for Week Ending 4/26/2010

Global South leaders complete meeting with “Trumpet”

The Fourth Anglican Global South to South Encounter—see Pittsburgh Update story here—was held in Singapore April 19–23, 2010. The group of invited conservative Anglican leaders not confined to the “Global South,” issued a communiqué—called a “Trumpet”—at the end of their meeting that can be read here. The program was covered on-line in great detail by Global South Online here.

As expected, the final communiqué was critical of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. The dissatisfaction with the state of the Anglican Communion expressed by the group went much deeper. Indeed, the communiqué ended with the following statement:
We believe that there is a need to review the entire Anglican Communion structure; especially the Instruments of Communion and the Anglican Communion office; in order to achieve an authentic expression of the current reality of our Anglican Communion.
Surprisingly, although the communiqué urged various actions on Anglican churches (establishing communion with the Anglican Church in North America, for example), the group took no collective action other than issuing its Trumpet. The proposed Anglican covenant was neither endorsed nor rejected, for example.

Episcopal News Service ran stories on the beginning and end of the Encounter. The Encounter was also covered by Church Times, and The Christian Post. Thinking Anglicans has posts linking both news and comment about the meeting here, here, here, here, and here.

New Yorker covers CoE women bishops struggle

The New Yorker recently published an article on the struggle within the Church of England to allow for women bishops. The article can be read on-line here. It provides insight into the politics of the Church of England, which are not always apparent to the casual American observer. The Archbishop of Canterbury is trying to hold his own church together at the same time he is trying to preserve the unity of the Anglican Communion.

Maori diocese moves to ordain gays

The Lead reported April 25, 2010, that a diocese of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia has, in principle, decided to accept the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy. The Lead article tries to put this move in context, as the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia has an unusual organization.

Lutherans move forward with gay clergy

Concerned Lutherans/North America reported April 11, 2010, that the ELCA Church Council has approved wording implementing the decision made earlier by the church to allow for pastors in committed, same-sex relationships.

Lesbian couple exchanges vows in Southern Ohio

Episcopal News Service reported April 13, 2010, on an April 11 service in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio in which a lesbian couple exchanged vows in a Cincinnati church. Bishop Thomas E. Breidenthal had announced earlier that, in response to resolutions passed at the 2009 General Convention, he would lift his diocese’s ban on blessing same-sex unions after Easter.

Bishop explains Glasspool vote

The Rt. Rev. Scott A. Benhase, Bishop of Georgia, wrote to his flock April 21, 2010, explaining why he gave his consent for the consecration of the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool to become a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Such explanations are seldom forthcoming either from bishops or standing committees. Notably, the Rt. Rev. Herman Hollerith IV, Bishop of Southern Virginia, sent a similar letter in February explaining his vote against the Glasspool consecration.

Duncan briefs diocese on legal issues

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Archbishop Robert Duncan and other leaders of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh briefed parish leaders April 25, 2010, at St. Martin’s, Monroeville, about ongoing litigation with Calvary Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, and The Episcopal Church. According to the newspaper’s account, Duncan assured his listeners that “the appeal of the case is ongoing.” The Anglican diocese posted a story about the meeting here, which includes links to a statement from Duncan and other materials.

Local Presbyterians lose property case

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported April 10, 2010, that a Washington County Common Pleas judge has blocked an effort by members of the Peters Creek United Presbyterian Church who wish to remain in the Presbyterian Church (USA) to regain control of the church. The congregation voted 207–26 to leave their church for a more conservative denomination. Based on the neutral principles of law standard, Judge Paul Pozonsky ruled that the minority petitioners had not proved their case. The plaintiffs plan to appeal. It is unclear whether the decision has any relevance to local Episcopal Church disputes.

American TAC group appeals to Pope

The Anglo-Catholic has posted a letter from the Anglican Church in America (a part of the Traditional Anglican Communion) and parishes of the Anglican Use to the Vatican. The letter is a request to begin the process of incorporating these non-Anglican-Communion churches into the Roman Catholic Church, thus taking advantage of an offer made by the Vatican last October. (See Pittsburgh Update stories here and here.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

News for Week Ending 4/19/2010

Communion Partners Clergy lobby Global South Encounter to adopt covenant

The so-called Communion Partners Clergy, a group of 90 non-episcopal conservative clergy have urged participants of the Fourth Global South to South Encounter being held in Singapore April 19–23, 2010, to adopt the proposed Anglican covenant. Although participants in the Encounter will mostly be clergy from conservative churches of the Anglican Communion in the Global South, Anglican Mainstream has reported that Archbishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America and Episcopal bishops John Howe of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida and Mark Lawrence of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina will also attend. The Archbishop of Canterbury was expected to participate, though restricted airline traffic from the U.K. resulting from the Icelandic volcano may preclude his attending. A list of represented provinces can be found here, and the agenda can be found here.

Thinking Anglicans has posted links to early reports on the Fourth Global South to South Encounter here and can be expect to cover the event as news becomes available. Episcopal News Service has published an initial story about the event here. Updates can also be read on Global South Anglican Online.

Senate passes resolution on anti-gay Ugandan bill

On April 13, 2010, the U.S. Senate approved a resolution by unanimous consent condemning the anti-gay legislation now pending in the Uganda legislature. Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on African affairs, introduced the bill. Homosexual acts are already illegal in Uganda, but the proposed legislation would introduce the death penalty for certain activities and would otherwise restrict civil liberties. The Senate action was reported by DC Agenda and other media outlets.

Utah nominates partnered gay priest

The Living Church reported April 12, 2010, that the Episcopal Diocese of Utah has nominated the Very Rev. Canon Michael L. Barlowe, the Episcopal Diocese of California’s canon for congregational ministries and a partnered gay priest, as its next bishop. Barlowe is one of four episcopal candidates. The Diocese of Utah has more information on the candidates here.

Portland church members to depart, leaving assets behind

Episcopal News Service reported April 13, 2010, that the rector and 100 members of St. Matthew’s Church, Portland, plan to leave The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon to form a new congregation in the Anglican Church in North America. Members of the congregation who are not leaving The Episcopal Church will retain parish real estate and other parish property.

Monday, April 12, 2010

News for Week Ending 4/12/2010

Irish primate laments Glasspool approval

In a statement to The Church of Ireland Gazette, Irish primate and Archbishop of Armagh Alan Harper lamented the decision of The Episcopal Church to consecrate the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool as a suffragan bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Archbishop Harper was responding to a letter sent by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to her fellow primates explaining the Glasspool situation. “The decision of The Episcopal Church in respect of the confirmation of an election and subsequent consecration of a partnered gay person to the episcopate has clearly signalled the end of ‘gracious restraint’. This is a development which I deeply regret,” Harper said.

Harper also decried continued border crossings and the blessing of same-sex unions. He noted that “extraterritorial interventions” “have now been added to by the setting up of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), an overtly extra-territorial province-in-embryo, embracing the national integrities of both the United States of America and Canada.” He concluded, “It is very hard to see how these developments may shape the future of the Anglican Communion.”

Uganda primate wants to discipline ‘unbiblical’ churches

Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, of the Church of the Province of Uganda, wrote a three-page, angry letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury last week. Orombi, who visited the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh a number of times under Bishop Robert Duncan, wrote, “I stand with my brother Primate, Bishop Mouneer Anis, in his courageous decision to resign from the Standing Committee.” In standing with Anis, however, Orombi, apparently, was not resigning from the Standing Committee, even though he has not been attending its meetings.

Anis, primate of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and The Middle East, resigned from the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion in January, declaring that his presence has “no value whatsoever.” His letter can be read here. The story was covered by Episcopal News Service February 1, 2010.

Orombi’s letter expressed frustration with the failure of the Anglican Communion to discipline The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, which he described as engaging in “unbiblical practices that contradict the faith of Anglicanism.” Orombi also complained about how the Archbishop of Canterbury has managed the ongoing crisis. He called for a meeting of the primates to deal with the crisis, but he wants primates of The Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada to be excluded from the meeting.

Episcopal News Service, Church Times, and other media outlets have covered the Orombi letter.

GAFCON Primates Council issues statement

The GAFCON/FCA Primates Council issued a communiqué April 10, 2010, following their meeting in Bermuda in advance of the Fourth Global South to South Encounter to be held in Singapore April 19–23, 2010. The statement notes the retirement of Nigeria’s Archbishop Peter Akinola, and reports that Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone has been elected chairman of the group. Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, of the Church of Rwanda, and Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of the Anglican Church of Kenya have been elected vice chairmen. Continuing as general secretary is Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney, in the Anglican Church of Australia.

The Primates Council asserts that the decision to consecrate the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool—see Pittsburgh Update story here—makes it clear that there is no longer any pretense of “gracious restraint” on the part of The Episcopal Church. The communiqué expresses no faith in the efforts to restructure the Anglican Comununion. “The Anglican Communion will only be able to fulfill its gospel mandate if it understands itself to be a community gathered around a confession of faith rather than an organisation that has its primary focus on institutional loyalty,” the statement asserts.

The communiqué was signed by a number of primates. Uganda’s Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi was apparently not present and was represented by another Ugandan bishop. Archbishop Peter Jensen signed, but he is not actually a primate. Another signatory, Archbishop Robert Duncan, of the Anglican Church of North America, is, of course, not a primate of the Anglican Communion.

SAMS changes name, expands mission

The South American Missionary Society, headquartered in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, announced April 10, 2010, that it is changing both its name and its mission. It will now be the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders and will expand its mission field beyond South America. The name change is designed to reflect the broader goals of the society while retaining the familiar SAMS acronym.

The announcement was covered in an April 12 story from Anglican Communion News Service. ACNS quotes Stewart Wicker, the SAMS president, as explaining, “As the board considered our identity as a community, it became increasingly clear that we should become known more by who we are than by what we do. We are a society of missionaries, serving in partnership with the Anglican Church [sic] globally. We are also, vitally, a society of senders of these missionaries through giving, praying, and supporting.”

Monday, April 5, 2010

News for Week Ending 4/5/2010

Akinola successor carries on homophobic program

Peter Akinola, the controversial primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, recently retired. His successor is Archbishop Nicholas Okoh. The sermon Okoh preached at his March 25 installation (available on-line here) has made it clear that the church’s anti-homosexuality program is not about to change. Okoh attacked the recent plea of the Bishop of Liverpool that the Anglican be more tolerant of diverse views on the subject. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Okoh went on to say
Do not be afraid of being called homophobic. It is a term designed to close down any expression of a contrary view. Respond by accusing them of gunaphobia [sic]—an inordinate fear of women and of relationships with women.
Okoh also expressed his commitment to GAFCON and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. Thinking Anglicans contains links to a variety of commentaries on the Okoh sermon.

Pawleys Island dispute ends with negotiated settlement

One of the longest-running property disputes in The Episcopal Church has ended in a negotiated settlement. The dispute involved All Saints, Pawleys Island, in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. The parish voted to join the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) in 2004, although legal conflicts with the diocese began even earlier. In September 2009, the Supreme Court of South Carolina awarded parish property to the breakaway congregation, based on unique historical circumstances. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court by The Episcopal Church and by church members who did not wish to join the AMiA was pending when the negotiated settlement was announced. That appeal is being withdrawn. According to Episcopal News Service, the AMiA congregation will retain the parish property, but it will make reasonable provisions for such pastoral matters as funerals in cases where Episcopalians are involved. The AMiA has also offered the Episcopal congregation $375,000 “to assist in their future ministry in our community.” Complete provisions of settlement were not disclosed.

Another S.C. congregation votes to leave

As the Pawleys Island dispute is being settled, another congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has voted to leave The Episcopal Church for the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA). St. Andrew’s Church of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, voted March 28, 2010, to join the AMiA. Both Episcopal News Service and The Living Church reported the story. Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence admitted that he was “saddened” by the new development, but he criticized the direction of The Episcopal Church and has made no attempt to retain the property of the Mount Pleasant parish.

Diocesan workshops scheduled for April 10

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is sponsoring an all-day program of workshops for members of the diocese on April 10, 2010. “Moving Forward Together” is being billed as “a day to reflect, renew, rebuild, and rejoice.” It will be held at Church of the Redeemer, Squirrel Hill. Details are available on the diocesan Web site here. The registration deadline has been extended to Thursday, April 8, and registration can be done by phone by calling the diocese at (412) 721-0853.