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, May 31, 2010

News for Week Ending 5/31/2010

N.T. Wright argues against local decision-making

The Rt. Rev. N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham, delivered his final address to his diocesan synod May 21, 2010, before returning to an academic career. The Living Church reported on Wright’s remarks May 26. The controversial address was largely about adiaphora, issues not essential to the faith on which individual churches may differ. Wright spoke of the issue of women bishops—he is for the idea and believes Anglicans have agreed that this is a matter of adiaphora—and sexual relations outside of marriage—something Anglicans have not declared adiaphora. More significantly, Wright argued that what is and is not adiaphora is not adiaphora, i.e., churches like The Episcopal Church cannot, by themselves, decide that it is proper to consecrate as bishops persons in same-sex relationships.

Archbishop of Canterbury proposes sanctions

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams issued a Pentecost letter to the Anglican Communion on May 28, 2010. The archbishop proposed that while the current “tensions remain unresolved” within the Anglican Communion, members from provinces that have violated the moratoria first proposed in the Windsor Report—moratoria on the blessing of same-sex unions, on consecrating partnered homosexual bishops, and on border crossings by bishops—not participate either in ecumenical discussions involving the Communion or in the work of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order. Clearly, the archbishop has The Episcopal Church in mind—his letter speaks of the recent consecration of Mary Glasspool—but his wording (“provinces that have formally [emphasis in original], through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria”) may or may not apply to provinces such as Nigeria, Uganda, or the Southern Cone. Episcopal News Service covered the story here. The press release from Lambeth Palace, which is unusually heavy on analysis, is available here. Thinking Anglicans has made several posts about Williams’ letter and the reaction to it here, here, and here.

Nigerian primate advocates withdrawal from U.N.

Arguing that U.N. bodies and nongovernmental organizations are promoting homosexuality, Church of Nigeria (Anglican) primate, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, has called for Nigeria to pull out of the United Nations. “Let us stand firm and refuse to be bought over by the West,” he said in remarks delivered in Lagos May 27, 2010. The Church of Nigeria has been one of the severest critics of The Episcopal Church for its consecration of partnered homosexual bishops and has shown sympathy for persecution of LGBT citizens of Nigeria. The Sunday Trust of Lagos reported the story May 30.

West Texas church splitting

VirtueOnline reported May 23, 2010, that Christ Episcopal Church of San Antonio, Texas, is in the process of splitting. Its rector, the Rev. Chuck Collins, announced that the service of May 30 would be his last. He is leaving The Episcopal Church “because of a crisis of conscience.” The Episcopal Church, he told his congregation in a May 19 letter, “has moved further and further away from the Gospel to which I committed my life and I have concluded that there is no future for me in this spiritual environment.” David Virtue reports that most of the congregation will remain in The Episcopal Church and will retain the parish property. Additional information about events in the church can be found on its Web site here. Christ Episcopal Church is in the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, whose bishop is the Rt. Rev. Gary R. Lillibridge.

Monday, May 24, 2010

News for Week Ending 5/24/2010

Observer chides CoE over gay persecution

London’s newspaper The Observer published an editorial on May 23, 2010, complaining that Anglican leaders in England have failed to speak out against homophobic statements made by some Anglican clergy in Africa. In particular, the editorial refers to a statement made by Nigerian bishop Isaac Orama. The editorial concludes:
The Anglican hierarchy in Britain has avoided speaking out too frankly on this matter to avoid a schism, but the church’s quiet diplomacy has done nothing to help the victims of homophobic repression. Increasingly, it looks like complicity.
The Lead, on the other hand, called the editorial too mild.

ACNA shows signs of stress

A major component of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has been the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) an operation under the sponsorship of the Church of the Province of Rwanda. The AMiA, a founding member of ACNA, has been a jurisdiction of ACNA, but, according to a special report on the AMiA Web site, it is about to become a Missionary Partner, a status that ties the AMiA less closely to ACNA. According to the report, the “dual citizenship” of the AMiA had become “untenable.” A May 11, 2010, news analysis piece by conservative journalist David Virtue suggests that the status change is at least in part the result of conflicts over women’s ordination. Links to additional material are available at Thinking Anglicans.

Monday, May 17, 2010

News for Week Ending 5/17/2010

Church gets first lesbian bishop

Mary Douglas Glasspool became The Episcopal Church’s first lesbian bishop on May 15, 2010. She was consecrated a suffragan bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, along with Diane Jardine Bruce. The ceremony took place in the Long Beach Arena before a congregation of 3,000, which included Becki Sander, Glasspool’s partner of 19 years. A minor protest interrupted the beginning of the service, which otherwise proceeded as planned. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was chief consecrator for the two new bishops. Details of the event can be found in stories from Episcopal News Service and the Los Angeles Times.

Reaction to Saturday’s consecrations has been surprisingly muted so far. The Times, in its story on the Los Angeles consecrations, notes that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams had earlier called the impending consecration of Glasspool “regretable” and suggested there would be consequences for The Episcopal Church. Archbishop Williams has not issued a statement following Glasspool’s consecration, however, whereas he has often been quick to respond to events in The Episcopal Church in the past. Archbishop Alan Harper of the Church of Ireland had similarly expressed “deep regret” after the announcement that Glasspool had received the necessary consents to become a bishop. (See Episcopal News Service story here.)

Anglican Mainstream did issue a statement May 15 in response to the Glasspool consecration signed by Dr. Philip Giddings and Canon Dr. Chris Sugden. Giddings and Sugden assert that The Episcopal Church should be excluded from representative bodies of the Anglican Communion, that a way should be found for dissenters in The Episcopal Church to maintain their connection to the Communion, and that the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) should be recognized as a member of the Anglican Communion instead of The Episcopal Church.

Ironically, the ordination of another woman on May 15 is causing distress in the traditionalist camp. According to VirtueOnline, the Rev. Susan Freeman, scheduled to be ordained a priest on the same day Glasspool was to be made a bishop, has become a controversial figure. The ordination was to be performed by the Rt. Rev. John A. M. Guernsey, Bishop of the Diocese of the Holy Spirit (Uganda) and a member of ACNA. In his editorial, “Ordination of Two Women Challenges Anglican/Episcopal Jurisdictions,” David Virtue briefly mentions Glasspool but writes at length of the contentiousness of women’s ordination in ACNA.

Displaced Episcopalians come together in Fort Worth

As happened in some parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, Episcopalians in parishes that sought “realignment” in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth in some cases dispersed to other churches following the schism in their diocese. On May 11, 2010, Episcopal News Service reported on parishioners from one realigned parish that have finally reunited as a congregation. They are now meeting Sunday evenings at Trinity Episcopal Church. The tradition-bound congregation is being allowed by the Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, the provisional bishop, to use the 1928 prayer book. The story can be read here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

News for Week Ending 5/10/2010

New Zealand General Synod considers covenant

The General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia debated the proposed Anglican covenant May 10, 2010. The first three sections of the covenant have received approval in principal, but Section 4 has proven controversial. The church is being asked to study the covenant over the next two years, after which the General Synod will decide whether to adopt it. Details can be read here. Dr. Tony Fitchett, a member of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion and a New Zealander, suggested accepting Sections 1–3 and rejecting Section 4, which he calls “punitive and unAnglican.”

CoE publishes draft legislation for women bishops

A drafting committee of the Church of England has reported on a proposal to provide for women bishops in the church. The proposal will be considered at the July meeting of the church’s General Synod. Even if the proposal meets with the approval of the Synod, women bishops could not become a reality in the Church of England until at least 2014. The proposed has generally be favorably received by supporters of women bishops, as it does not make women second-class bishops. Those unalterably opposed to the innovation generally see the report as inadequate. Episcopal News Service reported the story here. Links to various reactions to the committee report are available at Thinking Anglicans.

Breakaway L.A. church again appeals to California high court

The parish property case involving the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and the breakaway congregation of St. James’ Episcopal Church, Newport Beach, is beginning to seem interminable. (See earlier Pittsburgh Update stories here and here.) The church now calling itself St. James’ Anglican Church has made a third appeal to the California Supreme Court. Details were reported by Episcopal News Service on May 10, 2010.

Glasspool to be consecrated May 15

As Pittsburgh Update reported here, the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool is scheduled to be consecrated a suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles on Saturday, May 15, 2010. She will become only the second openly gay partnered bishop in the Anglican Communion. The consecration may occasion more criticism of The Episcopal Church for its inclusive policies.

Bennison makes final judicial appeal

As we reported earlier—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the Rt. Rev. Charles E. Bennison, Jr., the sometime Bishop of Pennsylvania who was found to have engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy for not reporting sexual improprieties of his brother, made his last judicial appeal to a church court May 4, 2010. The proceedings before the Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop were held in Wilmington, Delaware, and lasted three hours. Bennison is under sentence of deposition. If the appeal to the Court of Review is unsuccessful, Bennison could bring his case to the House of Bishops. Details are provided in a story from The Living Church.

Bishop Price featured at PEP meeting

Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh (PEP) is sponsoring a program on Monday, May 17, 2010, at Church of the Redeemer in Squirrel Hill. Dubbed “A Conversation with Bishop Price,” the event will provide an opportunity for Pittsburgh Episcopalians to meet and talk to the provisional bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, the Rt. Rev. Kenneth Price, Jr. The event begins at 7:30 PM. Church of the Redeemer is located at 5700 Forbes Avenue, next to St. Edmond’s Academy.

Monday, May 3, 2010

News for Week Ending 5/3/2010

New mechanism created for listening process

Anglican Communion News Service announced the initiation of the Continuing Indaba process April 30, 2010. Additional information is given in an Episcopal News Service story about the new Web site created for discussion within the Communion. The Continuing Indaba project is sponsored by the Archbishop of Canterbury and endorsed by the Anglican Consultative Council. Indaba is the name given to the African technique of consultation used by bishops at the most recent Lambeth Conference.

According to the ENS story, “Continuing Indaba grows out of requests to listen to gay and lesbian Christians that have been made intermittently since Anglican Communion bishops at the 1978 Lambeth Conference recognized ‘the need for pastoral concern for those who are homosexual’ and encouraged ‘dialogue with them.’” Initial funding for the project has been provided by an Episcopal priest, the Rev. Marta Weeks.

Anglo-Catholics consult with Vatican

Anglo-Catholic bishops of the Church of England have conferred with representatives of the Pope concerning their possible conversion to the Roman Catholic Church. The supposedly secret meeting was reported by the Telegraph.

The Church of England faces a potential crisis as it moves toward accepting conditions under which women priests can become bishops. The Times reported that the proposal that will be put before the July meeting of the General Synod will be announced May 7, 2010. According to The Times, no statutory provision is to be made for opponents of women bishops, but a voluntary code of conduct is intended to appease Anglo-Catholics. If suggested provisions are accepted by the General Synod, some Anglo-Catholic clergy may simply convert to Roman Catholicism. Others may accept the Pope’s offer of joining the Roman Catholic Church while preserving limited Anglican traditions. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Large defections from the Church of England seem unlikely, however, and the leaking of information about the Vatican meeting may have been intended to influence the General Synod debate.

Canadian General Synod to meet next month

The main governing body of the Anglican Church of Canada will meet next month in Halifax, Nova Scotia, June 3–11. Anglican Journal ran a story summarizing the issues before the 2010 General Synod, including the blessing of same-sex unions and the adoption of the proposed Anglican covenant. The May issue of the Anglican Journal also carried an opinion piece suggesting that, given the church’s moving ahead with same-sex blessings, the Anglican Church of Canada cannot, in good conscience, sign on to the covenant.

Bishops come and go

Two bishops who have been critical of The Episcopal Church are experiencing professional changes.

The Church of England’s Bishop of Durham, N.T. Wright, has announced that he will step down from his current post to return to an academic position at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews. New Testament scholar Wright is a prolific author and served on the Lambeth Commission, which produced the Windsor Report. The sample Anglican covenant in that report was largely written by Wright. Episcopal News Service ran a story on the Wright career change here.

Bishop Daniel W. Herzog, the retired Bishop of Albany who left The Episcopal Church in 2007 to join the Roman Catholic Church, has returned to The Episcopal Church. Herzog, a critic of the church’s consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, was welcomed back into the church by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who, according to Episcopal News Service, issued an order for Restoration of Ordained Ministry for Bishop Herzog.

Mandamus arguments heard in Fort Worth case

The Texas Second Court of Appeals heard arguments April 27, 2010, from both the reorganized Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and the breakaway diocese led by Bishop Jack Iker and also calling itself the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. The latter group is trying to get the court to reverse the decision of the trial court to let the case go forward, with both sides claiming to represent the same entity. (Iker, et al., are seeking a mandamus writ instructing the trial judge to reverse his decision on so-called Rule 12.) Issuing such a writ would greatly prejudice the case being pursued by the Episcopal Church diocese. Iker’s diocese wrote about the proceedings here. The Episcopal Church diocese has a brief note about the April 27 court appearance here, on a page that also reviews legal maneuvers to this point. Audio of the April 27 arguments can be heard here, and information about the litigation on the Court of Appeals Web site can be found here.