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, June 28, 2010

News for Week Ending 6/28/2010

Standing Committee membership in flux

George Conger, in The Church of England Newspaper (not an official organ of the Church of England) reported June 25, 2010, that another member of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion (as the former Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and Primates Meeting is now being called) has resigned. According to Conger, Bishop Azad Marshall of Iran has resigned his membership.

In the same article, Conger suggests that the position of Bishop of Connecticut Ian Douglas on the Standing Committee is in doubt. Douglas had been elected to the Standing Committee when he was a priest representative of The Episcopal Church on the Anglican Consultative Council. He is now a bishop and has been elected as such to the Anglican Consultative Council. The Anglican Communion Institute has argued not only that Douglas cannot be on the Standing Committee but that he cannot now even be on the Anglican Consultative Council. Its position on the matter can be found here.

Women bishops controversy heats up as General Synod approaches

As we reported last week—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have proposed a change in how women bishops will be introduced into the Church of England. This has been done on the eve of the General Synod meeting that will be called upon to approve an implementation plan. Church Times has published a story that provides a reasonably clear description of the archbishops’ proposal, given that the final wording has not yet been released.

A group representing Anglo-Catholic clergy—not all Anglo-Catholic clergy are aligned with or in sympathy with this group—has released a statement supportive of the new proposal. On the other hand, a letter having the backing of Watch, a group lobbying on behalf of female clergy, roundly criticized the plan.

CoE bishops endorse covenant

Thinking Anglicans reported June 26, 2010, that the House of Bishops of the Church of England agreed in its May meeting “to commend [the draft Anglican covenant] for adoption by the Church of England.” Details are available here.

More on ‘Mitregate’

Additional information and commentary is now available on “Mitregate,” the controversy over the dress of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for her visit to London’s Southwark Cathedral. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Church Times offers perspective on the affair in its story of June 25, 2010. Two days earlier, The Lead published a letter from Lambeth Palace to an American corresponding, explaining the incident from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s point of view.

The Presiding Bishop is now traveling in New Zealand and Australia (see next story). According to Anglican Taonga, while in New Zealand, Bishop John Gray spoke to Jefferts Schori about building a cathedral. “It clearly won’t be as big, say, as Southwark Cathedral in London,” he said. “But in my cathedral, you can wear your mitre.”

Presiding Bishop continues world tour

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori continues her world travels by visiting New Zealand and Australia. Her two-week sojourn in the Southern Hemisphere is described in an Episcopal News Service report. According to ENS, the trip is “all about building relationships.” The New Zealand leg of the trip is described here. The Presiding Bishop preached a sermon on freedom June 27, 2010. Her Sunday visits to New Zealand churches are recounted here.

“Orthodox Anglican” reporter David Virtue wrote about the Presiding Bishop’s travels July 14. He described her as “traveling the globe shoring up her base of support among liberal Anglican provinces for what many believe is a back-up plan to exit the communion should the Archbishop of Canterbury take the logical step of not inviting her to the next meeting of the Anglican Primates.”

Follow-up: More information about Executive Council/Kearon dialogue

We reported on the meeting of Executive Council last week. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council, attended the meeting and was asked questions about his decision to dismiss certain Episcopalians from service on ecumenical Anglican bodies. Katie Sherrod, a member of the Council, has posted a detailed report of the dialogue with Kearon on her blog. The Living Church also published an account of the encounter.

Congregation to return to San Diego church

St. Anne’s, Oceanside, returns to service as an Episcopal church in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego on July 4, 2010. The church is one of several in the diocese whose congregations voted to disaffiliate from The Episcopal Church, taking parish property with them. A San Diego judge ruled in November that the Oceanside property is properly held by the Episcopal diocese. All disputed properties have now been returned to the San Diego diocese. Bishop James Mathes has invited the entire diocese to the celebration at St. Anne’s next Sunday. He will preside at the service, which will be followed by a picnic. More information is available from Examiner.com and Episcopal News Service.

Episcopal diocese handed setback in Fort Worth case

According to a press release from the breakaway Fort Worth diocese led by Bishop Jack Iker, the Texas Second Court of Appeals ruled June 25, 2010, that attorneys for the Episcopal Church diocese and for The Episcopal Church itself cannot represent “The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth” and its related Corporation. Arguments were made before the appellate court April 27. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The appellate court was troubled by a corporation seemingly suing itself. The court declared that both sides agreed “that there is only one Corporation and one Fort Worth Diocese.” According to the press release, the court “declined to settle the question of ‘identity.’” Episcopal Church supporters are concerned that the decision will prejudice the ongoing litigation. The full decision can be found here.

Largest Episcopal parish ‘affirms’ covenant

The Living Church reported June 23, 2010, that the largest parish of The Episcopal Church, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church of Houston, Texas, has “affirmed” the proposed Anglican covenant. The action came in the form of a unanimous vote of the vestry. Only provinces (national and regional churches) of the Anglican Communion have the power to adopt the covenant, so the vote is only symbolic. The rector of St. Martin’s, the Rev. Dr. Russell J. Levenson, Jr., is a member of the advisory committee of Communion Partners.

Monday, June 21, 2010

News for Week Ending 6/21/2010

Anglican world atwitter over ‘Mitregate’

As we reported last week, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached in London’s Southwark Cathedral. According to Episcopal News Service, Jefferts Schori was pressured by Lambeth not to wear her mitre in the cathedral service. Instead, she carried it. (The Guardian briefly reported on the flap earlier. Ruth Gledhill of the Times provides an interesting perspective here.) Also, The Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop was asked “to provide evidence of her ordination to each order of ministry.” Jefferts Schori called the requirements “nonsense.” “It is bizarre;” she said, “it is beyond bizarre.”

The incident has occasioned considerable comment in the Anglican blogosphere, little of which has been sympathetic to the Archbishop of Canterbury. (See a sampling at Thinking Anglicans.) The incident might have been dismissed as trivial and silly in another context, but it comes after the dueling Pentecost letters from the head of the Church of England (CoE) and of The Episcopal Church—see Pittsburgh Update story here—and just before the General Synod meeting of the CoE at which action is to be taken on the plan to allow for women bishops. That meeting is showing signs of being very contentious. (See next story) Of course, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori is unique as a woman Anglican primate.

CoE General Synod to act on women bishops

The Church of England’s (GoE) General Synod meets next month from July 9 to July 13, 2010. (The agenda and background papers are available here.) The agenda is dominated by the topic “Women in the Episcopate,” the question of how the CoE will provide for women bishops.

Although it had seemed as though the terms under which women would exercise episcopal authority in England had more or less been settled in favor of making women bishops the equals of male bishops—see Pittsburgh Update story here—a late-breaking development threatens to turn the meeting into a donnybrook. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are proposing an amendment to get around the fact that Anglo-Catholics that oppose ordained women not only do not want to be under the jurisdiction of a woman bishop but also want to avoid being under the jurisdiction of a male bishop designated by a female bishop. This story is developing as this is being written. Details are available from The Lead and from the Times. Neither side seems happy with the archbishops’ proposal. Episcopal News Service also covered this story.

TEC Executive Council meets; quizzes Kearon

The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church met outside of Baltimore June 16–18, 2010. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council who had recently carried out the Archbishop of Canterbury’s threat to remove Episcopalians from Anglican bodies—see Pittsburgh Update story here—was invited to the meeting and was grilled by Council members. According to Episcopal News Service, Kearon asserted that The Episcopal Church “should have expected consequences” from the consecration of lesbian Mary Glasspool. The Council was clearly not pleased by what it heard. Council member Bruce Garner said that he had “never witnessed so much obfuscation in such a short period of time” in his entire life.

Additional information on the Executive Council meeting can be found here and here.

APLM says covenant will produce ‘hierarchically-centralized Communion’

The Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission (APLM) issued a statement June 13, 2010, asserting that recent developments have shown that the proposed Anglican covenant will lead to a ‘hierarchically-centralized Communion.” APLM describes itself as a group of North American Anglicans working for liturgical renewal in The Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada. The APLM statement can be read here. The Living Church covered the story here.

Moravians establish full communion with Episcopal Church

Episcopal News Service reported June 18, 2010, that the Northern Province of the Moravian Church has voted for full communion with The Episcopal Church. The 2009 General Convention approved an agreement establishing full communion with the Northern and Southern Province of the Moravian Church. The Southern Province will vote on the agreement in September.

Monday, June 14, 2010

News for Week Ending 6/14/2010

Canadian Synod defers decisive action

The Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod finished its triennial meeting June 11, 2010. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Synod failed to take definitive action either on the draft Anglican covenant or on same-sex blessings.

According to Episcopal News Service, the Synod adopted a resolution asking the Council of General Synod (roughly, the analogue of The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council) to recommend to the 2013 General Synod what action should be taken on the covenant.

Episcopal News Service also reported that the Synod adopted a report on same-sex blessings that admits that there are differences on the issue and that some dioceses are allowing blessings. The General Synod neither provided for local option on the matter nor approved or disapproved same-sex blessings. The actual resolution and report can be read here.

A summary of the Canadian General Synod can be found here.

Presiding Bishop travels abroad

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has been doing a good deal of traveling. She addressed the Canadian General Synod June 8, 2010, saying that our church is “deeply grateful for our friends north of the border.” The next day, Jefferts Schori delivered one of two keynote addresses at an English missionary conference in Swanwick, England. (See Episcopal News Service story here, which includes a link to video of the Presiding Bishop’s talk.) On June 11, she addressed the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Her talk, available as an audio recording here, includes a history lesson on the early years of The Episcopal Church and a summary of what the church is doing now. On June 13, the Presiding Bishop preached at London’s Southwark Cathedral.

Canterbury letter draws responses

The Pentecost letter from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the subsequent actions to remove Episcopalians from various Anglican bodies—see Pittsburgh Update story here—have drawn a number of responses. On June 8, 2010, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori called the actions “unfortunate” and said that they misrepresent the Anglican Communion. Her remarks, made at a press conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, were reported by Episcopal News Service. Church Times also ran a story about the unhappiness of the primates of both The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada over the Anglican Communion move.

Inclusive Church wrote letters both to the Presiding Bishop and to the Archbishop of Canterbury deploring the actions against The Episcopal Church. Support for the American and Canadian churches was also expressed by the General Secretary of Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil. Thinking Anglicans also has links to additional commentary and reports here and here.

Australia seeing greater opposition to women clergy

Melbourne’s The Age reported June 10, 2010, that there is increasing pressure from Evangelicals to discourage leadership of women in the church. This is a surprising development in the Diocese of Melbourne, which was in the forefront of the drive for women’s ordination in the Anglican Church of Australia.

Controversy over the place of women in the church has been much in the news of late. In its General Synod next month, the Church of England will try to move forward with allowing women bishops, despite strong minority opposition. (See Pittsburgh Update story here. Late developments can be read on Thinking Anglicans here and here.) Also, the Anglican Church in North America continues to deal with the issue of women’s ordination, having seen its first defections over that issue. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Gay marriage continues to make progress in Europe

Reuters reported June 11, 2010, that the Iceland Parliament unanimously passed a law allowing for same-sex marriage in the country. Iceland, which has a reputation for tolerance, also has an openly gay prime minister.

Virginia Supreme Court rules for Va. diocese

The long-running property dispute between the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and nine breakaway congregations that are now part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), took an interesting turn June 10, 2010, when the Supreme Court of Virginia overturned the decision of the lower court that had granted parish property to the CANA parishes. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The court ruled that the unique Virginia statute on which earlier rulings depended was not applicable to the case. The Court did not, however, agree with all the arguments made by the Episcopalians. Ownership of parish property remains in dispute, as the case is sent back to the lower court. The CANA parishes have been deprived of one of their strongest theories in the case, however, and future litigation will invoke arguments made in similar cases in other states.

Episcopal News Service reported on the legal development in a story containing a link to the Supreme Court opinion. A statement from the diocese is here (other materials related to the litigation are here). A statement from CANA can be found here. The Washington Post also has a story on the Virginia development.

ACNA facing challenges

According to Religion News Service (RNS), the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) must raise $500,000 in six months to meet its budget. It also faces continuing debates over the ordination of women. The RNS story reported on the ACNA meeting in Amesbury, Massachusetts, approximately a year following the formation of ACNA. Archbishop Robert Duncan’s state of the church address delivered in Amesbury can be viewed at Anglican TV.

Monday, June 7, 2010

News for Week Ending 6/7/2010

Canadian General Synod meeting

The triennial General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada is meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia, June 3–11, 2010. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Information about the Synod and daily summaries are being provided by the church here. Links to news reports and other information are available from Thinking Anglicans. Anglican Journal is also providing coverage.

The Canadian primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, covered a variety of topics in his introductory address to the General Synod. Thinking Anglicans links to the full address and excerpts a section relevant to Anglican Communion disputes here. Episcopal News Service reported on the address here.

Scotland Synod to meet

The Scottish Episcopal Church will hold its annual General Synod June 10–12, 2010. Coverage will be available on the church’s Web site. The agenda and papers for the Synod are available here. The agenda includes a resolution that would ask the Faith and Order Board to propose to the 2011 General Synod a process for considering the proposed Anglican covenant.

An interesting audio interview with the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church is available here.

CoE to allow divorced bishops

The Telegraph reported June 6, 2010, that the Church of England will allow divorced persons for the first time to become bishops. Under current rules, even a priest who is the second husband of his wife cannot become a bishop. The policy change was agreed to by the House of Bishops in May, the Telegraph said. Opposition by traditionalist groups to new policy is strong. The Rev. Geoffrey Kirk, a frequent spokesman for the Anglo-Catholic wing of the church, said, “Promoting divorced bishops is a far more serious matter than homosexual bishops because it is undermining one of the fundamental teachings of scripture.”

Communion tensions increase

In response to the recent Pentecost letter from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams—see Pittsburgh Update story here—Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori issued her own letter to The Episcopal Church. Although polite, it is difficult not to see the letter as defiant. Comment on the letter has been extensive. Reuters covered the story here. (See also Thinking Anglican posts here and here.)

While many Episcopalians were cheering the June 2, 2010, missive from their primate, news came from Anglican Communion News Service June 7 that the sanctions “proposed” by the archbishop had, in fact been implemented unilaterally. Episcopal News Service reported later in the day what Episcopalians had been dismissed or demoted by Rowan Williams. As this is being written, analyses are only just beginning to appear. No doubt, Thinking Anglicans will do its usually fine job of collecting links to news stories and commentary on this latest development.

Portugal sees first gay marriage

Associated Press reported that the first gay marriage of a lesbian couple took place June 7, 2010, under a new Portuguese law. The event is notable, as Portugal has a predominately Roman Catholic population.