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, September 20, 2010

News for Week Ending 9/20/2010

Australian church to study covenant for three years

The Anglican Church of Australia, meeting in its General Synod in Melbourne, has passed a resolution asking all its dioceses to debate the Anglican covenant draft and report back by December 2012, so the covenant can be considered by the General Synod in 2013. The original resolution was amended to say that the church “received,” rather than “welcomed” the proposed covenant. Details can be read here.

Dublin to host January primates meeting

Anglican Communion News Service has announced that the next meeting of the Anglican primates will be held in Dublin, Ireland, January 25–31, 2011. A story from Episcopal News Service provides additional information.

Although the Primates Meeting was originally established to provide an opportunity for “leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation” among the chief episcopal leaders of Anglican churches, it is now spoken of as an “Instrument of Communion” and has increasingly sought to yield power within the Anglican Communion. The most recent meeting of the primates was held in Alexandria, Egypt, in 2009.

Lesbian pastors welcomed in ELCA service

In accordance with the decision taken by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) last summer—see Pittsburgh Update story here—three partnered lesbian Lutheran ministers with a combined 60 years of clerical experience were welcomed as official Lutheran pastors in a September 18, 2010, service in St. Paul, Minnesota. The ELCA Churchwide Assembly voted “to open the ministry of the church to gay and lesbian pastors and other professional workers living in committed relationships” last August 21. The Rev. Anita Hill, the Rev. Phyllis Zillhart, and the Rev. Ruth Frost were welcomed in a ceremony in which apologies for past discrimination were made on behalf of the church. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported the story here. Video is available from CNN here.

Bishops meeting in Phoenix

As noted here last week, Episcopal Church bishops are meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, concluding their fall gathering September 21, 2010. The bishops have discussed many topics, particularly immigration, but little of serious news value has emerged to date. Nonetheless, Episcopal News Service has been issuing daily summaries, and some final words are expected from the bishops before the meetings conclude on the 21st. Summaries can be found here, here, and here. Sermons preached September 19 by various bishops, including the Presiding Bishop, can be found here.

Episcopal blogger elected Springfield bishop

Episcopal News Service reported September 18, 2010, that the Rev. Daniel H. Martins has been elected the next diocesan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield, Illinois. Martins is well known to Internet-savvy Episcopalians through his blog, “Confessions of a Carioca”—he was born in Brazil—and through his contributions, as a General Convention deputy, to the House of Bishops and Deputies e-mail list.

Assuming that Martins receives the necessary consents from standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction, he will succeed the Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith as Bishop of Springfield. Under Beckwith, who was vice president of the American Anglican Council and associated with other dissident “orthodox” groups, there was considerable anxiety about the status of the Springfield diocese, even though Beckwith asserted his intention to remain in The Episcopal Church. Martins, a conservative who attended seminary at Nashotah House, will, many hope, be a less controversial bishop. His many public statements may make collecting the needed consents more difficult than usual, however. For example, at least one blog has already questioned his opposition to the 2009 General Convention’s Resolution C056.

Former Episcopal priest accepts plea bargain in Colorado

The Rev. Don Armstrong, described by The Lead as a “charismatic founder of the Anglican Communion Institute and current priest in good standing in ACNA [the Anglican Church in North America],” pleaded no contest to felony theft charges September 17, 2010, a move that earned him a deferred judgment and sentence, according to The Denver Post. Armstrong had already been tried in a ecclesiastical court and removed as an Episcopal priest for embezzling funds from his church. Also, the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado had to go to court to retrieve parish property removed from control of the diocese by Armstrong and his congregation. (The diocese prevailed in March 2009; see Pittsburgh Update story here.) Episcopal News Service covered the story here. The diocese issued a press release asserting that the plea was an implicit admission of criminal guilt by Armstrong, but his parish, St. George’s Anglican Church, issued a statement saying that “we have become convinced even more strongly that controversies within the larger denominational church were the catalyst for the Diocese’s investigation and complaint, for the purpose of silencing our bold and successful defense of orthodoxy through our parish’s life, discipline, and teaching ministry.” [Editorial note, 9/23/2010: As explained by The Lead, Armstrong’s church has removed the statement referred to above from its Web site. It can be read here, a file that was created from the Google cache of the page. Armstrong’s plea agreement can be read here.]

Pennsylvania Standing Committee: Bennison trying to create ‘alternate reality’

Episcopal News Service reported September 16, 2010, that the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania has written to Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, responding to her concern that Bishop Charles Bennison should resign. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) In its letter, which has not been made public, the Standing Committee expressed frustration that Bennison does not acknowledge the reality of his situation and is seeking to create an “alternate reality.”

South Carolina proposes changes at special convention to ‘protect’ itself

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina is holding a special diocesan convention October 15, 2010. Resolutions have been proposed to “protect” the diocese, supposedly from unconstitutional changes to Title IV of the Episcopal Church’s canons adopted at the 2009 General Convention. The diocese cited an Anglican Communion Institute essay as justification for its resolutions, which have much in common with resolutions used to justify schism in Pittsburgh. Episcopal News Service covered the story here.

Breakaway group in Fort Worth fails in latest court ploy

According to the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the breakaway group led by former Episcopal bishop Jack Iker has failed in its attempt to have itself declared the legitimate successor to the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. The judge in the Tarrant County case has urged the parties to move quickly to argument of substantive issues.