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, January 31, 2011

News for Week Ending 1/31/2010

West Indies, Myanmar adopt Covenant

According to Anglican Communion News Service, The Church in the Province of the West Indies adopted the Anglican Covenant in November 2010. In the same story, the adoption of the Covenant by The Church of the Province of Myanmar (Burma) is mentioned, though no date for the acceptance is given. Three churches of the Anglican Communion have now adopted the Covenant.

Note that the status of the Covenant in the churches of the Anglican Communion is being tracked by the No Anglican Covenant Web site.

Primates’ Meeting concludes with minimum drama

The Dublin meeting of Anglican primates concluded January 30, 2011. Approximately 2/3 of the primates attended, with many conservative primates staying away because of the presence of the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The meeting did not issue the usual post-meeting communiqué. Instead, it issued individual documents on particular topics (the nature of the Primates’ Meeting, the crisis in Haiti, climate change, and the murder of Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato), issued two open letters (on gender-based violence, and the crisis in Zimbabwe), and sent several letters whose contents have not been disclosed (to the primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, to the leaders of Pakistan, to the prime minister of Israel, to the nations negotiating the status of Korea, and to religious leaders in Egypt.) Issues of homosexuality and the church or of boundary violations seem not to have been much discussed.

Episcopal News Service, in a January 30 story, offers a fine summary of the meeting, with links to documents, to a brief video by the Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori, and to audio of the concluding news conference. Anglican Communion News Service published a number of stories about the meetings, beginning January 22.

Virginia moving forward on same-sex blessings

The Living Church reported January 25, 2011, that Bishop of Virginia Shannon S. Johnston will begin working with parishes to develop guidelines for conducting same-sex blessings in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. Johnston announced his plan at the 2011 Annual Council, which was held January 20–22. Johnston also said that he hopes the 2012 General Convention will formally authorize same-sex blessings.

Anglicans appeal Fort Worth ruling

As expected—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the breakaway Anglican Fort Worth diocese has filed court papers in response to the Tarrant County court ruling that the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Fort Worth is the proper custodian of diocesan property and the diocesan corporation. Defendants’ Objections to Form of Summary Judgment Orders, which was filed January 25, 2010, seeks to stay enforcement of Judge John Chupp’ January 21 order, pending appeal. The original order required a transfer of property within 60 days.

Monday, January 24, 2011

News for Week Ending 1/24/2011

Unknown number of primates to meet

The Primates’ Meeting is to take place in Dublin January 25–30, 2011. Church Times reports that it is still unknown how many primates will attend, since a number of Global South primates are boycotting the meeting because Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will be attending. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The meeting, unlike previous meetings, will employ a facilitator to lead discussions. Anglican Communion Secretary General Canon Kenneth Kearon has insisted that the primates staying home because Jefferts Schori will be at the meeting are still committed to the Anglican Communion, according to Anglican Communion News Service. No formal announcement of an agenda has been made, but Anglican Church of Canada’s Archbishop Fred Hiltz has indicated that the primates will discuss the nature of the Anglican Communion and their own role in it, according to Episcopal News Service. Episcopal News Service ran a story January 24 on the meeting that can be read here.

Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to DC marriage equality law

Religion Dispatches reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a case challenging the law allowing same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia. The suit was brought by Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor of Hope Christian Church of Beltsville, Maryland.

Fort Worth judge rules for Episcopal Church

Tarrant County (Texas) District Court Judge John Chupp ruled January 21, 2011, that “all property, as well as control of the diocesan corporation” must be surrendered to the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth by the breakaway group led by Bishop Jack Iker and also claiming to be the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. The ruling resulted from arguments made before the court January 14 on various motions for summary judgment advanced by both plaintiffs and defendants. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The judge ruled that, as a matter of law, The Episcopal Church is a hierarchical church, and its property can only be used for the benefit of The Episcopal Church. More details have been reported by Episcopal News Service and the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. The defendants announced their intention to appeal January 22.

San Joaquin to get new provisional bishop

According to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, its Standing Committee has chosen the Rt. Rev. Chester L. Talton, a retired suffragan bishop of Los Angeles to succeed the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb as provisional bishop of the diocese. Like Pittsburgh, San Joaquin is one of the four Episcopal Church dioceses that split, with many churches joining what has become the Anglican Church in North America. The choice of Bishop Talton is to be confirmed at a special convention of the diocese on March 29, 2008. Bishop Lamb and his wife will be returning to their home in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Bishop Jones announces retirement

According to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, its suffragan bishop, the Rt. Rev. David Colin Jones, has announced that he will retire in 2012. Bishop Jones, who has been in his current position for 17 years, served as consultant to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh after many diocesan leaders and members left the Episcopal Church in October 2008.

Monday, January 17, 2011

News of Week Ending 1/17/2011

Former CoE bishops ordained Roman priests

Three former Church of England bishops unwilling to tolerate woman bishops were ordained Roman Catholic priests January 15, 2011, in a ceremony in London’s Westminster Cathedral. The ceremony that saw John Broadhurst, Keith Newton, and Andrew Burnham become priests in what is now called the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, a kind of church within a church, was attended by the wives of the former bishops. The event is seen by some as a chill on ecumenical relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

The Guardian both reported and editorialized (“to be consumed in bickering about whether women can be priests is the stuff of satire”) on the ordinations. The BBC suggested that the new Ordinariate is problematic in a number of ways. Anglicans converting to Rome will not be able to take their churches with them and likely cannot share them. Moreover, liberal Catholics may not appreciate the influx of conservatives “more Catholic than the Catholics.” The effect on the Church of England will likely be to make it more liberal and more Protestant.

CoE General Synod to consider super-majority vote on Covenant

The Church of England General Synod meets again next month and will consider a motion respecting the Anglican Covenant for which there was insufficient debate time at the November meeting. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The motion, from John Ward, seeks to require a two-thirds vote of General Synod for the Church of England to adopt the Anglican Covenant. That the motion is to be considered is indicated in item 8 of this report from the Synod’s Business Committee.

Dissident Canadian congregations appeal to Supreme Court

The four congregations in Vancouver’s Diocese of New Westminster that left the Anglican Church of Canada to join the Anglican Network in Canada—now a diocese of Robert Duncan’s Anglican Church in North America—have filed an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. Lower courts have ruled that the congregations must return parish property to the diocese.

The application is not a surprise—see Pittsburgh Update story here—but is clearly a disappointment to New Westminster’s Bishop Michael Ingham, who observed that the move would “consume even more of the time, energy and money that should be used for the mission of the Church.”

The story was reported January 17, 2011, by Anglican Journal. The diocese commented on the legal move January 14 here. The brief filed by the 4 dissident congregations is available on the ANiC website.

Liturgy and music commission publishes blessing principles

The Living Church reported January 11, 2011, that the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of The Episcopal Church has published liturgical and theological principles that will inform its work of collecting resources for the blessing of same-sex unions. The Commission is also conducting an on-line survey to help decide whether the current 1982 Hymnal needs to be revised. The survey can be answered through January 31. Additional details are available in the story from The Living Church.

Hearing held on Fort Worth summary judgment motions

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth reports that arguments were heard in the District Court of Tarrant County January 14, 2011, pertaining to competing motions for summary judgment in the ongoing litigation between the Episcopal Church diocese and the parties that left the Episcopal Church for the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. A summary judgment may be issued when a judge is convinced that the facts and law are clear based on the written and documentary record, and there is no reason to hold a trial to determine the facts. According to the report by the diocese, Judge John P. Chupp “indicated he would issue a ruling soon after spending more time with the parties’ summary judgment motions, briefs and evidence.”

Georgia Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Appeal

The Georgia Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of the breakaway congregation of Christ Church, Savannah. An announcement is on the congregation’s web site. In July 2010, a Georgia Court of Appeals decision awarded the historic colonial property to the Diocese of Georgia and The Episcopal Church. Another appeals court in the state recently reversed a lower court decision awarding a breakaway Presbyterian congregation’s property to the presbytery. With conflicting appeals decisions, the Supreme Court could use the Christ Church case to settle both matters. Pittsburgh Update covered both earlier stories here and here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

News for Week Ending 1/10/2011

Primates’ meeting to begin January 25

The next meeting of the Anglican primates is scheduled to be held in Dublin, Ireland, January 25–31, 2011. The Sunday Business Post Online reported January 9, 2010, that the meeting will go on as scheduled, despite a threatened boycott by conservative primates to protest the attendance of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schoiri. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Nigerian bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon published an open letter in the December 31, 2010, Church Times pleading with primates to attend the meeting. “Those who do not come are increasingly being portrayed as the aggressors, and are passing the media advantage to the Episcopal Church in the United States, and others,” he argued.

Covenant sent to CoE dioceses

Thinking Anglicans reported January 4, 2011, that the Anglican Covenant has been referred to Church of England diocesan synods. The synods were sent the act to adopt the Covenant, the paper on the Covenant prepared for the recent General Synod, the transcript of the General Synod debate on the measure, and additional information about the referral. Thinking Anglicans has links to all the documents here. The Church of England unveiled a new Web site (at http://churchofengland.org) January 7, so older links, including previously working links to these documents, may no longer work.

Monday, January 3, 2011

News for Week Ending 1/3/2011

Anglicans join Roman Catholic service in Westminster Cathedral service

The Telegraph reported that the first group of clergy and laypeople from the Church of England were welcomed January 1, 2011, into the Ordinariate created by the Vatican. In a service in Westminster Cathedral—not to be confused with Westminster Abby—three former C0E bishops and clergy and laypeople from about 20 parishes became Roman Catholics who will be able to maintain certain Anglican traditions within the Roman Catholic Church. Most prominent among the new converts was the former Bishop of Fulham and now resigned chairman of the Anglo-Catholic Forward in Faith John Broadhurst.

Additional defections from the CoE to Rome are expected to follow as the CoE continues on the path to consecrating female bishops. The departures are expected to make the CoE General Synod less contentious.

Japan moves forward toward adopting Anglican Covenant

George Conger has reported that the General Synod of the Anglican church in Japan (the Nippon Sei Ko Kai) agreed to move forward in considering the Anglican Covenant last May despite opposition expressed by the Theological and Doctrine Committee of the House of Bishops. According to Conger, concerns that Section IV of the Covenant is un-Anglican were put aside “in view of the parlous state of the Anglican Communion.”

Prominent female priests marry in Massachusetts

Episcopal News Service reported January 3, 2010, that two female priests were married January 1 in Boston’s Cathedral Church of St. Paul by Bishop of Massachusetts M. Thomas Shaw before a congregation of 400. The principals in the service were the Very Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, dean and president of the Episcopal Divinity School and the Rev. Canon Mally Ewing Lloyd, canon to the ordinary for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. Although The Episcopal Church has not authorized liturgies for same-sex marriage, such a ceremony is allowed under Resolution C056 passed by the General Convention in 2009.

Anglo-Catholic Va. parish gets alternative episcopal oversight

According to VirtueOnline, Bishop of Southern Virginia Herman ‘Holly’ Hollerith has agreed to allow retired South Carolina suffragan bishop William Skilton to provide pastoral care for the Anglo-Catholic St. Bride’s Church of Chesapeake, Virginia. Rector R. Stephen Powers said that sexual issues and women’s ordination prompted the request for alternative oversight. Skilton was reluctant to call the arrangement Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO), an arrangement authorized by the church’s House of Bishops in 2004.