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, March 28, 2011

News for Week Ending 3/28/2011

Standing Committee meeting begins

Anglican Communion News Service reported on the first day of the Standing Committee meeting March 26, 2011, here. A report on the second day was posted March 28 here. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is not attending due to prior commitments. However, the Rt. Rev. Ian Douglas, Bishop of Connecticut, is at the meeting. It is not clear whether any business of special importance to The Episcopal Church or to the integrity of the Anglican Communion will be taken up at the multi-day meeting.

Church Times offers Covenant guide

Church Times, a U.K. publication covering the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, has published a guide to the Anglican Covenant. It is available as a 12-page PDF file. The guide contains a number of essays both favoring and opposing the Covenant. It also contains an annotated version of the Covenant text. The Church Times publication may be a better study guide to the Covenant than those published by either the Anglican Communion Office or The Episcopal Church. It is available here.

Fort Worth Episcopalians attempt to force document disclosure

In the continuing battle over church property in Fort Worth, The Episcopal Diocese of Forth Worth filed a motion March 25, 2011, to compel the defendants who broke away from The Episcopal Church to surrender documents that have been requested. The motion asserts that the documents properly belong to the Episcopal Church diocese and that the defendants are dragging their feet. Of particular interest in the filing is this sentence: “However, Defendants have worked irreparable harm during this litigation, including purporting to encumber church property with a $3,500,000 lien [emphasis in original] despite having no legal right to the property.” Both sides in the litigation have also entered into an agreement to preserve relevant documents. Both filings were reported by the Episcopal diocese here. (The most recent Pittsburgh Update story on the Fort Worth litigation can be found here.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

News for Week Ending 3/21/2011

CoE dioceses register votes

Diocesan synods in the Church of England (CoE) are beginning to vote on two important issues, the approval of the plan to implement women bishops in the church and the question of whether the CoE should adopt the Anglican Covenant. Thinking Anglicans reproduced a press release from Women and the Church (WATCH) noting that the Diocese of Birmingham voted March 12, 2011, to approve legislation allowing for women bishops and defeated attempts to strengthen provisions for those who cannot accept women bishops.

On March 19, the Diocese of Litchfield announced that it had become the first CoE diocese to approve adoption of the Anglican Covenant. Church Times reported March 18, that the Diocese of Wakefield had become the first diocese to reject the Covenant.

The CoE has 44 dioceses whose synods will be voting on these two matters.

General Convention deputies gather to consult on same-sex blessings

Nearly 200 deputies to the 2012 General Convention met in Atlanta March 18 and 19, 2011, at the invitation of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM). This was to further the task given to the SCLM by the 2009 General Convention to collect and develop theological and liturgical resources related to same-sex blessings. One lay and one clergy deputy was invited from each Episcopal Church diocese. The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh was represented by Mr. Andy Muhl and the Rev. Scott Quinn. Details of the gathering are available from Episcopal News Service here and here.

Northwest Texas wins case against breakaway parish

According to the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, on March 18, 2011, an Austin appeals court ruled that the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas is the proper steward of the property of the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in San Angelo, Texas, even though a majority of parishioners voted to leave The Episcopal Church in 2006. The court’s opinion can be read here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

News for Week Ending 3/14/2011

Archbishop of Canterbury writes to primates; pushes Covenant

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams wrote a Lenten letter to Anglican primates March 11, 2011. Much of the letter is irrelevant to the usual concerns of Pittsburgh Update readers, but the archbishop did note that the primates, at their last meeting, declared that they did not represent any kind of Anglican supreme court. He did say, however, that “those present [at the Primates’ Meeting] were still committed to the Covenant process and had no desire to interrupt the significant discussions of this that are currently going on (as many of you will know, several Provinces have already adopted the Covenant and others are very close to finalising their decision).”

Fort Worth Episcopalians to visit Southern Cone churches

In the ongoing property litigation over property in Fort Worth, the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is planning to visit churches from which Episcopalians were displaced in 2008 to assess their condition. This is explained in a letter from diocesan leaders here. The request to the court to get access to the property can be read here. The response from the Southern Cone diocese seeks to reassure parishioners and vilify the Episcopalians. Judgment has been entered in favor of the Episcopalians, but it is not yet final. The most recent Pittsburgh Update story on the Fort Worth litigation can be found here.

Newport Beach church goes back to California Supreme Court

Once again, what is now St. James Anglican Church in Newport Beach, California, has gone back to the Supreme Court regarding its property dispute with the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. According to the Orange County Register, the court “is now being asked whether the 2009 ruling [in favor of the diocese] was meant to be the last word, or whether it was sending the case back for trial in a local court.” (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The court must issue an opinion in 90 days.

Monday, March 7, 2011

News for Week Ending 3/7/2011

Nineteen bishops meet, praise working together

Financed by sponsors in Canada, the U.S., and Tanzania, nineteen Anglican bishops met in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and discuss issues of human sexuality and other issues February 22–27, 2011. The gathering was first proposed by the Anglican Church of Canada.

In a March 1 press release, the bishops declared, “We are stronger in relationship than when we are apart. This, we believe, is a work of engaging in Communion building rather than Communion breaking.” They acknowledged that they are not always understood as they intend due to cultural differences, and they declared a goal of seeking common understanding, though not necessarily common agreement. The bishops asserted that the church is in need of such dialogue, and they agreed to further meetings.

The story was reported both by Anglican Communion News Service and Episcopal News Service.

Anglo-Catholic Covenant verdict: unfit for purpose

New Directions, the magazine of the Anglo-Catholic group Forward in Faith in the U.K., published several pieces on the proposed Anglican Covenant in its January 2011 issue. In an editorial titled “Who wants the Anglican Covenant?” it is suggested that the answer to that question is “hardly anyone.” In particular, the editorial concludes by declaring, “The Covenant is not fit for purpose.” Essays on the Covenant in the same issue, each criticizing the current draft from a different point of view, can be read here and here.

Rhode Island bishop to retire

Bishop of Rhode Island Geralyn Wolf has announced plans to retire by the end of 2012, when she will be 65. The public announcement was made March 5, 2011, the the annual diocesan convocation. (Written and audio versions of her announcement can be found on the diocese’s blog.) Wolf, who came to The Episcopal Church from Judaism, was the second woman to be elected a diocesan bishop.

As chronicled in a story from The Province Journal, Wolf’s episcopate has had its share of troubles. She has also caused controversy in the wider church. Although she voted to allow the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, she has not allowed same-sex blessings in her diocese. She is a member of the Communion Partners, who, while remaining in The Episcopal Church, have been sympathetic to the calls for moratoria from the Anglican Communion and for her own church to make other concessions for the sake of Anglican solidarity.

Episcopal News Service posted a brief story about the Wolf retirement March 7.

Anglican diocese proposes settlement principles

According to a story on the Web site of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, a letter to the members of the Anglican and Episcopal Pittsburgh dioceses was signed March 5, 2011, at a meeting of Anglican leaders that took place at St. Martin’s, Monroeville. (A description of the meeting from Canon Mary Hays can be found here.) The letter is titled “Hopes for Negotiations and a Call to Prayer.” The letter seems to imply that negotiations between the two dioceses over property is imminent, though no such signals have been forthcoming from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The letter expresses the hope that the two dioceses “will find a way to seek blessing on one another.” There is no mention of Archbishop’s Duncan’s request to Commonwealth Court to review its decision regarding diocesan property. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)