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 30, 2011

News for Week Ending 5/30/2011

Slee memo attacks Archbishop of Canterbury

On May 25, 2011, Andrew Brown of the Guardian revealed the existence of a memo from the late dean of Southwark Cathedral, Colin Slee, concerning a confidential meeting at which bishops were being chosen. Brown wrote
The document reveals shouting matches and arm-twisting by the archbishops to keep out the diocese’s preferred choices as bishop: Jeffrey John, the gay dean of St Albans, and Nicholas Holtam, rector of St Martin-in-the-Fields in central London, whose wife was divorced many years ago.
The article has set off a firestorm of criticism of the memo, of the Church of England, and of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is impossible to cover all the relevant details here, and, no doubt, more facts and commentary will be forthcoming. Thinking Anglicans has a good list of relevant links. Particularly helpful in sorting out the basic facts of the developing controversy is a post from The Church Mouse. The Lead also has a useful post.

New Westminster awarded court costs

The Canadian Diocese of New Westminster has been awarded court costs of approximately $120,000 by the British Columbia Court of Appeal, according to a May 19, 2011, news release from the diocese. The compensation is for funds expended in the property litigation with four congregations that left the Anglican Church of Canada for the conservative Anglican Network in Canada. The four congregation still have pending a petition to the Supreme Court to allow them to appeal the original decision of the Court of Appeal upholding the right of the diocese to use of the property. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

New Jersey posts Covenant response

The 2012 General Convention deputation of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey has posted its response to the Anglican Covenant. In a letter sent to Executive Council in April but only recently added to the diocesan Web site, the deputation suggested that, should the General Convention adopt the Covenant, it should consider declaring explicit reservations “to the extent feasible to mollify the possible pernicious consequence that could flow from the operation of the Covenant.” The letter did not rule out the possibility that some members of the deputation might actually vote for simple adoption.

Chicago issues same-sex guidelines

On May 25, 2011, The Living Church reported that the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago has issued guidelines for the blessing of same-sex unions. “Guidelines for the Solemnization of Holy Union” is a 29-page document that takes effect on June 1, 2011, the day on which a new Illinois law goes into effect granting recognition to same-sex couples. Resolution C056, passed by the 2009 General Convention, allows dioceses to offer “generous pastoral response” to the needs of gay and lesbian Episcopalians.

Monday, May 23, 2011

News for Week Ending 5/23/2011

Church of Scotland takes step toward gay acceptance

The Church of Scotland, which is a Presbyterian, not an Anglican, church, voted May 23, 2011, to have a new commission consider same-sex issues within the church. The report from the Guardian that the church has voted to allow gay clergy is apparently wrong. Keven Holdsworth, Provost of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, reputedly sets the record straight on his blog. He claims the vote is not a victory for inclusiveness, but a small step in that direction.

Commission puts same-sex resources on-line

Episcopal News Service reported May 16, 2011, that the church’s Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) has placed theological and liturgical resources it has collected on the blessing of same-sex unions on-line. The 2006 General Convention directed the SCLM to collect such resources through its Resolution C056. The new SCLM archive can be found here.

Virginia churches align with ACNA

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), led by Archbishop Robert Duncan, has announced that the Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) is joining ACNA as the Anglican Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic (ADMA). On May 21, 2011, ADV chose the Rt. Rev. John Guernsey as its bishop. ADV has been a part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), which claims to be part of the Nigerian Anglican church. According to CANA, many of the ADMA “congregations and clergy will continue to be in partnership with CANA in order to maintain their connection to the Anglican Communion.” Many of the ADMA congregations and clergy are also in litigation with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia over parish property.

Parties in Fort Worth dispute negotiating

According to the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the May 19, 2011, hearing before Judge John P. Chupp has not led to any order from the bench. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Instead, the judge invited the parties representing the two sides of the diocesan split to reach a settlement of the immediate issues on their own. Negotiations are apparently going on now. The story was reported by the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

Monday, May 16, 2011

News for Week Ending 5/16/2011

Two provinces approve Covenant with different understandings

The Anglican churches in South East Asia and Ireland both signed on to the Anglican Covenant this past week, but the provinces issued statements suggesting that their understanding of their actions were quite different.

South East Asia “acceded” to the Covenant, but, in its statement, it expanded the meaning of the Covenant beyond any possible objective reading, insisting, for example, that 1998 Lambeth Resolution I.10 must not be “violated” by signatories.

The Church of Ireland, on the other hand, “subscribed” to the Covenant, a move it distinguished, in a press release, from “adopting” the Covenant. Whereas South East Asia attempted to expand the meaning of the pact, Ireland intended to carefully circumscribe its significance so as to preserve the church’s autonomy. (The working group that recommended subscription to the Church of Ireland General Synod provided an explanation that can be read here.)

Anglican Communion News Service reported on the South East Asia action here on May 8, 2011, (see story here) and on the Church of Ireland move here on May 13. Episcopal News service ran a story reporting both approvals.

GAFCON announces new offices, events

GAFCON leaders met April 25–28, 2011, in Nairobi and released information about their meeting on May 11. The group announced plans for a leadership conference in New York in 2012, to be followed by a broader conference, tentatively designated GAFCON 2, in 2013. A “Chairman’s office” is to be opened in Nairobi. (The Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala, Primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya, is now Chairman of the Primates’ Council.) Additionally, a “Global Coordination office” is to be opened in London under the direction of the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, who is Deputy Secretary and Executive Director. Minns, a former Episcopal priest, is often credited with developing the Global South strategy.

Diocese releases property Q&A

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh posted a collection of questions and answers related to property issues on its Web site on May 13, 2011. The information is intended to clarify issues for Episcopalians and others interested in property matters. The post can be found here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

News for Week Ending 5/9/2011

Archbishop appoints new flying bishops

In what has been seen as a setback for women in the Church of England (CoE), Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has appointed two new “flying bishops” to replace bishops who have left the CoE for the ordinariate created by the Vatican. According to the Guardian, the Rev. Jonathan Baker and the Rev. Norman Banks will replace departed bishops Keith Newton and Andrew Burnham.

“Flying bishops,” officially called provincial episcopal visitors, minister to parishes that refuse to accept the ministry of women clergy. Women and the Church (WATCH), which seeks equality of men and women in the CoE, warned that the appointments threaten to undermine the authority of women clergy at a time when the church is seeking terms under which women can be made bishops. The archbishop pointed out that the new bishops, aged 44 and 57, respectively, will remain bishops, even after, as expected, flying bishops are eliminated.

Press releases from Lambeth Palace and WATCH, as well as related links, can be found at Thinking Anglicans.

Huron goes to court to retrieve property

The Diocese of Huron of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) went to court May 9, 2011, to regain the parish property of St. Aidan’s Anglican Church of Windsor, Ontario. Members of St. Aidan’s voted in 2008 to leave the ACoC and to join the conservative Anglican Network in Canada. The story was reported May 7 by The Windsor Star.

Presbyterians close to ordaining gays

The Presbyterian Church (USA) may soon remove its ban on ordaining homosexuals. A constitutional amendment allowing such ordination needs approval by a single additional presbytery to become effective. The Currier-Journal reported May 9, 2011, that the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area or the Presbytery of Western Kentucky may shortly put the amendment into effect.

L.A. property case remanded to lower court

In what seems like a never-ending legal struggle between the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and the congregation that now styles itself as St. James Anglican Church of Newport Beach, California, the Supreme Court of California, on May 5, 2011, remanded the dispute to the appeals court for further argument. (See court opinion here. The Pittsburgh Update story about the appeal to the high court is here.)

Although the Supreme Court has already ruled that the Diocese of Los Angeles and The Episcopal Church are the proper custodians of the parish property in dispute, the congregation has raised new issues not considered by the court. In a story about the latest development, the diocese asserts that the order of the Supreme Court “does not detract at all” from the earlier judgment. In a post on its Web site, St. James has announced its plan to argue that a 1991 letter from the Bishop of Los Angeles renounced Episcopal Church interest in the parish property.

Monday, May 2, 2011

News for Week Ending 5/2/2011

Quincy to vote against Covenant

The Living Church published a letter from the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy 2012 General Convention deputation May 2, 2011. (A more complete version of the document can be found here.) In it, the Quincy deputies expressed grave reservations about the Anglican Covenant and its institutionalization of the “instruments of the Communion.” The deputies announced their intention to vote against adoption of the Covenant by The Episcopal Church. On April 28, Episcopal News Service ran a story reviewing what various dioceses have had to say about the Covenant.

Same-sex blessing authorized in San Joaquin

Real Anglicans reported April 30, 2011, that Bishop Chester Talton of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has declared that, beginning on Pentecost 2011, his clergy “may perform blessings of same gender civil marriages, domestic partnerships, and relationships which are lifelong committed relationships characterized by ‘fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God.’” Pending changes in church canon and California law, such relationships are to be referred to as “sacred unions.”

Fort Worth parties argue about bond; Iker diocese faces new suit

According to the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, on April 28, 2011, Judge John P. Chupp postponed until May 19 a hearing to set the value of the bond the Iker-led diocese must post to appeal the court order awarding disputed property to the Episcopal Church diocese. The hearing will also address protections requested by the diocese to preserve assets. Details of the court action and a link to arguments presented by the plaintiffs can be found here.

Meanwhile, those who split from the Fort Worth diocese are facing a new problem. On April 25, the insurance company providing directors’ and officers’ liability insurance to the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth sued the Iker-led diocese. Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company is seeking, among other things, a judgment that the breakaway diocese is not a beneficiary of its policy. Details can be found on the Episcopal diocese’s Web site.