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, October 31, 2011

News for Week Ending 10/31/2011

Gays again threatened by Uganda legislation

The death of draconian anti-gay legislation in Uganda—see Pittsburgh Update story here—seems to have been much exaggerated. Bloomberg reported October 25, 2011, that the Ugandan parliament has voted to re-open debate on a bill that would stiffen penalties for homosexual activity. An October 30 Bloomberg story provides additional details.

CoE dioceses continue to express support for women bishops

More Church of England dioceses have voted in support of the plan to allow for female bishops in the church. The Bishops Council of the Diocese in Europe recently voted for the plan to allow women to become bishops, but it also voted to provide stronger provisions in support of those who cannot accept the concept of a female bishop. (See story on the Diocese in Europe Web site.)

Thinking Anglicans reported that the Diocese of Bath and Wells also voted in support of the plan for women bishops on October 29, 2011. The diocese voted against additional provisions for opponents of female bishops, but it did pass a resolution urging that the Code of Practice governing implementation (yet unwritten) be developed quickly.

The most recent Pittsburgh Update story on the voting in the Church of England can be read here.

Eastern Oregon declares Covenant opposition

Comprehensive Unity reported October 28, 2011, that the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Oregon passed a resolution at its diocesan convention recommending “that The Episcopal Church respectfully decline to ratify The Anglican Communion Covenant as proposed.”

Warrendale settlement announced

In a joint statement from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, the congregation of the New Life Anglican Church has announced a settlement regarding the property of St. Christopher’s Church, Warrendale.The congregation of St. Christopher’s left its church in 2010 to form the New Life Anglican Church, which is a member of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. Details of the settlement, which returns most of the property to the Episcopal diocese can be read on the diocesan Web site here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

News for Week Ending 10/24/2011

Australian diocese votes against Covenant adoption

According to Comprehensive Unity: The No Anglican Covenant Blog, the synod of the Diocese of Newcastle in the Anglican Church of Australia has voted by a large majority that the church should not adopt the Anglican Covenant. (The diocese is in New South Wales.) Dioceses are to offer their views on the Covenant by December 2012. The Australian General Synod will take up the adoption question in 2013.

California disapproves Covenant

On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, the Episcopal Diocese of California adopted a strongly anti-Covenant resolution on October 22, 2011. The entire resolution can be read on The Lead. Here is a sample paragraph:
We cannot accept an Anglican Covenant that seeks to replace our democratic decision making process with a process that allows foreign bishops to extend their jurisdiction into the Episcopal Church as well as other provinces around the world.

Resolution to say Episcopal Church cannot accept Covenant as written

Episcopal News Service reported October 24, 2011, that Executive Council will offer a resolution at the 2012 General Convention that will say that the church is “unable to adopt the Anglican Covenant in its present form.” The resolution is designed to avoid the suggestion that the Communion itself is being rejected. More details can be found in the ENS story. The report from the D020 Task Force, which includes the resolution, can be found here.

Church continues support of San Joaquin

At its Salt Lake City meeting, Executive Council agreed to continue its support of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin in its rebuilding efforts. Executive Council agreed to lend the diocese $285,000 for 2012 operating expenses. Council also gave the diocese a $40,000 grant for Hispanic ministry. Details can be read in the story from Episcopal News Service. (A message from Executive Council describing its work during its October 21–24, 2011, meeting can be read here.)

Fort Worth gets order to protect property

On October 20, 2011, the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth finally got an order from the court protecting diocesan property and requiring the breakaway defendants to post a $100,000 bond to proceed with their appeal of the decision granting property to the Episcopal Church diocese. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Details can be read on the diocese’s Web site here. The order can be found here.

Duncan appeal rejected

On October 17, 2011, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied the defendants in the Calvary lawsuit (former Bishop of Pittsburgh Robert Duncan, et al.) their request to appeal to the high court. This leaves in place the decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County awarding diocesan property to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The order of the court can be read here. The response from the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh can be read here.

Monday, October 17, 2011

News for Week Ending 10/17/2011

CoE Women bishops plan headed back to General Synod

Thinking Anglicans has reported that sufficient Church of England dioceses have voted in favor of proposed legislation to allow women to be made bishops of the CoE that the legislation will now be returned to the General Synod for final approval. Although it appears likely that the CoE will allow women to become bishops, it is unclear what provisions may be made for those opposed to women bishops. (Information about the road to approving women bishops in the CoE can be found on the church’s Web site. Details of the most recent votes can be seen here and here.

Trial use of same-sex rite to be proposed at General Convention

Episcopal News Service reported October 17, 2011, that the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, which has been collecting and developing liturgical materials for same-sex blessings, will propose to the 2012 General Convention that the church adopt a trial liturgy for same-sex blessings to be used during the next three years. The Commission will also propose a three-year study of marriage..

Fort Worth hearing rescheduled

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth this week will finally get its hearing on its motion for a supersedeas bond and other limitations on the use of diocesan property still in the hands of the group that left the Episcopal Church. The hearing is now scheduled for Thursday, October 20, 2011. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The defendants, the breakaway diocese also styled as the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, is seeking to pursue its appeal to the summary judgment in favor of the Episcopal Church diocese while avoiding limitations on its freedom of action. The court ruled in February that the property belongs to the diocese remaining in the Episcopal Church but did not transfer control to the diocese.

Mark Lawrence affair confused

Pittsburgh Update reported last week that charges of abandoning the communion of The Episcopal Church had been brought against Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence. On October 12, 2011, Lawrence met with South Carolina clergy to discuss the ongoing disciplinary process. (See story from The Living Church.) Now it is clear that a complaint has been lodged, but the complaint merely triggers an investigation which will determine if there is enough evidence to support a charge of abandonment. The church attorney handling the case, Josephine H. Hick, became the subject of controversy and soon recused herself, apparently over an undisclosed conflict of interest. (See stories from The Living Church here and here. J.B. Burch is now the church attorney for the case.) The Anglican Communion Institute—not an official Anglican body—has complained vigorously about procedures being followed in the Lawrence case. (See articles here and here.) Meanwhile, The Lead has contrasted the narrative of Bishop Dorsey Henderson, who heads the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, and that of Bishop Lawrence and his supporters.

Monday, October 10, 2011

News for Week Ending 10/10/2011

Presiding Bishop visits Quincy

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori visited the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy October 1–2, 2011, Episcopal News Service reported October 3. The diocese’s annual synod (convention) was held October 1. In November 2008, the diocese experienced a split similar to that which occurred in the Pittsburgh diocese the month before. (Those who left the church have formed a new Diocese of Quincy in the Anglican Church in North America. That diocese claims parishes in Illinois, Wisconsin, Colorado, Tennessee, and Florida.) Details of the Presiding Bishop’s visit can be found in the ENS story, and transcripts of what she said in Peoria can be found on the diocese’s Web site.

Charges brought against S.C. bishop

Episcopal News Service reported October 5, 2011, that charges have been brought against Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence for abandonment of the communion of The Episcopal Church. This comes on the heels of the news that Executive Council apparently believes that changes made to the governing documents of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina are null and void by virtue of their conflict with Episcopal Church canon law. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The charges are now in the hands of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, headed by retired Bishop of Upper South Carolina Dorsey Henderson and will be pursued under the newly adopted disciplinary canons of Title IV.

The charges were apparently brought forth by Episcopalians in Lawrence’s diocese. Mark Lawrence’s election in 2006 was controversial, and questions about his loyalty to The Episcopal Church led to his failure to achieve the necessary consents for his consecration. The Diocese of South Carolina elected him a second time—from a field of one—and, the second time around, he did receive the required consents.

A collection of links about the charges has been assembled by Thinking Anglicans.

Monday, October 3, 2011

News for Week Ending 10/3/2011

Global South primates meet in China

Eleven Global South Anglican primates met in China last month. (Although there is considerable overlap, this group is distinct from the GAFCON Primates Council.) They issued a communiqué, which can be read on the Global South Anglican Web site. Church Times and The Church of England Newspaper carried stories about the event.

In their communiqué, the primates lament the fact that “many Anglican churches in the west [are] yielding to secular pressure to allow unacceptable practices in the name of human rights and equality.” They go on to call the Instruments of Unity of the Anglican Community “dysfunctional” and to support, at least mildly, the Anglican Covenant understood in light of the Preamble adopted by the Province of South East Asia. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Anti-gay law proposed in Nigeria

Box Turtle Bulletin reported September 29, 2011, that a bill has been proposed in Nigeria titled “An Act To Prohibit Marriage Between Persons Of Same Gender, Solemnization Of Same And For Other Matters Related Therewith.” Homosexual acts are already illegal in Nigeria, but this bill would deny any recognition of same-sex marriage and, among other things, penalize “[a]ny persons or group of persons that witnesses, abet and aids the solemnization of a same gender marriage contract.” (The entire act can be read on Box Turtle Bulletin. A better PDF version of it than has been provided by Box Turtle Bulletin can be found here.)

The primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), the Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh, recently took the opportunity to denounce homosexuality at a wedding. According to Joy Online, Okoh described gay marriage as a “great evil.” He went on to say, “What is being known now as gay and homosexuality is contrary to God’s plan for human sexuality and procreation. It is against the will of God, and nobody should encourage it, and those who do will earn for themselves the damnation of the Almighty.”

Connecticut Supreme Court rules for diocese in Bishop Seabury case

On September 30, 2011, the Connecticut Supreme Court issued two opinions in the long-running litigation involving the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut and the Bishop Seabury Church of Groton. The church is one of six that attempted to leave the diocese and The Episcopal Church over the consecration of Gene Robinson, taking parish property with them. A lower court had ruled that the property was properly controlled by the diocese by virtue of the Dennis Canon, but the congregation had not surrendered the property and appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Additional details can be read in the October 3 story from Episcopal News Service.

S.C. disputes Executive Council position

Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence and Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina Standing Committee president, the Rev. Paul C. Fuener, have written to the Rev. Canon Dr. Gregory Staub, Executive Council secretary, to dispute the finding that recent changes to the diocesan constitution are null and void. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The correspondence, dated September 28, 2011, can be read here. Lawrence and Fuener argue, among other things, that, as a founding diocese of The Episcopal Church, South Carolina is not bound by the church’s constitutions and canons.

Tensions remain high between Pa. diocese and Rosemont

The headline on our recent story about Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont, Pennsylvania, was apparently premature. According to David Virtue, Rodney Michel, assisting bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania has written to the senior warden of the parish, David W. Rawson, to insist that deposed priest David Moyer vacate the rectory immediately, that the parish not make significant expenditures without approval, and that the parish provide accounting of how it has spent its funds in the past decade. Note that the former URL for Church of the Good Shepherd now points to a Web site for a new ministry of David Moyer.