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, December 26, 2011

News for Week Ending 12/26/2011

Southern Cone accepts Covenant

Anglican Communion News Service announced December 21, 2011, that the Province of the Southern Cone accepted the Anglican Covenant at a November Executive Committee meeting. In doing so, the Southern Cone asserted that it is no longer involved in border crossings despite its ongoing intervention in Brazil’s Diocese of Recife.

A table showing the status of the Anglican Covenant in the various Communion churches can be found here.

Sudan recognizes ACNA in place of TEC; bans PB visit

George Conger, writing for the Church of England Newspaper, reported December 23, 2011, that the Episcopal Church of Sudan has recognized Bob Duncan’s Anglican Church in North America, rather than The Episcopal Church, as the legitimate Anglican church in the U.S. As a result, an invitation to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to visit Sudan has been withdrawn.

Groton congregation faces eviction—maybe

The case of Bishop Seabury Church of Groton, Connecticut, seems to resist coming to an end. The congregation, which attempted to leave The Episcopal Church to join the Convocation of Anglicans in North America while retaining parish property, received a serious blow last September, when the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut regarding the Seabury Church property. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

According to theday.com, the congregation is under court order to vacate the Groton property by January 4, 2012, but Bishop of Connecticut Ian Douglas has said that he will not insist on that date and is seeking a resolution that will not require the removal of the congregation.

On December 16, 2011, the Connecticut Supreme Court rejected a request by the congregation for a rehearing. The congregation plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

St. Edmund’s, Elm Grove, ordered to return property

Another church associated with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America was ordered to surrender its property to an Episcopal diocese December 16, 2011. According to Episcopal News Service, Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge J. Mac Davis has ordered the immediate return of the parish property of St. Edmund’s, in Elm Grove, Wisconsin, to the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee.

The dissident congregation left The Episcopal Church in 2008. Attorneys for both sides are now discussing how to make a smooth transfer of St. Edmund’s assets.

Monday, December 19, 2011

News for Week Ending 12/19/2011

Papua New Guinea approves Anglican Covenant

According to an Anglican Communion News Service story of December 15, 2011, the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea has approved the Anglican Covenant. It becomes one of a handful of churches that has so far adopted the Covenant unambiguously. Anglican churches in South East Asia and Ireland have adopted the Covenan with reservations whose implications are unclear. (See Pittsburgh Updates story here.)

Illinois judge denies summary judgment in Quincy case

On December 16, 2011, an Illinois state judge denied the request for summary judgment made by The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy regarding control of diocesan assets. (The Quincy diocese voted to leave The Episcopal Church shortly after the Pittsburgh diocese did. See Pittsburgh Update story here.) In a four-page opinion and order, Judge Thomas J. Ortbal admitted that the Episcopal Church's case was strong but argued that it was not so unassailable as to justify summary judgment. The legitimacy of a diocese’s leaving The Episcopal Church has yet to be definitively adjudicated in the case of any of the four dioceses that experienced schism three years ago.

Province IV bishops meet with S.C. bishop

According to a December 15, 2011, story by Episcopal News Service,six Province IV bishops meet with Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence December 14 in discussion about Lawrence’s justification for sending quitclaim deeds to parishes of his diocese. (See most recent Pittsburgh Update story here.) In a statement released by all the bishops involved, including Bishop Lawrence, the discussion was characterized as “honest” and “forthright.” The statement included no suggestion that anything was resolved by the meeting.

Trinity Cathedral becomes exclusively Episcopal

On December 15, 2011, the Cathedral Chapter of downtown Trinity Cathedral voted to reassert the provisions of its charter making it once again exclusively an Episcopal cathedral. The Cathedral had been operating under a Special Resolution since 2008, acting as the cathedral both for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) A letter of explanation from Provost (the Rev. Canon Dr.) Cathy Brall can be found on the Cathedral’s Web site. The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh published a story on the return of the Cathedral to exclusively Episcopal control on December 17. According to that story, “Bishop Price is extending a special invitation to show solidarity and support for the Cathedral by joining him there for his annual Christmas Eve Eucharist.”

On December 19, the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh posted a note about the vote on its Web site. In it, Archbishop Duncan accuses Trinity Cathedral of embracing “exclusivity.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

News for Week Ending 12/12/2011

Former Nigerian primate supports anti-gay law

Nigeria’s Guardian reported December 10, 2011, that retired Church of Nigeria (Anglican) Archbishop Peter Akinola is supportive of the anti-homosexuality bill that recently passed by the Nigerian Senate. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Akinola urged the House of Representatives to pass the bill and urged President Goodluck Jonathan not to bow to international pressure to veto the bill.

AMiA breaks with Rwanda

The Anglican Mission in the Americas has apparently broken its ties with the Rwandan church that had provided its connection to the Anglican Communion. The church, which began with disaffected Episcopalians sponsored by the Anglican Church of Rwanda, later joined, then withdrew, from the Anglican Church in North America. It is unclear with what church the AMiA will now affiliate. Christianity Today offers a summary of the story, which is still developing.

ENS site revamped

Episcopal News Service has received a Web makeover. It is now part of the Episcopal Digital Network, “an ad-supported media network that delivers news, information, and branded entertainment to church leaders, members, and general audiences.” The Episcopal News Service home page can now be found at http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/. There does not seem to be a link to the new site from the main Episcopal Church Web site. Recent ENS stories seem to have retained their URLs (Web addresses), but the URLs of older stories have changed.

Standing Committee writes hostile letter in anticipation of meeting of bishops in S.C.

VirtueOnline reported December 12, 2011, that the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina wrote a letter to Bishop of East Carolina Clifton Daniel December 9 in anticipation of a December 14 meeting in South Carolina between Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence and Province IV bishops. The bishops had requested a meeting to clarify recent actions in South Carolina, particularly Bishop Lawrence’s issuance of quitclaim deeds to diocesan parishes. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The letter, whose purpose seems to be intimidation, can be read on the VirtueOnline site.

Georgia Takes possession of Savannah church

A December 12, 2011, press release from the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia reported that the diocese has taken possession of historic Christ Church in Savannah. The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the property is properly controlled by the diocese on November 21, 2011. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The congregation left The Episcopal Church in 2007 for the Ugandan church and attempted to maintain control of the property. According to the press release, the keys to the church were handed over December 12 by Joan Malley, a former administrator at Pittsburgh’s Church of the Ascension.

Roman Catholic Church becomes part of Fort Worth dispute

A church in the breakaway Diocese of Fort Worth (whose property is therefore the subject of litigation) had begun the process of joining the U.S. Ordinariate authorized by the Roman Catholic Church to receive disgruntled Anglicans. (Many of the parishes that broke from The Episcopal Church in Fort Worth were strongly Anglo-Catholic.) Former bishop Jack Iker first scheduled a meeting of the congregation to decide the fate of St. Timothy’s, then suspended the meeting, citing legal prohibitions. The Lead reported on the matter on December 3, 2011. Subsequently, Provisional Bishop C. Wallis Ohl indicated in a statement that the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is flexible on the matter of how the situation of St. Timothy’s is handled. The Lead reported on his statement here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

News for Week Ending 12/5/2011

Nigerian Senate passes anti-gay bill

CNN reported December 1, 2011, that the Nigerian Senate has passed the anti-homosexual bill introduced earlier this year. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The draconian bill—a conviction for homosexuality could lead to a 14-year prison sentence—must pass the House of Representatives and be signed by the president before it can become law. International pressure is being brought to bear on Nigeria to derail the bill’s passage.

Canterbury lobbies for Covenant in Advent message

Archbishop of Canterbury has taken advantage of his annual Advent letter to the primates to again urge passage of the Anglican Covenant. (The letter can also be read in an Anglican Communion News Service story of November 20, 2011, which offers an overview of the letter.) “I must continue to commend the Covenant as strongly as I can to all who are considering its future,” Williams tells his readers.

In England, another diocese has voted for adoption of the Covenant. The Diocese of Bristol has announced the vote on its Web site. To date, four Church of England dioceses have voted to send the matter to the General Synod for a final vote and four dioceses have voted to reject the Covenant. Twenty-three dioceses must vote in favor of the Covenant for it to be considered by the church’s General Synod.

Abandonment charges not brought against S.C. bishop

Episcopal News Service reported November 28, 2011, that the Disciplinary Board for Bishops has declined to bring a charge of abandoning The Episcopal Church against Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Bishop Dorsey Henderson has released a statement about the Lawrence affair on behalf of the Disciplinary Board.

The recent action by Bishop Lawrence to give quitclaim deeds to parishes was not taken into consideration by the Disciplinary Board. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) On December 4, 2011, however, Bishop of East Carolina Clifton Daniel wrote a letter to Lawrence requesting clarification about the quitclaim deeds and requesting a face-to-face meeting between Lawrence and bishops of District 4.