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.

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A Service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh         

Monday, February 27, 2012

News for Week Ending 2/27/2012

Covenant supporters strike back

Supporters of the proposed Anglican Covenant made a strong showing this past week.

As a complement to the Web site of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition,  a new Web site, Yes to the Covenant, largely the product of members of the Diocese of Oxford has appeared on the Web to support Covenant adoption.

On February 22, 2012, the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order issued three brief videos in support of Covenant adoption, one of which includes a statement by Professor Katherine Grieb of Virginia Theological Seminary. (See Anglican Communion News Service press release here.) On February 25, The Living Church, in an editorial, praised the videos and called the No Anglican Covenant Coalition opposition to the Covenant “incoherent.”

Adoption of the Anglican Covenant by the Church of England came a step closer as two more dioceses voted to send the matter to the General Synod for a final vote. Thinking Anglicans reported that the dioceses of Winchester and Sheffield made the vote of dioceses 10 to 7 against the Covenant.

Rogue Brazilian bishop and wife murdered

The Rt. Rev. Edward Robinson Cavalcanti and his wife Miriam Cotias Cavalcanti Nunes Machado, both 64, were stabbed to death February 26, 2012, apparently by their adopted son, Eduardo Cavalcanti Olimpio Cotias, 29. Eduardo lived in the U.S. for more than a decade and had an arrest record involving drugs and other offenses. The murders took place at the Cavalcanti home in Jardim Fragoso, Olinda, north of Recife following an argument.

Bishop Cavalcanti, a strong Evangelical, clashed with the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil over the consecration of Gene Robinson. He was deposed by the Brazilian church but retained his claim to be Bishop of Recife by joining his diocese to the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. The Diocese of Recife in the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil, on the other hand, is led by the Rt. Rev. Dr. Sebastiao Armando Gameleira Soares.

Although the Cavalcanti murders appear to be unrelated to church politics, the death of Bishop Cavalcanti might have consequences for the two Recife dioceses.

This story is still developing as this is being written. An early story in English can be found on The Lead.

Va. churches petition to retain funds

Truro and other Virginia churches have petitioned Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows to reconsider his decision granting the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia real and personal property of the churches as of January 31, 2007. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The breakaway congregations claim that funds given to the churches were not intended to support The Episcopal Church, even though they were given before the formal split from the Virginia diocese. Fairfax City Patch carried a story about the claim February 23, 2012. The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has links to the petition and to other briefs relating to a final order by the court here.

Amicus Briefs Filed with Texas Supreme Court

In support of the Episcopal Church position in the long-running Fort Worth property dispute—see Pittsburgh Update story here—a number of amicus curiae briefs have been filed by Episcopal Church dioceses, as well as other church denominations. Among the briefs filed are those from the United Methodist Church , the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Details are reported here by the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

Monday, February 20, 2012

News for Week Ending 2/20/2012

Four CoE dioceses vote against Covenant

Diocesan Synods in the Church of England dioceses of Leicester, Portsmouth, Rochester, and Salisbury voted this past weekend against sending the proposed Anglican Covenant back to the General Synod in July for final adoption. Vote totals were reported by Thinking Anglicans. Comprehensive Unity: The No Anglican Covenant Blog reports that 10 dioceses have now voted against the Covenant, but only 5 have voted in favor of it. A failure to garner yes votes in a majority of the Church of England’s 44 dioceses will derail the adoption process in the Mother Church of worldwide Anglicanism. It is unclear what the implications would be of a failure of the Church of England to adopt the Covenant.

Washington bishops support same-sex marriage

According to Episcopal News Service, the bishops of the two Washington state Episcopal dioceses, Seattle and Olympia, supported the recently enacted law allowing same-sex marriage and will make provisions for the blessing of such marriages in their dioceses. Although the law is scheduled to go into effect in June, implementation may be delayed or derailed through a measure expected to be on the November ballot. According to ENS, Olympia Bishop Greg Rickel has predicted that the 2012 General Convention will pass legislation similar to the Washington legislation allowing same-sex marriage.

Monday, February 13, 2012

News for Week Ending 2/13/2012

CoE moves women bishops measure forward

After a three-hour debate February 8, 2012, the General Synod of the Church of England approved a measure that will lead to a final vote in the July meeting of the Synod on allowing CoE women priests to become bishops. Moving forward on women bishops had overwhelmingly been approved by voting in the dioceses, which also voted, in large measure, against making additional provisions for those opposed to women bishops. Although an attempt to amend the measure along the lines advocated by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, which would have made further provisions for those who cannot accept women bishops, the final language approved requests that the House of Bishops makes no “substantial” changes to the measure. The House of Bishops meets in May and will put the measure into the final form to be voted on this summer. The clearest press report on what happened is probably the story reported by Church Times.

Episcopal groups support Obama contraception decision

There was a good deal of news coverage last week of the Obama administration’s plan to require religious-affiliated institutions to provide contraception services as part of their health plans. Particular attention has been given to the opposition of Roman Catholic bishops. Less well publicized was a statement from more liberal religious groups that said, in part,
We respect individuals’ moral agency to make decisions about their sexuality and reproductive health without governmental interference or legal restrictions. We do not believe that specific religious doctrine belongs in health care reform – as we value our nation’s commitment to church-state separation. We believe that women and men have the right to decide whether or not to apply the principles of their faith to family planning decisions, and to do so they must have access to services.
Signers represented General Theological Seminary, the Episcopal Women’s Caucus, and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, of which The Episcopal Church is a member.

Virginia Episcopalians preparing to return to churches

The Washington Post reported February 11, 2012, that Virginia Episcopalians who were displaced from their churches are planning to return to them soon. Despite the possibility of an appeal to the recent court decision granting properties to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the two sides are working together to effect a smooth transfer of real and personal property. Episcopal members of the Falls Church who have been meeting in a nearby Presbyterian church, for example, are planning to hold Easter services in their historic church.

Albany churches consider DEPO

Albany’s Times Union reported February 10, 2012, that three churches in the conservative Episcopal Diocese of Albany are considering requesting Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO), a plan that would keep them in the diocese, but would allow the Bishop of Central New York, rather than Bishop of Albany William H. Love, to minister to the congregations. The church’s identified by the Times Union are St. Andrew’s, Albany, St. George’s, Schenectady, and St. Luke Saranac Lake. DEPO, a little used plan devised by the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church largely for dissatisfied conservative parishes in liberal dioceses, was first used by a liberal parish in a conservative diocese in Pittsburgh. For a time during Bishop Robert Duncan’s tenure, St. Brendan’s, Franklin Park, was overseen by the Bishop of West Virginia.

Quincy, Chicago exploring reunification

Episcopal News Service reported February 13, 2012, that the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy and the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago are exploring possible reunification. Representatives of the two dioceses met recently at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Peoria. Quincy is the smallest of the dioceses experiencing a departure of many of its congregations, and litigation continues over property. Details of the discussions involving the future of Quincy can be read in the ENS story.

Monday, February 6, 2012

News for Week Ending 2/6/2012

Covenant votes continue in England

Dioceses of the Church of England continue to vote on whether to send the Anglican Covenant back to the General Synod for a final vote on adoption by the CoE. The No Anglican Covenant Coalition reported the votes of three diocesan synods February 5, 2012. The Diocese of Canterbury has voted to adopt the Covenant, but the dioceses of Derby and Gloucester voted to reject the Covenant. Additional diocesan synod votes are scheduled in the coming weeks. To date, more dioceses have rejected the Covenant than have approved of it.

Anti-gay bill returns in Uganda

Warren Throckmorton posted a video from Uganda on his Web site February 6, 2012. The video is a news report indicating that an anti-gay bill will be introduced (tabled) in the Parliament February 7. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Savannah church seeks contempt ruling against departed congregation

Winning in court does not automatically achieve the goals of litigation. Christ Church, Savannah, and the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia are seeking a contempt ruling against the departed congregation and its priest, the Rev. Marcus Robertson. The church, in response to a court victory, was returned to the Episcopal diocese in December—see Pittsburgh Update story here—but the petitioners allege that a $2 million endowment fund and other property have not been returned. More details can be found in a February 1, 2012, story from Savannah Morning News.

Absalom Jones event to be held at cathedral

The annual celebration of the first African-American priest of The Episcopal Church will be held at Trinity Cathedral on Saturday, February 11, 2012. Speakers include Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman and the Rev. David A. Hooker, attorney, author, mediator, and priest from Atlanta, Georgia. Details can be found on the diocesan Web site, along with an on-line registration form.