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, April 30, 2012

News for Week Ending 4/30/2012

Final 2 CoE diocese vote on Covenant

On April 28, 2012, the final two Church of England dioceses voted on whether the Anglican Covenant should be referred to General Synod for a final vote. The outcome, of course, was already determined—a majority of the dioceses had already voted against the referral. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) According to Thinking Anglicans, The Diocese of Newcastle rejected the Covenant, and the Diocese of York voted for it. The final tally of dioceses is 26 against the Covenant, and 18 for it. Details of all the voting can be found here.

African primates call for elected leader of Primates’ Meeting

According to Church Times, the primates of Nigeria and Kenya called for the Anglican primates to elect the chair of the Primates’ Meeting. Currently, the Archbishop of Canterbury calls meetings of the primates and chairs them. The suggestion for a new procedure was made at a April 23, 2012, press conference by the Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, and the Archbishop of Kenya, Dr. Eliud Wabukala. The archbishops were in London to attend the leadership conference of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglican. (See next story.) Commenting on this story, Anglicans Online observed, “No amount of spin doctoring conceals the core notion that this is another step towards wresting control of the Anglican Communion from Anglia.”

Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans meets in London

Leaders of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FoCA) met in London April 23–27, 2012. FoCA is the product of GAFCON (Global Anglican Futures Conference). Stories, video, etc., from the conference can be sampled at the GAFCON site. FoCA looks like the beginning of an alternative “orthodox” Anglican Communion, though its leaders have not declared their intention to split from the Communion. Thinking Anglicans posted a good deal of news, commentary, and documents related to the conference beginning here. A good summary is available from Paul Bagshaw in a blog post from April 28.

Texas bishop prepares for blessing authorization

Episcopal News Service reported April 25, 2012, that Bishop of Texas C. Andrew Doyle explained to a meeting of Texas clergy his plan for dealing with same-sex blessings, which are expected to be approved by the 2012 General Convention in July. The plan is intended to maintain unity in the diocese despite the fact that the anticipated decision will be unwelcome to many clergy and laypeople in the diocese. The plan will allow same-sex couples to have their relationships blessed in a limited number of churches. No parish will be required to bless same-sex couples, however. Texas law recognizes no version of same-sex commitments. Details and a link to a description of the plan can be found in the ENS story.

ACI, Episcopal Bishops submit brief in Fort Worth case

According to an April 23, 2012, story from The Living Church, members of the Anglican Communion Institute (which has no official standing in the Anglican Communion) and seven Episcopal Church bishops (four diocesans, one suffragan, and two retired) have submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the Texas Supreme Court in opposition to the lower-court decision that found that the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Fort Worth, not the breakaway group now in the Anglican Church in North America, is the proper custodian of diocesan property. The brief argues, improbably, that there is no higher authority in The Episcopal Church than the diocese, a minority view championed in recent years by the Anglican Communion Institute.

Falls Church request for stay denied

Episcopal News Service reported April 30, 2012, that Judge Randy Bellows of the Fairfax County Circuit Court denied the request by the congregation of the breakaway Falls Church for a stay of his order of March 1 requiring the Falls Church congregation to turn over real and personal property to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia by April 30. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The diocese has voluntarily extended the deadline to May 15.

In other news related to the return of property in Virginia, the Diocese of Virginia announced that an Episcopal congregation will return to Epiphany, Herndon, on May 6.

Monday, April 23, 2012

News for Week Ending 4/23/2012

Christchurch rejects Covenant

Anglican Taonga reported April 22, 2012, that the Diocese of Christchurch in New Zealand has rejected a resolution favoring adoption of the Anglican Covenant. This extends a series of reverses for the Covenant in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The whole church will take up the matter of Covenant adoption in July.

Two more CoE dioceses vote for Covenant

Two more Church of England dioceses voted on the Anglican Covenant, according to a post on Thinking Anglicans April 21, 2012. The dioceses of Chichester and Southwell & Nottingham both voted for Covenant adoption. Of course, the votes are meaningless, as previous diocesan votes have assured rejection by the church. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Wales fails to adopt Covenant

The Church in Wales issued a press release April 18, 2012, indicating that the church’s Governing Body had passed a motion asserting the church’s commitment to the Anglican Communion  but requesting the Anglican Consultative Council, which meets in October, to clarify the status of the Covenant in light of its rejection by the Church of England. The press release can be found on the church’s Web site.

Blue Book released

The so-called Blue Book for the 2012 General Convention has been posted on-line as a PDF file. The book contains reports related to the business to be conducted at this summer’s meeting of the governing body of The Episcopal Church. Episcopal News Service has posted a story on the release, which includes a link to the book itself.

Truro and Diocese of Virginia settle

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the breakaway Truro Church issued a joint statement April 17, 2012, announcing that agreement has been reached concluding five years of litigation. A Virginia court issued a decision in January giving the assets of the church at the time the congregation left The Episcopal Church to the diocese. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Terms of the agreement, which include deeding the real property of the parish to the diocese by April 30, can be found on the diocesan Web site.

McConnell elected 8th Bishop of Pittsburgh

In an election that required six ballots, the Rev. Dorsey W. M. McConnell, of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, was elected the eighth Bishop of Pittsburgh in a special convention held April 21, 2012, at Trinity Cathedral in downtown Pittsburgh. McConnell led in the clergy balloting from the beginning. The early favorite among the lay deputies, however, was the Rev. R. Stanley Runnels, of Kansas City, Missouri, who received the most lay votes through the fifth ballot. In an event held the night before, convention participants met at Trinity Cathedral to speak about the five episcopal candidates.

The diocesan Web site contains information about the candidates here and also carries a story about the McConnell win and about what happens next in the diocese. Episcopal News Service, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the Tribune-Review all covered the convention.

Monday, April 16, 2012

News for Week Ending 4/16/2012

AMiA realigns?

The  Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) continues to make news as it tries to attach itself to some other Anglican body after its break with the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) George Conger reported April 11, 2011, that the AMiA had broken into three factions—one intending to retain Rwandan oversight, one attempting to join the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), and one led by Bishop Chuck Murphy looking for a partner.

Two days later, David Virtue reported that Murphy’s faction has aligned itself with the Anglican Church of the Congo. In a letter to his constituency, Murphy observed, “Under our accord with the Province of the Congo, we are now secure and validly attached to the global Anglican Communion.” In an April 16 edition of Anglican Unscripted, Kevin Kallsen and George Conger express great skepticism that Murphy’s letter should be taken at face value. (You can find that video here. The story on the AMiA and Congo is about 5 minutes in.)

Covenant resolutions for General Convention proliferate

When Executive Council announced that it would introduce a resolution for General Convention 2012 to reject the Anglican Covenant—see Pittsburgh Update story here—it appeared that General Convention might quickly dispense with the Covenant. Since then, Bishops Ian Douglas, Andrew Doyle, and Michael Curry have announced a resolution that would continue the process of Covenant consideration. (See The Living Church story here.) Now an even more favorable resolution has been proposed by Bishops John Bauerschmidt, Daniel Martins, and Michael Smith. (See The Living Church story here.)

Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight extended

The Living Church reported April 11, 2012, that The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops has expanded it Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight plan. Now, not only can a parish be under a bishop other than its diocesan, but  someone from the parish in the ordination process may also be under the bishop providing episcopal pastoral oversight.

New bishop to be elected this week

Nearly a year and a half after the process was authorized by the 2010 diocesan convention, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is scheduled to choose its next bishop this week. A special convention for the purpose of electing a bishop will begin at 8:30 AM on Saturday, April 21, 2012, at Trinity Cathedral. (Election details can be read here. Information about the candidates and the search process itself is here.)

The evening before, Friday, April 20, 2012, Trinity Cathedral will host a discussion about the candidates. The event begins at 7:00 PM,  with doors opening at 6:00 PM. As is the case for the convention itself, anyone may attend, but only convention deputies and certain other people who have voice in convention by virtue of positions they hold will be allowed to speak.

Monday, April 9, 2012

News for Week Ending 4/9/2012

Congregations appeal to Supreme Court to nullify church trust interest

A.S. Haley, in his Anglican Curmudgeon blog, reported March 23, 2012, that three breakaway congregations that lost property disputes in the courts have appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that explicit trust interests declared by their denominations in response to Jones v. Wolf should not be enforced. Two of the congregations broke away from The Episcopal Church, namely Christ Church, Savannah, and Bishop Seabury, Groton. (See Pittsburgh Update stories here and here.) Details and links to the court filings can be found in the Haley post.

Virginia Episcopal congregation returns to building

According to Episcopal News Service, Episcopalians displaced from St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Heathsville, Virginia, returned to their church home on Palm Sunday after several years of meeting elsewhere while litigation worked its way through the courts. Seven congregations that had left The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia were ordered by the Fairfax County Circuit Court to return parish property to the diocese by April 30, 2012. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The ENS story describes the homecoming for the Episcopal congregation of St. Stephen’s. The sermon preached by the Rev. Lucia Lloyd on April 1 can be read here.

Although a final transfer of property has not been effected, Episcopalians displaced from The Falls Church of Falls Church, Virginia, returned to a chapel on the church campus for an Easter service and Easter egg hunt April 8. The story was reported April 8 by the Falls Church News-Press.

Bishop Price Easter message on-line

An Easter message from the Rt. Rev. Kenneth L. Price, Jr., Pittsburgh’s provisional bishop, was posted on the diocesan Web site on Easter Sunday, March 8, 2012. Bishop Price wrote, in part,
For the Diocese of Pittsburgh, our Good Friday occurred at end of 2008. It was unsettling, destructive and a gut wrenching shame that this great diocese was so torn apart. Many felt they had been left in a tomb. But just as our Lord’s time in the grave passed, so has ours. This diocese has emerged from its tomb and the day is as bright as Easter morn.
The entire message can be read here.

Monday, April 2, 2012

News for Week Ending 4/2/2012

English dioceses pile on

As of last week, it was clear that the Anglican Covenant was not going to be approved by the Church of England for quite some time, if ever, as a majority of the church’s 44 dioceses had already voted against returning it to General Synod for further consideration. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) On March 27, 2012, the Yes to the Covenant people issued a press release urging that dioceses that had not yet voted on the Covenant to vote for it, even though such a vote could only be symbolic. The dioceses of London and Manchester voted on March 29 and March 31, respectively. Both dioceses voted against the Covenant. (See tallies on Thinking Anglicans here and here.) The current tally, therefore, is 25 dioceses against and 15 dioceses for. The final four dioceses vote on April 21 and 28.

Thinking Anglicans has been tracking commentary on the defeat of the Covenant in England. In addition to the post we cited last week, posts can be read here, here, and here.

Comments solicited on the next Archbishop of Canterbury

In an unprecedented move, the Church of England has advertised for comments about the next Archbishop of Canterbury and for suggestions as to who the next office holder should be. (See Pittsburgh Update story here on the coming retirement of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.) The notice was posted March 30, 2012, on the Church of England Web site and elsewhere. Comments and candidate names can be sent via e-mail.

One Virginia church settles; others, maybe not

On March 30, 2012, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia issued a joint statement with Church of the Epiphany Anglican, Herndon, one of the breakaway congregations ordered to return property to the diocese. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Church of the Epiphany Anglican will pay the diocese $520,750 over two years and will vacate its property by April 30. The school operating on the property will continue to do so until the end of the school year.

Meanwhile, The Falls Church, Truro Church, and Church of the Apostles have filed various appeals or notice of appeals. These can be read on the Diocese of Virginia Web site here.