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, June 25, 2012

News for Week Ending 6/25/2012

Danish Lutheran bishops offer same-sex rite

Episcopal News Service reported June 13, 2012, that eight of the ten bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark presented a rite for same-sex marriage to the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs in response to parliament’s authorizing same-sex marriage in either a civil or church venue—see Pittsburgh Update story here. (The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark is a state church.) As part of the Parvoo Communion, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark is in communion with the Church of England, which has resisted gay marriage. Details can be found in the ENS story here.

English bishops protest CoE position on gay marriage

As we predicted last week, the controversy in the Church of England over the anonymous paper opposing the government’s plan to approve gay marriage—see Pittsburgh Update story here—continues unabated. The Telegraph has now reported that two Church of England bishops, Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, and Tim Ellis, Bishop of Grantham, have distanced themselves from the statement. This row over gay marriage threatens to become another major controversy—provisions for women bishops being the other—at next month’s General Synod. Readers are again referred to Thinking Anglicans for recent and future news on the latest Church of England controversy.

Episcopal Church budget battle heats up

As the July 5 beginning of the 2012 General Convention approaches, the budget controversy has become more complex. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has now offered an alternative budget to the original triennial budget that was widely criticized. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The alternative budget was reported by Episcopal News Service. Katie Sherrod, a member of Executive Council, has written a detailed explanation on her blog of what many see as the dysfunctional way the budget has been produced. The budget is expected to be the subject of lively debate at the General Convention. The Living Church has reviewed other matters of interest coming before the General Convention here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

News for Week Ending 6/18/2012

Uganda archbishops support anti-gay bill

The Kampala Daily Monitor reported June 10, 2012, that religious leaders in Uganda have urged that the infamous anti-gay bill first introduced in parliament by David Bahati be moved forward with dispatch. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican archbishops endorsed a resolution to that effect at a conference organized by the Uganda Joint Christian Council. The resolution declared that the bill needed to become law to prevent “an attack on the Bible and the institution of marriage.” Anglican Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, who is soon to retire—see Pittsburgh Update story here—has, according to The Living Church opposed the bill in the past.

U.K. proposal on gay marriage sparks controversy

The government of the U.K. recently proposed that same-sex couples be allowed to enter into civil marriages. (They can presently only enter into civil partnerships.) A Web page describes the proposal and solicits comments, which were due by June 14, 2012. The proposal would not affect the understanding of marriage by any church and would not require any church to perform same-sex marriages. Near the end of the comment period, the Church of England submitted a 13-page paper whose summary begins: “The Church of England cannot support the proposal to enable ‘all couples, regardless of their gender, to have a civil marriage ceremony.’” The submission has set off a firestorm of protest because the paper did not indicate its authorship and because many in the Church of England argue that they were neither consulted on the matter nor agree with the points made in the paper. The paper was accompanied by a cover letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

Two articles from Church Times (here and here), in addition to the links above, provide some insight into the controversy. Thinking Anglicans has extensive coverage beginning with a June 12 post and continuing in later posts, with no end in sight.

High court rejects Bishop Seabury appeal

On June 18, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a list of orders involving pending cases. Two cases are of special interest to Episcopalians, both involving church property disputes between departing congregations and the wider church being abandoned. In both cases, decisions favoring the wider church were being appealed by the dissident congregations. The cases are Timberridge Presbyterian Church v. Presbytery of Greater Atlanta (listed as case 11-1101) and Ronald S. Gauss, et al. v. Episcopal Church of Connecticut, et al. (listed as case 11-1139). Both appeals were denied. These denials strengthen the cause of Episcopal Church dioceses in property cases involving departing congregations.

Gauss v. Episcopal Church is the appeal of the congregation of the former Bishop Seabury Episcopal Church of Groton, Connecticut. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) It appears that the Groton congregation has exhausted it legal options, and  the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut has established its right to the parish property. A story from The Living Church includes additional information and useful links.

Monday, June 11, 2012

News for Week Ending 6/11/2012

Denmark to allow same-sex marriage in churches

Politiken.dk reported June 7, 2012, that the Danish parliament has voted to allow marriages of same-sex couples in the national Evangelical-Lutheran church beginning June 15. The measure passed with 85 votes in favor, 24 against, and 2 abstentions. Heretofore, same-sex couples did not have access to marriage, only to registered partnerships.

Scotland rejects Covenant

A month before The Episcopal Church is to consider adoption of the Anglican Covenant, the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church voted decisively against a motion that would have accepted the Covenant in principle. According to a story on the church’s Web site, the vote was 6 in favor, 112 against, and 13 abstentions. Following the vote, the Most Rev. David Chillingworth, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church and Bishop of St Andrews Dunkeld & Dunblane, presented a motion in support of the Anglican Communion. In a speech to the General Synod, he called for “re-founding” of the Communion. Additional information is available in a story from Episcopal News Service.

Canadian, African bishops meet

A group of 17 mostly African and Canadian bishops—the group included a single bishop from The Episcopal Church—met in Ontario, Canada, June 4–7, 2012. The so-called Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue was meeting in person for the third time. The group had its origin in the 2008 Lambeth Conference. The topics discussed at the Ontario meeting were mission and the Anglican Covenant. Judging from the statement issued at the meeting, the bishops largely agreed on the former but not the latter. Additional details are available in a story from Episcopal News Service.

Women bishops legislation headed for General Synod donnybrook

The carefully crafted compromise that would allow for women bishops in the Church of England and that was approved almost unanimously by diocesan synods may be derailed when it reaches General Synod next month. The legislation was amended by the House of Bishops in May—see Pittsburgh Update story here—and the initial announcement from the bishops was vague as to what had actually been done.

Women and the Church (WATCH), the group that has been most active in working for women bishops, has now issued a position paper on the amendments. Following extensive study and consultation, a paper has been made public that, while falling short of calling on General Synod to reject the women bishops measure, declares that WATCH cannot support it and casts doubt on its ability to be passed. The paper includes the changes made by the bishops and carefully analyzes them. Thinking Anglicans has excerpted the WATCH conclusions on its Web site here.

‘Episcopal Epistle’ highlights complexities of marriage equality

The upcoming General Convention will likely approve a trial liturgy for the blessing of same-sex unions. A recent ‘Episcopal Epistle’ from the three bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut illustrates how complex moving toward marriage equality can be when church and state move at different speeds. The May 10, 2010, document from the Connecticut bishops indicates that, as of now, priests can bless same-sex marriages, which are legal in Connecticut, but they cannot act as an agent of the state by performing such a marriage and signing the marriage certificate. They indicate that, after the 77th General Convention, this situation may change.

Monday, June 4, 2012

News for Week Ending 6/4/2012

Standing Committee meets in London

The Standing Committee, which comprises elected members of the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), met for three days in London, May 30–June 1, 2012. The Standing Committee includes two members of The Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bishop of Connecticut Ian Douglas. Anglican Communion News Service, in three stories, reported on the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday sessions. According to Anglicans Online, “there is absolutely nothing that you need to know in any of those reports, and you probably don’t even need to know of their existence.” In the Wednesday story, it was noted that a report was received on the progress of the Anglican Covenant, but no mention was made of the rejection of the Covenant by the Church of England. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The same story also included this: “There was general agreement that no timeframe should yet be introduced for the process of adoption of the Covenant by Provinces. The Standing Committee will return to this question following ACC-15.” The 15th meeting of the AAC is scheduled to take place in Auckland, New Zealand, October 27–November 7, 2012

The opinion of Anglicans Online notwithstanding, the Wednesday story contained this curious piece of news: “The committee also noted that the President, Chair, and Vice-Chair all hold their offices other than as representatives of their Provinces.” Presumably, this is primarily aimed at keeping the Archbishop of Canterbury as president of the Standing Committee even though the Church of England has rejected the Covenant.

Canadians have questions about Covenant

According to Anglican Journal, members of the Anglican Church of Canada’s Council of General Synod (CoGS) have questions about the consequences of adopting or not adopting the proposed Anglican Covenant. The Covenant was a subject of discussion at the May 24–27, 2012, CoGS meeting. Churches have been asked to report on progress toward adoption of the Covenant at ACC-15 (see story above).

Settlement reached in Niagara cases

Anglican Journal reported June 4, 2012, that the Anglican Diocese of Niagara of the Anglican Church of Canada has reached a negotiated settlement with three congregations that left the diocese in 2008 and joined the Anglican Network in Canada, part of the Anglican Church in North America. The buildings have been returned to the diocese. Other details can be found in the Anglican Journal story and in a May 31 press release from the diocese.

Annotated Episcopal Church budget released

Responding to widespread complaints about the budget the upcoming General Convention will be asked to approve, The Episcopal Church released an annotated version of the budget June 1, 2012. It is likely that the budget will be a significant source of conflict in July, and it is clear that the annotations are unlikely to reduce the conflict. Jim Naughton, writing for The Lead, has linked to enlightening commentaries on the budget and budgetary process. Naughton says, in part, “The core of the documents released on Friday (Pages 4-20) sometimes read less like a comprehensive, evenhanded overview of the budgeting process than an attempt by one side in what I think was a principled dispute to assign blame for the woe that has befallen us in this process to the other.”

Falls Church files appeal

As expected—see Pittsburgh Update story hereThe Falls Church Anglican has filed an appeal with the Virginia Supreme Court of the lower-court decision awarding parish property to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. The June 1, 2012, press release from The Falls Church Anglican is here. The diocesan Web site links to the petition for appeal and to a brief supporting the appeal filed by the Virginia attorney general.

Former Pittsburgh priest elected bishop in Rhode Island

The Very Rev. Nicholas Knisely, who once served as rector of St. Barnabas, Brackenridge, was elected on the first ballot to be the next Bishop of Rhode Island June 2, 2012. The announcement was made on the Web site of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island.