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, July 30, 2012

News for Week Ending 7/30/2012

More information emerges about Global South meeting

Two additional documents related to the Global South Conference on the Decade of Mission and Networking recently came to light. (See Pittsburgh Update story here on the conference.) The four Communion Partner bishops from The Episcopal Church who attended the Bangkok, Thailand, gathering collected their individual impressions in one place here. Bishop Dan Martins, who blogged about his experience in Bangkok put the presence of the Episcopal Church bishops in perspective:
When the four of us from the Episcopal Church had the opportunity to address the group in plenary, we spoke very briefly and tried to strike a humble tone. We apologized for the long pattern of damage done to the wider communion by our own church, most recently the most recent General Convention, and shared the Indianapolis Statement minority report. Our stance was that we need the voice of the Global South to speak for us, since we are a minority voice within our own church. This is sensitive territory. Some of those present were somewhat cool toward us because we remain in what they see as a hopelessly compromised church. They have transferred their seal of approval to the ACNA. Others are more sympathetic to our position and grateful for our continuing witness from within the Episcopal Church. I don't think we changed any minds among the former, but we did strengthen our position with the latter, and moved some off the fence in our direction.
The communiqué issued by the primates attending the Bangkok meeting indicated that they had written to the Crown Nominations Commission offering their views on the characteristics needed in the next Archbishop of Canterbury.  That communication was not made public, but The Lead obtained a copy of it and published it July 29, 2012. You can read it here.

Not surprisingly, the Global South primates asserted that the majority of the world’s Anglicans are found in the Global South, particularly in Africa, and they lobbied for an Archbishop of Canterbury who reflects their own views. The Archbishop should “always act in a conciliar and collegial manner with his fellow Primates because his decisions will affect the life and witness of Provinces worldwide” [boldface in the original]. “He has to be able, together with his fellow Primates, to more effectively restructure the Anglican Communion Office and the Anglican Consultative Council to better serve the Communion.” And there is more.

Scotland to implement marriage equity

According to Episcopal News Service, Scotland will allow same-sex weddings as early as 2015. That announcement was made July 25, 2012, by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who offered assurances that individual rights and religious freedom will not be violated. The reactions of religious groups were mixed, but the Roman Catholic Church and Church of Scotland oppose the move. ENS also reported that U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has declared his commitment to legalizing gay marriage.

Monday, July 23, 2012

News for Week Ending 7/23/2012

Global South conference issues communiqué

A meeting of Global South leaders was held in Bangkok, Thailand, July 16 – 21, 2012. The Global South Conference on the Decade of Mission and Networking issued a communiqué on July 20. Unusual for Global South conferences, the statement did not much attack Western churches, though it did mention General Convention’s approving a provisional liturgy for same-sex blessings. It also acknowledged Communion Partner Bishops within The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). Nonetheless, the conference seems to have concentrated on issues specifically relevant to Global South Churches. Episcopal News Service wrote about the conference July 23, 2012.

A small number of observers were invited to the conference from the Communion Partners and ACNA. One of those invited was the Rt. Rev. Daniel Martins, Bishop of Springfield, a Communion Partner Bishop. Martins blogged about his experience. You can read his blog posts about the conference beginning here.

Woman bishop elected in Anglican Church of Southern Africa

Episcopal News Service reported July 19, 2012, that, on July 18, the Rev. Ellinah Ntombi Wamukoya, 61, became the bishop-elect of Swaziland, part of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. Wamukoya thereby becomes the first woman to be selected as bishop by any of the Anglican churches in Africa. The Anglican Church of Southern Africa will celebrate 20 years of women’s ordination in that province in September.

S.C. bishop writes to diocese about General Convention

Among the stories emerging from the recently concluded General Convention was the early departure of most of the South Carolina deputation in response to decisions taken by the convention. (See Episcopal News Story here.) Episcopal News Service reported July 20, 2012, that a letter from Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence was read in South Carolina churches on Sunday, July 15. Lawrence complained about actions taken in Indianapolis, particularly the authorizing of same-sex blessings, which, he said “mark a significant and distressing departure from the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them.” Lawrence made it clear that he will not authorize the use of same-sex rites in South Carolina. He will be consulting with members of his diocese to see how the diocese should respond to the 2012 General Convention.

Upper S.C. bishop also writes to diocese

Episcopal News Service reported July 20, 2012, that the Rt. Rev. Andrew Waldo, Bishop of Upper South Carolina, has also written to his diocese in light of the developments at the 2012 General Convention. Waldo voted against both same-sex blessings and canonical changes banning discrimination against transgendered persons. In his letter, he charges that the church has failed to articulate clearly the theological positions implied by the decisions made in Indianapolis.

Waldo’s response is more conciliatory that that of Bishop Lawrence. His intention is set forth in his letter as follows:
Now that General Convention 2012 is over, I will appoint a task force by the end of August to articulate theologically and practically—in much the way Bishop Doyle of Texas has done—the boundaries within which we might live together, including congregations that will have opened their doors to same-sex blessings, and protecting congregations whose conscience demands standing firmly within the tradition.

N.Y. bishops authorize same-sex marriage

Even before the 2012 General Convention, Bishop of New York Mark Sisk had authorized the blessing of same-sex unions in his diocese. That diocese, of course, is in a special situation, in that the State of New York has enacted marriage equality, and gay couples can be married in New York in the same sense that heterosexual couples can. According to a July 19, 2012, article from Episcopal News Service, Sisk has informed his clergy that they are free to perform legal marriages in the State of New York, even though this seems contrary to the teaching of the Book of Common Prayer. An accompanying letter from Bishop Coadjutor Andrew M.L. Dietsche explains that no clergy are required to perform such rites.

Monday, July 16, 2012

News for Week Ending 7/16/2012

General Convention concludes in Indianapolis

The 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church concluded its work July 13, 2012, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Episcopal News Service has provided a useful summary of the major news stories to come out of General Convention. The two most contentious issues, church reorganization and the budget, consumed a lot of time but were resolved amicably. The size of the triennium budget is virtually unchanged from the last budget, but the new one is based explicitly on the Five Marks of Mission. A task force will be appointed to investigate church structure issues. Also, the General Convention passed a resolution strongly supporting the Anglican Communion and another resolution that delayed a decision on Anglican Covenant adoption until at least 2015.

House of Bishops supports efforts in “continuing dioceses”

Episcopal News Service reported July 8, 2012, that the House of Bishops issued a public letter in support of the bishops of the four “continuing dioceses” of San Joaquin, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, and Quincy. Provisional Bishop John Buchanan and Provisional Bishop Wallis Ohl had apparently asked for a clear statement of the church’s polity to counter the statements made by nine bishops in court filings. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Buchanan was apparently unhappy with the result.

Dorsey McConnell given green light for consecration

Pittsburgh’s bishop-elect, Dorsey McConnell was cleared for consecration by the General Convention in Indianapolis. His is the last class of bishops-elect to receive consents in this fashion. On second reading, a constitutional change was approved that will have all consents given by bishops and standing committees, irrespective of when the episcopal election is held. Our diocesan Web site has a story, with pictures, about the unanimous consent given to our next bishop.

Two Pittsburghers receive national Awards

The Episcopal Church Women held its 47th triennial meeting in conjunction with the General Convention, and Dana Phillips, who chaired the nominating committee for Pittsburgh’s next bishop and has rendered various other services to the diocese and to individual parishes in the past few years, was recognized with a Distinguished Woman award from ECW. A story about the award can be found on the diocesan Web site here.

On July 3, 2012, at the annual dinner of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church, Joan Gundersen received the Adelaide Teague Case Award given once every three years by the Episcopal Women’s History Project to someone who has made major contributions to the history of women in the Episcopal Church. The story can be found here on the Episcopal Women’s History Project Web site.

Monday, July 9, 2012

News for Week Ending 7/9/2012

New Zealand church votes against Covenant

The General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia  declared that it was unable to adopt the Anglican Covenant July 9, 2012. Given earlier votes in the church, the rejection of the Covenant was expected. Anglican Communion New Service reported the story, which includes the text of the resolution passed.

CoE postpones women bishops decision

The General Synod of the Church of England delayed a final vote July 9, 2012, that would have allowed women to become bishops in the church. At issue are amendments made by church bishops at the eleventh hour, after dioceses had agreed nearly unanimously on a plan to allow for female bishops. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Supporters of the original plan hope that bishops will rescind their amendments before the matter returns to the General Synod in November. Reuters reported the story here.

General Convention in full swing

The General Convention of The Episcopal Church began July 5, 2012, in Indianapolis, Indiana, and continues through July 12. It is premature to report much of what is going on in Indianapolis, but, as we noted last week, it is easy to follow events on the Web. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Monday, July 2, 2012

News for Week Ending 7/2/2012

Nine bishops charged in connection with legal proceedings

Nine Episcopal Church bishops, both sitting and retired, have been charged in two separate instances, presumably for submitting briefs in litigation in Quincy and Fort Worth. Neither the charges nor the accusers are clear at this point. The bishops, all conservatives with close ties to the Anglican Communion Institute, disputed that The Episcopal Church is hierarchical. This legal theory, which would support the claims of breakaway groups in Fort Worth and Quincy, has been promoted by the Anglican Communion Institute, a group with no official status within the Anglican Communion.The ACI has also been critical of the revised Title IV, the recently adopted disciplinary procedures of The Episcopal Church. George Conger has written stories about the charges at Anglican Ink here and here.

General Convention meets July 5–12

The governing body of The Episcopal Church, the General Convention, convenes in Indianapolis, Indiana, on July 5, 2012, and continues through July 12. Among the important issues being considered are structural reforms in the church, liturgical resources for blessing same-sex unions, the church budget, and adoption of the Anglican Covenant. Information about the General Convention can be found on its Web site. The site includes schedules and tracks the progress of legislation. Episcopal News Service has also announced that a General Convention Media Hub will be available on the World Wide Web. A number of video streams will be available at the Media Hub.

Candidates to vie for president, vice-president of House of Deputies

Bonnie Anderson, who has served as president of the House of Deputies for six years has indicated that she will not run for re-election. The Rev. Gay Jennings and Martha Bedell Alexander are running to succeed Anderson. Pauline H.G. Getz and Sally Johnson plan to stand for vice-president, assuming a clergy person is elected president. (The president and vice-president must be from different orders.) The elections schedule can be found here.

McConnell explains sexuality discussion plans

Bishop-elect Dorsey McConnell wrote to Pittsburgh Episcopalians June 28, 2012, to explain what he plans to do assuming that the General Convention passes Resolution A049 to Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Gender Relationships. He intends not to authorize the blessing of same-sex unions nor to ordain any partnered homosexuals before the diocese has had a conversation about sexuality. A decision, presumably to move forward or not on these two fronts, may be made by Pentecost 2013. McConnell’s letter can be read here on the diocesan Web site.