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, September 24, 2012

News for Week Ending 9/24/2012

Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order issues communiqué

The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) issued a communiqué September 20, 2012, following its meeting in Dublin September 12–19. The commission has prepared a report for the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-15) to be held in New Zealand October 27–November 7, 2012, but the report has not been released. According to the communiqué, the commission “reflected on the on-going consideration of the Anglican Communion Covenant within the churches of the Communion.” It will also present “an interim study” on the Instruments of Communion to ACC-15 “for consultation and discussion.”

Mark Harris, on his blog Preludium, has raised the question of whether the IASCUFO meeting may be as important for who did not attend than for what was actually accomplished. He points out that members from the core GAFCON churches were, according to the communiqué, “[u]nable to attend,” suggesting that their absence was deliberate and indicative of continuing disintegration of the Anglican Communion.

Missouri to proceed carefully with same-sex blessings

Bishop Wayne Smith, of the Diocese of Missouri, has written to his diocese regarding implementation of General Convention’s Resolution A049, which authorizes provisional use of a liturgy for blessing same-sex unions. Smith’s message can be found on the diocese’s Web site and diocese’s quarterly newsletter Seek. (The message in Seek is on page 1. The issue also includes a reflection on the A049 debate at General Convention on page 6.)

Smith intends to convene a group of local Episcopalians to help develop guidelines for the use of the new rite. He emphasized, however, that both a parish using the rite and couples availing themselves of it need to be prepared carefully.

S.C. bishop mum about plans

Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence has written a perplexing letter to the people of his diocese. (The letter, dated September 22, 2012, is posted on the diocesan Web site, but it is more reliably accessed at VirtueOnline.) According to the letter
We announced last month on August 20th that the Standing Committee and I were in agreement on a course of action regarding the future of the Diocese of South Carolina and the challenges many of us face because of decisions by the recent General Convention of The Episcopal Church. However, for many reasons it was then and is now, imprudent to reveal that course of action. Things are progressing—we have not stopped or dropped the ball. 
He goes on to counsel patience, despite the anxiety many may feel.

It is widely feared that Lawrence will attempt to remove the diocese and its property from The Episcopal Church. Mark Harris, on his blog Preludium, argues that: “This is not a time for prudent non-communication. It is a time for candor.”

Monday, September 17, 2012

News for Week Ending 9/17/2012

English bishops attempt to assure passage of women bishops legislation

The House of Bishops of the Church of England has dropped the controversial clause 5(1)(c) that threatened to have women in the General Synod voting against the measure intended to enable women to become bishops. The bishops have substituted a clause that requires that the theological views of parishes requesting a male bishop or priest because of their opposition to ordained women be respected. The previous wording adopted by the bishops required that the choice of male bishop or priest be consistent with the theological views of the parish. The wording was suggested by a female priest and will likely enable the legislation to pass when the General Synod meets November 19–21, 2012. According to Episcopal News Service, for the women bishops measure to pass, a two-thirds majority is needed among bishops, clergy, and laity.

The press release about the change, as well as an explanation from Archbishop Rowan Williams can be found here. The offending text that has been replaced was published by Thinking Anglicans in May.

Role of Canterbury questioned

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan William, who will step down to return to an academic position in December, made news via an interview with the Telegraph, described by some as an exit interview. The interview can be found here, but related story also published September 8, 2012, in the Telegraph, caused a stir. The archbishop suggested that his job is too big for one person, and perhaps a position should be created whose job is devoted to the day-to-day affairs of the Anglican Communion, allowing the Archbishop of Canterbury to devote his attention to the Church of England. Episcopal News Service quoted Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council Kenneth Kearon—Kearon is not technically “Secretary General of the Anglican Communion”—as insisting that there are no plans to create such a post.

The Telegraph also published a video of the archbishop in which he criticizes the church’s approach to homosexuality.

Bishop High selected as next Fort Worth provisional bishop

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has selected the Rt. Rev. Rayford High as the diocese’s next provisional bishop. He will become the third provisional bishop to serve the diocese following the departure of Bishop Jack Leo Iker and his followers. High succeeds Bishop C. Wallis Ohl. He recently retired as bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. His selection will have to be approved by the diocesan convention on November 3, 2012. High and his wife are expected to move to Fort Worth in January. The diocese made the announcement about Bishop High on its Web site.

Monday, September 10, 2012

News for Week Ending 9/10/2012

Duncan, Murphy dispute status of Anglican Mission

The Conflict between the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) is beginning to look like a conflict between ACNA’s Archbishop Robert Duncan and AMiA’s Bishop Charles Murphy. Under Murphy, the AMiA has morphed into a missionary society—see the new AMiA constitution here—but has been unable to develop a stable relationship with a larger Anglican entity. (The most recent Pittsburgh Update on the conflict between the two organizations can be found here.)

Duncan, in a recent letter and in an Anglican TV interview, has accused Murphy of dictatorial leadership of the AMiA and an unwillingness to be accountable to anyone. Murphy, in a reply to Duncan, has argued that there is room both for an “orthodox” Anglican church in America and a missionary society such as he has created. Murphy’s response to Duncan is in the form of a letter from AMiA leaders and supporters. Whereas Murphy seems without support from current primates, he is supported by several retired ones. Duncan, on the other hand, argues that retired archbishops should keep out of current Anglican affairs.

David Virtue, who has been a long-time supporter of the AMiA, has written a helpful analysis of the ACNA-AMiA conflict that is helpful in understanding how it developed.

S.C. cathedral votes to sever Episcopal Church ties

VirtueOnline reported September 9, 2012, that the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston, South Carolina, voted 55-10 to sever ties with The Episcopal Church and declare allegiance only to “the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina.” (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Episcopalians complained that the vote was not well publicized. According to VirtueOnline, less than one quarter of the congregation voted.

Monday, September 3, 2012

News for Week Ending 9/3/2012

Texas property cases scheduled by state Supreme Court

The blog Anglican Curmudgeon reported August 31, 2012, that the Texas Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of the breakaway diocese to the lower court decision in favor of the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Fort Worth. The hearing is scheduled for October 16. An appeal to the appeals court decision affirming that the property of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in San Angelo, Texas—see Pittsburgh Update story here—will be heard by the Texas high court on the same day. (The breakaway diocese requested an expedited hearing coinciding with the date for the Good Shepherd hearing on July 6.)

Meanwhile, another amicus brief has been filed in the Fort Worth case, this time by Liberty Institute, a nonprofit whose stated mission is “to defend and restore religious liberty across America.” The brief suggests that, since the “highest ecclesiastical authority” in the Fort Worth case is unclear, the court does not have jurisdiction. The Living Church reported the story here. The story includes the Liberty Institute brief, which can also be found here.

South Carolina situation murky; cathedral to vote on severing Episcopal Church ties

The independent blog South Carolina Episcopalians reported August 31, 2012, that the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul, in Charleston, South Carolina, will vote September 9 on whether to sever ties to The Episcopal Church. According to the Web site, diocesan lawyers are recommending the action and suggesting that the church change its allegiance to the “Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,” a formulation now embedded in Article I of the  Diocese of South Carolina constitution:
The Church in the Diocese of South Carolina accedes to the Constitution of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. In the event that any provision of the Constitution of the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America is inconsistent with, or contradictory to, the Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, the Constitution and Canons of this Diocese shall prevail.
The above wording is strikingly similar to Article I of the constitution of the Diocese of Pittsburgh as amended by Bob Duncan loyalists before the 2008 split

In an earlier post, South Carolina Episcopalians suggested that Bishop Mark Lawrence, who left the General Convention in Indianapolis unhappy with its decisions, is planning to remove his diocese from The Episcopal Church, possibly with a plan benefiting from the knowledge gained in the departure of factions of the dioceses of San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, and Quincy. Mark Harris, on his own blog, has tried to make sense of what is going on in South Carolina, but Lawrence seems to be playing his cards very close to his chest.

Carnegie church returns to Episcopal diocese

Although details are sketchy, it appears that Church of the Atonement, Carnegie, is returning to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh from the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. According to Anglican diocese blogger, the Rev. David Wilson, the vestry voted to return to the Episcopal diocese and dismiss its priest-in-charge, the Rev. Deb Carr. No official confirmation has come from either the Episcopal or the Anglican diocese.