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, December 31, 2012

News for Week Ending 12/31/2012

Retiring Archbishop of Canterbury to become peer

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams retires from his post December 31, 2012, and Bishop Justin Welby becomes the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury on January 1, 2013. Prime Minister David Cameron announced December 26 that Williams “will be created a Baron for Life by the style and title of Baron Williams of Oystermouth in the City and County of Swansea.” (Swansea is in Wales.)

More information about church/state relations in U.K. available

We noted in a recent story that Frank Cranmer had written a helpful tutorial on church/state relations in the U.K. Cranmer has now written two additional tutorials that cover the topic in greater depth and also discuss how European institutions affect U.K. churches. Most Americans will find Cranmer’s latest essays arcane, but interested readers can find them here and here.

Monday, December 24, 2012

News for Week Ending 12/24/2012

Canadian primate lobbies against ACNA recognition

Anglican Ink reported December 19, 2012, that Archbishop Fred Hiltz, the Anglican Church of Canada’s primate, has lobbied Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury designate, against any formal recognition of Bob Duncan’s Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). The two church leaders met at Auckland Castle, Durham, on December 6.

Archbishop of Canterbury urges gun control, a new spirit

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in his final “Thought for the Day” for BBC Radio 4 on December 22, 2012, spoke out for gun control in the U.S. in light of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary a week earlier. “If all you have is a gun,” he said, “everything looks like a target.” Arms control is only a start, however, “a new heart, a new spirit” is also needed for a peaceful world. His remarks can be found here.

The Lead has reported that two Episcopal bishops, Jon Bruno of Los Angeles and James Curry of Connecticut, have offered on-line petitions urging reinstatement of the assault weapons ban and other measures. Washington bishop Mariann Edgar Budde and Atlanta bishop Rob Wright have also spoken out on the need for gun control.

Fallout from rejection of women bishops measure continues

The rejection of the measure to provide for women bishops in the Church of England—see Pittsburgh Update story here—continues to have repercussions. The Guardian reported December 17, 2012, that the Rev. Philip North, a traditionalist Anglo-Catholic who was slated to become the next Bishop of Whitby, has declined the post due to complaints over his opposition to the ordination of women. Andrew Brown, also writing for The Guardian, suggested December 18 that it may soon become impossible for opponents of ordained women to become bishops.

The Web site Get Surrey reported December 18 that laypeople in the Diocese of Guildford have called for the resignation of three lay representatives to the General Synod who voted against the women bishops measure even though sentiment in the diocese favors the consecration of women bishops. Canon Dr. Hazel Whitehead, who organized a meeting to consider a call for resignation, is quoted by Get Surrey as saying that representatives are not required to represent the views of voters, but it is expected that they will.

South Carolina Reorganization Continues

As the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina moves forward with plans for a reorganizing convention on January 25, 2012, the  Canon to the Ordinary of the group that left The Episcopal Church has issued another letter (according to David Virtue) of protest claiming that his group is the only one that can call a convention for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and once again objecting to the group remaining in The Episcopal Church’s use of the diocesan name and seal. Meanwhile, the continuing diocese has sent out a newsletter noting that two more parishes have asked to be listed on their Web site and listing four “worshiping communities” that have formed to offer alternatives to parishes where the leadership is firmly in the camp of former bishop Mark Lawrence. The SC Episcopalians Web site has more on the parish and clergy alignments.

Fort Worth gets new Web site

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth now has a redesigned Web site. A note about the new site assures readers that many old URLs will be redirected to corresponding pages on the new site. The old site is archived here, and the new page containing information about property litigation in Fort Worth is here.

Bishop McConnell on the Web

Bishop of Pittsburgh Dorsey McConnell has posted a Christmas message titled “The Gift of the Child Jesus” on the diocesan Web site. Also, The Living Church has published a story about the skit that was part of McConnell’s consecration. The December 20, 2012, story is titled “More Bridges for Pittsburgh.”

Monday, December 17, 2012

News for Week Ending 12/17/2012

Draft marriage equality bill announced in Scotland

As we noted in an earlier post, the Scottish government intends to introduce legislation to allow for same-sex marriage. Draft legislation has now been released, and comments on it are being solicited. The proposed legislation would allow, but not require, same-sex marriage ceremonies to be performed in churches. The proposal is too complex to describe here, but Law & Religion UK summarizes the proposal and includes links to the draft legislation. In reading this material, keep in mind that the established Church of Scotland is not an Anglican church. (Frank Cranmer has written a brief but helpful piece explaining UK governance and its relationship to UK churches.)

British marriage equality bill would prevent English and Welsh churches from performing gay rites

Episcopal News Service reported December 11, 2012, that a proposed bill in the British Parliament to allow for same-sex marriage (not simply civil partnerships) will allow religious institutions to opt-in to performing ceremonies on their premises. (Civil partnership ceremonies are now banned absolutely from churches and the like.) Remarkably, however, the legislation provides that neither the (established) Church of England nor the (disestablished) Church in Wales will be allowed to opt-in. That is, the churches cannot perform same-sex ceremonies even if they want to (which they currently do not).  The Church in Wales has objected to this discrimination, but the position of the Church of England has been ambiguous. The situation is discussed in depth by Anya Palmer here.

English bishops to introduce new women bishops legislation in July

Episcopal News Service reported December 11, 2012, that the House of Bishops of the Church of England met December 10 to consider the rejection of the women bishops legislation by the General Synod. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The bishops intend to launch a consultation within the church beginning in February, with the intention of introducing new legislation when the General Synod meets in July.

Canadian church punts on theological evaluation of Covenant

On December 11, 2012, The Lead, citing a blog post by the Rev. Alan Perry, noted that the report on the theological implications of the Anglican Covenant prepared for the Anglican Church of Canada does little more than announce that the committee preparing the report could not agree. It is anticipated that the church’s General Synod will make a decision about Covenant adoption in July 2013. The theological evaluation, along with a study guide and legal analysis, was intended to inform that decision.

Documents filed with court in Falls Church Case

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has posted a number of documents that have been filed with the Virginia Supreme Court involving the litigation with the dissident Falls Church congregation. Along with other documents related to litigation in the Diocese of Virginia, the documents can be found here. The Supreme Court granted The Falls Church the right to appeal its decision awarding parish property to the diocese on October 26, 2012. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Falls Church filed its brief for its appeal December 12. Brief from others supporting The Falls Church were filed December 14 and can be found here, here, and here. On December 13, the diocese and The Episcopal Church filed a motion to change the briefing schedule to allow Episcopal parties to submit their brief after the Supreme Court rules on their request that the court reconsider the role of the Dennis Canon in the case—see Pittsburgh Update story here—since that ruling could affect the arguments to be made regarding the appeal by The Falls Church.

Global South primates write letter of support to Mark Lawrence

The Steering Committee of the Global South primates wrote a letter to schismatic South Carolina bishop Mark Lawrence December 14, 2012, declaring that “we recognize your Episcopal orders and your legitimate Episcopal oversight of the Diocese of South Carolina within the Anglican Communion.”

The letter appears to be a response to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s having accepted Lawrence’s “renunciation” of the ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church. The Presiding Bishop cited Section 7 of Canon III.12, which, technically, requires Lawrence to have sent a written request to the Presiding Bishop to resign his orders, which he did not do. (The church used Lawrence’s address to the November 17 special convention in lieu of a written request.) The story from Episcopal News Service about the Presiding Bishop’s action ran December 5, 2012. A December 6 story describes Lawrence’s response and provides background on the use of Canon III.12.

New Pittsburgh bishop ordains five

The Rt. Rev. Dorsey McConnell presided over the ordination of five new priests at Trinity Cathedral on December 5, 2012. This was the first multiple priesting in the diocese in recent memory and the first ordination presided over by Pittsburgh’s new bishop. Charles Brent Wagner Hamill, Terence Lee Johnston, Gwendollynn Gettemy Santiago, John Robert Schaeffer, and Todd Thomas Schmidtetter were ordained in the well attended service. A reception followed. Pictures of the event by Webmaster Andy Muhl have been posted on Facebook.

Monday, December 10, 2012

News for Week Ending 12/10/2012

No confidence vote set for CoE House of Laity

Thinking Anglicans reported December 10, 2012, that members of the Church of England’s House of Laity have been notified that a special meeting of the house will be held January 18, 2013, to consider a vote of no confidence in Dr. Philip Giddings, who chairs the house. Giddings spoke against the women bishops measure at last month’s meeting of the General Synod. The motion was narrowly defeated when insufficient votes were cast by laypeople. House of Laity members subsequently forced the January meeting by petition. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Reading Post published a story about the coming vote December 10.

Marriage equality shaping up as next big fight in England

While the issue of women bishops in the Church of England continues to be unresolved and a source of substantial public controversy, marriage equality is moving to center stage as the most conspicuous conflict between the Church of England, on one side, and the government and seemingly everyone else, on the other. A government report is to be released this week that apparently will not only eliminate distinctions between conventional marriage and same-sex unions, but also will allow, but not require, churches to perform same-sex marriages. (Thinking Anglicans contains a collection of relevant links.)

On December 7, 2012, the evangelical organization Reform appealed to Church of England bishops, who are to consult on the women bishops situation, to focus “on the much more pressing and significant issue of the threat to marriage.” As if in response, also on December 7, the Church of England issued an anonymous statement titled “Church of England responds to PM’s same sex marriage statement.” It opposes any redefinition of marriage: “We believe that redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships will entail a dilution in the meaning of marriage for everyone by excluding the fundamental complementarity of men and women from the social and legal definition of marriage.”

Thinking Anglicans published a collection of links on same-sex marriages in churches on December 8. It also has reviewed the Church of England’s relationship to the idea of same-sex marriage.

Queensland gets first female bishop

Episcopal News Service reported December 3, 2012, that the Venerable Alison Taylor has been appointed assistant bishop for the Southern Region of the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane. Taylor thus becomes the first female bishop in the Australian state of Queensland. (The Diocese of Brisbane covers the southern portion of Queensland.) Taylor, who will be consecrated bishop April 6, 2013, is Melbourne’s archdeacon for international partnerships and vicar of St. John’s Anglican Church, Camberwell.

Woman named dean of American Cathedral in Paris

Another women is about to become a first. The Rev. Lucinda R. Laird, rector of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Louisville, Kentucky, has been selected to be the 10th dean of the American Cathedral in Paris. She will assume her position in the spring of next year. The Episcopal News Service story on the appointment can be found here.

South Carolina to elect provisional bishop

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, diminished by the departure of Bishop Mark Lawrence and his followers, has announced that it will hold a special convention to elect a provisional bishop January 25–26, 2013. It had previously been anticipated that such an election would be held at the time originally scheduled for the annual convention in March. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will attend the convention. There has been no indication regarding who the provisional bishop will be. The convention and visit by the church’s primate was announced in an undated story on the diocese’s Web site. Charlestown’s Post and Currier carried a story on the convention on December 9. Episcopal News Service ran a story December 10.

Presbytery prevails in Oregon property case

Episcopalians may have been upset by the headline on a December 5, 2012, Anglican Ink story, “Oregon rejects the Dennis Canon.” The story involves a property dispute between the local presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and a departing congregation. Hope Presbyterian Church of Rogue River left its denomination and wanted to retain its property. It prevailed in trial court, but the decision was reversed on appeal. In a November 29, 2012, Oregon Supreme Court decision, the appeal court decision was upheld. The court reasoned using the neutral principles approach of Jones v. Wolf. The court acknowledged the existence of the Presbyterian equivalent of the Dennis Canon, which asserts a trust interest in local property by the general church, and took it into account in the case while declaring such a provision in church governing documents to be not, in itself, dispositive. In fact, the Oregon case, Hope Presbyterian Church v. Presbyterian Church (USA), was decided in a manor analogous to that of many other church properties throughout the country. The outcome, like most such outcomes, favored the general church, not the local dissident congregation.

Monday, December 3, 2012

News for Week Ending 12/3/2012

Uganda anti-gay bill slated for passage before Christmas

According to the Associated Press, Ugandan parliamentarian David Bahati said November 30, 2012, that a new anti-gay bill, with severe penalties but without a death penalty, is likely to be passed by Christmas. The content of the new bill has not be released. It was Bahati who first introduced an anti-homosexuality bill in the Ugandan parliament that has been widely criticized by church and government leaders outside Uganda. Passage of earlier versions of the bill has been urged by religious leaders within Uganda, however. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The AP story has been published in The Washington Post and elsewhere.

CoE women bishops legislation to be revisited soon

The Church of England’s Archbishops Council, a group of 19 people who act as the standing committee of the General Synod, issued a press release November 28, 2012, stating that it had “decided that a process to admit women to the episcopate needed to be restarted at the next meeting of the General Synod in July 2013.” The failure to adopt the measure that would have provided for women bishops in the Church of England has been widely criticized both from within the church and outside of it. It has even caused some to raise once again the prospect of disestablishment. (See, for example, a recent essay published by Ekklesia.)

The next day, a letter appeared in The Times from eight laypersons who had voted against the legislation, asserting that their vote (and that of several others) was not indicative of their opposition to women bishops but to a perception that the legislation provided insufficient provisions for those who are opposed. The letter is behind the newspaper’s pay wall, but excepts are available from Thinking Anglicans.

On December 1, the Bristol Diocesan Synod passed a resolution of no confidence in the General Synod as a result of its failure to adopt the women bishops measure. On the same day, it was reported that members of the House of Laity have gathered enough signatures to call an emergency meeting of the body that could oust the House of Laity Chair, Dr. Philip Giddings, who spoke forcefully against passage of the legislation. Thinking Anglicans has suggested that the meeting will take place in January.

Same-sex blessings authorized in Quebec

With the approval of his diocese, Bishop of Quebec Dennis Drainville, has authorized priests in the Diocese of Quebec to perform same-sex blessings. Priests will neither be required to bless same-sex couples nor be able to perform same-sex marriages, which are legal in Canada. According to the December issue of Gazette, the diocese joins about a dozen other dioceses of the Anglican Church of Canada in blessing same-sex couples. The action was announced and approved at the diocesan Synod, which was held November 2–4, 2012.

Anglican Communion Institute writes bishops about actions in South Carolina

The Anglican Communion Institute (ACI), a small conservative group with no official status within the Anglican Communion despite its name, sent an open letter to Episcopal Church bishops November 27, 2012. The letter describes what the ACI describes as “un-canonical (and perhaps even unlawful) actions on the part of our Presiding Bishop and her associates” related to events in the Diocese of South Carolina. The letter, signed by the Rev. Prof. Christopher Seitz, the Rev. Dr. Philip Turner, and the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner urges bishops “to take the necessary steps to restore the good order of our church,” implying, though not stating, that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori should be charged with canonical violations under Title IV.

Catholic journal editorializes in favor of women priests

National Catholic Reporter, an independent U.S. journal covering the Roman Catholic Church, published an editorial December 3, 2012, urging the ordination of women to the priesthood. “Barring women from ordination to the priesthood is an injustice that cannot be allowed to stand,” the editors wrote. The editorial reviews the church’s increasingly hard-line attitude toward the idea of women priests and is, in part, a reaction to the recent removal from the priesthood of Roy Bourgeois. Bourgeois ordained a Catholic woman in 2008 and has refused to recant his support of women priests.