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.

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A Service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh         

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.