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, May 28, 2012

News for Week Ending 5/28/2012

Anderson not running for re-election as HoD president

In a surprise move, President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson announced in a May 23, 2012, letter that she will not stand for re-election at the upcoming General Convention. She was first elected in 2006, replacing the Rev. Canon George Werner. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori issued a statement the same day expressing gratitude for “the service Bonnie Anderson has given to The Episcopal Church over many, many years.” Anderson has set out the schedule for filling the offices of president and vice-president of the House of Deputies. (The latter office is now vacant.)

Anderson has maintained a high profile as President of the House of Deputies and has often clashed with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. In an article from The Living Church, Derek Olsen suggests that conflict between the leaders of the two houses of the General Convention is inherent in the polity of The Episcopal Church.

Trial date set for Quincy property case

Of the four Episcopal Church dioceses that split more than three years ago—San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, and Quincy—the legal battle over property in the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy seems to have moved slowest. According to Episcopal News Service, however, a trial date of April 22, 2013, has now been set. The date was announced by the Rt. Rev. John C. Buchanan, Provisional Bishop of Quincy, in a May 22, 2012, letter.

Falls Church returns property; will appeal to Supreme Court

According to the Falls Church News-Press, Virginia Episcopalians returned to The Falls Church Sunday, May 20, 2012, and the former Anglican congregation held services in Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Virginia. As explained in a letter from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia’s Secretary and Chief of Staff Henry D.W. Burt, however, Falls Church Anglican plans to appeal the court decision awarding the parish property to the Episcopal diocese by the end of the month. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

News for Week Ending 5/21/2012

Composition of group that nominates Archbishop of Canterbury complete

On May 18, 2012, Episcopal News Service reported that the Church of England’s Crown Nominations Commission, the body that will identify the person who will replace Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury, now has its full complement of 16 voting members. It will meet for the first time later this month. The commission also has three non-voting members. Williams steps down from his position at the end of the year to accept an academic post.The Archbishop of Canterbury has traditionally been recognized as the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion.

CoE bishops amend women bishop legislation

The House of Bishops of the Church of England issued a press release May 21, 2012, announcing changes to the legislation authorizing women bishops in England made by that body. The legislation returns to the General Synod in July. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The press release can be found here.

Times religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill called the communication from the House of Bishops the “worst-written press release since the Reformation.” It is unclear just what the changes mean. Perhaps cogent analysis of the amendments by the bishops will be available for the next Pittsburgh Update post.

Anti-Covenant group submits General Convention resolution

Anglican Journal reported May 16, 2012, that the No Anglican Covenant Coalition, an international group opposed to adoption of the Anglican Covenant, has proposed a resolution for General Convention that has been submitted, almost verbatim, to the Convention. The Coalition published what it called a “model” resolution. The resolution, as submitted, is identical, save for minor changes in the explanation. (The model resolution is here; the resolution, whose primary sponsor is the Rev. Canon Susan Russell, is on her blog here.) The resolution has been numbered D007.

Russell’s resolution affirms a traditional understanding of the Anglican Communion, and it asserts a continuing commitment of The Episcopal Church to the Communion. However, the resolution declares that “the General Convention, having prayerfully considered the merits of the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant and believing said agreement to be contrary to Anglican ecclesiology and tradition and to the best interests of the Anglican Communion, respectfully decline to adopt the same.”

The Russell resolution joins at least three other resolutions dealing with the Anglican Covenant. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Additional resolutions on the Covenant are also expected to be offered.

N.H. elects straight bishop on first ballot

The convention of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire elected a successor to the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson May 19, 2012. (It was the 2003 election of Gene Robinson, a partnered gay priest, that triggered vexation within the Anglican Communion that continues to the present day.) One of the candidates in Saturday’s election was the Rev. Dr. William Warwick Rich, who is married to a man. The convention, however, chose the Rev. Robert Hirschfeld, a married heterosexual, for the diocese’s next bishop, and it did so on the first ballot, which is unusual in an Episcopal Church election. The story was reported by the Concord Monitor and Episcopal News Service.

St. Paul’s, Mt. Lebanon, to assist returning St. David’s, Peters Twp. Congregation

On May 27, 2012, Episcopal Church services will return to St. David’s, Peters Township. The Anglican diocese congregation that had been occupying the East McMurray Road property is returning the property to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and beginning a new ministry in Canonsburg. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) A number of parishioners of the Anglican parish will form the core of a new Episcopal congregation.

Priests from St. Paul’s, Mt. Lebanon, will conduct two services on Sundays, and the congregations will take on joint projects, including Vacation Bible School this summer.

Details of the arrangement are described in a story by Peters Patch.

Monday, May 14, 2012

News for Week Ending 5/14/2012

Ordinariate for Anglicans coming to Australia

Eurasia Review reported May 12, 2012, that Pope Benedict XVI will be creating an Australian ordinariate for Anglicans wishing to become Roman Catholic while preserving part of their Anglican heritage. The new quasi-diocese is to be launched June 15. The Australian ordinariate follows the establishment of separate ordinariates for England and Wales and for the United States. According the Eurasia Review, the first parish of the U.S. ordinariate will be opened in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in August.

Church of Ireland fails to break ground on sexuality issues

On May 12, 2012, after extended debate, the General Synod of the Church of Ireland passed a resolution on issues of sexuality that reaffirmed traditional dogma. The resolution said, in part: “The Church of Ireland recognises for itself and of itself, no other understanding of marriage than that provided for in the totality of Canon 31. The Church of Ireland teaches therefore that faithfulness within marriage is the only normative context for sexual intercourse.” Episcopal News Service reported on the resolution (reproduced in the ENS story) on May 14. Details of the debate can be found on Thinking Anglicans.

Chicago Consultation, Ujamaa Centre sponsor sexuality dialogue

The Lead reported May 14, 2012, on a three-day gathering in Durban, South Africa, of Africans, Episcopalians, and ecumenical guests. The group “prayed, studied the Bible and listened to presentations about issues of theology, sexuality and culture.” The conference, which took place last October, was an attempt to foster better understanding of diverse viewpoints within the Anglican Communion through face-to-face conversation. The Lead story includes a nearly 12-minute video of voices from the event and a link to a written report about it.

Court rules for L.A. Diocese

In a story on its Web site, the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles announced that Orange County Superior Court Judge Kim Dunning, on  May 10, 2012, granted a motion for summary judgment against St. David’s Anglican Church in North Hollywood and All Saints’ Anglican Church in Long Beach. After a long legal battle that went all the way to the California Supreme Court—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the Los Angeles diocese is poised to see the return of the parish property in North Hollywood and Long Beach in the near future. The Los Angeles Times ran a story on the court decision.

Falls Church Anglicans hold last service in historic church

WTOP-FM reported May 14, 2012, that the breakaway Anglican congregation of The Falls Church, in Falls Church, Virginia, held its final service in its historic building May 13. As a result of a January court decision—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the parish property is being returned to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. The congregation is appealing the order to turn over the property, but its request to remain in place during the appeal was rejected. The church issued a press release about its situation May 10. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, wrote about the departure of himself and his congregation in The Washington Post May 11. Responding to the Yates essay, Jim Naughton, on The Lead, accused Yates of wanting his own facts in claiming that the congregation remains part of the Anglican Communion.

Monday, May 7, 2012

News for Week Ending 5/7/2012

AMiA saga continues

The future of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) continues to be uncertain. (See most recent Pittsburgh Update story here.) VirtueOnline reported May 1, 2012, that two AMiA bishops, John E. Miller III and T.J. Johnston are now assisting bishops overseeing former AMiA parishes as part of the Anglican Church in North America. According to VirtueOnline, “The Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) is in the midst of refocusing as a missionary society.” and Virtue quotes Bishop Charles Murphy as saying, “This decision demonstrates our commitment to being a multi-jurisdictional entity.”

Also on May 1, Murphy announced on the AMiA Web site that plans were in place for transforming the AMiA into a missionary society. Those plans were clarified during Murphy’s attendance at the recent meeting in London of Fellowship of Confessing Anglican leaders. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Five African primates—Archbishop Henri Isingoma (Congo), Archbishop Eliud Wabukala (Kenya), Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda, retired), Archbishop Yong Ping Chung (South East Asia, retired), and Archbishop Moses Tay (South East Asia, retired)—agreed to serve on an oversight body, the College of Consultors. On May 5, however, George Conger, writing for Anglican Ink, reported that Archbishop Wabukala had withdrawn his support for reasons that were unclear. Anglican Ink reported the same day that Murphy asserted that, despite the Wabukala withdrawal, governing documents for the new missionary society will be ratified formally on June 4.

Church structure to be big topic at General Convention

Episcopal News Service, in a story dated May 2, 2012, reported that debate on proposals involving changes to the structure and operating procedures of The Episcopal Church will be prominent at the upcoming 2012 General Convention, which meets July 5–12 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Concern about decreasing membership and high administrative costs have long been the concern of many, but the possibility of a major restructuring of the church was raised by Bishop Stacey Sauls, church CEO, at a meeting of church bishops last September. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The ENS story reviews some of the proposals and discusses organizational changes proposed in other Christian denominations.

Note that General Convention resolutions, which are still being accepted, are available on the World Wide Web here.

Final settlement reached with Savannah church

On May 3, 2012, the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia announced that all legal issues have been resolved with the breakaway congregation of Christ Church, Savannah. The Georgia Supreme Court had affirmed a decision in favor of ownership of parish property by the diocese, but the Christ Church congregation had joined an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the Episcopal Church’s trust interest in diocesan property. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Christ Church congregation has withdrawn from the Supreme Court appeal, and the diocese has dropped its motion for a contempt judgment against individual leaders of the Anglican church.

Diocese settles property dispute with another Virginia church

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced May 4, 2012, that a final settlement has been reached with the breakaway Church of the Apostles Anglican of Fairfax, Virginia. Real property will be conveyed to the diocese, along with the sum of $230,000. Some personal property will be returned to the diocese, but the congregation will be allowed to keep other materials. Church of the Apostles will withdraw its appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court of the Fairfax County court decision in January in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) A more complete accounting of the agreement is provided by Church of the Apostles here. VirtueOnline also reported this story.

Appeals court rules against Tennessee parish

The Tennessean reported May 1, 2012, that the Tennessee Court of Appeals in Nashville ruled April 25 on the appeal of St. Andrew’s parish to a lower court decision in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee. The court upheld a lower-court decision awarding the parish property to the diocese after the congregation claimed to have left the diocese for the Diocese of Quincy, which, itself, claimed departure from The Episcopal Church. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Episcopal Fort Worth diocese comments on amicus brief

The chancellor and the president of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth have commented on the amicus brief filed with the Texas Supreme Court by seven Episcopal Church bishops and three priests. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The statements are reproduced on the Web site of The Living Church.

Chicago, Quincy explore reunion

According to a May 7, 2012, Episcopal News Service story, the dioceses of Chicago and Quincy, which were created by a division of the Diocese of Illinois into three dioceses in 1877—the Diocese of Springfield was also a product of the division—are continuing their dialogue about possible reunion. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Leaders of the two dioceses met April 28, 2012, in Chicago. They agreed to develop a plan and timeline for future reunion talks. Another meeting is scheduled for August 18. Quincy is the smallest of four dioceses that saw many congregations leave The Episcopal Church for what has become the Anglican Church in North America, led by Archbishop Robert Duncan.