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, November 26, 2012

News for Week Ending 11/26/2012

Uruguay feels ‘abandoned and unsupported’ by Standing Committee

Anglican Journal reported November 22, 2012, that the Diocese of Uruguay feels “abandoned and unsupported” after the Standing Committee (formerly the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council) failed to approve its request to become a part of the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil, rather than the Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America. The diocese had cited theological difference with the Southern Cone, in particular, on the matter of women’s ordination, and wanted to become a part of the more liberal Brazilian church.

There seems to be some confusion over just what the Standing Committee did. According to Anglican Journal, the Standing Committee “turned down its request to change provinces.” The Anglican Communion News Service story of October 26, however, indicated that “The Standing Committee decided to convene a subgroup to consider next steps in responding to the [Uruguay] diocese.”

Women bishops measure defeated in CoE

On November 20, 2012, the General Synod of the Church of England defeated a measure to allow for women bishops. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The compromise measure required a two-thirds vote among bishops, clergy, and lay members of the General Synod. It failed narrowly among the laity. The measure was strongly supported by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and his designated successor Justin Welby. Episcopal News Service covered the story here, and published a follow-up story on the aftermath of the defeat.

The defeat is widely viewed as a debacle. It has been covered extensively in news stories, and commentary about the vote has also been extensive. Anyone wishing to explore in depth what is being said about the failed measure should consult Thinking Anglican (beginning here), which has covered the matter with its usual thoroughness. Perhaps the most insightful commentary on the mess the Church of England has gotten itself into is an essay by Linda Woodhead on the Modern Church Web site. A post at The Lead gives a good sense of the consternation caused by the General Synod vote.

Diocese of Va. asks for Supreme Court rehearing

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has asked the state Supreme Court to rehear its cross-appeal in the Falls Church case that was recently rejected by the court. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The diocese and The Episcopal Church want to establish their trust interest in parish property. The petition for a rehearing was filed November 12, 2012. A friend of the court brief from various parties was filed at the same time.

Reunification of Quincy and Chicago dioceses moves forward

Plans to combine the dioceses of Quincy and Chicago are moving forward. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Representatives from Quincy attended the annual convention of the Diocese of Chicago November 16 and 17, 2012. The convention passed a resolution “that affirms the Diocese of Chicago’s intent to pursue reunification with Quincy and directs the bishop, with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee, to seek approval of the Quincy Reunion Agreement” according to a story about the convention on the Diocese of Chicago Web site.

Calvary rector retires

The Rev. Dr. Harold T. Lewis, rector of Calvary Church, officially retired November 25, 2012. Lewis will be remembered for many things, particularly for the so-called Calvary lawsuit against then-bishop Robert Duncan. That the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is in control of diocesan properties is a direct result of the litigation began by Lewis in 2003. Lewis’s retirement was covered in a front-page story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Monday, November 19, 2012

News for Week Ending 11/19/2012

CoE votes 11/20/2012 on women bishops

The General Synod of the Church of England votes on the compromise women bishops legislation on November 20, 2012. The outcome is decidedly in doubt. The BBC has published a story that offers a good perspective on the coming vote. For the legislation to move forward, two-thirds majorities are needed among bishop, clergy, and laity. The laity vote is the most uncertain. Thinking Anglicans offers a roundup of last-minute news and comment on this week’s vote.

South Carolina schism formalized

The breakup of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina became formal this past week. Inhibited Episcopal bishop Mark Lawrence held a convention November 17, 2012, to ratify the alleged departure from The Episcopal Church earlier declared by the Standing Committee. (See Pittsburgh Update story here. The most recent story on the South Carolina schism can be found here.) Episcopal News Service has provided a detailed explanation of what was done at the convention to separate from The Episcopal Church. The Web site South Carolina Episcopalians has also provided an account. (The resolutions presented at the convention are here; Lawrence’s address to the convention is here. Video of the Lawrence address is available on YouTube.) Not all parishes are following Lawrence out of The Episcopal Church, and not all parishes were represented at the convention. Lawrence and his supporters apparently have no immediate plans to associate with a large church group either in or out of the Anglican Communion.

 Two days earlier, Episcopal Church supporters held a clergy day in Charleston at which the guest speaker was the retired Bishop Charles vonRosenberg. According to Episcopal Forum of South Carolina (EFSC), “60–70” South Carolina clergy attended the event. The homily given by vonRosenberg can be found here. Additional information can be found in the EFSC newsletter whose link is given above.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori addressed a pastoral letter to the Diocese of South Carolina November 15. In it, she noted that the diocese cannot, of its own accord, secede from the wider church, and she urged reconciliation.

Former Pittsburgh priest consecrated bishop in Rhode Island

The Very Rev. William Nicholas Knisely Jr. was consecrated bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island November 17, 2012. Knisely was rector of St. Barnabas, Brackinridge, before leaving to become rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He was dean of Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix, Arizona, at the time of his election. Additional details are available from Episcopal News Service.

Bishop McConnell radio interview available on Web

Pittsburgh’s new bishop, the Rt. Rev. Dorsey McConnell, was a guest on WESA-FM’s local interview show, Essential Pittsburgh, on November 14, 2012. The interview can be streamed from the diocese’s Web site here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

News for Week Ending 11/12/2012

Justin Welby named 105th Archbishop of Canterbury

On November 9, 2012, the Church of England announced that Bishop of Durham Justin Welby will become the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, succeeding Rowan Williams, who steps down at the end of the year. Welby was a oil company executive before becoming a priest and has been a bishop for only a year.

Information about Welby and commentary on his appointment is widespread, and only a few references will be mentioned here. Thinking Anglicans has done a fine job of collecting links about Welby, beginning with a post two days before the official announcement. Episcopal News Services’s story about Welby is here. Unedited video of Welby’s post-appointment news conference can be viewed here.

ACC-15 concludes

The fifteenth meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council concluded in Auckland, New Zealand, November 7, 2012. To the surprise of many, although ACC-15 passed 41 resolutions, it was silent on the future of the Anglican Covenant, which was nevertheless the subject of discussion at the meeting. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Episcopal New Service reported on the final three days of the meeting here, here, and here. It also published interviews with the American participants in the meeting here.

More opposition to women bishops appears as vote draws near

On November 20, 2012, the General Synod of the Church of England will vote on legislation to allow for women bishops. The compromise legislation, which is intended to keep those opposed to the ordination of women in the church, has failed to elicit enthusiastic support either from supporters of women clergy or detractors of the concept. Andrew Brown, writing in his Guardian blog, has set forth clearly the opposing views that may scuttle the legislation. Riazat Butt has also written of the dilemma supporters of women bishops face. A booklet from conservative Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics has now appeared titled “Women Bishops Legislation: Not Fit for Purpose,” which has drawn at least one attack from the other side. Church Society has released a video urging rejection of the legislation because it does not specify how the mechanisms it creates will actually work.

Rhetoric escalates in South Carolina battle

The Diocese of South Carolina has now clearly split into two factions, though it is unclear just who is on which side. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Presiding Bishop has established a steering committee to guide the Episcopal Church diocese through the next few months.

Church members loyal to The Episcopal Church have now created their own Web site representing “The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.” The breakaway diocese, now styling itself as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, Incorporated, retains the Web site of what had been the Episcopal Church diocese.

Those intent on removing the diocese from The Episcopal Church—something the church says cannot be done—have called a convention for November 17, 2012, whose purpose seems to be to get parishes on board with their program. Loyal Episcopalians sent an invitation to clergy on November 7 to attend a “Diocesan Clergy Day” on November 15. Those e-mail messages were labeled “fraudulent” by Anglican Ink; the diocese of inhibited bishop Mark Lawrence was hardly more charitable. A revised invitation was sent two days later specifying a different venue.

Episcopal Forum of South Carolina has reproduced a letter that appeared in a number of South Carolina newspapers addressed to Episcopalians in the Diocese of South Carolina. That letter announces the steering committee to re-organize the continuing Episcopal Church diocese. A convention is scheduled for March 8, 2012, at which “delegates will begin the work of selecting a bishop, a new standing committee, and forging ahead with our missions and ministry.” Anglican Ink has described the re-organizing effort as an “ecclesiastical coup” engineered by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Anglican Curmudgeon, not known for its measured rhetoric, began a post on South Carolina with this sentence: “Bandit Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, known far and wide in ECUSA for her lawlessness and contempt of the canons, has organized a new gang of outlaws in South Carolina.”

South Carolina Episcopalians, an outspoken Web site supporter of The Episcopal Church, has published a helpful status report on the situation in South Carolina that carries the headline “On the Campaign Trail with the PECDSC, It’s ‘All Out War’ Against the Episcopal Church.”

Monday, November 5, 2012

News for Week Ending 11/5/2012

Work of ACC-15 continues

The fifteenth meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) continues in Auckland, New Zealand, through November 7, 12012. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Various issues of mission have been taken up by the ACC, including the Bible in the life of the church, climate change, and violence against Christians.

Bishop of Christchurch Victoria Matthews, a member of the Inter-Anglican Standing Committee on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO), introduced a session October 30, 2012, on the history and reception of the Anglican Covenant. She expressed a common belief among Covenant supporters—a belief strongly rejected by Covenant detractors—that the Covenant document is very different from many people’s understanding of it. Anglican Communion News Service described her as saying, “I believe that in the original idea of the Anglican Covenant, there was a desire to allow the Anglican Communion to be a safe place for conversation and the sharing of new ideas.” ACC participants will return to the Covenant, possibly passing one or more resolutions about it, on November 6.

In a November 5 address, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams expressed, in passing, hope for the Covenant project. On November 2 and 3, ACC-15 considered the history and role of the so-called Instruments of Communion, which the Covenant would institutionalize.

Anglican Communion News Service continues to cover ACC-15 in depth here. Episcopal News Service accounts of ACC-15 activities are available here and in following posts.

Support grows for CoE women bishops legislation

Despite concern that legislation to allow women bishops in the Church of England concedes too much to opponents of women’s ordination, support seems to be growing for it. A vote will be taken in the General Synod on November 20, 2012. Women in the Church (WATCH), which had declined to take a position on the legislation—see Pittsburgh Update story here—has now issued a statement indicating that “a significant majority” of members have expressed support for the measure. (Thinking Anglicans has published the November 5 WATCH press release.) A new independent Web site, YES to women bishops, has also appeared.

Falls Church appeal accepted by Va. Supreme Court

On October 26, 2012, the Supreme Court of Virginia granted The Falls Church the right to appeal the lower court ruling that granted the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia the real and personal property held by the breakaway congregation. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The court also refused to hear a cross-appeal from the diocese and The Episcopal Church seeking to establish the validity of the Dennis Canon in Virginia. A decision in the case is expected in the first half of next year.

Episcopal News Service has reprinted a statement from the diocese and and provided links to other material, including the court opinion, here. The Diocese of Virginia maintains a page of links to documents relating to the property litigation in the diocese here.

Crisis continues in South Carolina

No significant developments were apparent this past week in the attempted succession of the Diocese of South Carolina from The Episcopal Church. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) In particular, no lawsuits have yet been filed. Instead, a war of words is ongoing.
Attorney and Senior Fellow of the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI) Mark McCall published an essay October 31, 2012, in The Living Church questioning both the wisdom and propriety of charging Bishop Mark Lawrence with abandonment. (The ACI is a conservative group with no official position in the Anglican Communion.) Stories in the Florence, South Carolina, Morning News and The Washington Post set forth the position of the diocese in the current dispute. On November 3, All Saints, Hilton Head, and St. Mark’s, Beaufort, ran a half-page color ad in two newspapers declaring that “The Episcopal Church is Alive and Well in South Carolina.” (See eNewsletter of The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina.) South Carolina Episcopalians reports that Bishop Lawrence has not officially left The Episcopal Church, though he has encouraged others to do so, and that he has had at least one conversation with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori since the diocese declared its departure from the church. South Carolina Episcopalians has also reported that Lawrence disregarded his inhibition by performing confirmations at two different churches.

Fort Worth elects provisional bishop

Episcopal News Service reported November 5, 2012, that the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, in its November 3 convention, elected and installed the Rt. Rev. Rayford High as its third provisional bishop since the diocese split in 2008. Bishop High served as bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas from 2003-2011. He wrote a letter to his new diocese, which was intended to be read in churches of the diocese on November 4.

Annual diocesan convention to be held at Trinity Cathedral this weekend

The 147th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will be held downtown at Trinity Cathedral Friday, November 9, 2012, and Saturday, November 10, 2012. The convention itself, as well as workshops held Saturday morning, are open to the public. Details are available on the diocesan Web site. For the first time, as required by changes to Canon XVII adopted last year, the convention will see an accounting of all diocesan endowment funds and funds held for parishes.