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, January 28, 2013

News for Week Ending 1/28/2013

N.Z. priest proclaims Week of Prayer for Christian Diversity

Implicitly, the conflict over issues of sexuality among Anglican Communion churches has been over the degree to which churches of the Communion can articulate different theological views. Communion unity, in the minds of some, requires Communion uniformity. Believing that such is not the case, New Zealand priest and blogger Bosco Peters has declared a Week of Prayer for Christian Diversity, which follows the well-established Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The Week of Prayer for Christian Diversity runs from January 27, 2013, to February 3. Peters has provided a logo (“I Believe in Christian Diversity”) that he is encouraging people to display on their Web sites. His description of the week of prayer can be found on his Liturgy blog.

Marriage equity legislation moves forward in UK

A bill providing for same-sex marriages in the UK was introduced in Parliament January 24, 2013. Thinking Anglicans provides links to the bill itself, to additional information about the legislation, and to initial comments on it here. Thinking Anglicans also links to January 25 responses to the legislation by the Church of England and the Church in Wales here. Both churches have influenced provisions of the same-sex marriage bill, which reflects both the different statuses of the churches in their respective countries and their different attitudes toward same-sex marriage. The bill acknowledges the English church’s view that marriage is necessarily between one man and one woman and largely excepts the Church of England from the provisions of the bill. The Church in Wales, which has not yet accepted same-sex marriage, retains the right to do so and to perform such marriages in churches without further action of Parliament.

S.C. Episcopalians elect provisional bishop subject to TRO

South Carolina Episcopalians who did not follow former Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence out of the Episcopal Church met in special convention January 26, 2013, and elected the Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg as their provisional bishop. Episcopal News Services offered extensive coverage of the event, publishing the sermon of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schoi, the remarks of President of the House of Bishops Gay Clark Jennings, and the address of Bishop vonRosenberg. An ENS story published in anticipation of the convention can be found here.

The special convention at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston was conducted subject to unanticipated legal restraints. On January 23, 2013, a South Carolina Circuit Court judge, Diane S. Goodstein, issued a temporary restraining order declaring, in part,
No individual, organization, association or entity, whether incorporated or not, may use, assume, or adopt in any way, directly or indirectly, the registered names and seal or mark of The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina as are set out below or any names or seal that may be perceived to be those names and mark or seal.
The right to use, for example, “the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina” is granted by the TRO only to the breakaway group led by Mark Lawrence.  This required Saturday’s special convention—see the ENS story here—to refer to the entity it was representing not as the “Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina,” but as “the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.”

Judge Goodstein’s order is only effective through February 1, when a hearing on the use of the name and seal of the diocese is scheduled. The conflict over intellectual property rights in South Carolina is hardly unique. After the October 2008 split of the Pittsburgh Diocese, the resulting groups each represented themselves as the “Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.” Litigation focused not on the diocesan name and seal, however, but on more fundamental issues.

Filings made in Falls Church case

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has posted a number of new filings in support of the Episcopal Church’s appeal of the Virginia Supreme Court’s failure to consider the Dennis Canon in the Falls Church case. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The diocese’s Property Recovery Litigation page contains links to documents in support of the Episcopal Church’s position: (1) an amici curiae brief from a variety of Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran parties, (2) a brief from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, (3) a brief from The Episcopal Church, and (4) an amicus curiae brief from A.E. Dick Howard, the White Burkett Miller Professor of Law and Public Affairs at the University of Virginia.

The Virginia Supreme Court has, for many years, refused to consider denominational trusts in governing documents, such as that asserted by the Dennis Canon. The overall thrust of the filings, all made on the final day on which they were allowed, January 21, 2013, is that such a rule is constitutionally unsustainable and that the court’s position should be changed, while upholding the lower court ruling in favor of the diocese and against The Falls Church.

Monday, January 21, 2013

News for Week Ending 1/21/2013

Giddings survives no confidence vote

In a special meeting of the House of Laity of the Church of England January 18, 2013, Dr. Philip Giddings, chair of the house, survived a no confidence brought by members upset by his role in defeating the women bishops measure. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The no confidence motion failed 47–80, with 13 abstentions. The Church of England issued a press release about the vote, which was the only business conducted at the meeting. Thinking Anglicans posted links to a number of commentaries on the vote, including to a story from Episcopal News Service.

R.I. bishop argues for marriage equality in state

Newly consecrated Bishop of Rhode Island Nick Knisely issued a statement January 19, 2013, urging the Rhode Island legislature to pass a marriage equality bill currently under consideration. Knisely wrote that his support for committed same-sex relationships stems from his observation of people in such relationships. His statement was published by Episcopal News Service.

Bishop promotes Absalom Jones Day

Bishop Dorsey McConnell has written to encourage Pittsburgh Episcopalians to attend this year’s Absalom Jones Day celebration, which will be held February 2, 2013, at Trinity Cathedral. The bishop noted that the diocese does not represent the diversity of Southwestern Pennsylvania. He also suggested that we can be inspired by the example of Absalom Jones, the first black priest in The Episcopal Church. His letter can be read on the diocesan Web site.

Philip Wainwright to speak at February PEP Meeting

The Rev. Dr. Philip Wainwright will speak on “Flavors and Tenets of Episcopal Church Conservatives” at the February 11, 2013, meeting of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh at Calvary Church. Additional details are available on a flyer here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

News for Week Ending 1/14/2013

Welby now officially slated to succeed Williams

Just as Americans do not technically elect the President of the United States on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November—the Electoral College  does the “real” voting—even the blessing of the Queen does not make a person the next Archbishop of Canterbury. On January 10, 2013, however, a vote taken by the College of Canons of Canterbury Cathedral made it official that Justin Welby will become the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. He will be enthroned (i.e., consecrated) on March 21. The Archbishop of Canterbury-elect technically becomes #105 on February 4. (See stories here and here.)

Note that the Web site for the new archbishop can be found at http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org. The Web site for Rowan Williams that was at this address has been archived at http://rowanwilliams.archbishopofcanterbury.org, and links to the former site will be redirected to the appropriate page of the archived site. That is, old links should still work.

Fallout continues from CoE decision on bishops in civil partnerships

The decision of Church of England bishops to allow priests in civil partnerships to become bishops, as long as they are celibate, continues to attract commentary. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Neither the decision of the House of Bishops nor the process by which it was made has escaped criticism. Thinking Anglicans continues to provide extensive coverage of the ongoing controversy, and readers intent on following it closely can read Thinking Anglican posts here, here, and here.

On January 12, 2012, nine Global South primates issued a statement expressing deep concern about the decision of the English bishops. They call it wrong and complain about the lack of consultation on the matter, charges paralleling those leveled at The Episcopal Church over the selection of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire a decade ago. The communiqué from the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (see story below) echoes complaints about the Church of England policy articulated by the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). Reuters also wrote about the dissatisfaction of Anglican leaders in Africa here.

GAFCON II set for Nairobi

It had already been announced that the Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) II would take place in October 2013. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, chairman of the Primates’ Council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, has now announced that the meeting will take place in Nairobi, Kenya. according to Anglican Ink.

ACNA bishops meet in Orlando

The College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America met in Orlando, Florida, January 7–11, 2013. George Conger reported on the meeting for Anglican Ink. Topics discussed included the ongoing study of female ordination, prayer book revision, and overlapping dioceses. The communiqué from the meeting is included in Conger’s story and can also be found on the ACNA Web site here.

Washington National Cathedral to perform gay marriages

The Very Rev. Gary Hall, Dean of Washington National Cathedral announced in an e-mail message January 8, 2013, that the cathedral will begin performing same-sex weddings, effective immediately. The cathedral, which is located in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriages, will use a liturgy adapted from the rite approved by last summer’s General Convention. The story was covered by Episcopal News Service and other media outlets.

Va. Supreme Court grants rehearing to diocese

On January 8, 2013, the Virginia Supreme Court granted the request of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church for a rehearing of their cross-appeal in the Falls Church case. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The court had previously ruled that it would not consider the trust interest asserted in the Dennis Canon, but it is now going to consider arguments as to whether it should. The Episcopal parties have been given until January 21 to file any additional materials with the court. The court ruling can be read here.

Provisional bishops to take over in Pa. and S.C.

According to Episcopal News Service, the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III, who has served for 15 years as the Bishop of East Carolina, resigned from that position to become the candidate for provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania. He was elected at a special diocesan convention January 12. Daniel replaces the the Rev. Charles Bennison, who retired at the end of last year after a contentious episcopate.

Episcopal News Service reported January 10, 2012, that the Rt. Rev. Charles Glenn vonRosenberg, retired bishop of East Tennessee, has been nominated to be the provisional bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, from which its former bishop, Mark Lawrence, and his supporters defected. Bishop vonRosenberg is slated to be elected by a special diocesan convention on January 26.

Petition urges reconciliation in South Carolina

The Living Church reported January 8, 2013, that a petition on the World Wide Web urges The Episcopal Church to resolve differences with the former bishop of South Carolina, Mark Lawrence, and his supporters without pursuing litigation. The stated sponsor of the petition is “Concerned Episcopalians,” but no names of those behind the project have been disclosed. The petition seeks 1,000 signatures but is attracting supporters slowly despite its existence’s being widely known. Although the petition is explicitly addressed to The Episcopal Church, it is Mark Lawrence, et al., who have initiated litigation to retain diocesan real and intellectual property. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Resolution reached with bishops who submitted amicus briefs

According to George Conger, an agreement in principle has been reached between nine bishops and their accusers. It has been assumed that the charges brought against the bishops involved their submitting amicus briefs in court proceedings in the Fort Worth and Quincy property cases that contradicted the legal position of The Episcopal Church and of the Fort Worth and Quincy dioceses. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The church has not disclosed the actual charges. In his story for Anglican Ink, Conger reports that the bishops were charged with “fraud, financial misconduct, teaching false doctrine and failing to inform on their fellow bishops who held opinions on church order contrary to those advocated by Bishop Jefferts Schori.” Representatives of the accusers and the accused met January 8–9, 2013, in Richmond with Prof.  John Douglass of the University of Richmond School of Law, who was appointed conciliator. Details have not been released, but the settlement has been described as amicable.

Monday, January 7, 2013

News for Week Ending 1/7/2013

English bishops OK gay bishops

On January 4, 2013, the Church of England issued a statement declaring that “clergy in civil partnerships, and living in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality, can be considered as candidates for the episcopate.” The statement addresses a question not dealt with by the July 25, 2005, statement issued several months before the Civil Partnership Act took effect, namely, whether celibate clergy in registered partnerships can become bishops. The 2005 statement made it clear, however, that homosexuals desirous of ordination will be asked about their sexual activity, a requirement to which heterosexual candidates are not normally subject.

Reaction to the January 4 statement has been voluminous and often negative. Andrew Brown, writing for The Guardian, declared that it makes the church’s position more coherent. He also said, however, that “it is already clear that opposition to gay marriage is a lost cause for the Church of England.” Jerome Taylor, writing for The Independent, quoted one person suggesting that the statement will “finally divide the Anglican Communion completely” and another person asserting that the statement is “really another announcement of discrimination.” Anyone determined to explore fully reactions to the statement should follow the links on Thinking Anglicans here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Lawrence, et al., sue Episcopal Church

It was inevitable that the schism in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina would lead to litigation. (See latest Pittsburgh Update story here.) It may surprise some that The Episcopal Church is not the first plaintiff to show up in court. According to Episcopal News Service, the group led by Mark Lawrence who broke from The Episcopal Church filed suit against the church in South Carolina’s First Judicial Circuit on January 4, 2013. The purpose of the action, according to what is being called “The Protestant Episcopal Church In The Diocese Of South Carolina,” is “to protect the Diocese’s real and personal property and that of its parishes” and “to prevent The Episcopal Church from infringing on the protected marks of the Diocese, including its seal and its historical names, and to prevent the church from assuming the Diocese’s identity, which was established long before The Episcopal Church’s creation.” (See the statement on the group’s Web site here.) The complete list of plaintiffs includes the names of 17 individual parishes in addition to “The Protestant Episcopal Church In The Diocese Of South Carolina” and “The Trustees of The Protestant Episcopal Church in South Carolina.” The ENS story cited above offers a good review of events leading up to the current litigation. As this is being written, the Episcopal Church diocese, which appears not to have been named as a defendant, has posted no comment on the litigation on its Web site.