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, February 25, 2013

News for Week Ending 2/24/2013

Uganda anti-gay bill nears top of legislative agenda

The Erasing 76 Crimes blog reported February 19, 2013, that the notorious so-called “Kill the Gays” bill is nearing consideration by the Uganda Parliament. A February 20 follow-up post suggests that the bill may not be debated quite so soon. Of course, passage of the anti-gay bill has repeatedly been predicted, but it remains only a bill. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Although the Ugandan people have been represented as favoring the bill, David Cecil, a gay British theatrical producer who was deported from Uganda, asserts, “Uganda is not a terrible place and most people are not homophobic but they are conservative. There are pastors preaching hate, they are the problem.” (See story from the London Evening Standard.)

Presiding Bishop to attend Welby Enthronement

According to Episcopal News Service, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will attend the Canterbury Cathedral enthronement of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby March 21, 2013. She will also attend the Primates Standing Committee, of which she is an elected member.

Maryland congregation votes to become Roman Catholic; property to stay with diocese

Members of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Catonsville, Maryland, voted February 10, 2013, to leave The Episcopal Church for the The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, in which they will become Roman Catholics while retaining some Anglican practices. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) For now, both Catholic and Episcopal services will be held in the Ingleside Avenue church. The property will be retained by the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, and the new Roman Catholic parish will identify a worship site after Easter. Details can be read in the February 20 story from Episcopal News Service.

Religion News Service offers perspective on Texas and South Carolina property cases

A Religion News Service story published by The Huffington Post, offers analysis of the church property disputes in Fort Worth and South Carolina. The article does not predict the outcome of the litigation, but it does point out some of the differences between these cases and other recent church property cases.

South Carolina church votes to join Lawrence faction

VirtueOnline reported February 24, 2013, that Old St. Andrew’s Parish Church of Charleston, South Carolina,, voted February 24 to amend its governing documents to eliminate references to The Episcopal Church, thereby aligning itself with former Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence and those who claim to have removed the Diocese of South Carolina from The Episcopal Church. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Both Lawrence and the Episcopal Church’s Provisional  Bishop Charles vonRosenberg had addressed parishioners prior to the February 24 vote. The vote was approximately 3 to 1 against continuing the parish’s Episcopal Church affiliation. The VirtueOnline story was preceded by this analysis the day before.

Bishop McConnell to receive honorary degree

The General Theological Seminary in New York City has announced recipients of honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees to be awarded at the 191st commencement ceremonies to be held May 15, 2013. One of the recipients will be our own bishop, Dorsey McConnell. Details can be found here.

Bishop writes diocese about coming conversations

Bishop Dorsey McConnell has written the diocese about the coming conversation regarding human sexuality. In a letter dated February 25, 2013, and sent to the Grace Happens mailing list, he offers this explanation:
The reason for this dialogue, as a practical matter, is to help inform my decision as your bishop on how the diocese should approach two issues current in the Church: the blessing of same-sex relationships and the ordination of partnered gay or lesbian persons. An equally important purpose is for us to come together as a diocese in constructive conversation to find and follow continuing paths to healing and reconciliation.
Bishop McConnell’s complete letter can be read here.

Monday, February 18, 2013

News for Week Ending 2/18/2013

Archbishop of Canterbury appoints Director for Reconciliation

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby announced February 18, 2013, that Canon David Porter will join his personal staff as part-time Director for Reconciliation. Porter will retain his position at Coventry Cathedral as Canon Director for Reconciliation Ministry. According to the press release, he will initially focus on “supporting creative ways for renewing conversations and relationships around deeply held differences within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.”

New Zealand church to examine theology of same-sex blessings

Anglican Taonga reported February 15, 2013, that the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia will appoint a doctrinal commission to explore the “theological rationale for the liturgical blessing of people in permanent, faithful same-gender relationships.” The story notes that “if the church arrives at a point where it is ready to bless the unions of same-sex couples, then ordaining people in such relationships may automatically follow.”

Structure task force holds first meeting

Episcopal News Service reported February 14, 2013, on the start of the first meeting of the Task Force on Structure. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The 26-member group met in Maryland February 14–16. The ENS story includes links to remarks made by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies Gay Clark Jennings.

Task Force on the Study of Marriage appointed

The Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies have appointed 12 people to the Task Force on the Study of Marriage, as required by Resolution A050 passed by the 2012 General Convention. According to the Presiding Bishop, “This task force is charged not only to take the pulse of our current theological understanding of the meaning of marriage, but to assist the faithful in conversation and discernment about marriage, in particular what the Church might hold up as “holy example” of the love between Christ and his Church.” The February 14, 2012, press release on the appointments can be found here.

Revised church governing documents available

General Conventions of The Episcopal Church usually result in changes to church canons and, often, to its constitution (strictly speaking, the constitution of the General Convention). The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs announced February 14, 2013, that the version of the constitution and canons that became effective on January 1 can now be downloaded. The paper version can be pre-ordered from Church Publishing Inc.

Scottish bishops visits South Carolina

According to Episcopal News Service, Robert Gillies, Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney, visited Grace Church in Charleston, South Carolina, February 10, 2013, for its “Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan” service. The bishop spoke of longstanding ties between the Scottish Episcopal Church and The Episcopal Church. Gillies reported to his church about his American trip. Reporting on his South Carolina experience, he wrote
I have come away from a truly awesome experience in Charleston with appreciation for having met some truly remarkable people doing some remarkable things. I have also come away having encountered at first hand the awfulness of a modern day schism in the church. Nothing in what I saw and heard of in the decision taken by the Diocese of South Carolina to split from The Episcopal Church (of the USA) convinced me that the will of God was being heard or listened to.
In other news related to what The Episcopal Church still considers the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, conservative commentators have continued to criticize Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for her sermon at the January 26 special convention held in Charleston. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The hysteria about the sermon seems to have reached its peak in a George Conger story in The Church of England Newspaper titled “Disloyal Episcopalians are murderers and terrorists, Jefferts Schori claims.” Note that The Church of England Newspaper is not a publication of the Church of England, but is an independent journal. The story is reprinted on Conger’s blog.

Briefs filed with Virginia Supreme Court in support of The Falls Church

Briefs were filed with the Virginia Supreme Court February 12, 2013, by The Falls Church and by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty supporting the position of The Falls Church that Virginia law supports its claim to parish property and that the Dennis Canon should not be considered. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Monday, February 11, 2013

News for Week Ending 2/11/2013

Opinions clash in UK over gay marriage

The UK government’s plan to approve gay marriage has been attacked as a danger to freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and the plan has been countered by government analysis. Aidan O’Neill QC (Queen’ Counsel) has written a legal opinion raising questions about the plan. His full analysis is not available on the Web, but a summary of it is. The government, in response, has issued two documents (here and here) refuting O’Neill’s analysis.

Process to allow women bishops moves forward in CoE

The discussions in the Church of England searching for a way to allow for women bishops—see Pittsburgh Update story here—resulted in the House of Bishops issuing a statement indicating that the all-male body will incorporate a number of senior women clergy until women bishops can take their place. Episcopal New Service covered developments in a story published February 7, 2013. On February 8, the Church of England released a consultation document setting forth principles in the search for new legislation to provide for women bishops and soliciting comments. (The announcement is here, and the consultation document itself is here.) It seems likely that the legislation to be introduced next summer will be more straightforward and self-contained.

Task Force on Structure to meet February 14

The Episcopal Church’s Task Force on Structure will meet for the first time February 14–16, 2013, in Linthicum Heights, Maryland. The group was created by the 2012 General Convention to consider changes to polity to streamline church operations. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)  The story was reported by Episcopal News Service February 11.

Fort Worth posts video: ‘Our Stories, Ourselves’

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has posted a video on YouTube titled Our Stories, Ourselves. The 18-minute video shows Fort Worth Episcopalians telling stories of their churches after their bishop led diocesan leaders and many parishioners out of The Episcopal Church. The video was posted February 6, 2013, and tells the story of the past four years.

Monday, February 4, 2013

News for Week Ending 2/4/2013

Justin Welby now officially Archbishop of Canterbury

As we reported previously, Justin Welby was officially to become the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury in a ceremony February 4, 2013. That ceremony, at St. Paul’ Cathedral, has now taken place and has been reported by Anglican Communion News Service. The ACNS story notes that the new archbishop will perform an “act of ‘Homage’ to The Queen” and will be enthroned (consecrated) on March 21. Thinking Anglicans has links to additional text and images related to the February 4 ceremony.

CoE working group on women bishops to meet this week

A Church of England working group on women bishops will meet for facilitated discussions on February 5 and 6, 2013. The group will provide advice to the House of Bishops regarding new legislation for women bishops to be considered at the July meeting of the General Synod. The bishops will consider recommendations in a special meeting on February 7. More information is available from Thinking Anglicans.

Episcopalians accept temporary injunction in South Carolina

The temporary restraining order preventing loyal Episcopalians from using the Diocese of South Carolina name and seal was replaced with a temporary injunction January 31, 2013. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Representatives of the remnant diocese and of The Episcopal Church chose not to contest the restrictions of the restraining order, which they could have done in a hearing that was scheduled for February 1. What The Episcopal Church considers the real Diocese of South Carolina will continue to operate under the name “Episcopal Church in South Carolina,” possibly until the corporate and property issues occasioned by the departure of Lawrence and his followers is fully litigated. According the the Episcopal News Service story on the latest development, any party to the suit “may request a hearing on having the injunction modified or dissolved.” The temporary injunction from Circuit Court Judge Diane S. Goodstein may be read here.

Mississippi bishop maps out path to same-sex blessings

The Rt. Rev. Duncan Gray made news with two announcements at the Annual Council (convention) of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi. Bishop Gray called for the election of a coadjutor, declaring his intention to remain in office through February 2015. He also announced that individual parishes will be allowed to bless same-sex unions with proper preparation. He described his policy as similar to that of Bishop Doyle in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Episcopal Church leaders lobby for legislation

This seems to be the season for prominent Episcopalian leaders to involve themselves in important legislation. Recent news stories report