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, April 29, 2013

News for Week Ending 4/29/2013

France approves gay marriage

The French Assembly passed a measure legalizing gay marriage in France by a vote of 331–225 on April 23, 2013. According to AP, France thus becomes the 14th and largest country to provide for gay marriage nationwide. The French are sharply divided on gay marriage, however. AP also reported that, four days after gay marriage became legal, the first gay-marriage fair was held in Paris.

West Indian bishops affirm conventional marriage definition

According to Anglican Ink, the House of Bishops and Standing Committee of the Church in the Province of the West Indies issued a statement on same-sex unions on April 25, 2013. The statement asserts the validity of the one-man-one-woman definition of marriage articulated by the Church of England in 2005 and urges civil authorities to resist outside pressure to accept a universal human right to marry.

English diocese requests gay-friendly bishop

According to The Telegraph, the Church of England’s Diocese of Manchester has requested that the successor to its retired bishop, Nigel McCulloch, be someone who will foster  “‘positive relationships’ with gay Anglicans and non-worshippers.” The request was made to the Crown Nominations Commission in a formal “statement of needs” submitted by the diocese’s Vacancy in See committee.

Gay marriage advances in Delaware legislature

A gay marriage bill is moving through the Delaware legislature. It was passed 23–18 by the Delaware House April 23, 2013, and now moves to the Senate, where the vote is expected to be close. Governor Jack Markell has pledged to sign the bill should it reach his desk. The bill would eliminate a prohibition on gay marriage and replace a previously passed civil unions law. Details are provided by The News Journal and ThinkProgress.

ERD debuts new Web site

Episcopal Relief and Development has a new site and a new address on the Web. The new site can be viewed at http://www.episcopalrelief.org. Visitors using the old URL, http://www.er-d.org, are automatically redirected to ERD site. Details are available from Episcopal News Service.

Virginia church performs first same-sex blessing

Christ Church, Alexandria, performed its first same-sex blessing in a Sunday evening service on April 21, 2013. The blessing of the union of Melissa Capers and Bruni Hernandez is described on the church Web site as an appropriate act given Christ Church’s mission as “a welcoming, open, and inclusive congregation.” Additional information is available in a story from Old Town Alexandria Patch.

Dormant Montgomery church resurrected

Montgomery’s Church of the Redeemer, an Episcopal church that was declared dormant by Bishop Henry Parsley in 2007, was scheduled to return to life April 28, 2013. Its rector resigned in 2005 over the consecration of Gene Robinson, and the congregation slowly melted away. Attorney Julian McPhillips, a founder of the church and lay pastor, petitioned the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama to resume Episcopal services, and the Rev. James Muriuki agreed to lead Sunday evening services. The facility has been rented by a Korean Methodist congregation, which will continue using the building. This story was reported by the Montgomery Advertiser and WNCF-TV.

Monday, April 22, 2013

News for Week Ending 4/22/2013

São Paulo clergy deposed

According to Anglican Ink, the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB) deposed five São Paulo clergy April 16, 2013, following secession of their congregations from the Diocese of São Paulo. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The congregations claim to have resumed their status as overseas chaplaincies of the Church of England that they had prior to 1975. According to Anglican Ink, the dispute is among liberals over money and power.

New Zealand approves marriage equality

The Huffington Post reported April 17, 2013, that the New Zealand Parliament has approved marriage equality, thereby becoming the 13th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.

Scottish Episcopal Church releases marriage document

The Doctrine Committee of the Scottish Episcopal Church has issued what it calls an essay titled “Marriage and Human Intimacy: Perspectives on same-sex relationships and the life of the church.” Unlike the document recently released by the Church of England on marriage, “Men and Women in Marriage,” offers arguments both for and against retaining the church’s current position on marriage.

Quincy trial continues April 22

The trial pitting the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy against the breakaway Quincy diocese continues on April 22, 2013. This news comes via The Anglican Curmudgeon, whose author, A.S. Haley, is one of the attorneys representing those who left The Episcopal Church. The court allocated three days to hear the testimony of historian Dr. Jeremy Bonner in advance of the scheduled starting date for the trial. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Until recently, Bonner lived in Pittsburgh. He was brought to Pittsburgh by then bishop Bob Duncan to write a history of the diocese.

Virginia Supreme Court affirms decision in favor of Episcopal diocese

The Washington Post reported April 18, 2013, that the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed the lower-court decision awarding the property of The Falls Church to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The court opinion (and a concurring opinion by one of the justices) relies heavily on the Dennis Canon and will therefore become a possible influence on church property litigation elsewhere. The court remanded to the trail court the question of how certain funds will be distributed, as the Supreme Court ruled that the lower court erred in determining just when the Falls Church congregation left the diocese.

The Diocese of Virginia commented on the decision on its Web site. To date, no comment has been posted on the Web site of The Falls Church. Anglican Ink, however, posted a letter from rector John Yates to the church’s congregation.  The Falls Church Anglican web site does have a statement from Truro Anglican about the decision. Episcopal News Service also covered this story.

Bishop McConnell initiates blog

Bishop of Pittsburgh Dorsey McConnell now has his own blog. The menu on the diocesan Web site (near the top of the page) now includes the item “Bishop’s Blog.” Clicking on this takes you to the “Iron City Bishop” blog, whose URL is http://www.episcopalpgh.org/bishopsblog/. Blog pages include links back to the diocesan Web site, to the bishop’s visitation schedule, and to a page about the bishop.

Monday, April 15, 2013

News for Week Ending 4/15/2013

Bishop Michael Ingham to retire

Michael Ingham, who has been the Bishop of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada since 1994, has announced his intention to retire effective August 31, 2013. Ingham is currently the longest serving bishop in the Canadian church. He is perhaps best known for his authorizing liturgy for blessing same-sex unions in his diocese in 2003, an act that, along with the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, led to still-unresolved conflict within the Anglican Communion. Ingham has also had to deal with property disputes involving clergy and congregations leaving the diocese for other Anglican jurisdictions. (See, for example, the Pittsburgh Update story here.) Ingham’s announcement is reported on the Web site of the Diocese of New Westminster.

CoE issues marriage report

The Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England issued a report on marriage, “Men and Women in Marriage,” on April 10, 2013. The report, which was approved by the House of Bishops for publication and carries a foreword by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, is described in a Church of England press release. The report largely repeats assertions about marriage previously articulated by the church. It describes marriage as “an exclusive commitment of one man and one woman” and as a “creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation.”

The report has elicited a good deal of commentary, much of it negative. Church Times advised ignoring “Men and Women in Marriage.” Other commentary has been collected by Thinking Anglicans here, here, here, and here.

Developments continue in South Carolina

The provisional bishop of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, Charles G. vonRosenberg, has written to approximately 140 priests and deacons who have not participated in the recent Episcopal conventions. The letters essentially ask whether recipients are in or out of The Episcopal Church. The action is similar to what was done in Pittsburgh after the 2008 split in the diocese. Details can be found here.

On the legal front, the South Carolina faction that left The Episcopal Church have filed papers with the U.S. District Court arguing that its lawsuit should be litigated in state court. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The April 10, 2013, filing can be found here.

Monday, April 8, 2013

News for Week Ending 4/8/2013

Welsh church to discuss women bishops

The Church in Wales will entertain arguments for and against women bishops when its Governing Body meets April 10–11, 2013. Additional details can be found here.

South Carolina groups vie for legal advantage

The split in the Diocese of South Carolina has resulted in litigation in state court instigated by the schismatic group led by former Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence and litigation in federal court instigated by those who have remained in The Episcopal Church. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Presumably, each group has chosen the court thought to be more sympathetic to its case. That has became more apparent as each side has sought to have its favored court take the lead in the legal dispute.

On March 28, 2013, the Lawrence faction filed a motion with the Charleston District of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina asking the court to either dismiss the federal suit brought by the Episcopalians or defer any action on the litigation pending adjudication by the South Carolina court. On April 3, the Episcopal parties filed a notice of removal with the U.S. District Court. The notice is essentially a request for the federal court to assert jurisdiction over the action originally brought by the Lawrence faction in the South Carolina Court of Common Pleas, County of Dorchester, First Judicial Circuit.

The latest legal moves are described in a press release from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Links to other legal documents related to the state and federal litigation can be found here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

News for Week Ending 4/1/2013

Schism in São Paulo

Anglican Ink reported March 28, 2013, that St. Paul’s Cathedral in São Paulo has left the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB), apparently over a dispute concerning an episcopal election. The cathedral is said to possess the largest congregation in South America, and its departure may cause the IEAB financial hardship.Two other congregations have joined the walkout.

Standing Committee completes its meeting

The Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee completed its three-day meeting March 26, 2013. Anglican Communion News Service, which earlier reported on the first day of the meeting—see Pittsburgh Update story here—has issued reports on day 2 and day 3.

South Carolina Episcopalians respond in state court

On March 28, 2013, South Carolina Episcopalians answered the lawsuit brought by former Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence and his breakaway group. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) In an 84-page filing with the County of Dorchester Court of Common Pleas for the First Judicial District, Episcopalians responded to the arguments made in the original complaint, offered counterclaims, and asked for declaratory and injunctive relief. The content of the document is described in a post on the Web site of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. According to a story in The Post and Courier of Charleston’s, Lawrence’s diocese deferred comment on the latest legal development until after Holy Week. Due to the court deadline, the new document was submitted to the court on Maundy Thursday. Episcopal News Service also covered the latest court action in an April 1 story.

‘The risen Jesus is no butterfly’

That’s a line from a video Easter message from Bishop Dorsey McConnell posted on the Web site of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The four-minute message suggests that, should WQED ever be looking for a replacement for Fred Rogers, our bishop should be at the top of the audition list.

April PEP meeting announced

Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh has announced that its next meeting will be at Calvary Church on April 29. The guest speaker will be the Rev. Dr. Moni McIntyre, whose talk is titled “The Usual Suspects: Homosexuality, Ordaining Gay Clergy, and Blessing Same-sex Unions.” Additional details can be found on a flyer from PEP. PEP will also be celebrating its 10th anniversary at this meeting.