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 27, 2013

News for Week Ending 5/27/2013

Church of Scotland agrees in principle to allow clergy in civil partnerships

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland reached a compromise May 20, 2013, that should allow the ordination of gay clergy in civil partnerships. (Recall that the Church of Scotland is Presbyterian, not Anglican.) A long debate involved affirming a traditionalist view of marriage or allowing the blessing of same-sex unions and clergy in civil partnerships while allowing individual congregations to opt-out of such activities. What was finally passed reaffirmed the traditionalist position while allowing congregations to opt-in to the more progressive position. It is hoped that this will head off defections from the church. Final approval of the compromise cannot be achieved before 2015. Thinking Anglicans offers various links to information about the Church of Scotland decision, some of which may be perplexing for Anglicans. Law & Religion UK offers an especially helpful perspective. Scotsman.com has published an even more approachable analysis.

Irish church forms human sexuality committee

The General Synod of the Church of Ireland, which met May 9–11, 2013, has established a Select Committee on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief to consider sexuality issues in relation to the church. The story is reported on the church’s Web site.

U.K. marriage equality bill moves to House of Lords

The House of Commons approved a bill May 21, 2013, to allow for same-sex marriage. The bill, which is not supported by the Church of England but which protects the established church’s traditionalist view of marriage, is now being taken up by the House of Lords. Passage there is by no means certain. CNN reported this story, and Thinking Anglicans links to recent news and commentary on the measure. Information on the current text of the bill and the debate in the House of Commons can be found here.

English bishops offer legislative proposals for women bishops

The Church of England issued a press release May 24, 2013, announcing a report from the House of Bishops containing proposals for allowing women to become bishops. (Recall that the General Synod rejected a controversial women bishops measure last November. See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The report itself offers four legislative options to be considered at the July General Synod. The bishops strongly support the first proposal, which is the most straightforward and seeks to make female bishops the equivalent of male bishops. It is hoped that women will be allowed to become bishops as early as 2015. Episcopal News Service covered the story here. Andrew Brown provides a helpful (though perhaps optimistic) analysis of the bishops’ report here. Heretics Anonymous has described the options set out by the bishops particularly clearly.

BSA votes to admit gay scouts

CNN reported May 24, 2013, that the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, meeting in Grapevine, Texas, voted to reverse its policy and allow gay boys to join scouting. BSA did not change its ban on gay leaders, however, and has no plans to revisit the matter. VirtueOnline reported May 21 that a number of conservative religious leaders sent a letter to the Boy Scouts of America urging the organization to retain its policy against “open homosexuality.” Signers included Bishop David C. Anderson, Sr, and the Rev. Canon Phil Ashey of the American Anglican Council; and Archbishop Robert Duncan and Bishop Ray Sutton of the Anglican Church in North America.

Dayton Episcopal and Baptist church combine worship

Progressive Episcopal and Baptist churches in Dayton, Ohio, combined services for five weeks when renovations restricted access to the Episcopal worship site. Episcopal News Service reported on the unusual ecumenical experiment involving Christ Episcopal Church and First Baptist Church May 23, 2013.

Two San Joaquin properties being returned

The Modesto Bee reported May 24, 2013, that two church properties are being returned to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin absent a court decision favoring the diocese. Apparently, the bishop of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, Eric Menees, has decided that the cost of fighting for these particular churches cannot be  justified. The Modesto Bee story describes the final service at St. Francis, Turlock, before the Anglican congregation turned over the church and moved to a temporary worship site. St. James, Sonora, is also being returned to Episcopal control.

Monday, May 20, 2013

News for Week Ending 5/20/2013

Same-sex marriage now French law

Last month, a same-sex marriage bill was passed in France. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The measure was controversial, however, and could not become law before the Constitutional Council rejected a challenge to it. The Guardian reported May 18, 2012, that that has now happened and French President François Hollande has made the law official. The first same-sex marriages will be held later this month in what is the 14th country to provide for such arrangements.

TREC invites conversation

The Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church (TREC) is committed to soliciting ideas from Episcopalians regarding changes needed in the church. Episcopal News Service reported May 15, 2013, that TREC is going to be using its Web site and social media sites to conduct a dialogue with Episcopalians regarding the future of the church.

Quincy man elected to board of Diocese of Chicago charity

As a step toward uniting the dioceses of Quincy and Chicago—see Pittsburgh Update story here—a member of Peoria’s Cathedral Church of St. Paul has been elected by the Diocese of Quincy to serve on the Board of Trustees of Episcopal Charities and Community Service of the Diocese of Chicago. Tom Hunt will serve on the charity’s board, and a second representative of the Diocese of Quincy will be selected to do so next month. An undated announcement of the election was posted on the diocesan news page of the Quincy diocese.

Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Minnesota

As expected, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton signed a bill May 14, 2013, allowing for same-sex marriage in Minnesota. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Details can be read in an MSNBC story here. The law becomes effective August 1. Bishop of Minnesota Brian Prior has indicated that some congregations will proceed with solemnizing same-sex marriages and some will not, and everyone must be tolerant of the latter. Episcopal News Service wrote about Prior’s position here.

Falls Church saga continues

Despite the Virginia Supreme Court decision awarding all of the real and most of the personal property of The Falls Church to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia—see Pittsburgh Update story here—litigation in the case is not over. On May 16, 2013, The Christian Post reported that The Falls Church Anglican intended to petition the Supreme Court for a rehearing. Episcopal News Service published a story May 15 on The Falls Church Episcopal, which noted that a petition for a rehearing had to be filed by May 20. The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has now reported that The Falls Church Anglican did indeed submit its petition for a rehearing before the court May 17. That petition, which attacks the constructive trust argument that played a critical role in the court’s decision but which had not been advanced earlier, can be read here. VirtueOnline has reproduced the story from The Christian Post, along with a brief letter from the vestry and wardens of The Falls Church Anglican.

Dallas bishop to retire

Bishop of Dallas James Stanton has announced that he will retire in 2014. Although Stanton has not threatened to leave The Episcopal Church, he has been associated with organizations, such as the American Anglican Council, critical of The Episcopal Church. His retirement was announced on his diocese’s Web site. The site also carries a brief statement from the Standing Committee. Episcopal News Service published a story on Stanton’s announcement here. An interview of Bishop Stanton is available on the diocesan Web site here.

Monday, May 13, 2013

News for Week Ending 5/13/2013

ARCIC III meeting issues communiqué

The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, April 29–May 7, 2013, and issued a communiqué. This was the third meeting of the latest round of discussions, designated ARCIC III, between members of the Anglican Communion and of the Roman Catholic Church. The work of ARCIC III was described this way: “The mandate for this third phase of ARCIC is to explore: the Church as Communion, local and universal, and how in communion the local and universal Church come to discern right ethical teaching.” No substantive agreements were announced.

Marriage equality comes to Delaware, Rhode Island

While the country waits for the Supreme Court to rule on California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, gay marriage is slowly making progress in state after state. On May 2, 2013, Rhode Island became the 10th state to approve same-sex marriage. Five days later, Delaware became the 11th.  (Stories about the Rhode Island and Delaware legislation can be found here and here, respectively.) On May 9, Episcopal News Service reported that the bishops of Rhode Island and Delaware were supporters of the new laws and have welcomed them.

Marriage equality about to come to Minnesota

On May 13, 2013, the Minnesota Senate passed a bill that will allow same-sex marriage in the state. The House already passed the measure, and Governor Mark Dayton is expected to sign the bill into law as early as Tuesday, May 14. MSMBC reported the story shortly after the Senate vote here.

South Carolina newspaper summarizes status of litigation regarding diocese

There were no major developments in the litigation regarding the schism of the Diocese of South Carolina this past week, but the Florence, South Carolina, Morning News, in a May 10, 2013, story, published a helpful summary of where litigation currently stands.

Account of courtroom drama in Quincy published

Virtue Online has published a first-person account of the courtroom drama taking place in Quincy, Illinois, pitting the parties resulting from the schism of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy against one another. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The May 5, 2013, narrative by Michael Romkey doesn’t provide much insight into the substance of the case, but it does capture the flavor of the courtroom action.

Integrity to hold June meeting

The Pittsburgh chapter of Integrity USA, which works for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in The Episcopal Church and beyond is re-organizing after a period of inactivity. A meeting has been announced for June 23, 2013, at Church of the Redeemer, Squirrel Hill. Additional details can be found on the group’s Facebook page here.

Monday, May 6, 2013

News for Week Ending 5/6/2013

Southern Cone primate interviewed by The Living Church

Southern Cone primate and Trinity School for Ministry alumnus Héctor (Tito) Zavala was interviewed by The Living Church while visiting the Eastern Assembly of the Anglican Network in Canada. In the interview published April 29, 2013, Zavala declared that the Southern Cone remains in broken communion with The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, but it is no longer involved with Bob Duncan’s Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). He described GAFCON, through its Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, as the “protecting body" for ACNA. The interview touches on many other topics as well.

Los Angeles diocese wins judgment against Newport Beach church

An Orange County Superior Court judge ruled May 1, 2013, that the property of St. James, Newport Beach, properly belongs to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. Judge Kim Dunning declared summary judgment in favor of the diocese. St. James was one of three churches that voted to leave the leave The Episcopal Church. The other two cases had already been decided in favor of the diocese. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The St. James case was complicated by a 1991 letter from Canon to the Ordinary Bruce MacPherson giving permission to the parish to obtain a parcel of land unencumbered by the Dennis Canon. Anglican Ink reported the story. A convenient version of the judge’s decision can be found here. The diocese reported that Judge Dunning reaffirmed her decision on May 6. The diocese has a story on the decision here.

Seminary dean calls Episcopal Church decline a myth

Dean of Virginia Theological Seminary, the Very Rev. Ian Markham, recently addressed the annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware on the topic “The Myth of the Decline of the Episcopal Church.” Markham argued we undercount people attending Episcopal services, that what decline there is is recent, and that the trend should soon reverse. His talk, in two videos, can be viewed here.