News for Week Ending 6/3/2013
Canada resolution to delay Covenant consideration publishedAs we noted here earlier, a resolution will be introduced to delay consideration of the Anglican Covenant until at least 2016 when the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada meets in July. The resolution may be read here.
Nigeria passes anti-gay billAccording to a May 31, 2013, report from Reuters, Nigeria’s House of Representatives has passed an anti-gay bill that calls for penalties of up to 14 years’ imprisonment for violators. The bill not only outlaws entering into any sort of same-sex partnership, but even makes public display of affection between members of the same sex illegal. To become law, the bill must be signed by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Gay marriage bill being considered by House of LordsAs reported here last week, the U.K. House of Lords is considering the bill to authorize gay marriage that has already cleared the House of Commons. The bill is to be considered June 3 and 4, 2013, with a vote taking place on June 4. The upcoming vote is not a final one, but one that allows the measure to move forward. As it happens, even if the bill is blocked by the Lords, it is still possible for the Commons to pass it. Some Church of England bishops who are allowed to vote in the House of Lords may try to derail the legislation, but there is concern that this will further injure the already damaged reputation of the established church, possibly even encouraging a movement to ban bishops from the House of Lords. A good deal has been written about the current debate, and it is difficult to fairly summarize. Interested readers should look at Thinking Anglican posts here, here, and here.
As this is being written, reports on Monday’s debate are beginning to appear. Notable is the Guardiam’s report on what Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said. Welby spoke in opposition to the bill, asserting that, theological considerations aside, the innovation would be bad for society. Welby’s full speech is available on the archbishop’s Web site.
Supreme Court declines to hear Planned Parenthood caseThe Los Angeles Times reported May 28, 2013, that the U.S. Supreme court refused to hear an appeal by the state of Indiana to a 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision blocking the withdrawal of Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood. Indiana had passed a law blocking funds to any organization providing abortions, even though the funds did not themselves fund abortions. A similar measure in Arizona has also been blocked by a federal judge.
Illinois House fails to pass marriage equality billIt came as something of a surprise May 31, 2013, that the Illinois House failed to vote on a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state. Apparently, the votes were simply not there to pass the measure that had already cleared the Senate. The story was reported by the Huffington Post, and an analysis was posted by The New Yorker.
ELCA elects first openly gay bishopAccording to the Los Angeles Times, the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America elected the first openly gay bishop in the ELCA May 31, 2013. The Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin is interim pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Canoga Park, California, and Gerhard & Olga Belgum Professor of Lutheran Confessional Theology at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. Erwin is described as a “partnered gay man” by the synod and as the “first Native American to be elected in the ELCA.” Additional information about Erwin can be found here.
Quincy and Chicago to vote on reunificationAccording to a Facebook post from the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy, the dioceses of Qunicy and Chicago will meet separately in convention on June 8, 2013, to approve a plan to reunite the dioceses. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Quincy diocese, which was small by Episcopal Church standards, was reduced further in size by the schism that occurred in 2008. That split made combining with the Chicago diocese attractive.
Property returning in San JoaquinSt. Francis Episcopal Church in Turlock, California, was returned to Episcopalians and the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin May 31, 2013, allowing for the return of Episcopal Church services on Sunday, June 2. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) When the Diocese of San Joaquin split in 2007, a majority of parishioners of St. Francis chose to leave The Episcopal Church and retain the property. Parishioners loyal to The Episcopal Church continued to meet elsewhere. What is being described as a Festival Homecoming Eucharist will be held at the returned church Sunday afternoon, June 9. A story in the The Modesto Bee not only reports on the changed status of the Turlock church but also reviews the status of property litigation throughout the Diocese of San Joaquin.
Georgia church experiences amicable splitVirtueOnline reported May 29, 2013, that the priest and most members of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church of Douglas, Georgia, have left The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia. The former Episcopalians are meeting as St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in a Roman Catholic church that had long been unused. The church and its contents were surrendered to the diocese. The Anglican congregation has not yet associated formally with a larger church body.
Note that the Web site of the continuing Episcopal Church appears to be that at http://standrewsdouglas.georgiaepiscopal.org/.The Web site at http://www.saintandrewsdouglas.org/, which is still branded “St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church,” represents those who have left the church.