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, July 29, 2013

News for Week Ending 7/29/2013

Total Politics publishes interview with Justin Welby

The British magazine Total Politics has published a long interview of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. Titled “Archbishop’s Move: Can Welby restore faith in the church?” the emphasis is on Welby’s background and his challenges in the Church of England and British politics. The article has almost nothing to say about the Anglican Communion, but those who are trying to get a better sense of the man in Lambeth Palace may want to take the time to read the Total Politics piece.

DFMS staff appointments, program announced

Bishop Stacy Sauls, Episcopal Church Chief Operating Officer, has made eight full-time appointments to the staff of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS), the corporate identity of The Episcopal Church. According to a July 22, 2013, story from Episcopal News Service, the appointments “reflect the priorities of Episcopal Church General Convention 2012 and focus on the Five Marks of Mission.” The new positions are:
  1. Development Research Analyst for the Episcopal Church Development Office
  2. Co-Sponsorship and Church Relations Program Manager for Episcopal Migration Ministries
  3. Web Development Lead
  4. Domestic Policy Analyst
  5. Development Director
  6. Network Officer for Mission Personnel and Africa
  7. Coordinator for the United Thank Offering
  8. Program Associate—Processing for Episcopal Migration Ministries
Bishop Sauls has also announced the Diocesan Partnership Program that will begin in September. The program seeks to connect dioceses and members of the church staff. A July 25 ENS story describes the purpose of the program this way:
The purpose and goals of the Diocesan Partnership Program are twofold: to make resources available at the local level; and to build networks and partnerships to connect people across geography.
Additional details can be found in the ENS report.

Episcopal Church committee structure likely to change

In an interview with The Living Church, the President of the House of Deputies, the Rev. Gay Jennings, said that the current structure of church committees and commissions is likely to change as the church streamlines its operations. According to Jennings, we “need to begin imagining new ways of bringing together laypeople, clergy, and bishops to accomplish the work of General Convention.” Those new ways include Web-based audio and video sessions.

The passage of Resolution C095 by the 2012 General Convention created the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church, and Jennings’ remarks must be read in this context. (See background here.) The work of the Task Force can be followed on its Web site, Facebook page, and Twitter feed.

Litigation schedule in South Carolina announced

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina has posted “Timetable announced for court proceedings.” A hearing is scheduled for August 8, 2013, in the federal court case. In the state court case, Judge Diane S. Goodstein has allowed 90 days from July 11 for discovery. Following that, 120 days will be allowed for the taking of depositions, after which, a trial date will be set. Additional details are given in the timetable post.

St. Paul’s, Bakersfield, celebrates its return

As scheduled—see Pittsburgh Update story hereSt. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Bakersfield, California, held a Festival Welcoming Eucharist July 28, 2013, to celebrate the return of an Episcopal congregation to the church. The congregation of St. Paul’s left The Episcopal Church when the Diocese of San Joaquin split in 2007. Loyal Episcopalians from Bakersfield congregations eventually formed Grace Episcopal Church and met elsewhere until a court order returned the St. Paul’s property to the Episcopal diocese. The Bakersfield Californian covered the celebration and offered background information here.

Monday, July 22, 2013

News for Week Ending 7/22/2013

Recife property ordered returned to Brazilian church

The Episcopal Anglican Church in Brazil (the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil  or IEAB) announced July 18, 2013, that a Brazilian judge has declared that the actions of the late Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti that removed much of the Diocese of Recife from the Brazilian church and created a new Diocese of Recife under the protection of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone was both canonically and legally improper. All property was ordered returned to the IEAB.

Some background to this story is provided by the Pittsburgh Update story about the unrelated murder of Cavalcanti and his wife. More background is available in a story from The Living Church that is no longer available on its Web site but which can be found in the Internet Archive.

Equal marriage now law in UK

The bill that will allow for same-sex marriage in England and Wales is now law. After passage by the House of Lords—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the House of Commons approved amendments by the other house and the Queen has given her royal assent. It is anticipated that necessary administrative preparations will allow same-sex marriages to take place next summer. The story was reported by CNN.

Remain Episcopal accepting grant applications in San Joaquin

Remain Episcopal, the decade-old organization in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin that, like Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh, is a charter member of Via Media USA, is taking applications for grants of up to $2,000 “to help grow local communities of faith, including parishes, missions, deaneries or church organizations.” Like the Diocese of Pittsburgh, San Joaquin is receiving properties regained through the courts, and Remain Episcopal grants will likely be helpful in re-establishing Episcopal congregations. The grant program is explained on page 3 of the Summer 2013 issue of the diocesan newspaper.

New Kensington property returned to Pittsburgh diocese

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh reported July 20, 2013, that the property of St. Andrew’s, New Kensington, will be returned to Episcopal control “by the end of July.” The church at 1090 Edgewood Road has, since 2008, been occupied by a congregation of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, but the deed to the property has been held by the Episcopal diocese’s Board of Trustees. Episcopal services will resume at St. Andrew’s July 28, but the future of the church is uncertain.

Monday, July 15, 2013

News for Week Ending 7/15/2013

UK marriage bill passes in Lords; returns to Commons

Thinking Anglicans reported that the marriage bill that will authorize same-sex marriage in the U.K., has passed the House of Lords on the third reading. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Because of minor amendments made in the House of Lords, the bill will return to the House of Commons July 16 or 17, 2013. Further details were reported by The Telegraph.

Bishop Kemper School for Ministry Announced

At a time when Episcopal seminaries are under increasing financial pressures, four Midwestern bishops have announced the formation of the Bishop Kemper School for Ministry. The new school, which will be headquartered in Topeka, Kansas, will be supported by the dioceses of Kansas, Western Kansas, Nebraska, and West Missouri. Episcopal News Service carried the July 11, 2013, press release for the new school here.

Clergy restricted by South Carolina bishop

As reported last week—see Pittsburgh Update story here—Bishop Charles vonRosenberg sent notice that South Carolina clergy who left The Episcopal Church with deposed bishop Mark Lawrence are are being restricted for having abandoned The Episcopal Church. The notice, dated June 25, 2013, has now been made public. It contains 103 names, not the 105 names previously reported. Those persons whose names are on the restricted list are subject to being deposed after 60 days.

The list contains at least two familiar names, those of Kendall Harmon, the former canon theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina and frequent critic of The Episcopal Church, and Peter Moore, former dean of Trinity School for Ministry.

A list of clergy in good standing in the Episcopal Church in South Carolina can be found here.

Omaha church and diocese reach final settlement

Pittsburgh Update recently reported that St. Barnabas, Omaha, an Anglo-Catholic parish that voted to leave The Episcopal Church in 2007, agreed to purchase its property from the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska for an undisclosed sum. The Omaha World Herald reported July 6, 2013, that the parties have now settled. The church is expected eventually to join the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, which is part of the Roman Catholic Church.

Monday, July 8, 2013

News for Week Ending 7/8/2013

GAFCON leader issues first monthly letter

On July 4, 2013, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council, issued what promises to be the first of a series of monthly letters leading up to the second GAFCON meeting in October 2013. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Wabukala stressed the importance of evangelism and gave thanks for the Anglican Church in North America and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. He also accused The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada of promoting a false gospel, and he suggested that the Church of England is moving in the same direction. It remains to be seen whether the churches associated with the GAFCON movement intend to stay within the Anglican Communion or eventually will break away to form a separate association.

Welby addresses General Synod

Archbishop Justin Welby addressed the Church of England General Synod July 5, 2013. His presidential address is available on his Web site, which includes video of the speech. Welby spoke of living in a time of revolutions—social, economic, cultural, sexual, etc. While acknowledging changes in attitudes toward sexuality, he did not suggest that the church was going to change its stance on the matter. Welby said that men and women should be treated alike when being considered for episcopal posts, but he spoke against discriminating against those who oppose women bishops. Thinking Anglicans offers links to commentary on the new archbishop’s first address to the General Synod.

General Synod debates women bishops

The General Synod of the Church of England debated a motion concerning women bishops July 8, 2013. The motion was based on the recommendations of a report from the House of Bishops. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Thinking Anglicans reported that two minor amendments to the motion were accepted, but attempts to make major changes to it were turned back. The amended motion passed 319–84, with 22 abstentions. The motion will result in the creation of a steering committee to draft legislation to allow for women bishops without major concessions to opponents of women bishops. The legislation is to be presented to the General Synod at its November meeting. Remarks on the motion by Archbishop Justin Welby can be found here. After consideration of the motion, the Church of England issued this press release, which contains links to audio of General Synod discussions.

Canada postpones Covenant decision

As expected—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada approved a motion July 5, 2013, that postpones the church’s decision about the Anglican Covenant to the next General Synod in 2016. There seems not to have been much actual enthusiasm for the Covenant in the debate. The story was covered by Anglican Journal. Moderator of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition, the Rev. Malcolm French, characterized the debate on his blog.

Canada to vote on marriage equality in 2016

Anglican Journal reported July 7, 2013, that the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada adopted a resolution the day before that will bring forward a resolution in 2016 to change the marriage canon “to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in the same way as opposite sex couples.” The resolution is to be accompanied by supporting documentation. On July 8, Anglican Journal ran a story about reactions to the passage of Resolution C003.

South Carolina: Clergy closer to deposition; court testimony moves forward

South Carolina Episcopalians reported July 3, 2013, that the Episcopal Church in South Carolina is one step closer to deposing clergy who left The Episcopal Church with former Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence. Letters from Bishop Charles vonRosenberg have gone out to 105 priests and deacons informing them that they have been restricted and could be subject to deposition in 60 days. There are 64 priests and 11 deacons remaining in The Episcopal Church after the split in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

South Carolina Episcopalians noted that parties in the South Carolina property dispute will return to state court on July 11 “to determine the status of issues before [Judge Diane] Goodstein.” On August 8, Episcopalians will argue in federal court that Charles vonRosenberg, not Mark Lawrence, is the legitimate bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina.

Northern Indiana bishop objects to ENS coverage of Supreme Court decisions

Bishop Edward S. Little II, in a sort of op-ed piece distributed by Episcopal News Service, objected to the ENS coverage of Episcopalian reactions to the recent Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Little, an avowed opponent of both legal and church acceptance of same-sex unions, found “Celebrations of marriage equality, court rulings continue across church” and some statements made across the church to be “at best dismissive and at worst triumphalist,” failing to consider the feelings of those who were not celebrating the historic decisions. Not everyone will be sympathetic to Little’s viewpoint—this is obvious from the comments made about the story—but his essay, “Go gently in victory–and in defeat” does raise questions about what diversity means in the church.

Monday, July 1, 2013

News for Week Ending 7/1/2013

Archbishop of Canterbury visits Middle East

On June 21, 2013, Anglican Communion News Service announced an upcoming five-day Middle East trip by Archbishop Justin Welby. On the first day of his trip, June 25, the archbishop met with both Christian and Muslim leaders in Egypt. (See story here.) The next day, Welby was in Jordan, meeting with its foreign minister. (See story here.) He also went to Jerusalem, where he spoke to Christian leaders in the Bishop’s Peace Garden at the Anglican cathedral. (A story, which includes the archbishop’s remarks and those of Bishop Suheil Dawani can be found here.) He also opened an Anglican diabetes clinic in Ramallah. (See story here.) The Guardian, however, reported unhappiness among beleaguered  Christians in and around Bethlehem because they were not visited by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Nonetheless, Welby met with Christian leaders from a variety of traditions and was told by Palestinian church leaders that the time he spent with them had created “a new bond between you and the Christian community of Jerusalem and the Holy Land.” (See story here.)

CoE General Synod to meet but avoid homosexuality discussion

The General Synod of the Church of England will begin a five-day meeting on Friday, July 5, 2013. The most important item on the agenda will be authorizing women bishops. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) According to The Telegraph, motions involving same-sex unions will not be on the agenda in order to focus on the women bishops issue. The church is being criticized for ducking issues of homosexuality, but The Telegraph suggests that bishops may be planning to change their position regarding civil unions, perhaps promoting a liturgy celebrating such unions later this year.

Supreme Court rulings spark comments

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) June 26. 2013, and declined to interfere with a lower court decision declaring unconstitutional California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage. (See, for example, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story here.) The DOMA decision means that gays validly married can receive federal benefits. In the Proposition 8 case, the justices ruled that the proponents of Proposition 8 did not have standing before the court. The effect is to legalize same-sex marriage in California, and such marriages have already begun. Proponents of Proposition 8 appealed to the Supreme Court to block gay marriages, so that they could appeal to the court for a rehearing. (See KNTV story here.) Their appeal was quickly rejected by Justice Kennedy, however.

Episcopal Church leaders have issued a number of statements in response to the Supreme Court decisions. Thinking Anglicans has collected links to these and to statements from Archbishop Duncan and others here.

There were many celebrations of the two court rulings by LGBT persons and their supporters across the country. Particularly notably was one held hours after the decisions were handed at Washington National Cathedral, an event covered by The Living Church. Bishop of California Marc Handley Andrus has authorized Episcopal clergy in his diocese to “immediately begin officiating at same-sex marriages.”

Bishops express support for South Carolina Episcopalians

Bishops of Province IV met at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, June 25–27, 2013, for their semiannual meeting. A June 25 press release from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina noted that presentations were to be made to the bishops by Episcopalians who stayed with the church when fellow parishioners left with Mark Lawrence. The bishops wrote an open letter of support to South Carolina Episcopalians on June 27.

A question in South Carolina—a question that has had to be faced in each diocese that has suffered a vote to leave The Episcopal Church—is what clergy mean to leave the church and what clergy mean to remain Episcopal. The Episcopal Church in South Carolina has posted a list of clergy in good standing as of June 21, 2013. Presumably, this is a list of clergy who have responded positively to Bishop Charles vonRosenberg’s inquiries about clergy intentions. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) There are 86 people on this list. Curiously, the list of clergy on the Web site of the schismatic group appears to include all clergy licensed in the diocese prior to the split. A PDF file of clergy is available from the site, but it is listed as being correct as of 4/16/2012.

Bakersfield church returning to Episcopal fold

We earlier reported that Grace Episcopal Church of Bakersfield, California, would be taking control of the property of St. Paul’s, Bakersfield, probably on July 1, 2013. Its home page was asking for volunteers to help with the move from temporary quarters on July 1. Bishop Chet Talton is scheduled to visit St. Paul’s July 7. The bishop will visit again on July 28 for a Festival Welcoming Eucharist. (See Mid-week Newsletter for June 26 here.)  Grace Episcopal Church was formed after the 2007 schism by parishioners of the several Bakersfield Episcopal churches whose congregations left The Episcopal Church.