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.

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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.