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, August 26, 2013

News for Week Ending 8/26/2013

Welby: Anglicans in dangerous place

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby preached a sermon in Monterrey, Mexico, on August 13, 2013, in which is declared, “ It is a dangerous place, a narrow path we walk as Anglicans at present.” He spoke of “an absence of any core beliefs”—presumably alluding to churches such as The Episcopal Church—one one hand, and “intolerance and cruel exclusion”—presumably characterizing the detractors of Western churches—on the other. His prescription for curing the present problems of the Anglican Communion: “walk in the light” with God, with each other, and with the wider world. “There must not be politics in dark corners, but love expressed in the light, even love expressing difference.”

Welby’s sermon received increased attention after the The Telegraph published a story on the sermon August 22 titled “‘On the edge of a precipice’—Welby’s doomsday warning to feuding Church.” Of particular interest is a blog post from the Very Rev. Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow, Scotland. Holdsworth declared the sermon unhelpful and “quite offensive.” On the other hand, Communion Partner bishops—the Communion Partners Web site is here—issued a letter August 26 seemingly accepting the analysis of the Archbishop of Canterbury and noting that six Communion Partner bishops had met with him “last week.”

Coincidentally, The Living Church, two days before Welby’s sermon, published a reflection about the Toronto Anglican Congress that was held 50 years ago this month. In it, Jesse Zink suggests that the approach of  “Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ,” the document prepared for the gathering, offers a better path to Anglican unity than does the emphasis on the Trinity seen in the Anglican Covenant and the reports that preceded it.

Federal suit dismissed in South Carolina dispute

SCNow reported August 23, 2013, that U.S. District Court Judge Weston C. Houck dismissed the federal suit brought by Bishop Charles vonRosenberg against Mark Lawrence. (See Pittsburgh Update stories here and here.) In his order, the judge argued that all the important issues between the Episcopal Church in South Carolina and the breakaway group headed by Mark Lawrence can be resolved in the ongoing state court action. Both the Episcopal faction and breakaway faction in South Carolina have commented on the court decision.

Christian Associates executive director to retire

Trib Total Media reported August 24, 2013, that the Rev. Donald B. Green, the executive director of the ecumenical Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania will retire on his 67th birthday, March 31, 2014. Many Episcopalians know Green from his attendance at important Episcopal events such as diocesan conventions.

Diocese releases video to promote sexuality dialogue

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh posted a video last week to encourage people of the diocese to sign up for the sexuality dialogue. The 5-minute video consists of interviews with people who have already participated. You can view the video here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

News for Week Ending 8/19/2013

Ugandan primate: return Anglicanism to biblical faith

Church of Uganda Archbishop Stanley Ntagali held a press conference August 13, 2013, and asserted that Anglicanism needs to be “brought back to its Biblical and evangelistic faith.” The chaos in the Communion caused by the consecration of Gene Robinson “shows no sign of improving,” the primate said. He condemned gay clergy as unbiblical. Ntagali compared GAFCON to the East African Revival in importance. The second GAFCON gathering will be held in Nairobi October 21–26.

The GAFCON Web site has a story about Ntagali’s remarks here. News reports can be found here and here.

Church in Wales to vote on female bishops

Episcopal News Service reported August 15, 2013, that the Governing Body of the Church in Wales will vote on whether the church will allow for women priests to become bishops. The Governing Boding meets next month in Lampeter. The bill to allow for women bishops has been offered by six diocesan bishops.

ELCA elects first woman presiding bishop

On August 14, 2014, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the largest Lutheran church in the U.S., elected the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton as its first female presiding bishop. The election was held in Pittsburgh at the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. Eaton defeated the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, who was seeking a third six-year term. Eaton, from the Northeastern Ohio Synod, is married to the Rev. Conrad Selnick, an Episcopal priest who has been a consultant for several searches in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The ELCA news release on the election is here. Stories on the election have been published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Episcopal News Service, and The Huffington Post, the latter of which includes a video interview with the presiding-bishop-elect. A Time interview of Eaton can be found here.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori addressed the Churchwide Assembly August 15. Her remarks can be found here.

Dartmouth withdraws appointment of ACC chair

According to Episcopal News Service, Dartmouth College, of Hanover, New Hampshire, has withdrawn the appointment of former Southern Malawi Bishop James Tengatenga. Tengatenga, who is also chair of the Anglican Consultative Council and of the Standing Committee, was scheduled to become the Virginia Rice Kelsey Dean of the William Jewett Tucker Foundation at Dartmouth College. The withdrawal came after questions were raised about statements the bishop made after Gene Robinson was elected as Bishop of New Hampshire. The action was taken despite Tengatenga’s present support for marriage equality and statements of support from Bishop Ian Douglas and Bishop Michael Ingham.

ENS reports on San Joaquin churches

Pittsburgh Update has been reporting on properties being returned to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. The human drama taking place in the diocese has been obscured by the legal events, however. Episcopal News Service has now run a story, “Inclusion, diversity mark homecomings for San Joaquin churches,” which clarifies what has happened to which properties and how those events have affected the people of the diocese. You can read that story here.

Monday, August 12, 2013

News for Week Ending 8/12/2013

Sydney elects new archbishop

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Glenn Davies, Bishop of North Sydney, was elected Archbishop of Sydney August 6, 2013, to fill the position recently vacated by the retirement of Archbishop Peter Jensen. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The evangelical Jensen has played a major role in the development of GAFCON and has served as General Secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, which appears to be positioning itself as an ultra-conservative alternative Anglican Communion. Davies was pitted against the Rev. Canon Rick Smith, a Sydney rector favored by hardline conservatives in the diocese. Church Times covered the story August 9. The official announcement of the election results can be found here.

Breakaway parishes continue to appeal

VirtueOnline reported that St. James, Newport Beach, intends to file yet another appeal, this time to the May 1, 2013, court decision that awarded parish property to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. (See Pittsburgh Update story here. The final judgment of the Orange County Superior Court was entered July 23.) The breakaway congregation plans to vacate the property, as it is unable to raise the nearly $1 million bond needed to allow it to occupy the property as the appeal proceeds. The Los Angeles diocese described the current state of affairs regarding St. James here.

Meanwhile, on the opposite coast, the case against The Falls Church drags on. The breakaway congregation’s request for a rehearing from the Virginia Supreme Court’s having been denied—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia reports that the congregation is planning to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

South Carolina parties return to federal court

According to the Associated Press, Episcopal and breakaway South Carolina parties returned to federal court August 8, 2013. Both Episcopal bishop Charles vonRosenberg and deposed bishop Mark Lawrence were in Judge C. Weston Houck’s courtroom. Episcopalians have argued that Lawrence is claiming to be bishop but is not. Houck plans to rule in as soon as a week.

Fort Worth offers transition training

The Episcopal Diocese of Forth Worth, which, like Pittsburgh experienced an attempt to remove the diocese from The Episcopal Church, is offering transition training sessions for interested Episcopalians. According to a post on the diocesan Web site, the training is “in preparation for returning to the buildings after the [Texas] Supreme Court opinion is released.”

Annual PEP picnic scheduled for August 19

Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh will hold its annual picnic in Firemen’s Park in Aspinwall on August 19, 2013. Everyone is invited. A flyer giving details of the event can be found here.

Monday, August 5, 2013

News for Week Ending 8/4/2013

Marriage study task force meets

The 2012 General Convention passed Resolution A050, which calls for a task force “to identify and explore biblical, theological, historical, liturgical, and canonical dimensions of marriage.” The task force is to report to the 2015 General Convention. According to Episcopal News Service, the task force, whose members were appointed by the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies, met for the first time in Baltimore July 29–August 1, 2013. The Episcopal Church Task Force on the Study of Marriage issued a report on its meeting August 5. The 12-member task force is composed of 10 clergy and 2 laypeople.

Fort Worth seeking to revise constitution, canons

As The Episcopal Church considers how it might profitably be re-organized—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is embarking on a complete revision of its constitution and canons. Fort Worth, like Pittsburgh, experienced a split in 2008. The diocese is soliciting ideas about what to keep and what to change from people both within and outside the Diocese of Fort Worth. Details can be found on the diocesan Web site.

Southern Ohio Episcopal congregation selling church after parish split

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church of Westerville, Ohio, held its final service in its 23,995-square-foot building in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio on July 7, 2013. Much of the former 500-member congregation left in 2008 to form St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, and the remaining Episcopal congregation cannot afford its $15,000-per-month mortgage. The property has been turned over to the diocese, which has placed a $2.95 million price tag on it. The congregation is now meeting in temporary space and is attempting “to redefine itself as ‘a church without walls.’” The Columbus Dispatch reported on the transition of St. Matthew’s August 2.

Episcopalians participate in Moral Mondays

Since April 29, 2013, protesters have demonstrated in Raleigh, North Carolina, each Monday to oppose the radical agenda of the Republican-controlled North Carolina capitol and statehouse. According to the Charlotte Observer, the demonstrations have resulted in 920 arrests. The demonstrations for social justice have been dubbed Moral Mondays. Originally organized by the North Carolina NAACP, the protests have drawn thousands from both secular and religious organizations, including clergy and laypeople from the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. Episcopal News Service covered the demonstrations here.