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, September 30, 2013

News for Week Ending 9/30/2013

Terrorist attack will not affect GAFCON II venue

In an undated story, Anglican Ink reported that, despite the attack on Westgate Mall, GAFCON II, set for October 21–26, 2013, at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, will be held as planned. Additional information of GAFCON II can be found on the GAFCON Web site.

Another church selects first woman bishop

Following closely on the designation of the first female bishop of the Church of Ireland—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the Church of South India has appointed the Rev. Eggoni Pushpalalitha as its first woman bishop. The was reported September 25, 2013, by Anglican Communion News Service.

Henderson becomes sole female priest in Middle East

According to Anglican Communion News Service, the Rev. Jo Henderson was to be ordained a priest September 27, 2013, in Bahrain. She thus becomes the only female Anglican priest in the Middle East. Note that we originally reported that she was made a priest a year ago. Our report was based on an erroneous news story. She was ordained a deacon September 28, 2012. We apologize for the error.

First women elected to sit in CoE House of Bishops

On September 26, 2013, the Church of England announced  the election of three senior women clergy to sit in meetings of the House of Bishops. Five additional women will also be chosen. The inclusion of women is an interim measure pending the authorization and selection of  at least six women bishops.

Bishops conclude fall meeting

Bishops of The Episcopal Church concluded their fall meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, September 24, 2013. The bishops issued no message to the church. The official summary of the final day of the retreat is here. Daniel Martins final blog about the gathering is here. The Pittsburgh Update story on previous days of the meeting is here.

San Joaquin moves to elect third provisional bishop

Episcopal News Service reported September 27, 2013, that the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has chosen Bishop David Rice of the Diocese of Waiapu in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia to stand for election as the recovering diocese’s third provisional bishop. Although Rice is an American, the road to becoming a bishop in The Episcopal Church is complicated by the fact that he is not now a member of the church. His formal election is expected to take place at a special election March 29, 2014.

Appeal filed in Quincy case

Episcopal News Service published a letter from Bishop of Chicago Jeffrey D. Lee September 27, 2013, indicating that the diocese filed a motion to stay the judgement of the court decision in the Quincy case, which found for the departing faction, pending an appeal by the Episcopalians. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Integrity Pittsburgh adopts mission statement

At its September 22, 2013, meeting, the Pittsburgh chapter of Integrity USA adopted a statement of Mission and Purpose. The statement concludes
We are disappointed and frustrated that GLBT Christians still cannot feel safe or welcome in the diocese. We are concerned about the fact that congregations in search, and individuals in seminary, diaconate, or in discernment are in limbo. We want our voices be heard in the diocesan conversation at all levels, and help facilitate the dialogue so it is healing rather than divisive or destructive.

Monday, September 23, 2013

News for Week Ending 9/22/2013

Global South conversation increases in anticipation of GAFCON II

With the second GAFCON meeting scheduled for next month, discussion of the state of the Anglican Communion by Global South partisans is increasing. (See also Pittsburgh Update story here.) Speaking at a September 16, 2013, meeting in preparation for GAFCON II, Vinay Samuel, one of the architects of GAFCON, described the Communion as a “collection of coalitions” in need of greater coherence. (Anglican Mainstream reported on his talk.) A gathering of Global South primates and bishops in Toronto commemorating the Anglican Conference held there 50 years ago heard more negative talk about the Anglican Communion and its Archbishops of Canterbury. Religion News Services offers analysis of what was said here.

Church of Ireland names first woman bishop

The Church of Ireland announced September 20, 2013, that the Rev. Pat Storey will become the next Bishop of Meath and Kildare. The 53-year-old mother of two will be the first female bishop in the British Isles. Additional information about Storey can be found in the story from the Belfast Telegraph and the story from Episcopal News Service.

Archbishop of Canterbury to meet with Presiding Bishop

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will meet with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma next April. The meeting is part of Welby’s program to visit with all Anglican primates in his first 18 months in office. More information can be found in the September 23, 2013, story here.

Episcopal Church bishops meeting in Nashville

Episcopal Church bishops are attending their fall meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. The meeting began September 19, 2013, and continues through September 24. The Office of Public Affairs is publishing daily summaries of the meeting. Available to date are summaries for September 19, September 20, September 21, September 22, and September 23. Rather more helpful than the colorless official dispatches are the blog posts from the conservative Bishop of Springfield Daniel Martins. He, too, has written about the sessions of September 19, September 20, September 21, September 22, and September 23.

TREC issues report

The Task Force for Reimagining the Church issued its “Initial Working Report on Identity and Vision” September 19, 2013. The report was presented to the bishops meeting in Nashville September 20. Episcopal News Service ran a story on the report September 23. The actual report can be read here.

W.V. diocese to allow same-sex blessings

On September 21, 2013, at the convention of the Diocese of West Virginia, Bishop Michie Klusmeyer announced that same-sex blessings will be allowed in his diocese. (The story was reported by The Charleston Gazette.) The Diocese of Pittsburgh is now surrounded by dioceses that have approved same-sex blessings. (Ohio, Southern Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Central Pennsylvania, and Northwestern Pennsylvania have all approved same-sex blessings. Pittsburghers are still awaiting action from Bishop Dorsey McConnell.)

S.C. bishop asks federal court to reconsider deference to state action

On September 16, 2013, Bishop of South Carolina Charles G. vonRosenberg petitioned the Charleston Division of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina to reconsider its decision to dismiss the suit brought by the bishop against Mark Lawrence and other leaders who left The Episcopal Church. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina currently restrained by a state court from using its proper name) reported on the filing here.

Fort Worth cases closed

Two federal suits against the breakaway Fort Worth diocese have been closed in consideration of the recent Supreme Court decision. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The two cases involved allegation of trademark infringement by the breakaway group led by Jack Leo Iker—see Pittsburgh Update story here—and the other alleged unfair competition by an individual parish—see Pittsburgh Update story here. Either case may be reopened later. The announcement was made by Iker’s diocese here, and was analyzed by conservative lawyer A.S. Haley here.

Monday, September 16, 2013

News for Week Ending 9/16/2013

Church in Wales approves women bishops

The Governing Body of the Church in Wales voted September 12, 2013, to permit women bishops. The move was reported on the church’s Web site. Women in the Church (WATCH), an advocate for women in the Church of England, issued a congratulatory press release. The Anglo-Catholic Forward in Faith also issued a press release with a rather different tone. It asserted, in part, “We cannot see how a female bishop could be what a diocesan bishop should be—a Father in God and a focus of unity for all within his [sic] diocese.”

Gay marriage narrowly defeated in Auckland

Anglican Ink reported that the Anglican Diocese of Auckland (New Zealand) narrowly defeated a motion to change the canons and create same-sex marriage liturgies. The motion was strongly supported by bishops and clergy, but lay delegates to the diocesan synod voted 72 to 65 for the motion. The motion was not carried in the lay order, however, as there were 8 lay abstentions, making the lay vote essentially 72 for and 73 against.

UTO dispute still unresolved

The dispute over new bylaws for the United Thank Offering (UTO) continues. A new blog has been created called E-Women 125 Years of UTO, apparently sponsored by what are being called the UTO Four, i.e., the four UTO board members who have resigned. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The blog contains links to relevant documents. Interested readers should read the introductory post here. Gay Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, has again written a letter about the UTO affair. In it, she laments the resignations and indicates that the remaining board members are working on the bylaws along with church representatives. On September 13, 2013, an at-large UTO board member, Anne Gordon Curran, wrote a letter about the current situation which takes a very different position from that of the UTO Four.

Survey solicits views on next PB

A survey has been posted on the Web soliciting views on what the church should be looking for in the next Presiding Bishop, who will be selected at the 2015 General Convention. The survey is described here and can be found on the Web here. (It is also available in Spanish.) There are no limitations on who can participate in the survey, but contributions need to be made by September 20, 2013.

Survey finds sentiment to lower assessment to Episcopal Church, punish dioceses that do not pay full assessment

In August, the Executive Council Budget Subcommittee sent a questionnaire to bishops and General Convention deputies concerning the financing of the general church. A report has now been issued summarizing the responses to that questionnaire. Among the data reported is the fact that 60.7% of the respondents believe that there should be consequences for dioceses that do not pay their full asking. Also, however, 57.8% believe that the 19% asking is too high. The questionnaire and the report, which were posted September 10, 2013, can be read here.

REC diocese passes resolution supporting breakaway Lawrence-led group

VirtueOnline reported September 15, 2013, that the Diocese of the Southeast of the Reformed Episcopal Church passed a resolution at its Forty-first Synod supporting Mark Lawrence and his “Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.” The Diocese of the Southeast is part of the Anglican Church in North America. It has 32 parishes, 1 in Georgia and the rest in South Carolina.

McCall submits affidavit in S.C. federal case

Mark McCall, the lawyer and Senior Fellow of the Anglican Communion Institute who wrote the notorious “Is the Episcopal Church Hierarchical?” has submitted an affidavit to the Charleston Division of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina in support of Mark Lawrence, et al. McCall continues to promote his idiosyncratic view of the organization of The Episcopal Church in his submission to the court. The affidavit is described on the ACI Web site, which contains a link to the full 133-page submission.

Forth Worth Episcopalians to request rehearing before Texas Supreme Court

Jack Leo Iker wrote to his breakaway diocese noting that the remnant Episcopal Church diocese has been granted a 30-day extension to request a rehearing before the Supreme Court. The court vacated the summary judgment in favor of the Episcopalians and remanded the property dispute to the trial court. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Iker lamented the impending request and resulting delay, but such requests have often been made by breakaway parishes. Iker’s letter was published by VirtueOnline.

Illinois court rules against Quincy Episcopalians

On September 11, 2013, Episcopal News Service reported that the Judicial Circuit Court in Adams County, Illinois, has ruled against Episcopalians in their litigation against the former Episcopalians who split from the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy, citing rather novel legal arguments. (The Episcopal Diocese of Quincy has recently been merged into the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Monday, September 9, 2013

News for Week Ending 9/9/2013

Four UTO board members resign in dispute with church

Four members of the board of the United Thank Offering (UTO) have resigned in protest over draft bylaw revisions proposed by Episcopal Church leadership. Among the resigned leaders is board president, Barbi Tinder. In a statement released September 3, 2013, the former board members allege that the UTO board is being reduced to an advisory group. Apparently, some members of the UTO board believe that the church is trying to execute a power (and perhaps money) grab. The other side is talking about the need for legal niceties and transparency. Since September 3, we have seen various statements and documents, but it is not clear that the relevant parties are talking to one another, and it is difficult for outsiders to draw conclusions confidently.

No doubt, more statements will be forthcoming. Meanwhile, interested readers may wish to consult the following:
  • On September 4, The Lead re-posted the letter from the resigned leaders, as well as a statement from the church’s Office of Public Affairs and from the President of the House of Deputies.
  • Writing on September 5, Mark Harris tried to make sense of things on his blog but felt that he could not disclose the proposed bylaws that are in dispute.
  • The next day, the Presiding Bishop offered a statement and released documents related to the dispute. Episcopal News Service covered the response from the Presiding Bishop here.
  • Also on September 6, Ann Fontaine offered some background and actually posted the controversial bylaws draft.
  • On September 7, Mark Harris asked “Does a Document Dump address the UTO Four’s Protest?
  • The same day, Tobias Haller suggested that UTO might best be an independently incorporated non-profit. (The analogy would be the transformation of the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief, which became Episcopal Relief and Development.)
  •  The president of the National ECW board issued a statement, apparently also on September 7.
This story will surely generate more news in the days to come.

Texas Supreme Court overturns another decision favoring an Episcopal diocese

We noted last week that the Texas Supreme Court vacated a summary judgment in favor of an Episcopal diocese in a property case, but we failed to report that, on the same day (August 30, 2013), the court vacated a summary judgment in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas against the breakaway congregation of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in San Angelo, Texas. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) As in the Fort Worth case, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the trial court for further argument. Also, as in the Fort Worth case, a dissenting opinion was filed. A statement from Bishop Scott Mayer and links to the court opinions can be found here.

Monday, September 2, 2013

News for Week Ending 9/2/2013

Archbishop of Canterbury: church must not drift toward divorce

Speaking at the opening of the new headquarters of the Evangelical Alliance, Archbishop of Canterbury warned that the church must not be like a couple drifting apart, leading separate lives, and headed for divorce. The statement came four days after the Archbishop met with six conservative Communion Partner bishops from The Episcopal Church. The partners issued a letter about that meeting on their Web site. Church Times reported on the Archbishop’s remarks August 30, 2013. His comments could be interpreted as referring either to problems within the Church of England or within the Anglican Communion.

Diocese of Fort Worth receives setback from Texas Supreme Court

On August 30, the Texas Supreme Court vacated the summary judgment of the Tarrant County District Court that had awarded assets of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth to the continuing diocese. The breakaway group led by Jack Leo Iker had made a direct appeal to the Supreme Court, bypassing appellate courts, which is allowed in Texas in special cases. The Supreme Court ruled that the trial court used the wrong legal theory in deciding the case, and sent the case back for retrial. Several justices argued vigorously that the Supreme Court had no justification for reviewing the case on direct appeal. The Diocese of Fort Worth issued a statement on the Supreme Court action, which includes links to the majority and minority opinions, as well as to a letter to the diocese from Bishop Rayford High. Iker wrote a pastoral letter reacting to the court decision that can be found here.

Chicago and Quincy dioceses merge

As of September 1, 2013, The Episcopal Church has one fewer dioceses. On that date, the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy, reduced in size by schism, rejoined the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago to become the Peoria deanery of the Chicago diocese. The two dioceses voted to merge June 8. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees of Episcopal diocese approved the union. Details can be found in the news release from the Diocese of Chicago.

South Carolina Releases and Removes Clergy

Rather than wait for the full 60 days to expire and then depose clergy for abandonment of the communion of The Episcopal Church, Bishop vonRosenberg, of the Diocese of South Carolina, has issued letters removing and releasing over 100 clergy who are no longer participating in The Episcopal Church. The diocese announced the removal in an August 30, 2013, news release. The removal, based on Canon 16. Section 4 of Title IV, makes it easier for clergy to return to The Episcopal Church than if they had been deposed for abandonment. The Standing Committee of diocese gave its approval to this approach on August 13, 2013.