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, October 28, 2013

News for Week Ending 10/28/2013

GAFCON II concludes in Nairobi with communiqué

The second Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON II) concluded October 26, 2013, in Nairobi, Kenya. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The first such conference of conservative Anglicans was held in 2008, when it became an alternative destination to the Lambeth Conference for ultraconservative Anglican bishops. The just-concluded conference reportedly attracted nearly 1350 delegates from around the world, but mainly from the Global South.

Anglican Ink and Anglican TV covered the conference so comprehensively that it is difficult to single out particular stories or video for special mention. Interested readers who want a blow-by-blow account of what happened should visit the Anglican TV GAFCON 2013 page and Anglican Ink. Unfortunately, Anglican Ink did a redesign of its site recently, and, although it is visually striking, stories are undated and unsequenced, so it may be difficult to find GAFCON II stories, particularly as time wears on. As usual, Thinking Anglicans has done a fine job of curating GAFCON II news and comment. Coverage begins here and is sequenced in a reasonable manner.

The conference ended with the release of the Nairobi Communiqué and Committment. This document declares that the Anglican Communion Instruments of Communion have failed, but (improbably) the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GFCA) has been a unifying force. The overall message in the communiqué is that the Evangelicans, Charismatics, and Anglo-Catholics of the GAFCON movement are right, and other members of the Anglican Communion are sinful and in need of repentance. Because of this, GAFCON bishops will continue to interfere in the affairs of sister Anglican Churches. Thinking Anglicans has been less diligent than usual about publicizing commentary on the GAFCON communiqué. Helpful analysis has been provided by Lionel Deimel in the U.S. and Bosco Peters in New Zealand.

New plan for women bishops announced in England

Church Times reported October 25, 2013, that a package of proposals has been made public by the committee charged with bringing the matter of women bishops in the Church of England to the General Synod, which meets next month. Final approval of the plan could be achieved as early as next year. General Secretary of the General Synod William Fittall is quoted as saying that the new package represents a “new and hopeful phase” in the drive to authorize women bishops following the defeat of the plan that was voted down on a year ago.

The proposals themselves are available from Thinking Anglicans. The Church Times article describes them, but the descriptions may be hard for Episcopalians to follow.

Thinking Anglicans has also provided links to the agenda and online papers related to the General Synod that will meet in London from November 18 to November 20. Links to additional comment on the women bishops proposals can be found here.

The Falls Church files Supreme Court appeal

The long-running legal battle between The Falls Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia is now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The breakaway church, having failed to prevail at the Virginia Supreme Court, filed a petition October 9, 2013, with the U.S. high court to review the decision. The petition for a writ of certiorari can be found here. Other documents related to the case can be found on the diocese’s Web site.

Pittsburgh annual convention to be held November 1–2

The annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will be held Friday, November 1, 2013, and Saturday, November 2. As we have noted before, all information related to the convention can be found on the diocese’s Web site.

Monday, October 21, 2013

News for Week Ending 10/21/2013

Church of Sweden elects first woman archbishop

Episcopal News Service reported that Bishop Antje Jackelén was elected the first woman archbishop of the Church of Sweden, a church in the Lutheran World Federation. The October 15, 2013, election will make Jackelén the first woman to head the Swedish church. Anglican Ink also reported on the election, adding that Jackelén has said that belief in the virgin birth is inessential to Christianity.

GAFCON II begins in Nairobi

The second Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) is now underway in Nairobi, Kenya. It runs from October 21 to October 26, 2013. Extensive reporting is being done by the conservative site, Anglican Ink. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby visited Nairobi briefly on October 20, staying with Kenya’s Archbishop Eliud Wabuka, preaching at two services at All Saints Cathedral, and meeting with the Primates’ Council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. Anglican Ink reported that Welby greeted Archbishop Robert Duncan, of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), before preaching at the cathedral, but had to report the next day that Duncan was flying back to the U.S. for emergency dental surgery. (ACNA is also covering GAFCON II here.)

Anglican Ink wrote about Welby’s visit to Nairobi, suggesting that Welby gave at least a partial endorsement to the the GAFCON movement. Video of one of Welby’s two sermons is available here, although it is not clear whether it is Welby’s first sermon or his second.

Ballarat votes to have women priests

The Anglican Diocese of Ballarat, in the Anglican Church of Australia, has voted to ordain women priests. Ballarat is a Victoria town about 70 miles west of Melbourne. The story was reported by The Courier of Ballarat on October 20, 2013.

PB, UTO president issue joint statement

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and United Thank Offering (UTO) president Barbara Schafer issued a joint statement October 18, 2013, declaring that all involved parties will work to heal “recent challenges.” The statement comes after four members of the UTO board resigned over proposed UTO bylaw changes. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Executive Council meets in Chicago

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council met in Chicago October 15–17, 2013. Opening remarks by the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies can be found here. A summary of resolutions passed by Executive Council is here.

Seitz declares conservative defeat in Episcopal Church sex wars

The Rev. Canon Christopher Seitz, Senior Research Professor at Wycliffe College in the University of Toronto and president of the Anglican Communion Institute, has declared that traditionalists have been defeated in the sex wars within The Episcopal Church. The question now, Seitz declared at the conference marking the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 Toronto Anglican Congress, is whether The Episcopal Church will make room for traditionalists. George Conger wrote about Seitz’s views on his blog, reproducing a story he wrote for The Church of England Newspaper.

N.J. bishops to allow priests to perform same-sex marriages

As a result of a decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court and the decision of New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie not to appeal the decision further, same-sex couples began getting married in New Jersey October 21, 2013. Bishops in both the Episcopal Diocese of Newark and the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey will allow priests to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies, Episcopal News Service reported.

Fort Worth appeals

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has, as expected, made an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court October 18, 2013, for a reconsideration of the August 30 decision that vacated the trial court finding that awarded diocesan property to the Episcopal diocese. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Anglican Ink reported the story here.

PEP lists questions for convention

The pre-convention information meetings for the November 1–2, 2013, annual convention were held this past week. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The PEP board prepared a number of questions, primarily about the proposed budget, and these were largely asked and (to a degree) answered, though not always satisfactorily and definitely not on the record. Lionel Deimel has posted the questions from the board on his blog, and interested people can read them there.

Bishop delays decision on same-sex issues yet again

In a letter to clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, Bishop Dorsey McConnell announced his intention to delay his announcement of his decisions regarding same-sex blessings and the ordination of partnered homosexuals until after the annual diocesan convention. The bishop offered three reasons for the delay. His most important reason for the delay, according to McConnell, is to be able to offer “all active assistance and support” to clergy “fielding questions and ministering to a variety of responses from your people.” Lionel Deimel published and commented on the letter on his blog.

Monday, October 14, 2013

News for Week Ending 10/14/2013

More commentary appears on UTO controversy

On October 11, 2013, The Lead published talking points about the ongoing United Thank Offering (UTO) dispute prepared by the Church Center staff for Episcopal bishops. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The post, by Jim Naughton, takes no position on the controversy, but Naughton offers this commentary: “We’d note, though, that logic alone does not prevent one from believing that the business practices of the UTO could stand improvement and that the Church Center team overreached in attempting to provide it.”

The four resigned UTO board members continue to post on their new blog, E-Women[:] 125 Years of UTO. The blog now offers a response to the talking points given the bishops; a petition asking for “the UTO Board to remain the leaders, decision-makers and managers of our Thank Offering;” and additional material. The Episcopal Women’s Caucus has issued a statement pleading for reconciliation in the UTO dispute.

The Executive Council is meeting in Chicago this week (October 15–17) and will take up the issue of the UTO bylaws. Mark Harris, a former member of the Executive Council, has written a thoughtful essay on how that body might deal with the UTO issue and what implications resolution might have for the wider church as it considers changes to its structure.

S.C. judge denies notion to lift injunction

The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina, reported October 11, 2013, that Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein has refused to lift her injunction preventing South Carolina Episcopalians from using the name and seal of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. What is having to be called the Episcopal Church in South Carolina recently asked the judge to set the injunction aside. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The judge has not yet issued a written rejection of the Episcopalians’ request. The suit instigated by former Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence is expected to go to trial next year.

Final judgment entered in Quincy case

Judge Thomas J.Ortbal of the Eighth Circuit Court of Illinois entered final judgment October 9, 2013, in the dispute between the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy (now a part of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago) and the breakaway Diocese of Quincy that is now part of the Anglican Church in North America. The judge awarded diocesan property to the Anglican diocese, on the theory that the diocese itself is the highest authority in The Episcopal Church. That order and judgment is here. A.S. Haley, who is involved in the case, described the legal development on his blog. He argues, credibly, that The Episcopal Church must appeal this ruling.

Time to prepare for Annual Convention

The Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will be held at Trinity Cathedral November 1 and 2, 2013. The diocesan Web site has links to registration forms—registration is due by October 18—and to parts of the pre-convention journal. To date, not all sections of the journal are available. That information can be found here.

Pre-convention information sessions are being held Tuesday, October 15, Thursday, October 17, and Sunday, October 20. Details are here.

Monday, October 7, 2013

News for Week Ending 10/7/2013

Southern Africa completes adoption of Anglican Covenant

The Provincial Synod of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa took a final vote October 4, 2013, to adopt the Anglican Covenant. There was little opposition to the adoption. The action confirms a vote in favor of the Covenant taken three years ago. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Anglican Communion News Service reported the recent move here. An accounting of how Anglican Communion churches have dealt with the Covenant to date can be found on the No Anglican Covenant Coalition Web site.

Welby to meet with GAFCON primates

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will not be attending GAFCON II due to a prior engagement. So Anglican Ink reported on October 1, 2013, suggesting that the prior engagement was the baptism of Prince George. On October 7, 2013, The GAFCON Web Site reported that the archbishop will indeed go to Nairobi and meet with GAFCON primates before the opening of GAFCON II, which is scheduled for October 21–26. The brief notice quoted Peter Jensen’s assertion that the visit was a recognition of the importance of the event. The Telegraph, also on October 7, asserted that the visit to Nairobi was designed to “stave off Anglican schism.” The paper explained that the archbishop will attend “an international church leaders’ gathering” in Iceland, which will preclude his attending the GAFCON meeting. The story did admit, however, that Lambeth Palace claimed the visit was “to show ‘solidarity’ with the Kenyan people in the wake of the Westgate shopping centre atrocity.” (The Lambeth Palace announcement is here. It mentions the October 23 baptism of Prince George, as well as other “long-standing diary commitments.”) Stand Firm offered a typically nasty comment here.

Welby consecrates flying bishop

Although “flying bishops,” special bishops who minister to congregations opposed to the ordination of women, will likely be done away with when the Church of England finally accepts women bishops, Archbishop Justin Welby consecrated “flying bishop” Jonathan Goodall Bishop of Ebbsfleet September 26., 2013. The Tablet reported the story and noted that former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams preached on the need for unity at the service. The announcement of the consecration from Lambeth Palace is here.

Diocese of Huron wins in court

The Sarnia Observer reported September 13, 2013, that the Ontario Court of Appeal affirmed a lower court decision that the property of St. Aidan’s Anglican Church, in Windsor, Ontario, properly belongs the the Anglican Diocese of Huron. The congregation of St. Aidan’s voted in 2008 to leave the Anglican Church of Canada for the Anglican Network in Canada over the blessing of same-sex unions. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

The Missionary Society explained, sort of

The Episcopal blogosphere has lately been talking about the recent use of the name “The Missionary Society” to refer (apparently) to the general church staff. Church leaders have yet to justify the use of this name or to explain to what it is intended to refer, but Lionel Deimel has tried to untangle the mystery. His essay, which includes links to other information and commentary, can be found here.

Another commentary on the UTO controversy

A former finance officer of the United Thank Offering has written about the ongoing dispute between the UTO and leaders of The Episcopal Church. (On the dispute, see the Pittsburgh Update story here.) Patricia (Patty) Tourangeau offered her view of the dispute here. She describes the actions of The Episcopal Church as “ecclesiastical purse snatching.”

S.C. Episcopalians petition to lift injunction

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina has petitioned Circuit Court Judge Diane S. Goodstein to lift the injunction prohibiting the Episcopalians of the Diocese of South Carolina from using their proper name. According to an October 7, 2013, press release, “A motion to vacate the injunction [against using the name ‘Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina,’ etc.] was filed with the Circuit Court on September 30, along with a second motion asking the court to issue an injunction against the group that has separated from The Episcopal Church, ordering them to stop using the diocesan name and marks.” (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Episcopalians also asked to add specific individuals to the litigation against the Mark Lawrence group, but Judge Goodstein said that that was unnecessary. (See story here.)

South Carolina Episcopalians claims that South Carolina parishes that have left The Episcopal Church are misleading the public by the use of the words “Episcopal” and “Anglican.” Such churches belong neither to The Episcopal Church nor the Anglican Communion.

Pittsburgh Diocese releases convention information

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is gradually releasing information related to the upcoming convention. Registration information and parts of the pre-convention journal are available on the diocesan Web site here.