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, November 25, 2013

News for Week Ending 11/25/2013

CoE General Synod sends women bishops measure forward

Anglican Communion News Service reported November 20, 2013, that the General Synod has put its stamp of approval on a plan to allow women to become bishops of that church. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Final approval of the plan could come as early as next year. The vote in favor of the plan was quite decisive, and both sides seem to be claiming victory, a situation helpfully explained by Andrew Brown of The Guardian.

Va. diocese to argue against Falls Church petition to Supreme Court

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia reported November 22, 2013, that it has been asked to file papers opposing the petition for a writ of certiorari presented to the U.S. Supreme Court by The Falls Church Anglican. The breakaway congregation is appealing the decision of the Virginia Supreme Court that ruled that the parish property belongs to the diocese. For additional background, see Pittsburgh Update story here.

Lawrence diocese building legal war chest

The group that broke away from the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, which now claims to be the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and which is led by deposed bishop Mark Lawrence, has initiated a fund drive intended to raise $2 million for legal costs. The campaign for the group’s Legal Defense Fund was announced on the group’s Web site and is the subject of a special issue newsletter. In a November 18, 2013, essay, South Carolina Episcopalians suggested that the war chest is more for suing than for defending.

Calvary announces new rector

On November 21, 2013, Calvary Church announced that its new rector will be the Very Rev. Jonathon Wesley Jensen, who is currently Dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Little Rock, Arkansas. Wesley will assume his duties at Calvary, replacing the retired Harold Lewis, on February 1, 2014. The press release from the church can be found here. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story about Jensen November 23.

Bishop announces decisions on same-sex blessings, ordination

Bishop of Pittsburgh Dorsey McConnell issued his long-awaited pastoral letter November 25, 2013, on same-sex blessings and the ordination of partnered gay persons. The bishop is allowing the use of the provisional liturgy for blessing same-sex unions approved by the 2012 General Convention. He has also said that being in a committed, same-sex relationship is not, in itself, a bar to ordination. The bishop’s decisions were accompanied by a critique of the approved liturgy, guidelines for using it, and a report of the sexuality dialogue conducted by the diocese. All this material is available on the diocesan Web site. As of this writing, The Living Church has reported on the pastoral letter, as has the Post-Gazette. Integrity Pittsburgh issued a statement on its Web site. PEP’s own statement regarding the pastoral letter can be found here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

News for Week Ending 11/18/2013

First female diocesan elected in Australia

The Rev. Dr. Sarah Macneil has been elected the 11th Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Grafton. She will become the first woman diocesan bishop in the Anglican Church of Australia early next year. Details can be found here.

CoE General Synod to try to move women bishops cause forward

The General Synod of the Church of England is meeting in London November 18–20, 2013. Most significant on the agenda is yet another proposal to allow for women bishops in the Church of England. An earlier proposal was narrowly defeated last year—see Pittsburgh Update story here. Information about the plan currently up for a vote can be found in the Pittsburgh Update story here. The BBC has posted stories concerning the upcoming General Synod debate and the nature of the proposed plan. Thinking Anglicans can be relied upon to provide timely updates during the General Synod’s meeting.

Supreme Court appeal by The Falls Church draws support

The appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court by The Falls Church Anglican—see Pittsburgh Update story here—has been supported by a number of amicus curiae briefs. The briefs can be found on the Web site of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia here under the heading “2013 Appeal Phase: Supreme Court of the United States.” What is at issue is the efficacy of the Dennis Canon. Among the supporters of the breakaway Virginia congregation are the Anglican Church in North America and the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Monday, November 11, 2013

News for Week Ending 11/11/2013

Woman selected for top WCC post

Anglican Communion News Service reported November 6, 2013, that Dr. Agnes Abuom from the Anglican Church of Kenya, has been elected moderator of the Central Committee for the World Council of Churches, the highest governing body of the WCC. Abuom is the first woman and the first African to hold the top WCC post. Abuom has served on the WCC Executive Committee and was the Africa president for the WCC from 1999 to 2006.

Anglican priest to receive Ratzinger Prize

Church of England priest, the Rev. Canon Richard A. Burridge, Dean of King’s College London, and Professor of Biblical Interpretation, was one of two recipients of the 2013 Ratzinger Prize for Theology October 26, 2013.. The prize was presented to Burridge and to German layman Christian Schaller by Pope Francis. Burridge is the first non-Roman-Catholic recipient of the prize, which is sponsored by a foundation funded by royalties from books written by former Pope, Benedict XVI. The Vatican reported the story here. Additional details can be found in an earlier story from The Catholic Herald.

Marriage equality moves forward in states

Illinois and Hawaii are the latest states poised to implement marriage equality. According to Windy City Times, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced November 7, 2013, that he plans to sign the marriage equality bill just passed by the Illinois legislature on November 20. (Bishop of Chicago Jeffrey D. Lee applauded the development in a letter to his diocese.) The Los Angeles Times reported that Hawaii is poised to complete legislative passage of a gay marriage bill this week that will allow gay marriage in the state as early as December 2. Including Illinois and Hawaii, 16 states and the District of Columbia will permit gay marriage.

Task Force on the Study of Marriage issues report

The Episcopal Church’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage, enabled by Resolution A050 of the 2012 General Convention, has issued a progress report on its work. The task force has created three working groups. Details can be read here.

Chicago, Episcopal Church, file suit for property

The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago announced November 6, 2013, that the diocese and The Episcopal Church have filed suit in a state court in Peoria against the faction that broke away from the Diocese of Quincy to regain parish property. (Litigation is ongoing regarding the diocesan property of the former Diocese of Quincy. See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Since the split in the Quincy diocese, the remainder of the Episcopal diocese has merged with the Diocese of Chicago.

Breakaway S.C. diocese seeks additional funds for legal fight

South Carolina Episcopalians reported November 3, 2013, that the breakaway Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina appears to be pressing its churches for additional funds to finance its litigation against the Episcopalians left behind and The Episcopal Church. According to South Carolina Episcopalians, attorney Alan Runyon told the members of St. Michael’s, Charleston, that the church needs to contribute another $150,000 for legal fees in addition to the $50,000 it has already donated. Runyon suggested that parishes in Mark Lawrence’s diocese would be evicted from their buildings should the Lawrence faction fail to prevail in court.

Bishop of Upper S.C. sued

VirtueOnline reported November 6, 2013, that Bishop of Upper South Carolina Andrew Waldo has been sued by a former priest of his diocese for defamation, civil conspiracy, invasion of privacy and economic hardship. The Rev. Earnest Pollock has filed suit against not only the bishop, but also the diocese, its chancellor, and the senior warden of his former church. Pollock left The Episcopal Church in June, and his suit, in part, involves Waldo’s statements concerning Pollock’s status with respect to The Episcopal Church. Additional details can be found in the VirtueOnline story.

More information from annual convention on-line

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has now posted a number of stories about the recent annual convention on its Web site:

Monday, November 4, 2013

News for Week Ending 11/4/2013

Church releases statistics from 2012 parochial reports

The Episcopal Church has posted information summarizing 2012 parochial reports. Overall, church membership declined 1.4% from 2011 to 2,066,710, Most of that decline occurred in domestic dioceses. The Diocese of Pittsburgh, however, saw a 1.7% increase in membership and a 0.5% increase in average Sunday attendance. The diocese reported 9,085 church members in 2012. The statistics, presented in various ways can be found here.

Quincy funds remain frozen

In an October 29, 2013, blog post, A.S. Haley reported that bank accounts for the Diocese of Quincy worth approximately $4.1 million, are frozen, pending appeal by The Episcopal Church. The Illinois trial court ruled against the Episcopal diocese and for the breakaway group in September. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Episcopal Diocese of Quincy no longer exists, having been folded into the Diocese of Chicago. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

John-David Schofield dead at 75

Deposed Bishop of San Joaquin John-David Schofield was found dead in his Fresno, California, home, having died October 29, 2013. Schofield led one of three dioceses of The Episcopal Church that refused to ordain women priests and eventually was the first Episcopal bishop to lead a substantial portion of his diocese out of The Episcopal Church in 2007. Details of his life and death can be found in the October 30 story from Episcopal News Service.

Legal news from Texas

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has updated information about church property litigation in Texas. Pittsburgh Update earlier noted that the Episcopal parties filed an appeal for a rehearing before the Texas Supreme Court of the case heard on direct appeal from the 141st District Court, Tarrant County. The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, in an October 22, 2013, posting, linked to the actual motion. In the same posting, the Diocese of Forth Worth reported that the breakaway faction filed a waiver of their response to the motion for rehearing on October 22. Also, Episcopal parties filed a motion for a rehearing in the companion Masterson case. The Fort Worth diocese also noted, on October 24, that the Texas Supreme Court requested the ACNA parties to file responses to the Episcopal parties requests for rehearings in the two cases. Note that filings in the Fort Worth case can be found here, and filings in the Masterson case can be found here.

Trinity School for Ministry posts YouTube video

Trinity School for Ministry (formerly Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry but now billed as “An Evangelical seminary in the Anglican tradition), has posted an informational video, “Trinity 101,” on YouTube. The 6-1/2 minute video can be viewed here.

Information about diocesan convention available

An issue of the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s electronic newsletter Grace Happens was sent out November 4, 2013, giving partial information about the annual convention that was held at Trinity Cathedral November 1 and 2. The newsletter lists the winners of all elections and announces that St. Brendan’s, Franklin Park, has a new rector, the Rev. D. Scott Russell. (The parish Web site has a letter from the new rector here.) The newsletter does not contain the bishop’s address given November 2. Nor does it mention that Good Shepherd, Hazelwood, which had been participating in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, has returned to the Episcopal diocese, a fact noted at the Eucharist on November 1.

PEP displays at diocesan convention

Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh displayed a table at Pittsburgh’s annual convention held at Trinity Cathedral November 1 and 2, 2013. Beth Stifel and Lionel Deimel were the official PEP ambassadors for the PEP table. The table included a slide presentation, paper versions of the slide show, membership forms, and information sheets about PEP. Its most popular feature, however, was a collection of tasty candy provided for convention attendees. You can see a picture of the PEP table on the PEP Facebook page.