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, December 30, 2013

News for Week Ending 12/30/2013

Anti-gay bills await presidential approval in Uganda and Nigeria

As we have reported, legislatures in Uganda and Nigeria have passed harsh bills against homosexuality activity. The Nigeria bill was passed in May. (See Pittsburgh Update story here. BuzzFeed has covered this story, but there is some confusion about the bill’s history. Apparently, a new version of the bill was passed this month.) The Uganda bill was passed this month. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Each bill awaits presidential approval. Although the Ugandan measure is popular within the country, it has been widely denounced elsewhere. Concern has been expressed by the U.S. and U.K. governments, as well as the E.U. and U.N. Religion Dispatches offers a helpful review of anti-gay actions in Uganda, Nigeria, and elsewhere. Thinking Anglicans has a link to this roundup and to other related material.

Unfortunately, Anglican bishops in Uganda have been supportive of the proposed law. The Lead even offers video to this effect. On a more positive note, the papal nuncio to Uganda, Archbishop Michael Blume, expressed concern about the Uganda bill.

More on Pilling Report

Commentary on the Pilling Report on homosexuality prepared for the Church of England continues to appear. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Readers who have not yet got their fill of it are directed to the latest compilation from Thinking Anglicans.

Otis Charles, pioneer gay bishop, dies

Otis Charles, retired Bishop of Utah, died December 26, 2013, at the age of 87. After his retirement in 1993, a decade before the Rev. Canon Gene Robinson was elected bishop in New Hampshire, Charles declared himself to be a gay man. Charles had a long record of accomplishments. He participated in the creation of the 1979 prayer book as a member of the Standing Liturgical Commission and, after retirement, became dean of Episcopal Divinity School. He became a strong advocate for LGBT persons within the church. In 2008, he married Dr. Felipe Sanchez-Paris, who died earlier this year. Remembrances of Charles have been published by Integrity USA and by the Rev. Susan Russell, a former Integrity president.

Judge denies another Episcopal Church request in S.C. case

On December 30, 2013, South Carolina Circuit Judge Diane S. Goodstein again denied a request from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. The South Carolina Episcopalians had sought to add former bishop Mark Lawrence and three other diocesan officials to litigation between the continuing and breakaway South Carolina dioceses. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Goodstein found the additions unnecessary. She also denied requests to reconsider earlier rulings. The decisions were reported by the Episcopal Church in South Carolina here. (Anglican Ink also reported the story in the form of what appears to be a press release from the breakaway diocese.)

In the same statement reported above, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina noted that the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina was considering leaving The Episcopal Church when it was in the process of searching for a new bishop, which search lead to the consecration of Mark Lawrence. Retired Episcopal priest Thomas M. Rickenbaker has declared in an affidavit that he was asked by the South Carolina episcopal search committee, “What can you do to help us leave The Episcopal Church and take our property with us?” The Post and Courier covered the story here.

Monday, December 23, 2013

News for Week Ending 12/23/2013

Uganda parliament passes anti-gay law

After many fits and starts, the Uganda parliament has finally passed a harsh anti-gay law. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The legislation provides penalties as harsh as life imprisonment but does not call for capital punishment. It will become law if and when it is signed by President Yoweri Museveni. The story has been reported by The New York Times, Al Jazeera, and other news outlets.

Kunonga continues disruptions in Zimbabwe

According to The Zimbabwe Mail, deposed bishop Nolbert Kunonga and his supporters recently seized control of St. Luke’s Bvumbura parish, thus continuing to be a disruptive influence among Anglicans in Zimbabwe. (Pittsburgh Update last ran a story on Kunonga here. We have not followed his exploits closely.) According to the The Zimbabwe Mail, Kunonga is a close friend of President Robert Mugabe, with whom he shares an opposition to the “inclusion of sexual minorities into mainstream social life.”

Pilling comments continue piling up

Thinking Anglicans has published yet another post on comments on the Pilling Report. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Of particular interest is an essay from Simon Sarmiento, which provides a good overview of the controversial report.

Same-sex marriage advances on two fronts

On December 19, 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court handed down a decision making same-sex marriage legal throughout the state. State law neither allowed nor prohibited such marriages, and licenses were being granted in some counties and not others. The Albuquerque Journal reported the story, which includes the court decision itself. Opponents of marriage equality may attempt to negate the court decision through legislation.

According to The Washington Post, on December 20, 2013, a federal judge struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage. Judge Robert Shelby, as in the New Mexico case, found no state interest in prohibiting marriage between persons of the same sex. Bishop of Utah Scott B. Hayashi issued a statement the next day rejoicing in the decision and requesting “understanding, compassion, and prayer” for those who find the court decision unwelcome. According to AP, the state was in federal court December 23 requesting a stay of the decision pending appeal. NPR reported later in the day that that request was rejected, requiring the state to seek a favorable ruling by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Church seeks advice on headquarters location

Debate over where the Episcopal Church Center should be located has gone on for years. (It is now at 815 Second Avenue in New York City.) The 2012 General Convention passed a resolution to the effect that it should leave its present location, but the resolution did not say when that should happen or whether the church headquarters should leave New York City. The Executive Council Subcommittee on the Location of the Episcopal Church Center has posted a survey to gather comments on the future home for the Episcopal Church Center. Information about the survey and a link to it on-line is here.

Fort Worth diocese files reply

On December 19, 2013, the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth filed a reply with the Texas Supreme Court. The document responds to arguments against the diocese’s request for a rehearing made by the breakaway group led by Jack Leo Iker. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Other documents in the case can be found here.

Moyer settles with lawyer

According to David Virtue, the Rev. David L. Moyer, the litigious Anglo-Catholic former rector of Good Shepherd, Rosemont—see Pittsburgh Update story here—has settled the lawsuit brought by his former attorney John H. Lewis Jr. The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, but it seems certain that, like most of his conflicts, Moyer did not come out on top. Virtue does a fine job, though admittedly not a totally objective or complete one, of reviewing Moyer’s long-running misadventures.

St. James receives Episcopal Church grant

St. James, Penn Hills, has received a $20,000 grant from The Episcopal Church for “Reviving Cultural and Ministry Needs of the Penn Hills Area.” The grant is among the first for “Mission Enterprise Zones and for New Church Starts” authorized by the 2012 General Convention. Details and a list of recipients can be found here.

Blessings of the Christmas season from Pittsburgh Update
and Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh

Monday, December 16, 2013

News for Week Ending 12/16/2013

Foreign activists urge Jamaicans to retain homosexual ban

Thinking Anglicans has reported extensively on a recent conference held in Jamaica at which activists from the United States and the United Kingdom urged that Jamaica retain anti-gay law. One of the speakers was Andrea Minichiello Williams, a member of the Church of England’s General Synod and the founder and CEO of Christian Concern, which Wikipedia descirbes as “a Christian organisation in the United Kingdom which seeks to introduce a ‘Christian voice’ into law, the media and Government.” Williams linked pedophilia to homosexuality and, ironically, urged Jamaicans to resist foreign pressure. Thinking Anglicans provides extensive information about the conference here.

IASCUFO meets; many members stay away

On December 11, 2013, Anglican Communion News Service published the communiqué issued at its recent meeting in Jamaica by the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO). The communiqué is largely a laundry list of ongoing projects. What is most interesting is the list of IASCUFO members who did not attend. As Mark Harris noted on his blog, all the non-attendees belong to Global South Anglican churches.

Women priests sit in on CoE bishops’ meeting

The Church of England announced December 10, 2013, that the House of Bishops meeting held December 9 and 10 included eight observer women priests. (Women and the Church offers additional information about the inclusion of women here. See also the Pittsburgh Update story here.) The bishops agreed that, at the upcoming February 2014 General Synod meeting, measures will be presented to move the process of approving women bishops forward. The process of rescinding the Act of Synod of 1993, which created so-called flying bishops, will also begin at the upcoming General Synod meeting.

Thinking Anglicans has published the agenda and other information for the February 10–12, 2014, General Synod here.

Yet more comment about Pilling Report; government progress in UK

The Pilling Report from the Church of England House of Bishops on human sexuality continues to draw comments. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Thinking Anglicans has links to even more commentary here and here.

The Church of England is moving slowly on full inclusion of LGBT people, but the UK government is moving much faster. On December 10, 2013, the government announced that same-sex weddings can begin in the UK beginning March 29, 2014, which is earlier than originally expected. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Episcopal Church notes elections, consents, and consecrations

The church has posted a list of episcopal elections, elections seeking consents, and consecrations for the first four months of 2014. The information can be found here.

TREC releases letter

As we noted last week, the Task Force for Re-imagining the Episcopal Church was scheduled to issue a letter last week based on its meeting earlier in December. That letter was released December 11, 2013. The task force reports that there are conflicting goals for the church among Episcopalians, but there is a sense that we need to reduce the overhead of running the church. The letter can be read here.

More on Fort Worth litigation

Last week, we noted that the breakaway Fort Worth diocese had filed a response to the Episcopal diocese’s request for a rehearing with the Texas Supreme Court. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Christian Post has published a story about the filing that provides helpful background information.

Monday, December 9, 2013

News for Week Ending 12/9/2013

More commentary on Pilling Report

As expected, more commentary has appeared concerning the Pilling Report. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Thinking Anglican has collected additional links here, here, here, and (especially) here. Archbishop Robert Duncan has also weighed in here.

Women priests welcomed in CoE bishops meeting

The Church of England announced December 9, 2013, that eight women clergy have been welcomed as observers to the meeting of the House of Bishops. This is an interim measure pending the inclusion of six women bishops in the House of Bishops. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

TREC meets, will issue statement

The Task Force for Re-imagining the Episcopal Church met in Linthicum Heights, Maryland, December 6 and 7, 2013. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) According to Episcopal News Service, the task force will issue a statement about its meeting this week. The task force offers an “engagement kit” on its Web site to help groups contribute to its work.

Michael Curry to offer on-line course for crazy Christians

One of the highlights of the 2012 General Convention was the sermon by Bishop of North Carolina Michael Curry titled “We Need Some Crazy Christians.” Curry will teach an on-line course January 27–February 3, 2013, based on the ideas first presented in that sermon. The course is free and open to all. Details can be found here.

Legal updates from Texas

The Breakaway group from Good Shepherd Parish in the Diocese of Northwest Texas has filed a response with the Texas Supreme Court to the Episcopal diocese’s request for a rehearing. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Also, the breakaway “Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth” filed a brief with the Texas Supreme Court in answer to the Episcopal parties request for a rehearing. (See story here.)

Monday, December 2, 2013

News for Week Ending 12/2/2013

African province nixes women’s ordination

Anglican Communion News Service reported November 30, 2013, that the synod of the Church of the Province of Central Africa has defeated a proposal to allow women to be ordained, even though some dioceses are eager to do so. Only the lay order voted in favor of the proposal. The province covers Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Pilling Report released

Most Episcopalians will not know what the Pilling Report is, but, in the Church of England, “The Report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality” has been eagerly awaited and its contents have been the subject of much speculation. The report is named informally for Sir Joseph Pilling, who chaired the working group that produced the report. The lengthy report—it is over 200 pages long—does not recommend any change in doctrine for the Church of England or the development of any liturgy for blessing same-sex unions, but it does endorse services to mark faithful same-sex relationships. The report also proposes that the church begin facilitated conversations on sexuality.

The report can be found here. Anglican Communion News Service reported on the release of the report here. News stories and commentaries on the report are legion. Interested readers should consult the links provided by Thinking Anglicans here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Female Episcopal priest elected bishop in Canada’s Diocese of New Westminster

The Rev. Canon Melissa M. Skelton, canon for congregational development and leadership and rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Olympia, was elected November 30, 2013, to become the next diocesan bishop in the Diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada. She succeeds the now-retired Bishop Michael Ingham, who is perhaps best known for allowing the blessing of same-sex unions in 2003. Anglican Journal reported the story December 2, 2013.

On the same day that New Westminster elected its first female bishop, the first Anglican female bishop in the British Isles, the Rev. Pat Storey, was consecrated Bishop of Meath and Kildare in the Church of Ireland. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Irish Times reported the story here.

House of Bishops publishes polity report

The Ecclesiology Committee of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops has published a 16-page report titled “A Primer on the Government of The Episcopal Church and Its Underlying Theology.” The report is a brief history of Anglicanism as it applies to our own church. It may be helpful as the church reconsiders its organization, but the primary intent of the report is to counter the arguments made by some in the church that dioceses hold ultimate power in Episcopal Church polity. A press release that accompanied release of the report can be found here.

South Carolina Episcopalians seek to add parties to state lawsuit

On November 25, 2013, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (ECSC) filed papers in state court requesting that four officials of Mark Lawrence’s breakaway faction be added to the suit brought by his Diocese of South Carolina. Episcopalians are seeking to add Mark Lawrence, Jim Lewis, Jeffrey Miller, and Paul Fuener to the litigation. According to a story on the ECSC Web site, “[t]he filing lists 18 causes of action against the four individuals, including breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, conversion, trademark infringement and civil conspiracy.” The filing can be read here.

Duncan criticizes McConnell pastoral letter

Deposed former Bishop of Pittsburgh Robert Duncan saw fit to issue a press release November 27, 2013, criticizing current Episcopal Bishop of Pittsburgh Dorsey McConnell’s recent pastoral letter on homosexual issues. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Duncan lamented McConnell’s decisions, and concluded with this statement: “We continue to pray for Bp. McConnell and the clergy and people of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, as well as for all those living with same-sex attractions, recognizing that there is a fundamental divergence on the moral and pastoral responses we in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh are called to offer.”