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, January 27, 2014

News for Week Ending 1/27/2014

CoE bishops consider Pilling Report

The College of Bishops of the Church of England has issued a statement on the Pilling Report following discussion of the report on January 27, 2014. (The membership of the College of Bishops is larger than that of the House of Bishops. An explanation can be read here.) The statement represents an endorsement of the report. It explains that a small group will be formed to design the “facilitated conversations” on sexuality called for in the report. The design is to be approved by the House of Bishops in May. Ominously, the statement declares that the facilitated conversations should address sexual issues “ecumenically, across the Anglican Communion and at national and diocesan level.” This paragraph is also interesting:
No change to the Church of England’s teaching on marriage is proposed or envisaged. The House of Bishops will be meeting next month to consider its approach when same sex marriage becomes lawful in England in March.
Thinking Anglicans has published a number of posts linking to commentary on the Pilling Report and on related commentary on homosexuality. They can be found here, here, here, and here. Particularly interesting among the sources cited is an analysis of the Pilling Report from Changing Attitude.

PB nominating committee offers update

On January 21, 2014, the co-chairs of The Episcopal Church Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop issued a brief update on the committee’s work. That update can be found here.

Bishop Curry offers crazy Christian course on-line

Michael Curry, Episcopal Bishop of North Carolina, is offering a free on-line course, “The Big Class: How to be a Crazy Christian with Bishop Michael Curry.” Curry energized General Convention in 2012 with his sermon about being what he called “crazy Christians.” Church Publishing has published his book Crazy Christians. The course includes on-line discussion January 27–31. Details can be found here.

Monday, January 20, 2014

News for Week Ending 1/20/2014

CoE may have women bishops by Christmas

The Guardian has reported that the Church of England may have women priests by Christmas, much earlier than expected. It is anticipated that the General Synod, which meets next month, will approve a plan for women bishops. Additional steps necessary to authorize women to become bishops—approval by dioceses and by parliament—could be completed by November, allowing appointments in December. Conservatives are likely to offer little opposition in light of overwhelming support for women bishops and the coming battles over issues of homosexuality.

Archbishop of Canterbury gives ACNA priest Canterbury post

On January 16, 2014, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby announced the appointment of the Rev. Tory Baucum, rector of Truro Anglican, to be one of the Six Preachers of Canterbury Cathedral, a group of priests who preach at the cathedral on special occasions. Baucum leads the Fairfax, Virginia, congregation that attempted to remove the property of Truro Episcopal Church from the Diocese of Virginia and was forced to return the property by the courts. Baucum was most recently in the news for having been instructed by ACNA bishop John A. Guernsey to break off friendly relations with Bishop of Virginia Shannon Johnston. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) ACNA’s archbishop Robert Duncan declared, “This is an historically significant appointment.”

It is impossible to fully cover this story here except to say that there is concern that Welby has given some legitimacy to ACNA with this appointment, though it is also true that not all ACNA partisans are happy. (See this post from Stand Firm, for example,) Interested readers should read carefully the comments on the appointment on the Thinking Anglicans site here.

Nigerian anti-gay bill signed into law

Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has signed anti-gay legislation into law. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The legislation has popular support in the population at large and with the the Anglican church in Nigeria. (See Business Insider story here and, for example, Pittsburgh Update story here.) Many have remarked on the lack of comment from Lambeth on this unfortunate development. Activist Davis Mac-Iyalla, who spoke at a PEP meeting several years ago, has initiated an Internet petition urging the archbishops of the Church of England to speak out on human rights abuses in Nigeria.

Northwestern Pa. bishop nominated for provisional post in Bethlehem

The Rt. Rev.Sean Rowe, Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania, has been nominated to become the provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem. The Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall retired from Bethlehem December 31, 2013, and the Standing Committee has decided to elect a provisional bishop to serve for three years while the diocese considers its future. The election for provisional bishop will take place on March 1. Rowe will eventually divide his time between the two dioceses at opposite ends of the state of Pennsylvania. The nomination was announced in a press release by the Diocese of Bethlehem January 16.

Testimony of late bishop highlight of San Joaquin courtroom drama

The video testimony of deposed and deceased Episcopal bishop John-David Schofield climaxed a trial in Judge Donald S. Black’s courtroom January 13, 2014, intended to determine ownership of property in the Diocese of San Joaquin. (See Pittsburgh Update stories here and here.) The Fresno Bee reported on the proceedings in a January 13 story that includes the brief filed by the Episcopal plaintiffs. Black has given the parties until March 17 to file legal briefs and responses. A more technical discussion of the trial has been published on A.S. Haley’s blog here. (Note that Haley is a lawyer opposing the Episcopal parties.)

Update on South Carolina litigation

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina reported January 16, 2014, that federal judge C. Weston Houck has denied a motion to reconsider his August 2013 decision dismissing the trademark case brought by Episcopal bishop Charles G. vonRosenberg. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Meanwhile, the case in state court is on hold while the Episcopalians appeal a decision by Judge Diane S. Goodstein denying the continuing diocese access to client-attorney correspondence that took place before the diocesan schism. Details are in a report by the Episcopal Church in South Carolina here.

Monday, January 13, 2014

News for Week Ending 1/13/2014

Alternative baptism liturgy sparks controversy in CoE

Certain parishes in the Church of England are testing experimental liturgies for baptism intended to offer “accessible language.” (The document describing the “additional texts” can be found here.) The church is being criticized for “dumbing down” baptism and for abandoning the notion of sin. Thinking Anglican samples the commentary here. As he often does, Andrew Brown has offered useful perspective that many Episcopalians will appreciate.

Pilling Report garners more comments

The Pilling Report from the Church of England dealing with homosexuality has inspired even more commentary. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Interested readers can consult the latest report from Thinking Anglicans.

Girls to sing at Canterbury Cathedral

The Guardian reported January 9, 2014, that the thousand-year-old tradition of male-only singing at Canterbury Cathedral is coming to an end. A choir consisting of girls from local schools will sing at the January 25 evensong at the cathedral. This event comes 20 years after Salisbury Cathedral established a girls’ choir.

Canadian church appoints panel to propose marriage canon revision

Anglican Journal, reported January 6, 2014, that Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has appointed members of a commission charged with exploring changes to the marriage canon. The plan is to bring a motion to the 2016 General Synod revising Canon 21 “to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in the same way as opposite-sex couples.”Additional details can be found in this post from Thinking Anglicans.

ACNA College of Bishops issues communiqué

The College of Bishop of the Anglican Church in North America met in Orlando January 6–10, 2014, at the end of which the bishops issued this communiqué. Among the information in this document is that Archbishop Robert Duncan will retire in June. Nancy Norton, who is Executive Director of the Anglican Relief and Development Fund and former director of administration in the pre-schism Diocese of Pittsburgh, will also be retiring this year.

South Carolina Episcopalians win suit against insurance company

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) has won a summary judgement in federal court for breach of contract against its insurance carrier, Church Insurance Co. of Vermont. The insurance company refused to cover expenses related to defending the lawsuit brought by the breakaway group headed by Mark Lawrence and claiming to be the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. The effect is that the insurance company will be required to compensate the continuing diocese for past and future legal expenses. TECSC announced the development January 9, 2014, on its Web site.

Falls Church files reply to brief in opposition

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has posted a filing with the U.S. Supreme Court made by The Falls Church in its effort to have the decision of the Virginia Supreme Court in favor of the diocese overturned. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Falls Church’s “Reply to Brief in Opposition” apparently is an answer to a brief filed by the diocese, which has not been posted. The Falls Church brief can be read here. The only date shown is “January 2014, but the file itself is dated January 8, 2014. Additional documents related to the litigation can be found on the Diocesan Web site here.

Canon to the Ordinary reports on San Joaquin developments

Canon to the Ordinary Kathleen Cullinane reported to the Diocese of San Joaquin January 3, 2014. You can read her report here, which appears on the newly redesigned diocesan Web site. Among the information of interest is that litigation against former Bishop Schofield was to go to trial last week and was expected to last two weeks. A special convention to elect a new provisional bishop will be held March 29. Also, the diocese is moving to having two offices. An office in Fresno will be the office for the provisional bishop and canon to the ordinary. The office of the diocesan administrator will remain in Modesto.

Absalom Jones Day to be celebrated February 1

The annual Absalom Jones Day will be celebrated at Trinity Cathedral on Saturday, February 1, 2014. Attendees are requested to register on line by January 27. Details of the celebration can be found here. Bishop McConnell has urged Pittsburgh Episcopalians to attend in a letter to the diocese.

Bishop McConnell has also posted a “Post-Christmas” video message on the diocesan Web site. The Duck again makes an appearance. You can view the video here.

PEP announces Epiphany party

Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh will hold its annual Epiphany party at Church of the Redeemer in Squirrel Hill on Saturday, January 18, 2014. Members and friends are invited. Details are available on a flyer announcing the party.

Monday, January 6, 2014

News for Week Ending 1/6/2014

Utah gets stay from Supreme Court of same-sex ruling

In an earlier post, we reported that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage had been declared unconstitutional and that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals had refused to stay the ruling that allowed same-sex marriage in the very conservative state of Utah. The state of Utah subsequently asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the lower-court ruling pending appeal. On  January 6, 2014, the Supreme Court granted the request, thus putting an end to same-sex marriages in Utah for the time being. Details can be found in a post from Box Turtle Bulletin.

Diocese announces opportunity to attend EYE

The diocese has posted a notice about the upcoming Episcopal Youth Event (EYE ’14). The event, which is held every three years, is to be held in Philadelphia July 9–16. High school students from all dioceses of The Episcopal Church are eligible to attend. Details are available on the diocesan Web site.