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, February 24, 2014

News for Week Ending 2/24/2014

Global South Primates Steering Committee statement published

The Global South Primates Steering Committee met in Cairo, Egypt, February 14–15, 2014, and made public a statement from the meeting February 20. The statement was approved by seven primates or their representatives. The Nigerian primate, Nkechi Nwosu, abstained from approving for reasons that were not given. As usual, the statement complains about The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, as well as the Anglican Communion’s “dysfunctional” Instruments of Unity. Perhaps most significantly, it calls for a meeting of the Anglican primates in 2015 with an agenda agreed on by the primates in advance. A helpful FAQ appendix is provided. The document can be read here.

Uganda anti-gay bill signed into law

As we suggested earlier—see Pittsburgh Update story here—Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni has signed into law the anti-gay law first proposed in 2009 and denounced in the West despite widespread approval by ordinary Ugandans and Anglican bishops in Africa. Although the final bill authorizes no capital punishment, as did earlier versions, some infractions defined in the law allow for sentences of life imprisonment. The story was reported by Reuters February 24, 2014. Also on February 24, Museveni’s action was condemned by the White House.

Comment continues on CoE same-sex marriage guidance

The pastoral guidance on same-sex marriage promulgated by the House of Bishops of the Church of England—see Pittsburgh Update story here—continues to collect commentary. (Couples of the same sex will be able to be married in England next month, but the established church does not approve of such unions.) Thinking Anglicans has been collecting links to commentary. In addition to links provided in the story referenced above, see Thinking Anglicans posts here, here, here, here, here, and here. Lionel Deimel has offered a commentary that does not analyze the pastoral guidance as a whole but reflects concerns of Pittsburgh Episcopalians.

Englishwoman becomes Anglican bishop

The Rev. Dr. Helen-Ann Hartley became the first Englishwoman to be made an Anglican bishop on February 22, 2014. According to TVNZ, Hartley was consecrated bishop of the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia. She thus becomes the third female bishop in the New Zealand church. Authorization for women bishops in the Church of England remains pending. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

PB invitation to seminary sparks board resignation

An invitation to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to preach at the chapel of Nashotah House Theological Seminary has led to the resignation of a member of the nominally Episcopal seminary’s Board of Directors and the threatened reduction in engagement by another board member. On February 20, 2014, Stand Firm published the contents of a memo sent to clergy in the (presumably ACNA) Diocese of Fort Worth. It indicated that Bishop Jack Leo Iker resigned from the board, and Bishop William Wantland declared that he would neither support the seminary nor participate in its events. Both bishops are former Episcopalians now in the Anglican Church in North America. In fact, the board of Nashotah House looks less like that of an Episcopal seminary and more like a seminary for Episcopal Church dissenters. (The Nashotah House Web site does not list board members, but Stand Firm has provided a list largely thought to be correct. It includes such notorious actors as Robert Duncan, Keith Ackerman, and Mark Lawrence.) The memo includes the following: “Citing the lawsuits initiated by her [Katharine Jefferts Schori] against this Diocese [the schismatic Fort Work diocese], Bishop Iker notified the Board that he ‘could not be associated with an institution that honors her.’”

Nashotah House dean and president, Bishop Edward Salmon, has justified the invitation to the primate of The Episcopal Church in a written and video explanation available here. Robert S. Munday, the former dean and president, has offered a commentary on seminary developments in which he calls the invitation to the presiding bishop a scandal. Matt Kennedy also remarked on the situation on the Stand Firm site, calling the presiding bishop “a servant of darkness.” Neither Munday nor Kennedy are Episcopal Church clergy. Sarah Hey, also on Stand Firm, referred to Katharine Jefferts Schori as a “noted heretic, false teacher, deposer of clergy and bishops, and malicious lawsuit-lover.”

Integrity to hold workshop

The Pittsburgh chapter of Integrity USA is sponsoring a workshop at St. Brendan’s, Franklin Park, on Sunday, February 2, 2014. According to the group’s announcement, the event is aimed at “churches looking for ways to reach out to gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual Christians, and their families.” The workshop is free to dues-paying members of Integrity USA and is available to others for at modest cost. Pre-registration is required by February 28. Details can be found here.

Monday, February 17, 2014

News for Week Ending 2/17/2014

CoE General Synod meets; advances women bishops plan

The General Synod of the Church of England met February 10–12, 2014. Its most notable accomplishment was to move forward the plan to allow for women to become bishops. The measure will now be submitted to dioceses. If a majority of them give their approval, final approval by the General Synod could be obtained in July—the Synod approved a fast-track procedure to move the measure forward quickly—and Parliament could enact the provisions for women bishops into law before the end of the year. Episcopal News Service has explained all this in a story that is especially helpful for Episcopalians. The press release from the Church of England on the General Synod action is here.

On the afternoon of February 12, the General Synod had a discussion of the Pilling Report, which began with a presentation by Sir Joseph Pilling. Audio of that session can be found on SoundCloud.

Earlier in the day, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby addressed the General Synod. His presidential address can be read here or heard here. He spoke of change and the need to live with different views. A story in The Telegraph offers some quotes from the address. In a rather bizarre response to Welby’s address, Church Society issued a press release declaring that the archbishop should be about “ensuring the appointment of 12 Conservative Evangelical Bishops.”

CoE bishops offer pastoral guidance

The House of Bishops of the Church of England met February 13, 2014, to respond to the Pilling Report and to the advent of legal same-sex marriage next month. On February 14, the bishops issued their “Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage.” This statement has been a great disappointment to LGBT advocates. The tone of it is perhaps best captured in this sentence: “However we [CoE bishops] are all in agreement that the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged.” In particular, the guidance from the House of Bishops fails to encourage the local pastoral accommodation suggested by the Pilling Report in paragraph 387 and following. Prayers are allowed, but not blessings.

The Thinking Anglican post on the new statement has attractive more than 100 comments, most of them disapproving. We can hardly review all the reactions to the bishops’ statement here. Interested readers can follow the links at Thinking Anglican posts here and here. Of particular interest is a commentary from the LGB&TI Anglican Coalition. (See Thinking Anglican post and comments following.)

Anti-gay Kansas bill killed (maybe)

On February 12, 2014, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that the Kansas House of Representatives passed House Bill 2453 by a vote of 72–49. The bill would allow discrimination against same-sex couples in a variety of circumstances on the basis of personal religious belief. The Episcopal bishops of Kansas and Western Kansas wrote a letter to the Kansas Senate February 14 urging that body to reject the bill. PoliticusUSA reported February 15 that the Senate, which, like the House, is heavily Republican, would indeed kill the bill, not because it is discrimatory, but because it could harm the Republican brand nationally.

Virginia closer to marriage equality

According to The Huffington Post, a federal judge declared Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional February 13, 2014. The opinion and order of U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen can be found here. Wright Allen stayed her opinion pending appeal. Federal judges in Utah and Oklahoma have also recently struck down bans on same-sex marriage. (See the review of the current legal status of gay marriage in the U.S. done by the Los Angeles Times.)

Chicago Consultation says African archbishops err

The Chicago Consultation, an Episcopal/Anglican group supporting “the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion,” issued a press release February 14, 2014, decrying the support, by the archbishops of Uganda and Nigeria, of anti-gay legislation in their respective nations. The Consultation’s statement concludes with this:
We call on the archbishops to reconsider their support for these laws, and we call on the archbishops’ allies in the United States and the United Kingdom—organizations such as Anglican Mainstream, the Anglican Church in North America and the Convocation of Anglicans in North America—to dissociate themselves from the archbishops’ positions or explain why they will not do so.

Cynthia McFarland dead at 61

Cynthia Marie Wilson McFarland died in Mount Holly, New Jersey, on February 13, 2014. She was the Communications Director, Historiographer, and Archivist for the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey. More importantly, for Pittsburgh Update and for Episcopalians and Anglicans throughout the world, McFarland was a pioneer in the use of electronic communications on behalf of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. She was a founding director of the Society of Archbishop Justus (SAJ) and the managing editor of Anglicans Online (AO). Among other things, SAJ makes important Anglican materials, such as versions of the Book of Common Prayer, available on-line. AO also provides helpful information about the Anglican world and offers a weekly summary of Anglican Communion news. An obituary of McFarland can be found here (in three different fonts). Episcopal News Service and Anglicans Online itself also noted her passing.

ERD Sunday is March 9

According to an Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD) press release, ERD’s Lenten theme for 2014 is economic empowerment, especially for women. The first Sunday in Lent, March 9, 2014, will be observed as Episcopal Relief & Development Sunday throughout The Episcopal Church. Details can be found in the press release.

PEP meeting scheduled for February 24

Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh (PEP) will hold a membership meeting at Church of the Redeemer, Squirrel Hill, at 7 PM, February 23, 2014. The Rev. Bill Pugliese will speak on his work on leadership formation for the diocese’s strategic planning group. Additional details will be forthcoming on the PEP Facebook page.

Monday, February 10, 2014

News for Week Ending 2/10/2014

Marriage equality achieved in Scotland

On February 4, 2014, The Parliament of Scotland approved a measure that will allow marriage of same-sex couples as early as October. Freedom to Marry reported the story here.

CoE General Synod meeting this week

The General Synod of the Church of England is meeting this week between February 10 and February 12, 2014. Of greatest interest to Episcopalians is the matter of advancing provisions for allowing women bishops (to be discussed on Tuesday) and a presentation by Sir Joseph Pilling on the Pilling Report (on Wednesday, followed by Q&A). Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will deliver a Presidential Address Wednesday morning. A press release describing the meeting can be found here. Links to the meeting agenda and background papers can be found here. The proceedings are being live streamed here.

Presiding Bishop to receive honorary degree from Oxford

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is to receive an honorary degree from Oxford University on June 25, 2014, along with five other recipients from various disciplines. She will receive the degree of Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa. Episcopal News Service published the press release from Oxford University on February 7, 2014. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby issued a statement of congratulations that can be read here.

Episcopal Church Executive Council meets

The church’s Executive Council met in Linthicum Heights, Maryland, from February 5 to February 7, 2014. The council has two new members. The Very Rev. Dr. Brian Baker has replaced the Rev. Jenny Vervynck, who resigned as the Province VIII clergy representative. The Rev. Nathaniel W. Pierce has replaced the Rev. Chris Cunningham, who resigned as the Province III clergy representative. (See Episcopal News Service stories here and here.) Note that the Diocese of Pittsburgh is in Province III.

Opening remarks of the President of the House of Deputies Gay Clark Jennings can be read here. Opening remarks of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori can be read here and her opening sermon here.

It has been announced that the 2018 General Convention will be held in Austin, Texas. The decision required a number of approvals, including that of the Executive Council. Details are here.

Executive Council approved  $168,060 of Constable Fund Grants. Last year, a Constable Fund Grant of $30,000 was approved for the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s sexuality dialogue. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) This year’s grants include $13,200 for Building & Enhancing Anti-Racism Ministry throughout Province III. The grant will be used “to support anti-racism workshops where none exist and to strengthen those that do.”

A summary of Executive Council resolutions can be found here. An additional summary of the work of the group is here. Apparently, the rift between the United Thank Offering (UTO) and the church is largely resolved. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The UTO and the Executive Council have approved a new memorandum of understanding and a new set of bylaws for the UTO. Details can be found here.

TREC releases first paper

The Task Force for Re-Imagining The Episcopal Church (TREC) has released an initial paper for comment. (See recent Pittsburgh Update story about TREC here.) A story on the new study paper on the subject of Episcopal networks can be found here, and the paper itself is here.

Church solicits nominations

The Episcopal Church has put out a call for nominations to various church positions. (The list is here.) Nominations are due by March 1, 2014. Elections for the positions will be conducted at the 2015 General Convention.

More papers filed in South Carolina case

On February 5, 2014, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The filing was in response to U.S. District Court Judge C. Weston Houck’s rejection of the request to reconsider his earlier decision to dismiss the federal case brought by the Episcopalians. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Details about the latest filing can be found on the Web site of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Meanwhile, the breakaway South Carolina group has appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court, complaining that the Episcopalians are engaging in delaying tactics. Its press release can be found here.

David Kinsey dead at 76

The Rev. David L. Kinsey, priest-in-charge at St. Stephen’s, McKeesport, and former rector of St. Thomas’, Canonsburg, died February 6, 2014, of congestive heart failure. His passing was noted on the diocesan Web site. His obituary in the Post-Gazette can be found here. The Post-Gazette also published an extended obituary here.

Monday, February 3, 2014

News for Week Ending 2/3/2014

Norway clergy union asks for gay marriage rite

The executive council of the clergy union of the Church of Norway has voted unanimously to call for a liturgy for same-sex marriage. (The Church of Norway, a Lutheran church, is a state church.) Same-sex marriage is legal in Norway, but the Church of Norway has not created a new marriage rite. Details can be found here.

Church of Nigeria will not change course

Writing on his Web site VirtueOnline, David Virtue reported January 28, 2014, that Archbishop of Nigeria Nicholas Okoh and the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) House of Bishops have warned Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby that their church will continue to maintain fellowship with “Bible-based” churches such as Robert Duncan’s Anglican Church of North Armerica (ACNA) “not necessarily on the basis of history.” The bishops reaffirmed their support for the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and for the Jerusalem Declaration.

ACNA issues catechism

The Anglican Church in North America has announced the availability of a new catechism. The new document contains 345 questions and answers. Associated introductory and explanatory matter have also been made available. The Catechism and associated material in various forms are available here.

Li Tim-Oi honored in Toronto

Anglican Journal reported January 25, 2014, that a choral Eucharist was held in the Cathedral Church of St. James in Toronto celebrating the ordination of women on the 70th anniversary of the ordination of the first woman Anglican priest, Li Tim-Oi. On January 31, Anglican Journal published a story about the challenges, past and present, faced by ordained women in the Anglican Church of Canada.

Anglican leaders speak out against anti-gay legislation

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York wrote a letter January 29, 2014, addressed to all Anglican primates and to the presidents of Uganda and Nigeria regarding the rights of LGBT persons. The letter declares that it is in response “to new legislation in several countries that penalises people with same-sex attraction.” Curiously, the letter does not criticize the behavior of anyone or, for that matter, offer any moral judgment on the part of the letter writers. Instead, it cites the Dromantine Communiqué of 2005 as expressing “the common mind of the Primates of the Anglican Communion” with regard to the treatment “of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex.” (The excerpt of the communiqué quoted in the letter is from the same section—section 6—that criticizes The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada for their actions.) It is not known if the Internet petition asking the archbishops to speak out against human rights abuses in Nigeria influenced the writing of the letter. (PEP also asked for a statement—see story below.)

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council, answered the archbishops’ letter and criticized the facilitated conversations called for in the Pilling Report.

Two days earlier (January 27), Gay Clark Jennings, president of the General Convention’s House of Deputies and a member of the Anglican Consultative Council, published a strong denunciation of anti-gay actions, including those of the primates of the Anglican churches in Uganda and Nigeria. The criticisms were in the form of a commentary written for Religion News Service and posted on the RNS Web site.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori issued a “statement on LGBT rights” on January 30. Without naming any guilty parties, she decried “current attempts to criminalize LGBT persons and their supporters.” She declared that the Episcopal Church’s “advocacy for oppressed minorities has been vocal and sustained.” Her statement can be read here.

Uganda anti-gay bill “likely” to become law

Whereas anti-gay legislation was recently signed into law in Nigeria—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the likely fate of the notorious legislation in Uganda has been unclear. Some press reports have suggested that President Yoweri Museveni has decided not to sign the bill. In a story written for Political Research Associates, however, the Rev. Kapya Kaoma, an Anglican priest from Zambia in a Boston University doctoral program, suggests that it is likely that the president will eventually sign the bill. His piece includes a scanned copy of a letter written by Museveni that reveals a negative attitude toward sexual minorities.

On January 30, the primate of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali commented on the anti-gay bill, on the Pilling Report, and on the letter from the Church of England archbishops. (See previous story.) Ntagali praised the Uganda Parliament for reducing sentences in the bill and for removing reporting requirements, thereby allowing clergy to counsel homosexuals seeking “help and healing.” Ntagali goes on to attack The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. He also threatens to break communion with the Church of England if it does not change its current path.

SCLM offers new proposal for dealing with saints

The Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on Liturgy & Music (SCLM) has offered a proposal for “a new approach to commemorations [of worthy historical figures] tentatively entitled A Great Cloud of Witnesses. The proposed new direction is set out in a blog entry posted February 1, 2014. The proposal grew out of dissatisfaction with Holy Women, Holy Men, and the SCLM is asking for comment (by February 22) on whether work on perfecting Holy Women, Holy Men should be continued or whether a somewhat different direction should be pursued. Feedback on the proposal should be left as comments on the blog post.

Resources for Black History Month available

The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs has noted that materials appropriate for use during Black History Month and for Absalom Jones Day are available on the Episcopal Church Web site. The press release, with links to materials, can be found here.

Church notes growth in use of electronic communications

The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs has published statistics about the use of electronic communications in 2013. The information includes number of page views on the church’s Web site, likes of the church’s Facebook page, etc. Growth was noted in all areas of electronic communications. The numbers can be found here.

PEP writes to archbishop about Baucum, anti-gay legislation

Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh (PEP) wrote to Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby January 23, 2014, protesting the appointment of the Rev. Dr. Tory Baucum to be one of the Six Preachers of Canterbury Cathedral. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The letter also asked the archbishop to speak out against the newly enacted anti-gay law in Nigeria. Mark Harris wrote about the letter on his blog January 29, as did PEP board member Lionel Deimel on his blog. A PDF version of the letter is here.