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, March 17, 2014

News for Week Ending 3/17/2014

Same-sex marriage continues to be hot topic in wake of bishop’s pastoral guidance

The hornets’ nest of commentary stemming from the pastoral guidance on same-sex marriage from the Church of England’s House of Bishops continues. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The latest collection of links to related material from Thinking Anglicans can be found here and here.

Conservative group asks for investigation of presiding bishop’s actions

An obscure Anglican group that recently changed its name to American Anglican Fellowship Inc. (AAF) has asked The Episcopal Church that its charges against Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori be investigated. Apparently, the group used to be the Washington chapter of the American Anglican Council (AAC), a group long critical of The Episcopal Church. The group’s Web site and its December 19, 2013, letter to the intake officer of The Episcopal Church, as well as its Internet domain registration reveal none of the names of AAF members or officers, but George Conger has provided information about the group here. According to AAF, its letter to Bishop Clay Matthews was circulating on the Internet, which made it necessary to make it public.

The AAF letter alleges six charges against the presiding bishop, all of which are involved with defections from the church by disgruntled conservatives. The AAF charges that (1) property litigation by the church is improper, that (2) abandonment canons have been improperly used, that (3) clergy have been construed as renouncing their vows in the absence of written statements to that effect, that (4) the San Joaquin Standing Committee was improperly dismissed and replaced, that (5) the conservative bishops were harassed who submitted affidavits in legal proceedings contradicting the legal theory propounded by Episcopal Church attorneys, and that (6) Mark Lawrence, of the Diocese of South Carolina, was improperly deposed and replaced. The letter relies heavily on arguments from the Anglican Communion Institute, Inc., a conservative group with no official standing in the Anglican Communion, and the AAC. There are several references to the AAC report “The Episcopal Church: Tearing the Fabric of Communion to Shreds,” which is no longer available on the AAC Web site. (It is available on the PEP site here.)

It is fair to say that the complaints of AAF are not new. They are largely, though not completely, without merit, though it is doubtful that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will actually face charges. In any case, AAF freely admits that it is “an organization of current and former members of The Episcopal Church.”

Breakaway S.C. diocese accepts Global South oversight

At its March 14–15, 2014, convention, the group that broke away from the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina agreed to accept “provisional primatial oversight” offered by the Global South Primatial Oversight Council. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The schismatic diocese led by Mark Lawrence claims that it “has been formally recognized as a member in good standing of the Global Anglican Communion” by accepting the proffered oversight. The claim will not be universally accepted. The story was covered by the Charleston Post & Courier.

Ga. bishops oppose guns-in-church bill

The Episcopal bishops of Georgia have written a joint letter opposing HB875, a bill that has been passed by the Georgia House and is expected to come before the Georgia Senate later this week. The bill would allow guns in churches, bars, and schools. The letter from the Rt. Revs. Robert C. Wright and Scott Anson  Benhase can be read here. Other faith leaders have also opposed the bill, as explained in an Episcopal News Service story of March 14, 2014. The status of the bill can be tracked here.

Presiding bishop visit to Nashotah House expanded

Episcopal News Service reported March 13, 2014, that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will visit Nashotah House Theological Seminary on May 1, 2014. Of course, the visit was already publicly known; the invitation from the school’s president and dean, Bishop Edward Salmon Jr., led to the resignation of a Nashotah House board member, Bishop Jack Leo Iker. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The ENS story did not report the protests from board members. It does note that the presiding bishop will offer an encomium homily for the Rev. Terry Star, a deacon from the Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota and a member of the church’s Executive Council who was attending Nashotah House when he died of a heart attack on March 4. (See ENS story here.) Ironically, Star was largely responsible for the invitation to the presiding bishop. (See explanation by Bishop Salmon in his YouTube video.)

Episcopal and Lutheran bishops to participate in vow renewal

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have announced that the two judicatories will hold a joint service of renewal of vows and blessing of oils at Trinity Cathedral on April 14, 2014. The service is traditional in Lent, and this is the third time that the Episcopal service in Pittsburgh has been held jointly with the ELCA, a church with which The Episcopal Church is in full communion. Details can be found on the diocese’s Web site.