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.

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A Service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh         

Monday, March 3, 2014

News for Week Ending 3/3/2014

More fallout from African anti-gay legislation

Recent anti-gay legislation in Nigeria and Uganda is causing friction within the Anglican Communion. On February 24, 2014, Integrity USA issued a press release condemning the new anti-gay law in Uganda. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) On February 28, New Zealand archbishops asked for prayers for Uganda in light of the new law. On March 3, Kampala’s Daily Monitor reported that Church of Uganda’s Archbishop Stanley Ntangali has indicated that “Uganda is ready to break away from the Church of England if its views on homosexuality are not respected.” The exact nature of Ntangali’s threats are unclear, as the story suffers from somewhat garbled English. Ntangali managed to criticize both the Church of England and The Episcopal Church, however. The Guardian ran an Agence France-Presse story on the same topic that was more coherent, though less comprehensive.

The Church of Nigeria, in whose country an anti-gay law was also passed—see Pittsburgh Update story herewrote to Ntangali commending him for upholding “the authentic Gospel and historic heritage of our Church, by rejecting the erroneous teaching and practice of homosexuality.” According to Nigeria’s DailyPost, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has instituted an anti-gay oath for anyone, including laypersons, holding positions in the church.

Update, 3/6/2014. Archbishop Stanley Natgali [note spelling difference from the Daily Monitor story] has “clarified” what he said about the relationship of the Church of Uganda and the Church of England. His statement can be read on the Church of Uganda Web site.

More commentary on CoE bishops’ pastoral guidance

The pastoral guidance on same-sex marriage from the Church of England’s House of Bishops—see Pittsburgh Update story here—continues to draw commentary. Of particular interest is the latest press release from the LGB&TI Anglican Alliance, on which Savitri Hensman has commented for Ekklesia. Also notable is the February pastoral letter from Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council. After the obligatory broadside against The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, Wabukala attacks the House of Bishops’ guidance. Somewhat ironically, he writes
The lesson I believe we have learned from the failure of institutional attempts to restore unity by accommodation is that we must be more radical. We must return to the ‘narrow gate’ and come together on a strong and clear doctrinal basis. The GAFCON movement has been able to act as an instrument of unity in the Communion because it has the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration which together give us a clear, faithful and contemporary statement of Anglican identity.
 Thinking Anglicans has collected links to additional commentary here and here. (There is too much material to cover in this post.)

TREC releases second study paper

The Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church (TREC) has issued a second study paper for public comment. (TREC has been inconsistent on whether “Reimagining” should be hyphenated or not. TREC’s output has included other editorial inconsistencies. See Pittsburgh Update story on the first paper published here.) The new paper is titled “Study Paper on Reforms to Church Wide Governance and Administration.” The paper offers recommendations for modifying the General Convention and general church organization. The paper can be found on TREC’s Web site. The Lead has published several posts about the new study paper. Both the posts and the comments they have attracted are worth reading. You can find the posts here, here, here, and here. The Lead also published links to other commentaries, which can be found here. Mark Harris has taken a step back and offered an interesting take on the latest study paper here.

Presiding Bishop offers message for Lent

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has offered a Lenten message for The Episcopal Church. It can be read here, or viewed as a video here.

South Carolina Episcopalians hold convention

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (ECSC) held its annual convention February 21–22, 2014. At that gathering, it accepted five missions into union with the diocese. In a March 1 story, The Post & Courier of Charleston noted: “The new worship communities formed mostly by groups of Episcopalians who wanted to remain loyal to the national church but whose home parishes opted to disassociate from it.” Additional details about the convention can be found on ECSC’s Web site. As had to be done in Pittsburgh, the diocesan convention is in the process of undoing some of the constitutional changes made under its former bishop (Mark Lawrence, in this case).

Consecration of Barbara Harris celebrated

It has been 25 years since Barbara Harris became the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion. On February 11, 1989, she was consecrated a suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. Massachusetts celebrated that event on February 16, 2014. In its story on Harris, the diocese reviews the somewhat disappointing progress of women bishops in the Anglican Communion. The Church of England is moving closer to authorizing women bishops, albeit with some “protections” for those who have theological objections to the innovation. On March 1, the Rev. Dr. Sarah Macneil became the first female diocesan bishop in the Anglican Church of Australia—see story here—though not before the Anglican Church League complained that “there has been no publicly available provision by the Grafton diocese for those who cannot in good conscience accept her episcopal ministry.”

Arkansas priest transitions from male to female

The Rev. Greg Fry announced to his Pine Bluff, Arkansas, congregation February 23, 2014, that he is now Gwen Fry. Fry, who is married to the Rev. Lisa Fry, who serves at a Little Rock church, had informed his bishop, the Rt. Rev. Larry Benfield, months ago of his intention to become transgendered. It is unclear what the future holds for the Rev. Gwen Fry, as Bishop Benfield dissolved the relationship between Fry and Grace, Pine Bluff, three days later. (Fry was priest-in-charge.) The Lead covered the story here and here. A TV report on the situation can be viewed here.

Priest questions ashes-to-go

In light of Bishop McConnell’s interest in public gospel, an essay published by Episcopal News Service from a Brooklyn priest should be of interest. The Rev. Michael Sniffen questions whether the increasingly popular practice of offering the imposition of ashes on city streets on Ash Wednesday really sends the right message. His essay is “Ashes to Go or not to go, that seems to be the question….”

Lenten Preaching Series details announced

Journeying Together Through Lent” is the theme for this year’s Lenten Preaching Series sponsored by East End churches. The preachers will be new priests in the diocese, including new rectors from Calvary, Redeemer, and St. Brendan’s. With the exception of the first dinner and service, events are held on Tuesdays in Lent. (The first event is held on Wednesday, March 12, 2014.) The Rev. Michael Foley, the new rector of Redeemer, Squirrel Hill, will preach on March 25. Foley is the subject of a new story on the diocesan Web site.