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, April 28, 2014

News for Week Ending 4/28/2014

GAFCON primates meet, issue communiqué

The GAFCON Primates Council met in London April 24–26, 2014. Anglican Church of North America archbishop Robert Duncan is listed in the communiqué released at the end of the meeting as one of the attending primates. The statement declares, among other things:
  • “[T]he GAFCON movement is emerging as a faithful instrument of unity capable of gathering the majority of faithful Anglicans [emphasis added] in communion globally.”
  • “We are equally concerned for … the backlash from the international community in Uganda from their new [anti-homosexual] legislation. We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters and pray for the comfort of the Holy Spirit to sustain families and churches.
  • “Meeting shortly after the recognition in English law of same sex marriage, which we cannot recognise as compatible with the law of God, we look to the Church of England to give clear leadership as moral confusion about the status of marriage in this country deepens.”
  • “We are particularly concerned about the state of lay and clerical discipline. The House of Bishops’ guidance that those in same sex marriages should be admitted to the full sacramental life of the church is an abandonment of pastoral discipline.”
  • “Finally, we gave thanks for the faithfulness and visionary leadership of Archbishop Robert Duncan who is shortly to retire as the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America.”

Welsh archbishop says church must evolve or be seen as homophobic

Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan has declared that the church must evolve with changing attitudes or be seen as homophobic. The comment was made in a presidential address to the Governing Body of the Church in Wales. The church can change its attitude about same-sex relationships as it has done about remarriage after divorce. This story was reported by Wales Online on April 23, 2014.

ARC-USA issues paper on moral discernment

Anglican-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation in the U.S.A. has issued a paper titled “Ecclesiology and Moral Discernment: Seeking a Unified Moral Witness.” The 23-page paper describes how The Episcopal Church and the Roman Catholic Church go about the process of moral discernment and the teaching of the conclusions of that process. The differences between the churches are illustrated with case studies of migration/immigration and same-sex relations. The paper is interesting from an educational viewpoint and does not try to achieve the unified moral witness mentioned in the title. A press release about the paper was issued by the Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs. The paper itself can be found here.

UCC sues North Carolina over anti-gay marriage amendment

According to a press release from the United Church of Christ, the General Synod of the UCC has sued the state of North Carolina. The suit contends that Amendment One, approved by voters in 2012, restricts the First Amendment rights of UCC clergy to bless same-sex unions. The amendment effectively prohibits issuance of marriage licenses to other than male-female couples, and clergy performing a blessing for a same-sex couple not intended as a marriage, according to the UCC, could be subject to both civil and criminal penalties. The lawsuit was filed April 28, 2014.

Fort Worth litigation proceeds on two fronts despite legal setbacks

The Episcopal parties in the ongoing litigation resulting from the split of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth have been unsuccessful in halting proceedings in the trial court pending an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. On April 24, 2014, Judge John P. Chupp, of the 141st District Court, rejected the plea to stay proceedings in the district court and ordered the $100,000 bond required of the defendants when they appealed to the Texas Supreme Court to be refunded. The case will now be re-litigated based on neutral principles of law while the Episcopal parties appeal to the U.S. high court. All this is explained in press releases from the Episcopalians here and here. See also the Pittsburgh Update story here.

Monday, April 21, 2014

News for Week Ending 4/21/2014

Welby’s position on same-sex marriage is topic of great interest

There seems to be no end in sight for commentary and analysis of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s balancing of his roles as English bishop and spiritual head of the Anglican Communion with respect to same-sex marriage. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) There is a certain redundancy in the myriad items that have appeared in the last week. Thinking Anglicans collects relevant links here. “Justin Welby: the anguish I face over gay marriage” from The Telegraph does a good job of identifying Welby’s dilemma, as he sees it. Andrew Brown has written something of a biographical sketch of Welby for The Guardian that contains a good deal of information useful for understanding the still new Archbishop of Canterbury.

Ordinariate falling short of expectations

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was created by the Vatican to to lure disaffected Anglicans in England, Wales, and Scotland into the Roman Catholic Church by allowing them to retain some Anglican traditions, seems to be attracting fewer Anglicans than was hoped. The Rt. Rev. Monsignor Keith Newton, in a sermon preached at an April 14, 2014, Chrism Mass, admitted, “However, we must be honest and say the Ordinariate has not grown as much as we hoped it might. The vision has not been caught.” He announced an Ordinariate-wide recruiting drive to take place on September 6.

Supreme Court of Canada refuses to hear St. Aidan’s appeal

According to an April 18, 2014, story from Anglican Ink, the Supreme Court of Canada has refused to entertain an appeal from the congregation of St. Aidan’s Anglican Church of Windsor, Ontario. The congregation had left the Canadian church and joined the Anglican Network in Canada, which is part of the Anglican Church in North America. The Ontario Court of Appeal had affirmed the award of parish property to the Diocese of Huron of the Anglican Church of Canada. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) That decision now stands.

Unused space leased at Episcopal Church Center

The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs announced April 16, 2014, that the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Lesotho to the United Nations will lease 6,379 square feet of currently unused office space in the building at 815 Second Avenue that houses the Episcopal Church Center. The building is a 4-minute walk from United Nations Plaza. In the first year of the lease, $274,000 of unanticipated income will be added to the church’s balance sheet. Other tenants of the building are the Consulat General de la Republique d’Haiti, the Ad Council, and the Lyceum Kennedy School.

Fort Worth Episcopalians handed another setback

The Texas Supreme Court has rejected the request from Fort Worth Episcopalians to stay its order returning litigation to the trial court pending appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Comments from the Episcopal diocese are here and from the breakaway diocese here.

N.Y. Times highlights Johnston-Baucum relationship

On April 19, 2014, The New York Times published a story on the friendship between Bishop of Virginia Shannon Johnston and rector of Truro Anglican, the Rev. Tory Baucum. There isn’t much new information in the  story, but readers interested in the relationship may nevertheless want to read it. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Monday, April 14, 2014

News for Week Ending 4/14/2014

Justin Welby remark continues to draw fire

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s assertion on a radio call-in show April 4, 2014, that allowing priests to bless same-sex marriages in England could lead to violence against Christians elsewhere in the world continues to be controversial. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Commentary on the remark continues largely to be negative. Notable reactions include these letters to the editor, and essays by Jim Naughton, Kelvin Holdsworth, and Bishop Gene Robinson. Bishop Marc Andrus (Diocese of California) and Marcus Halley (Diocese of West Missouri) have also criticized the archbishop.

Welby visited both the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church this past week, each of which gave him an opportunity to mollify those upset with his on-air remarks. If that was his objective, he was unsuccessful. Welby was interviewed by Anglican Journal on April 8. He gave an address in Oklahoma City at the Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace conference, which was covered by The New York Times.

CoE sees first clergy same-sex marriage despite pastoral guidance

The Telegraph reported April 12, 2014, that Canon Jeremy Pemberton, a Church of England hospital chaplain, has married his long-term partner, Laurence Cunnington, in defiance of the pastoral guidance from the House of Bishops forbidding same-sex marriages by clergy. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Predictably, progressives have celebrated the event, and traditionalists have called for Pemberton to be disciplined. The wedding, which occurred only weeks after same-sex marriage became legal in England, is expected to be only the first of many same-sex clergy weddings among CoE clergy. Thinking Anglicans has collected links to news stories and commentary here. The ultraconservative Anglican Mainstream, meanwhile, has called for the law allowing for same-sex marriage to be repealed.

S.C. Episcopalians make legal moves

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina made two independent legal moves this past week. On April 7, 2014, attorneys for Bishop Charles G. vonRosenberg filed an opening brief with the Fourth Circuit of Appeals asking the court to reverse the decision of the U.S. District Court in Charleston that sent vonRosenberg v. Lawrence back to state court. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The brief focuses on false advertising under the Lanham Act, namely on the allegation that Mark Lawrence is improperly representing himself as the bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina. The brief argues that the District Court should have adjudicated the Lanham Act claim and should not have rejected the request for a preliminary injunction against Mark Lawrence. This story was reported by the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

On April 8, South Carolina Episcopalians asked the South Carolina Court of Common Pleas, County of Dorchester, First Judicial Circuit, to halt the issuing of subpoenas by the breakaway group while the case is stayed pending appeal. They charged that the subpoena power is being abused. Details are here, and the court filing is here.

Court returns another San Joaquin parish to Episcopal diocese

Episcopal News Service reported April 14, 2014, that a judge has granted the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin’s motion for summary judgment awarding the property of Saint John the Evangelist, Stockton, to the diocese. Because of differences in the legal status of the various parishes in the California diocese, the continuing Diocese of San Joaquin has had to file multiple lawsuits against similarly situated parishes.

Monday, April 7, 2014

News for Week Ending 4/7/2014

Archbishop of Canterbury offers surprise explanation on English call-in show

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby became the first sitting English primate to answer questions on a radio call-in show April 4, 2014. He was the sole guest on a one-hour program hosted by James O’Brien on LBC radio. Welby answered questions from the host and from listeners about the nature of God, economic inequality, women bishops, and other topics. Several questions touched on same-sex marriage, which has recently become legal in England and Wales. Welby’s performance sparked controversy because of his assertion that acceptance of same-sex marriage by the Church of England could result in violence against Christians elsewhere in the world.

News and commentary about the remarks of the Archbishop of Canterbury have been extensive. Anglican Communion News Service ran a story on the event. Thinking Anglicans has collected links to related material here, here, and here. A story from LBC includes a brief video of the most controversial segment of the show. A video of the program is available here; a transcript is here.

Canadian commission begins study of marriage canon

The Commission on the Marriage Canon of the Anglican Church of Canada met in Toronto April 3–4, 2014, for the first time. According to a General Synod Communications press release, the commission has been given the task of “determining a way to amend the marriage canon ‘to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in the same way as opposite-sex couples’ while at the same time ensuring that no one ‘should be constrained to participate in or authorize such marriages against the dictates of their conscience.’”

Runnels, Woodliff-Stanley again paired in episcopal election

The Rev. Dr. R. Stan Runnels and the Rev. Ruth Woodliff-Stanley, both candidates for bishop in Pittsburgh’s most recent episcopal election, are standing for bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi. Both Runnels and Woodliff-Stanley have roots in Mississippi. They are joined by three other candidates. The election is scheduled for May 3, 2014. The diocese has created a special Web site for the bishop search process. The candidates are listed here.

Marriage task force offers progress report

The Task Force on the Study of Marriage recent concluded its second face-to-face meeting, and has issued a brief report on its ongoing work. The task force was established by the 2012 General Convention  and is to report to the 2015 General Convention. According to its report, issued April 7, 2014, the group is inquiring into “the historical, biblical, theological, liturgical, and canonical dimensions of marriage, as well as the ever-changing social norms around marriage.” Additional details can be found in the report.

Fort Worth Episcopalians file motion to stay case pending Supreme Court appeal

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth reported April 2, 2014, that the Episcopal parties petitioned the Texas Supreme Court March 25, 2014, to stay the return of the Fort Worth property case to the trial court pending an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. (See Pittsburgh Update Story here.) Details, including a link to the appeal to the state Supreme Court can be found here. The breakaway Fort Worth group commented on the request here.

South Carolina appeal moved to S.C. Supreme Court

The South Carolina Supreme Court has taken jurisdiction of the appeal made by the Episcopal Church in South Carolina over its attempt to discover legal documents generated on behalf of the undivided diocese before the diocese split. The breakaway group asked the Supreme Court to remove the appeal from the appeals court in order to speed up litigation, charging that the appeal was a delaying tactic. Details can be found in an ECSC press release.