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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Monday, May 5, 2014

News for Week Ending 5/5/2014

Movie, book explore homophobia, sexism in Africa

The full-length documentary God Loves Uganda will be released on DVD on May 19, 2014. The Web site for the movie describes it this way:
The feature-length documentary God Loves Uganda is a powerful exploration of the evangelical campaign to change African culture with values imported from America’s Christian Right.
Political Research Associates (PRA) has announced that the book American Culture Wars in Africa: A Guide to the Exporters of  Homophobia and Sexism will be published the same day. Author of the new book is the Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma, an Anglican priest from Zambia who earlier wrote Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, & Homophobia for PRA.

March celebrates 20 years of women priests in England

According to the BBC, hundreds of woman priests in the Church of England marched from Westminster Abbey to St. Paul’s Cathedral on May 3, 2014, to celebrate 20 years of women’s ordination in the English church. At the cathedral, Archbishop of Canterbury told the woman that they still have “a long way to go.” (His sermon is here.) It is expected that women will be allowed to become bishops within a year, but woman priests hold fewer paid positions than men, and the number of women entering the priesthood in the Church of England has diminished in recent years.

Thinking Anglicans offers links to related material here.

Thinking Anglicans launches liturgy blog

Thinking Anglicans, the English blog with a progressive perspective that has become one of the best sources of news concerning the Anglican Communion, has announced the launch of a new blog, Thinking Liturgy. The initial post on the blog can be found here. The follow-on post “Liturgy Matters,” offers this succinct description of the purview of Thinking Liturgy:
We shall try not to be overly concerned about doctrine and dogma. Doctrine and dogma have their place; but here we want to think about what we say and what we do, and how by saying and doing, both in worship and in life, we proclaim and live where God’s kingdom is at hand.

Supreme Court again blurs church-state separation

On May 5, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its 5–4 decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway, reversing a Seventh Circuit decision that found the practice of allowing sectarian prayers before local government meetings unconstitutional. The divided court thereby has dealt another blow to church-state separation in the U.S. A detailed analysis is available on SCOTUSblog.

Pastor explains N.C. lawsuit

Bishop of North Carolina Michael Curry has interviewed the Rev. Nancy Petty on video concerning the federal lawsuit recently filed against the state of North Carolina. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The suit, targeting Amendment One and initiated by the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, has been joined by Jewish, Unitarian, and Baptist clergy. Petty, a Baptist pastor explains the nature of the legal argument in the interview, which is available on The Lead.

Amendment One makes it a misdemeanor for clergy to perform the marriage of any couple who do not have a marriage license, which the state does not grant to same-sex couples. The lawsuit bases its complaint on freedom of religion, rather than on equal protection, which potentially makes this a landmark suit. The suit relies on the distinction between religious and civil marriage, which is often missing in discussions of marriage equality.

PB visits Nashotah House

On May 1, 2014, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori made what had become a controversial visit to Nashotah House Theological Seminary, the nominally Episcopal Anglo-Catholic seminary with a board of directors that includes bishops of the schismatic Anglican Church in North America. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Living Church reported on the story, and Episcopal News Service published Jefferts Schori’s Evensong sermon.

Gene Robinson to divorce

Retired Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson has announced that he and his partner of 25 years, Mark Andrew, will divorce. The two were formally married in 2008. Robinson informed the Diocese of New Hampshire of the decision May 3, 2014. Religion News Service reported the story the same day. Robinson wrote of the decision for the Daily Beast, for which he is a columnist. He has resisted offering any details, however. Episcopal News Service also has a story on the impending divorce.

Conservatives will, no doubt, revel in the news about the first openly gay bishop of The Episcopal Church. (See, for example, this piece from RedState, which describes itself as “the most widely read right of center [sic] site on Capitol Hill.”)

Georgia bishops ban firearm

According to Episcopal News Service, Diocese of Atlanta Bishop Rob Wright and Diocese of Georgia Bishop Scott Benhase have decreed that firearms will not be allowed on any Episcopal Church property in Georgia. On-duty law enforcement officers are not covered by the policy, which was necessitated by a new Georgia law that takes effect July 1. The law allows firearms to be carried in such places as churches and taverns, but individual establishments can ban guns from their premises. Wright and Benhase publicly opposed the legislation. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

S.C. conference rallies Episcopalians

Episcopal Forum of South Carolina sponsored a conference titled “Enthusiastically Episcopalian in South Carolina” on Pawleys Island, South Carolina, on May 3, 2014. More than 300 people attended the event. The program included Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, President of the House of Deputies Gay Jennings, and former Provisional Bishop of Pittsburgh Ken Price. The event was intended to help Episcopalians move forward despite the schism which is still being litigated in the courts. Provisional Bishop Charles G. vonRosenberg announced that one church that had left with Mark Lawrence has returned and another is considering doing so. The event was covered by The State. Additional information can be found on the Web site of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina and in the May 3 post of South Carolina Episcopalians.