News for Week Ending 6/23/2014
Church of Sweden installs first female archbishopOn June 15, 2014, Antje Jackelén was installed as the first female archbishop in the Church of Sweden. She was elected to the post last October. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Jackelén is now the primate of a church of the Porvoo Communion, which is in communion with the Church of England. The story was reported by the Swedish edition of The Local.
Moravians vote to ordain gay and lesbian pastorsMeeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on June 22, 2014, the 2014 Synod of the Moravian Church, Northern Province, authorized the ordination of gay and lesbian pastors “whether single, married or in covenanted relationships.” Synod delegates also called for the creation of a rite for solemnizing covenanted same-sex relationships. Details are provided in a press release from the Moravian Church, Northern Province.
Although Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori had intended to address the Moravian synod on June 19, she was unable to do so. Episcopal News Service reported that her remarks were read instead by Neva Rae Fox, the Episcopal Church’s public affairs officer.
Presbyterians vote to divest holdings in companies doing business with Israel, allow same-sex marriagesMeeting in Detroit, the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the largest Presbyterian body in the U.S., voted to divest its holdings in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions. The church asserts that the corporations are facilitating the occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel through their sales of equipment to the Jewish state. Divestment has been debated by the Presbyterians for years, and the vote, taken June 20, 2014, passed by a vote of only 310 to 303. Advocates of the action said that the move is intended to put pressure on Israel to stop building settlements and to end the occupation.
Jewish groups reacted angrily to the vote. For example, the Anti-Defamation League expressed disappointment and accused the PCUSA of “years of hostility.” The Jewish reaction was not universal, however. Jewish Voices for Peace applauded the vote and encouraged its supporters to express their gratitude to the Presbyterians.
The story was covered by The New York Times.
In other action by the General Assembly, the Presbyterians voted to authorize pastors to use their discretion to officiate at same-sex marriages in jurisdictions where such unions are legal. The decision is effective immediately. Additionally, a proposed change to the denomination’s Book of Order will be sent to the 172 presbyteries. If adopted, it will change the definition of marriage, replacing the words “between a man and a woman” with “between two people, traditionally between a man and a woman.” The story was reported by Episcopal News Service.
Mormons excommunicate advocate for women’s ordinationThe Washington Post reported June 23, 2014, that a Mormon woman activist has been excommunicated by an all-male panel in Northern Virginia. Kate Kelly, founder of Ordain Women, which advocates for the ordination of women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, received a letter informing her of the church’s penalty. The letter said, in part: “The difficulty, Sister Kelly, is not that you say you have questions or even that you believe that women should receive the priesthood. The problem is that you have persisted in an aggressive effort to persuade other Church members to your point of view and that your course of action has threatened to erode the faith of others.” Kelly has been enjoined from a variety of both private and public activities but has been told that, in the future, her church membership can be reconsidered if she has refrained from “actions that undermine the Church.”
Women in the episcopate to be main business of CoE General Synod meetingThe General Synod of the Church of England will meet in York from July 11, 2014 to July 15. The main order of business will be perfecting and approving legislation designed to allow women to become bishops in the English church. Among the other items on the agenda is an address on July 12 by the Rev. Jim Wallis, the American president and founder of Sojourners magazine. Anglican Communion New Service has described the work of the forthcoming General Synod and provided links to the agenda and to working papers for the meeting.
Second CoE priest marries same-sex partnerIn defiance of the Church of England leadership but in conformance with English law, a second English priest has married his same-sex partner. The Rev. Andrew Cain, vicar of St. James church in West Hampstead, London, married Stephen Foreshew on June 21, 2014. According to Andrew Brown, writing in the The Guardian, Canon Jeremy Pemberton, the first CoE priest to defy the ban on clerical same-sex marriages, has been “stripped of the permission to work as a priest in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.” (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) It appears that neither Cain nor Pemberton face imminent unemployment, but the status of clergy marrying their same-sex partners is complicated, as explained in the Guardian story.
ACNA archbishop gives final interviewArchbishop of the Anglican Church in North America (and deposed bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh) Robert W. Duncan gave what has been billed as his final interview as archbishop to Kevin Kallsen of Anglican TV recently. (Video of the interview was posted June 19, 2014.) Although there are no bombshell revelations in the interview, it is interesting that Duncan claims to have built ACNA by bringing churches together, not by splitting them apart. Pittsburgh Episcopalians may disagree with this analysis.
Foley Beach chosen to succeed Bob Duncan as ACNA archbishopOn June 22, 2014, the Rev. Foley Beach was chosen at a conclave of bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) to succeed Archbishop Robert W. Duncan. The conclave was held at St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe. Although Duncan will step down as archbishop at the expiration of his five-year term, he will remain the head of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. Foley will also serve a five-year term and will be eligible for re-election.
Beach heads the Diocese of the South in suburban Atlanta. A former priest in The Episcopal Church who became increasing dissatisfied with the church following the consecration of Gene Robinson, Beach left St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Monroe, Georgia, in 2004 and resigned his orders. He then founded Holy Cross Anglican Church in nearby Loganville under the oversight of Bishop of Bolivia Frank Lyons. He became an early player in the so-called Anglican Realignment.
Foley Beach writes a blog, called The Beach Blog. He is opposed to the ordination of women, in contrast to the views of Duncan, the founding archbishop of ACNA. Women’s ordination continues to be a matter of contention in ACNA. It remains to be seen how the ongoing controversy will be affected by the selection of Beach.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette covered this story. ACNA’s announcement is here, dated, apparently erroneously, June 21. Additional information in this report came from VirtueOnline here and here.