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, June 23, 2014

News for Week Ending 6/23/2014

Church of Sweden installs first female archbishop

On 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 pastors

Meeting 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 marriages

Meeting 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 ordination

The 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 meeting

The 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 partner

In 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 interview

Archbishop 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 archbishop

On 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.

Transgender priest preaches at Washington National Cathedral

In celebration of Pride Month, the Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge, Episcopal chaplain at Boston University, preached at Washington National Cathedral June 22, 2014. For once, Bishop Gene Robinson, the celebrant for the service, got only second billing to the transgender Partridge in news stories. WRC-TV, the NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C., covered the story and has posted video on its Web site.

Scruton added to PB nominating committee

The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs announced June 17, 2014, that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has appointed the Rt. Rev. Gordon Scruton, retired bishop of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts, to the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop. Scruton replaces the Rt. Rev. Thomas Shaw, bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts, who has resigned from the committee as episcopal representative of Province I.

SCLM reports on same-sex marriage meeting

The church’s Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music hosted a meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, June 3–5, 2014, to discuss same-sex marriage and to gather feedback on “I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing,” the collection of a rite for blessing same-sex unions and related materials. According to a June 19 report, the Indaba-style gathering “included leaders from across the Anglican Communion, ecumenical partners, and lay and clergy representatives from Episcopal dioceses where civil same-sex marriage is legal.” Details can be found here.

ERD celebrates anniversary with photo exhibit

Episcopal Relief and Development is beginning the celebration of its 75th anniversary. It began as the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief in 1940. As part of the celebration, ERD has unveiled a traveling photography exhibit illustrating its work around the world. More information can be found here.

Bishops file amici curiae brief in same-sex marriage appeal

The Living Church reported June 19, 2014, that 13 Episcopal Church bishops filed an amici curiae brief with the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in support of same-sex marriage. (The story contains the text of the brief.) The court document notes that the bishops “lead ten of the eleven dioceses of The Episcopal Church located within the territory of the Sixth Circuit.” According to the Associated Press, the court will hear arguments August 6 in same-sex cases originating in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Fort Worth Episcopalians file Supreme Court appeal

As expected—see Pittsburgh Update story here—Episcopal parties have requested that the U.S. Supreme Court review the decision of the Texas Supreme Court that ruled that lower-court decisions favoring Episcopalians in Fort Worth and Northwest Texas must be re-litigated on the basis of neutral principles of law, rather than on the basis of deferring to the highest authority in a hierarchical church. A press release from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth explains the issues and provides links to relevant documents, including the petition for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court.

Fourth Circuit hears oral arguments in Quincy case

A.S. Haley reported June 20, 2014, on the June 18 oral arguments before the Fourth District Court of Appeals in the Quincy diocese case. The breakaway diocese prevailed in the trial court. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Note that the small Episcopal Diocese of Quincy has been incorporated into the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. Haley did not participate in the argument, though he has worked on behalf of the Anglican Diocese of Quincy. Audio of the oral arguments can be heard here.