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 30, 2014

News for Week Ending 6/29/2014

CoE bishops issue plan for ‘shared conversations’

The Church of England’s House of Bishops has released its plan for “shared conversations on sexuality, scripture and mission.” The plan, described in GS Misc 1083, a paper prepared for the upcoming General Synod, is intended to implement the call for “facilitated conversations” on sexuality made in the Pilling Report. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Church of England has issued a press release concerning the plan. Pittsburgh Episcopalians, particularly those who participated in our diocese’s own discussion of sexuality, will find GS Misc 1083 to be of great interest.

Supreme Court rules for Hobby Lobby

On June 29, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in favor of craft store Hobby Lobby in  Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. As has become common in big court decisions, the vote of the justices was 5–4. The privately held Hobby Lobby (and also Conestoga Wood Specialties) wanted to be exempted from the requirement of the Affordable Care Act that it provide free conception for its female employees. Hobby Lobby claimed a religious exception, which is not provided for in the legislation. The decision turned on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which has been repeatedly used by the religious right to argue for special treatment. The decision can be read here. It is too early to offer links to definitive commentary on the Hobby Lobby decision, but the analysis from Politico seems a good place to start.

‘Social Media Sunday’ sees #Episcopal trending on Twitter

The Episcopal Church declared June 29, 2014, to be “Social Media Sunday.” According to Episcopal News Service, Carolyn Clement and Laura Catalano, church social media administrators, came up with the idea of devoting a Sunday to highlighting activities of The Episcopal Church on social media using the hashtag #Episcopal. Episcopalians throughout the church posted photographs, videos, comments, etc., on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets. On June 29, #Episcopal was trending on Twitter as a result of the activity. Conventional news outlets seem to have taken little notice of this effort, but there was a smattering of local stories such as this one from The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina.

Marriage task force issues resources

The Episcopal Church Task Force on the Study of Marriage has released materials providing an interim report on its work—it is to produce a final report for the 2015 General Convention—and helping to facilitate discussion of marriage throughout the church. More information and links to the task force materials are here.

EDS to reconsider planning strategy

The Living Church reported June 26, 2014, that Episcopal Divinity School is reconsidering how to conduct a study of how it can serve the needs on the church in the 21st century. The board of the Cambridge, Massachusetts, school had hired consultants to study governance of the institution. When faculty members wrote a letter complaining that they were not adequately consulted regarding the project, the consultants withdrew from the project. EDS is not in immediate financial distress, but the increasing cost of a seminary education suggests that new models of clergy training may be necessary. Among the issues of concern to the faculty is tenure.

S.C. Episcopalians file appeal to add individuals to lawsuit

According to a June 25, 2014, press release from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (ECSC), Episcopalians have asked the South Carolina Court of Appeals to overturn trial judge Diane Goodstein’s refusal to allow four individuals, including Mark Lawrence, to be added to ongoing litigation resulting from the split of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. ECSC argues that the four ordained clergy had taken oaths to uphold the rules of The Episcopal Church but instead engaged in a conspiracy to leave the church and take its property with them. A.S. Haley has represented the position of those who left the church in a June 27 essay on his Anglican Curmudgeon blog.

Bishop McConnell’s cancer video gets church-wide exposure

Drawing on his own experience and the recently released movie The Fault in Our Stars, Bishop Dorsey McConnell has made a video about faith and cancer. Episcopal News Service published a story about the video on its Web site.