News for Week Ending 7/14/2014
CoE General Synod OKs women bishopsLess than two years after a plan to allow women bishops in the Church of England was narrowly defeated by the church’s General Synod—see Pittsburgh Update story here—a revised plan was approved by the General Synod July 14, 2014. Additional approvals are required, but it is anticipated that one or more woman bishop will be appointed before the end of 2014. The previous plan was derailed by Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics in the House of Laity. Apparently, Anglo-Catholics who opposed the first plan decided to support the most recent one; Evangelical opponents did not.
An essay from The Telegraph offers a view of the issues as the vote neared. Anglican Communion News Service announced the positive vote in this story, which also reviews the state of women bishops throughout the Anglican Communion. A piece for The Guardian by Andrew Brown provides useful analysis on the General Synod action. In the legislation that passed in the General Synod, accommodation is made for those who cannot accept a woman bishop, although it apparently does not guarantee oversight by a male bishop. Kelvin Holdsworth, writing from Scotland, suggests that that celebrations occasioned by the vote should be tempered by the fact that women bishops will not be quite the equivalent of male bishops in the Church of England.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who has been a strong supporter of women bishops, was interviewed by the BBC following the vote by the General Synod. Video of that interview can be found here.
First CoE priest to have gay marriage denied license for new jobAccording to a July 9, 2014, story from The Guardian, Canon Jeremy Pemberton, the first Church of England priest to marry a same-sex partner, in defiance of rules laid down by the church’s bishops, has been denied the license needed for him to take up his new job as chaplaincy and bereavement manager at the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Pemberton is considering legal action.
Same-sex marriage headed for Supreme Court—maybeThe district court opinion striking down the Utah same-sex marriage ban—see Pittsburgh Update story here—became the first to be upheld by an appeals court. The state of Utah has now decided to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, passing up an appeal to the full 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, it is not at all clear whether the high court will want to deal with same-sex marriage now. If it does, however, CBS News has reported that the Justice Department will file a brief in support of same-sex marriage.
Meanwhile, same-sex marriage may be coming to Colorado. On July 9, 2014, a district court judge struck down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage. The decision has been stayed, however, pending appeal. Details are here.
Alito nixes Pa. same-sex marriage appealIt was generally assumed that marriage equality was secure in Pennsylvania when Governor Tom Corbitt announced that he would not appeal the decision of the federal district court that struck down the ban on same-sex marriage in the commonwealth. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Theresa Santai-Gaffney, Schuylkill County Register of Wills and Clerk of the Orphans’ Court petitioned the district court to stay its judgment pending appeal. District Judge John E. Jones III rejected the plea, saying that Santai-Gaffney did not have standing. An appeal to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Jones’s decision. Undeterred, Santai-Gaffney appealed to the Supreme Court. On July 9, 2014, conservative justice Samuel Alito, who handles appeals from the 3rd Circuit, rejected the appeal. Details can be found here.
Episcopal Church gains ECOSOC status at U.N.The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs has announced that The Episcopal Church was granted special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at the United Nations in May. The status will give the church greater influence in its advocacy efforts. Additional information about the ECOSOC can be found here.
Parish properties returned to Olympia dioceseIn 2004, two congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia chose to remove themselves from The Episcopal Church and to take their parish property with them. That property has now been returned to the diocese. The churches began as St. Charles, Poulsbo, and St. Stephen’s, Oak Harbor. The departed congregations now constitute St. Charles Anglican Church and Grace By the Sea. The two congregations were featured in the video “The Decison,” which appeared on the DVD “Choose This Day,” which was distributed at the “Hope and a Future Conference” at Pittsburgh’s convention center in November 2005. “The Decision” urged Episcopal Church congregations to leave The Episcopal Church and put themselves under the authority of foreign Anglican bishops.
The resolution in Olympia was effected without resort to courts. Details can be found in the story here.
First week of South Carolina concludesAs reported last week—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the trial resulting from the lawsuit brought by deposed bishop Mark Lawrence against South Carolina Episcopalians began July 8, 2014, in St. George, South Carolina. Daily summaries of the proceedings are being published by the Episcopal Church in South Carolina and by South Carolina Episcopalians. Lawrence’s Diocese of South Carolina has also been posting stories on the trial as it unfolds. The first week of the trial—the trial was supposed to end this week, but, on July 14, Judge Diane Goodstein admitted that another week will likely be necessary—was largely taken up with testimony from departed congregations describing their path to schism (not their term). At the end of the week, Judge Goodstein instructed attorneys on both sides to work out a stipulation over the weekend to avoid more repetitive testimony. Such a stipulation was offered on July 14, and the testimony of parish representatives is now moving along at a faster pace.
Both the plaintiffs and the judge seem determined to make this case strictly about secular property issues, rather than about church polity. This does not bode well for the Episcopalians.