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, December 8, 2014

News for Week Ending 12/8/2014

World faith leaders pledge to end modern slavery

Religious leaders, including Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, met in Rome December 3, 2014, to sign a declaration pledging to end forms of modern slavery by 2020. The declaration was signed by Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jewish leaders. It says, in part
Modern slavery, in terms of human trafficking, forced labour and prostitution, organ trafficking, and any relationship that fails to respect the fundamental conviction that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity, is a crime against humanity.

We pledge ourselves here today to do all in our power, within our faith communities and beyond, to work together for the freedom of all those who are enslaved and trafficked so that their future may be restored.
Additional details about the declaration can be found here.

Women’s conference in Uruguay focuses on gender-based violence

Episcopal News Service reported November 25, 2014, on a November 8–9 conference of primarily Brazilian and Uruguayan Anglican women that was held in Uruguay. The annual gathering was also attended by representatives of The Episcopal Church. The conference focused on violence against women and children that is common in Latin America.

Standing Committee meets in London

The Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee met in London from November 29 to December 2, 2014. According to a bulletin issued about the November 29 session, the meeting was moved up from April in order to discuss the next Secretary General. The current Secretary General, the Rev. Dr. Kenneth Kearon, has been elected Bishop of the Diocese of Limerick and Killaloe in the Church of Ireland. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) From The Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts and Bishop Ian Douglas attended. Anglican Communion News Service covered Day 1 and Days 2–4. ACNS also published another story about Day 4. The work of the Standing Committee, except for the matter of the Secretary General, was largely taken up with reports of various Anglican initiatives. Notably, Director for Unity, Faith and Order Alyson Barnett-Cowan indicated that the IASCUFO is still waiting to hear from churches about their acceptance (or not) of the Anglican Covenant. She expects the Covenant to be on the agenda of the next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, ACC-16, in Lusaka, Zambia in 2016.

Welby sees possible Communion split

The Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee seems to be pursuing business as usual, but Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is warning—likely to the surprise of no one—that a split may be in the Communion’s future. This came out in a piece in The Times of London, which, unfortunately, is behind a pay wall. (VirtueOnline reproduced a related story from The Times.) The Independent has covered Welby’s remarks, however. The archbishop admitted to having profound disagreements with other communion churches, although he seems not to have named the churches or the disagreements. Welby did not characterize a split as likely and suggested, optimistically perhaps, that there could be “a sort of temporary separation.”

CoE agrees to appoint bishop with headship views

According to a Church of England press release of December 4, 2014, the Dioceses Commission agreed to accept a proposal from Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to fill the see of Maidstone, vacant since 2009, with “a bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship.” That is, a male bishop will be chosen who believes that clergy and bishops must be male. Such an appointment is part of the price women have had to pay to win permission for women to become bishops. Women and the Church (WATCH), which campaigned for women bishops, called the development “un-Anglican and unorthodox.” The Very Rev. Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow, Scotland,  remarked that the result of the appointment will be that some bishops “will not be in full communion with other bishops within the same church.” His commentary on the innovation is here. Holdsworth had raised questions about the arrangement months before.

L.A. passes marriage equality resolution

On December 6, 2014, the diocesan convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles passed a resolution requiring a resolution to be presented to the 2015 General Convention urging “the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church to take any and all steps necessary to make the Rite of Holy Matrimony available to same-sex couples throughout The Episcopal Church immediately.” The Rev. Susan Russell wrote about the passage of this measure on her blog.

Same-sex marriage coming to Florida, maybe

Federal Judge Robert L. Hinkle ruled Florida’s constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage unconstitutional on August 21, 2014. The judge stayed his ruling until January 5, 2015, to give the state time to appeal. A request to extend the stay was rejected recently by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, paving the way for same-sex marriages to begin in the state early next month. It is unclear, however, whether same-sex marriages can proceed throughout the state, as explained in this story from the Miami Herald.

Episcopal leaders continue to comment on police killings

In the Pittsburgh Update post for December 1, we listed commentary from Episcopal leaders concerning the grand jury decision concerning police officer Darren Wilson. Alas, there are now additional related matters requiring comment.  Episcopal News Service has published recent reflections by Bishop R. William Franklin (Western New York), Bishop Nathan D. Baxter (Honorary National Chair of the Union of Black Episcopalians ), Bishop Andy Boyle (Texas), and Bishop Andrew M. L. Dietsche (New York).

South Carolina convention welcomes three new mission congregations

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (ECSC) held its annual convention November 14 and 15, 2014. Three new mission congregations were welcomed at the convention. A story from Episcopal News Service describes the convention and the progress that Episcopalians have made since the departure of former bishop Mark Lawrence and many of the people of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. The ENS story includes an inspiring video concerning one of the new missions, the Episcopal Church in Okatie. ESCS reported on the convention here.

Church in S.C., insurance company settle; judge awaits proposed orders

Episcopal News Service reported December 4, 2014, that the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (ECSC) and The Church Insurance Company of Vermont have reached a settlement in the federal suit brought by ECSC in response to the insurance company’s refusal to pay for ECSC to defend itself against the suit brought by schismatic bishop Mark Lawrence. Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

The ENS story also notes that Judge Diane S. Goodstein, who presided over the July trial—see Pittsburgh Update story here—has asked ECSC and the breakaway group led by Mark Lawrence to submit proposed orders by December 10.

Papers filed in Fort Worth case

Following the refusal of the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision of the Texas Supreme Court to remand the Fort Worth property dispute to the trial court to be re-litigated on the basis of neutral principles of law—see Pittsburgh Update story here—both sides have now submitted motions for partial summary judgment. The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth describes its motion and links to the motion here. The motion from the breakaway group led by former Episcopal bishop Jack Leo Iker is here.