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.

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Monday, January 5, 2015

News for Week Ending 1/5/2015

Colin Coward: Role of Women could fracture GAFCON, ACNA

The Rev. Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude, writing January 5, 2015, on the Changing Attitude Web site, suggests that the role of women in the church is likely to become a serious impediment to unity within GAFCON and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Now that the Church of England allows for women bishops, it seems likely that the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) will soon follow suit. Clerical opinion within ACK is mixed, but he primate of Kenya, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, who is also chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council, supports the move in Kenya to allowing women bishops. Coward suggests that the role of women in the church could be divisive in GAFCON, particularly because the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) does not ordain women at all. Moreover, it is possible that ACNA might abandon the ordination of women, which could cause dissension within GAFCON and result in ordained women leaving ACNA.

Deadline looms for TEC budget comments

January 7, 2015, is the deadline for Episcopalians to submit comments on the preliminary draft Episcopal Church budget for the 2016–2018 triennium. The budget will be considered by Executive Council when it meets January 8–11. Executive Council will present the budget to the Program Budget and Finance Committee (PB&F), which will produce the budget that will be presented to the 2015 General Convention. A link to the budget and to a comment form is here.

Same-sex marriage beginning in Florida

As expected—see Pittsburgh Update story here—same-sex marriage is coming to Florida. The stay of the effect of Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel’s ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban was to expire at the end of January 5, 2015, but the judge lifted the ban at 11 AM, allowing her to perform two marriages that afternoon in Miami, as reported by the Miami Herald. According to the Tampa Bay Times, marriage licenses will be issued and marriages performed throughout the state beginning January 6, though not with the same enthusiasm everywhere.

EDS dean to step down

The General Theological Seminary (GTS) has lately been the Episcopal seminary most in the news. Episcopal Divinity School (EDS), of Cambridge, Massachusetts, has also seen conflicts between faculty and administration, however. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) It has now been announced that the school’s president and dean, the Very Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, will not seek renewal of her contract. Ragsdale explained her decision to leave not later than June 2015 on the EDS Web site, which also carries an appreciative statement from EDS’s Board of Trustees.

It is not clear what role faculty-administration conflicts played in Ragsdale’s decision. In any case, those conflicts seem to lack the personal issues that have been front and center at GTS. Useful background on the EDS conflict can be found in the June 26, 2014, story from The Living Church (see Pittsburgh Update story cited above), in a letter of resignation from consultants hired by the Board of Trustees, and in a letter from the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Ongoing faculty concerns are expressed on the EDS Faculty News Facebook page.

Priest offers helpful material to understand TREC recommendations

The final report of the Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church (TREC)—see Pittsburgh Update story here—proposes a number of constitutional and canonical changes. What the report did not do, however, is show just how the proposals would change existing provisions. This lapse has been remedied by the Rev. Michael Hartney, who has provided copies of the provisions involved with proposed strike-outs and additions. He work has been published by Episcopal Café.

Bicycle accident spurs discussion

The December 27, 2014, accident in Baltimore in which a car driven by Suffragan Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook hit and killed 41-year-old bicyclist and father of two Thomas Palermo—see Pittsburgh Update story here—has received a good deal of comment. Details of the incident are still sketchy, but there has been much speculation, given the bishop’s 2010 guilty plea to DUI charges. Concerns have been raised about bicycle safety and about the vetting process by which Cook was selected as an episcopal candidate. Episcopal Café has summarized what little is known about the accident and provided an updated list of links relevant to this story. Much of the discussion has involved the relationship, if any, of forgiveness and accountability. Ironically, this was the subject of a sermon by Cook in which she used the example of a vehicular accident. The Baltimore Sun reported January 4, 2015, that Bishop of Maryland Eugene Taylor Sutton has called a meeting of clergy for Tuesday morning to “allow clergy time to process the tragic events of the past week that involved a colleague.”

St. Mark’s, Johnstown, to celebrate new ministry

At 3 PM on Sunday, January 11, 2015, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Johnston will celebrate the new ministry of the Rev. Nancy Lee Threadgill. Bishop McConnell will preside. Details are listed on the diocesan Web site.