News for Week Ending 2/2/2015
Philip North consecrated by CoEThe Rev. Philip North was consecrated Bishop of Burnley, a suffragan bishop position, February 2, 2015. As was previously announced, only three bishop, not including the Archbishop of York, participated in laying hands on North in a celebration held at York Minster. North’s consecration was covered by the BBC. The consecration is controversial because of North’s belief in the doctrine of male headship. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Photos of the event are here. Women and the Church (WATCH) issued a statement January 29 asking that, in light of the North consecration, the Five Principles that have allowed for the consecration of women bishops be carefully thought through. (Editorial note: “PEV” in the WATCH statement refers to Provincial Episcopal Visitors, otherwise known as Flying Bishops.)
Prominent CoE evangelical comes outChristian Today reported February 2, 2015, that influential evangelical Jayne Ozanne, who has struggled with her sexuality for years, has publicly acknowledged that she is a lesbian. Ozanne will become the new director of Accepting Evangelicals. She is a founding member of the Archbishops’ Council and has had a successful charitable and business career. Although Ozanne once held typical evangelical views on homosexuality, she has come to accept her own sexuality and now believes that homosexuality is compatible with Christianity. According to Christian Today, she wants the church to end its infighting over sexuality and concentrate instead on mission and social justice.
LDS offers limited support for gay rightsCNN reported January 28, 2015, that leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) have declared their support for anti-discrimination laws for sexual minorities, as long as the “rights” of religious groups are also respected. (The LDS has published a transcript of their news conference.) This has generally been seen by the LGBT community as a step forward, though no change is being made in church doctrine. The Los Angeles Times has published helpful background articles on the Mormon announcement here and here. World, however, reported that the Mormon announcement angered many LGBT advocates and religious conservatives alike. Bishop Gene Robinson, writing for Huffington Post, argued that the LDS announcement makes no sense. In a January 30 essay, he wrote, “The Mormons’ ‘new’ stance merely proclaims that they now favor bills which would bar discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, as long as those who discriminate against them are given protection for doing so.”
Georgia bishop suggests additional way to fund the churchBishop of Georgia Scott Anson Benhase, in an essay on the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia Web site, observes that current funding sources that support the work of The Episcopal Church, its dioceses, and its congregations is increasingly inadequate. In “Resourcing God’s Mission in the 21st Century: Going Back to the Future,” Benhase suggests that the church might return to a funding source used in times past—profit-making enterprises.
Appeals court oral arguments available in S.C. caseAs reported last week—see Pittsburgh Update story here—parties in the litigation in South Carolina were to go before the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals January 28, 2015, to argue the claim by the Episcopal parties that the district court erred in not accepting the case brought by Episcopalian Bishop Charles vonRosenberg. Audio of that argument is now available on the Web here. (See additional information here concerning Charles vonRosenberg v. Mark Lawrence.) Plaintiff’s attorney argued that the state and federal cases are not parallel and that the district court relied on the wrong case law in making its decision. Defendant’s attorney argued that using either of the cases considered as precedent would have led to the same conclusion and that, moreover, the false advertising claim turns on the question of who is the proper bishop in South Carolina, a matter currently in dispute.
Baltimore Sun offers background on Maryland church property disputeThe Baltimore Sun published a follow-up story on the dispute between the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and the former congregation of the Church of the Ascension in Middle River, a small suburban community east of Baltimore, Maryland. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Sun piece reviews the legal context of church property disputes in the nation generally and in Maryland.
More briefs filed in Fort Worth caseParties for both the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and the breakaway group lead by former Episcopal bishop Jack Leo Iker have been filed with the 141st District Court of Tarrant County. Both groups are seeking summary judgment and return to court on February 20, 2015. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The filings from the Episcopal Diocese are here, and the filings from the breakaway diocese are here.
Bishop Heather Cook asked to resignTo no one’s surprise, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has sent a letter to Suffragan Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook January 26, 2015, calling for her to resign. The letter asserts that Cook can no longer function effectively as suffragan bishop. She has been charged with manslaughter and other violations in connection with a December 27 traffic accident that killed bicyclist Thomas Palermo. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Episcopal Café story of January 28 about the letter includes a link to the letter itself.
The Diocese of Maryland has established a page on its Web site related to the Cook affair. A recent addition to that page is a timeline that suggests that there were more warning signs about Heather Cook’s behavior than were previously acknowledged.