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, April 27, 2015

News for Week Ending 4/27/2015

English bishop charged with border crossing

According to a story from Anglican Ink, Assistant Bishop of Winchester, the Rt. Rev. John Ellison, has been charged by the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt. Rev. Nicholas Holtam, of exercising jurisdiction over a a non-Church of England church within the Diocese of Salisbury. The church in question is Christ Church Salisbury, which is affiliated with the Anglican Mission in England. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The GAFCON primates expressed support for Ellison in their recent communiqué (see Pittsburgh Up date story here):
We support Bishop John Ellison in resisting the unjust and uncharitable charges brought against him by the Bishop of Salisbury, and in view of the Great Commission, we note the sad irony that this former missionary bishop to South America now finds it necessary to defend himself for supporting missionary activity in his own country. We continue to encourage and support the efforts of those working to restore the Church of England’s commitment to Biblical truth. Equally, we authenticate and support the work of those Anglicans who are boldly spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and whose circumstances require operating outside the old, institutional structures.

Archbishop of Canterbury offers Earth Day message

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby sent a two-minute video message to the Global Citizen Earth Day rally in Washington, D.C. Welby urged the will and effort to reduce injustice, inequality, and poverty, and to improve the environment. The video can be viewed here.

Gay marriage case to be argued in Supreme Court April 28

In an unusually long session, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges and Henry v. Hodges, April 28, 2015. At issue is whether states must allow same-sex marriages and acknowledge such marriages performed in other states. The Washington Post has offered an explanation of what is at stake and what will happen if the high court rules that same-sex marriage is an issue for states to decide.

On April 23, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and a number of other conservative religious groups issued a letter asserting that marriage as a union of a man and a woman must be preserved as a matter of religious freedom.

GTS report omits mention of faculty conflict

One of the Blue Book reports prepared for this summer’s General Convention is from the Board of Trustees of the General Theological Seminary of The Episcopal Church (GTS). (Read the report here.) The page-and-a-half report alludes only briefly and obliquely to the work stoppage by eight faculty members that resulted their firing, their rehiring on a temporary basis, and the ongoing unrest at the Episcopal Church’s oldest seminary. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Lionel Deimel pointed out the glaring omission on his blog, a post that was picked up by Episcopal Café.

On April 21, 2015, GTS announced that Dr. Deirdre Good, one of the eight GTS faculty members involved in last year’s work stoppage, will leave the seminary effective May 25, 2015. She is not the first of the GTS-8 to leave the school and will likely not be the last. Good joined the faculty in 1986.

In yet another development in the GTS drama, a group mostly of alumni of the seminary have written to the New York attorney general asking the the General Theological Seminary be investigated for financial mismanagement. Episcopal Café reported about the letter April 20, 2015. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has recently questioned the finances of Cooper Union. (See story here.)

Three parishes to allow same-sex blessings in West Texas

In what has generally been viewed as a conservative diocese, three parishes have been authorized to conduct same-sex blessings. Bishop Gary Lillibridge of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas will allow a church in Corpus Christi and two churches in San Antonio to use the liturgy for blessing same-sex couples. Episcopal Café reported this development April 24, 2015.

Anglican Ink notes that Lillibridge has moved to the left recently. He had been one of the Communion Partner bishops, a conservative group advocating for strong ties to the Anglican Communion and adoption of the Anglican Covenant (see here). Lillibridge is no longer listed among the Communion Partner bishops. A page obtained from the Internet Archive has him listed as a Communion Partner bishop as recently as November 3, 2012 (see here). Anglican Ink suggests that Lillibridge has created a problem for Bishop Coadjutor David Reed, who has opposed same-sex blessings. Reed has also disappeared form the list of Communion Partner bishops, however.

Help available to understand General Convention reports

Two presenters at the Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh (PEP) April 20, 2015, meeting—see Pittsburgh Update post here—have provided versions of their notes for a wider audience. Rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, in Highland Park, the Rev. Bruce Robison, gave a presentation concerning the Report of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage. His notes are here. (Rector of Church of the Redeemer, in Squirrel Hill, Michael Foley also spoke on the marriage report but has not yet edited his notes for PEP.) PEP vice president Dr. Joan Gundersen spoke on the Report of the Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church. Her notes are here. Whereas Gundersen summarized the entire report, PEP board member Lionel Deimel has written about various aspects of the TREC report on his blog here, here, and here.

St. Paul’s to allow same-sex blessings

Lionel Deimel reported April 27, 2015, that the Rev. Lou Hays has written a letter to his parish indicating that St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon will allow the blessing of same-sex unions. His blog post includes a link to Hays’ letter.

Monday, April 20, 2015

News for Week Ending 4/20/2015

GAFCON primates conclude London meeting

The GAFCON Primates Meeting in London concluded April 17, 2015. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The group issued a communiqué on April 17 saying that their churches do not intend to leave the Anglican Communion and supporting the efforts of the Anglican Mission in England, which is setting up “Anglican” churches not associated with the Church of England. The communiqué also indicates that a third GAFCON conference is being planned for 2018. Additional details of the meeting were covered by The Telegraph. Thinking Anglicans has collected a number of links to commentary about the GAFCON Primates Meeting.

Beth Adamson honored

Anglican Communion News Service reported April 15, 2015, that American Beth Adamson has been given an Award for Global Service by the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations for her work with the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. Additional information about Adamson can be found here on page 4.

New church group seeks divestment from corporations involved in Israeli occupation

A newly formed group, the Episcopal Committee for Justice in Israel and Palestine, has been formed “to advocate for a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land.” The group is proposing a resolution for the upcoming General Convention that would, among other things, have The Episcopal Church withdraw investments from corporations that “support the infrastructure of Israel’s Occupation.” Details, including the text of the resolution, can be found here.

S.C. Supreme Court agrees to hear Episcopal Church appeal; breakaway group challenges Fourth Circuit action

The Post and Courier reported April 15, 2015, that the South Carolina Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina to the lower court decision that awarded property to the breakaway group led by former Episcopal bishop Mark Lawrence. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

On another front in the South Carolina property litigation, South Carolina Episcopalians reported April 17 that the Mark Lawrence faction has asked the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision to overturn Judge Weston Houck’s refusal to entertain the trademark case entered by the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

Women tell story of first ordinations

Two members of the Philadelphia 11, the first women ordained to the priesthood in The Episcopal Church, took part in a symposium in Knoxville, Tennessee, sponsored by the Episcopal Church Women in the Diocese of East Tennessee on April 11, 2015. The women described the difficulties they experienced in the church and how they came to be ordained. Details are to be found in a story published by Episcopal News Service.

Monday, April 13, 2015

News for Week Ending 4/13/2015

Controversy continues to surround new ACC Secretary General

The appointment of Nigeria’s Bishop Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon to be Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council. continues to be controversial. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) He has expressed favorable opinions on the Anglican Covenant and on primates having increased authority within the Anglican Communion. His views on the Communion were expressed in an address in Toronto in 2013, as reported by Thinking Anglicans. Thinking Anglicans has links to both audio and transcript of “The Instruments of Unity and the Way Forward.” Interested readers will also want to read the comments on Thinking Anglicans. An Episcopal News Service story on April 8, 2015, sought to reassure Episcopalians that Idowu-Fearon is an acceptable choice for his new post.

GAFCON primates meeting in London

The GAFCON Primates Council is meeting in London April 13–17, 2105. According to an Anglican Ink story, a major issue to be discussed is “whether to support a parallel Anglican jurisdiction akin to the Anglican Church in North America for England.” Significantly, the archbishop of ACNA, Foley Beach, is attending the meeting. On April 13, Beach announced on Facebook that he has been voted onto the Primates Council as the Archbishop of North America. In the Anglican Mission in England—see Pittsburgh Update story here—GAFCON seems to have a potential parallel jurisdiction already in place. Possible developments in London could have far-reaching affects on the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. Additional information can be found on Episcopal Café and Christian Today.

U.K. not very religious

If the GAFCON Primates are looking for a promising mission field in the West, the U.K. may be the right place. A recent worldwide poll found the U.K. to be one of the least religious countries in the world. (China is the least religious.) Only 30% of those polled in the U.K. described themselves as religious. Thinking Anglicans has links to the poll results and to press comment about its findings.

American Anglican Fellowship still pursuing PB

Because the complaint filed in 2013 by a tiny group calling itself the American Anglican Fellowship, Inc., against the Presiding Bishop for wasting church resources in litigation was dismissed in July 2014, the group is trying to revive the issue by asking people to contact their deputies to General Convention to support a resolution ending all litigation and allowing parishes to leave with their property. Nothing is said about litigation begun against The Episcopal Church, such as that in South Carolina. The Fellowship is somewhat mysterious; no names can be found on its Web site. The Internet domain used by the Fellowship was registered anonymously. Virtueonline reported this story March 30, 2015.

A dozen bishops visit Cuba

In response to the Episcopal Church of Cuba’s vote to rejoin The Episcopal Church—see Pittsburgh Update story here—twelve bishops from The Episcopal Church recently visited Cuba. For more information, see the April 12, 2015, Episcopal Café story here.

Fort Worth to get another provisional bishop

Episcopal Café reported April 10, 2015, that the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is poised to elect another provisional bishop at a special convention on May 16. Bishop Rayford B. High, Jr., the current provisional bishop, is stepping down early following the death of his wife. The new provisional bishop to the elected is Bishop J. Scott Mayer, who is bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas. Thus, another bishop will be serving in two dioceses.

Baton Rouge church prospers after concentrating on mission

A Baton Rouge, Louisiana, church is getting permanent worship space after 42 years. According to a story reported on by Episcopal Café, the church, which has had its ups and downs over the years, has grown recently because of its emphasis on mission. The church’s current priest-in-charge reports that the church had been dominated by “Angri-canism,” divided over issues such as human sexuality.

PEP meeting to preview General Convention issues

Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh has announced that its next meeting will take place at St. Stephen’s, Wilkinsburg, at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 20, 2015. The meeting is being promoted as a General Convention preview. There will be presentations about the two most significant reports coming before the General Convention this summer: those from the Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church and the Task Force on the Study of Marriage. PEP members will also vote for members of the Board of Trustees. The flyer announcing the meeting can be found here. Additional information about the meeting can be found on Facebook.

Monday, April 6, 2015

News for Week Ending 4/6/2015

U.N. delegation challenges ACC, Communion

The Anglican Communion delegation to the U.N. Commission for the Status of Women has issued a statement challenging the Anglican Consultative Council and the wider Anglican Communion to take bold steps to achieve gender equality and deal with problems such as climate change. For more details, see the story from Anglican Communion News Service.

Selection of new ACC Secretary General sparks controversy

Anglican Communion News Service reported April 2, 2015, that the Most Rev. Dr. Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon, of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), has been chosen to serve as the next Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council. In reporting on the announcement, Episcopal Café reported on Idowu-Fearon’s connection to GAFCON and apparent support for criminalizing homosexuality in Nigeria. The next day, Idowu-Fearon argued that he had not supported anti-gay laws. (See Episcopal Café article here.) On April 4, both Idowu-Fearon and Bishop James Tengatenga, chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, responded to the growing controversy. (Episcopal Café covered the developing situation here.) Meanwhile, the conservative Anglican Unscripted episode for April 3 appeared with the title “The End of the ACC?”

Anglican Mission in England unveils new Web site

Thinking Anglicans reported March 30, 2015, that the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) has debuted a new Web site. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) AMiE is a GAFCON-related group that describes itself this way on its What Is AMiE page:
The Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) is a mission society that seeks to promote gospel growth in areas covered by the Church of England (principally in England, but also in other parts of Europe) by supporting Anglican churches and individuals both within and outside present Church of England structures.

Presiding Bishop delivers sermon at Salisbury Cathedral

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori delivered the sermon at the 10:30 Easter Sunday service at Salisbury Cathedral April 5, 2015. The text of her sermon, as well as video of it, can be found here.

‘Religious freedom’ legislation toned down in Indiana, Arkansas

After much controversy—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the state of Indiana adopted changes to its recently passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Most of those who had complained about the original bill agreed that the modifications removed many of the objections to the newly passed law, though civil libertarians were not totally satisfied.

Arkansas was about to pass a law similar to that of Indiana when the Indiana controversy developed. Republican governor Asa Hutchinson refused to signed the bill passed by the legislature. (See the Huffington Post story here.) Eventually, a more acceptable, revised bill became law in Arkansas.

Episcopal Café reported the latest developments in Indiana and Arkansas here.

Federal trademark case in South Carolina given new life

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina announced March 31, 2015, that a three-judge panel of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has sent the trademark case brought by Bishop Charles vonRosenberg against deposed bishop Mark Lawrence back to district court. In a published opinion, the court noted that Judge C. Weston Houck applied the wrong law in refusing to take the case while the state action brought by Lawrence was active. The opinion noted that the district court could only abstain from taking the case if there were exceptional circumstances. The district court will now have to determine if there are such circumstances. The Fourth Circuit action represents a rare victory for South Carolina Episcopalians, albeit an administrative one. The Post and Courier covered this story.

Heather Cook arraigned

Maryland’s sffragan bishop, Heather Cook, was arraigned April 2, 2015, in Baltimore Circuit Court and pleaded not guilty to all charges related to the December 27 accident that killed bicyclist Thomas Palermo. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) A trial date has been set for June 4. Both The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun covered the story. The Baltimore Sun story includes video.

Bishop McConnell offers Holy Week message

Pittsburgh’s Bishop Dorsey McConnell has offered a Holy Week message. It can be read on the diocesan Web site.