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, June 15, 2015

News for Week Endoing 6/15/2015

CoE appoints fourth woman bishop

On June 9, 2015, the government of England announced the appointment of the Rev. Dame Sarah Elisabeth Mullally as Bishop of Crediton. Mullally, Canon Treasurer at Salisbury Cathedral, thus becomes the fourth woman bishop to be appointed in the Church of England since that church authorized women bishops. Crediton is a suffragan see in the Diocese of Exeter. The brief government announcement is here. A more personal view of Mullally can be found on the Diocese of Exeter Web site.

Bishop resigns from Anglo-Catholic group

The Society under the patronage of St. Wilfrid and St. Hilda, an organization in the Church of England opposed to women priests and bishops and led by a Council of Bishops, lost one of its Council bishops last week. The West Sussex County Times reported June 10, 2015, that the Rt. Rev. Mark Sowerby, Bishop of Horsham, has resigned from the Council of Bishops “following a period of strenuous theological reflection over the issue of women bishops.”

Montreal elects first woman bishop

Anglican Journal reported June 6, 2015, that the Anglican Diocese of Montreal has elected its first woman bishop in its 165-year history. The Very Rev. Mary Irwin-Gibson, dean and rector of St. George’s Anglican Cathedral in Kingston, Ontario, was elected the twelfth Bishop of Montreal from a field dominated by women candidates.

Scottish Episcopal Church takes steps toward changing marriage canon

The Scottish Episcopal Church voted June 12, 2015, to begin a process of canonical change that could allow clergy to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies and to themselves marry same-sex partners. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The process of change takes two years and, if effected, will remove part of the marriage canon that refers to a “union of one man and one woman.” Thinking Anglicans has reproduced the press release from the Scottish Episcopal Church and related commentary about the development.

Marriage discussion heats up as General Convention nears

The 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church begins meeting on June 25, 2015, and the recommendations of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage will be one of the major topics of discussion. (See Pittsburgh Update story here and Episcopal News Service story summarizing the report to the General Convention.) As the convention nears, the task force report is becoming a major topic of discussion elsewhere. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Thinking Anglicans has collected links to a number of commentaries on marriage and the task force recommendations, including an article in The Living Church for which Bishop of Pittsburgh Dorsey McConnell is a co-author. Much of the discussion is less about where we are going as a church than about how we should get there. The Rev. Mark Harris has also published an essay suggesting that the issue with marriage is more about justice than about theology.

Prominent Evangelical changes mind on same-sex marriage

The Evangelical world received a shock on June 8, 2015, when prominent Evangelical Tony Campolo wrote on his blog
It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.
Not surprisingly, conservative Evangelicals deplored Campolo’s new understanding. As the Christian Broadcasting Network has pointed out, however, white Evangelicals are increasingly out-of-step with Catholics and mainline white Protestants on gay marriage.

General Convention Media Hub on-line

For Episcopalians not attending the General Convention in Salt Lake City, the Episcopal Church Media Hub can offer the next best thing to being there. The Web page at http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/gc/ promises: “Tune in here for live-streaming from Salt Lake City of legislative sessions from both houses, daily worship, press round-ups, and on-demand features. Plus you'll find links to coverage from Episcopal News Service and a complete calendar of events. June 22 to July 3, 2015.” You may want to bookmark the page now.

Blue Book available as a single file

The so-called Blue Book containing reports for the upcoming General Convention is now available as a single PDF file. The availability of the file was announced June 11, 2015, by the Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs. Many of the resolutions to be considered by the General Convention can be found in the Blue Book, but there are other resolutions that are not embedded in reports. A complete list of resolutions, which is still growing as of this writing, can be found here.

General Convention faces another Anglican Covenant decision

The 2012 General Convention adopted Resolution B005, which declared that there were a variety of opinions about the Anglican Covenant within The Episcopal Church and that “as a pastoral response to The Episcopal Church, the General Convention decline to take a position on the Anglican Covenant at this convention.” Very little has changed since 2012, and the General Convention will likely again express its opinion about the Anglican Covenant. B005 charged the Executive Council with reporting about the Covenant in 2015. It has offered Resolution A040, which essentially approves of most of the Covenant without adopting the all of it. Since then, Resolution D022 has been offered by deputies in Missouri and Pittsburgh. D022  is similar to A040, but it makes no suggestion of approving even parts of the Covenant. The two 2015 resolutions are discussed on Episcopal Café. Of course, the convention may adopt something different from both of the resolutions.

Fort Worth suffers another legal defeat

On June 8, 2015, the Hon. John P. Chupp of the 141st District Court, Tarrant County, Texas, granted the motion for partial summary judgment filed by the breakaway Fort Worth group regarding All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Fort Worth. (See Pittsburgh Update stories here and here.) The parties will soon confer on a final order from the judge. According to the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the decision will be appealed.

South Carolina trademark case returns to federal district court

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina reported June 11, 2015, that a status hearing regarding the trademark case brought against Mark Lawrence and his breakaway South Carolina group was held in the federal district court in Charleston before Judge C. Weston Houck. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals returned the case to Judge Houck’s court saying that the judge had used the wrong criterion to decide that the case should be delayed pending resolution of the state case brought by the breakaway group, the defendants in the federal case. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The defendants are to file a brief by June 30, after which the plaintiffs will have 15 days to respond.

Episcopal Church in South Carolina settlement offer rejected by breakaway group

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (ECSC) proposed a settlement of the property dispute between ECSC and the group that broke away from the diocese (and claims to be the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina). The proposal would have left parish property in the hands of current congregations. It would have returned diocesan real, personal, and intellectual property to ECSC, which could again legally call itself the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. The deal was first offered June 2, 2015, with a June 15 deadline for acceptance. The offer was apparently approved by the Presiding Bishop. News of the offer was first broken by South Carolina Episcopalians on June 12. ECSC revealed the offer June 15. Shortly thereafter, however, the group led by for bishop Mark Lawrence rejected the offer, calling it “spurious.” Episcopal Café published a story on these developments that includes a number of links that provide additional information.