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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A Service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh         

Monday, July 13, 2015

News for Week ending 7/13/15

General Convention’s Lack of Action on Divestment in Israel Stirs Controversy

In a post-General Convention retrospective, Deputy the Rev. Winnie Varghese touched off a flurry of comments by criticizing the recently concluded Convention for failing to adopt even a resolution asking for study of Church holdings to determine if any of its money is invested in companies supporting oppressive Israeli policies. The convention passed resolutions committing to finding a two-state solution through negotiation and positive investment in Palestinian infrastructure, and to continue support of Christians in Israel and the occupied Territories. The stated reasons for what the convention did and did not do included information given legislative hearings that a resolution raising even the possibility of divestment might hurt the position of the Anglican Archbishop of the region, and that the Episcopal Church had no investments in the companies listed. Neither statement satisfied critics. Some have suggested that the efforts backfired and made the position of Archbishop Suheil Dawani of the diocese of Jerusalem more difficult.

Bishop McConnell Issues Pastoral Letter on Same Sex Marriage

Following General Convention’s votes to authorize new trial liturgies for marriage and to change canons to allow marriage of same sex couples, Bishop Dorsey McConnell of Pittsburgh wasted no time in issuing a pastoral letter for his diocese outlining a continuation of the local option that has allowed those clergy and parishes who wished to celebrate and bless marriages of same sex couples. McConnell voted for the resolution, A054, that authorized the liturgies, but against the canonical changes (A036). (See Update story on these resolutions here.) The Lead picked up his announcement and commenters have positively contrasted McConnell’s response with the initial statements by a several of the other bishops who opposed A036 and who have already announced they are not allowing same sex marriages within their diocese. (See here for one such statement.) Note, this link to a statement by Bishop Bauerschmidt of Tennessee has been removed by the Christian Post. 

Retrospectives on General Convention

Both those who attended General Convention and those who followed it from afar have begun offering reactions to the  recently ended convention. The convention passed a long list of resolutions that require some kind of response or action from dioceses and parishes. Grace Burton-Edwards has compiled a list of most of these. Jayne Ozanne has offered an interesting response from the perspective of an observer from the Church of England. The conservative blogger the Rev. Tony Clavier offers a more negative reaction; Bishop Dan Martins of Springfield raises traditionalist concerns in two blog posts here and here. Mark Harris focuses on the positive energy generated by the new presiding bishop elect, and the General Convention Facebook page is filled with a variety of responses.

Australian Anglican Primate Suggests Church Get Out of the Marriage Business

In the wake of the decisions supportive of same sex marriage at the conventions in various provinces of the Anglican Communion, the primate of the Australian Church has suggested that the church would do better to separate civil marriage and church ceremonies entirely, leaving marriage to civil registries.  He commented that perhaps people would then be able to marry by filling out forms on-line. The church would then be free to continue defining marriage as it saw theologically appropriate and churches would deal only with those who wanted the blessing of the church. The Archbishop also suggested this was the way Churches could preserve a traditional definition of marriage as being limited to one man and one woman.