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         

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Week ending 8/31/15

Diocese of San Joaquin Sponsors "Tour Against Trafficking"

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has announced aspecial event in October involving all of their parishes.  A team of 5 to 8 bicyclists will ride 750 miles throughout the diocese making 26 stops along the way.  All of the dioceses parishes will be on the route.  Local bicyclists and groups will join them for each leg.  The team will have opportunities at each stop to talk to the press and publicize the problems with human trafficking in their region.  Ten pre-tour events scattered through the diocese will sponsor showings of a film followed by a panel on human trafficking.  The riders are looking for sponsors with proceeds going to local charities. For more, read the press release here.

China Continues Campaign Against Churches

Angry about the protests of their actions to remove crosses from over 1200 churches and their demolition of three buildings, Zhejiang Province officials have warned Christians not to speak to the press or resist official actions.  (Update's earlier story is here.) They have also begun arresting protesters. Amnesty International is now monitoring the situation. Christians have vowed to continue to object and organize peaceful protests.  Episcopal Cafe has picked up the story here.

St. Paul's School Rape Case Ends With Mixed Verdict

Owen Labrie, the graduate of St. Paul's School who was on trial for raping a 15 year old freshman shortly before graduation received a mixed verdict that could send him to jail for 11 years. The jury found him not guilty of felony sexual assault, but guilty of having sex with a minor and of using the computer for immoral purposes. With not guilty verdicts on the charges of non-consensual sex,  Labrie still could receive 7 years for the computer charge and up to one year for each of the three charges involving sex with someone under the age of consent. New Hampshire law has special lesser penalties for sex with a minor when both parties are close in age.  The computer charge conviction will require Labrie register as a sex offender. This charge is likely to be appealed once the judge issues a sentence.  The Bishop of New Hampshire has issued a pastoral letter in response to the verdict.

Breakaways Require Five Episcopal Churches To Post Bonds

Judge John Chupp has issued a final supersedeas order August 18, 2015 in the case involving church property in Fort Worth. The order suspends his original order, and allows five loyal Episcopal parishes to remain in their buildings through all appeals even though Chupp awarded their church properties to the breakaway group led by Bishop Iker. (see Update stories here and here.) The breakaway diocese has issued a statement noting that the order requires the parishes to post $100,000 bond, and all will be required to submit monthly financial statements to the breakaways.  One parish had announced a capital campaign, which has now been put on hold.

Attempts to Modernize Changing Church of England Canons Raises Controversy

Making changes to canon law and church structures is a complex process involving both the Church of England Synod (which meets several times a year) and Parliament.  While there is widespread agreement that reforms are needed to simplify the process, the latest proposal has raised objections that this is an attempt to increase the power of bishops at the expense of the synod.  An article in the Christian Today made the controversy public.  A response has been issued by the Ecclesiastical Law Society here.http://www.lawandreligionuk.com/2015/08/25/henry-viii-powers-for-the-bishops/.

The Sacred Circle in Canada Requests Consideration of Province in Church of Canada for Indigenous People 

At the eighth annual national meeting of the Sacred Circle, the group heard several presentations about a separate independent province within the Church of Canada for indigenous peoples.  The meeting endorsed the idea and has sent the proposal to Anglican Council on Indigenous People.  The proposal came from the Canadian Primate's Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation, and Justice.  The long-term goal is possibly a fifth province with its own primate operating much the way the interdependent provinces do in New Zealand.  A full discussion of the proposal and the many steps that might precede such a province is found in the Anglican Journal.

Ten Facts About American Religion

The Pew Center has released an article by Michael Lipka that claims 42% of Americans have switched religions at some point in their lives, and shows that evangelicals, Catholics, and mainline Protestants have all lost members.  The second largest religious group in the United States is now the "Unaffiliated." The same study shows that 55% of Americans now support same-sex marriage, and views have also changed on global warming since the pope's statement.  The full article includes information on the views of various groups and the composition of Congress.