South Carolina Groups Prepare for Supreme Court Hearing
On September 23, the parties in the legal battle over Episcopal Church property in South Carolina will once again return to court. This time they will be doing oral arguments before the SC state Supreme Court. The web site scepiscopalians
has recently posted a detailed overview of legal issues and previous cases and decisions involving property. The breakaway group led by Bishop Mark Lawrence which courts so far have granted ownership of the title Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, has posted a plea for prayers
for their lawyers as they head into court. Those loyal to the Episcopal Church, which have had to use the name, "the Episcopal Church in South Carolina" have made no special requests at this point.
Albany Parish Seeks Way to Offer Same-Sex Marriage Rites
Several parishes in the Diocese of Albany have been living under a Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) arrangement for several years. These parishes wanted to work with bishops who were more inclusive on social issues and theology than the diocesan bishop, William Love. Bishop Love was among those who signed the Communion Partner's statement at General Convention, saying that they opposed any provision for blessing or officiating at same-sex marriages. Love issued a pastoral letter (see Update article
) saying he would not authorize same-sex rites within the diocese, but he was in conversation with neighboring bishops to find the required alternative option for those same-sex couples who wished to marry. Now St. Andrew's Parish in Albany
, which is openly inclusive and is among the parishes visited by Bishop Adams of Central New York under the DEPO arrangement has asked
Bishop Love to allow them to host same-sex marriages as an extension of their DEPO arrangement. They suggest that this would be a way to fulfill the alternative requirements. Bishop Love has not yet responded.
Progress on Release of Nigerian Bishops by Kidnappers
On September 3, the bishop of Gwagwalada in Nigeria was kidnapped while traveling to a church meeting and held for ransom. (See Update story
). Five days later, the second most senior leader of the Nigerian Church, Ignatius Kattey was also kidnapped, along with his wife and driver. The three were released a week later. Now David Virtue has published
a statement from the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, Foley Beach, that he has been informed that Bishop Moses Bukpe-Tabwayen of Gwagwalada has also been released. Nigerian news has not yet confirmed this second release.
Anglican/Episcopal Bishops Call for Response to Refugee Crisis
Anglican Leaders in both England and New Zealand have called on their countries to take more refugees from the Middle East. Archbishop Philip Richardson of New Zealand joined with the Roman Catholic Cardinal, John Drew in a statement
saying that their churches could sponsor 300 families (1200 people) if the government would clear the way for their entry. New Zealand currently only accepts 750 refugees a year. The Dioceses centered in the cities of Aukland and Christ Church voted to accept an even higher number of refugees. The Anglican Communion news service reported
that Archbishop Glenn Davies of Sydney, Australia, called on his country to raise their refugee quota above its current level of 20,000 and in Canada, the Anglican Archbishop, Fred Hiltz, called on his church to provide resettlement for 10,000 refugees. Episcopal Church bishops are also speaking out. The Bishop of New York, Andrew M. L. Dietsche, has asked his parishes not only to contribute funds to relieve the suffering of refugees, but for each parish to offer to sponsor a refugee family.
Former Bishop Heather Cook Pleads Guilty
The former suffragan bishop of Maryland, Heather Cook has plead guilty to a variety of charges stemming from her killing of a bicyclist while driving intoxicated and texting while driving. (See update stories here
, and here
.) She also left the scene. The judge has not yet pronounced sentence, but her guilty plea cut short any formal trial. The charges could bring a sentence of 20 years, with up to half of that served on probation. A number of news agencies have tracked this story, and provide different pieces of background. See the following for a good sampling: Episcopal News Service
, Baltimore Sun
, and the Washington Post
Retired English Bishop Admits Guilt in Sex Abuse Cases
The retired Bishop of Lewes, Peter Ball has admitted his guilt
in a series of sexual abuse incidents that first came to light more than 22 years ago. At that time, Church officials chose not to prosecute him, but rather issue a caution and allowed him to retire. Two of the boys that the bishop abused had recently filed charges against him. By pleading guilty to 18 charges of sexual abuse, and other charges of misconduct in office covering actions going back 35 years, Ball has headed off the current trial. The lead person for the Church of England on safe churches issued a statement
saying that the Church always had taken accusations of misconduct seriously, but the Crown Prosecution Service says the evidence was strong enough warrant prosecution when they first came to the attention of the Church. You can read the Sussex Police Report
for more details.