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, October 26, 2015

Week ending 10/26/2015

South Carolina Episcopalians Appeal Again

While the parties in South Carolina await a ruling from the State Supreme Court, Bishop vonRosenberg and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina have given notice they will appeal the Federal court judge's ruling that the federal trademark infringement suit will be stayed until the state court issues its opinion.  This is the second time that Judge Houck has issued a stay on the case. (See Update article here.) The Episcopal Church appealed his first stay and the Federal Court of Appeals ruled that Houck had applied the wrong standards in issuing the stay.  They sent the case back to him and told him to hear it.  Instead he issued another stay using a different line of logic.  The appeal briefs have not yet been filed. Steve Skaradon, blogging at scepiscopalians.com had more to say about this case in his October 18, 2015 column.

Diocese of Albany Cathedral Dean Quits

The dean of the Cathedral in the Diocese of Albany has resigned his post.  He is apparently discouraged by the position that Bishop William Love has taken on same sex marriage and GLBT couples.  The bishop is one of seven holdouts in the Episcopal Church who are not allowing any recognition of same sex marriages.  The cathedral has lost a number of members over the issue. A recent article in the Times Union in Albany gives more background.

More Revelations of Child Abuse by English Bishops Reported

A new set of revelations of child sexual abuse have surfaced in England, this time involved a long-deceased English Bishop revered for his work in ecumenical relations. The church had just finished defrocking Peter Ball, a long-retired Bishop of Lewes, after his conviction on sexual abuse of a children more than 20 years ago, when news became public of the court settlement reached in a suit involving abuse by the Bishop George Bell of Chichester.   Bell died 57 years ago.  His victim had tried to bring the case forward in the 1990s but was brushed off by the diocese.  The diocese has now issued a formal apology and reached a settlement with the victim.  The news shocked many because Bell was known for his ecumenical work and had  been included in 2010 in the Episcopal Church's Holy Women, Holy Men on the date of October 5. 

St. James Newport Beach Finds a Temporary Home

The parish displaced from its church by the decision of Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno to sell the building now has a temporary winter home at a local art museum.  They had been holding services in the park across from their locked church building, but fall and winter bring cool mornings, fog along the coast and possible rain.  The congregation now will hold services at the Gray Matter Museum of Art in Costa Mesa, about 2 miles from the church.

Happy Ending for Baptismal Controversy in Central Florida

Bishop Brewer has baptized the baby that became the cause of controversy when his original baptism was postponed.  The reason for the postponement was because the parents of the child were a same sex couple.   Pittsburgh Update carried stories about the controversy here and here.

Historic Agreements Signed in Two Anglican Communion Regions

Ecumenical relations were in the news this last week.  The Anglican Church of Canada has signed a full communion agreement with the United Church of Canada.  The United Church  is a blend of Congregational, Methodist, and Presbyterian traditions. In 1975 twenty years of talks had collapsed when the Anglican Synod rejected a proposed plan of union.  Talks resumed in 2012 and have now led to a new agreement.   Across the ocean the Anglican and Lutheran Churches that are part of the Porvoo communion released a communique urging greater acceptance of refugees from the middle east.  The Porvoo Communion is made up of northern European Lutheran Churches and the Anglican Communion Provinces in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. It is named for the place in Finland where the communion agreement was signed.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Week Ending 10/19/15

English Bishops Release Text of Letter on Refugee Crisis

Eighty-four English bishops signed a letter sent last month to the prime minister, calling on the government to commit to resettling 50,000 Syrian refugees over the next 5 years. This is more than double what the prime minister has called for.  The bishops also called for a National Welcome and Resettlement Board similar to ones that helped during refugee crises of the 1950s and 1970s.

Creed Revision Urged After of the Anglican Orthodox Agreement

The implications of the agreement announced last week between Anglicans and the Oriental Orthodox groups are now clear.  Those members of the Anglican Communion that have not removed the "Filoque" clause from the Nicene Creed are being asked to do so. The article this week includes an explanation of the clause and its origin. The 1979  Episcopal Book of Common Prayer includes the clause. The phrase involved appears in Roman Catholic texts, but was not accepted by Orthodox Churches.  It is one of the major points of division between the Orthodox traditions and the Roman Catholic ones. Removing the clause will draw churches of the Anglican Communion closer to the orthodox, while introducing another issue of division between Catholics and Anglicans.

Donors of Rose Window at Newport Becah Caught Up in the Controversy

The donors of a signature stained glass window at St. James the Great in Newport Beach are the latest group to be caught up in the controversy over the sale of the church property by Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno.  The family is trying to get an answer on what will happen to a a rose window given in the 1960s in honor of a family member who died at age 8 from cancer.  The family wants to see the window moved to another church should the sale be made final.  They have been unable to get a response from the Bishop.

Churches in SE Asia Deal With Controversy

Discrimination against women and inflammatory statements by a government official have led churches in Southern and Southeast Asia to take public stands.  An historic meeting of women church leaders in South Asia  has led to a strong public call for an end to violence against women, better treatment of tape victims, and human rights and stressed the role church women could take in leading such efforts.  In Indonesia, church leaders publicly criticized the Minister of Education for inflammatory anti-Christian statements.  The Minister of Education had dismissed a web site's exposure of government corruption as a plot by Christians and Jews to divide the Muslims.  The local bishop responded with a public statement criticizing the minister for fueling religious strife in an area with a Christian majority and known for peaceful relations. The comments come at a time when in conservative Aceh Province in Indonesia, officials have bowed to demands by hardline Muslims to demolish 10 small Christian churches for having been built without permits.   The churches had been unable to get permits from local officials. In that province Muslims are the majority.

Global South Primates Agree to Attend January Meeting

In a Communique, Global South Primates meeting in Egypt without the Nigerian Archbishop agreed to attend the meeting called by the Archbishop of Canterbury for January.  They also seated the ACNA ARchbishop Foley Beach as a full member and heard a report from the schismatic bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina.  The group provides "oversight" to Lawrence's group.  Their statement also criticized the Episcopal Church for decisions to allow same-sex marriages and stated that they would be submitting items to the Archbishop of Canterbury for the agenda.  This statement is the apparent source of the David Virtue piece discussed in last week's updatehttp://update.pittsburghepiscopal.org/2015/10/week-ending-101215.html#5 which said the primates were going to insist that the Episcopal Church 's actions be the focus of the meeting and that the TEC would be replaced by ACNA at the meeting.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Week Ending 10/12/15

Three Studies Take Stock of America and Religion

Two polls by the Barna Group and one by Publicreligion.org paint a troublesome picture of American spirituality.  The annual survey of American spirituality by the Barna Group shows that the segment of the American population that has little to no interest or contact with religion continues to grow.  Forty-four percent of those surveyed by the Barna group this year fell into the post-Christian category.  Another recent Barna poll shows that concerns about religious freedom have increased over the last three years among both liberals and conservative. Ten years ago 33% of those polled were concerned about a decline in religious freedom. This year the figure rose to 41%.  Liberals may be concerned about the increasing militancy by conservative Christians,  The changes in law on same sex marriage may be a factor in conservative fears about religious freedom.  A map released by publicreligion.org shows the current support for same sex marriage in each state. 

Bishop Bruno Fuels Fire with His Version of the St. James Newport Beach Controversy

In a column called "Moving Forward" that appears on the Diocese of Los Angles web page and in the diocesan Newsletter, Bishop Bruno has offered his version of events in the controversy around his efforts to sell the property of St. James Newport Beach against the wishes of a viable parish.  In the letter he claims that he made an offer last spring to allow the parish to continue to use the property until the sale was final and claims the the parish vicar set the lock out date of June 28.  However, in a letter not available on the web, the parish refutes this claim.  You can find earlier update stories here, here, here, here, and here.   Supporters around the diocese are preparing resolutions for the December diocesan convention.

Church Addresses Water Problems Around the World

Severe drought in Central Tanzania has led the Anglican Church of Tanzania to raise money to buy food in parts of the country where crops have not failed.  They will use the ffod purchased both to help feed those at risk of starvation and to provide a seed bank so farmers can plant when the next rainy season begins. In the U.S. a different kind of drought, caused by soaring water costs has Detroit's poorest families doing without water because their service has been shut off for non-payment. With 10,000 Detroit people living without water on any given day, St. Peter's Episcopal Church stepped into the breach by running a water help hot-line and making deliveries of water to families.  The flooding in South Carolina has compromised water supplies in many areas.  The two dioceses of the Episcopal Church (Upper South Carolina with offices in hard-hit Columbia, and the Episcopal Church in South Carolinahttp://www.episcopalchurchsc.org/, with offices in Charleston) have both stepped forward helping to supply water.

Women Suffragans Meet the Pope

Suffragan Bishops of the Episcopal Church met in Rome, hosted by Bishop Pierre Whalon, the suffragan bishop in charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. Among their activities was a chance to meet Pope Francis and tour the Vatican. Photos of the event showing some of the seven women suffragans who were at the meeting have been circulating on the web.  Bishop Diane Bruce, one of the suffragan bishops in Los Angeles, wrote about her reaction to the meeting on her blog.

Rumors Circulate about Focus of January Primate's Meeting

David Virtue has published a story claiming that the Global South Primates are going to insist that discipline of  the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada be the first item on the agenda, and if Presiding Bishop Curry and Archbishop Hiltz do not then leave the meeting and allow Foley Beach, the archbishop of ACNA to be seated in their stead, the Global South primates will walk out.  It will be interesting to see if the Archbishop of Canterbury manages to stick to his announced agenda, (see Update story here) or if he will give in to pressures from the Global South Archbishops.  It is also not clear if all the Primates who have participated in the the Global South meetings will take this hard line.

Text of Historic Anglican-Orthodox Agreement on the Incarnation Released

The Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission has published the final agreement reached by Theologians of the Anglican Communion and the Oriental Orthodox Churches on the nature of Christ and Christology, helping to heal a breach that began in the year 451 with the Council of Chalcedon.  The 25 page document includes a preface explaining the background to the agreement and ten numbered points of agreement.  The document will now be submitted to the churches of the Anglican Communion and the participating churches from Orthodox traditions, including those in Egypt, Syria, and Armenia.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Week Ending -10/5/15


Details Emerge on Failed Conciliation between Bishop Bruno and Newport Beach Parish

The Living Church published an article based on interviews with those involved in the failed conciliation process between Bishop Bruno of Los Angeles and the parish who filed a presentment against him because of the way he went about trying to sell their parish property.  In a process resembling shuttle diplomacy, the conciliator went back and forth between the parties who never met face to face.  Now there are questions about the conciliator relayed all pertinent information to both sides.  The parish people now claim that the bishop offered them $1 million to withdraw charges.  The bishop says that the money was a repeat of an offer made to the parish before they filed charges.  The parish claims they made an offer that would have allowed some development on the property while allowing them back in the church.  The bishop claims never to had that offer presented. In the meantime supporters are preparing several resolutions for the diocesan convention in December designed to prevent future abuses and restore the parish property.

Communique From Nigerian Church Takes Hard Line on TEC and LGBT Legislation

Nine of the  points in a Communique issued by the Anglican Church in Nigeria addressed local issues of poverty, bad roads, corruption, and other local concerns.  Two bullets, however,  showed no sign of any healing of the divide with the Episcopal Church.  One bullet point put the church fully in support of the legislation in Nigeria which not only banned same sex marriages, but made it a crime to attend any kind of an LGBT meeting, club or society. (Pittsburgh Update covered that law's passage here.) The next bullet point reiterated their position that they are in impaired communion with those churches not fully endorsing the Jerusalem Declaration. (See Update coverage of the Declaration here.)

Parish Pressures Canadian Government to Cut Red Tape Blocking Resettlement of Refugees

St. Aiden's Parish in London, Ontairo responded to the pictures of desperate Syrian refugees with a fund raising campaign that had people putting a piece of red tape on their car antenna, post box, or other  visible place after sending a contribution to the fund the church set up to help refugees through the maze of regulations slowing resettlement.  Contributions could be dropped off at any Anglican Church.   As visible pieces of red tape began appearing on numerous cars and mailboxes, they helped show the breadth of support for cutting Canadian red tape. The church set up a facebook page for the campaign.  Other churches have joined the movement.

Oregon Episcopalians Respond to Community College Shooting

In the wake of the shooting of nine students and faculty at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, the Bishop of Oregon issued a statement expressing his concern before the number of dead and wounded had been clarified,  and called on his Diocese to use the "transformative power of love" to end "expressions of hatred and self-loathing" that result in actions such as the shooting.  Meanwhile, the local Episcopal Church in Roseburg opened its doors as a quiet place for prayer and meditation, moved the planned community blessing of animals from a campus site to the church, and turned its Sunday morning service into a service of healing. Resigned bishop of Southwestern Virginia, Neff Powell is priest-in-charge at the parish.  Another Oregon priest published his sermon on the events as an article in Episcopal Cafe.  Responses from outside Oregon included a call by Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas for a conversation across America about gun control.

Interview with Presiding Bishop-Elect Curry Sets Tone for His Leadership

In an interview published in the Charlotte, North Carolina Observer, Bishop Michael Curry talked about where he'd like to lead the Episcopal Church over the next nine years.  He not only gave the interviewer background on his life and ministry, but talked about how Episcopalians need to be comfortable talking about their faith and how it leads them to service in the community. The theme was familiar to those who heard him preach at General Convention in 2012 and 2015, who took on-line course on "Crazy Christians" or read his book by the same title.

Zimbabwe Diocese On Road to Recovery After Years of Strife

The ground-breaking for a new university marks the recovery of the Diocese of Harare after years of abuse by the rogue bishop, Nolbert Kunonga. Kunonga had split from the Anglican Church, but seized the church buildings in the diocese, forcing Anglicans to worship outdoors. He threw clergy out of their homes, made death threats against bishops, and won the initial rounds of legal battles over property. (See Update Stories here and here.) Not until President Mugabe withdrew his support of Kunonga in 2012 did the Supreme Court return the property to the Anglican Church.  Many of the buildings had been severely damaged and turned to other uses under Kunonga's control.  Now, the Diocese has recovered enough to begin building in Marondera the Anglican University of Zimbabwe. The project is estimated at $250 million and will be the first Anglican institution of higher learning in the country.

Canadian Couple Weds in Service Blending Anglican and Muslim Traditions

When Captain Georgette Mink married Ahmad Osman, a Lebanese soldier at a Canadian military base in Borden, Ontario, the Anglican service included several touches that acknowledged the groom's Muslim faith.  The base's Muslim chaplain was invited by the Anglican chaplain to chant a traditional prayer, and provide a blessing.  He also helped the groom say his vows in arabic.  The Anglican Church in Canada believes this service was a historic "first."