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, November 30, 2015

Week Ending 11/30/15

Britain Adds Another Woman As Bishop

The Church of England is about to add the Venerable Karen Gorham to their list of bishops.  Gorham has been the Archdeacon of Buckingham and has been a priest for 19 years. Queen Elizabeth approved Gorham's appointment to the suffragan see of Sherborne in the Diocese of Salisbury on November 26. 

New Dallas Bishop Confirms Policy Barring Same Sex Marriage

The wax seals had hardly set on the consecration certificate for Dallas's new bishop, George Sumner when he circulated a letter saying he would not allow clergy of the Diocese of Dallas to participate in any way in a same-sex marriage ceremony in or out of the diocese, nor could any church-owned facility be used for that purpose. As bishop elect, he had promised (see Update story) to hold conversations in the diocese before issuing a statement on accomodations.  His letter simply referred people to the Diocese of Fort Worth and confirmed that it was acceptable for priests of the diocese to celebrate Eucharist in another diocese, if invited.  It is not clear if this means he would allow Dallas priests to celebrate a Eucharist following a same sex marriage performed elsewhere.

Texas Governor Threatens to Withhold All State Funds From Non-Profits That Resettle Syrian Refugees in State

Governor Greg Abbot was one of the politicians who responded to the Paris terrorist attacks by declaring that no Syrian refugees could be resettled in Texas. (See Update story here.)  Since governors do not control federal policy, nor run the private refugee resettlement groups, it was unclear whether such declarations would have any real impact.  Abbot has found a way to do so by announcing that he will refuse to authorize any state funding be sent to any agency that resettles Syrians in Texas.  Since most of the non-profits receive funding for other social service programs they run, this gives his policy some traction.  It also raises concerns that the Governor is interfering with religious freedom. 

Kunonga Appeals Restitution Award

Former Archbishop Kunonga from Zimbabwe has filed an appeal of the decision that meant he owed  the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa $428,000 in restitution for stock he illegally sold.  (See Update story here.http://update.pittsburghepiscopal.org/2015/11/week-ending-112315.html#2).

Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh Corrects Original Statements on Election of Successor to Duncan

The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh forgot to check their own by-laws before announcing that the diocese would send between one and three names to the ACNA House of Bishops for final confirmation. (See original Update report on Duncan's retirement.)   In a full explanation of the process leading to election of a new bishop, the Standing Committee corrected earlier statements, noting that the Pittsburgh canons allow for only one name to be sent forward.  The election process will allow any number of names to be put forward (as long as they are ordained males) but that the only contact with candidates would come the night before election.

St. Paul's Richmond Gains Support for Removing Confederate Flag Images from Church

When you are located very close to what was the capitol of the Confederacy, and your congregation included a veritable "who's who" of the Confederate leadership during the Civil War, it is not surprising that the church sanctuary included memorials to some of those leaders.  The church even incorporated parts of the confederate flag into its communion kneelers, and church coal of arms. In response to the shootings in a Baptist Church in Charleston, SC, St. Paul's  decided to remove from the worship space plaques and symbols that are tied to the confederacy.  They will be preserved in other places in the building because of their historic significance   The Church picked up major support this last week when the Richmond Times-Dispatch announced its support for removal. The Times-Dispatch  is Richmond's leading newspaper and the official paper of record for the state of Virginia.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Week Ending 11/23/15

Movie Theater Chains Refuse Church of England Ad

The Church of England is launching a new web site and campaign dedicated to prayer.  It had planned on releasing a 60 minute ad featuring various groups saying the Lord's Prayer to lead off the campaign.  The ad was to air in theaters on the opening night of the new Star Wars film.  Despite clearances from all of the public rating boards and early conversations with the theater chains, the two larges chains, with 80% of the theaters in England refused to run the ad since it was contrary to a policy excluding all religious ads.  Church spokesmen were "bewildered" and then angry, threatening a lawsuit.  The result is a major discussion on free speech, freedom of religion, and the role of religion in a secular, multi-cultural society.  For a fuller discussion of the issues, read the pieces in the Guardian and the Daily MailBoth have links to the ad and web site, which are worth exploring.

Court Orders Former Bishop Kunonga to Pay Compensation to Zimbabwe Anglicans

The former bishop of Harare in Zimbabwe has been ordered by that country's high court to compensate the Anglican Church for assets Bishop Kunonga sold at below market prices after losing a court battle over ownership of the property of the diocese.  The former bishop must pay the church the full value plus interest ($430,000) from the date of the sale in 2007.  He had sold stocks below value and pocketed the money before the courts could rule that the assets did not belong to his break-away group but rather the Anglican Church.  The Pittsburgh Update carried stories on havoc Kunonga caused in the diocese here, and here. The original court decision is found here.

Episcopal Church in South Carolina Designates a Cathedral 

The annual convention of the rebuilding diocese in South Carolina took a major step forward at its convention last weekend by designating Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston as its cathedral.  Grace has been hosting the diocesan offices and is the largest parish in the diocese.  Grace replaces the Church of St. Luke and St. Paul as the Cathedral since the St. Luke and St Paul has chosen to participate in the breakaway diocese. Another step forward for the diocese came with the admission of St. Mark's in Port Royal as a parish.  Founded 13 years ago, the congregation struggled to be recognized before the split because it was too firmly committed to remaining in the Episcopal Church.  The Nov. 14 posting of the blog scepiscopalians.com has the St. Mark's story. More on the parish's founding can be found in the parish profile.

May you all have a blessed Thanksgiving and the Update will be back next week in the new church year.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Week Ending 11/16/15

Episcopal Diocese Celebrates at 150th Annual Convention

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh turned the first night of its traditional two-day convention into a celebration of its 150th anniversary as a diocese.  The celebration featured an extended history exhibit, buffet dinner, and a talk by Bishop Sean Rowe of the Diocese of Northwest Pennsylvania.  When the Pittsburgh diocese was founded, its bounds included Northwest Pennsylvania. During the business day, the convention heard not only the bishop's address and usual reports, adopted a balanced budget and elected people to diocesan offices, but continued the celebration with the reading of a resolution passed at General Convention in July 2015 honoring the diocese, special notices of the anniversary throughout the day.

Church Leaders Around the World Respond to the Terrorist Attacks

Leaders of a number of the dioceses and provinces belonging to the Anglican Communion responded to the terrorist attacks in Paris, and to those in Beirut two days earlier.  In general, they expressed shock and concern for those grieving and reminded people that Christians were to respond in love.  The American Cathedral in Paris sponsored an interfaith forum a few days after the attack urging responses of peace and dialogue.  The following statements give a sample:  Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Dean of the American Cathedral in Paris, Bishop Pierre Whalon (formerly of Pittsburgh)  of the Convocation in Europe of Episcopal Churches, the Bishop of the Diocese in Europe, and a statement first issued by Bishop Dorsey McConnell of Pittsburgh during the diocesan convention.

Episcopal Church Leaders Respond to Cries to Bar Syrian Refugees

As some politicians issue calls to stiffen the screening of Refugees or bar them entirely, and others suggest closing all mosques, Episcopal leaders urge the church members to respond to fear with love,  and follow the commandments of Christ to care for refugees.  Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the Bishop of Arizona, and the Provisional Bishop of Fort Worth are among those countering the calls for new restrictions.  Episcopalians wishing to be better informed on the Syrian Refugee crisis can make use of a webinar being offered on-line.  Besides offering the live webinar twice (Nov. 19 and Nov. 23), it will be available after the fact, on-demand.

Queen Katherine Parr Wrote Prayer in Elizabethean Book of Common Prayer

New evidence has come to light showing that the author of the prayer for the monarch included in the Elizabethan Book of Common Prayer and still found in the prayer books of a number of Anglican Provinces was written by Katherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII.  Scholars are thus revising the idea that only ordained men were consulted in the drafting and writing of the Book of Common Prayer.

Bexley-Seabury Seminary Heads to Chicago

Bexley Hall in Columbus, Ohio and Seabury Western Seminary in Illinois merged several years ago and chose to have its main physical location in Columbus where Bexley had a long-standing partnership with Trinity Lutheran Seminary.  Now, the seminary will move offices and classes to Chicago where the seminary had maintained a secondary office.  The agreement with Trinity expires in the spring of 2016, and the new unified site will begin offering all of its classes from Chicago in fall 2016.

Updated Information on the St. James Newport Beach Controversy Available

There have been very few reports on what has been happening in the controversy over the Sale of the property of St. James the Great in Newport Beach and the resultant charges filed against Los Angeles Bishop Bruno by parishioners since efforts to reach conciliation broke down.  (See the most recent Update story here.) Now parishioners have updated the "Save St. James" web site including an updated timeline that covers a number of developments in October and early November, including that the Committee of Review in the canonical charges has now referred the matter to a conference panel, that the Griffith Corporation (original donor of the land) has filed a SLAPP suit, and that the judge assigned to hear the SLAPP issue recused himself because he was an Episcopalian.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Week Ending 11/09/15

Changing of the Guard at ACNA in Pittsburgh

Big changes are in store for the ACNA Diocese of Pittsburgh. David Virtue carried a special story on the ACNA convention and announcements.  Mary Hays, the long-time canon to the ordinary for Bishop Robert Duncan is retiring at the end of 2015.  Duncan, who has already retired as ACNA archbishop, announced at the ACNA convention that he was retiring as of June 30, 2016.  He has called for a special convention of the diocese to meet April 22-23, 2016.  The convention nominates from one to three candidates for bishop.  The ACNA House of Bishops makes the final choice.

Judge Hears Testimony in Los Angeles Lawsuit

The Bishop of Los Angeles had sued the Griffith Company in reaction to their siding with the parishioners at St. James the Great in Newport Beach who opposed the Bishop's efforts to sell the church property. See Update Stories here and here). The Griffiths Company gave the land for the building with a restriction that it could only be used for a church.  Bishop Bruno contends that they removed those restrictions in the 1980s, but the company said it had not.  According to the Facebook pages of the parish, the Griffiths were in court to testify of November 3.  There is no word on the outcome or anything else that went on in court that day.

Mormon Policy Updates Exclude Children of Same Sex Couples

The revised Book of Discipline for the Church of the Latter Day Saints has new sections responding to the legalization of same sex marriage by making clear that children in families headed by a same-sex couple will be barred from all church rituals until they are 18.  Then, if they wish to join the church, they will need to denounce their parents.  The church defended the rules by saying they were trying to keep families from internal divisions and from confusing young children.  The secular press, and Mormons who have been working for inclusion of LGBT people in Mormonism have reacted strongly against the policy announcement.  You can find the Episcopal Cafe story on this here.

Ecumenical Statement on Persecution of Christians

A World Council of Churches sponsored a recent meeting in Tirana, Albania where 150 representatives of Christian churches discussed issues and drafted a common statement on the growing concern about places where Christians face persecution and martyrdom.  The Anglican Communion News Service focused on the Communion representatives who took part.  More information can be found on the web site for the World Council of Churches, including the full statement.

Presiding Bishop Appoints New ERD Director

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has appointed a San Antonio lawyer with strong human rights and social justice credentials as the new Director of Episcopal Relief and Development.  Daniel McNeel Lane was appointed November 1, the day Curry took office.  Lane is not a stranger to ERD, having served on its board.

Zambia to be site of 2016 Anglican Consultative Council Meeting

The planning for the April 8-20, 2016 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council will get its official launch at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka, Zambia at a special service November 29 at which the the secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon will preach.  The ACC has representatives (lay and clergy) from all of the provinces of the Anglican Communion.  A recent meeting in Ireland of provincial secretaries identified key issues for the ACC meeting, including Mission and evangelism, environment climate change, reconciliation and difference, and refugees and migrants.

Archbishop of Canterbury and Ecumenical Patriarch Meet

In the aftermath of the historic agreements reached between the Anglican Communion and the Orthodox Churches, Archbishop Justin Welby had a visit from the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Churches.  According to the Anglican Communion News Service the two discussed a number of topics, especially the refugee crisis and global warming.  The two also discussed issues related to marriage, sexuality, and the beginning of life.  The Episcopal News Service focused its stories on the agreement already signed and reported. (See Update Story here.)

Nigerian Church Intervenes to Help Women

Women in the Enugu and Udi states of Nigeria have been terrorized by Fulani herdsmen.  The woman have been driven from the fields they farm by the Fulani, who have raped and terrorized the women.  The women's husband's have been unable to stop the terrorism by the Fulani, who have migrated into the area and are trying to displace the subsistence agricultural people who live there.  The Mother's Union of the Nigerian Anglican Church recently stepped in and organized a major protest march by women to the state government legislatures, demanding protection.

Controversial Study Shows Children from Religious Families Less Altruistic

A controversial study of children from the U.S., South Africa, Canada, Jordan, China, and Turkey claims that there is an inverse relationship between religious ties and altruism among the children.  A number of religious faiths were included, but roughly 43% were Muslim, 24% Christian, and 28% non-religious.  Altruism was measured by seeking how children responded to the idea of sharing, and reacting to violence against others.  The press has picked up on the study as showing that religion does not help form moral behavior.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Week Ending 11/02/15

Michael Curry Installed as Presiding Bishop

In a ceremony filled with multi-cultural symbols, and that made racial reconciliation the theme for the day, the Episcopal Church installed the former bishop of North Carolin as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.  Typical of the press coverage of the event was this article in the Washington Post and this one in from www.religionnews com. Those interested can watch the whole service here or just Curry's sermon here.

Cook and Labrie Sentenced

Two trials that shocked the nation and were painful for Episcopalians came to their conclusions last week.  Former suffragan bishop of Maryland, Heather Cook was sentenced to seven years in prison for killing bicyclist Thomas Palermo while driving drunk and texting.  She also left the scene, although she later returned.  This event has caused the church to begin examining its policies on alcohol, and its response to clergy and other leaders who are struggling with alcoholism.  Deposed from ordained ministry after the event, Cook used her sentencing to apologize to Palermo's family.  Owen Labrie, the recent graduate of the Episcopal prep school, St. Paul's, who found himself facing charges of rape and sexual misconduct with a minor for his actions as a graduating senior.  Once headed to Harvard, instead Labrie will serve a year in jail and be registered as a sex offender for at least 15 years.  The girl, then fifteen, who was assaulted by Labrie as part of a custom called "Senior Salute" gave an impact statement by video tape.  Pittsburgh Update carried numerous stories on both trials.  The most recent story on Cook is here and on Labrie here.

Bishop of North Dakota Announces "Accommodation" for Same Sex Couples

Michael Smith, Bishop of North Dakota, is one of a handful of Episcopal Bishops who opposed the decisions reached at General Convention on same sex marriage. ( See Update story here.)  The measures approving a canon change and approval of a trial rite for marriage of same sex couples  gave bishops a "conscience clause"  that meant they did not have to authorize use of the rite or permit their clergy to participate in same sex marriage ceremonies. However, they were to make reasonable accommodation for those same sex couples who wished to marry.  In a pastoral letter available on the diocesan web site, Bishop Smith restated his opposition to such marriages.  He also acknowledged that there were clergy and parishes within his diocese asking to be allowed to conduct same sex marriage rites.  The accommodation he is offering is to allow such parishes to request DEPO (Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight) for three years.  Such parishes remain a part of the diocese but have a different bishop appointed to provide oversight of the parish.  The result would be that couples could be married in DEPO parishes within the diocese.

South African Primate Joins Student Fee Protest

The day after his son was arrested as one of the students protesting an increase in student university fees, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of the Province of Southern Africa and 40 other religious leaders joined the protesters.  Increases in university fees could close access to universities for many black students who come from poor families.  The South African government has since announced that there will be no fee increase in 2016.  The Archbishop and 42 other religious leaders signed a document pledging support of the students and to look for long-term solutions.

First Woman Bishop Seated in House of Lords

The Rt. Rev. Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester took the oaths and was seated in the House of Bishops on October 26.  The House of Lords has 26 seats for Bishops, of which 5 are reserved for the sees of Canterbury, York, London, Winchester, and Durham.  The other 21 usually go to the most senrio bishops in the church.  However, the Church legislation approving consecration of women as bishops also provided that if any seats became vacant in the next 10 years, women would have precedence.  Treweek was the first woman appointed and consecrated to a diocesan see.  A rare round of applause in the House of Lords welcomed her to her seat.  Usually the signing and seating is conducted in silence. She was seated in time to take part in the House of Lords actions slowing passage of tax measures that will adversely affect working and middle class families.

Diocese of Pittsburgh Moves Convention to New Location

Plans to hold the 150th convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and the 150th anniversary celebration at Trinity Cathedral had to be rethought after the elevator at the cathedral stopped working.  It needs major (expensive) repairs. The diocese had hoped to hold its celebration in the cathedral  building which is almost as old as the diocese. Trinity, chartered in 1805, is the oldest functioning Episcopal Parish in the diocese Without the elevator, those with mobility issues could not reach the main level where most of the convention and worship were held. With the convention only two week away, another site had to be found.  St. Paul's in Mt. Lebanon stepped into the breach and will host the convention and anniversary celebration.  While St. Paul's was built in Mt. Lebanon in the 1920's, it is the successor to St. Paul's, Laceyville, which participated in the first convention of the diocese in 1865.