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.