Monday, February 23, 2015
Monday, February 16, 2015
News for Week Ending 2/16/2015
Barbara Darling, Anglican pioneer, dies unexpectedly in AustraliaThe Rt. Rev. Barbara Darling, 67, died February 15, 2015, in Australia after suffering a stroke. She had been a pioneer in the campaign for a larger role for women in the Anglican Church of Australia. She began service in the church as a layperson, and, as opportunities opened up to her, she became a deacon, then a priest, and then a bishop. She became the Bishop of the Eastern Region of the Melbourne Diocese only days after the first woman bishop was consecrated in the Australian church. Details of her life in the church can be read in this appreciation from The Sydney Morning Herald.
New book of prayer availableA new book of prayer, Daily Prayer for All Seasons, is now available. It contains short prayer services suitable for personal or group use and is designed with modern, busy lives in mind. The book is described in a press release and can be downloaded here.
Navajo woman is latest priest in NavajolandEpiscopal News Service reported February 9, 2015, that the Rev. Canon Cornelia Eaton was ordained a priest February 7 by Navajoland Bishop David Bailey. The ceremony included both English and Navajo elements. Eaton, a Navajo, or Diné, is only the fourth Navajo to become a priest.
Presiding Bishop issues Lenten messagePresiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has released her 2015 Lenten message to the church. It is available here in both text and video. Other Lenten resources are listed here. Episcopal Relief and Development offers a booklet of Lenten meditations available as a PDF file here.
Bishop Cook’s ministry restricted by PBAs a result of the Title IV charges brought against Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook—see Pittsburgh Update story here—Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has restricted Cook’s ministry, saying, in part
You shall not exercise or engage in the ordained ministry of this Church in any respect, shall not participate in any functions of the House of Bishops, and shall not hold yourself out as an ordained person of this Church in good standing, until such time as all matters relating to you that are pending before a panel of the Disciplinary Board of Bishops shall have been finally resolved.As noted in a story from Episcopal Café, the formal restriction appears to add a new charge against Cook, namely, having misrepresented her relationship with alcohol.
S.C. Episcopalians ask for reconsideration of decisionThe Episcopal Church and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (ECSC) have petitioned Judge Diane S. Goodstein to reconsider her decision awarding real and intellectual property to the breakaway group headed by former Episcopal bishop Mark Lawrence. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) According to the press release from ECSC, a motion for reconsideration “must be filed within 10 days of the order, and the judge must respond to it, before an appeal can be filed.” Judge Goodstein’s final order was issued February 3, 2015, and the 182-page motion for reconsideration was entered February 13.
South Carolina Episcopalians, writing on February 13, described the motion for reconsideration as a “blistering attack on [the] Goodstein ruling,” which alleges many factual and legal errors. Goodstein is not expected to rule favorably on the motion.
New Haven church worships on Facebook due to winter weatherEpiscopal Café pointed out that the Church of St. Paul and St. James in New Haven, Connecticut, decided to offer the February 15, 2015, service on Facebook. New Haven had implemented a travel ban because of the severe winter weather. Even the collection was held on-line. The New Haven Register also wrote about this unusual response to inclement weather.
Southwestern Pennsylvania has had severe winter weather, of course, but not nearly as severe as weather elsewhere. St. John’s Episcopal Church of Hingham, Massachusetts, has nearly been buried in snow. (See picture here.) Episcopal News Service surveyed the responses to winter weather by northeastern churches February 16.
Diocese of Atlanta joins with others to protest Georgia administration of death penaltyIn an earlier story, we noted that Bishop of Atlanta Rob Wright lobbied against the execution of Warren Lee Hill, who reputedly had an IQ of 70. Unfortunately, Hill was executed anyway. On February 11, 2015, Georgians, including representatives of the Diocese of Atlanta, called for ending executions of the intellectually disabled. Whereas the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to execute the intellectually disabled, the state of Georgia makes it particularly difficult to establish such a disability. Details can be found on the Diocese of Atlanta Web site.
Pittsburgh diocese much in the newsThe Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and its bishop Dorsey McConnell, have been much in the news of late. On February 11, 2015, the five bishops of Episcopal dioceses in Pennsylvania called on the state legislature to pass legislation to prohibit discrimination against LGBT persons in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Episcopal News Service, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and The Living Church picked up the story.
Episcopal News Service also ran a story February 10 about the Rev. Ann Staples and Coal Country Hangout in Northern Cambria. The story includes a brief video of Staples.
Details of East End Lenten Preaching Series announcedFor the 14th year, East End Episcopal churches will be offering dinner and Eucharist on five weekday evenings during Lent. Priests from various churches preach at other East End churches. The schedule is published on the diocesan Web site.
Monday, February 9, 2015
News for Week Ending 2/9/2015
Same-sex marriage comes to Alabama accompanied by dramaOn February 9, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down a request by the state of Alabama to stay an earlier federal court ruling striking down bans on same-sex marriage in the state, a move widely seen as suggesting that the court will soon make same-sex marriage legal throughout the country. Marriage licenses began to be issued to same-sex couples the same day. The situation was complicated by Alabama’s Chief Justice, Roy Moore, who has ordered probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Moore has a history of defying federal rulings. Episcopal Café links to various stories about the Alabama situation. Additional stories can be found on the Web sites of The Washington Post and Politico.
Blue Book available (sort of)The bible containing all the information and reports needed by deputies to this summer’s General Convention in Salt Lake City, the so-called “Blue Book,” is now available. Well, it is sort of available. The church has decided that it will not print copies of the Blue Book and will distribute it only in electronic form, making it available piecemeal as material becomes available. The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs explained this new procedure February 5, 2015. The developing Blue Book can be found here.
Task Force on the Study of Marriage issues reportOne of the reports that has recently become available and is available as part of the Blue Book (see story above) is the final report of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage. That group is proposing two resolutions, one to revise the marriage canon and one to extend the work of the task force.There is no attempt to revise the prayer book marriage rite.
Communication commission wants to go out of businessAnother report in the Blue Book (see story above) is that of the Standing Commission on Communication and Information Technology. The commission proposes a single resolution that would do away with the commission or direct another church body to continue its work. (One might have expected that “or” to be “and,” but that is how the resolution is phrased.) The commission argues that any recommendations it might have take too long to implement through General Convention given that the communications/IT world changes so fast.
South Carolina judge rules against S.C. EpiscopaliansTo hardly anyone’s surprise, Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the church property dispute brought by the breakaway group led by former Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence against Episcopalians choosing to remain in The Episcopal Church. The judge issued her ruling more than half a year after the trial. The Episcopal Church in South Carolina issued this press release in response to the February 4, 2015, ruling. Bishop Charles vonRosenburg wrote to his flock the same day emphasizing that the definitive legal determination will be at a higher level. There will be an appeal. The Mark Lawrence faction also issued a press release, of course, and Mark Lawrence wrote a pastoral letter. Judge Goodstein’s ruling can be found here. The Post and Courier covered the story and reviewed the state of church property litigation involving The Episcopal Church February 7.
Bishop Cook charged with 13 countsEpiscopal News Service reported that Maryland’s suffragan bishop Heather Cook was charged with 13 counts by a grand jury February 4, 2015, related to her December 27 fatal automobile accident. She has been advised to resign and is undergoing disciplinary proceedings in The Episcopal Church. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)
The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies, has written to deputies discussing the Cook situation and steps she is taking to avoid such problems in the future. Her letter can be found here.
Monday, February 2, 2015
News for Week Ending 2/2/2015
Philip North consecrated by CoEThe Rev. Philip North was consecrated Bishop of Burnley, a suffragan bishop position, February 2, 2015. As was previously announced, only three bishop, not including the Archbishop of York, participated in laying hands on North in a celebration held at York Minster. North’s consecration was covered by the BBC. The consecration is controversial because of North’s belief in the doctrine of male headship. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Photos of the event are here. Women and the Church (WATCH) issued a statement January 29 asking that, in light of the North consecration, the Five Principles that have allowed for the consecration of women bishops be carefully thought through. (Editorial note: “PEV” in the WATCH statement refers to Provincial Episcopal Visitors, otherwise known as Flying Bishops.)
Prominent CoE evangelical comes outChristian Today reported February 2, 2015, that influential evangelical Jayne Ozanne, who has struggled with her sexuality for years, has publicly acknowledged that she is a lesbian. Ozanne will become the new director of Accepting Evangelicals. She is a founding member of the Archbishops’ Council and has had a successful charitable and business career. Although Ozanne once held typical evangelical views on homosexuality, she has come to accept her own sexuality and now believes that homosexuality is compatible with Christianity. According to Christian Today, she wants the church to end its infighting over sexuality and concentrate instead on mission and social justice.
LDS offers limited support for gay rightsCNN reported January 28, 2015, that leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) have declared their support for anti-discrimination laws for sexual minorities, as long as the “rights” of religious groups are also respected. (The LDS has published a transcript of their news conference.) This has generally been seen by the LGBT community as a step forward, though no change is being made in church doctrine. The Los Angeles Times has published helpful background articles on the Mormon announcement here and here. World, however, reported that the Mormon announcement angered many LGBT advocates and religious conservatives alike. Bishop Gene Robinson, writing for Huffington Post, argued that the LDS announcement makes no sense. In a January 30 essay, he wrote, “The Mormons’ ‘new’ stance merely proclaims that they now favor bills which would bar discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, as long as those who discriminate against them are given protection for doing so.”
Georgia bishop suggests additional way to fund the churchBishop of Georgia Scott Anson Benhase, in an essay on the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia Web site, observes that current funding sources that support the work of The Episcopal Church, its dioceses, and its congregations is increasingly inadequate. In “Resourcing God’s Mission in the 21st Century: Going Back to the Future,” Benhase suggests that the church might return to a funding source used in times past—profit-making enterprises.
Appeals court oral arguments available in S.C. caseAs reported last week—see Pittsburgh Update story here—parties in the litigation in South Carolina were to go before the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals January 28, 2015, to argue the claim by the Episcopal parties that the district court erred in not accepting the case brought by Episcopalian Bishop Charles vonRosenberg. Audio of that argument is now available on the Web here. (See additional information here concerning Charles vonRosenberg v. Mark Lawrence.) Plaintiff’s attorney argued that the state and federal cases are not parallel and that the district court relied on the wrong case law in making its decision. Defendant’s attorney argued that using either of the cases considered as precedent would have led to the same conclusion and that, moreover, the false advertising claim turns on the question of who is the proper bishop in South Carolina, a matter currently in dispute.
Baltimore Sun offers background on Maryland church property disputeThe Baltimore Sun published a follow-up story on the dispute between the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and the former congregation of the Church of the Ascension in Middle River, a small suburban community east of Baltimore, Maryland. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Sun piece reviews the legal context of church property disputes in the nation generally and in Maryland.
More briefs filed in Fort Worth caseParties for both the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and the breakaway group lead by former Episcopal bishop Jack Leo Iker have been filed with the 141st District Court of Tarrant County. Both groups are seeking summary judgment and return to court on February 20, 2015. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The filings from the Episcopal Diocese are here, and the filings from the breakaway diocese are here.
Bishop Heather Cook asked to resignTo no one’s surprise, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has sent a letter to Suffragan Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook January 26, 2015, calling for her to resign. The letter asserts that Cook can no longer function effectively as suffragan bishop. She has been charged with manslaughter and other violations in connection with a December 27 traffic accident that killed bicyclist Thomas Palermo. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Episcopal Café story of January 28 about the letter includes a link to the letter itself.
The Diocese of Maryland has established a page on its Web site related to the Cook affair. A recent addition to that page is a timeline that suggests that there were more warning signs about Heather Cook’s behavior than were previously acknowledged.