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, June 29, 2015

News for Week Ending 6/29/2015

Welby defends Idowu-Fearon

In response to a letter from the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) declaring that Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, who has been appointed Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, represents only himself—see Pittsburgh Update story here—Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has explained how Idowu-Fearon was selected. Welby indicated that the appointment is indeed an individual appointment and that Idowu-Fearon “is fully in line with Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference,” which has nothing to say about the criminalization of homosexual behavior. Anglican Communion News Service reported this story.

SCOTUS makes same-sex marriage throughout nation

It is unlikely that any readers are unaware that the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion June 26, 2015, that makes same-sex marriage legal throughout the U.S. The news was widely covered. The NPR coverage is here. Episcopal Café has published commentary on this development, including a statement from the Presiding Bishop. President of the House of Deputies Gay Jennings commented on the Supreme Court opinion here. The bishops of the Anglican Church in North America issued a press release decrying the decision.

Michael Curry elected Presiding Bishop

Bishop of North Carolina Michael Curry was elected the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church June 27, 2015, by Episcopal Church bishops. He was elected on the first ballot from a field of four bishops. Curry is the first black Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. Episcopal News Service published several stories about the Curry election here, here, here, and here. The election was widely covered in the secular press. The AP story, for example, is here.

1500+ march against gun violence in Salt Lake City

Led by around 60 Episcopal Bishops, a parade of about 1500 people marched two miles in Salt Lake City to protest gun violence in the U.S. The demonstration was organized by Bishops United Against Gun Violence and included many deputies attending the 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City. Episcopal News Service offered extensive coverage of the event. Excellent local coverage was provided by Deseret News. Episcopal Café summarized news reports and includes video in its story. Pictures from the march can be seen on the Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh Facebook page.

Bishops pass marriage resolutions

House of Deputies News reported that the House of Bishops, on June 29, 2015, passed two critical marriage resolutions. Resolution A054: Adopt Resources and Rites from “Liturgical Resources I: I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing, Revised and Expanded 2015” amended from the proposed resolution from the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music offers a gender-neutral service modified from the current prayer book liturgy, as well as an updated version of the service approved for provisional use for blessing same-sex unions at the 2012 convention. Resolution A036: Amend Canon I.18 Marriage changes the marriage canon in various ways to correct problems with the existing canon and to allow for an expanded view of marriage.

Church in South Carolina files brief

The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina filed a brief with the South Carolina Supreme Court June 25, 2015. The brief is a response to the recent filing from the breakaway group led by Mark Lawrence (see Pittsburgh Update story here). The Episcopal parties are appealing the trial-court verdict that found the Lawrence group the proper owners of former real and intellectual property of the undivided Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. The Episcopal Church in South Carolina press release includes links to the respective briefs.

St. James, Newport Beach, loses in court

St. James the Great Episcopal Church of Newport Beach, California, has lost its battle to keep the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles from selling its property to a developer. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Judge David McEachen determined that the congregation of the church did not have standing to challenge the sale. Details can be read in the story from Episcopal Café.

Bishop of Central Florida resigns from TSM board

Bishop of Central Florida Gregory O. Brewer met with Dean of Trinity School for Ministry June 16, 2015, in Orlando. The TSM board was apparently upset with Brewer’s view that the son of a gay couple should be baptized at the Orlando cathedral. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Brewer was asked to take a leave of absence while the TSM board considered the situation. Instead, Brewer resigned from the TSM board. Anglican Ink covered this story. Brewer’s June 16 letter of resignation is here.

Monday, June 22, 2015

News for Week Ending 6/22/2015

Church of Nigeria distances itself from Josiah Idowu-Fearon

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has posted a letter on its Web site indicating that Nigerian Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, who has been appointed Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, will be retiring from the church on July 1, 2015. The letter oddly cites an Anglican Ink story about Idowu-Fearon’s appointment in making the point that the bishop does not hold the same position on homosexuality as does the Church of Nigeria. The letter states
The Most Rev’d Josiah Idowu-Fearon’s statement: ‘I have never supported the law in Nigeria that criminalizes the gay community and I will never support it,’ clearly indicates that he is not in accord with the theological and doctrinal posture of the Church of Nigeria.
The letter asserts that Idowu-Fearon does not represent the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).

Legal challenge to CoE women bishops dismissed

Church Times reported June 19, 2015, that a legal challenge to the election of the Archdeacon of Hackney, the Ven. Rachel Treweek, as Bishop of Gloucester has been dismissed. The selection of Treweek was opposed by Priest-in-Charge of St, George’s, Hanworth Park, London, the Rev. Paul Stewart Williamson. Williamson had earlier challenged the legality of the ordination of women to the priesthood, and Church Times reported that his arguments before the Court of the Vicar-General of the province of Canterbury rehashed the same arguments.

Newport Beach parish fighting sale of property

The June 1, 2015, Pittsburgh Update reported that the congregation of St. James the Great, Newport Beach, was looking for a new home after the diocese, without warning, announced that it was selling the building to a developer to build upscale town homes. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Parishioners have now set up a Web site and a Facebook page to seek support for reversing the sale. Also, they have organized against the zoning variance necessary for the town homes to be built. They have enlisted the original donor of the land who specified it was to be used only for a place of worship.  On June 21, the congregation posted a statement of facts by the vicar in charge that counters almost all the claims of the diocese concerning the financial and parking situations cited by Bishop Jon Bruno as the reason for the sale. They have taken their cause beyond the diocese by writing Episcopal Church bishops and posting a letter from their vicar on an House of Bishops and Deputies e-mail list.

Six Hmong among 33 ordained by in Minnesota

The ordination of 33 deacons and priests by Bishop Brian Prior on June 20, 2015, has to be among the largest ordinations ever held in Minnesota. It also is a landmark in the growth of an Episcopal ministry to the Hmong, as seven members of the Hmong congregation, Holy Apostles Church, were among the ordinands. Six of those, three men and three women, are Hmong. Two of the Hmong women and the one non-Hmong from Holy Apostles were ordained as vocational deacons. The other woman and three men were ordained as transitional deacons. That woman is on track to be the first Hmong woman to become a priest. The seven will all be part of a shared ministry team at Holy Apostles that also includes 7 commissioned lay ministers. The Minnesota diocese is not only leading the way in Hmong ministry but in shared ministry in general.  Twenty-one of the 33 ordinands are part of shared ministry teams who will serve as non-stipendiary priests in parishes around the diocese. Anglican Communion News Service covered the ordination story. The actual ordination can be viewed here.

Breakaway South Carolina group files argument with Supreme Court

The breakaway group led by former Episcopal bishop Mark Lawrence filed a brief with the South Carolina Supreme Court June 16, 2015. The Episcopal Church in South Carolina appealed the trial court decision awarding property to the breakaway group. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Supreme Court will hear arguments September 23. The Post and Courier covered this story. The press release from the Lawrence group, which includes a link to the brief, can be found here.

Episcopal Church General Convention begins June 25

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church officially begins June 25, 2015, in Salt Lake City. The convention will elect a new Presiding Bishop and deal with resolutions that could change the polity of the church and its position on marriage. As noted here last week, Episcopalians wishing to follow events in Salt Lake City can visit the General Convention’s Media Hub. There is also a Guidebook for the convention, available for computers, cell phones, and tablets that provides information on hearing schedules and other events. The main General Convention page on the Web is here. Episcopalians may also want to check out the new unofficial Web site House of Deputies News and its corresponding Facebook page.

PEP board member takes leave of absence after financial mismanagement charged

Lionel Deimel, the first President of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh and a current board member, has taken a leave of absence from the PEP board after being accused of mismanagement of the financial affairs of an elderly woman for whom he had power of attorney. The story was covered by Episcopal Café, which contains links to newspaper stories.

Monday, June 15, 2015

News for Week Endoing 6/15/2015

CoE appoints fourth woman bishop

On June 9, 2015, the government of England announced the appointment of the Rev. Dame Sarah Elisabeth Mullally as Bishop of Crediton. Mullally, Canon Treasurer at Salisbury Cathedral, thus becomes the fourth woman bishop to be appointed in the Church of England since that church authorized women bishops. Crediton is a suffragan see in the Diocese of Exeter. The brief government announcement is here. A more personal view of Mullally can be found on the Diocese of Exeter Web site.

Bishop resigns from Anglo-Catholic group

The Society under the patronage of St. Wilfrid and St. Hilda, an organization in the Church of England opposed to women priests and bishops and led by a Council of Bishops, lost one of its Council bishops last week. The West Sussex County Times reported June 10, 2015, that the Rt. Rev. Mark Sowerby, Bishop of Horsham, has resigned from the Council of Bishops “following a period of strenuous theological reflection over the issue of women bishops.”

Montreal elects first woman bishop

Anglican Journal reported June 6, 2015, that the Anglican Diocese of Montreal has elected its first woman bishop in its 165-year history. The Very Rev. Mary Irwin-Gibson, dean and rector of St. George’s Anglican Cathedral in Kingston, Ontario, was elected the twelfth Bishop of Montreal from a field dominated by women candidates.

Scottish Episcopal Church takes steps toward changing marriage canon

The Scottish Episcopal Church voted June 12, 2015, to begin a process of canonical change that could allow clergy to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies and to themselves marry same-sex partners. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The process of change takes two years and, if effected, will remove part of the marriage canon that refers to a “union of one man and one woman.” Thinking Anglicans has reproduced the press release from the Scottish Episcopal Church and related commentary about the development.

Marriage discussion heats up as General Convention nears

The 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church begins meeting on June 25, 2015, and the recommendations of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage will be one of the major topics of discussion. (See Pittsburgh Update story here and Episcopal News Service story summarizing the report to the General Convention.) As the convention nears, the task force report is becoming a major topic of discussion elsewhere. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Thinking Anglicans has collected links to a number of commentaries on marriage and the task force recommendations, including an article in The Living Church for which Bishop of Pittsburgh Dorsey McConnell is a co-author. Much of the discussion is less about where we are going as a church than about how we should get there. The Rev. Mark Harris has also published an essay suggesting that the issue with marriage is more about justice than about theology.

Prominent Evangelical changes mind on same-sex marriage

The Evangelical world received a shock on June 8, 2015, when prominent Evangelical Tony Campolo wrote on his blog
It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.
Not surprisingly, conservative Evangelicals deplored Campolo’s new understanding. As the Christian Broadcasting Network has pointed out, however, white Evangelicals are increasingly out-of-step with Catholics and mainline white Protestants on gay marriage.

General Convention Media Hub on-line

For Episcopalians not attending the General Convention in Salt Lake City, the Episcopal Church Media Hub can offer the next best thing to being there. The Web page at http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/gc/ promises: “Tune in here for live-streaming from Salt Lake City of legislative sessions from both houses, daily worship, press round-ups, and on-demand features. Plus you'll find links to coverage from Episcopal News Service and a complete calendar of events. June 22 to July 3, 2015.” You may want to bookmark the page now.

Blue Book available as a single file

The so-called Blue Book containing reports for the upcoming General Convention is now available as a single PDF file. The availability of the file was announced June 11, 2015, by the Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs. Many of the resolutions to be considered by the General Convention can be found in the Blue Book, but there are other resolutions that are not embedded in reports. A complete list of resolutions, which is still growing as of this writing, can be found here.

General Convention faces another Anglican Covenant decision

The 2012 General Convention adopted Resolution B005, which declared that there were a variety of opinions about the Anglican Covenant within The Episcopal Church and that “as a pastoral response to The Episcopal Church, the General Convention decline to take a position on the Anglican Covenant at this convention.” Very little has changed since 2012, and the General Convention will likely again express its opinion about the Anglican Covenant. B005 charged the Executive Council with reporting about the Covenant in 2015. It has offered Resolution A040, which essentially approves of most of the Covenant without adopting the all of it. Since then, Resolution D022 has been offered by deputies in Missouri and Pittsburgh. D022  is similar to A040, but it makes no suggestion of approving even parts of the Covenant. The two 2015 resolutions are discussed on Episcopal Café. Of course, the convention may adopt something different from both of the resolutions.

Fort Worth suffers another legal defeat

On June 8, 2015, the Hon. John P. Chupp of the 141st District Court, Tarrant County, Texas, granted the motion for partial summary judgment filed by the breakaway Fort Worth group regarding All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Fort Worth. (See Pittsburgh Update stories here and here.) The parties will soon confer on a final order from the judge. According to the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the decision will be appealed.

South Carolina trademark case returns to federal district court

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina reported June 11, 2015, that a status hearing regarding the trademark case brought against Mark Lawrence and his breakaway South Carolina group was held in the federal district court in Charleston before Judge C. Weston Houck. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals returned the case to Judge Houck’s court saying that the judge had used the wrong criterion to decide that the case should be delayed pending resolution of the state case brought by the breakaway group, the defendants in the federal case. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The defendants are to file a brief by June 30, after which the plaintiffs will have 15 days to respond.

Episcopal Church in South Carolina settlement offer rejected by breakaway group

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (ECSC) proposed a settlement of the property dispute between ECSC and the group that broke away from the diocese (and claims to be the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina). The proposal would have left parish property in the hands of current congregations. It would have returned diocesan real, personal, and intellectual property to ECSC, which could again legally call itself the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. The deal was first offered June 2, 2015, with a June 15 deadline for acceptance. The offer was apparently approved by the Presiding Bishop. News of the offer was first broken by South Carolina Episcopalians on June 12. ECSC revealed the offer June 15. Shortly thereafter, however, the group led by for bishop Mark Lawrence rejected the offer, calling it “spurious.” Episcopal Café published a story on these developments that includes a number of links that provide additional information.

Monday, June 8, 2015

News for Week Ending 6/8/2015

Russian Orthodox Church breaks ties with French and Scottish churches

On June 4, 2015, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported that the Russian Orthodox Church has broken ties with Protestant churches in France and Scotland over the issue of same-sex marriage. The Moscow Patriarchate declared that contacts with France’s United Protestant Church and the Church of Scotland are pointless, given recent decisions by the two churches. The United Protestant Church voted to allow pastors to bless same-sex marriages, and the Church of Scotland, a Presbyterian church, approved ordaining clergy in same-sex civil unions. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Details are here.

Scottish Episcopal Church to vote on same-sex marriage

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church will vote June 12, 2015, on whether to move forward in the process that would allow clergy to officiate at same-sex weddings. Full approval for clergy to perform such weddings could take two years. This story was reported June 7 by KaleidoScot. Additional information is available at Episcopal Café.

Brazilian church to celebrate 125-year anniversary

Episcopal News Service reported June 4, 2015, that the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil will celebrate its 125th anniversary this year. The church was begun in 1890 through the work of two missionaries from Virginia Theological Seminary. The church became an independent member of the Anglican Communion in 1965. It is therefore celebrating 50 years of autonomy. It is also celebrating 30 years of women’s ordination. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached at Holy Trinity Cathedral, in Porto Alegre on June 7. Her sermon can be read here.

Episcopal Café offers guide to marriage commentary

The upcoming General Convention will be asked to consider resolutions recommended by the Task Force on the Study of Marriage. These resolutions, which are not uniformly popular, would move the church closer to approving a gender-neutral marriage liturgy. Episcopal Café has helpfully provided a guide to some of the commentary that has appeared related to the task force recommendations.

Heather Cook granted trial delay

The Baltimore Sun reported June 5, 2015, that Circuit Judge Wanda K. Heard has granted former Maryland suffragan bishop Heather Cook a postponement of her trial date to September 9. Cook faces numerous charges resulting from her vehicular killing of bicyclist Thomas Palermo on December 27, 2014. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Diocesan priest running to raise money for Episcopal Relief & Development

The Rev. Bill Geiger, Rector of Christ Church, Indiana, will be one of a team of runners involved in a 194-mile relay in the Wasatch Mountains the weekend before the General Convention begins in Salt Lake City. The relay is a fund-raising event for Episcopal Relief & Development. Geiger, who was elected second alternate clergy deputy to the General Convention from the Diocese of Pittsburgh, will be attending as first alternate because the Rev. Moni McIntyre, the elected first alternate deputy, is unable to attend. The Diocese of Pittsburgh publicized Geiger’s run on the diocesan Web site. Additional information, including how to contribute to Episcopal Relief & Development, can be found here.

Monday, June 1, 2015

News for Week Ending 6/1/2015

Carey: Duncan ‘is a good friend’ but I probably wouldn’t have chosen to leave Episcopal Church

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, was interviewed in Detroit by The Blade. The interview was published May 23, 2015, and covers a number of topics, including the West’s response to Islamic State. Carey expressed a strong interest in church unity. He noted that Robert Duncan “is a good friend of mine and I admire him immensely, but in his position I may not, probably would not, have made his choice” to leave The Episcopal church. The full interview can be read here

CoE motions seeks transgender service

Church Times reported May 30, 2015, that a General Synod motion has been filed that asks the House of Bishops to consider whether a liturgy is needed “to mark a person's gender transition.” The motion was inspired by an incident in the Diocese of Blackburn in which a man asked to be “rebaptized,” although he had already been bapized as a girl.

CoE vicar refuses baptism

Another row has erupted over the baptism of a child, this time in the Church of England. The Vicar of St. John’s Church, Dukinfield, in the Diocese of Chester has refused to baptize a 9-month-old boy because his parents, though Christians living together, are unmarried. The Rev. Tim Hayes offered to bless the child instead. The couple claimed that they were not married because of the expense. Hayes offered a marriage ceremony at no cost. The story was covered by the Manchester Evening News May 27, 2015. Thinking Anglicans has provided background and links.

Gallup: Americans more liberal on moral issues

According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans are becoming more liberal on moral issues, a trend seen most dramatically in attitudes toward homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Episcopal Café summarized the Gallup findings, details of which can be found here.

Nebraska abolishes death penalty

Nebraska legislators voted May 27, 2015, to overturn Governor Pete Ricketts’ veto of a bill abolishing the death penalty in the state.The vote was 30–19 in the single-house legislature, the only such legislature in the U.S. The result came as something of a surprise to many, given that Nebraska politics is dominated by Republicans. Details can be found in a story from Episcopal Café.

Bishops on GTS board write to fellow bishops

Episcopal News Service reported May 28, 2015, that the bishops on the board of General Theological Seminary wrote to all the bishops in The Episcopal Church May 20 enumerating what they consider positive developments at the church’s oldest seminary. Significantly, the letter ends with a plea to send students to the seminary. Both students and faculty have left GTS this past year as a result of the controversy over Dean and President Kurt Dunkle. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Presiding Bishop speaks of women bishops

On May 26, 2015, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori spoke at the Westminster Faith Debates at St. James’s Church in London. She argued for the special role of women bishops and women in leadership positions generally. Episcopal News Service posted her remarks.

Newport Beach congregation seeking new home

Pittsburgh Update reported last week that the property of St. James, Newport Beach, is being sold. (See story here.) Bishop of Los Angeles J. Jon Bruno informed the Episcopal congregation last month and justified the move in a letter to parishioners. The congregation is seeking a new worship home. Details are provided in a May 27, 2015, story from the Daily Pilot.