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         

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Week Ending 7/25/16

Lake Oswego Priest Wins AR-15 in Raffle

The rector of Christ Church Episcopal Parish in Lake Oswego, New York bought 150 of the 499 raffle tickets that a girl's softball team was selling to finance a trip.  He would have bought more , but when he went back, the tickets were gone.  In the end, he won out over another purchaser who had bought 170 tickets.  The money came from his discretionary fund and donations by parishioners. The Rev. Jeremy Lucas wanted to win the AR-15 rifle that was the prize in order to remove it from circulation.   His goal is to have local artists transform the weapon into something positive and to remove a weapon from circulation. 

Episcopal Seminaries in the News

This last week the Episcopal Divinity School in Massachusetts announced that it would ceasse granting degrees in 2017. The seminary promised to help already enrolled students finish their studies.  A special committee has been formed to see what the seminary may do in the future.   EDS has gone through several changes in leadership and has been struggling with finances.   Meanwhile, in Chicago, Bexley Seabury Seminary announced its new quarters in the Hyde Park area where it will be able to take advantage of cross enrollments with several other seminaries of other denominations in the area.  Bexley-Seabury. Bexley-Seabury is the creation of a merger of Bexley Hall and Seabury Western Seminaries.  This merger had earlier resulted in Seabury selling its Evanston, IL campus and ceasing traditional on-campus classes.  Bexley recently ended its arrangement with the Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, and now the full operation of the seminary will be located in Chicago where its dean, Roger Ferlo already resided. For background, try Update stories, here, here, and here.

Hawaii Mourns loss of Congressman

Mark Takai, a well-respected first term member of Congress lost his battle with pancreatic cancer this last week.   Tributes note his commitment to the poor, social justice, his ability to get along with people on both sides of the aisle.  Takai was a lifelong Episcopalian.

San Joaquin Bishop Comments on the Lawsuit

Bishop Rice of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin gave an interview to Episcopal Cafe on the impact of the California Supreme Court Decision not to review the appeal on the diocesan property case, a decision that meant the property would not be turned over to the Episcopalians. His interview left little doubt that many of the properties would be sold. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Week Ending 7/18/16

Retired Mississippi Bishop and Civil Rights Advocate Dies

Bishop Duncan Gray, Jr. died at age 89 this last week.  As a priest in Oxford, Mississippi in 1962 when James Meredith enrolled as the first black student at the University of Mississippi, Gray acted to support Meredith and tried to calm the mobs that gathered in protest.  Later as Bishop of Mississippi (a post also held by his father Duncan Gray Sr., and his son Duncan Gray III)  Gray continued to work against racism and build a more inclusive diocese.

San Joaquin Episcopalians Prevail

The Chancellor for the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin informed the diocese this week that the California Supreme Court had refused to hear an appeal on the lawsuit filed 7 years ago to recover diocesan and parish property from the group that left  the Episcopal Church.  The ACNA bishop acknowledged that the case was over and he would now focus on working out the details of an orderly transition for the roughly $50 million dollars worth of property including investments, building, and a diocesan conference center.  Three parish lawsuit still remain to be settled.  In contrast to the restrained statements by the two dioceses, Alex Haley, one of the lawyers for the losing side used his blog to vent angrily.  Pittsburgh Update has long tracked this case from the initial filing in 2008 through a set of appeals, a rehearing at the trial level and the final round of appeals.

Details and Responses to the Canadian Church Vote

More detail has emerged on the recount of the Anglican Church of Canada synod vote to explicitly include same sex couples in their marriage cannon. As the Pittsburgh Update reported last week, it was first announced that the vote had failed by one vote among the clergy.  However, when the vote tally was published, people noted that there were missing or misclassified voters. There was a breakdown in the electronic clicker system, and in the information identifying who was eligible to vote and as part of which order (lay, clergy, bishop). When the errors were corrected, the measure passed. Although the change will require a second vote, Canadian bishops are acting if it is a done deal, several announcing that they will authorize marriages under the current canons, and seven bishops issuing a statement of opposition to the change.  Archbishop Fred Hiltz has announced he has no authority to prevent bishops from authorizing church weddings for same sex couples.

Charges Against Bishop Bruno Sent to Panel of Review

Pittsburgh Update last week carried a short statement from the St. James the Great congregation that confirmed the case that they had filed against Bishop Bruno for actions taken as part of his efforts to sell their building will be sent forward for a Panel of Review hearing.  In general, the charges were for conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy, especially lying, and vindictively retaliating when he met opposition to the sale of the property.  The Conference Panel had the power to dismiss charges, send them forward for trial or try to work out an accord.  Bruno refused to discuss any possible settlement, and the panel found the charges credible enough to send forward for a hearing.  This is the closest thing to a trial in the current disciplinary canon of the Episcopal Church.  The Save St. James web site has posted an update letter, copies of their summary of their position and proposed accord submitted to the Conference Panel, and the charges the Church Attorney is sending to the Panel of Review.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Week Ending 07/11/16

Episcopal Church Responds to Week of Gun Violence

The shootings by police of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and of Philando Castile in Minnesota, and the shooting of 11 police officers (5 of whom died) in Dallas as they provided support for a peaceful demonstration protesting the earlier shootings elicited a call for prayer and study of ways to end racial strife by Presiding Bishop Curry, and statements on the initial shootings from the bishops in Minnesota and Louisiana, as well as responses to the Dallas shooting by the bishops in Dallas and Fort Worth.  In addition, the Bishop of Louisiana and a diocesan delegation marched in a Baton Rouge protest on the July 10th against all of the violence.  Episcopal Churches in other areas also responded.  All Saints, Pasadena, for example,  held its own march.  Many used the Good Samaritan readings on Sunday to preach against violence.

Bishop Bruno Case to Move to Next Level

Pittsburgh Update reported earlier that St. James, Newport Beach had a Facebook posting,  saying that although they had been asked not to disclose the outcome of the June 20 Conference Panel hearing, it was likely their complaint against Bishop Bruno would move to the next level. The parish has now posted a notice on the front page of their web page that efforts at reconciliation by the Conference Panel which met June 20, 2016  have failed and the charges against Bishop Bruno will now move to an ecclesiastical hearing by a Reference Panel.

Church Developments on Same Sex Marriages

It appeared that efforts to change the marriage canon in the Anglican Church in Canada fell one vote short in among the clergy while being approved by both the lay and bishops at the annual synod.  A number of bishops responded saying that the current canons do not forbid same sex marriages and they will approve parishes offering same sex marriage.  At least one authorized use of one of the rite approved by The Episcopal Church's General Convention last year.  However, in a recent development, a check of the votes showed that one clergy vote was miscounted as a lay vote, and in fact, Canada DID approve a change in cannons so that it explictly allows same-sex marriage.  Meanwhile, the synod of the Church of England held closed door conversations on sexuality despite threats of a walk-out by the most die-hard opponents to same-sex couples.  While the Church of England talked, the United Reformed Church (heir to the Congregational and Presbyterian traditions in England) in the United Kingdom approved same-sex marriages being performed in their churches.

South India Church Subject to Fraud Investigation

The Church of South India, which is recognized as a province in the Anglican Communion is currently under investigation for fraud and tax errors.  A number of laity have been trying to get an investigation  into the practices of the dioceses for at least nine years.  The Church is overseen by a committee of bishops.  Its moderator, the Rt. Rev. G Dyvasirvadam, who has only been in office for the last two years is confident that the audit will show that there were errors, but not a deliberate attempt to defraud.

Former Presiding Bishop Browning Dies

Edmund Lee Browning, the last Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church  to serve a 12 year term, and who was known for his statement that in the Episcopal Church "There will be no outcasts" lost his struggle with cancer on July 12, 2016.  Browning was the Bishop of Hawaii when he became Presiding Bishop.  During his term, he consecrated Barbara Harris as the first woman bishop in the Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion.  He also was known for outreach to Native Americans, his response to economic and social injustice and the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s.  There are two postings on the Episcopal News Network,  a general story and the official obituary

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Week Ending 7/4/16

Bishop Transitions in South Carolina

This week South Carolinians were saying "hello" to Bishop "Skip" Adams who has been nominated as the next provisional bishop for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.  Adams is retiring as bishop of Central New York.  The diocese will formally elect him at their convention in September.  He replaces Bishop vonRosenberg, the retired  Bishop of Tennessee who has served as provisional bishop during the stressful rebuilding of the diocese following schism.  The diocese was also responding to the news of the death of their former bishop, Edward Salmon.  Salmon worked closely with those who led the ACNA schism, but he himself refused to leave the Episcopal Church.  His funeral is scheduled for the Episcopal parish he served near St. Louis, Missouri, before becoming bishop and where he retired after serving as head of Nashotah House Seminary.  Both the Episcopal Diocese and the schismatic diocese are holding memorial services in Charleston. The June 29 entry for the web site scepiscopalians.com has long commentary on Bishop Salmon's role in the SC controversy.

Episcopal Parishes in West Virginia Respond to Flooding

The Episcopal Churches in two of the areas in West Virginia hardest hit by flooding are serving as disaster relief sites.  The Church in Greenbriar, St. James Parish,  was prepared to respond to disaster and has quickly teamed up with the Greenbriar United Way to become a major distribution hub for relief efforts.  In White Sulphur Springs, St. Thomas Episcopal Church was one of the few public buildings not to be flooded and to retain electric service.  The Episcopal News Service has a good article on the efforts in the two parishes.  A member of the United Way has set up an Amazon.com wish list where people can buy items needed for relief and have them shipped directly to the the parish.  You can find that list here.

 Kenyan Anglicans in the News

This last week Kenyans were celebrating the enthronement of their new Archbishop, Jackson Nasoore ole Sapit, whose route to Christianity, ordination, and leadership is an amazing story.  Sapit has been known for his ability to bring warring groups together.  He may well need to use that ability in dealing with a lawsuit filed by three Anglican priests against their bishop and diocese for destroying their careers and good names by calling them gay. 

St. James Newport Beach Saga Continues

St. James the Great parish in Newport Beach, CA posted a cryptic statement on their Facebook page following the hearing held on charges they filed against Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles.  Bruno locked the parish out of their building as part of his efforts to sell the property to a developer.  That land deal has fallen apart but the parish and Bishop remain at odds.  The note says that they have been asked to remain quiet until the panel official report is released, but it appears proceedings against Bishop Bruno will be going forward to a public Hearing Panel.   Pittsburgh Update has followed this story from its beginnings.  Our most recent posting is here.