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, March 29, 2016

Week Ending 3/28/16

Latest Research Shows Christians Still Believe Faith Is a Force for Good

Despite all the bad press for organized religion  and emphasis in the news on religious extremists, a recent Barna poll shows that a majority of Christians still believe that their faith is a positive force in the world.  The details are here.

 Taliban Faction Attacks Christians in Pakistan

In the latest terrorist bombing attack, at least 70 have died in Pakistan.  The Taliban faction claiming responsibility deliberately targeted a park on Easter Sunday where they knew Christian families would be gathered to celebrate the day. Stories on CNN and in the Chicago Tribune are typical.

South Carolina Episcopalians Take Next Step in Federal Lawsuit

While both the breakaway faction led by Mark Lawrence and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina continue to wait for a decision from the state supreme court on property issues, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina has moved to try to prod the federal judge who has been refusing to act on a separate legal action.  The federal case was filed by Bishop vonRosenberg under the Federal Lanham Act governing trademarks and false advertising.  The retired judge assigned the case originally refused to act saying the case in state court would settle the issues.  He was overruled by the U.S. Court of Appeals and told to hear the case claiming that Mark Lawrence's group is claiming that they are the Episcopal Church and that he is an Episcopal bishop. (See Update Story here)  The judge again put the trial on hold waiting the outcome of the state case.  Now South Carolina has filed documents arguing that the judge is in error and the cases involve separate issues.

New Zealand Church Billboard About Trump Is Stolen

St. Luke's Church in Remeura,  Aukland, New Zealand had a billboard on its property stolen.  It showed Donald Trump with a mallet in his hand standing next to Jesus on the cross with the message "I don't like losers."  someone stole it during Holy week.  It is not clear if it was stolen as a prank, or because someone was offended by it.  The church intends to replace the poster after Easter.  It was intended to show the difference between church values and those of Trump, but others may have read it differently.

St. James, Newport Beach, Congregation Moves Again

The Daily Pilot published by the Los Angeles Times reports that the Congregation of St. James the Great which has been in conflict with Bishop Jon Bruno over his attempt to sell their building has found a new home at the Newport Beach Civic Center.  They had been meeting at a local art center.  Pittsburgh Update has had numerous stories on this congregation's saga.

Lexington Bishop Steps Aside for A Year after Infidelity Revealed

The Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry announced that Bishop Hahn of the Diocese of Lexington would be taking a year's leave of absence after a past affair with a parishioner became known.  The affair took place before his election.  Later stories revealed that he withheld information from the bishop's search committee.  The Lexington Diocese is moving ahead with plans for an interim bishop.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Week Ending 3/21/16

Bishops Letter on Rhetorical Violence Draws Comment

The House of Bishops has issued a letter "A Word to the Church" condemning the hate speech and rhetorical violence that has distorted public discourse, especially the recent political campaigns.  The letter, while succinct, is thoroughly grounded in scripture and theology.  It is available here.  Since it was issued, the Living Church has noted that the United Church of Christ has commended the statement. Mark Harris, however, while all in favor of civil discourse, was disappointed in the statement's use of the crucifixion and resurrection.

Attendance at Upcoming ACC Meeting Remains an Issue

Nigeria has joined Kenya and Uganda in announcing that they will not be attending the upcoming meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka because the Episcopal Church is planning on participating fully. (See previous Update stories here and here,) The statement calls the meeting a "trap" to suck provinces in to positions accepting homosexuality.  Meanwhile, David Virtue has announced he has been given a copy of a private letter sent to all the Anglican Communion primates by Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, urging all provinces to come and fully participate.

Pakistan Metro Line Construction Threatens Anglican Cathedral

Construction of a new metro train line in Lahore  puts 25 cultural heritage sites, including the Anglican Cathedral, at risk to be razed.  Several church sites in addition to the cathedral are among the 25, raising questions of religious persecution of Christians.  All of the sites are protected by law, and one, Shalimar Gardens is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Week Ending 3/14/16

Court cases in Fort Worth and San Joaquin Move Forward

On March 9, 2016 a three judge panel from the 5th Court of Appeals heard  oral arguments on the remaining property issues between the ACNA Diocese and the Episcopal Diocese in San Joaquin over a year after the ACNA group announced it would appeal the final ruling awarding all property to the Episcopal Diocese.  The Appeals Court must issue its verdict within 90 days. For the filing of the appeal see the Pittsburgh Update story here.  The ACNA diocese has issued this statement on the oral arguments.  Meanwhile, the ACNA group in Fort Worth finally filed its briefs March 4 answering  the appeal filed by Episcopalians in Fort Worth.  After a rehearing of the original case, the trial judge reversed his original opinion and awarded all property to the ACNA schismatics.  The Episcopal diocese filed its briefs for an appeal in early December, and after two extensions of time the ACNA group's responses are now with the court. For the Episcopal Church filing see Pittsburgh Update here.

Japanese Church Calls for End to ALL Nuclear Power

On the third anniversary of the devastating earthquake and Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown in Japan, the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Episcopal Church of Japan) has issued a call to the rest of the Anglican Communion to join it working to end all use of nuclear power.  The Church has been running regular trips to take children for recreation outside of areas at risk of radiation from the Fukushima disaster and providing care to elderly forced to relocate by the disaster. Church leaders are calling the disaster a "warning" from God.

Kenya Also to Stay Away from Anglican Consultative Council Meeting

To no one's surprise, the Kenyan Archbishop Wabukala announced this week that Kenya would not send deputies to the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in April.  Since Wabukala serves as chairman of GAFCON, his announcement was expected.  Wabukala cited the fact that the Episcopal Church planned to attend and participate despite the statement issued by the gathering of primates in January as the reason for not attending. The ACC will meet April 8-19 in Lusaka., the capital of Zambia, which is part of the Anglican Province of Central Africa.

Canadian Report on Same Sex Blessings Continues to Make Waves

Controversy continues around the report on same sex couples' blessing in Canada.  It resulted in the Anglican Church of Canada's House of Bishops issuing a statement that it was unlikely the House would be able to muster the required 2/3 votes needed to implement the report recommendations (see Pittsburgh Update here). The House of Bishops' announcement at first seemed to be a reaction to the primate's gathering in January, but now some Canadian bishops have stated they would leave the church if a rite for same sex blessings were approved. The Council of the General Synod issued its own statement in response to the House of Bishops, noting that the report would be presented and voted on at the synod.

Diocese of Pennsylvania Elects New Bishop

After years of controversy with their former Bishop Charles Bennison, including in his deposition, restoration, and retirement, and then two years of stabilization under a provisional bishop, the Diocese of Pennsylvania has elected Daniel G. P. Gutierrez, Canon to the Ordinary of the Diocese of Rio Grande as their next bishop.  A history major with an M.A. in public administration, Gutierrez entered the ministry in 2008 after a career in public service and economic development.  He has a certificate in Anglican Studies from Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge (2007)  and a Master's of Theological Studies from St. Norbert College (2011).  St. Norbert's is a Roman Catholic College with a home campus in Wisconsin and a center in Albuquerque, N.M.  Bishop-elect Gutierrez has also been deeply involved in projects in the Navaholand Area Mission.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Week Ending 3/7/16

Two Studies Shed Light on Religion's Impact on Politics

Two centers that do serious polling and other social research studies on the role of religion issued reports this last week that shed light on the role of religion in the current election.  The PEW research center published a survey showing the the distribution of various religious traditions by state (including non-religious) among Republicans and Democrats.  Pairing this information with the outcomes of recent primaries is thought provoking.  The two parties also have different (but complex) religious profiles.  The Barna Group has published a study showing that religion has an increasingly bad reputation among Americans, and the number of Americans who equate all religion with extremism is growing. 

Sudanese Diocese Ends Relationship with Diocese of Indianapolis

The Diocese of Bor in South Sudan has formally ended its fourteen-year-old partnership with the Diocese of Indianapolis.  The notification of the end of the relationship was sent to Bishop Catherine Waynick because the House of Bishops of Sudan and South Sudan voted in December 2015 that Dioceses could not have formal partnerships with any other diocese where blessing of same sex couples occurs.  In her announcement of this to the diocese, Bishop Waynick noted that although the ending of the formal partnership meant that parishes were not obligated to pray each week for Bor, that she hoped many would continue to include them in their personal prayers.  

Easter Service Restored at Dublin Cathedral

Pittsburgh Update reported last month that government authorities had barred Easter services at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin and six other Church of Ireland churches in Dublin because of security concerns related to the events scheduled for that day in remembrance of the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising.  After much negotiations, church authorities announced that Christ Church Cathedral will be allowed to hold a said Easter service at 10:00 a.m. on Easter Day and a special bi-lingual prayer service tied the parade scheduled for that morning.  Parishioners will have to meet at a remote location and be bussed in to the cathedral.  The other churches will remain closed.

List of Nominees Announced for Successor to Duncan as Pittsburgh's ACNA Bishop

The ACNA Diocese of Pittsburgh Standing Committee announced Monday, March 7, the list of nominees from which that diocese will select a successor to Robert Duncan on April 22.  There are eight candidates.  The list will sound familiar to Pittsburghers.  Only one does not have direct ties to Pittsburgh. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Week Ending 2/29/16

Malcolm Boyd Has Died

The Episcopal Church has lost one of its most well-known priests, Malcolm Boyd.  Boyd, was 91.  He turned from a successful career in Los Angeles to enter seminary and was ordained in 1955. He was active in racial justice from the beginning of his ministry, and in 1976 came out as gay.  Author of more than 24 books, he constantly reached out to those that were marginalized and could explain Christianity in ways that challenged Episcopalians and reached out to the unchurched. The L.A. Times published a complete run-down on Boyd's career.

Good Friday Collection Controversy

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry issued a letter reminding Episcopal clergy that traditionally their good Friday offerings went to provide support for the four Anglican dioceses in the Middle East and northern Africa.  Archbishop Mouneer Anis, the bishop of Egypt with Northern Africa and the Horn of Africa,responded that his diocese had refused all funds from TEC since 2003 because of TEC actions inclusive of LGBTQ people.  Because Anis also serves as the Archbishop for the four dioceses, discussion on a Facebook page for those interested in matters that come before the General Convention focused on whether he was rejecting funds for the whole Anglican province or just his diocese. 

Diocese of Newcastle in Australia Fed Up with Actions by Diocese of Sydney

The Bishop of Newcastle has finally had enough of attempts by the neighboring Diocese of Sydney to force its conservative agenda on others in Australia.  After Sydney circulated a letter to all dioceses demanding that they sign protocols that opposed homosexuality or Sydney won't attend province meetings, the Newcastle bishop snapped back, saying he won't attend the upcoming bishop's meeting and demanding that Sydney follow protocols in the Australian Church governing documents that forbid border-crossing.  The Newcastle bishop was especially concerned about formation of Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans groups in his diocese by Sydney people.  The most complete article is from the Newcastle Herald. The Episcopal Cafe also has an article. 

Ecumenical Hawaiian Group Takes on Frank Graham

When Frank Graham showed up in Hawaii for a rally where he was expected to call on people to elect all evangelicals to office and follow his version of Biblical teachings, he got a surprise.  A local Episcopal priest, working through an ecumenical organization organized a group to picket the rally with signs stressing Christian love, tolerance and acceptance.  Those demonstrating wanted to make sure that people knew there was another version of Christianity other than Graham's.

And Still More Fallout from the Primate's Gathering

This week, Presiding Bishop Curry used his opening statement to Executive Council to briefly comment on his health and then turned to his version of what happened at the Canterbury meeting.  Curry noted that the statement issued by the primates only affected primates and had no impact on the Anglican Consultative Council.  Meanwhile the Archbishop of Uganda announced that his province would not be attending the ACC since  the Episcopal Church had not repented or been disciplined. It is interesting to compare what Archbishop Ngtali of Uganda said happened at a primates meeting in 2003 with the actual final document from that meeting. In a decision possibly related to the "consequences" for the Episcopal Church announced by the 2016 primates gathering, it became clear that measures intended to bring forward resolutions supporting marriage equality at the synod of the Anglican Church of Canada would fall short of the 2/3 vote of support required in the House of Bishops.  It is not clear what the next step will be for the church there.