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         

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Week Ending 1/23/17

Episcopalians Involved in Inauguration Weekend Events

While on inauguration day the Episcopal Church had some involvement (a private service that used St. John's as its site and a National Cathedral choir singing as part of the prelude to the inauguration ), on Saturday the Church was more visible.  The inauguration events ended with a service at the National Cathedral.  Last week the Update carried a story on the controversy surrounding this event.  The event was a very multi-faith service in which Bishop Mariann Budde, the cathedral dean, a representative for the Presiding Bishop, and cathedral vergers all participated.  A full description is found here.  Meanwhile, the capitol was flooded with over a half million participants in the Women's March and additional millions attended "sister" marches in cities and towns throughout the U.S. and world wide.  Marchers in several did so as Episcopal groups. There is an Episcopal News Story about some of the participants.

Wales Joins Provinces with Women as Bishops

Wales has now joined the list of Anglican Communion provinces with women as bishops. The Rt. Reverend Joanna Penberthy was consecrated as the 129th Bishop of St. David's in a service conducted in both Welsh and English on January 21. (The Update carried news of her election in November.) Communion-wide, the U.S. led the way with the consecration of the Right Rev. Barbara Harris in 1986.  Women also have been consecrated as bishops in England, Ireland, Scotland, Southern Africa, South India, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The extra-provincial church in Cuba also has a woman as bishop.

Dakota Pipeline Construction Back On

Donald Trump has signed an executive memorandum directing the Army Corps of Engineers to speed up their environmental review of oil pipeline construction near the Standing Rock reservation so that the pipeline can be finished.  A core of water protectors have remained at camps at the protest site despite strong pressure and threats by law enforcement to remove them.  The Episcopal Church has supported the protectors and the local Episcopal Congregation remains involved.  The most recent previous Update story is here.

Archbishop of Canterbury Calls October Meeting for Primates

In an attempt to end some of the continuing warfare among Anglican Provinces over issues related to theology and LGBTQ inclusion, Archbishop Justin Welby has called a meeting of Anglican Primates only for October 2017.  The letter was sent in November, but has now been made public.  The last gathering of Primates was held in January 2016, and resulted in a request that the Episcopal Church stand down from leadership offices in the Communion and committee that dealt with ecumenical relations.  The ACNA Archbishop was an observer at that meeting.  The invitation for this coming October is for Communion Primates only.  Thus speculation about American "TEC Bishops" being invited is off-base.  The only TEC bishop eligible to go is Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. Some news stories have confused what Welby calls the "special" meeting of last January with an official primates meeting.  The meeting called for October seems to be a regular meeting,

Continuing Debate on Same-Sex Marriage

The Episcopal Cafe on-line magazine carried a story on speculation that the Church of England bishops are about to drop questions to LGBT clergy that required them to maintain a celibate lifestyle.  This would result in a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" situation for same-sex partnered clergy in England.  Meanwhile in Australia, Dr. Muriel Porter, a Melbourne journalist and Anglican who has served more than 30 years in the Australian Church's General Synod, has filed documents with the Australian Senate committee looking at same-sex marriage saying that most Aussie Anglicans have no problem with same sex-marriage. Her filing counters the one submitted by a priest from the Anglican Diocese of Sydney (the one Australian Diocese participating officially in GAFCON). Update carried a report on an earlier stage of the Australian Church's response to discussion in the senate.

Finally, the editor apologizes for late publication this week of the Update, but participation in the Women's March in Washington, threw off my work schedule.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Week Ending 01/16/17

Presidential Inaugural Concerns

While Episcopalians debated whether churches should pray for the incoming president by name or by title, and others were upset that Washington National Cathedral was hosting the post inauguration prayer service and sending its men's and boy's choir to sing as a prelude to the actual inauguration, the Archbishop of Canada asked members of his church to pray for people in the U.S.  The discussion over how to pray for the incoming president led Presiding Bishop Curry to issue a formal statement. Most prayers in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer for the country and its leaders are by generic title.  Only two have an option of adding a name. Those upset with the National Cathedral service raised issues about whether that was a form of endorsement of him, were concerned that the inaugural committee was planning the service, (not the cathedral dean or bishop), that there was to be no sermon, and that it was a ticketed event.  The performance by the cathedral music groups at the prelude to the inauguration was opposed as being inappropriate given Episcopal values.  Statements by the cathedral dean and Bishop Mariann Budde did not end the criticism.

Pauli Murray Home Named a National Landmark

The childhood home of the Rev. Pauli Murray, poet, activist, lawyer, feminist, and the first African American woman ordained to the Episcopal priesthood has been declared a national historic landmark.  The group restoring the house is working on opening the site by 2020.  You can read more about Murray here. Murray has a Pittsburgh connection, having spent the last year of her life in our diocese as a member of Holy Cross parish.

Reformed Church Ordains First Openly Gay Minister

Chad Tanaka Pack was ordained this last week in the Reformed Church in a ceremony at Middle Collegiate Church in New York.  He is on the staff of the Marble Collegiate Church also in New York City.  It makes for some interesting commuting because Pack is the spouse of the Rev. Michael Foley, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh, PA.  Pack is the first openly gay individual to enter the ordination process of the Reformed Church as an "out" gay.

Scots Criticized for Epiphany Service with Muslims

St. Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow planned its Epiphany Service with input from the local Muslim community which was invited to attend.  One of the readings for that service was from the Koran.  The Cathedral was surprised by the large number of protests they received.  Some of those upset threatened the church. The Primus of the Episcopal Church of Scotland has issued a statement saying the Church is sorry that the service caused so much offense and is also sorry for the abuse that the cathedral and staff have received.  They will be looking for other ways to continue the interfaith dialog.

ACNA Bishops Approve Trial texts for New Prayer Book

The 1979 Book of Common Prayer is on its way out in ACNA congregations.  The bishops of the break-away denomination have approved texts for all of the remaining parts of their new Book of Common Prayer and put them on line for people to make comments and to use.  They are on track to publish the new book in 2020.  Approval came at the recent ACNA House of Bishops meeting. 


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Week Ending 1/9/17

Ecumenical Groups Express Concern About Trump Appointments

The National Council of Churches and PICO National Network (the largest group of faith-based organizations) have both expressed concern about some of President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet Appointments.  The Religious Action Center of Reform Judiaism and the Rev. William Barber's group Moral Monkeys made statements. You can find a summary of their concerns here.

Controversy Continues Over Dar-es-Salom Bishop

The Archbishop of Tanzania deposed the Bishop of Dar-es-Salom for financial irregularities.  Bishop Mokiwa however is refusing to recognize the authority of the Archbishop to do this, and controversy continues.  It is not clear if the Archbishop can do this without the action of the House of Bishops and they had declined pursuing the charges.  Mokiwa is himself a former archbishop of the Anglican province.

Bishops Against Gun Violence Take Next Step

The Episcopal Bishops United Against Gun Violence are now facilitating a conference in Chicago on April 20-22, 2017 which hopes to empower those who attend to deal with the "unholy Trinity" of poverty, racism and guns.  You can find more information including registration information here.
The group of Bishops made their first public statements in a march during the 2015 General Convention in Salt Lake.  (See the Update here.)

Five Part Series on Diocese of Fort Worth Questioned

Last week Pittsburgh Update carried the link to the first of a five-part series by the Episcopal News Network on the "Resurrection" of the Diocese of Fort Worth.  The rest of articles each featured one parish, one that meets in a theater, one that does weekly lunches for college students, one meeting in a former mission chapel, and one in a shopping center.  Meanwhile the IRD has published an article picked up by conservative church news sources that questions the statistics showing diocesan growth  in the first article.  While the material in the IRD article may not be accurate on budget, the rest is based on The Episcopal Church parochial report statistics for the diocese.

Anglican Archbishops in the News

The Anglican Archbishop who headed the Maori track within the three-part organization of the Church in New Zealand has died.  Ninety-two-year-old Archbishop Brown Turei had already announced plans to step down in March 2017,  after serving for over 24 years as archbishop.  The update covered his retirement announcement here. Meanwhile Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby has come out with a statement in support of the Archbishop of Southern Africa.  The South African President Jacob Zuma had told Archbishop Thabo Makgoba to keep the church out of politics.  Both archbishops referred to the long history of the church witnessing on political issues.

Two Diocese Take Steps Forward

The Episcopal Diocese of Vermont has made a major commitment to green energy by purchasing the solar array that they had been leasing.  The array is on diocesan property and provided all the electricity needed for the diocesan conference center property with a little to spare and sell. Meanwhile, the diocese of Bethlehem is moving forward with plans to elect a bishop.  They have been sharing a bishop with the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Bishop Sean Rowe has served as provisional bishop of Bethlehem since  March 2014.

Too Much Candle Power at Christmas

Church of England vicar Frank Coleman noticed that his server's vestments had caught fire from a candle and it was about to spread to her hair on Christmas Eve.  He rushed over and patted out the fire with his hands and then after a member of the congregation made him soak his hand in cold water continued with the service.  The server was unhurt.  The vicar ended up after the service in the emergency room with severe burns on 30% of his hand.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Diocese of Fort Worth Featured in Series of Articles

The Episcopal News Service has begun a series of four articles on the rebuilding Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.  The first article covers ways that having to start over has led to innovation.

Province of South India Faces Charges of Corruption

The Anglican Province of South India (which is part of a consolidated church with Methodists and Presbyterians) is in court because a special state commission investigating fraud has made an initial finding that major corruption has taken place.  The investigator ordered the removal of all financial trustees. The same province has been in court defending the extension of the terms of current church official by one year. The question was whether that applied to the people currently in office or if the longer terms started with those to be elected in the upcoming synod.  These legal difficulties led the Presiding Bishop of the province to resign from Anglican Communion committees and commissions to focus on matters at home.

California Bishops Write to Trump

In December, Pittsburgh Update reported on a letter sent by Massachusetts Bishops to President Elect Trump.  Now the bishops of the six dioceses in California have sent a similar letter asking Trump to reconsider his choice for head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and calling on him to be a president for all people, especially immigrants, women, people of color, and the poor.

Egyptian Archbishop Calls Story "Inaccurate" 

Pittsburgh Update carried a summary of a story by George Conger in AnglicanInk that suggested Archbishop Annis of Egypt was upset with the Archbishop of Canterbury for appointing the dean of the Alexandria Cathedral to a task force and for being unsupportive in a legal battle that could subordinate the Anglican Province to the Presbyterian Church.  Now an Anglican Communion News Center release suggests that if Archbishop Annis is peeved at anyone, it is George Conger because he got a number of things wrong.  Conger is an Episcopal priest in Central Florida who has been sympathetic to the Global South and is the founder and chief editor of AnglicanInk.