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         

Friday, March 31, 2017

Special Post 3/31/17

Bruno Hearing Concludes

This is a special issue of the update with lins to stories by the Episcopal News Service and the Los Angles Times Orange County Paper, The Pilot. The second day of the hearings are here and here.  The final day is here and here.  The hearing panel may take some time to issue its conclusions.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Week Ending 03/27/17

Bishop Bruno's Church Trial Under Way

The first day of the three day hearing on the charges filed by members of St. James the Great in Newport Beach and others against Bishop Jon Bruno has concluded.  The Los Angeles Times reported on the testimony of prish members here and the Episcopal New Service filed this story before the start and this one at the close of the first day.  The Pittsburgh Update has been following this saga from its origins in spring 2015 when Bruno surprised the congregation with an announcement he was selling the parish building to developers.  Our most recent coverage is here and our initial stories are here and here.

Episcopal Bishops Issue Response to Trump's Executive Order on Environmental Regulations

Fifteen Episcopal Bishops have jointly issued a response to the recent executive order rolling back environmental regulations.  They spoke as faith leaders concerned about good stewardship of creation and the damage climate change is already doing to the lives of members of their churches.  They called on "the Trump Administration to protect the American people through implementing, strengthening, and improving critical climate change policies in our national agenda, building an American dream that courageously confronts the climate crisis."  You can read the whole statement and see the list of signers here.

Oregon Diocese Backs "Dreamer" arrested by ICE

When Ice agents pounded on the door of Francisco J. Rodriguez Dominguez who had come to  the US when he was 5 without papers, Dominguez called his local Episcopal priest for help.  The member of Holy Family Episcopal Church was arrested by federal agents minutes later even though they had no warrant.  Dominguez volunteered at a local food bank, worked for a social service agency, and coached a youth soccer league.  He was picked up because of a DUI charge that he was in the process of satisfying through a special program.  The Episcopal Bishop responded with a strong statement in support, members of the diocese rallied, and the ACLU was able to get him released on bond.  His release was speeded by the strong community and church support that quickly mobilized.   Dominguez, age 25, was a duly registered "dreamer" and his arrest on a misdemeanor has concerned many.  

Controversy in Wales and England continues over Choice of Bishops

Following the controversy over choice of a traditionalists who opposes ordination of women as  Bishop for Sheffield (which has women priests in about 30% of its parishes)  and his subsequent decision to decline the appointment, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have jointly issued a statement saying the have asked the official Independent Reviewer to address the concerns that arose from this controversy.  In other words, there will be an investigation of sorts. Meanwhile in Wales, five members of the electoral body have lodged a complaint and a formal investigation has begun as to whether homophobia was involved in the decision not to bring forward Jeffrey John's candidacy for Bishop of Llandaff.  Update has covered the Sheffield controversy here and the Wales situation here.

Anglican Delegation to UN Women's Meeting Vows to Work for Change

The Anglican Delegation to the United Nations Women's Meeting has vowed to work for change in all of their countries and churches that improve the status of women within the Anglican Communion and their own countries.  They have sent a statement to the Anglican Consultative Council urging that the Council encourage provinces to work for full inclusions of women within the life and leadership of the church, to train women as leaders, and denounce leaders implicated in gender violence. The earlier update story on Anglican involvement in the UN meeting is here.

Rise of a Christian Left 

Episcopal Cafe picked up a Reuters story on the rise of a Christian left following the recent election.  The story claims that Christian liberals are finally beginning to organize as a counter force to the Christian right.  The Episcopal Cafe has asked for comments if readers have noticed an upsurge in church activities supportive of liberal social and political causes.  Pittsburgh Update would like to point out that the Christian left is not a new thing.  Episcopalians were very much involved in a movement of Christian Socialism that was active during the Progressive Era and New Deal, and that the Episcopal Peace Fellowship (founded in 1939) has continued to be a voice for such liberal issues as abolition of the death penalty. In fact, they just issue a statement of concern in response to an announcement that Arkansas has scheduled eight executions for shortly after Easter. The Episcopal Environmental Network formed in 1989 to be a voice for concerns about the environment. The Episcopal Public Policy Network, which works across many issues was came out of a resolution of General Convention in 1982.

Nigerian Archbishop Quashes Hopes for Removal of Bishop in Sapele

Anglican.ink carried a story on the turmoil in the diocese of Sapele where members of the cathedral revolted against a bishop they found to be corrupt and were in turn locked out of the cathedral.  The statlemate has continued for two years.  Refusal of the opponents to the current bishop have refused to participate in hearings, however, and so the Nigerian archbishop has told them they have no choice but to recognize the existing bishop and stop their rebellion. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Week Ending 03/20/17

Some Conservatives Concerned about Supreme Court Nominee Gorsuch Because He Attends Episcopal Church

Update first noted that Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch was a member of St. John's Episcopal Church in Boulder immediately after his appointment was announced.  St. John's bills itself as an inclusive church with a rector who attended one of the women's marches the day after the inauguration. Episcopal Cafe reports that Episcopal Church stances and his parish's activities are continuing to worry some conservatives.  You can find examples of this concern in this article from the Christian Post and this blogger. The National Review has taken the concerns seriously enough to post a rebuttal. The best discussion of Gorsuch's religion is probably found on CNN.

UN Conference on Women Opens

The Anglican Communion News carried a story about the enthusiasm with which Anglican women approached the UN Conference on women now meeting in New York.  Anglican women from around the globe are among the 8000 women from NGOs attending the conference.   The conference has taken up numerous issues of women's rights and is focusing this time on economic rights. You can learn more about the meeting and the Americans attending as part of the Anglican deputation here.   The deputation being sent by the U.S. government may be a problem.  While  the official U.S. deputation appointed by the State Department is headed by Nickey Haley, it also includes two members who have opposed women's and LGBT rights vehemently, so vehemently that the organization one of the two heads is listed as a hate group.  The other's mission states it is opposed to most of the statements on women's rights issued by the UN.

ACNA's Truro and Diocese of Virginia to Cooperate on School for Peace and Reconciliation

At the Diocese of Virgnia's annual meeting Bishop Shannon Johnston announced that talks were under way for a jointly sponsored institute in Fairfax City to look at Peace and Reconciliation.  The institute would be a joint venture of the diocese and Truro Church, an Anglican Church in North America, which lost a hotly contested lawsuit over church property to the diocese and now rents its building from the Episcopalians.  All te details are not worked out and it will be interesting to see if this measure goes forward.  Previous gestures of friendship between the diocese and Truro were quashed by the ACNA bishop with jurisdiction over Truro.

Spat Over Diocese in Wales Not Electing Jeffrey John Continues

When Archbishop Barry Morgan retired both as archbishop and from his duties as Bishop of Llandaff, the Diocese held an election for a new bishop.  Jeffrey John, whose homosexuality cost him a mitre in the Church of England, was one of two candidates.  Neither reached the required 60% of votes and the diocese will have to hold another election.  John has raised concerns that he failed because the church simply didn't want to deal with the publicity and possible controversy that would come if he were elected. The most recent group to weigh in are Members of Parliament from Wales. Numerous sources have weighed in with statements,  You can find the best roundup of these statements on Thinking Anglicans.  

Anglican Communion Makes Two Announcements of Interest

The African leaders involved my not be the usual GAFCON leaders, but the Anglican Communion is definitely paying attention to its non-western members in recent appointments. The Anglican Center at the Vatican has a new head and he is Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, the former primate of Burundi.  GAFCON leaders were unhappy with Ntahoturi because he was willing to maintain ties with the TEC.  Ntahaoturi represented protestant churches at the negotiations that led to the end of Civil War in Burundi and is looking forward to building on the good ecumenical relations already in place with the Vatican.  Meanwhile, the committee planning for the Lambeth Conference for 2020 has met and set dates for the meeting of Anglican bishops -- the last week of July at Canterbury.  The planning committee is headed by the Archbishop of Capetown, Thabo Makgoba. Africa is also represented by Bishop of Nairobi, tow women (not ordained) with African roots, the moderator of the Church of North Indian and the Bishop of Sabah in Malasia.  Two TEC representatives are part of the group, the head of Virginia Theological Seminary and the Bishop of Dallas.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Week Ending 03/13/17

Episcopalians Support Washington March Against Pipeline

The Episcopal Church provided a large contingent of marchers, including seminarians from the Virginia Theological Seminary and five bishops with Native American heritage, to the recent march in Washington D.C. organized by those opposing the building of the Dakota Access pipeline. North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith led a prayer service at the National Cathedral the night before the march.   Despite nearly complete construction, the Standing Rock Dakota and others continue to fight the line's activation and use.  The most recent previous Update article on these efforts is here.

St. James the Great in Newport Beach Prepares for Bruno Hearing

Members of St. James the Great in Newport Beach, CA have posted notices on both their web page and Facebook giving the time and location of the Hearing Panel that will try the complaint members filed against Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles for lying and going back on promises made to the start-up congregation.  The hearing will be held on March 28-30, 2017 at a Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Pasadena.  The parish is encouraging anyone with interest to attend. The most recent previous update story is here.

Tanzanian Anglican Leaders Remain at Odds

The battle between the current Archbishop of Tanzania and his predecessor (the Bishop of Dar es Salam continues. The Archbishop has supposedly deposed Bishop Mokiwa for bribery and financial wrongdoing, but his actions have raised a reaction in the Tanzanian House of Bishops that could lead to efforts to impeach Archbishop Chimeleyda and reinstate Bishop Mokwa.  The Anglican.ink story on the latest events suggests that lines are actually drawn between evangelicals and ango-catholics.  For previous Update coverage, begin here.

South Carolina Schismatics Join ACNA

After several years of trying to go it alone, Mark Lawrence has led his diocese into the Anglican Church of North America.  The group, which claims to be the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, but not a part of the Episcopal Church voted overwhelmingly at its annual convention to join ACNA.  Both the ACNA Archbishop, Foley Beach and former Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola were guests at the convention.  It is not clear what effect this might have on the group's claims to the term "Episcopal Diocese" and "Episcopal Bishop."  Blogger Steve Karadon Jr. offers commentary in his March 3 and 10 entries at scepiscopalians.com.

Controversy Continues as North Declines Appointment as Bishop of Sheffield

Philip North has declined appointment  as Bishop of Sheffield, citing the opposition within the diocese.  North, currently Bishop of Burnley, and a conservative who does not ordain women as priests, was unable to convince critics that he could be sufficiently supportive of women's ministry in the diocese.  Comments and statements in reaction to his decision have been coming in from all quarters.  Episcopal Cafe and Thinking Anglicans have links to most of the statements here, here, and here.  What happens next for the diocese is covered in this piece.  You can find the previous Update coverage here.

EU Headscarf Ruling Prompts Church of England Response

A recent ruling by the EU courts that employers can fire women for wearing headscarves was worded broadly enough to raise major concerns for the Church of England.  Despite Brexit, the Church of England is still affected by EU rulings because it has parishes spread across a number of countries in the Diocese of Europe.  The ruling suggested that employers could not target a specific kind of religious garb or ornament, but could have policies forbidding all forms of religious identification.  This would mean not only the hijab, but yarmulkes, Sikh turbans, and crucifixes would be covered by such a policy.  The Church of England statement is here.

Anglican Communion Growing to 39 Provinces with Division of Province of Sudan and Southern Sudan

The continuing hostility between the Sudan and Southern Sudan has led to approval of a request the Primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan and Southern Sudan to grant the  Episcopal Church of Sudan status as a separate province in the Anglican Communion.  While the strife-torn country of Southern Sudan has a large Christian population, Sudan has a majority Muslim population.   Sudan applied to the Anglican Consultative Council in 2016 for separate status and a fact-finding team from the ACC has reported back favorably on creating the new province.  Formal admission of the province will occur in July when Archbishop of Canterbury Welby makes a visit to the Sudan.  The Pittsburgh Update has reported recently on action against Christian churches in the Sudan. The hope is that the new province will give Anglicans more support in the country.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Week Ending 03/06/2017

San Joaquin Takes Major Step in Recovery

When the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin elected Provisional Bishop David Rice as their regular diocesan bisop this last week, they took the last major step in the process of recovery from schism.  The election was almost unanimous.  Having successfully recovered diocesan property, and built a core of parishes, the diocese has almost finished a process of returning to normal.   Only a few individal parish property cases remain unsettled. This leaves only Fort Worth and San Joaquin with unsettled property lawsuits and provisional bishops.

A Busy Week For Presiding Bishop Curry

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry signed a new new accord with the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, which celebrates the friendship between two equal provinces in the Anglican Communion and ends any remnant of dependency by the Philippine Church on TEC.  In another international move, Curry joined with the heads of Anglican Church in Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in the U.S. and Canada to issue an Ash Wednesday statement in support of refugees. Finally,  Bishop Curry and the Rev. Gay Jennings, President of the House of Deputies, became the lead signers of an amica brief supporting transgendered people in the case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The case was remanded to the appeals court on Monday.

Legal Issues Elsewhere

A bishop in Sierra Leone has been arrested on charges of diverting funds sent by Episcopal Relief and Deveopment to fund ebola containment efforts during the recent epidemic. The bishop insists he is innocent, pointing to the success Sierra Leone  had in containing and ending the epidemic as proof the funds were used appropriately. Meanwhile English authorities have arrested and convicted two street preachers for quoting the Bible passage referring to Jesus as "the way" to be saved.  The prosecutor is arguing this shows disrespect to other religions.  Needless to say the case has raised the ire of those Christians  who believe  Christ is the only way to salvation. The case has the potential to be very  controversial

Church "Tiny House" Projects Spread

Pittsburgh Episcopal Update has reported previously on parishes in Minnesota and Eugene, Oregon who were building tiny houses on church land to house the homeless.  Now a parish in Montana has joined the movement with plans for an village of tiny homes.  Like the project in Eugene, St. James Episcopal in Bozeman, Montana, is planning for a whole village.   The parish partnered with a local university architecture program to design two prototype homes of 150 square feet each and that include kitchen and bathroom amenities. They are working with the local agency that works with the homeless to get all needed  permits for the proposed 40 home village.