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, April 25, 2017

Week Ending 04/24/17

Virginia-Truro Agreement Upsets ACNA Bishops

Update reported in March on the agreement signed between ACNA parish, Truro Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia to create a center for reconciliation and peace and to extend the lease arrangement allowing Truro to remain in the buildings awarded by the courts to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.  Now Archbishop Foley Beach of ACNA and ACNA diocesan bishop John Guernsey have expressed publicly their displeasure with the arrangement.  Both issued statements.  (Beach's is here and Guernsey's here. )Both told Truro not to do what they did.  The rector of Truro and Episcopal Bishop Shannon Johnson had reached an earlier rapproachment in 2013, until Bishop Guernsey ordered the Truro rector to back off.  It is not clear if any further pressure will be forthcoming on Truro. 

Covenant with Haiti May End Controversy There

In December 2016 the Update reported on problems that were dividing the church in Haiti, including a rift between the suffragan bishop and the diocesan, and a series of charges that had been filed.  Presiding Bishop Curry sent a team to negotiate a settlement and way forward. He now has announced signing of a new covenant that includes the resignation of the suffragan, and his appointment as a special ambassador for Food for the Poor, requirements that both parties refrain from criticism of the other, addition to the search committee for a new diocesan bishop (election 2018) of some who were critical of the diocesan, and a stern warning that if either of the bishops fails to live up to the agreement, it will constitute an act unbecoming of a bishop and grounds for discipline.  

Episcopalians Take Action For Science and Against Gun Violence

This last weekend was a busy one for Episcopalians taking stands.  While many Episcopalians joined the Marches for Science held in more than 600 cities around the world, others were attending a three-day conference in Chicago sponsored by Episcopal Bishops Against Gun Violence.  The Conference, “Unholy Trinity: the Intersection of Racism, Poverty and Gun Violence” combined worship, theology, action and workshops. The goal is work against gun violence by building relationships within communities. Nearly 70 bishops are part of the ad-hoc group.  You can check to see which bishops are involved at this site.

GAFCON Threatens Action Against British Churches

While statements about inclusiveness by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on the need for the Church of England to be inclusive were troubling, the leaked report prepared for the Scottish Episcopal Church on same sex marriage (see Update here) has pushed GAFCON leaders over the edge.  Initially it seemed they were considering appointing their own bishops to minister to conservatives in England, but a clarification issued by GAFCON leaders suggests that this threat is really aimed at Scotland.  In part they are responding to a list of concerns drafted by anti-gay clergy in the United Kingdom which can be found here.

Canadian Diocese Elects Former AMIA Priest as Bishop

The Canadian Diocese of Caledonia has elected as their new bishop the Rev. Jacob Worley who had left the Episcopal Church in 2007 to act as an AMiA missionary in Colorado.  He left for British Columbia shortly before his new parish affiliated with ACNA.  From Canada, he went to Ireland and later returned to British Columbia where he served 3 parishes as priest in charge.  His election must still be approved by the Bishops of the Yukon and British Columbia.   Worley was a 2001 graduate of Trinity School for Ministry.

Standing Rock Tribes Will Fight to Keep Oil From Flowing

Standing Rock Tribal Chair, David Archambault, told an University of North Dakota students that the tribe would continue its fight to prevent oil from flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline. Archambault, also a leader in the reservation's Episcopal Church, was part of a panel on indigenous peoples and environmental justice at the campus. Meanwhile, a retired judge who was hearing a number of the cases brought against protestors for trespass threw out many of the cases for lack of proof. Fourteen cases were decided with guilty pleas and another 30 dismissed. A number of cases remain to be tried.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Week Ending 04/17/17

Arrest Made in Arson at Huntington Episcopal Church

On Monday evening after Easter, the altar at St. John's Episcopal Church in Huntington, West Virginia was set on fire.  The church lost  prayer books and hymnals, has a smoke-damaged sanctuary and lost altar cloths, a rug and possible the altar itself from fire.  While insurance will cover the damage, the parish had to reschedule activities.  Local papers reported that within twenty-four hours, the police had arrested a twelve-year-old girl for setting the fire.  The church is asking for prayers for the young girl.

Los Angeles Diocese Continues to Speak Out For Immigrants

At least four prominent Episcopal clergy were among the 35 protesters arrested on Maundy Thursday for blocking the entrance at a Los Angeles area ICE detention center.  Around 300 protesters participated in the interfaith day of action.  Clergy arrested included The Rev. Mike Kinman of All Saints Episcopal, Pasadena; Rev. Joanne Leslie, diocesan archdeacon; the Rev. Francisco Garcia, rector of Holy Faith Episcopal in Inglewood; and the Rev. Canon Jaime-Edwards Acton, rector of St. Stephen’s Church in Hollywood.  Garcia and Acton are the co-facilitators of Episcopal Sacred Resistance which is the diocesan sanctuary task force.  That task force was a co-sponsor of the march.  The diocese, which voted at its last convention to become a sanctuary diocese,  is providing churches with information and mobilizing them for sanctuary action. For example, the Rev. Greg Kimura, of St. Andrew's Episcopal in Ojai regularly visits day-labor sites passing out cards with information on immigrant's rights and his phone number so immigrants can call if immigration authorities come to their homes or work places.  He will send a support team to help them assert their rights.

Church of Scotland Report on Same Sex Marriage Leaked

While not happy that the findings of the latest Theological Forum on human sexuality were leaked before publication of all documents being prepared for the General Assembly in June, church officials decided to release the whole report rather than have rumors circulating.  The report suggests that the church is trying to find a way to allow theological diversity.  It also recommends a report to be prepared for the 2018 General Assembly on the legal implications of clergy performing. same-sex marriages.  The whole report is here and the official press release for the Scottish Church is here.  Pittsburgh Update reported last year on the vote take at the Assembly which supported moving forward with same sex marriage.

Arkansas Diocese Announces Prayer Vigil for Inmates Scheduled to Die

Although the U.S. Supreme Court refused to overturn Arkansas State Supreme Court stays of execution on three of the 8 prisoners Arkansas planned on executing in a 10 day period, the state is going forward with plans to execute the other five, with two scheduled for Thursday, April 20.  The Episcopal Diocese has announced a prayer vigil on the 20th whether the executions go forward or not.  After the service, some of those attending will go to the Governor's Mansion to keep a candlelight vigil there.  Services are also planned for April 24 and 27, when the rest of the executions are scheduled.

Los Angeles Paper Comments on Bishop Bruno Hearing

The Pilot, a Los Angeles Times paper has published a reflective piece on the recent three-day church court hearing held on the complaint filed by members of St. James the Great in Newport Beach against Bishop Bruno for the manner in which he dispossessed the parish in order to sell their property.  The story reflects on the manner in which the hearing panel conducted the proceedings.

Uganda Refugee Camp Now the Home for South Sudan Diocese

Five days after Emmanuel Murye Modi was consecrated and installed as the Bishop of Kajo-Keji in the South Sudan, the whole region became refugees from the civil war raging in that country.  Within 10 days 98% of the population had fled. The diocese now is a diocese in exile functioning in a refugee camp in Uganda.  Over 290,000 Sudanese refugees are in Uganda camps, and tents and food are in very short supply.  The new bishop is mobilizing church resources to help with humanitarian aid, schools, and clinics,  and to start worshiping groups in the camps.  Right now they lack basic church supplies and are holding services under the trees.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Week Ending 04/10/2017

Cathedrals in the News

The Church of England is buzzing about the precarious financial and physical states of a number of their historic cathedrals.  Trying to maintain cathedrals build 700 or 800 years ago presents numerous challenges.  There is now a commission looking into matters at several of the historic sites. Meanwhile in New Zealand information has been released that sheds light on our most recent update on the struggle surrounding what to do with the Anglican cathedral in Christ Church, New Zealand which was destroyed in a major earthquake in 2011.

Crown Tries Again to Get a Bishop for Sheffield

The uproar around the appointment of Bishop Philip North as the new diocesan bishop of Sheffield in England led to his declining the appointment.  Now the crown has announced its new choice, and this time there is no major protest.  The new nominee, the Rev. Dr. Pete Wilcox,  is currently the dean of the Cathedral in Liverpool and is an evangelical who supports women's ordination.  He has promised to respect the traditionalist parishes in his new diocese.  The most recent previous Update story is here.

Bishops Entangled with the Courts

News continues around three different legal struggles for Bishops around the Anglican Communion.
Heather Cook, the former suffragan bishop of Maryland is about to have her first parole hearing.  Cook pled guilty to felony charges filed after she killed a bicyclist while driving drunk and then left the scene and has been serving her sentence in prison. Update's most recent coverage of Cook is here.  The legal struggles continue between the current Archbishop of Tanzania and the bishop of Dar es Salom (and former Archbishop of Tanzania).  Bishop Mokiwa has been ordered to appear before a civil authority's investigation committee looking into fraud charges.  He has filed a countering civil suit and is trying to get a meeting of the Tanzanian House of Bishops called to look into the way the current Archbishop has handled the matter.  The Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa has now weighed in with a statement asking the current and former Archbishops to find a way to settle the issue outside the courts. The most recent Update coverage is here.

St. James Newport Beach Issues a Statement

As Los Angeles bishop Jon Bruno and the dispossessed congregation of St. James the Great await the outcome of the hearing conducted last week by  an Episcopal Church panel, the congregation has issued a statement offering thanks for finally having "been heard" and posted to their web site recordings of all three days of the hearing and a good listing of the print media coverage of the hearings.  There is no indication of when the Hearing Panel will finish its deliberations and issue its findings.

Religious Leaders Around the Globe Respond to Palm Sunday Terrorist Attacks on Coptic Churches

Archbishop Mouneer Anis, primate for the Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East is among the many who have issued statements of support and sympathy for the bombing attacks on the Coptic cathedral in Alexandria, Egypt and St. George's Church in Tanta, north of Cairo.  Religion News has provided a convenient background piece on the Coptic tradition of churches.

New Poll on Discrimination and Religious Liberty Issues Shows Americans Largely Agree

The PRRI is a Washington D.C. based research institute which polls on subjects related to religion and public policy. Polling done by PRRI in February 2017 shows that substantial majorities of Americans agree that business should not refuse services to LGBTQ people, support the idea that LGBTQ people should be covered by anti-discrimination laws, and oppose the recent legislative attempts to force transgendered people to use bathrooms contrary to their identity. This holds true across religious groups, except for one category: white evangelicals. The major divide is between Republicans and Democrats, with the general profile of Americans looking more like the Democrats than the Republicans.   There is a major perception gap is in who faces a lot of discrimination.  Republicans believe that whites and Christians are more likely to be discriminated against than blacks, Muslims, or lesbians and gays.  They do believe that transgender people are as likely to face discrimination as Christians.   Democrats overwhelmingly saw whites and Christians as facing little discrimination, and considered immigrants, muslims, blacks, gays, and transgendered as the groups facing discrimination.  Americans as a whole were less emphatic than Democrats, but generally agreed with the Democrats on which groups faced a lot of discrimination.

Survey Issued on Liturgies for Same Sex Marriage

Episcopal Cafe has a good story on the survey the Episcopal Church is making concerning two liturgical options for same-sex marriages.  The Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music is looking for feedback on the liturgy approved for experimental use by General Convention 2015 and the other is a newly developed gender neutral version of the marriage service in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.  You can take the survey here

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Week Ending 04/03/17

Church in Wales Rejects Formal Complaint in Llandaff Bishop Row

The complaint lodged against the unsuccessful election of a bishop in the see of Llandaff has been rejected by the Legal Committee of the Church of Wales.  The committee found the charge without merit and that the Bench of Bishops in Wales can go forward with choosing a new bishop.  The charges had been filed by three different groups after none of the candidates reached the super majority necessary for election. The groups were five members of the body that held the original election, four members of the Llandaff standing committee, and area deans.  Comments made during the first election about the homosexuality of one of the candidates, Jeffrey John had prompted the complaint and a general controversy. Update covered the filing of the complaint here.  The full finding by the Legal Committee is here.

Episcopal Refugee Resettlement Scales Back

The Episcopal Church's Migration Ministries has announced that for fiscal year 2018 (October 2017-August 2018) it will drop six of the thirty one affiliates it works with in resettling refugees in the U.S. because of the immigration policies of the new administration.  The funding they count on from federal sources is not forthcoming, and the number of refugees to be admitted beginning in the new fiscal year has been cut in half.  Migration ministries is trying to restructure itself so that it will continue provide safe and welcoming places for new refugees.  They intend to focus on areas where there are existing communities of refugees to provide support and where costs of resettlement are lower. 

Fargo Parish Dedicates New Window to Integrity and LGBTQ

A new stained glass window depicting a rainbow and the Baptismal Vow to respect and seek justice for every human being  has been dedicated at St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Fargo. The parish named the window the "Integrity Window" and says it illustrates their commitment to reach out to all within the community.  Local news covered the event. 

Barna Group Releases Two Fascinating Studies

The Barna Group is a research group with an evangelical focus that does serious research on American religious behavior.  On International Women's Day (March 8) it released a study on the acceptance of women as leaders in the church.  For that study they interviewed by a large swatch the public and over 900 clergy from different denominations. That research showed a wide acceptance of women as leaders in secular and religious roles across different groups, but also a much lower acceptance of women as clergy among evangelicals.  This last week they released the first part of a study they did on those individuals who did not attend church but who saw themselves as religious or spiritual.  The first part focused on those who "love Jesus, but not the Church."  These are individuals that continue to see themselves as Christian, but have rejected the institutional church. The group is largely white, female and drawn from the Generation X and Millenials.  The research shows they hold relatively conventional and orthodox beliefs about God and Jesus, and even pray nearly as much as Church attenders. The second part looking at those who consider themselves "spiritual but not religious" is due to come out soon.  

Anglican Church in Peru Calls for Help in Responding to Mudslide and Flood Victims

The Anglican Church in Peru believes it is organized and ready to provide relief to those whose lives have been devastated by the floods and mudslides in that country.  Initial disaster relief is not providing for the longer term needs of people who have lost everything and have needs for food, shelter and clean water as they begin rebuilding.  The church has asked for financial help to implement its plan of action to support the many small communities badly hurt by the recent weather events. The church estimates that it will cost about $10,000 to provide to months of support to a community of 75 individuals.  There are hundreds of such communities.

Bruno and St. James the Great Begin the Wait for Hearing Panel Findings

Update published a special posting on days two and three of the Hearing Panel "trial" of Bishop Bruno on charges filed by members of St. James the Great in Newport Beach.  The panel, headed by Bishop Hollerith has no set date for when it will issue its report and findings.  In the meantime, the parish remains locked out of the building that they wish to occupy and Bishop Bruno continues his activities as bishop.  Bruno is in the process of  retiring and has a bishop co-adjutor in place already.