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, May 23, 2017

Week Ending 5/22/17

Ecumenical Week for Episcopalians

Three separate events this last week put The Episcopal Church in an ecumenical mode.  Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton issued a joint call to prayer and fasting for hunger awareness.  Episcopalians and Lutherans are called to fast on the 21st of every month from now through December when the current U.S. Congress will conclude its session. The date for the fast was chosen because that is the date each month that 90% of food stamp benefits have been used. 

A second major announcement was issued by the joint committee of Episcopalians and United Methodists working on full communion.  They have issued a full proposal for approval by both the Methodist and Episcopal Church governing bodies.  An interesting commentary by a member of the committee can be found here.

The third ecumenical event was the announcement of a signed agreement between Episcopal Divinity School in Massachusetts and Union Theological Seminary in New York.  Trustees had announced the closing of EDS and held its last commencement this last week.  At that time they announced that EDS would become a school within Union and the trustees named a new Dean, Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, for the EDS School.  Mark Harris, who graduated from ETS and was being honored at the last graduation posted his reactions to the arrangement between EDS and Union.

Report Issued on St. Paul's School Scandal

The final investigative report has been published on the scandal that has engulfed St. Paul's School in Conway, New Hampshire.  The report makes clear that earlier attempts by alumni and students to have school take action on the sexual abuse of students by staff had been buried.  The report substantiates that 13 members of the staff sexual misconduct.  Complaints against another 11 could not be proved and another 10 staff were named in anonymous complaints that could not be investigated.  The incidents occurred over a 40 year period, from 1948 to 1988.  The Episcopal school is one of 67 private schools in the Northeast that are dealing with  long-buried sexual abuse complaints.  The Washington Post carried a story focused on the report.  The Boston Globe had a story that gave more background.   One of those named at St. Paul's was the former priest Howard White who had just pleaded guilty to abuse at St. George's School in Rhode Island.  White was a chaplain at St. Paul's before going to St. George's.

Contrasting Studies on Religious Beliefs and Membership in the US and UK 

A new report, The “No Religion” Population of Britain, based on wide surveys of social attitudes in Britain and Europe in 2015 and 2014 shows that the Church of England may be losing members, but those that are remaining in the Church are more committed and active.  While only 43 percent of the British population claim a Christian affiliation and 48.6% claim no religion, the good news was that the percentage of non-affiliated had not increased.  The 17% of British Christians who claim membership in the Church of England seems to have stabilized and over two-fifths of the non-religious actually still have some religious practices and pray on occasion.  Some church commentators think that the situation will be ripe for dedicated Christians to foster a revival in the coming years. The Church Times carried the story.  

In the U.S. the evangelical research organization, the Barna Group has released its latest study on the intersection of religious beliefs and public policy.  Barna's study grouped those surveyed in five categories: evangelical, non-evangelical born-again Christians, notional Christians, adherents of non-Christian faiths, and religious skeptics.  The evangelical and born again groups showed high support for Trump in the last election.  The non-Christians and skeptics largely voted for Clinton.  The swing group was the "notional" category where people expressed a belief in Christ but were split on social issues.  Barna researchers thought this large center group (42% of Americans) had a larger than usual influence in the election.  Some of their definitions and questions may sound odd to Episcopalians, but the study has some interesting findings.

Conservative Reaction Continues to Rejection of Canadian Bishop Elect

The decision (see the Update story here)  of the Canadian bishops to not approve the election of the Rev. Jacob Worley as bishop of Caledonia because he approved priests from one jurisdiction serving in another without the bishop's permission has provoked conservative protests.  The retired Bishop of Caledonia has protested the decision, and so has the Bishop of the Arctic, who asked for a reconsideration.  But the House of Bishops of British Colombia and the Yukon  has refused to reconsider.   It seems they took seriously the Worley's deposition by the Diocese of Rio Grande when he left the Episcopal Church, and expect conservatives to support the clauses in the Canadian canons against jurisdiction violations.

Faith in Public Life Offers Training to Those Supporting Social Justice

Faith in Public Life, an ecumenical group formed by progressive Catholics to promote turning faith into action in support of liberal social policy is now offering training for those who wish to be more active in opposition to immigration raids and deportations, and to help undocumented aliens.  You can learn more about this organization and its latest training module here.

New Primate Chosen for Middle East

Archbishop Mouneer Annis is retiring as the Primate of the Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East after holding that office for ten years.  His replacement for the next two and a half years will be Archbishop Suheil Dawani of Jerusalem who will then be followed by Bishop Michael Lewis of the Diocese of the Cyprus and the Gulf for the next two years and a half years.  Annis has participated very fully in GAFCON meetings.  Dawani has been more circumspect since his diocese depends heavily on western support.  The Anglican Communion announcement did not explain why the Synod selected two men to split the five year term.