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         

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Week Ending 7/17/17

New Hampshire Launches Criminal Investigation at St. Paul's School

Last week the Update reported on the latest sexual misconduct investigation at St. Paul's School. Officials at St. Paul's had begun a disciplinary investigation into a story about new allegations of seniors engaging in an end of the year sexual contest.  The school now finds itself under investigation by the New Hampshire District Attorney's office.  The investigation will focus on whether the school has been guilty of child endangerment or obstruction of justice. School officials say they will cooperate with investigators.

Bishop Bruno Wins One in Secular Courts

Bishop Jon Bruno still awaits the finding of the church Hearing Panel on charges of conduct unbecoming a bishop or priest that sprang out of his efforts to sell the property of St. James the Great in Newport Beach. As reported earlier, news that he had negotiated a new sales agreement for the the property while the panel was deliberating resulted in action by the Hearing Panel, Presiding Bishop, and Disciplinary Board for Bishops all restricting him completing or signing any sales agreement.  Meanwhile he has won a round in secular courts. The California Superior Court confirmed Bruno's position that deed restrictions placed on the property by the original donor had been removed.  These restrictions had required the property to be used for a church.  Thus while the courts say the property can be used for something other than a church, the Episcopal Church has forbidden him to complete any sale until the Hearing Panel decides whether he needs to restore the property to the congregation as part of a restitution and reconciliation process. 

New Reference Tools on Anglicanism

Oxford has launched two new reference tools that will interest Episcopalians. The Oxford History of Anglicanism is a five volume print study with a different editor for each volume and each chapter within the volume written by a different scholar. This study is focused globally with North America the focus for no more than one chapter each in volumes II-IV.  The volumes will appear, not necessarily in chronological order between October and February.    Another new tool, and on-line research encyclopedia of American History is also being prepared by Oxford.  A long essay (78 pages) on Anglicans and Episcopalians in North America is forthcoming in this new tool under its religious history subheading.  The current editor of update.pittsburghepiscopal.org is the author of the article on Episcopalians.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Week Ending 07/10/17

Woman Born in Iran Appointed as newest Church of England Bishop 

The Queen's latest round of appointments included notice that the Rev.Gulnar Francis-Dehqani has been appointed to the newly created suffragan see of Loughborough in Leicester.  Her special focus with  be on reaching out to the immigrant community and women's ministries.  Fourteen-year-old Francis-Dehqani arrived in England with her family as refugees from Iran following the revolution there.  She holds a Ph.D. in theology and has been serving as Curate Training Officer and Advisor for Women’s Ministry in the Diocese of Peterborough and Canon at Peterborough Cathedral.  She has 3 children and is married to another Church of England cleric.  Her consecration is scheduled for Canterbury Cathedral November 30.

New Group of St. Paul's Students Charged with Assault

No matter how it tries, St. Paul's, the church related boarding school in Concord, New Hampshire cannot seem to escape issues related to sexual assault.  Two years ago, a senior student was convicted of sexual assault for forcing sex with a younger female student as part of a senior contest.  This was followed by a set of painful revelations about faculty and staff who had assaulted students over a long period of time.  Now they are facing a new incident where about a eight senior students engaged in a contest resulting in sexual assault.  The school's efforts to change its culture have obviously not had the desired effect.

Church of England Synod Bans Conversion Therapy

The Church of England Synod met last week in York and issued several resolutions that help out welcome to LGBTQ people.  One of the most debated, with several amendments proposed, and at least one accepted, was a resolution condemning conversion therapy (i.e. attempts to change the sexual orientation of LGBTQ individuals).  The Church Times noted that the measures were passed while London was celebrating Gay Pride.  You can read the official press release on the resolution here, and the Church Times much longer story with details on the proposed amendments and testimony here.

Bruno Appeal Rejected

 The  sanctions imposed on Bishop Jon Bruno by the Hearing Panel convened to hear the dispute between the bishop and members of St. James the Great in Newport Beach have been upheld in a decision by the Disciplinary Board for Bishops.  No one from the Hearing Panel took part in the Disciplinary action.  Catherine Waynick, the recently retired bishop of the Diocese of Indianapolis, chairs the Disciplinary Board.  She convened the Board by phone and they supported the Panel's finding that efforts to sell the church property before the Hearing Panel issued its findings and decision that his actions "disrupted and interfered with the integrity of the process of the Title IV proceeding" and that the sanctions were appropriate.  As reported last week, the presiding bishop also issued a partial inhibition on Bruno forbidding him to sign any sale documents until the Panel completes its work. The denial of the appeal came one day before the new coadjutor bishop of Los Angeles, John Taylor was consecrated in a grand festive occasion.  Bruno has been scheduled to retire this fall.  The Hearing Panel may speed up his departure.

Episcopal Priest Arrested in Road Rage Case

The Rev. William Rian Adams was arrested by the Florida Highway Patrol for threatening the occupants of a truck with a gun.  Apparently the incident began when Adams stepped on the brakes to try to get a truck following his car too closely to back off.  The truck then pulled up along side Adam's car and from there the stories told by the occupants of the two vehicles diverge.  Adams, rector of a parish in Fletcher, North Carolina, and a former special forces chaplain who served in Afghanistan until an injury forced his retirement, claims that the occupants of the truck rolled down a window, yelled at him and threw a can of pop at his red corvette.  The truck occupants say Adams waved a gun at him.  Adams admits he had an unloaded gun in the car, but that it was under the passenger seat.  The priest posted the required bail and has been released.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Week ending 07/03/17

Presiding Bishop Restricts Bishop Bruno

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has issued a partial restriction on Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles directing him to not sign any sales agreements until the Hearing Panel completes its work and issues its decision.  The measure adds legal weight to the order of the Hearing Panel issued when they were presented with evidence that Bruno had negotiated a new sale of the St. James property in Newport Beach.  The Episcopal News Service has issued both the press release and a story on the Presiding Bishop's actions. The Church attorney in the hearing has now filed an addendum to his filing about the rumored sale asking that Bruno be deposed as a bishop and recommending a forensic audit of the Corporation Sole records.  The reader comments on these and the Episcopal Cafe story are worth reading.  For the earlier action by the Hearing Panel, see the Pittsburgh Update here and here.

Bishops From Around the World Continue Building Bridges

A group of Bishops from the Anglican Communion issued their communique from the latest in a series of conversations begun in 2010 to build bridges and understanding among parts of the Communion.  Twenty-two bishops, including two from TEC (Virginia and Oklahoma) met in Kenya to continue learning about each other.  The Anglican Church of Canada has facilitated the meetings and provides the staff.  Over 45 bishops  have participated in at least one of the meetings.  Most have been from Africa and North America.

ACNA Meeting Continues Disruption of Communion

Last week the Provincial Council and Assembly of ACNA met at Wheaton College, just outside of Chicago.  The Council ratified the entrance of the schismatic South Carolinia diocese into ACNA.  The South Carolinians had voted at their diocesan convention in March to join ACNA. The move compounds the confusion of ACNA's overlapping jurisdictions in South Carolina, a point noted by blogger Steve Skaradon in his posting on June 28.  It also clearly ends Bishop Mark Lawrence's claim to still be part of the Anglican Communion. 

In a separate action at the  ACNA meeting, the group consecrated Andrew Lines as Bishop to Europe.  GAFCON bishops decided to consecrate their own bishop for Europe in response to the decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church to allow same -sex marriage. (See Updates here and here.) The Archbishop of Sydney and the Bishop of Tasmania, both members of the Province of Australia, participated in the ceremony over the objections of Archbishop Philip Freier, the Primate of Australia. The Sydney diocese is an extremely conservative low church diocese usually at odds with the rest of its province.  The Tasmanian bishop already serves on the Anglican Relief and Development Board, the agency created by Bishop Robert Duncan shortly before the creation of ACNA to provide an alternative to Episcopal Relief and Development.  The rationales of the two Australians for participating reflect the muddied status of the whole project.  Sydney Archbishop Glenn Davies defended his action as the consecration of a bishop for people who were no longer in the Church of England or Scotland and thus he was not participating in a "border-crossing," ( a position that undercuts ACNA's claim to being part of the Anglican Communion) while Bishop Condie of Tasmania claimed he was going to show support for those who were remaining in the "true" church.