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, August 15, 2017

Week Ending 8/14/17

Episcopalians Witness Against Racism in Charlottesville

The three Episcopal parishes in Charlottesville were very active in helping to organize the ecumenical response in Charlottesville which formed when word of the planned march of White Supremacist and Nazi groups became public.  One of the parishes, adjacent to the campus and very close to the statue of Lee which was the focal point hosted the evening prayer service that was nearly surrounded by tiki torch-bearing Supremacists Friday night.  The three Episcopal bishops from the Diocese of Virginia issued a pre-protest call to clergy to gather as a peaceful, powerful witness against the Supremacist protesters.  After Supremacist attacks resulted in deaths and injuries on Saturday, the bishops issued another statement and suggestions for next actions.  Other Episcopal leaders have also condemned the attacks, especially after the first statement by President Trump spoke of violence from "many sides." (See the Episcopal Cafe and Episcopal News Service stories.)  Bishop Dorsey McConnell's statement is here. Trump has finally issued a second statement specifically condemning the Nazi and White Supremacist groups.

St. James the Great Church Heartbreak

 Celebrations of the Hearing Panel recommendations (See the previous Update) concerning Bishop Bruno and his attempts to sell St. James the Great property in Newport Beach came to a crashing end with a letter from Bishop Coadjutor Taylor saying that the diocese was bound by the sales agreement Bruno negotiated in secret after his first deal fell through. It means that almost certainly Bruno will be suspended from all clerical activities for three years.  Taylor did say that the commercial developer intended to preserve the worship space part of the property and would make it available to community groups including the dispossed congregation.

Break-Away Diocese in South Carolina Asks for Rehearing

The split decision, largely favoring the loyal Episcpalians in South Carolina, has encouraged the schismatic diocese's Standing Committee to ask the state supreme court to rehear the case.  Three of the five justices now serving were not on the court when it heard the case two years ago.  This may delay the hearing of the trademark case filed by the Episcopalians in federal court since the state court decision had left this issue to the federal court rather than rule on it.  Should the SC Supreme Court deny a rehearing, the schismatics will need to decide if they want to appeal to the US Supreme Court.

New Zealand Anglicans May Consider Local Option for Blessing Same-Sex Marriages

Last year the Anglican Church in New Zealand, which operates under a unique blend of three ethnic archbishoprics, found a report supporting blessing of same-sex marriages, was dividing the church.  Rather than vote on the propsals, they created a committee to study how the church could stay together while accomodating different theological positions on the issue.  The province includes pacific island countries where same-sex marriage is not legal, as well as New Zealand where such marriages have been legal since 2013.  The new report propses a form of local option, at a bishop's discretion, with promises of no penalties for those on either side of the issue, and possbly a separate track for dissenters.  The Church Times in England covered this, but a more detailed version of proposals can be found in New Zealand coverage, and the full report is here.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Week Ending 8/7/17

South Carolina Supreme Issues Decision

The South Carolina Supreme Court finally issued its opinion in the appeal of the trial court award of Church property to the schismatic parishes and diocese.  The opinion makes clear why there was a two year wait following final arguments and filings.  The five judges each wrote their own opinion.  The result was a mixed opinion, granting the diocesan property, and  most of the parish properties to the group that remained in The Episcopal Church. A handful of schismatic parishes that had never acknowledged the Dennis Canon in their governing documents were able to keep their property.  The justices punted on the issue of diocesan name, seal, and identity.  Both sides are now waiting next steps.  The schismatics have to decide if they want to ask for a rehearing in front of a court that has had substantial personnel changes, appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, or just call it a day.  So far they have issued a pastoral letter.  The ACNA presiding bishop has also issued a statement. Not surprisingly,  the schismatic group in Fort Worth which is awaiting a Texas Supreme Court decision, weighed in to distinguish their case from South Carolina's.  Alex Haley, the lawyer who represented the San Joaquin schismatics in their unsuccessful attempt to keep property has raised conflict of interest charges against the South Carolina judges.  The schismatics did not raise the issue when the court heard the case. The loyal Episcopalians have to decide what they want to do with properties which would be returned.  They issued an initial pastoral letter and have held a meeting of clergy to begin sorting out their response.  The Post and Courier in South Carolina carried an initial article and a follow-up article on the decision.  The scepiscopalians.com blog has a number of postings on the legal issues.  read back to July 20 for a full picture. The Update has followed the case from the begining.  The most update coverage of the supreme court hearing is here.

Major Gender Wage Gap Documented Among English Clergy

A national study in England has documented a wage gap between male and female Church of England clergy with women making 40% less than men. This is much worse than the national average for all occupations. 

Kenyan Appeals Court Orders Reinstatement of Three Clergy

 Three Kenyan Anglican clergy who were removed as clergy on charges that they were gay, have not only prevailed a second time in court, but have been awarded compensation.  All three claimed the charges were false.  Both the trial and appeals courts ruled the Church had no evidence to support charges that the men were gay.

Final Recommendations Issued in Bishop Bruno Case

The Hearing Panel has issued its final order in the case against Bishop Jon Bruno, and as in the draft order, has recommended a three year suspenion from all clerical and episcopal actions.  It is now up to the Disciplinary Board for Bishops to affirm that order.  Because Bruno can appeal, the Presiding Bishop issued an expanded restriction on Bruno that removed him from any actions related to the property, members or clergy associated with St. James the Great in Newport Beach, CA.  Presiding Bishop Curry's restriction turned these matters over to the new Coadjutor in Los Angeles, John Taylor and the standing committee.  They have now issued a statement accepting that responsibilty.

 First Episcopal Wedding of Same Sex Couple in Scotland

We reported recently2 that St. Mary's Cathedral in Scotland was the first Parish in the Episcopa Church of Scotland to be approved to do weddings of same-sex couples.  However the first wedding was done in a small chapel not at the cathedral.  The two men have been together for 24 years.  It is expected that many couples from England will seek a Scottish wedding.  The wedding puts great pressure on the Church of England,

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Week Ending 7/31/17

Presiding Bishop Issues New Partial Restriction on Bruno

Presiding Bishop Curry has expanded his original partial restriction on Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno.  The original order forbade Bruno from taking any action on the sale of St. James the Great until after that Hearing Panel completes its work on the case brought by members of St. James against the Bishop.  The new restriction expands the prohibition of action to include any dealings with the parish in exile, its members, the priest serving that group or other property owned by the parish and extends to any subsequent appeals.  It specifically gives care of the congregation and its rector to Bishop Coadjutor John Taylor and the Standing Committee.  The latest restrictions comes after the Presiding Bishop read the draft decision.  The congregation of St. James the Great made the draft decision public, but there is a period for comment from those who filed the complaint and the Church Attorney before a final version is issued.

Church Stands with Transgender in Military

President Trump's overnight tweet announcing he was banning all transgendered people from service in the military, including those already in the service, has met with a a number of condemnations from those supporting military service by transgender people.  Presiding Bishop Curry issued a statement supporting transgender service as have a number of other Episcopal Church leaders, including the Dean of  Washington Cathedral, the Bishop for the Armed Forces.  The Episcopal News Service article carries links to all of the statements issued so far.

Joint Statement by Archbishops Provokes Response

The 50th anniversary of decriminalization of homosexual acts in Britain was marked by a joint statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.  That statement has been the subject of a wide range of commentary and criticism from both progressives and conservatives.  Progressives were critical of the way the statement moved from support for civil equality to a discussion of sin, coming close to a statement that while legal all such acts are sinful.  Conservatives were unhappy that the statement was too accepting of same sex people.  Others commented that the statement seemed a typical Anglican muddle in the middle.

New GAFCON Bishop Denied License in English Diocese

The plans of GAFCON to send a missionary bishop consecrated outside the Church of England to minister to traditionalists in England has met with resistance in England.  The new Bishop, consecrated by ACNA at its recent synod in Chicago, is a priest licensed in the Dioceses of Sheffield and Canterbury.  The Bishop of Sheffield did not renew the license for Andy Lines to serve in any capacity in his diocese.  All clergy in the diocese have annual licenses that expire on June 30.  Without that license Lines cannot provide any services in a parish in the diocese. Because the Church of England is an established church, Lines could find himself subject to legal penalties. The story was originally carried by the Church of England Newspaper which limits on-line viewing to subscribers.  David Virtue, however, picked up the story.

Cabinet Members Meeting for Bible Study

A core group of Trump cabinet officials has been meeting regularly with Ralph Drollinger for Bible study.  Drollinger runs Capitol Ministries, an ultra conservative group with branches in 40 cities.  He is claiming that he sees the cabinet members have been applying his lessons in their policies statments.  Drollinger is a climate change denier, who has argued that God only hears the prayers of the righteous.  For more on his views see this article.

Australian Court Reverses Deposition of Bishop and Priest Who Abused Children

A recent court ruling in Australia has abuse victims and Church official upset.  Church courts under disciplinary procedures created in 2004 had deposed Bishop Keith Slaver and priest Patrick Comben for their handling of sexual abuse complaints 1940-1980 at a children's home.  On appeal, however the courts ruled that the church courts did not have jurisdiction and thus restored the men's orders.  However, it appears they will not be given a license to officiate and thus will be unable to act in any official capacity.  The Australian Church has proposals coming before its next synod to tighten and strengthen the disciplinary procedures to avoid a repeat of this appeal outcome.