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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, September 26, 2017

Week Ending 9/25/17

Disciplinary Board Activates Suspension of Bishop Bruno

The Disciplinary Board for Bishops has confirmed the recommendation of the Hearing Panel that Bishop Jon Bruno be suspended from all actions as an ordained person, and has directed that the suspension begin January 1, 208 rather than waiting for Bishop Bruno's appeals to be heard.  The Hearing Panel had found Bruno guilty of conduct unbecoming an ordained person as he went about selling the property of St. James the Great Parish in Newport Beach.  His appeal of the Hearing Panel recommendation originally stayed the suspension, but Presiding Bishop Curry issued his own directive on August 1 temporarily suspending Bruno.  The Disciplinary Panel added even more restrictions in the suspension it issued.

Primates Meeting to Begin Next Week

The Primates of most the Churches within the Anglican Communion are beginning to gather in England for the Primates' meeting scheduled to begin October 2.  The Archbishop of Canterbury seems energized by the knowledge that 16 of the leaders are new in that role since the meeting in 2016, and thus there will be fresh voices at the table.  Thirty-three of the 39 primates are expected to come. A few primates are staying home because they are miffed that the "consequences" on the Episcopal Church urged by the primates in 2016 were not acted upon, and  instead the provinces in Scotland and Canada have moved to join the Episcopal Church in allowing blessings of same-sex unions.  Several others are ill or were unable to travel. Welby is predicting that the primates will discuss "mission and evangelism; reconciliation and peace-building; climate change and environment; and migration and human trafficking,” and that issues around sexuality will not dominate the conversations.

Latest From Episcopal Relief and Development on Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

Episcopal Relief and Development has issued a release outlining the work they are beginning in response to the earthquakes in Mexico, and the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.  The release includes information on conditions on site and the steps now being taken through ERD to begin addressing people's need.

Newest Developments in South Carolina Legal Battles

Last week the South Carolina Supreme Court received three new filings in the continuing legal battle over church and diocesan property.  In the last edition of the Update, we reported that the Episcopal Church in South Carolina had filed its response to the break-away group's request for a rehearing and the recusal of Judge Hearn on grounds that she is an Episcopalian. On the 19th, two retired judges filed a motion requesting that they be allowed to submit an Amici brief opposing recusal of Judge Hearn.  On the 25th the break-away group filed their responses to the Episcopal Church filings (and the proposed Amici brief.  They can be read here and here.  The break-away group has hired a public relations firm with connections to alt-right news circles which has launched a series of attacks on the Episcopal Church and the  character of Judge Hearn, according to blogger Steve Skardon.  According to Skardon, these attacks helped prompt the filing of the brief by the two retired judges, who are not Episcopalians and have no previous ties to the the litigation.

Bishops Speak Out on Two Issues

Groups of Episcopal bishops made two very public statements on hot topic issues this last week.  More than 125 bishops signed an open letter to the president and congress asking for continuation of the DACA program. Some bishops responded too late to be included.  The letter was published as a full page ad in the New York Times. In addition, six bishops issued a letter  addressed to their senators opposing the latest Republican bill on health care. The bishops were from areas that would be greatly affected were the bill to pass.  

Bishop Rowe Finds Another Partner Diocese

In 2014 Bishop Sean Rowe of Northwestern Pennsylvania was elected Bishop Provisional of the Diocese of Bethlehem.  Since then he has split his time between the two diocese on opposite ends of Pennsylvania.  Now the Diocese of Bethlehem is in the midst of a search for a new Diocesan and is scheduled to hold an electing convention in the spring on 2018.  Rowe has now found another Diocese interested in sharing a bishop.  The Diocese of Western New York is directly to the north of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania and driving from one diocese's cathedral to the other is less than two hours on I 90.  The clergy of the two diocese were meeting together last week when Bishop Franklin announced he would retire in April 2019.  The two dioceses are planning a joint convention for  October 2018, which, if conversations go well, will be when Western New York elects Rowe as their Bishop Provisional. While Rowe already has experience in juggling roles in two dioceses, there will be one additional complication.  Bethlehem and Northwestern Pennsylvania are both in Province III.  Western New York, however, is in Province II. 

Church Named for Robert E. Lee Changes Its Name

After the Civil War, Robert E. Lee settled in Lexington, Virginia where he served as a college president and helped a small Episcopal congregation by serving as senior warden until his death in 1870.  He and his immediate family are buried in a crypt under the church.  Grace Memorial Episcopal was informally known as Lee's Church until 1903 when the vestry officially changed its name to Robert E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church.  After the church shooting in Charleston, the parish began discussing if they should change the name of the parish. Recent events in Charlottesville put more pressure on the parish to consider a change.  Last week in a 5-7 vote the vestry decided to find other ways to honor Lee, and to return to the parish's original name, Grace Episcopal Church.  You can read more about the vote and the process leading to the change here.  This decision comes in the wake of the decision of the National Cathedral to remove windows honoring Lee and Stonewall Jackson, who also has close ties to Lexington.

Canadian Archbishop Hopes For Self-Governing Indigenous Structure by 2019

The Anglican Church of Canada  just finished another round of discussions with indigenous peoples.  Archbishop Hiltz is hopeful that there may be canon changes proposed by 2019 that will create a self-governing structure within the Canadian church for indigenous peoples. The Anglican Church made self-determination for the indigenous members of the church a goal more than 20 years ago, but implementation has been slow  because the Church is trying not to impose a structure on native peoples. There is no set timeline, but Hiltz feels that a possible way forward is beginning to be shaped from the ongoing discussions.  Although the unit would have self-determination, the church as a whole will need to provide at least partial financial support for the unit.