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, September 6, 2017

Week Ending 9/4/17

South Carolina Litigants Ordered to Mediation

Not only did the parties in the South Carolina church trademark case agree to an order for mediation issued by the judge overseeing the federal suit involving trademarks, but they agreed that the issues covered by both the state supreme court property decision would also be part of the mediation.  A senior federal judge, Joseph F. Anderson, Jr. was assigned as mediator. Apparently, the announcement of mediation took parishes on involved on both sides in the state court by surprise.  If the mediation is unsuccessful, the litigation will proceed with argument in the federal case set for March.  In the meantime, the State Supreme Court rejected a request from the breakaway group for a second extension of the deadline for filing a request for rehearing. The breakaway group then met the original deadline and filed a brief for a rehearing.  They also filed an unprecedented request that one of the justices recuse herself because she was Episcopalian.  That judge had been one of the two justices willing to settle all disputes in favor of the Episcopal Church. Meanwhile, Nigerian Archbishop Okoh announced he would not attend the October primates meeting.  His statement returned multiple times to the legal decisions in South Carolina and San Joaquin, characterizing the legal outcomes as "aggressive legal actions" by the Episcopal Church which resulted in "orthodox" parishes being "stripped of the churches that have helped form their spiritual lives." 

Hurricane-Battered Dioceses Dig Into Relief Work

As noted in last week's update, the Episcopal Relief and Development and Episcopal dioceses in the path of Hurricane Harvey began plans for relief and recovery work as the storm bore down on Texas.  Now the battered dioceses have become part of the relief and recovery work.  A blog entry by the Dean of Houston's Episcopal Cathedral recounts work done during the storm and how they are now reaching out to victims.  An ENS story highlights the work of other parishes in the path of the storm.  Because ERD has worked for a number of years to encourage disaster planning in all parishes and dioceses, churches in Texas and Louisiana were able to respond quickly.  Pittsburgh has a disaster response planning team which has been trying to get parishes to do the planning necessary to be effective in local disasters or provide aid to other dioceses.

Australian Bishop File Complaint on Participants in ACNA Consecration of Extra-Provincial Bishop

Four Australian bishop have filed a complaint asking the provincial synod legal committee to explore possible charges against the Australian bishops who participated in the GAFCON requested-ACNA facilitated consecration of a bishop to serve "orthodox" Anglicans in England and Scotland.  The charges are based on ACNA not being part of the Anglican Communion and for the border-crossing nature of the new bishop's charge. Interestingly, one of the four signers of the complaint was Bishop Goldsworthy who signed as Bishop Gippsland, but who has just been elected Archbishop of Perth.

Church Speaks Strongly in Support of "Dreamers"

President Trump's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has left its particpants (often called "Dreamers") fearing deportation within six months.  The Episcopal Church is among the many religious bodies taking strong stands to support the Dreamers, some of who are serving as clergy in the Episcopal Church.  The bishop in Washington DC joined with the Roman Catholic, Jewish and Muslim leaders to sign an appeal last week to the president to keep the program.  Following the announcement today, Presiding Bishop Curry and House of Deputies President, Gay Jennings issued a strong statement of support for DACA participants.  The ENS is documenting statements and reactions throughout the church.  

More Concern about England's "National Musicians' Church."

Petitions continue to roll in and negative comments abound in the reactions to news that St. Sepulchre Church in London has begun telling the musical groups that have long used its space for rehearsals and concerts that beginning in 2018 the space will not be available. (See Update story here.)  The church, long known as the National Musician's Church, is now being managed as part of a cluster of parishes run by Anglican evangelicals.  The latest thoughtful article on the controversy, written by the person who was the music director at the church until a year ago, suggests that some of the groups may not have fit evangelical theological positions, including those related to LGBTQ. 

Evangelical Statement Evokes a Strong Rebuttals

Two Church of England evangelicals were among the people who signed the so-called "Nashville Statement" a theological document that argued for complementary gender roles, and insisted all sexual orientations other than heterosexual were sinful and against God's in tent in creation.  The document claims sexual orientation is a choice and that  celibacy is the only proper action outside of heterosexual marriage.  The statement was met immediately with a number of counter statements issued by a variety of religious organizations and coalitions. Richard Gagnon, who has recently left Pittsburgh Theological Seminary was another signer.

Issue of Women's Ordination Surfaces Again in ACNA

Since its founding, ACNA has been divided over women's ordination, with a majority of bodies that came together to form the diocese opposing women's ordination to the priesthood.  The report submitted to the synod this spring by a study committee summarized the arguments made by all parties, but made no recommendations other than to keep talking.  Now the ACNA House of Bishops has decided to hold conversations on the issue.  Where these conversations will lead is uncertain, but those opposed are adamant, and even with the addition of the Lawrence faction from South Carolina as a diocese, the fate of women clergy in the church remains tenuous and the issue divisive.