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.

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A Service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh         

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Week Ending 11/20/17

South Carolina Supreme Court Denies Rehearing

The South Carolina church property suit reached another milestone when the state supreme court refused both a rehearing of the case and a petition for recusal of one of the five judges who participated in the case. With Judge Hearn recusing herself, the judges split 2-2 on the issue of a rehearing, and thus there was no majority for rehearing. A good overview of the decision and background is here. The latest Update story is here. The judges were 5-0 on the issue of recusal.  The Lawrence faction asked too late for Judge Kay Hearn to step away from the case. The opinions filed by the judges who wanted a rehearing can be read as encouragement for the Lawrence group to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.  The break-away group has this response on its web site and also sent a letter from Bishop Lawrence.  The Episcopalians responded here.  Meanwhile, the break-away group is continuing to find new ways to litigate and thus delay return of church property to the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. The parishes have filed a civil suit under a "betterment" statute asking for a court award to cover the costs of all the improvements they have ever made on their properties. Steve Skaradon's blog has background on this filing.

Bishop Sauls Files Brief 

Update reported a short while ago that Bishop Sauls was refiling his suit for damages against the Presiding Bishop and other unnamed persons including leaders of General Convention and staff at the Church Headquarters. The content of that complaint is now available.  Sauls claims a conspiracy to get rid of him and punish him by a group of unnamed leaders trying to increase the power of the President of the House of Deputies.  A responding brief from TEC has not yet been filed. 

Sydney Archbishop Asks for Protection of "Freedom of Speech" 

Archbishop Davies of Sydney, Australia, and his synod were major contributors to the efforts to convince Australians not to vote for an opinion referendum on same-sex marriage. Around 80% of Australian voters participated, and 61.% voted to allow same sex marriages.  Now the Australian parliament is drafting a bill, and they hope to have it in effect by Christmas. Meanwhile, Davies is asking that as parliament drafts its bill, they also need to protect those who want to continue to preach and voice opinions that while civil marriage will now be legal for same-sex couples, it remains immoral or and not approved by the church.

West Missouri Bishop and Diocese Reach Pact

The Diocesan Leadership and the Bishop of West Missouri have not been getting along.  The Standing Committee filed a formal request in spring 2016 for reconciliation of the relationship between a diocese and its bishop.  After nearly two years of discussion, an agreement for reconciliation has emerged.  Bishop Field has agreed to professional counseling and a mentoring relationship.  The Diocese had committed to regular feedback to the bishop.  Both sides are hopeful that the outcome will be positive. The process so far has been funded by TEC, but from this point on the financial responsibility belongs to the diocese.

Ordination of Women Dividing ACNA

 After a five-year study on women's ordination, the ACNA House of Bishops voted to continue allowing each diocese to decide whether to ordain women to the priesthood.  A majority of the bishops do not support women's ordination, but key dioceses such as Pittsburgh and South Carolina, do ordain women. In September Bishop Hobby of Pittsburgh made a statement responding to the House of Bishops statement, noting his intent to continue to support ordained women.  Bishop Iker of Fort Worth however, has declared war on women's ordination.  He used his November 4 Address at the Diocesan Convention to announce that he is beginning efforts to have the ACNA constitution changed to no longer allow a local option of ordination for women.  This would undo the initial compromise that allowed dissident groups to join forces and form ACNA.

Anglican Mothers Unions Launch Initiative Against Gender Violence

  The largest women's organization in the Anglican Communion, the Mother's Union has announced a sixteen day initiative aimed at gender violence against women throughout the world.  Each province is designing their own actions.  These range from action against genital mutilation to domestic violence and murder of women.  The Anglican Communion news has a good overview, and the Anglican Journal has a piece on the Canadian approach.

Plagiarism Delays Search for Next Bishop of Newark

The diocese of Newark has hit a snag that will delay the process of seeking candidates for bishop.  It has been discovered that the entire section "The Bishop We Seek" of the diocesan profile was plagiarized from the document used for the Diocese of Bethlehem.  The member of the search committee responsible for writing that section has resigned.  The search has been put on hold until a new section has been written.  While the search committee has revised their timeline, the date for the electing convention has not been changed. The committee has also apologized to the Diocese of Bethlehem.