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, December 27, 2017

Week Ending 12/25/17

Merry Christmas to you all! 

The editor took  Christmas off, and so Update is a day late in appearing.  Luckily the news is light and mostly related to Christmas.

Well-Traveled Clergy

The Episcopal News Service had a story on the miles that mission priests travel in South Dakota to provide services on Indian reservations.  The 4th Sunday of Advent/ Christmas Eve conjunction this year was enough to exhaust many a clergy person or church-goer, but the schedule for these missionaries was a true marathon.  Similar tales could be told by mission clergy in the North Dakota missions and in other rural areas, but the experiences of those in South Dakota are what was the focus. Read about it here.  Then there are the clergy who have headed to Puerto Rico as part of an advance team to set up mission trips for rebuilding lives on that hurricane-ravaged island. The Diocese of Maryland is already operating two relief centers on the island.  If you are still having any  doubts about the need for stamina among clergy, then the travels of Pittsburgh's Bishop McConnell will convince you.  He went to China and back in less than a week with a whirlwind of official visits squeezed into a two day stay.  You can read about the reason for the trip and his visit in this piece.

Caroling Christians Arrested in India

A group of five from a Christian seminary (two clergy and three students) singing Christmas Carols were arrested in an Indian state with some of the  most stringent anti-conversion laws in India.  Complaints against the group for trying to convert people were filed against the group by Hindus and a mob later burned their car.  Eight other clergy who went to try to help the original group were also arrested. The laws are being used by strict Hindus to persecute and harass minority religions and prevent anyone from leaving the Hindu religion. 

Presiding Bishop Curry's Christmas Message "Make Music in the Heart of the World"

The Presiding Bishop's Christmas message encourages us all to be reconcilers, to work for justice and peace. " God is showing us in Jesus how to become God’s family and how to change, and build, and make a world where everybody is a part of that family. Where children don’t go to bed hungry. Where no one has to be lonely. Where justice is real for all and where love is the ultimate law."  No commentary is needed.  Merry Christmas to you all.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Week Ending 12/18/17

Blue Christmas Services Growing 

Religion.news has an article on the growing number of churches offering "Blue Christmas" services around the country.  The services all seek to acknowledge that for some people this holiday season is a time of loss, grieving, and lonliness that puts them out of synch with the upbeat traditions of Christmas.  Episcopal Churches are among those offering these services.  In Pittsburgh, Church of the Redeemer at 5700 Forbes Ave. in Squirrel Hill will mark a decade of offering a Blue Christmas liturgies with its  service Wednesday, December 20 at 7:00. More information is included in the Diocesan online newsletter, Grace Happens. The service notice is the tenth item in the newsletter.

Are ACNA and AMiE In Or Out of Anglican Communion?

The inclusion of a statement saying that ACNA was not a part of the Anglican Communion in the Communique issued at the end of the Primates meeting in October became the first in a series of salvos fired by the leaders of GAFCON and the Global South on one side and the Anglican Communion office on the other.  The Archbishop of Nigeria immediately demanded ACNA be included in the Communion, and the Global South leaders affirmed their full communion with ACNA.  Now the Archbishop of Nigeria speaking as the leader of GAFCON has declared being in full communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury is not necessary for membership in the Anglican Communion. Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who laid out his position that ACNA was not part of the Anglican Communion in 2014, did not comment further. However, Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, the General Secretary of the Anglican Communion  responded with a statement citing the official documents of the Communion, beginning with the 1930 Lambeth Conference definition of the Communion to show that all require being in full communion with Canterbury.

Woman to Lead the Diocese of London

Bishop Sarah Mullally, currently a Bishop of Crediton ( a suffragan position in the Diocese of  Exeter) has been named as the next Bishop of the Diocese of London.  Mullally had a distinguished career as a nurse, eventually serving as the Chief Nursing Officer of the National Health Service.  She was ordained in 2001, became Canon Treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral in 2012 and when consecrated as Bishop of Crediton in 2015 was among the earliest women made a bishop in the Church of England.  London is among the most important sees in England, and is currently engaged in a plan to add 100 new locations of worship.  The response to her appointment has been overwhelmingly positive. Her statement on the appointment stressed servant ministry and noted that she wanted to support the ministry of all parishes in the diocese including those opposing women's ordination.  Even Forward in Faith, which opposes women's ordination, issued a generally mild statement

Nashotah House Keeps Acting Dean as  Interim Dean and President

Update has been noting the faculty changes at Nashotah House this last year.  Two faculty have died, a third has taken a position at Trinity School for Ministry, and the Board chose not to make a change in President of the Board. Update reported on the changes here and here.  The top leadership has also gone through relatively rapid turnover when  Dean and President Steven Peay abruptly stepped down for health reasons in August after leading the seminary for less than three years.  Professor Garwood Anderson, a lay member of the faculty became the Acting Dean.  The Board now has decided to appoint him as Interim Dean and Seminary President.  It is a move that provides continuity in a year with a number of sudden changes.

Updates on Several Stories

         South Carolina Episcopalians File Motion to Dismiss in Latest Lawsuit

  Break-away parishes in South Carolina filed a "Betterment" lawsuit asking for reimbursement of all money the parishes had invested in their buildings within days of learning the South Carolina Supreme Court had denied their request for a rehearing of the case that had resulted in the court awarding most of the parish and all of the diocesan property to those who had stayed in the Episcopal Church.  This last week the Episcopal Church in South Carolina filed their response, a request for dismissal based on a series of technical errors and arguing that parishes were actually suing themselves.  The blog scepiscopalians.com has a clear discussion in a posting dated December 18, 2017 and the diocese summarizes its case here.  Both stories carry links to the actual filing.

       NC Priest Gets Probation in Road Rage Case

Update noted last week that a plea bargain had paved the way for a possible sentence of probation in the case involving a North Carolina priest involved in a road rage incident in Florida.  The Court met on Friday and the priest received a year of probation.  The outcome is reported here

     Legislation Introduced to Help Fund Rebuilding Christ Church Cathedral

New Zealand's Parliament has had legislation introduced to pay for a portion of the cost in rebuilding the Anglican Cathedral in Christ Church.  The Cathedral has been sitting as a ruin for seven years after being nearly destroyed in an earthquake that nearly leveled the central business areas of Christ Church.  The diocese had been caught for seven years in a political debate over whether to tear down and build new or restore what was a national landmark building.   Update's latest story was on objectors to the use of tax money to rebuild a church.

     Church of England Apologizes After Legal Review of Handling of Charges of  Sexual Impropriety List Multiple Shortcomings

In the midst of a recent cascade of accusations of sexual impropriety against public icons around the world, often involving incidents from decades ago, some have asked how a person can defend against such charges.  The Church of England had already been dealing for several years with charges that the Church mishandled cases for years.  One such case involved Bishop George Bell, who has been included in the Episcopal Church's Holy Women, Holy Men for his principled stand against Hitler in the Second World War. Bell has been dead for over half a century. Update covered these accusations a in 2015 when the Church apologized to the victim.  The accusation against Bell led to a blue-ribbon study on the procedures and handling of the case.  The report raises questions about the inability of a revered person long dead to defend his reputation against charges.  The report has resulted in an apology from the diocese and the Church of England.  Anglican.ink carried a detailed story on the report here, the diocesan apology is here and the statement from Archbishop Welby is here.  The 75 page report is here.

          Episcopal Churches Step Up to Help as California Fires Continue

The Episcopal News Service has a new story on how Southern California parishes are responding to help those displaced as the area enters a second week of fighting the fires which keep being renewed by high winds and heat.  Both air quality and direct threats from the uncontained Thomas Fire have displaced more than 100,000 people in the area.  Update covered the earlier story here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Week Ending 12/11/17

Planning to Keep the Next Lambeth Conference Civil

Canadian Archbishop Hilz is just back from a four week visit to England where he consulted with Archbishop of Canterbury Welby on plans for the 2020 Lambeth Conference.  Hilz annually visits England to consult with those in the Anglican Communion, but this visit included conversation on plans for Lambeth since Hilz is on the committee appointed to help with planning.  The discussions focused on how to make sure that the many pressing areas of concern, such as climate change, human trafficking, and the Middle East, will not be shoved to the side by discussion of human sexuality. 

New Zealanders Unhappy at Tax Support for Rebuilding Cathedral

 It seems that the controversy surrounding the earthquake damaged cathedral in Christ Church, New Zealand simply will not go away.  For six years the Anglican diocese has been trying to decide what to do with a building so badly damaged that not one can enter.  The diocese originally wanted to tear it down and rebuild, but local historic preservationists wanted the building restored, although the cost would be much more.  This summer the diocese decided to restore the building after government and outside funds were offered to help with the costs.  Now a number of residents in Christ Church are complaining that the city is planning on raising taxes to cover their share of the pledged money.

Priest in Road Rage Case May Plea Bargain

 The Western North Carolina priest involved in a road-rage incident in Florida has withdrawn his not-guilty plea and plead no contest to a misdemeanor charge of improperly displaying a weapon if everything goes according to plans in court this Friday.  The bargain would reduce charges from a felony with a possible 15 year sentence to a misdemeanor with a year probation.  Both Anglican.ink and local southern Florida papers carried the story.  Update has information on the original incident here.

Church of England Facing Tactics Familiar to TEC

 Members of the Episcopal Church will find events orchestrated by the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) taking on an increasingly familiar turn.  This last week English commentators were discussing the impact of the ordination of a group of priests by ACNA consecrated Bishop Andy Lines to serve parishes not wishing to continue in the Church of England.  For statements from a number of those supporting this extra-jurisdictional ordination, look here. Then one of the leading evangelical parishes in London declared it was not in communion with the other members of their Church of England deanery  and would no longer worship with them at any meetings.  They accused the other churches and leaders of apostacy.  This followed the announcement covered by the Update earlier that a small parish in Scotland was withdrawing from the Episcopal Church of Scotland and going under the jurisdiction of Lines. Topping off the week the Global South leaders issued a statement saying they were in full communion with ACNA thus trying to counter the recent statements saying that ACNA was not a member of the Anglican Communion.

Report on Protests in Charlottesville Released

A careful and detailed report on the official handling of the protests in Charlottesville, VA this last summer dishes out a lot of criticism to the public safety officials who were charged with keeping order.  The report also brings into better view how the well-publicized August protests were actually the third set of demonstrations in the summer and that as the summer went on, the protection got worse.  The 8 page executive summary at the beginning of the 200+ page report gives a good overview.  Pittsburgh Update carried stories on the church responses that were part of the counter-demonstrations in August. This report fills in and confirms the lack of protection noted by clergy at those events. 

Episcopal Clergy Signed Public Statement in Alabama Senate Race

The Alabama special election to replace Jeff Sessions as U.S. Senator has had many religious overtones with many evangelicals endorsing Ray Moore, a controversial candidate known for his homophobia, racism, and for twice being removed from the state supreme court for defying federal law.  Most recently he has been accused  pedophilia for trying to date young teens when he was in his 30s.  Sixty religious leaders, mostly from mainstream denominations signed a public letter condemning him in November.  Among those were eight Episcopal priests.  It appears that they may not only be on the side of righteousness but also the winning side as vote returns Tuesday December 12 show a narrow victory for his Democratic opponent Doug Jones, although Moore refuses to concede and awaits a recount.

 Latest California Fires Challenged Parishes and Clergy

 As six fires threatened wide swaths of Los Angeles and San Diego Counties, Episcopalians were among those forced from their homes.  The Episcopal New Service has a story filed early in the fight against the fires which focuses on clergy who were refugees and how they have tried to offer parish resources to others fleeing or fighting the fires.  Latest news counts over 1000 homes damaged or destroyed. The Thomas Fire in Ventura County is still active heavy smoke is affecting the whole region.

Scriven to Retire

Former Assistant Bishop Henry Scriven has announced his retirement from the Church Mission Society. While there he oversaw the merger of the South American Missionary Society with the CMS. His first stop in retirement will be to serve as assistant chaplain to a church in Bangkok, Thailand for six months.

Good Will At Christmas in Malta

The Anglican pro-cathedral in Valetta has moved its Christmas service across the harbor to a smaller church in Sliema so that the Carmelites can borrow the pro-cathedral for their midnight mass.  The Roman Catholic order's building is being restored and the congregation has been worshiping in a small church elsewhere in Valetta, but the Christmas service usually draws around 200 people.   When the Carmelites asked about using the Anglican building, the Anglicans responded positively and arranged another site for their service.  A Merry Christmas for all in Malta.  

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Week Ending 12/4/17

Second Try at Mediation in South Carolina Also Ends Abruptly

The mediation ordered by the federal judge hearing the trademark infringement case filed in South Carolina by the Episcopal Church resulted once again in an abrupt end to the session on the first day.  The mediation was originally scheduled for early November, but that session ended after only an hour or so and was rescheduled for December 4 and 5. The session ended after only about an hour of meeting and the mediator has set a third try for January 11 and 12, 2018.  The Episcopal Church in South Carolina had a terse, two-sentence announcement of the most recent rescheduling.  The break away group has not made any statements or even acknowledged the mediation sessions on their web site.  The blog scepiscopalians.com has more background in the December 4 posting.

Duncan "Corrects" Iker's Statements About Women's Ordination

The Update has been following the continuing discussion about women's ordination within ACNA as it is has been a point of contention from the beginning for ACNA. The recent reaffirmation of the decsision to agree to disagree did not sit well with long-term opponent of women's ordination, Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth.  Update carried a notice of his decision to begin working to end women's ordination in those ACNA dioceses allowing it.  Now retired Archbishop Robert Duncan has weighed in to correct statements Iker made.  Duncan has taken issue with Iker's claim that he specifically instructed those doing the multi-year study to come to no conclusions and make no recommendations.  Duncan's reply makes the interesting point that while the majority of ACNA dioceses do not ordain women, those that do make up the bulk of the membership in ACNA.

Seven Australian Bishops Support Bill for Same-Sex Civil Marriage

The Australian legislature has been drawing up a bill to permit same-sex civil marriages following the voters poll done earlier this year that showed 70% of Australians support such a measure.  The Anglican Church in Australia, however, officially took a position against same-sex marriage, and the Diocese of Sydney spent $1 million supporting the anti side during the poll.  Seven of the bishops in the church, however, signed a letter sent to the parliamentary leadership saying that they support the same-sex marriage bill.  Only one, Bishop John Parkes of Wangaratta, has been identified. Parkes has published a lengthy essay laying out his reasons which can be found on the diocesan web site.

GAFCON Supported Group Continues On Road to Schism in the British Isles

When GAFCON leaders approved the consecration of an "orthodox" bishop for the British Isles in spring 2017, they began to follow the path taken by those in the United States who eventually formed ACNA.  Now that bishop, Andrew Lines, has announced that he will ordain a group of priests to serve "orthodox" parishes.  These nine men will not be in the Church of England. The press release from Lines's group reads like a declaration of independence from the Churches in England, Scotland and Wales.  Last week Lines announced he was taking jurisdiction over a small parish that was part of the Episcopal Church of Scotland in the diocese of Argyle and the Isles.  That bishop has told the congregation that if they leave, they must leave their property behind.  Since the Episcopal Church of Scotland is not an established church, it will be interesting to see if litigation over ownership results as it has in the U.S.