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, March 6, 2018

Week Ending 03/05/18

Much Reaction to the Property Settlement in Pittsburgh

The property settlement reached by nine ACNA parishes with the Episcopal Diocese has been widely covered, making front page news in Pittsburgh's Post-Gazette and the Tribune Media,  and in stories by Anglican.ink, Christian Today two in the Living Church,  and both the Episcopal News Service and the Anglican Communion News Service.  Most have hailed the announcement as being a path towards reconciliation and avoidance of further expensive lawsuits. The Post-Gazette made the agreement the subject of a positive editorial. The agreement covered the property and endowments of nine parishes whose titles ran in the name of the parish rather than the Board of Trustees and thus were not covered in the court decision of 2009 and implementation decision of 2010.  Comments on some of the more conservative sites (such as Anglican.ink) have noted that the agreement requires payment in perpetuity to the Episcopal Diocese of a small percentage of operating income.

Special Committee Appointed on Gender Equality and Sexual Harassment

The Rev. Gay Jennings, President of the House of Deputies has appointed a committee of 47 to look at all aspects of sexual harassment and exploitation within the Episcopal Church.  Jennings will chair the committee, which has been divided into 5 separate sub committees, looking at theology and language, truth and reconciliation, structural equity, social justice, and Title IV (disciplinary canons).  The committee is tasked to bring matters to the House of Deputies and General Convention.  All members are women of whom 31 are clergy.  The composition of the committee has raised some comment, including a piece by the Rev. Mark Harris.

Another Nudge in New Zealand to Allow Church Blessing of Same-Sex Unions

The General Synod for the Anglican Province of New Zealand has on its agenda a revised report recommending local option in the matter of Church blessings of Same-Sex Unions.  The Diocese of Christchurch held a special synod to on the subject to inform the representatives they will send to that synod.  After a full discussion, a majority of the synod voted that it supported the local option approach.  They are the first regional synod to do so.  The decision was reported widely in the New Zealand press including here and here, and with less enthusiasm in Anglican.ink.  

Church of England Begins Tough Scrutiny on Cover-Up of Child Abuse

Hearings on the mishandling of reports on child abuse within the Church of England have begun with some very critical statements using words such as "amateurism", "cover-up," and "excessive deference to those at the top" and more.  The hearings are on-going and are causing considerable commentary and follow-up stories in the media in England.  Thinking Anglicans has a set of links to all aspects of the hearings. 

Church of England Attracting Middle Eastern Immigrants

The Church of England is reporting a source of new members - immigrants from the Middle East, especially Iran.  Some were born into Christian families in Iran but were never baptized due to the persecution of the church there.  Others were members in Christian churches in the Middle East, and still others are finding their way to Church from other faiths.  Many of the immigrants are still in the process of applying for permanent residency, but have responded to the help given immigrants by the Church.  For more, look here

ACNA Bishop Riles GAFCON Waters

Bishop Jack Iker of the ACNA diocese in Fort Worth is a determined opponent of women's ordination.  The recent ACNA decision to continue to allow local option of women's ordination to the priesthood provoked Iker in November 2017 to vow to work to reverse that decision and declare impaired communion with those dioceses that do ordain women.  Now nearly a year after the event occurred, it is becoming public that the Province of South Sudan had consecrated a woman as bishop.  The province participates in GAFCON (originally Global Anglican Futures Conference), but now the shadow Anglican Communion created by dissidents within the Anglican Communion.  GAFCON primates had agreed on a voluntary moratorium on consecrating women as bishops. Iker is now demanding an explanation from the Sudanese and GAFCON.  The letter hints that there should be some form of disciplinary action or non-recognition of the consecration.  

More Federal Court Developments in South Carolina Property Suits

 The Episcopal litigants in the federal case on trademark infringement have just filed papers to broaden the issues.  In a series of filings the Episcopal Church and the local diocese merged their suits, asked the court to include within its jurisdiction all remaining matters concerning parish property, including appointing parish trustees/vestry members who are willing to act as fiduciary agents for the Episcopal Church, and inclusion of the parishes that are participating in the break-away diocese, but did not become plaintiffs in the state property suit.  Meanwhile the U.S. Supreme Court has under review the appeal by the break-away group of the South Carolina Supreme Court decision awarding diocesan and parish property to the diocese participating in the Episcopal Church.  The court may delay a decision on whether to hear the case, however because they have asked the Episcopal Church and participating diocese to file responses to the appeal filed by the break-away group.  That response is not due until March 27, after the date the court originally was going to take up review.