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, May 15, 2018

Week Ending 05/14/18

South Carolina Episcopalians Ask Court to Implement Decision

Episcopalians have filed suit in South Carolina state courts asking that the courts issue orders returning the property in possession of the schismatic group that the State Supreme Court ruled belong to those who remained in the Episcopal Church. They see no reason to wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to decided if it will hear the appeal brought by the schismatic group led by Bishop Lawrence, since the state supreme court ruling is a final decree.  The Episcopalians have suggested appointment of a special master to oversee the transfer of property.  The Episcopalians expect to resume control of parish properties by having members of the congregation willing to participate in the Episcopal Church assume the governance of the parishes.  That may mean portions of the congregation and its leadership will withdraw to form a new ACNA church. They also filed an amended brief in the federal case asking the court to issue an order forbidding the break-away group from using certain names and symbols of the diocese. The press release from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina is here.  The filing in state court is here, and the amended brief in federal court is here. The Update's most recent previous coverage of these legal issues is here.

Presiding Bishop to Preach at Royal Wedding

Within an hour of the Anglican Communion announcing that Presiding Bishop Michael Curry had accepted an invitation to preach at the wedding May 19 of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle the web site crashed from over use.  The initial announcement described the Presiding Bishop as "from Chicago" without clarifying that was where he had been born, and not where he served as bishop or currently resided.  As a result, a number of the news services initially misidentified Curry as the Bishop of Chicago or living there. (See for example, Associated Press,  the Chicago Sun Times,  the CBS service ET online, and  the BBC). The Diocese of Chicago issued their own statement.  Later stories were more accurate and began to focus on his social activism and emphasis on evangelism. In China, the story highlighted his support of the LGBTQ community. Traditionally the preacher at a royal wedding is a senior member of the Church of England, but the couple apparently wanted to emphasize the bride's American origins and Africa-American Heritage, and thus chose Curry, the head of the American branch of the Anglican Communion with a reputation for dynamic preaching.  The Archbishop of Canterbury helped the couple make their selection, and his endorsement of the choice sent a message to those who questioned the Episcopal Church's place in the Anglican Communion.

Anglican Provinces Make Statements on Same-Sex Marriages

The three-branched Anglican Church in New Zealand has voted to allow blessing of same-sex unions while.  Last year the synod delayed a vote for more study.  The new study proposed a form of local option. One of the three strands, representing Polynesians, will not implement the decision, but also did not block it for the other branches of the Church. Two other provinces made negative statements.  Australia, where civil marriage for same-sex couples has just been approved, has published an agreement reached by Australian Bishops that they will not authorize formal blessing rites or allow marriages in their churches, although informal pastoral blessings may well take place in the dioceses, especially those who spoke in favor of the marriage referendum. The Update had earlier reported on the Austalian synod had chastized the Scottish Church for their vote to permit Church marriages of same-sex couples, but now a confidential agreement among Australian bishops has been released.   The Church of Ireland Bishops have also issued a statement to the Irish synod emphasizing that there has been no change in the Church of Ireland's definition of marriage as a commitment between one man and one woman.  The New Zealand decision means there are now four Anglican Provinces (the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, The Scottish Episcopal Church, and New Zealand) providing forms of church recognition for same-sex marriages.

Bomb Rocks Texas Church

When the Rev. Rev. Steven Balke arrived at his church office  on Thursday he discovered that sometime between evening worship at St. Stephen's Church in Beaumont, TX and his return on Thursday, a bomb had been set off at the church office door. No one was hurt.  ATF and FBI officials are investigating.  The Church's School which was in session when Balke reached his office was evacuated as were the offices.  The package bomb appears very similar to an unexploded bomb found at a local Starbucks on April 26.  Damage was minimal and the church and school reopened on Friday.

Women Breaking New Ground as Bishops

Within a 24 hour period both the Canadian Church and the Church of England celebrated women breaking new ground as bishops.  The Canadian Church announced the election on the first ballot of the Rt. Rev. Melissa Skelton as the Archbishop of British Columbia and the Yukon.  She is Bishop of New Westminster within that province and will continue with those duties in addition to her role as Archbishop. The province she will head is one of four internal provinces within the Anglican Church of Canada.  She is the first woman to hold that office.  In London, the Church of England was celebrating the installation of the Rt. Rev. Sarah Mullally as Bishop of London.  Originally consecrated a suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of Exeter, Mullally was appointed to fill the London see in March 2018.  The Diocese of London is one of the largest and most prestigious posts in the Church of England.  Mullally noted that seat where she had just been enthroned was the target of a bombing by British suffragists almost exactly 105 years earlier.

House of Bishops Releases Draft of Healing Service for Church Leaders who Suffered Abuse Within the Church

Last week the Update reported on criticism of the approach that the House of Bishops was taking to listening to the stories at General Convention of those church workers who suffered abuse from church leaders.  Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe, the House of Bishops planning committee chair,  has now issued a fuller description of their intention which was to create a special liturgy for reconciliation, not a hearing. (That will take a different format at General Convention.) 

Presiding Bishop to March in Ecumenical Protest of White House Policies

On May 24, 2018, Presiding Bishop Curry will join with a number of ecumenical leaders and spokespersons for Christian Social Action groups in a March to the White House.  The March will launch the "Reclaiming Jesus Declaration." Among signers of the Declaration are the evangelical leader the Rev.  Jim Wallis, Bishop Vashti McKenzie (the elected head of the House of Bishops of the African Methodist Church),  Bishop Carroll Baltimore of the International Community Baptist Churches, and reitred heads of the Wesleyan Church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and Reformed Church.  Marchers will conduct a candlelight vigil while protesting policies that disadvantage the poor, encourage bigotry, condone lying by public officials, and reject the idea of "America First" as heretical. The Anglican Communion News Service has this story.  Episcopal Cafe posted this.

Washington D.C. Church Hits Snag in Condo Project

St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Dupont Circle was destroyed by fire in 1970.  The congregation has been in temporary and rented space ever since trying to find a way to rebuild.  An innovative arrangement with a condominium developer that would have provided multipurpose space within the condominium development for St. Thomas on its original site has hit a major snag.  Construction, nearly 60 % complete was halted by order of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs after a group calling itself the Dupont Circle Residents Association (DCRA) sued to stop the 7 story development.  The D.C. Court of Appeals ruled for DCRA.  The church has now filed an appeal.  The suit was filed after the church put up a series of posters on the outside of the new building criticizing President Trump's policies.