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         

Monday, July 2, 2018

Week Ending 7/2/18

South Carolina Hosting Open Information Sessions to Help Returnees

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina has scheduled three information sessions in locations around the diocese to reconnect with those whose parishes have not been participating in the Episcopal Church. The refusal of the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal by the break-away group means that the Episcopal Church is now reaching out to those in the parishes affected by the property ruling.  They are offering discussions of reconciliation to those who have not been participating in the Episcopal Church for the last five years. Each session will be led by the new Missioner for Returning Parishes and will begin immediately following General Convention.  The press release from the diocese offers more details

General Convention Faces Multiple Proposals on Revision of the Book of Common Prayer

General Convention 2015 charged a special task force with coming up for a recommendation on how to revise the Book of Common Prayer and Hymnal.  That committee has come back with two options: move forward with drafting a revision for trial use or delay writing a draft while the Church intentionally studies the 1979 BCP.  In the meantime a separate task force on liturgies for same sex marriage came in with its own proposal for revision of the BCP.  A third proposal for revision emerged from a special task force on gender Equity.  There are also requests for better translations of Spanish, French, and other languages used by members of the Episcopal Church.  Eight resolutions on revision came in from bodies who filed reports in the Blue Book (the collection of official reports from task forces, commissions and committees meeting between sessions of General Convention). Two more have been offered by Bishops, three filed by dioceses, and one by a Deputy.  You can see them all here.  One of the ones filed by bishops offers an alternative approach to amending the Book of Common Prayer (which would take two General Conventions).  One of the three proposers is Bishop McConnell of Pittsburgh. This proposal leaves the same sex and gender neutral liturgies in a "trial" liturgy category indefinitely (which means the bishop does not permit its use, but requires bishops to offer Delegated Pastoral Oversight to parishes that wish to use the liturgies. This is an attempt to find a middle way for conservative bishops and dioceses in countries where same-sex marriage is not legal. Committee hearings on revision of the BCP begin at 8 a.m. on July 4.  Social media sources have already hosted widespread and heated discussions of these measures. What comes out of committee could be very different from what goes in.

English Trying to Assess Impact of Court Decision on Civil Partnerships

The British Parliament crafted a civil partnership law in 2004 that gave same sex couples a route to legal recognition of their relationships. In 2013 they made same sex marriage legal without repealing the civil partnership act.  Recently a heterosexual couple challenged their exclusion from the law wishing the benefit of a civil partnership without the patriarchal" baggage of a marriage. They argued it was unjust that same sex couples could choose between civil partnerships or marriage, but they had only the option of marriage.   The English Supreme Court has decided that the situation is unequal and violates the European Court of Human Rights standards.  The matter is thus thrown back to parliament to deal with the inequality.  While some church groups see civil partnerships as an attack on church marriage, the Church of England has supported civil partnerships because it meant clergy could use its provisions to regularize a relationship (presumably celibate) without the church needing to come to terms with same sex marriage.  The court summary of its opinion is here.  A piece explaining implications appeared here.

Same Sex Marriage Riles the Waters "Down Under."

The New Zealand Anglican Church (with its three separate strands) recently approved a local option measure allowing parishes to bless same-sex civil marriages.  That decision has led four parishes in the Diocese of Christchurch to enter conversations with church leaders on how they disassociate from the church. A separate memo outlines a 3 month period of negotiations that will cover assets, real property, and faithful remnants.  Presumably, the disassociators will then become part of a new GAFCON sponsored group.  Meanwhile in Australia, the Diocese of Wangaratta overwhelmingly passed a resolution urging the Bishop to begin a process that will provide a liturgy to use to bless civil marriages, which are now legal in Australia for same-sex couples. Although presented by the Archdeacon and lay leadership, the resolution had the support of their bishop.  This puts the bishop at odds with the statement he signed with the other Australian bishops a year ago agreeing to a moratorium on such blessings.  It also puts Archbishop Philip Freier in a bind because the diocese is part of the province he heads within the Australian Church.

Alternative Proposed to Salary for President of the House of Deputies

Another of the measures before General Convention wi whether the President of the House of Deputies ought to be paid.  The requirements for action have made it difficult to find candidates free and with sufficient financial resources to take on the role as a volunteer.  Issues about whether a salary would make the President of the House an employee rather than an elected head have surfaced.  Now a resolution has been put forward from the House of Bishops offering an alternative way to characterize financial support for the PHoD.  The person would be compensated as an Executive Director and paid "fees" set by a special commission that covered expenses for the time consuming tasks now part of the PhoD duties. The Living Church has the story