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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, August 15, 2018

Week Ending 8/13/18

Parishes Work on Voter Registration

While separation of church and state means that churches are not supposed to endorse candidates or direct members to vote in particular ways, it does not limit them from encouraging people to participate in the electoral process.  Although voter suppression and issues of ballot access have taken on partisan cast, working on voter registration drives is not necessarily partisan.  A number of Episcopal congregations are committing major time and effort to ensuring that not only their own members are registered to vote, but they are reaching out to register all eligible people in their communities.   Episcopal News Service has the story here

New Central American Primate Calls for Social Activism 

The Anglican Province of Central America has a new primate. Bishop Julio Murray  of Panama was elected in April and installed as Archbishop this last week.  At the installation, he articulated a broad vision of social justice for the church, specifically mentioning youth and women.  He sees the church as called to walk those on the margins of society. The message he delivered at the dedication service came as no surprise.  Murray has been talking about this vision in interviews since his election.  The other nations that are part of the province include Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatamala, and El Salvador.  It will be interesting to see how the new Archbishop deals with the Costa Rica Supreme Court's decision last week striking down the laws barring same sex marriage. The court has given the legislature 18 months to amend the laws.  If the legislature does not act, the court's decision will nullify them.  Although several South American Countries have recently opened marriage to same sex couples, Costa Rica will be the first in Central America.

Church Marks with Prayer the Anniversary of Charlottesville Demonstrations 

One year after churches in Charlottesville countered the large demonstrations organized by neo-Nazis and White Supremacist groups by a silent and prayerful witness of clergy, and workshops on anti-racism, Episcopalians joined with other Charlottesville churches to organize workshops meetings remembering those killed and continuing their witness of peace, faith, and unity. The Episcopal News Service covered the anniversary gathering.

Scottish Episcopal Church Loses Another  Parish

The decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church to allow same sex marriage has had internal consequences.  When the church elected its first woman bishop, a supporter of same sex marriage, a small parish in her diocese voted to leave the church for a splinter organization created by GAFCON.  Now one of the largest parishes in Edinburgh has voted to leave.  Although founded in the mid 19th century, it has only been affiliated with the Scottish Episcopal Church since 1991.  The congregation has not determined whether it will return to functioning as an independent evangelical church or join the GAFCON group.  The full article from the Telegraph is here.  The Episcopal Cafe article has additional information on the parish.

Presiding Bishop Sends Letter to Virginia Diocese

The Update reported last week that Bishop Shannon Johnston of Virginia had resigned. Now Presiding Bishop Michael Curry (who doesn't seem to be able to take time off even after surgery) has sent a letter to members of the diocese about that resignation.  The letter notes  Bishop Johnson made his decision after a full period of discernment and lists the many positive things accomplished during Bishop Johnson's time as bishop.

Another Parish Removes Confederate Symbols

Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati became the latest Episcopal parish to remove Confederate-related memorials from their building.  A descendant of the Lee family had given a stained glass window showing Lee receiving a blessing from Virginia Bishop William Meade.  That will be replaced by a window honoring Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass.  A plaque commemorating Christ Church as the site of the consecration of Leonidas Polk as Missionary Bishop of the Southwest in 1838.  Polk later served as a Confederate General while serving as the Bishop of Louisiana.  For reasons unstated, the parish also removed a plaque honoring Bishop Charles Henry Brent, who is honored in Lesser Feasts and Fasts as one of the great missionary bishops of the church. Update reported on the decisions of other churches and the aftermath here.

South Carolina Federal Suit Arguments Delayed 

The judge overseeing the federal trademark suit filed by Episcopalians against the schismatic group led by Mark Lawrence has delayed the arguments from September 2018  to March 1, 2019.  the extension was granted because the judge granted a motion by Episcopalians to enlarge the suit and include all the parishes and church related institutions. Update has been following this litigation which was intended to recover the name, seal and other identifying marks of the diocese since it was filed.  This is separate from the case concerning church property which was decided by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Break-Aways Continue in Alternate Reality

As Update reported earlier, the schismaric group led by former Bishop Mark Lawrence in South Carolina has been trying to counter the efforts of Episcopalians to reach out to those in the parish properties that the South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled belong to the Episcopalians.  Blogger Steve Skaradon attended the last of the Lawrence sessions and filed this description. It suggests that the schismatics have constructed an alternative reality.  The same is true of the version of Frequently Asked Questions posted this week by the schismatics.  You can compare the FAQ documents.  The Episcopal one is here and the Lawrence one is here

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Week Ending 8/6/18

Virginia Bishop Announces Retirement

Recently Bishop Shannon Johnston cancelled a search for a suffragan bishop because he was rethinking his own status with the diocese of Virginia.  He has now made his decision.  Johnston will retire as of November 3, 2018 but will act as a consultant for a transition up to July 1, 2019.  In the last several months Johnston has acknowledged that there are serious questions about leadership  and the "culture" among the senior staff.  Johnston has served as Bishop of Virginia for nearly 12 years. During his time as bishop the diocese has successfully concluded the legal actions needed to return church property to the Episcopal Church, moved to welcome LGBT clergy and same-sex marriage, and become vocal on a number of social justice issues.

Latest Developments in South Carolina

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina and the schismatic group headed by Mark Lawrence continue to be at odds.  The two sides were unable to agree on a list of the matters the state judge must decide as part of implementation of the South Carolina Supreme Court decision of a year ago.  Both sides submitted separate lists.  South Carolina Episcopalians submitted a list that asks the judge to take steps implementing the decision, to appoint a special master, and to order forensic audits of the parishes covered by the lawsuit and of the diocesan funds and assets that have been managed by the Mark Lawrence group since 2008.  Lawrence's group continued to try to get the substance of the case reopened, and pushed for a hearing on the "Betterments" suit they have filed.  Meanwhile, reports have come in from the first two of the five "Mission" meetings Lawrence is holding.  The approximately 200 in attendance heard a long harangue from Lawrence reprising his complaints against the Episcopal Church, insisting that the law suit is not settled and that he needs more money to pursue it, and painting himself as a victim.  The blog scepiscopalians.com has links to summaries of the meeting by Ronald Caldwell and the issues raised.  There is a commentary on the "Betterments" suit here, and on Lawrence's claims of victimization here

Churches Face Fire Threats in California

As California faces a large outbreak of fires, including the Mendicino Complex Fire and the Carr Fire which have displaced thousands of people and are still largely uncontained, the Episcopal Churches in the area are serving as disaster relief shelters and centers.  The parish most directly affected was
All Saints Episcopal Church in Redding.  The fire came within 4 blocks of the church.  As the larges facility close to the fire, the church is now serving as a disaster center.  Episcopal Churches near the Mendicino Fires are also serving as centers.  The Episcopal News Service has a good overview, including an interactive map that shows the location of all the fires burning in California.