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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, October 31, 2018

Week Ending 10/29/18

Responses to the Shooting in Pittsburgh

The murder of 11 individuals (and injury to 6 more including 4 police) at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue in the part of the city known as Squirrel Hill has sparked a strong response around the world, including statements from the Episcopal Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry and the group Episcopal Bishops United Against Gun Violence.  While Squirrel Hill is known as the heart of Pittsburgh Jewish Community, it is a very diverse community.  (See this essay by a former black Squirrel Hill resident.) The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer is one of 3 christian churches in Squirrel Hill and its rector issued this statement. Pittsburgh Episcopal Bishop Dorsey McConnell issued this statement immediately upon hearing the news, and later urged the diocese to attend a Sunday interfaith gathering.  He also issued a statement urging Episcopalians not do anything (such as join in protests during the visit by Donald Trump) that would turn the focus away from the funerals of the victims.

Sydney Makes Moves Towards 20th Century

The Sydney Province within the Anglican Church of Australia is a conservative, low-church bastion that does not allow women's ordination, is opposed to LGBTQ rights and not joined much of the rest of the Anglican Communion on allowing remarriage of divorced persons.  The synod meeting this week voted in favor of a proposal that will allow dometic abuse survivors to remarry after divorce. The vote passed by a wide margin, but it only asks bishops to consider the issue.

Updates on Previous Posts

Tiny House Movement Continues to Spread

Episcopoal Church of the Advocate in Raleigh North Carolina has decided to use part of its land as a site for three tiny homes to shelter homeless. Advocate is a relatively new parish, having purchased land in 2011 and recycling an old historic church as their sanctuary.  The parish has teamed with community groups including Habitat for Humanity provide housing stability for three poior or homeless individuals until they can put their lives back together and move on to other housing options.  Episcopal Churches in several other dioceses have already joined in the movement to create tiny house options for the homeless.  The most recent Update post was here

Sydney Backs Down on Part of Church Use Restrictions

Update reported last week on a proposal to the Sydney Synod that would restrict use of all church property to those who follow church positions on a variety of issues. One part of that hit a snag.  The ban on indigenous smoking ceremonies on church property, including schools, evoked a major outcry from those who argued that the church was being culturally insensitive and that the ceremonies were compatible with church beliefs.  As a result the resolution was amended to remove the ceremonies.  The measure, however passed with the clauses forbidding any group advocating LGBTQ rights or same sex marriage from using church property.

Virginia Unable to Select a Provisional Bishop

In August Bishop Shannon Johnson of Virginia announced an early retirement and the following week the Presiding Bishop sent a letter to members of the diocese explaining some of the reasons.  The intent was to have the name of a provisional bishop candidate presented at the Virginia annual diocesan meeting this coming weekend, but the Standing Committee has announced that they have been unable to arrange for a suitable candidate.  In the meantime Suffragan Bishop Susan Goff will continue to provide Episcopal leadership for the diocese.

More on Elections of Women as Bishops

The Diocese of Colorado has chosen the Rev. Kym Lucas as its next bishop.  Colorado had only two candidates, both women after a third candidate was dropped because of a pending investigation in his home diocese.  Lucas is the first African-American and the first woman elected diocesan bishop in Colorado.  Assuming her election is approved by the requisite number of bishops and standing committees she will join two other African American women serving as diocesan bishops, Bishops Carlye Hughes of Newark and Jennifer Baskerville-Burroughs of Indianapolis. Lucas joins two other women elected as diocesans within the last month. The number of possible women diocesans also increased this week when the San Diego Standing Committee announced that a slate of only one candidate for bishop, the Rev. Susan Snook.  The process of nomination by petition could add more candidates, and their current Assisting Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori also sent a letter explaining that although rare, there were precedents for a single candidate.  Given that one of the precedents is the schismatic bishop, Mark Lawrence of South Carolina, the precedents may not inspire confidence.  The candidate, however, is a priest well-known and respected by members of General Convention.

Irish Voters Approve End to Blasphemy Laws

As reported last week, the Anglican Church of Ireland supported a referendum in Ireland that would strike a blasphemy clause from the Irish Constitution. The results of the referendum are now in, and over 70% of Irish voters supported removal of the clause.  The Irish Parliament will take that as a mandate to remove blasphemy laws and by the absence of any laws grant full religious freedom in Ireland. 

South Carolina Judge Sets Date for Hearing

South Carolina District Judge Dickson has set November 19, 2018 as the date for a hearing on the implementation of the property decision in South Carolina.  He wasted no time to set the date following final filings of arguments by the Episcopal Diocese and the schismatic group in South Carolina.  It has now been over a year since the South Carolina Supreme Court issued its opinion granting almost all the parish and all of the diocesan property to those who stayed in the Episcopal Church.

Western New York and Northwest Pennsylvania Make Bishop Sharing Official

Bishop Sean Rowe of Northwest Pennsylvania is now also the provisional Bishop of Western New York following official votes by both diocesan conventions. The arrangement is for 5 years. Sharing duties is nothing new for Rowe, who served as provisional bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem in Pennsylvania while also continuing as Bishop of Northwest Pennsylvania.  What makes the new arrangement path-breaking is that the two dioceses are in different Provinces. 

Connecticut Convention Puts Warring Parish Under Direct Control of Bishop

Bishop Ian Douglas of Connecticut intervened with St. Paul's Parish in Darien, CT tried to fire their rector without going through the canonical processes.  The vestry continued to defy the bishop, Douglas went to the parish insisting that the rector remain. Update carried the story of the struggle in June 2018.   The Connecticut diocesan convention has now voted to make the parish a "worshipping community" under the direct control of the bishop.  This vote ends any legal authority of the recalcitrant vestry.  The Episcopal News Services gives more of the details on the events and vote.