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, November 27, 2018

Week Ending 11/26/18

Archbishop Welby Questions God "the Father." 

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, ruffled more than a few conservative feathers with a very nuanced talk in which he calling God  "Father" was inaccurate.  Welby argues that the metaphor of God as "Father" was much too limiting.  You can find a more complete description of his comments here.

Thoughts on a Missionary's Death

While there have been numerous news stories about the death of John Chau in the Andaman Islands while trying to contact a deliberately isolated tribe of  native peoples with a stone-age culture, this piece in Christian Today provides thoughtful commentary both on the particular religious perspective that made Chau go there, and the issues his decision raises for other Christians, and secular society.

Clergy Challenge Authorities for the Poor and Homeless

Clergy around the globe were busy this last week challenging officials.  The Rev. Sarah Monroe, an Episcopal priest who has been providing pastoral services to a homeless encampment in Aberdeen, Washington for several years, was part of a group that has filed suit against Aberdeen officials who have now fenced off the encampment and restrict visitors to the encampment.  Monroe was among those denied the requisite permit for entry because she could not give a specific schedule of visits. The denial of a permit was a denial of the rights of freedom to exercise their religion for both the clergy involved in the Chaplains on the Harbor group and the people in the encampment. The Diocese of Olympia has more

Meanwhile a Canadian priest has been arrested for chaining herself to a tree in protest of a pipeline construction project opposed by the indigenous peoples of the area. She was joined by a parishioner in the protest.   The two were defying a court injunction ordering protesters to not impede construction.  The Vancouver Star has more here

In Nigerian clergy and supporting laity staged a protest over government bias and the destruction of a worship space on the grounds of what had been founded as a Church Missionary Society School.  The Nigerian government took control of all church schools a number of years ago, but under a more recent legislative act has been supposed to return the church school properties of all denominations to the original church owners.   Local Anglicans built a parsonage and worship space on the grounds of a the school, but have been forced off part of the property.  The state claims the school, and apparently has given the Roman Catholic church access to part of the property. The local Nigerian news carried this story.

Updates on Continuing Stories

Sydney Archbishop Apologizes - Sort of . .

The Update carried news last week that the primates of the Anglican Province of New Zealand had rejected a proposal floated by the conservative-GAFCON archbishop of Sydney, Australia.  In polite but firm language, the New Zealand leaders said the proposal raised issues of colonial intervention.  This week the Sydney archbishop sent a letter saying that he was sorry if his proposal caused offense.  However, he also suggested that he would continue to find a way to test his proposal of concurrent jurisdictions.

Church Struggles After Fires in Paradise and Malibu

 As Update noted last week, the Episcopal Churches in Paradise and the area covered by the Malibu fire had escaped major damage, but were going to struggle to recover.  A Christianity Today story this week covers the effect on many of the other religious groups in Paradise, and the Episcopal News Service has more on  St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church in Malibu and the struggle it faces due to losses suffered by its members.

Albany Episcopalians Document Theological Screening in Diocese

When Bishop William Love of Albany announced that he would not implement Resolution B012 in his diocese, thus denying the General Convention mandate that same sex couples who were Episcopalians have access in every diocese to the approved liturgies for marriage, he touched off numerous criticisms.  The Update has carried notices of these here and here. Among the letters sent to the Presiding Bishop was one from those in Albany wishing to use the rites, and noting that they believed Bishop Love was also using a tight screening for those seeking ordination or wanting to answer parish calls in the diocese.  However, they now have documentation.  Blog writer John White has published the list of supplemental questions sent to a finalist candidate for a parish search last year.  After answering this list of questions, sent by the diocese, not the parish, the candidate was not invited for an interview.

Churches Continue to Support Immigrants on the Border and Elsewhere

General Convention and leaders of the Episcopal Church witnessed numerous times in support of immigrants and refugees.  Most recently Update reported on the letter signed by leaders of Central American Anglican/Episcopal Bishops asking countries to treat those in the large caravans with kindness.  Episcopal dioceses along the border between the U.S. and Mexico met together with their Mexican counterparts for a Border Ministries Summit this last week.  The participants looked at ways they could best work together to minister to the migrants and families divided by the border.  Episcopal News Service (ENS) gave the summit full coverage.  In a separate article the ENS explored a ministry to migrants being detained for deportation at a New Hampshire jail.  Episcopalians are part of an interdenominational effort at the Strafford County Correctional facility near Dover, New Hampshire.  In Michigan, a wide range of chruches have been supporting the efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union to free a number of Chaldean Christians from Iraq arrested by ICE since 2017.   They face near certain death if returned.  The ACLU just has won a court order releasing over 100 of those held. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Week Ending 11/19/18

Churches in the Midst of the California Fires

There were Episcopal Churches in both the path of the Camp Fire and the fire in Malibu/Thousand Oaks.  Both buildings survived, but are not yet cleared for access.  Many of the families who attended the churches, including the priest in Paradise lost their homes.  The Episcopal congregations with the support of other parishes are already reaching out to help those who are fire refugees.  You can read more about the efforts in the Episcopal News Service story here, and about specific requests for help in Northern California here.

Australian Bishop Declines Request on Same-Sex Marriages From Synod

The Synod of the Diocese of Ballarat in Australia requested that its bishop consider blessing of same sex marriages.  Civil marriage is now available to same sex couple in Australia.  However, the bishop has declined, citing an agreement made by all Australian bishops creating a moratorium on such blessings. 

Los Angeles Bishop Wants to Phase Out Corp Sole Use 

California dioceses until recently used the legal fiction of a Corp Sole resting in the hands of the bishop to handle property that in other dioceses might be handled by a a corporation led by trustees. California law was changed in recent years to allow for corporations to handle church properties.  It was the use of his power as Corp Sole that resulted Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno being disciplined in a Title IV hearing. Now the new Bishop of Los Angeles, John Taylor has announced that he wants to phase out the use of Corp Sole and turn properties over to the Diocesan corporation.

Continuing Update Stories

South Carolina Hearing Leaves Things in the Air

The state district court judge charged with implementing the property decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court only heard arguments on one of the motions filed by the parties involved, and said he would be consulting with both sides before issuing any opinion.  The break-away group presentation attacked the supreme court decision and argued there were many issues left undecided.  The Episcopalians argued that the decision was clear.  For more perspective, blogger Steve Skaradon wrote here about his reactions after observing the hearing.  Leading up to the hearings, the Episcopal bishop issued a call for prayer.  The break-away side had already called for prayer. 

West Tennessee Chooses as Bishop a Woman Who Has Broken Many Barriers

The Diocese of West Tennessee was one of several dioceses recently to choose a bishop from an entirely female slate of candidates.  The have chosen the Rev. Phoebe Roaf on the first ballot.  Roaf came to the priesthood after careers in public policy and law, and has broken many barriers during her career, including being the first African American woman ordained in the Diocese of Louisiana. She has most recently been the rector (and first woman to hold that position)  of St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Virginia, the oldest black Episcopal parish in that state.  She is also the third African-American woman chosen to head a diocese in the last year and a half. 

Contrasting Responses in Dallas and Albany

With implementation of 2018 General Convention resolution B012 less than two weeks away, the Bishop of Dallas has announced his choice of a bishop to the parishes in his diocese who will make use of the resolution to begin offering the liturgies for marriage to same sex couples.  Three parishes in Dallas have already requested the accommodation.  In contrast, Bishop William Love's defiance of General Convention, continues to get push back and to divide his diocese.  Last week's Update included links to statements by the Presiding Bishop, the President of the House of Deputies, and Bishop Probe of Central New York who provides oversight to two Albany parishes already.  The Bishop of Vermont, Albany's neighbor to the east has now also issued a statement.  The Episcopal News Service and local papers are documenting the internal controversy. Now the members of another parish in the Diocese of Albany have sent a letter directly to Presiding Bishop Curry asking him to explore more broadly the way Bishop Love has been restricting theological views in the diocese through the processes of ordination and approval of clergy called to parishes. [Note: this last link may not be available to those without a Facebook Account or access to the Via Media Albany Group.]

New Zealand Archbishops Give Negative Response to Proposal  for Concurrent Jurisdictions

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand,  and Polynesia has a unique governance designed to create equality between three ethnic "strains" that make up its membership.  The Church voted to allow local option on the matter of blessing of  same-sex civil unions last spring.  A handful of parishes in New Zealand then announced they wanted to leave the Church and have gotten verbal support from the GAFCON leadership.  In August the very conservative Archbishop of Sydney decided to intervene by going to New Zealand and proposing a plan of concurrent jurisdiction for the departing parishes.  This was then supported by a statement from GAFCON arguing for concurrent jurisdictions throughout the Anglican Communion.  The Archbishops of New Zealand have now responded to the  proposal by Archbishop Davies.  Their answer is a polite but very firm "no" suggesting the measure showed little understanding of the history of the Church in New Zealand, and seemed to be infused with the colonialism that the Church in New Zealand was striving to undo.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Week Ending 11/12/18

Albany Bishop Defies General Convention

The Update has been following the response of the 8 conservative bishops  who had not allowed use of the liturgies for same sex marriage before General Convention 2015 passed resolution B012 which mandated that all dioceses must find a way to allow parishes and clergy who wished to use the liturgies to do so.  All the bishops made some form of compliance statement except for Bishop Love of Albany.  After delaying nearly to the required implementation deadline (the first Sunday in Advent), Bishop Love issued an 8 page pastoral letter forbidding use of the liturgies by any parish or priest.  He cites conscience and places diocesan canons above General Convention votes.  Bishop Love's position had already led several Albany parishes to seek Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight. At one of those parishes, St. Andrew's Albany, some parishioners held a symbolic burning of the letter outside on the church steps as the letter was read inside.  Both the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies have issued responses to Bishop Love's letter.

Episcopal Campus Ministries Reach Out to Homeless and Hungry Students

Rising costs for tuition and books have left many scholarship students with limited funds for housing and food.  Episcopal campus ministries are stepping in around to the country to feed and sometimes house students.  The Episcopal News Service has more here

Episcopal Forum Disbands

In March 2004 representatives from 10 dioceses  where schism seemed a real threat met to create an alliance.  One of these groups was the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina.  The group provided continuous witness through the years leading up to schism, and its leadership provided support following schism as faithful Episcopalians formed the continuation of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.  The Episcopal Forum had been know especially for its successful conferences bringing in speakers from around the Episcopal Church, and after reorganization continued its mission as a source of education on the Episcopal Church.  Now, with the property law suits winding down, and the diocese stabilized and growing, the Episcopal Forum has decided its task is done.  Their public statement is here.

Bishops Offer Litany for Mass Shootings

The group the Episcopal Bishops United Against Gun Violence has published a litany for mass mass shootings. It begins by praying for the victims of each 34 mass shootings in the U.S. all since the Newtown CT school Shooting in 2006.  The litany includes those killed at Tree of Life Synagogue and the shooting in Thousand Oaks California.    A statement  precedes the prayers.

Parties in Litigation Make Statements Preparing Ground for November Court Hearing

November 19 is the date set for oral arguments by the state district court judge charged with implementation of the South Carolina Supreme Court decision granting most of the disputed church property to those remaining in the Episcopal Church.  Both sides in the litigation have issued statements in anticipation of the hearing.  Mark Lawrence has asked those participating in the schismatic organization to pray for their legal representatives and for all parties in the litigation.  Bishop Skip Adams and Archdeacon Callie Walpole  of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina have issued a summary of the long dispute explaining how he hopes that events will lead to reconciliation.    


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Week Ending 11/5/18

Bishops in Central America Urge Hospitality Towards Migrants

Six Anglican and Episcopal Bishops have signed a letter asking the Anglican Communion to officially support migrants moving through Central America and Mexico. They urge all Christians to treat migrants with that same hospitality. They specifically ask for protection of children and family unity. They also demand that migration should not be criminalized since it is a human right.  The letter was signed by the primates of the Anglican Communion provinces of Mexico (Francisco Moreno, primate and Bishop of Northern Mexico) and Central America (Julio Murray, primate and Bishop of Panama), the bishop of South East Mexico, and by the Episcopal Church's bishop for Guatamala, and bishops from El Salvador and Honduras in the Anglican Province of Central America.

Episcopal, Lutheran, and Roman Catholics Ask Trump Administration to Continue Aid to Palestinian Hospitals

The Presiding Bishops of the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have issued a joint letter to the U.S. President that his decision to end humanitarian aid to Palestinian hosptials in East Jerusalem be rethought. They point out the basic medical services provided by two Anglican/Episcopal, one Lutheran, one Catholic and two Islamic hospitals provide including the only available treatment centers for eyes, cancer, pediatric kidney dialysis, and children with disabilities. One hospital is a maternity center.

Continuing Coverage of Previous Posts

Sydney Continues to Stir Up Controversy on LGBTQ Rights

The Update reported on the controversy raised by the Province of Sydney (part of the Anglican Church in Australia) vote to close church properties to a variety of groups, including LGTBQ groups.  Now 34 Anglican school heads in Sydney have asked for an exemption from legislation being planned to protect LGBTQ students and teachers.  This request has led to protests by alumni and students at one of the schools.  It also led one Australian member of parliament to say the Sydney Anglicans should be apologizing for their attempts to influence the phone poll on same-sex marriage that preceded the country legalizing same-sex marriage,  rather than bullying LGBTQ teachers and students.  The province has responded that their request was "misinterpreted" and was a request for a temporary exemption until wording could be worked out guaranteeing church schools religious freedom.  

Former Bishop Denied Clemency

The deposed suffragan bishop of Maryland, Heather Cook has hit another rejection in her multiple efforts to find a way to be released from prison early.  Maryland Courts have rejected her plea for clemency. Cook, who killed a Maryland bicyclist in a hit-and-run accident while texting and drunk, was turned down last year on a request for parole.

New Filings in Fort Worth Property Cases

The Update had reported earlier this fall that the Fort Worth schismatics had filed an appeal with the Texas State Supreme Court when the Appeals Court awarded Church property to the Episcopal Diocese.  In October the Episcopalians filed two documents opposing further appeals and the schismatics have now answered those documents.  It is now up to the Supreme Court to decide if it will hear this case a second time.  The court initially returned the case to the trial judge to rehear the case using a standard of neutral principles of law rather than deference. All the documents are one the schismatic group's web site.  The Episcopalian documents are here and here. The schismatic response is here

Tiny Houses Help Those Displaced by Volcano in Hawaii

Episcopalians have joined with other churches in Hawaii to build tiny houses for some of those displaced by the volcano eruptions on the island of Hawaii.  FEMA help for those displaced by the major eruption on the island of Hawaii has ended and emergency shelters have closed.  Over 100 people lost their homes and many also lost their jobs.  Connect Point Church (Assemby of God) had land, but no money to build a tiny house village of 10 units.  Holy Apostle Episcopal Churh, Catholic Charities and  other interfaith groups  raised the money for the construction.  Holy Apostle raised $28,000 to build homes in addition to other forms of support it offered families earlier in the crisis. The homes will serve as transitional housing.  Each unit is a bed/sitting room.  A separate bathroom facility has been constructed, and residents use the church kitchen.  Update has been following the use of tiny houses for homeless people by Episcopal Churches.

Colorado Bishop-Elect to Undergo Cancer Treatment

Last week Update reported on the election of Kym Lucas as bishop of Colorado.  She was one of several women recently elected diocesan bishops.  This week she announced that a mammogram done as part of a routine health check-up had detected a stage one (early and small) cancer in her breast.  Doctors are saying her treatment should be complete before the scheduled consecration (assuming rapid approval of her election by diocesan bishops and standing committees). 

South Africa Diocese Endorses Same-Sex Blessings

The Anglican Province of Southern Africa includes South Africa, St. Helena and Tristan da Cunha, Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Kingdom of Swaziland and Angola.  While South Africa legalized marriage for same sex couples in 2006, the other countries have not.  Efforts by some dioceses within South Africa to be permitted to bless these unions were defeated at the provincial assembly in 2016.  The primate then responded in 2017 by asking for conversations in each diocese on the issue.  Now, one diocese, Saldanha Bay (Cape Town area) has voted to endorse blessing of same-sex marriages. This means that the provincial assembly will face the issue again.