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, January 15, 2019

Week Ending 01/14/19

Episcopalians Respond to Government Shutdown 

All over the country Episcopal parishes are trying to mitigate the damage and pain caused by the partial shutdown of government services ordered by President Trump.  The shutdown is the longest ever and has now gone on long enough that federal employees have missed paychecks and the loss of government programs has caused breaks in needed services.  Churches are reaching out to provide various forms of relief.  The Episcopal News Service has an article dealing with a number of these efforts. 

Updates on Continuing Issues

Presiding Bishop Issues Partial Inhibition of Albany Bishop

 Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has issued a partial inhibition that forbids Albany Bishop William Love from taking any punitive action against clergy or parishes who wish to preside at marriages for same-sex couples or bless their marriages.  Love had announced that he was going to defy General Convention Resolution b012 which made it mandatory that every diocese allow parishes and clergy wishing to use the authorized rites for same sex marriage to do so.  Love has stated that he will abide by the inhibition, but appeal it and challenge the legality of B012.  The conservative ACNA-friendly Anglican.ink posted a video commentary that suggested clergy would still be liable to charges because the disciplinary process for charging and hearing charges did not involve the bishop.  However, they forgot to note that only the bishop can impose sentence after such a trial. 

Tennessee Episcopalians Protest Delay in Issuing B012 Procedures

Bishop Bauerschmidt of the Diocese of Tennessee has publicly stated he will provide a way for same-sex couples in his diocese who wish to have a church service.  However, a group working for full inclusion in that diocese has now issued a statement pointing out that December 1 has come and gone, and there is still no set of procedures.  The question has arisen whether this is a subtle move to avoid providing any access. 

Bishops Against Gun Violence Offering Weekly On-Line Services

Bishops Against Gun Violence has been witnessing, praying and advocating for an end to gun violence since 2015.  Update has carried numerous stories on their activities. (See here and here for examples.)  The latest is an extension of the "pop-up" prayer meetings they held each day of General Convention at noon.  Now they have begun offering a weekly on-line prayer service every Friday from Epiphany through Easter on their Facebook page.  The bishop leading the prayers changes each week.  

Conservatives Organize Protest Against Oxford Diocese's "Guidance" on Transitions

 The  Diocese of Oxford bishops wanted to create some guidelines on responding to LGBTQ people, and transexual individuals wanting a liturgical acknowledgement of  their transition to their gender of identity.  The letter they sent to all clergy, however, sparked protest immediately from the GAFCON-friendly wing of the Church of England.  Now the one evangelical bishop who participated in drafting the guidelines and flipped sides and announced he no longer supports the guidelines.  Around 100 evangelical clergy from the diocese signed a letter protesting the document.  The guidelines were intended to be clarifications on a policy in place in the English church for decades. While 100 clergy may sound like a lot, the diocese has over 400 clergy and 800 parishes. While conservatives are calling this a "meltdown" of the diocese, the Church of England newspaper carried a more neutral assessment of the controversy. 

More Controversy at the Anglican Center in Rome

 The resignation in December of the Director of the Anglican Center in Rome because of sexual misconduct charges created a shock which was compounded when conservatives protested the appointment of a liberal Irish Bishop as Chair of the Center's Governing Board.  Now conservatives are upset that the liberal Australian picked to be interim head of the Center preached a sermon a decade ago that suggested the Resurrection might not have been a physical event.

More on Hurricane Recovery

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has made a practice of touring dioceses where there has been major damage from Hurricanes .  He visited both the Virginia Islands and Puerto Rico about 3 months after they were devastated by Hurricanes Maria and Irma.  He visited Houston less than a month later. He has now visited parts of Florida twice, once right after the September 2017 hurricane and most recently he was in Central Florida seeing the recovery efforts there from Hurricane Florence.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Week Ending 1/7/19

Episcopalians Continue to Have Disproportionate Influence in Congress

The Pew Research Center has issued its survey of the religious affiliations of the new Congress and Senate.  While the Episcopal Church membership is about 1% of our nation's adult population, Anglican/Episcopalians are 5.1% of  the House of Representatives and 4% of the Senate.  Lutherans and Presbyterians have about the same general membership, but are even more strongly represented in Congress.  Baptists are under-represented.  Overall, the Congress is more diverse, slightly less Protestant, and less Christian.  The Jewish traditions are over-represented, and the two houses have Hindu, Budhist, and Muslin members as well.

GAFCON Head Claims Being Anglican Doesn't Require Being in Communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury

 Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria has issued an Epiphany letter as head of GAFCON.  He is clearly upset by the guidance for transition rites issued by the Church of England for transgender people.  It has caused him to now list the Church of England as another province that is no longer following what he considers Christian beliefs.  His statement is another sign that GAFCON is trying to set itself up as the "real" Anglican Communion.  The Update has carried a story previously on conservative criticism of the transition rite.

Episcopal Church Sells Austin Site for Archives

The Archives of the Episcopal Church have been short of space for a number of years.  Their host institution, the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin has other uses for the space occupied by the Archives.  After a thorough study, the Episcopal Church bought a property in Austin and began raising money for a new archives building.  While raising the money, the land was used for parking, which proved very profitable and the value of the land increased.  Now the Episcopal Church has sold the land at a considerable profit and will look for another site for the Archives.  The income from the sale is expected to move forward the process of building, assuming they find a new archives site at a reasonable price.

Updates on Continuing Stories

Israeli Christians Worry About New Legislative Threat to Church Land

Update reported in early 2018 that Christian churches in Jerusalem were concerned by what appeared to be a two-pronged attack on church properties by Israeli officials.  The mayor of Jerusalem was trying to collect taxes on church-run hospitals and schools which had long been tax exempt.  A bill filed in the Knesset was threatening government take-over of a larger range of church properties.  After a number of world and church leaders weighed in against these actions, and as the 3 denominations that jointly own the Church of the Holy Sepulchre closed the site in protest, the mayor backed off and the bill died.  Now churches have been warned that a new expropriation bill is likely to be filed in the Knesset.

Bishop's Talk Listed as the Eighth Worst Anti-Semitic Statement in 2018

Massachusetts Suffragan Bishop Gayle Harris related two examples of violent Israeli actions towards Palestinians while speaking in the House of Bishops last July at General Convention.  Critics pointed out that she related the examples as things she had witnessed  while in fact they were fiction, and she was criticized for promulgating anti-Israeli propaganda.  She apologized in early August saying the she had been told about the examples by a Palestinian and should have checked further, but that talk has landed her talk on  the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of the 10 worst anti-Semitic incidents of 2018.  The Center's list  places her talk in Massachusetts, but this error is most likely a result of trying to compress information. The number one incident listed was the Tree of Life shootings.

Diocese Buys Shares in Gun Manufacturer

The Diocese of Western Massachusetts has bought 200 shares in American Outdoor Brands, the parent corporation of Smith and Wesson gun manufactures.  The  diocese and  Smith and Wesson both have headquarter offices in Springfield, Massachusetts. The shares are just enough to allow the diocese to place initiative resolutions on the ballot at the shareholders annual meeting, and the diocese is planning on putting measures before the shareholders to propose measures to reduce gun violence and deaths.  General Convention 2018 voted to explore the possibility of this kind of action using Episcopal Church endowments. The Western Massachusetts action, however provides a test run for the church as a whole.

Bishop Elect in Haiti Fails to Receive Consents

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has announced that Bishop Elect of Haiti, Joseph Delicat, has failed to receive the requisite number of consents from both the bishops with jurisdiction (diocesan bishops) and diocesan standing committees.  Troubles and controversy in the diocese had resulted in two factions one aligned with the suffragan bishop and the other with the diocesan.  An intervention by the Presiding Bishop had led to an accord and the retirement of the bishops.  The election of a new bishop was fraught with controversy and challenged by one of the two groups. The Presiding Bishop has not yet announced the next steps for the diocese. 

Moving Forward to Implement Resolution B012 on Same Sex Marriage

Seven of the eight U.S. dioceses affected by General Convention 2018 Resolution B012 have begun implementing measures to allow some parishes to provide same-sex marriage rites.  The accommodations range from the Virgin Islands where the Bishop is simply allowing parishes to exercise local option to 3 where the bishops are using a full-scale Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) to allow a handful of parishes to move ahead with celebrations of same-sex marriages.  In these parishes the bishop has turned over pastoral oversight to another bishop although the parish officially remains in its geographic diocese.  The lone holdout is Albany where Bishop William Love has refused to allow any parish or clergy person to be involved in same-sex marriages, including the three parishes already using DEPO because of their disagreements with the bishop.  Love exacerbated matters by using part of his Christmas message to argue against same sex marriage and insist that he was showing love towards all members of his diocese by preventing them from endorsing what he sees as sin and heresey.  The parishes wishing to provide the rites to members are waiting to see if the Presiding Bishop can negotiate anything with Bishop Love.