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, February 26, 2019

Week Ending 02/25/19

Parishes Supply Fresh Water to Cuban Communities

Getting clean water is a major issue in Cuba.  The Episcopal Church is trying to be part of the solution. Various Episcopal groups have installed 32 water purification systems in communities with Episcopal Churches.  Six of these were installed in the last 2 weeks by a team from St. David's Church in Radnor, PA and a team from Friends of the Episcopal Church in Cuba.  the two groups also brought other desired supplies to distribute.  The goal is to have fresh water sources installed in all 52 communities with an Episcopal Parish.  The effort also includes training members of the Cuban parishes to maintain the systems.   For more read the story here.  

Making a Cold Winter Warmer

St. John's Episcopal Church in Jackson Hole has been trying to make the winter a little warmer  in their communities.  The parish has been gathering new and lightly used warm winter coats and hanging them outside the church.  Signs invite anyone who needs a coat to take one.  So far they have distributed over 100 coats.  The Jackson Hole newspaper covered this outreach

Mary Kostel To Replace David Beers

David Booth Beers who has served as Chancellor to four Presiding Bishops is finally taking a well-deserved retirement.  Mary Kostel, who was working with Beers by the time the Pittsburgh schism occurred and who has most recently been serving as the chief litigator on property issues for TEC and as Chancellor of the Diocese of Washington will now become the Chancellor for the Presiding Bishop.  The Episcopal News Service has more information, including more details on Kostel's and Beers's service.  

Churches Respond to Turmoil in Haiti and Venezuela

The general situation in Haiti has disintegrated to the point that the U.S. embassy is urging all Americans to leave.  This has created a dilemma for a number of American missionaries and church workers.  Those leaving are having to be taken by helicopter to the airports because of burning tire roadblocks.  The turmoil is also likely to affect the ability of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti to move forward with their reorganization plan following the failed episcopal election.  The situation in Venezuela where large scale protests and a competing government to President Maduro has led to an international crisis led to this statement from the Office of Government Relations of The Episcopal Church.  The article has a link to a detailed background piece by the BBC on Venezuela that is well worth the read.

Cuban Churches Oppose New Constitution

Christianity Today reports that Cuban and Evangelical Churches are opposing the new Cuban Constitution because it weakens religious freedom provisions and provides for same-sex marriage.  It is not clear if any of the Episcopal Church parishes are joining the protests.   The Church in Cuba is in the process of being re-integrated into The Episcopal Church as a diocese in compliance with a vote taken at General Convention 2018. The Cuban Church began as a missionary diocese of The Episcopal Church, but was forced into a special extra-provincial status given U.S. policy towards Cuba under Castro. 

Updates on Continuing Stories

Methodists Struggle With LGTBQ Ministries

Many Episcopalians have been following closely the course of the special synod called by the United Methodists to deal with questions related to sexuality and underway right now.  The Episcopal Church and the Methodists have been in conversation about full communion, and a proposal for recognition is scheduled to be considered by the 2021 General Convention.  The current Methodist synod includes representatives from a number of countries around the world, including many in Africa, which as Episcopalians are aware, is not supportive of LGBTQ people. Four different proposals went to committee.  Two of these gathered the majority support and represented very different outcomes. The "traditional"  one more strongly enforces bans on ordination and same sex marriage, forbids service by those in same-sex relationships, and includes a condemnation of homosexuality. Methodist bishops had proposed a "One Church" solution that would create a local  "live and let live" framework for ordination and same sex marriage.  The only option sent to the floor for a vote from committee was the "traditional" option.  The Once Church option has strong support in the US and was supported by 46% of those voting at synod.  Other votes taken by the synod make it easy for parishes to leave the church and for clergy to retain pensions.  If the traditional option becomes policy, there may well be a split in which a majority of the U.S. parishes leave the United Methodists and set up a new Methodist Church. 

The Lambeth Waters Continue Roiling

After the announcement that the Archbishop of Canterbury would not be inviting the same-sex spouses of bishops to Lambeth 2020, there was immediate reaction.  The reaction has continued.  Mark Harris has given his thoughts in an essay on his blogThe Living Church has now published an opinion piece by a noted Episcopal seminary professor. President of the House of Deputies, the Rev. Gay Jennings issued a statement, and the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church has also weighed in.  All are critical of the announcement. Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury has called a meeting of Anglican Primates for January 2020 with one of the topics of discussion the agenda for Lambeth.  By then, however, the planning committee will have made extensive plans.  The question is,  "Will a bloc of primates upend plans to have a Lambeth without votes and resolutions?"

Canon Kai Ryan Joins List of Newly Elected Women Bishops

Pittsburgh Update has noted the string of episcopal elections being held in which women have been chosen bishop.  Texas announced a slate of nominees  for suffragan bishop to replace Bishop Dena Harrison in December.  Since the current suffragan is a woman, the slate upheld a status quo.  The election has been held, and Canon Kathryn (Kai) Ryan has been chosen.  You can read more about her here.

South Carolina Bishop Counsels Patience 

The federal and state court suits continue to drag on, and while South Carolina leaders have been trying to prepare for the transition necessary after final decisions in the church's favor are issued, the waiting can get on people's nerves.  Bishop Skip Adams has circulated a sermon he recently preached at one of his parishes.  In it he counsels patience and to consider the many gifts that have come to the church as they wait for the outcomes.  Some of the gifts Adams mentions are the new forms of doing church that emerged, and a deepened sense of spirituality.  You can read the whole here.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Week ending 02/18/19

Australian Archbishop in Trouble for Use of Funds

 The resigned Archbishop of Perth, Roger Herft is facing all sorts of problems caused by his failure to pusue accustions of child abuse.  Now unapproved withdrawal of funds can be added to his woes.  Herft did not seek approval before using $473,000 from the professional standards budget to pay his legal fees.  For more go here.

Updates on Continuing Stories

South Carolina Federal Judge Sets Date for Arguments

After being inundated by a sea of briefs, the federal district judge overseeing the trademark infringement law suit filed by Episcopalians against the schismatic group led by Mark Lawrence has given himself two extra months to read everything. Last August he set a date in March for argument.  That has now been extended to May.  The Episcopal web site posted this notice about the change.

Latest on Lambeth 2020

Lambeth 2020 is still more than a year away, but it keeps making news.  This week the planners of the once-a-decade gathering of active bishops from the whole Anglican Communion confirmed that all active bishops would be invited, but any same-sex spouses would not.  While this set off cries of protest from liberals within the communion, the GAFCON crowd was still upset that lesbian or gay bishops were coming at all.  In fact Ephriam Radnor of the tiny Anglican Communion Network proposed a series of resolutions for Lambeth that would exclude TEC and any of the other provinces now permitting same sex marriage or blessings and admitting ACNA.  The problem is, Lambeth 2020 is not set up to vote on anything.  Some of the GAFCON leaders want to either redo all the planning, or make the resolutions a precondition for attendance.  It is likely neither will happen, but that Bishop Sumner of Dallas, who sits on the Lambeth planning committee will get pressured by Radnor supporters.  Sumner is one of the so-called Anglican Communion Partners bishops, a group with ties to the Anglican Communion Institute.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Week Ending 02/11/19

Lutherans Try Combining Church and Beer

Martin Luther would probably love it.  A Lutheran minister in Florida has opened a new ministry combining a craft beer brewery and a start-up parish.  The craft beers brewed and sold on site are named for things Lutheran ( such as Wittenberg where Luther lived and taught), and the brewery helps cover the costs of the new parish which worships on site on Sunday mornings.  Rather than a coffee hour, its a cold brew and conversation after the service.  Religion News serves up the full story here. 

Florida Keys Parish Helps With Housing Crisis

Hurricane Irma (2017) made a tight housing situation worse in the Florida Keys.  St. Columba Episcopal Church has been working with Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) to provide needed affordable housing.  Originally that brought in 22 RVs as temporary housing, and then with the help of ERD, they bought a vacant apartment building that was built to withstand hurricane forces.  The abandoned building is being completely refitted and will provide 16 one-bedroom apartments at rates well below market rates.   WLRN of Miami featured the parish efforts recently.

Politics Upstages Prayer at National Prayer Breakfast

Presiding Bishop Curry gave a discourse on love and how Paul's discourse on love in Corinthians I was a message to communities divided by controversy, but the national news stories on the annual National Prayer Breakfast focused their coverage on the members of the Trump administration in attendance and the rambling address by President Trump.  The Episcopal News Service provides more information on the religious messages at the breakfast, including the homily by the Presiding Bishop. 

Virginia Bishop Responds to Racial Issues

This last week Virginians have been dealing with the aftermath of revelations that two of the three top Democrats in Virginia government and the Republican president of the state senate all could be linked to racist incidents as young adults.  In this context Bishop Susan Goff has issued a statement urging people to examine their own hearts and lives. She stated:  "The political realities of this current moment in our Commonwealth are complex, but our faith response is not. Out of our own confession and repentance, we can call for the repentance of our leaders."  Noting that then we could pray for all involved, she provided a set of prayers.  The Living Church has the full statement

Updates on Ongoing Stories

Haiti Develops Strategy in Wake of Failed Episcopal Election

The Episcopal Diocese of Haiti has been suffering from some intense factionalism, of which one result was a challenged episcopal election and the failure of the the chosen candidate to receive the necessary consents.  Meeting last week in convention the diocese filled vacancies on the Standing Committee and approved a plan where diocesan administration would be shared by an administrator, the Standing Committee and a Visiting Bishop who would provide sacramental services.  This will give the diocese time to heal before holding another election for a bishop. 

New Zealand Cathedral Starts Rebuilding

The Cathedral in Christ Church, New Zealand was reduced to an unstable shell in the earthquake of 2011.  For the next six years, things were put on hold while the whole country argued about whether the site should be restored, razed and rebuilt, or turned into some form of a monument.  Finally decided to take the costly course of rebuilding what had been considered a national treasure, the diocese centered at Christ Church was finally able to celebrate moving forward this last week.  They consecrated their new bishop in an outdoor service near the cathedral site while workers were finally beginning to salvage stained glass and clear rubble. Update has carried numerous stories on the controversy surrounding the site.  The most recent one is here.

Churches Respond to Confederate Legacies

This last week St. John's in Montgomery, Alabama, removed a pew dedicated in 1925 to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States.  Davis attended the church for a short while before the capitol of the Confederacy moved to Richmond.  The vestry removed the pew after discovering it was a newer pew and not ever associated with Davis.  What it was associated with was an effort in 1925 to emphasize white supremacy.  The parish joined a growing list of Episcopal parishes that have removed monuments to Confederate leaders.  Meanwhile in Virginia, Grace Episcopal Church in Lexington, Virginia (formerly Robert E. Lee Memorial Church) was dedicating new facilities in their parish in honor of Jonathan M. Daniels, the Episcopal seminarian who was a civil rights worker killed in 1965 while shielding a black teenager from a shotgun blast. Daniels attended the parish for several years while a student at Virginia Military Institute.

Latest Bishop Elections Add to Diversity 

The latest round of elections of bishops has again added to the list of women who will be joining the House of Bishops.  Last week Update noted the election of Susan Snook as bishop of San Diego.  This week, the Diocese of Northern California elected its first woman as bishop, the Reverend Canon Megan M. Traquair, currently Canon to the Ordinary in Arizona. The Sacramento Bee article includes information not in the standard press release from the diocese.  At the same time, Maine was electing as its new bishop, the Rev. Thomas James Brown, from Winchester, Massachusetts.  Brown also brings diversity as a gay man to the House. He is married to the Rev. Thomas Mousin

Texas Court Asks for More Information in Fort Worth Property Case

The Texas Supreme Court has asked for both sides of the Diocese of Fort Worth property litigation to submit briefs on the merits of the case.  It also set a timetable for submission and responses.  The schismatic group led by Bishop Iker has taken this as a positive sign the the Supreme Court may want to actually hear their appeal of the Appeals Court decision granting the property to the group still part of the Episcopal Church.  There have been several filings of briefs by both parties trying to get the appeal granted or refused.  The Episcopal Diocese issued a statement saying they had expected the request and their lawyers have been working on a response.   

African Archbishops Urge Conflicting Responses to Lambeth 2020

Archbishop Okoh of Nigeria in his capacity as the chair of GAFCON issued another statement on Lambeth.  It basically condemned the Anglican Communion provinces for a series of things he felt were wrong, and demanded that the Lambeth invitation to Bishop Robertson of Canada (who recently was married to his partner in a large celebration at his diocesan cathedral) be rescinded. [As an aside,   the election of Thomas Brown (covered above) as Bishop of Maine only worsens matters.]  Okoh re-iterated his call for bishops to boycott Lambeth 2020 unless the Archbishop replaced invitations to the what Okoh considers offending provinces with invitations to the GAFCON sponsored alternative bishops in those regions.  Okoh's province voted in October 2018 to not attend. Meanwhile the Archbishop of Cape Town in Southern Africa was issuing a statement encouraging all bishops to attend, stressing that it was important for bishops who disagreed to be able to talk with one another.  He noted that Anglicans have a long tradition of remaining in communion despite differences.

Southern Baptists Reel From Reports of Abuse

In 2018 a movement led by women in the Southern Baptist Church forced the resignation of denomination leaders for being unresponsive or covering up charges of abuse.  Now Texas newspapers have done an investigative report detailing sexual abuse charges against 380 Southern Baptist clergy in 20 states who have been disciplined (lightly), with many being allowed to simply move to another congregation.  The report is worse than members of the denomination had expected.  If any reforms will follow is still unknown, but the congregational structure of the denomination makes concerted action difficult. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Week Ending 02/04/2019

Priest in Trinidad Shot

The Rev. Gerald Hendrickson was shot twice in the stomach as exited a cafe in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago.  The shooter, who chased another person down the street and fired indiscriminately, was apprehended and arrested.  Hendrickson was not a specific target, and is doing as well as can be expected after surgery.

GAFCON/ACNA Bishop in Europe Takes Leave

Andrew Lines, consecrated by ACNA at the request of GAFCON, whose charge is Europe, especially the British Isles, is going to be taking an extended leave because of stress.  He will spend the leave in Sydney, Australia. It is not clear how his absence will affect the three Scottish Episcopal congregations he was bringing into the schismatic fold.  However, Line will come back to a new structure because the same day that his leave was announced, he disbanded the GAFCON Panel of Reference for the United Kingdom.  It is to be replaced with a more formal incorporated group.

Westboro Baptist Targets Gainsville Churches

The notorious anti-gay Baptist congregation, Westboro Baptist showed up this last week in Gainsville, Florida to picket at 5 churches.  Among the 5 mainstream churches picketed was Grace, Episcopal.  The Westboro group is small and so they split into teams of 4-5 to cover all the churches.  They were greatly outnumbered by counter-protestors.  The Gainsville Times has more on  the reaction of each of the churches, including Grace.

New Context for Bloy House

Bloy House, a Los Angeles Diocese effort to educate clergy and laity locally was founded with Church Divinity School of the Pacific in 1958.  Four years later it found a different partner, Claremont School of Theology.  However, Claremont School of Theology has severed its ties with the other Claremont Colleges and is moving to a new home with Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. It appears that Bloy will continue its partial residency program with Claremont, but it will no longer have access to convenient classes at Claremont after the 2019-20 school year.  Bloy intends to create a program allowing students to do 2/3 of their work in Southern CA, but to attend one week sessions in January and the summer at the new Claremont site.  The Living Church has the latest on these plans.

Trinity Wall Street Takes on Bail Reform

 This last year Trinity Parish, Wall Street was part of a mass bail buy-out that helped many of the 8000 inmates of Rikers Island.  The parish is now a leader in a movement to close Rikers entirely.  The facility holds both those waiting for trial or charges who could not make bail and those serving county sentences.  Trinity's aim is on ending the cash bail system entirely.  Some people have been held as long as three years without ever having a trial or being convicted of anything.  Half of those at the facility are black and a third Hispanic. Episcopal New Service has a full story on this effort here.

Duncan Takes Post as Interim Dean in Tallahassee 

The deposed bishop of  the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, and Retired Archbishop of ACNA, Robert Duncan  has moved to Tallahassee, FL where he was invested as interim dean of the ACNA cathedral in that city while the cathedral does a full search for a new dean. The parish has not had a dean since late August 2018 when its dean resigned under a cloud of alcoholism and charges of harassment.  Duncan has been at the cathedral for a while as Bishop in Residence.  It is not clear if the move to Florida is permanent because the Duncans still have a lifetime claim on property in Donegal PA. 

Updates on Continuing Stories

San Diego Elects Susan Snook as Bishop

The Diocese of San Diego has joined the trend of electing women as bishops.  Susan Snook was the only candidate brought forward by the nominating committee.  Two more candidates were added by petition.  This last week, Snook was elected on the first ballot.  She joins women elected in 2018 in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, West Tennessee, and Newark.  Texas has not yet voted on which of 3 women will be their new suffragan, replacing Dena Harrison who has announced her retirement.  

More on Implementing Same Sex Marriage Resolution

Not all those hoping to see General Convention Resolution B012 implemented in the 8 dioceses where bishop had forbidden clergy and parishes to use the trial rites approved for same-sex marriages and blessing of civil marriages are satisfied with the implementation in some dioceses. (See Update  here.) They are concerned about the conditions placed upon those wanting to offer marriage3 to all couples. The Presiding Bishop has lately made visits in two Florida Diocese where  some had voiced these concerns.  After visiting the Diocese of Florida, the Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, urged clergy to talk with Bishop John Howard, that his implementation plan requirement that clergy and wardens meet with him, was a sincere attempt to keep communication open.  Curry encouraged all clergy, of whatever views to meet with Bishop Howard.

ACNA Voices Protest Over New CANA Bishops

Recently Update carried a notice that the Nigerian Archbishop had consecrated four bishops for a CANA diocese in the U.S.  The problem was that CANA  is affiliated with ACNA and the ACNA bishops should have been consulted.  Now Foley Beach, the current Archbishop of ACNA has issued a statement objecting to the lack of consultation.  What makes this controversy more interesting is that the Nigerian archbishop is the current chair of GAFCON, and Beach will assume that role in March. 

Bruno Loses Appeal of Suspension

Bishop Jon Bruno who received a 3 year suspension as discipline in the Title IV hearing brought on by his behavior while trying to sell the property of St. James the Less in Newport Beach, lost his appeal of the sentence.  He apparently argued on technical grounds, and the panel was not impressed. 

Heather Cook Keeps Looking for Way Out of Jail

The former bishop, Heather Cook who is serving a sentence for the hit and run killing of a bicyclist, and for driving while impaired, continues to seek ways to be released before the end of her sentence.  She requested release to serve the remainder of her sentence in home detention six months ago and was denied.  She has renewed that request at the earliest possible time.  The decision on her request will be made in the next week or two.  In a separate filing in November 2018 she was turned down for a sentence modification. 

The Flap in England Over Guidelines for Affirming Baptism Continues

A set of guidelines on how to use an existing Church of England rite, Affirmation of Baptism, with special attention to transition recognition for transgender people touched a major nerve among conservatives who are treating this as though it opens the whole issue of gender and sexuality.  They have pushed back at the bishops who have drafted the guidelines, and most recently have created an on-line petition for people to sign.  The response from the more inclusive elements of the church have stressed that the church has recognized transgender transitions for a long time, and that there is no new liturgy being proposed. You can read two of the recent responses to the petition here and here

Week Ending 10/08/2018

Layman to Lead Nashotah 

An Episcopal layman already on the faculty at Nashotah House has been chosen as its new provost and president.  He will be the first lay person to head the seminary. He has been serving as interim Dean, and was instituted as Provost in May.  Now the trustees have voted him as president.  The trustees are working on a restructuring of the seminary. Garwood Anderson has an evangelical background according to his Nashotah House faculty profile,  but attends a nearby Epuscopal parish.The seminary is also creating a new position of Chief Advancement Officer.  That position will work on relations with alumni and other clergy and fundraising.

Romanians Defeat Measure to Write Definition of Marriage into Constitution

The Gay and Lesbian community in Romania defeated an attempt by conservatives to add to the Romanian constitution a clause defining marriage as between one man and one woman.  To defeat the measure they organized a boycott of the referendum.  Fewer than 21% of the voters went to the polls, and thus the measure did not reach the  support necessary for passage.

Deepening Ties with Lutherans

The annual meeting between the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in the US and Canada and the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada is looking at ways the full communion agreements between the churches can be deepened.  They are discussing a number options including drafting a standard liturgy for shared chrysm masses, something Pittsburgher have been doing for a decade.

Ongoing Story Updates

Heather Cook Tries Another Route to Reduce Sentence

The former Maryland suffrgan bishop, Heather Cook, who killed a bicyclist in a hit and run accident while driving drunk, is trying another legal route to get out of prison early. Cook failed to have her sentence changed to work release in July.  Now she is trying to reduce her sentence by 2 years by asking that her sentences run concurrently rather than sequentially. The family of the man who was killed have opposed all reductions.  The Episcopal Cafe story has information on the steps she has taken in rehabilitation.

Nigerian Bishops Vote Not to Go to Lambeth

The bishops of the Anglican Curch of Nigeria have voted unanimously to stay home from Lambeth 2020 unless the Archbishop of Canterbury only issues invitations to provinces that meet GAFCON. requirements.  The GAFCON leadership had issued a statement in June saying that those provinces who had begun blessing same sex marriage should be excluded, and be replaced by the bishops from the irregular entities recognized by GAFCON (such as ACNA).  The Nigerians said their absence would demonstrate how broken the Anglican Communion had become.