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, April 2, 2019

Week Ending 4/1/19

Despite the date of today's posting, there are no "jokes" among the stories, just our usual summary of stories of interest to those in the Episcopal Church.

Virginia Theological Seminary to Make Attendance Nearly Free

One of the most frustrating things, and a deterrent for those considering entering the priest hood is the cost of attending seminary.  Clergy often face years of modest salaries with a large debt from seminary hanging over their heads.  Virginia Theological Seminary has decided to tackle this head on with offers of full scholarships to those attending that will cover not only tuition and books, but living expenses.  This is a game-changer for Episcopalian seminaries. The Episcopal Cafe story has the details.

New California Parish Names itself for Deaconess Alexander 

A new parish created from the merger of two parishes in the Diocese of California has decided to name itself after Deaconess Anna Alexander, the only African-American woman to enter the order of deaconesses.  The new parish has many members who are African immigrants and they were impressed to learn of the deaconess's ministry in Georgia, where she built up a parish and two schools to serve the rural black population of the area.  The Living Church has the story on the merger and the article from the Episcopal News Service has more on Deaconess Alexander. Episcopal Cafe provides some additional links with background on the Deaconess.

Parishes Offering Help in Nebraska and Dakotas Flooding

  Heavy snow, spring rains and frozen ground have created severe flooding in the midwest, with Nebraska, North and South Dakota being hit especially hard.  The Diocese of Nebraska has begun relief work, and Religion News carried a story on disaster responses in Nebraska from a variety of denominations, including the Episcopalians.  In North and South Dakota, Episcopalians on the Indian reservations are struggling to meet basic necessities for those on the reservations who are now cut off from all basic services including food, fuel, and power due to the collapse of roads and infrastructure from the flooding.  The Episcopal News Service has a story on the struggle there and how people may help.

ACC Agenda Includes Optional Session on Sexuality 

The Anglican Consultative Council will meet in Hong Kong beginning April 28.  The ACC is one of the 4 "Instruments of Communion"  that connect the various provinces of the Anglican Communion, and is the only one with representatives from all orders of ministry, including laity.  It is also the only body with a formal governing document.  The agenda for the meeting has now been published.  The Church Times story on the agenda noted that there will be an optional session for conversations on sexuality at the meeting.  You can find out more about the meeting and this special session here.

Bishop's Executive Secretary, Judi Rogers Retiring

Episcopalians in the Pittsburgh Diocese were surprised to learn last week that Judi Rogers, the Executive Secretary to Bishop McConnell will retire this spring.  Rogers has been a key member of the office staff since May 2009 and has handled many of the major events of the rebuilding diocese including 2009 release of more than 100 clergy who were no longer participating in the Episcopal Church, the production of the diocesan Convention Journals and many of the details of convention, the scheduling of special diocesan events, including the 1917 visit of the Presiding Bishop, and of course, support to the three bishops who have served in Pittsburgh since 2009, Visiting Bishop Robert Johnson (2009), Provisional Bishop Kenneth Price (2009-2012), and Diocesan Bishop Dorsey McConnell (2012-present).

Continuing Stories

Another Parish Provides Sanctuary 

St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle has joined the ranks of Episcopal Churches offering sanctuary to an undocumented immigrant facing deportation.  Jaime Rubio Sulficio has been in the United States for many years, married a U.S. Citizen and has a six-year-old son born in the U.S. and thus a citizen.  He also owns his own construction business.  Up until November 2018 he had a temporary stay on deportation because of the hardship it would cause his family, especially his wife who has epilepsy.  Sanctuary offers Sulficio a chance to work with his lawyers on a means of staying legally in the United States.  Episcopal Cafe has more on his story.  Update has been carrying notice of parishes providing sanctuary around the country.  The most recent is here.

Resistance to Methodist Vote Takes Shape 

The recent vote by the special United Methodist synod to enforce a traditional understanding of marriage and punish clergy who conduct same-sex marriages or are themselves members of the LGTBQ community, has resulted in numerous conversations by U.S. congregations on how to continue to be welcoming.  They have been joined by some more traditional congregations who believe that the Methodist Church needs to find room for more than one viewpoint.  The Washington Post has a feature story about these conversations and proposals for next steps.  From the west coast comes an opinion essay in northern California's Times-Standard with words of warning for other churches about how to support those shocked by the synod decision, especially Episcopalians given that the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2021 is scheduled to vote on a proposal for full communion with the United Methodists.  Update has covered reaction to the Methodist synod decision here.

Haiti Announces Next Step After Failed Episcopal Consent

Blogger Mark Harris has the latest information on steps being taken by the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Haiti to move forward after the candidate elected bishop last spring failed to receive the necessary consents.  The Standing Committee has designated Bishop Eaton of Southeast Florida as their visiting bishop, have chose some of the top leadership, have begun activities for healing the divisions in the diocese, and have promised to act with transparency at all times. There are more details in Harris's post.  The Diocese in Haiti has been wracked by controversy that had divided the diocese into two factions.  Those divisions resulted in challenges to the election of a bishop and the failure to receive consents.  Update has been following the situation.  The most recent previous post is here.

University of Kent Will Welcome Same-Sex Spouses of Bishops Going to Lambeth 2020

Last week Update carried a story on how the decision of the Archbishop of Canterbury to not invite the same sex spouses of bishops to the 2020 Lambeth had resulted in voiced concern by University of Kent officials.  The university serves as the host for the large meeting.  The officials now have stated that they will provide housing to same sex spouses who choose to accompany bishops to the meeting. Religion News has now issued a story on the controversy here. 

Home Secretary Follows Up on Denial of Asylum in England

In another story carried last week, Update noted the displeasure of Church of England leaders who discovered a Home Office official had denied asylum to a Christian from the Middle East because, according to that official, Christianity is not a peaceful religion.  Now the Home Office Secretary has ordered an investigation

Hearing Cancelled

The hearing originally scheduled by the state judge charged with implementing the South Carolina diocesan property decision which was mentioned in last week's Update has been cancelled according to the March 26 posting on the blog scepiscopalians.com.