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 30, 2019

Week Ending 4/29/19

Butler ACNA Parish Calls a Bishop as Rector

St. John's Parish in Butler, PA, one of the ACNA congregations which signed an  agreement in 2018 with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh that acknowledges its ownership of the church property in exchange for recognition of the trust claim that the Episcopal Church has on all property, and token payments to the Episcopal Diocese each year in recognition of that trust has called a new rector.  They have chosen Bishop David Hicks of the Reformed Episcopal Church. Hicks has served for fourteen years as the Bishop of the North East and Mid-Atlantic Diocese of the Reformed Episcopal Church.  Anglican.ink published the letter from the Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church focused on how Hicks would handle being in an ACNA diocese that ordained women (the REC does not) and the process by which a new bishop would be chosen. An easier-to-read copy of the letter is here. That process was been made more complex when the REC which split from The Episcopal Church in the 1870s became a part of ACNA.  What will be interesting for Pittsburgh Episcopalians is how the parish and the Episcopal diocese handle the process of a new rector transition given requirements in the agreement for certain steps to be taken to inform any new clergy about the agreement.  The new rector is due to arrive in Butler in July just as Episcopal Bishop Dorsey McConnell goes on vacation and then a three-month leave.   

Diocese of Pennsylvania Offices Moving Away from Philadelphia

The Diocese of Pennsylvania has long had its offices at the Cathedral in Philadelphia, but has announced its intent to move in October  out of the central-city location to space at St. John's Church in Norristown, about 20 miles north of Philadelphia near Valley Forge. The cathedral has been charging below market rates to the diocese, but the latest small increase was more than the Diocese could pay.  The cathedral will now be free to rent the space for more money.  St. John's in Norristown dates to 1813 and has a large campus and small congregation offering services in English and Spanish.  The diocese will be able to have more space at a lower cost with free parking for those coming to the office for meetings. In some ways, the Diocese of Pennsylvania is doing the reverse of what Pittsburgh has done by moving from an outer ring suburban location with free parking to the central city.   It will maintain a satellite office at St. Stephen's in Philadelphia. the bishop and staff have for two years held office hours in various locations around the diocese.  That will continue. 

Continuing Stories

Anglican Consultative Council Meeting Has Surprises

As delegates travelled to Hong Kong for the latest meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, the Church Times published the results of a survey conducted among those going.  The Anglican Consultative Council is the only body of the Anglican Communion to have legal governing documents, and the only one of the "Instruments of Unity" with representation from the orders of laity, clergy and bishops.  The delegates had differing opinions on what they most wanted to talk about at the meeting, but almost all agreed that they ought to have a larger say on Communion business.  At the meeting Archbishop Welby has made two announcement provoked reaction. (See the next article on Lambeth.) But the address by the General Secretary of the Communion, Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, had another surprise as he commented on the wide-spread ignorance of the actual structure of the Anglican Communion, including among leaders of the Communion member provinces, and his concerns that the Communion might face schism.  The Update has already reported on the agenda for the meeting.  

The Lambeth Invitation Issues Continue

Who is invited to Lambeth 2020 and who is not continued to be a contentious issue. His decision to invite LGBTQ bishops, but not their same-sex spouses has been widely criticized.  He has defended the exclusion  as necessary to get many of the more conservative bishops to the come to the conference.  Archbishop Justin Welby made two announcements this last week that continued to roil the waters.  He announced that British law prevented the Anglican Consultative Council from taking up the topic of spousal invitations to Lambeth because the ACC was incorporated in England and that incorporation did not include "doctrine" as a part of its mission. Welby's action was preemptive, being made at the start of the ACC meeting in Hong Kong. There have been various rejoinders to that claim since inviting spouses is not a matter of doctrine, and because the ACC has discussed doctrinal matters at previous meetings. One of the best of the responses is here. Almost before people could respond to Welby's spousal announcement, he issued another announcement saying that the ACNA Archbishop had been invited to Lambeth as an ecumenical observer.  The ACNA Archbishop, Foley Beach, who also heads GAFCON, was not impressed.  In fact, he said he was insulted because he should have been invited as a member of the Anglican Communion. Beach relies on his recognition by GAFCON for his claim to membership. Neither the Archbishop of Canterbury nor the Anglican Consultative Council  recognize ACNA as a part of the Anglican Communion

Episcopal Sunday School Helps Fund Tiny House

 When the children at St. Augustine Episcopal Parish in Benton Harbor, Michigan told their youth leader, Cara Gillespie, that they wanted to build a tiny house for the homeless as their philanthropy for 2018, she knew they were going to need help.  She partnered with a youth camp focused on architecture that was sponsored by Andrews University (a Seventh-Day Adventist institution).  With help of two grants, a Go-Fund-Me page, and money raised by her youth group, they have come up with $28,000 of the projected $35,000 for the house.  The children at the architecture camp have focused on the tiny house for two summers and raised additional money with the sale of their projects.  Construction of the actual tiny house is now projected for 2020. Episcopal parishes in a number of locations have become part of tiny house projects. The most recent Update notices were for housing for those displaced by the volcano eruptions in Hawaii, and three tiny houses for the homeless being built in Raleigh, N.C.

Follow-Up on Sri Lanka Easter Bombings

The multiple bombings on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka have left relations between the various religions in an uncertain state.  There are actions of solidarity and reprisals.  About 8 per cent of the population is Christian.  With a new threat last weekend, Roman Catholics were told to stay home from church.  It is not clear what Anglicans (the second largest group of Christians on the island) did. Christianity Today has a story that provides a great deal of background on the current tensions and responses of various religious groups in Sri Lanka.

Methodists Inch Closer to Split

The vote earlier this year by the governing body of the United Methodist Church which turned back the clock and took a stance against same-sex marriage and clergy or candidates for ordination who were LGBTQ was contrary to what the majority of Methodist congregations in the U.S. wanted.  This last week the various measures were upheld by the body which reviews legislation for constitutionality.  Resistance is growing.  Baldwin Wallace Trustees announced this last week that they were dropping their affiliation with the Methodist Church.  Four other Ohio colleges affiliated with the United Methodist Church are exploring that same action.  And a congregation in Omaha, Nebraska applauded when the eight members of their confirmation class announced that they were declining membership in the Methodist Church given the recent vote.  It is not clear what affect this resistance, or a possible split will have on the proposal for full communion between the Episcopal and Methodist Churches.  That proposal will be before General Convention in 2021.