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, June 18, 2019

Week Ending 06/17/19

Executive Council Passes Resolutions in Support of Vaccinations

The Episcopal News Service has issued a summary article listing all the resolutions passed by Executive Council.  If the reader skips through the financial and governance resolutions and looks at those listed for  mission outside and within the Episcopal Church, the reader will find a series of resolutions addressing the recent outbreaks of preventable diseases due to a failure to vaccinate.  The Council is on record saying that Episcopalians cannot claim a religious exemption from vaccinations based on church doctrine, and calls on parishes to partner with medical people to counter false information about vaccinations.  There is also a resolution strengthening requirements for vaccinations of those who attend Episcopal institutions.

Church Pension Group Reduces Gap Between Lay and Clergy Employee Benefits

The Episcopal Church offers different benefits to clergy than it does to lay employees.  The lay employees' pension benefits are much less, and the church does not have to provide long-term disability, life insurance and other benefits with are standard for clergy.  Clergy are on a defined benefit plan, while lay employees are on a defined contribution plan.  The differences have been justified on the grounds that the various church employers could not afford to treat lay employees equally with clergy.  A major step was made several years ago when General Convention required medical benefits to be be the same for clergy and lay employees.  Now the Church Pension Group (CPG) will begin paying more into its  lay pension plan so that the contribution to  a CPG lay worker's pension will be closer to the percentage contributed for clergy.  The decision does not affect anyone except the approximately 100 lay employees of CPG.  It was deemed to expensive  to require parishes and schools follow suit, but CPG hopes its decision will encourage other units to do the same. 

St. Paul's Mt. Lebanon Goes Solar

The Rev. Noah Evans and Bishop Dorsey McConnell were high on the roof of the St. Paul's parish hall in full regalia to bless the solar panels installed by St. Paul's Mt. Lebanon.  The Pittsburgh parish will be able to generate all the electricity it needs on sunny days, and at the very worst weather still generates about half.  Excess power is sold to Duquesne Light.  

ACNA Gives Foley Beach Five More Years 

Not surprisingly, the ACNA synod choose to re-elect Foley Beach as their archbishop.  Since Beach is in the middle of a term as Chair of ACNA, it would have been awkward to elect anyone else.  ACNA sets a limit of 2 terms on the the office of Archbishop.

Continuing Stories

Another Bishop Sharing Arrangement  Announced

While resigned/retired bishops and suffragan bishops most often get the call to be bishop provisional in another diocese, there are several bishops who have taken on that role for a diocese while continuing as diocesan in their original diocese. What is more unusual is for the arrangement also to include exploration of merging some of the staff or events of the two dioceses.  Bishop Sean Rowe of Northwestern Pennsylvania paired his duties in his diocese with a provisional arrangement in the Diocese of Bethlehem on the opposite end of the state.  When that arrangement ended, he found a new partner in the neighboring Diocese of Western New York, with the added feature that the two dioceses would explore greater cooperation in activities during a 5 year term.  The arrangement is complicated by different state laws and the assignment of the two dioceses to different provinces.  Now Western and Eastern Michigan are about to start a similar 3-5 year partnership with Western Michigan Bishop Whayne Houghland, Jr. being elected as provisional in Eastern Michigan.   Eastern Michigan will vote on electing Houghland as Bishop Provisional in October.  Such elections are normally uncontested.  Although current news accounts treat these bishop-sharing arrangements as new and innovative, the Episcopal Church in the early 19th century had several shared arrangements, most notably in what was called the "Eastern Diocese" where conventions in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island in New England shared a single bishop.

GAFCON Continues Moratorium on Women as Bishops

Some of the Anglican provinces participating in GAFCON do not allow women to serve as priests, and primates had agreed to a moratorium on electing women as bishops in their provinces.  Thus were surprised when a woman was consecrated  bishop in South Sudan.  With Bishop Iker of ACNA's Fort Worth diocese demanding disciplinary action against South Sudan, GAFCON appointed a committee to study whether the moratorium should continue. Originally the committee had only 2 women among its 15 members, but two more were added.  The interim report of the committee has been issued.  The committee admitted that some provinces were interested in ending the moratorium, but in the interests of union, it should continue "until and unless a strong consensus to change emerges after prayer, consultation and continued study of Scripture among the GAFCON fellowship."  Instead it urged a strengthening of general women's ministries within the provinces.    

Fourth Parish Withdraws from Scottish Church

 The Episcopal Church of Scotland has been the progressive leader among the Anglican Provinces of the British Isles.  In 2017 the Scottish church approved a change allowing their parishes and clergy to host and preside at same-sex marriages. The church also has elected women to the episcopate.  Update has noted previously that  three parishes had decided to leave the church and come under the supervision of the GAFCON appointed and ACNA ordained "missionary" bishop for Europe, Andrew Lines.  The three included two parishes in Aberdeen and a tiny one on a coastal island. See update articles here, here and here.)  Now they have been joined by a parish in Glasgow, St. Silas Church. The parish has been a lively evangelical congregation with a membership of around 200. The 4 churches represent about 1.2% of the parishes in the Episcopal Church of Scotland.