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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, September 10, 2019

Week Ending 9/9/19

Brazilian Bishops Blame Amazon Fires of Greed and Hatred

Fifteen bishop of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil had issued a pastoral letter strongly critical of the Brazilian president and his complicity in conditions leading to the fire in the Amazon basin that is wreaking environmental havoc.  They framed their response in terms of the Anglican Communion's "Marks of Mission" and their duty to protect God's creation.  The Anglican News Service has more

Farewell to Another of the "Philadelphia 11"

This last week the Rev. Alison Cheek, one of the "Philadelphia" died.  She was one of the 11 women in deacon's orders who called the bluff of the Episcopal Church after the 1973 General Convention narrowly defeated a measure to explicitly allow ordination of women to the priesthood.  Of the Eleven, Cheek was the first to publicly preside at a service of Holy Communion. Their ordination was originally declared "irregular" but was recognized in 1976 when the General Convention approved what it had defeated in 1973.  The 92 year-old Cheek is the 5th of the eleven to die. Episcopal News Service has more on her life and ordination. 

Virginia Theological Seminary Set Aside Funds for Reparations

The Virginia Theological Seminary has acknowledged that from its founding on it has benefited from slavery, and that it actively participated in the enforcement of segregation and racism has announced that it will set aside a portion of its endowment to provide reparations to the local black community.  The funds will be used largely for grants, not as payments to individuals.  The seminary announcement includes many of the details. 

Continuing Stories

South Carolina Mediation Rescheduled

The break-away group in South Carolina has announced a new date for mediation.  The original date was  a victim of Hurricane Dorian.  It is now scheduled for September 26.  The judge who is supposed to implement the decision of the state supreme court which granted most property to the Episcopal Church has ordered mediation on all issues, including a separate "Betterments" suit filed by the schismatics after they lost at the state supreme court.

Canadian Church Finding Path Forward After Synod Defeat on Same Sex Marriage

The Synod  of the Anglican Church of Canada narrowly defeated a measure this summer that would have explicitly allowed parishes and clergy to bless same sex marriages or  host and preside at them.  An earlier vote (which passed by a margin of 1) had allowed bishops to authorize blessings and marriages under a particular reading of existing church rules.  Since the failure of the measure, a number of bishops have announced they will continue to authorize blessings and marriages, and one bishop who opposes blessings has declared that he is not leaving the church, but that his diocese is in impaired communion with the rest of the denomination.  Update covered the vote and the immediate responses after the vote here.  The Canadian publication, The Anglican Journal, has published a follow-up piece on the status of the church.  This was picked up by the Episcopal News Service here.

Welby's India Trip Prompts Lawsuit

The leaders of the Church of India, a part of the Traditional Anglican Church, have filed a lawsuit claiming that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby lied when he told people that the United Churches of North and South India were the historic continuations of the Anglican Communion  in India. Welby's trip to India has been marred by multiple controversies.  Unfortunately, the only source reporting on the lawsuit is the web site of the vitriolic anti-TEC  David Virtue. The suit is likely to be considered a nuisance suit. Welby, of course, would not consider the break-away Church of India a part of the historic communion.  The break-away's origin are among people unhappy when the Anglicans, Methodists and Presbyterians created the United Churches in North India and in South India.  Welby is the first Archbishop to declare that the CSI and CNI are full provinces in the Anglican Communion.  Their status was up until recently a mixed status given the number of clergy and congregations that were included from the other two denominations. The Update carried a link to an earlier background story on the churches in India here

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Week Ending 09/02/19

Episcopalians Join Lawsuit Against Border Wall

The Episcopal bishops of Western Massachusetts and Long Island head the list of Episcopalians who have signed on as supporters of a friend of the court brief submitted in the legal challenge  President Trump's diversion of funds to finance building the border wall.  There are accounts of the Episcopalian involvement in the challenge from Massachusetts news sources, Episcopal Cafe, and the Episcopal News Service.

Study Shows Which Religions Support Gun Control

A Political Science professor at Eastern Illinois University has analayzed data from a 2018 election survey of more than 60,000 participants to determine how members of various religious groups respond to issues of gun control.  Episcopalian responses were included as part of the "Mainline" protestant churches.  Hindus had a 95.7% rate of support for universal background checks. Buddhists were just one tenth of a percent lower. Mainline protestants strongly in support (but behind, Jewish, non-believers, and Roman Catholics) with 89.6%.  The lowest support came from white evangelicals with 84.1%.  There was a greater divergence on other measures. All groups had lower percentages (81.8% to 46.8%) on support for an assault weapon ban, with Mainline members coming in at 64.3%.  Hindus once again had the highest support and white evangelicals the lowest. When asked about making it easier to carry concealed weapons, the order reversed, but only two groups (white evangelicals and Mormons) had support above 50% (and that barely).  In general the order was reversed from the previous two questions with Hindus showing the least support.

Episcopalians Commemorate 400 Years of Slavery in U.S.

Churches around the country rang bells to commemorate the arrival of the ship Anthony and its cargo of slaves in Virginia 400 years ago.  A number of other forms of commemoration also took place.  It was a time to reflect on the sin of slavery and the survival of Africans in this country despite its brutality.  It was part of a process of healing and reconciliation and an acknowledgement of the complicity of the Church in slavery.  [The Update editor would also note, however, that there are places now in the U.S. where slavery existed before 1619 because those parts of the Americas colonized by Spain had established slavery of indigenous peoples and Africans long before the Virginia colony began.  Some of those locations are now part of the U.S.]

Church Leaders in Britain Speak Out on Brexit

The recent decision of the new British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson to suspend Parliament for several weeks as Brexit nears has brought forth protests from church leaders in England, Wales, and Scotland.  Twenty-five English bishops posted this formal protest. Some of them are members of the House of Lords. The Episcopal Church of Scotland's Primus issued this statement on the suspension of Parliament.  Welsh bishops also issued a statement of concern about a "no-deal" Brexit.

Episcopalian Support for Tennessee Prisoner Taken Off Death Row

Diocese of Tennessee Episcopalians have been active advocates for the end to the Death Penalty.  The also actively intervened in appeals filed by Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman (formerly known as James Jones) who was sentenced to death for a stabbing more than 30 years ago.  His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in a deal worked out by his lawyers and state prosecutors.  The man's original trial was marred by prosecutorial misconduct including the blocking of any black participation in the jury.  Tennessee Episcopalians have been active in a ministry on death row and one of Rahman's attorneys is an Episcopalian.  The Tennessean published an article noting Episcopal involvement here

Ongoing Stories

SC Judge Keeps Betterments Suit Alive

South Carolina Episcopalians were disappointed to learn that their preliminary motion to dismiss a Betterments suit with the potential to cost them millions of dollars was denied by Judge Dickson (August 28).  The Betterments suit only takes effect IF the legal challenges to ownership of church property have been ended and the Episcopalians are in control of the contested property.  Blogger Steve Skardon has more to say in this August 30 post. The schismatic group promoted this decision as a win for their party, suggesting it means that the Judge will rule in their favor on the suit.   However, blogger Ronald Caldwell reports in an update from September 2 that Hurricane Dorian has thrown off all timetables by causing postponement of the mediation sessions scheduled for this week.  The Church Insurance lawsuit mediation has also been postponed for the same reason. Update's most recent post on the SC legal issues is here.  

Texas Supreme Court Will Hear Appeals in Fort Worth Case

In a move that guarantees further delays in resolving the property dispute in Fort Worth, the Texas Supreme Court notified parties on August 30 that it had decided to hear oral arguments in the appeal filed by the schismatics and the cross-filing by Episcopalians.  It set December 5 as the date for the arguments.  Each side will have only 20 minutes to elaborate on the extensive filings already made. The Episcopalians in Fort Worth published this report on that notice.  Update has been following the case as it has wound through the courts for 10 years. 

Diocese of Wangaratta in Australia to Bless Same Sex Couples

Although Australia has approved civil marriage for same sex couples, the Anglican Church has been blocked from blessing such unions or presiding at marriage ceremonies for same sex couples by action from some conservative dioceses especially the Diocese of Sydney.  Over a year ago the Wangaratta Diocesan Synod voted to request their bishop find a way to bless same sex unions.  At the Synod last week a route was approved by a very lopsided vote. Bishop Parkes supported the measure.  Now the emeritas Archdeacon of the diocese has announced on his Facebook page that he and his partner of twenty years (another priest) will have a blessing at a service later in September. Bishop Parkes, who retires in December, will be present.  The conservative GAFCON-friendly news source Anglican.ink carried a disapproving story including a shot of the formal invitation sent out for the occasion.