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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, October 8, 2019

Week Ending 10/07/19

Kenya Affirms Possibility of Women as Bishops

The Anglican Church in Kenya's synod wants to be sure that their commitment to women clergy at all levels is unmistakable.  They have thus started a process to amend their governing documents so that it is explicit that both male and female clergy are eligible to be bishops.  Women have been ordained as priests in Kenya for a while under a reading of documents that the use of male terminology was intended to be generic and not gender specific. The change will require a second vote by the next synod, scheduled for 2021.

Parishes Opposed to Women's Ordination in England Hide Their Stance

A recent study has shown that 90% of the conservative evangelical parishes in the Church of England that do not support women's leadership, especially ordination do not make that position clear anywhere on their web sites or in materials available to their congregation.  Since many of these parishes are near universities that might attract student members, this has the effect of discouraging women from entering ordained ministry. 

Actions Around the Anglican Communion in Support of Environment

The global environmental crisis has sparked a number of statements over time from members of the Anglican Communion.  The latest two are a strongly worded statement by the 9 bishops of the Province of South America.  Their statement  was a strong condemnation of the destruction of forests for agriculture or other development, especially the forests of South America.  The Anglican Communion News Service has a good description of the implications of their letter and a link to the letter in  its original Spanish.  Meanwhile, in London, Church of England clergy and laity are participating in demonstrations that close the bridge over the Thames closest to Lambeth Palace. The demonstrations are to call attention to the mass extinction of species being caused by climate change.  As part of these demonstrations, the clergy are performing baptisms and celebrating Eucharist on the bridge.

Updates on Ongoing Stories

Communion Partners Support Bishop Love and Lambeth

The House of Bishops meeting  in September included statements urging bishops to follow their consciences on whether to attend Lambeth 2020 given that same sex spouses were excluded from the invitation.  The Bishops also allowed the Title IV disciplinary process to move forward to a hearing on Bishop Love for his refusal to implement a General Convention resolution requiring bishops to allow parishes and priests in their dioceses to celebrate weddings for same sex couples if  they wished to do so.  The handful of Communion Partner Bishops (i.e. very conservative) in The Episcopal Church have now issued a statement supporting Bishop Love and saying that they all intend to go to Lambeth. The defense of Bishop Love of Albany was based on a claim that liberal bishops who ignored canons have not been brought up on charges.

South Carolina Diocese Requests Hearing

 The Episcopalians in South Carolina have sent a letter requesting that Judge Dickson move forward with a new hearing on their requests for implementation of the property settlement given the federal court decision and failure of mediation.  The judge has managed to stall doing what the state court asked him to do two years ago.

St. Paul's School Removes Names from Buildings

St. Paul's School in Conway, New Hampshire, which has been trying to rebuild its credibility after a damaging scandal involving the sexual abuse of students by faculty and staff over a number of years, has removed from campus buildings the names of two men who were involved in covering up the abuse.  Bill Matthews name was removed from the Episcopal school's hockey center, and Bill Oates's name is no longer on the preforming arts center.  In 2018, the school signed an agreement with the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office which ended an official criminal investigation of the abuse.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Week Ending 09/30/19

Episcopal Church Criticizes Cut in Refugee Admissions

The decision by Donald Trump to cut the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. to 18,000 for 2020 has elicited strong protests from the Episcopal Church and other churches who work with refugees.  The U.S. expects to receive over 380,000 requests for entry from refugees next year, and the quota is the lowest since the U.S. began its refugee program in 1980. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry authored an opinion piece for Religion News arguing that welcoming refugees was a part of Christian faith.  The Episcopal Migration ministries also issued a strong statement.

Georgia Church Offers Rest Stop for First Responders

Ben Day, the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Kennesaw, Georgia occasionally rides along with the police as part of his service as police Chaplain.  He noticed that the officers needed a place where they could use the restroom, or regroup after a troubling event.  His parish responded by creating St. Michael Law Enforcement Chapel which was dedicated  after the main service on Sunday, September 29.  The chapel is actually open to all first responders and offers a quiet place for decompression, prayer, and refreshment, as well as clean restrooms.  It is open to people of all faiths.  The local paper carried a feature story on the new chapel.

Southern Africa Church Joins in Boycott

The Provincial Synod for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa voted to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to protest Israel's treatment of Palestinians. While South Africa is the largest country in the province, the province includes several other countries in southern Africa. The resolution warned people to not confuse Zionism with Judaism, condemned all forms antisemitism and Islamophobia,  and compared the experience of Palestinians with that of blacks under apartheid.  The synod also requested that bishops from all over the Anglican Communion vote on a similar resolution during Lambeth 2020.  The full text of the resolution is here.

Primate Changes for Two Provinces May Bring Slight Change

Both the Provinces of South East Asia and Nigeria have new primates, but the change seems unlikely to bring much softening of the hard-line GAFCON stances these two provinces have espoused.  The  Archbishop, Henry Chukwudum Ndukuba, seems to be fully on-board with Nigeria's anti-LGBTQ stance. He has been the Archbishop of Jos, and area with a Muslim majority.  South East Asia primates have been involved with the revolt against inclusion of LGBTQ for many years.  South Asia provided one of the bishops that took part in the irregular ordination of bishops for the Anglican Mission in America, and has close ties to the GAFCON stronghold in Australia, the Diocese of Sydney.  The new Archibishop, Datuk Melter Jiki Tais is a member of the largest ethnic group in diocese of Sabah, which he has served as bishop.  There may be some softening of a GAFCON stance in South East Asia since Melter is serving on the 2020 Lambeth Planning Committee and his province has not yet announced whether they will boycott Lambeth or not.

Follow-Ups to Previous Stories

Church of England Gets Another Taste of Division

The announcement by a priest in Cornwall that he intends to leave the Church of England and start a parish affiliated with GAFCON brings another taste of the divisions that the churches in the U.S., Brazil, Scotland, New Zealand, and Canada have been dealing with. GAFCON has its own bishop and structure outside the church structures in the British Isles The Cornish minister was most upset by recent guidance by the church on how to deal  compassionately with transgender people and previous baptisms.

Wales First Province to Reach Episcopal Gender Parity

 When Update reported last week on the election of Cherry Van as a bishop in Wales, we failed to note that her selection means that half of the six bishops in Wales will be women.  Wales thus becomes the first province in the Anglican Communion to reach episcopal gender parity with three women and three men.

Mediation Proves Fruitless in South Carolina

State district court Judge Dickson tried to punt on the implementation of the property decision referred to his court by the South Carolina state supreme court by ordering everyone to mediation, but the attempt fizzled.  The implementation of the 2017 decision is now squarely back in Dickson's courtroom. A full day of mediation resulted in no agreements in South Carolina. That was hardly surprising given that two previous rounds of mediation also came to nothing (see Update here and here.).  The two parties each issued the identical agreed-upon one sentence announcement of that fact.  They are here and here.  Blogger Steve Skardon has more to say in his September 26 posting. 

Canadian Province Moves Forward on Same-Sex Marriage 

The Diocese of  Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador has implemented parish choice in the matter of same-sex marriage and several parishes have moved forward to declare themselves willing to provide such celebrations.  The most recent Canadian Synod by the vote of two bishops turned down a proposal that would have approved same-sex marriage ceremonies for the whole Anglican Church of Canada.  This however left in place an interpretation of canons that allowed bishops to permit such celebrations in willing parishes.  The Bishop of Eastern Newfoundland-Labrador has now moved forward after receiving petitions from 8 parishes.  They are willing to provide services for non-members who cannot be married in their own church, regardless of denomination. 

South African Primate Remains Positive Despite Synod Defeat of Same-Sex Blessing Proposal

South Africa is the only African country recognizing and permitting same sex couples to marry. While South African Anglicans may be  willing to move forward with blessing same-sex marriages, the rest of the province of Southern Africa (St. Helena and Tristan da Cunha, Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Kingdom of Swaziland and Angola) is more hesitant.  Three years ago the provincial synod voted against such blessings, and the 2019 synod had the same outcome.  Archbishop Thaba Makgoba remains positive however, seeing progress in the discussions on sexulaity that have been held in the province.  He will continue to look for a what for the church in South Africa to offer blessings.