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, January 14, 2020

Week Ending 01/13/20

Pittsburgh Parish Sponsors Gun Buy-Back

The Church of the Holy Cross in the Homewood area of Pittsburgh is sponsoring a gun buy-back event on  January 20, 2020 in conjunction with The Pittsburgh police, the Episcopal Lutheran Alliance, and Homewood Ministries.  The parish is also offering entertainment and refreshments to make the event on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend a festive event.  Holy Cross recently hosted an interfaith event following the shooting death of an area teen.  The parish was shocked in November by a double shooting homicide on the corner of its property. 

Church Responds to Texas Decision to Accept No Refugees

A recent Trump directive requiring states, counties and local municipalities to "opt in" if they are willing to host refugees being resettled resulted in an announcement by the Texas governor that that state would no longer accept refugees.  The Episcopal Church which has been active in the state in migrant ministries ( see this Update for an example),  and has a national program to resettle refugees, has responded with a statement issued by Episcopal Migration Ministries.  The statement strongly urges Governor Abbot to reconsider and notes the active ministries for refugees within the state. 

Episcopal Churches Severely Damaged in Puerto Rico Quake

Puerto Rico is dealing with the aftermath of a series of serious earthquakes and aftershocks that proved very destructive last week.  The Diocese of Puerto Rico, part of The Episcopal Church, is not only trying to offer relief to those directly affected by the quake, they are faced with rebuilding several of their own buildings.  The Diocese has set up a fund to help with relief of those who have been hurt by the quakes.

ICE Planning Deportation of El Salvador Bishop

The son of an Anglican bishop in El Salvador fled several years ago to the United States after having been kidnapped by members of a drug cartel.  Despite the high probability that he will be killed if he returns to El Salvador, his efforts to be granted asylum in the United States has been rejected and he has been incarcerated awaiting deportation to El Salvador.  The Episcopal Church is supporting his appeal.  The Episcopal New Service has more on his case.

Updates on Continuing Stories

Black Church Leaders Support Christianity Today Editorial

A group of black evangelical pastors from a variety of denominations has issued an open letter in support of the Christianity Today editorial that  said Trump ought to be removed and churches needed to stop supporting him on moral ground.  Christianity Today  has found itself condemned by some evangelicals (and of course, Trump) while being supported by others.  The editor who wrote the piece is a member of an ACNA congregation and made this op-ed piece his parting shot on retirement.  It appears that editor's church in Wheaton, IL is a part of the Pittsburgh diocese of ACNA.

 More Episcopal Parishes Erase Medical Debts of Families

Update has reported previously on an Episcopal parishthat partnered with a non-profit, RIP Medical Debt,  to buy discounted medical debt in order to retire it.  Recently two parishes, one in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina and the other in Alabama have joined the movement.  St. Martin's in the Field near Columbia, South Carolina raised $15,000 to clear $1.5 million in medical debt for area residents. The non-profit is still negotiating with local hospitals to buy the debt.  The parish will hold a party to celebrate once all the debts are purchased and families notified.  St. Luke's in Mountain Brook, AL celebrated its 70th anniversary by raising $78,000 to clear $8.1 million in debt owed by about 6500 local residents.  The Diocese of Alabama kicked off the St. Luke's effort with a $10,000. grant.  St. Luke's heard about the Episcopal parish in Illinois that celebrated an anniversary by paying off medical debts and contacted them to find out how to do this.

How the Methodist Worked Out the Division Plan

Last week Update reported on the announcement of a plan supported by conservatives and liberals in the United Methodist Church to allow conservatives to leave the UMC and form a separate body without litigation. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette carried a story on how this agreement came about.  One of the movers behind it was Bishop Thomas Bickerton, who headed the  UM Western Pennsylvania Conference  during the painful schism of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.  The ways the local Episcopal and ACNA dioceses were able to work together after the split and the high cost and acrimony of the actual split and litigation helped inspire Bickerton to work on a different way forward for the Methodists.  

Newly Elected South India Moderator Faces Legal Action

The Church of South India, which is a united body including Anglicans and headed by a Bishop serving as moderator, has had a troubled several years with a number of top church leaders facing court charges for corruption and misuse of church property.  Archbishop Welby counts it as one of the provinces of the Anglican Communion. (See two of the Update stories on corruption here and here.) The Church of South India has just unanimously chosen a new moderator, Rt. Rev. A. Dharmaraj Rasalam, Bishop of South Kerela.  Unfortunately, he begins his term under a cloud because of a police investigation into charges he sold admission to spots in the entering class of a church-sponsored medical school.

Why the Lawsuit in Connecticut Was Withdrawn

When Update was published last week, it included a link to the Connecticut Supreme Court web site that showed an appeal of a case arising from the attempt of the former vestry of St. Paul's in Darien to fire a rector had been withdrawn.  Now an explanation has appeared.  The diocese and former vestry negotiated an settlement out of court.  The diocese remains in control of the church property, and the former vestry and members are free to organize as a separate, non-Episcopalian congregation.