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 7, 2020

Week Ending 1/06/20

Australian Churches Respond to Fires

The National Council of Churches in Australia has issued a press release noting the many ways churches in that country are responding to the fire emergencies.  Retired Anglican bishop Philip Huggins who is serving as president of the NCC, noted that many dioceses have responded with special prayers and spoken out on climate change.  Regional groups of the Council of Churches have been offering emergency relief and support to refugees and firefighter.

Anglican Communion Office Wants Coexistence Between Differing Provinces

With a meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion set to begin January 13 in Jordan, the The Church Times has a short article outlining the past history of primates meetings, and the pressure, so far unsuccessful, to turn it into some form of Executive Council for the Anglican Communion.  The press release notes that 13 of the primates will be new.  Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda are boycotting this meeting and the Lambeth meeting of Anglican Communion bishops scheduled for later this year.  The Archbishop of Canterbury has not invited the leaders of alternative organizations [such as the Anglican Church of North America] to provinces  considered too liberal by GAFCON to the primates meeting. There will be provinces present whose primates are members of GAFCON, and primates from more liberal churches [such as The Episcopal Church, and Canada] and the Anglican Communion Office are urging that those attending will continue to "walk together" in love even as they disagree. 

Urban Churches Get Creative With Their Property

A Jacksonville, FL newspaper has a story on creative use of urban church properties noting that there are congregations across the U.S. that are entering agreements to re-purpose part or all of their prime urban real estate in ways that provide revenue for the congregations and facilitate urban ministries.  Some have used the money to down-size into a new building.  Several Episcopal churches are among the properties featured in the article.

Trinity Wall Street Rector Resigns Suddenly

Rev. Dr. William Lupfer, rector of historic Trinity Church on Wall Street, surprised the church staff on January 3 by announcing his resignation, effective immediately.   The Vicar of the parish, the Rev. Phillip A. Jackson, was immediately named priest-in-charge by the Bishop of New York.  Lupfer gave no explanation except to say that he and his wife wanted time and space to rest and decide on where ministry would call them next. Trinity, with an endowment and assets worth billions is known for its widespread grants program and leadership in many areas of ministry development.

Continuing Stories

ACNA Group Files for Stay of Federal Decision in South Carolina

The ACNA group in South Carolina, continues to try to drag out legal proceedings around church property and identity despite having lost both in state and federal courts.  They have filed a second request for a stay of execution of the trademark decision favoring the Episcopalians in South Carolina.  The original motion, filed as soon as the court announced its September decision confirming that the seal, name, and insignia of the Diocese of South Carolina belonged to the group affiliated with the Episcopal Church was denied.  The ACNA group then made a minimal effort at compliance, changing its name but leaving on its web sites numerous references to the history of the diocese, and documents using its seal and name.  The Episcopalians went back to court, and in early December the federal judge issued an order requiring them to purge their web site and documents of the Diocesan name and insignia and to cease numbering its conventions and bishops as though they were the continuation of the Diocese of South Carolina.  The ACNA group's web site now has a number of blank links where convention journals and historical  background used to reside. On December 23, the ACNA group filed again for a stay of the court order, AND a freeze on any hearings about the stay which would last until a case was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court involving a tech company trademark.  The Episcopalians filed their answer on December 30. The effect of the stay would be to undo what has now been the norm for two months.  The article on the Episcopalians' web site has links to the filings.

Former Leaders of St. Paul's Parish in CT Withdraw Lawsuit

St. Paul's in Darien, Connecticut has spent a lot of time in court over the last decade and a half.  First it challenged the Dennis Canon, and more recently it tried to lock its rector out of the parish.  At that point Bishop Ian Douglas stepped in, and eventually the parish was reduced to mission status and placed under the bishop's direct supervision.  The former vestry members continued the fight filing a suit against the rector and the diocese.  The diocese and rector prevailed at the trial level, and the dissident members appealed to the state supreme court.  Now after several requests for additional time to file their case, the group has quietly withdrawn their appeal.

Methodist Group Proposes Plan to Split Denomination

The United Methodist Church has been dealing with the aftermath of a close vote at its international synod which resulted in rejection of a local option compromise that would have allowed congregations and bishops to decide for themselves about LGBTQ marriages and ordinations.  Instead the synod voted to enforce more strictly rules against ordination of those in same sex relationships and to punish those who conducted marriages or blessing ceremonies.  Several plans have been proposed to allow more liberal parishes to leave, but one has now emerged with support of leaders from all parties withing the dispute. This proposal proposes the conservatives leave instead. The Methodist Council of Bishops issued a press release with all of the details.  It would allow conservative congregations to vote to leave the United Methodists with their property and provides a payment to the new conservative organization that amounts to a share of the assets of the church. This will free those remaining in the United Methodist Church to make room for LGBTQ clergy and marriages. The plan has been discussed in articles by Religion News and Christianity Today which provide additional context.  Religion News provides background on the long debate by United Methodists and multiple proposals.  Christianity Today identifies the conservative organization that most of the parishes would join.  If this proposal is accepted by the Methodist synod later this year, it will remove some of the questions surrounding the proposed full communion agreement between the Episcopal Church and the United Methodists. 

Integrity Group Appears Dead 

Elizabeth Keaton, a priest and well-known blogger, has given a full accounting of the absolute mess recent leadership has made of Integrity, the organization that worked for full inclusion of LGBTQ+ people within the church.  Integrity currently has leadership that was not elected by the people, has lost almost all of its membership, has little funds left.  Former leaders are questioning an internal audit, and the process by which a small group is trying to fill the many vacant offices on governing boards.  The blog has all the sad details.  Update mentioned the leadership crisis while carrying the notice of the death of the organization's "father," Louie Crew.