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, March 17, 2020

Week Ending 03/16/20

GAFCON Supporters Block Election of Australian Primate

Former Primate Archbishop Philip Aspinall has been named interim primate of Australia after the Australian Church was blocked by one vote in the clergy order from selecting a moderate Bishop for that post.  Both the House of Bishops and laity supported  Archbishop Geoffrey Smith of Adelaide for primate, but the clergy vote was 6 for him with 7 needed for an election.  Conservatives had rallied around the Bishop of Tasmania who is the current chair for GAFCON in Australia.  GAFCON is the group that is trying to set up alternative competing dioceses in places considered "liberal" around the Anglican Communion, is recommending a boycott of the Lambeth Conference and has recognized the Anglican Church of North America rather than The Episcopal Church.  As a result, Philip Aspinwall who retired as primate in 2014 was asked to step in while the church's synod regroups. The only report of this election comes from a GACON supporter and was published in the GAFCON-supporting source Anglican.ink

Continuing Stories

Covid-19 Leads Over 1/3/ of U.S. Diocese to Suspend In-Church Services

Lent 2020 is turning into the season of on-line worship as a result of Church responses to the need for social distancing during the coronavirus-19 epidemic.  Last week Update noted initial responses from Diocesan bishops.  However, the situation changed quickly with the Dioceses of Virginia and Washington  moving quickly from social distancing during services to suspension of services. As the week progressed more bishops made similar decisions. The Episcopal News Service has a listing of all published responses by dioceses.  Update went to all the links and counted 37 dioceses whose bishops have suspended public worship throughout the diocese.  In addition at least another 9 strongly encouraged parishes to choose on-line worship over face-to-face services.  Religion News notes that the Episcopalians are not the only one choosing to suspend services. Pittsburgh's bishop has not made such a request, but several of the parishes have taken the option he offered and gone to on-line services for Lent.  These include all three of the largest parishes in the diocese, Calvary, Christ Church North Hills and St. Paul's Mt. Lebanon.  Local media featured St. Paul's on-line service response. Suspension of in-church worship services has not stopped parishes from doing outreach ministries to those most in need.

Pioneering Bishop Barbara Harris Dies 

News media have largely been so focused on the coronavirus-19 situation, that they almost missed the passing of one of the Episcopal Church's true pioneers, Bishop Barbara Harris.  There have been articles in several Episcopal sources, including the Living Church, Episcopal Cafe, and Episcopal News ServiceNational Public Radio and the Boston Globe ran stories (the Globe's especially full and detailed) on March 14,  the Washington Post published their obituary the 16th.  Harris was not only the first woman elected as a bishop, she was the crucifer at the irregular 1974 ordination service for the Philadelphia 11, and worked in the south on voter registration in 1965.  An advocate for full inclusion, she also spoke at many Integrity events and was know for her work on Witness Magazine.  Update had noted Harris was seriously ill last week. After Update's publication, the Massachusetts diocese announced she had been moved to hospice care, and she died on the 14th.

Christ Church Oxford Saga Continues

The battle between the dean of Christ Church, Oxford and the faculty/visitors of the college continues.  Update has been following all the twists and turns of this squabble.  Last week the press committee of the faculty publsihed a document on the college web site accusing the Dean of violations of the "safeguarding" churches regulations (the key phrase in England for sexual abuse).  The dean instantly issued a rebuttal, but the public relations firm working with the faculty released to the press the original statement without the Dean's response, and has not put the dean's response on the college web site.  Local Church officials and the Church Times are now accusing the PR firm and faculty of "weaponizing" safeguarding issues and unfair tactics.  The PR firm is the same firm that has been criticized for unfair  reporting in a case involving a clergyman in an unrelated safeguarding issue.  The blog site Thinking Anglicans has all the links.