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         

Monday, April 6, 2020

Week Ending 04/06/20

Florida Church Vandalized

Vandals did enough damage to the chapel and main sanctuary at All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Lauderdale, FL that the church was unable to live stream their Palm Sunday Service.  The rector, Leslie Hague notified the parish in a letter that stressed that the building was not the church,
but she reassured the congregation that all the upcoming Holy Week and Easter services would be live-streamed.

Church Groups Being "Zoombombed"

Malicious hackers have been breaking into church meetings and study groups being held on Zoom.  they then disrupt the meeting, sometimes with sexually explicit material.  Churches have been widely publicizing their gatherings places such as Facebook because all are welcome at services.  Episcopal parish meetings are among the targets for this form of hacking called zoombombing.  Parishes are being advised to limit access, even to services with the use of a password and providing login information only to those from the congregation.

Palm Sunday Innovations 

Some of the traditions of Palm Sunday are difficult to maintain in a period when worship is being done virtually or with extreme social distancing.  St. Martin's in Lebanon,  Oregon decided to use a drive in service so that it could distribute palms and the service bulletin while maintaining social distance.  The ushers used grabber tools to reach out to the cars.  Trinity Church in Waterloo, IA tried something similar. Other churches left palms at the church door for people to pick up at their own time. 

Updates on Continuing Stories

South Carolina Supreme Court Won't Light a Fire Under Judge

The South Carolina Supreme Court denied the request by Episcopalians to order Judge Dickson to move forward in the California Property Case.   Episcopalians filed the request in early March trying to convince the Supreme Court that the judges slow pace is creating irreparable harm to the property awarded to the diocese, and that he keeps trying to relitigate the case.  A year ago they filed a similar plea and then the court's response was that they were sure that Dickson would move forward and declined to order his to do so.  The schismatic group took this as a hopeful sign that they will be allowed to reopen parts of the decision.  Blogger Steve Skardon has a different take.  He notes in and April 3 posting that Dickson seems intent on stringing out the case until his retirement next year.  He also notes that the judge has a potential conflict of interest given that the law firm he previously worked for is under retainer by the schismatic group.

Standing Rock Finally Wins Full Pipeline Review

Three years ago the Standing Rock Reservation was unable to stop the building of an oil pipeline that put their wetlands and water supply at risk.  The pipeline also went through lands sacred to the Lakota.  The Army Corps of Engineers fast-tracked the application and did a cursory environmental review to clear the area for construction.  There were major protests and attempts to block the construction.  The tribe has continued to pursue legal action, and won a partial decision that the reveiw was inadequate in 2017, but the judge held the case over for more argument. Now, thanks to a decision in 2019 involving land near Jamestown, Virginia, the judge in the Standing Rock case felt he had precedent to order a full and complete review that considered the possible impact on the tribe, including cultural concerns. He has issued a new order that will require the company to stop using the pipeline while the study is conducted.  

Wyoming Implements Promised Covit-19 Relief Grants

The Foundation of the Diocese of Wyoming wasted no time in implementing their decision in the previous week to set aside $1 million for relief of people and companies hurt by pandemic.  The foundation has already sent the first installment of money to parishes so they can make grants to those hurting in their communities.

Christians Gain Some Legal Ground in Egypt

The Egyptian government has put a tight rein on religious activity in that country.  Churches have to receive licenses  for new buildings. Four years ago the government declared  the Episcopal/Anglican churches in Egypt were  a subset of the Presbyterians.   Recently the government approved 74 applications, the biggest group so far.  However they have around 4000 applications still pending.

Latest on Covid-19 Ministries

Episcopalians continue to expand the ways they are ministering during the covid-19 pandemic.  The Iglesia  Episcopal San  Pedro in Pasadena, TX normally participates in its regional food bank, but the covid-19 shutdown has increased by 250% those who need help.  Twenty younger volunteers have stepped forward to replace older workers sheltering in place.  The parish is now feeding thousands each, week, including 200 families who regularly need food. The parish partners with the local Food Bank.  

With people facing the prospect of dying in isolation with all visitors forbidden, Virginia Theological Seminary and General Theological Seminary have used their TryTank joint initiative to  recruit and organize 87 Episcopal clergy who are on call to provide last rites by phone to dying patients.  The DialAPriest.com web site has a link that directly connects to a phone bank, where clergy have signed on to provide this service.  They have also given hospitial workers notice of the service.  Update  earlier noted an individual parish priest who did last rites by phone for 2 parishioners, but this is organized on a larger scale and the clergy may be asked to pray for someone in another state.  

The Rev. Janet Broderick has opened a different kind of ministry by telling her own close encounter with death  from covid-19.  Her turn around surprised the doctors, but she credits her own prayers and those of others in helping her heal.  Broderick was one of the clergy infected by the virus while attending a national church meeting in Kentucky. 

And lastly clergy in Massachusetts have decided to bring some joy back into their parishioners world by videoing themselves dancing in clerical garb  and challenging members of their parishes to do the same.  They are dancing to a workout tune and posting the videos on the social media platform TikTok.