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, May 19, 2020

Week Ending 05/18/20

Underground Railroad Station Church Needs Major Repairs

Emmanuel Church in Cumberland, Maryland has a storied past that includes serving as a stop on the underground railroad for escaping slaves.  The church was built in 1850 over a series of tunnels  that were part of an abandoned U.S. fort.  Now the walls that support the grounds of the church are crumbling and must be replaced.  The cost is estimated at $200,000.   Local news carried the story.

Continuing Stories

More Church Outreach In Communities

Update's continuing coverage of Episcopal church outreach  to address society's needs continues with three articles posted by the Episcopal News Service.  Episcopal Migration Ministries and the Epicopal Church Office of Governmental Relations have teamed up to offer three webinars during June on the topics of immigration.  The webinars each focus on a different aspect of immigration: DACA, resettlement, and asylum.  The dates and links are found here.  Indigenous people within the United States have been hit hard by the pandemic, with the effect on the Navajo being especially severe.  The Navajo had a much higher per capita rate of infection than any of the states, and because 30% of those living in Navajoland do not have access to running water or electricity and are many miles from medical facilities,  it has been especially hard to control the spread of the virus.  The Episcopal Church in Navajoland has begun distributing food to 100 families affected by the virus. Help has poured in from around the U.S., with the Diocese of Northern Michigan raising $40,000 to help with supplies.   A third article focused on the efforts of parishes in West Virginia to help others affected by covid-19.  St. James Parish in Lewisburg had led a community coalition to create a mobile health facility. It had just been dedicated when the covid-19 pandemic reached their state.  It has been deployed as a free testing facility for the virus.  Other recent Update articles on outreach are here and here.

Episcopal Churches Cautious on Re-Opening

Episcopal dioceses and parishes continue to take a very cautious approach to reopening their buildings or holding in-person worship. Update has carried earlier notices of the on-going discussion about re-opening churches.   Even in states where stay-at-home restrictions have been lifted congregations are taking a slow approach to reopening.  They wish to avoid the experience of one Baptist congregation that reopened for two Sundays and then re-closed after several members were diagnosed with the virus.   Dorsey McConnell, Bishop of Pittsburgh has asked parishes to come in with plans for reopening, but is not expecting to implement any of them immediately. Western Pennsylvania has been moved from a "red" zone to a "yellow" alert allowing some reopening of businesses and churches.  In Massachusetts where restrictions have been loosened, the Episcopal bishop has decreed that no parishes will reopen before July 1.    In Oregon when a judge issued an order voiding the governor's emergency declaration restrictions, the Oregon supreme court  issued a stay of the order.  One of the main groups involved in the litigation were churches (not Episcopal) who were eager to return to in-person worship.  The Anglican reluctance to open too soon is international in scope.  In Liberia the episcopal bishop has announced that the churches of the Episcopal Church of Liberia will continue to worship virtually  at least to the end of May, and possibly longer as they cautiously plan for reopening, despite the President of that country raising all restrictions on worship.  When churches to return to in-person worship, things will not return to the old normal.  Congregational singing is not likely to return for quite a while due to risk of infection, and communion will be distributed differently.

Sunday Services Victims of Zoom Crash

As Updated noted last week,  a number of Episcopal Churches have turned to Zoom to hold virtual church services, coffee hours, and other meetings.  On May 17, Zoom could not handle the amount of traffic on its system and Churches, especially those on the east coast, found themselves unable to designate hosts, unable to hear or speak when they could log in the a meeting, and various other failures of services.  Some parishes (including the Update editor's parish) ended up with people using phone calls to join the service.  Episcopal News Service has more coverage.