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 12, 2020

Week Ending 5/10/20

Racism In the Pandemic

Church news this last week offered multiple examples of the way the corona virus pandemic has been especially harsh for racial minorities in the United States.  The Episcopal News Service carried a story on  how Asian and Pacific Island Americans have experienced an increase in unprovoked attacks by people blaming them for the virus. An ELCA Parish was featured in the Christian Post because of the way its membership has been devastated by the virus in New York.  The parish members are mostly Latino and because of poverty, residential crowding and the kinds of work they do, its membership was more exposed to contagion. Episcopal News Service carried a story on Episcopal bishops in New Jersey issuing a pastoral letter urging public policy reform, especially of the criminal justice and prison systems,  because these systems disproportionately affect people of color, those populations have borne a heavier burden of risk and contagion during the pandemic.  

 Continuing Stories

Re-Opening Planning Grows

As Update has already noted, many dioceses have begun planning for a gradual re-gathering of people in church buildings.  A slow and cautious start is being made to allow Episcopalians in some areas to gather in-person for worship.  The Episcopal Church in Europe has had two parishes in Germany reopen, because Germany has been relatively successful in controlling the pandemic.  The bishops of Maryland, Washington D.C.,  and Virginia have together issued a statement on steps for possible resumption of some services in church buildings, but bishops in Indiana and Iowa are continuing stay-at-home practices despite the governors of those states relaxing of restrictions.  The Iowa leaders of a number of denominations issued clear statements opposing re-gathering in response to Vice President Pence's visit to celebrate the re-opening of churches in that state. One thing that is not likely to resume quickly is congregational singing because singing is an especially high-risk activity for spread of the virus.

Innovative Ministry in a Covid-19 World

Update has been noting innovative ways that parishes have adapted ministry during stay-at-home orders.  St. Alban's, St. Petersburg, FL is a congregation with many older members who are not electronically savvy, so on-line services were not going to reach their people.  The local priest instead is handing out bags to drive-up parishioners.  Inside the bag is the weekly sermon, consecrated elements, and other items to create church at home. A number of parishes are using Zoom or other meeting platforms to hold virtual coffee hours.  One such parish was featured in a Living Church story. 

Another Report on Wyoming Church Grants

Local news has published an article on the use of $10,000 grants given by the Diocese of Wyoming to each parish so they could relieve corona virus related hardships.  St. John's Episcopal Church is in Green River. The area has invested heavily in tourism, and thus its economy has been hit hard by the pandemic. The parish gave grants of $400 each to 20 restaurant workers who were unemployed because of the pandemic.   Another $1000 paid off student lunch debt at the local school system, and the final $1000 went to the local food bank.  Update has covered other parish grants.

Debate Continues Over Church of England Covid-19 Policies

Church of England bishops met to discuss and  a phased relaxation of directions given to clergy and churches that have stopped most ministry and prevented even priests from entering their chapels or church buildings.  These directions have been controversial, as Update has previously noted here and here, especially because the directions were far more stringent than required by the government and other denominations have had access to their buildings.  Criticism continues as Britain slowly begins removing some of the most stringent stay-at-home requirements.  Meanwhile, the Anglican Communion Office is going the other direction by shutting down its activities entirely except for publication of a weekly news summary.

Church Voices Support for DACA 

The Episcopal Church has been active in support of immigrants and has long supported actions to provide a permanent residence for those brought to the U.S. without documents by their parents, especially those covered by the Obama era DACA order.  The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on a challenge to the current administration's efforts to end the program in November 2019, and with the court's session drawing to a close in June and a decision should be forthcoming by then.  In this context, the Episcopal Church issued another statement strongly supporting keeping DACA - covered people in the U.S., and urging Congress to create a long-term solution. Episcopal News Service has a good article on current activity supporting DACA by the Church.