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, June 2, 2020

Week Ending 06/01/20

Churches Petition to Stop Annexation of West Bank

Israel's announced goal to annex the West Bank permanently has elicited protests from a number of religious leaders, including those in the Anglican Communion.  The Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem was pointed in his comments, saying the annexation would destroy hope for peace.  In the U.S. members of the Diocese of Los Angeles are circulating a petition to members of the U.S. Congress asking them to oppose plans for annexation of more land currently marked as Palestinian by numerous international agreements.  The current administration is supporting annexations as part of its "peace plan" which was rejected months ago by the Palestinians.  The Episcopal News Service provides background on this petition effort.

Hong Kong Archbishop Supports Chinese Security Laws

An opinion piece posted on Anglican.ink has questioned the stance of Hong Kong ArchbishopPaul Kwong on the recently announced new security laws being imposed by the Chinese government on Hong Kong.  The columist suggests that Kwong's statements supporting the new rules not only put the Province of Hong Kong on the side of the Chinese, but because Kwong is the current chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, his comments could be construed as placing the Anglican Communion on the side of ending the agreements that created the "two systems" protections for Hong Kong.  The essay is found here.

Church Leaders Speak Out on George Floyd Death

The killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd by police who were caught on video refusing to move from positions which choked him to death after an arrest, has elicited strong statements from Episcopal Church leaders. Minnesota church leaders responded promptly, condemning the killing.  Presiding Bishop Curry issued this statement.   A number of Episcopalians  have also participated in demonstrations protesting Floyd's death.  The Episcopal News Service has this story on reactions in many locations.  The violence that followed the protests has also elicited comments from a number of leaders.  Church leaders have continued to focus on the need to address racism.  Pittsburgh's bishop, Dorsey McConnell was one of  the nine church leaders who spoke at a protest in Pittsburgh.  He is part of an inter-racial ecumenical effort to improve racial relations and relationships with the police in the city.

Church of the Presidents Damaged During Protests

When violence broke out following large demonstrations against the racism and the police killing of George Floyd, St. John's Episcopal Church, often referred to as "The Church of the Presidents" became the target for some of the perpetrators of the violence.  A fire was set in the basement of the parish house (itself an historic building), there was some damage to safety glass on a church window, and graffiti was sprayed on the building. Damage total for the parish is estimated at $20,000.  The parish rector sent this calming notice to his parish.  President Trump, however decided that the boarded up church was a great photo opportunity, and after a press conference in the Rose Garden, walked to the church to have his picture taken holding a Bible.  A peaceful protest gathering in Lafayette Square was dispersed with military force from Lafayette Square to clear Trump's way to the church.  Both Episcopal Bishop Mariann Budde and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry were expressed their displeasure that the building was used as a campaign prop without any notice being given to the Church or permission, and both condemned the treatment of the peaceful protesters.  Budde was quoted on several news shows as well as in newspapers. Curry's statement is here.

Continuing Stories

Atlanta Bishop Consecrated "Virtually"

Last week update reported on plans for the installation of the new Archbishop of York in a service with only a few in-person attendees, but broadcast live stream for "virtual" attendance.  The Rev. Frank Logue was consecrated as the new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia in just such a service.  Pictures show a handful of people in the congregation, all seated with safe distancing between them.  The bishops involved in the consecration were definitely more than the required 3, but the usual crowd of additional bishops were missing as were most of the usual "honored" guests.  Despite Georgia's declaration that businesses and churches may reopen, the diocese and Episcopal Church are taking care that their gatherings will not become sites for spreading the coronavirus 19.

New Developments in Church Reopenings

Episcopalians continue to take cautious steps towards resuming in-persons services while maintaining safety from the coronavirus pandemic.  In South Carolina, where the state has officially "reopened," the Diocese of South Carolina Standing Committee has issued a cautious permission for churches in areas where the virus does not seem to be active to move forward.  Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in by upholding the restrictions in emergency orders by California Governor Newsom on all gatherings, including churches.  Newsom classified churches with auditoriums, theaters, and other places where large groups of people might be seated together, and limited those venues to gatherings of no more than 25 people.  Several protestant churches challenged the ruling as an imposition on freedom of religion, complaining that stores were not covered by these restrictions.  The 5-4 decision had Justice Roberts siding with the 4 court liberals.  The decision accepted the defense offered by California that the distinction between stores where people are moving around and have short stays is those places, including churches, where people are seated or gathered for much longer periods was a rational distinction.  The debate on when churches may resume in-person services has been a subject for several Update reports, the latest here

Christ Church, Oxford Squabble Continues 

The stubborn Oxford Dons trying to out the person who serves as both the head of  Christ Church College and as the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral have apparently succeeded in getting an investigation of their latest claims that the man mishandled safeguarding complaints.  After an expensive battle, the dons had lost their attempts to oust him on other grounds after a major investigation cleared the head on all counts.  The safeguarding commission of the Church of England has appointed a panel to look into the charges.  Unfortunately, the panel includes two of the dons who tried to oust the head.  The web site ThinkingAnglicans.orghttps://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/christ-church-makes-safeguarding-accusations-against-dean has a full reprise of statements, comments, and protests.   Update reported on the filing of the complaints here.