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         

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Week Ending 9/21/20

Presiding Bishop's Statement on Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was among the many national figures to issue a statement following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  He praise her for commitment to the Old Testament injunction to "Do Justice."  His full statement is here

Antifa and Churches Provide Fire Relief Together

While the president and attorney general are busy painting the Antifascist movement as  terrorist organization, those who identify with  the movement have been working with churches in the northwest to provide relief to those displaced by the widespread fires that have been ravagin Washington, Oregon, and California.  Religion News carried the story of one such partnership with a UCC Church, but provides an alternative view of those who have been opposing fascist movements in the U.S. 

White Supporter of Bus Boycott Dies

 When African Americans in Montgomery, Alabama began boycotting busses because of discrimination by the city bus company, black ministers rallied to the cause, but only one white clergy person openly supported the boycott. Rev. Robert Graetz, sent to Montgomery by the Lutheran Church because they were short pastors for their black congregations, died this last wee at age 92.  Unable to get any other white clergy to join him in support of the boycott, Graetz and his family paid a heavy price in community harassment, threats, and vandalism for their support. A handful of whites in Montgomery  openly supported the boycott.  That handful included several Episcopalians, including Virginia Durr and Juliette Hampton Morgan.[Durr is mentioned in the article by the Episcopal Cafe, the Update editor has added Morgan's name].

Updates and Continuing Stories

Pandemic Results in Delay of Vote on Methodist-Episcopal Agreement

The joint committee working on a full communion agreement between the Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church has issued a statement delaying any vote on the agreement to the first meetings of General Convention and the Methodist General Conference held after 2021.  The reason was the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming meetings of both bodies because of the pandemic.  Unless a special General Convention called that will delay the vote on the agreement to General Convention 2024 for Episcopalians. Update has been following the discussions, especially in light of the United Methodist Church issues surrounding LGBTQ ordination.

ICE Agents Violate Rules Against Arrests at Churches

Several Episcopal Parishes have offered shelter on their grounds to immigrants fearing arrest and deportation by Immigration Control.  Update has reported on these and the court decision upholding church sanctuary from agents.  However, recently ICE agents violated agency policy by entering a Methodist Church grounds in Maryland and arresting the Indonesian immigrant who served as its caretaker.  He and his wife were both undocumented and have lived in the U.S. for 29 years.  They have two minor children who are U.S. citizens. Given the persecution Christians face in Indonesia, the couple had applied for refugee status but were denied. Update has noted that federal courts have returned cases for review when  refugee status was denied without considering the likelihood to danger for the applicant if returned to the home country.   The Methodist Church is demanding their release.

Former Massachusetts Priest Sentenced

Gregory Lisby, who was convicted early in 2020 for downloading pornography and having sexual contact with a 16 year-old-boy, was sentenced this last week to 6 years in prison.  The Diocese of Western Massachusetts removed him from the priesthood when the charges surfaced.  The sentence was less than requested  by the prosecutors, in part because the judge was impressed by the number of letters submitted in his support.  The local news has a more detailed account. 

Churches Continue to Struggle with Virus Rules

The Atlanta Journal carried a story about the return of face-to-face worship in some Episcopal parishes.  The services are being held outdoors and are limited to 50 people.  Meanwhile in Quebec, Anglicans are among the many churches protesting government regulations which limit church attendance to 25 while allowing concerts and sporting events to seat as many as 250.  The Living Church picked up a shortened version of the article published in the Canadian Church's Anglican Journal.  In England, the Archbishop of Canterbury is lobbying for greater local control on size of gatherings, singling out the "rule of six" which limits gatherings to no more than 6 people as something imposed centrally when a set of local guidelines might be better attuned to actual conditions in a community.  Update has regularly carried notices related to the reopening of face-to-face worship during the current pandemic.

West Indies Province Continues Opposition to Same Sex Unions 

The Government of Barbados is looking to create a legal civil union status for same sex couples.  They have also promised not to implement approval of marriages between same sex couples without a public referendum.  The likely change to allow legal civil unions, however, resulted in the Bishop of the Diocese of Barbados stressing in an interview that the change in civil law would not affect the Province of the West Indies stand that marriage was only between a man and a woman, nor would Barbados churches start blessing civil unions.  The Province of the West Indies has been one of the consistent opponents of full inclusion within the Anglican Communion, and the statement thus is not a surprise.  The bishop did admit that if civil unions were authorized in Barbados, public opinion might change to be more supportive of same-sex marriage, and that this could be a challenge for the Church.  Update has carried many stories on parts of the Anglican Communion having to respond to changes in civil law granting same sex couples legal protection and/or access to marriage.  One of the most recent is here.