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, October 20, 2020

Week Endig 10/19/20

Homeless Jesus Upsets Neighborhood

It took only 20 minutes  after installation of a sculpture of a homeless Jesus sleeping on a park bench at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Bay Village Ohio, before the police had a call from a resident requesting the police remove the sleeping man.  The parish had been pleased to host the traveling sculpture for  a seven week stint, hoping that it would spark dialog about the treatment and needs of the homeless.  Other churches that have hosted the sculpture have had similar experiences, including Episcopal Churches in North Carolina and New York.  The parish is using the sculpture to touch off a campaign to raise money for a community foundation and another Episcopal Church who have a ministry to homeless and street people.

St. Augustine University President Dies from Covid-19

Irving Pressley McPhail, the president of St. Augustine's University, a small historically black school founded by the Episcopal Church has died of covid-19.  The college has recently benefited from an fund raising drive with strong support from Presiding Bishop Curry.  Appointed to the presidency in July, McPhail, a distinguished black educator, barely had time to learn his way around campus before  becoming ill in September. The Vice President, Maria Lumpkin has stepped in as interim president.  The campus web site currently lists multiple memorial activities for McPhail.

British Isles Church Leaders Take Stand Against Economic Bill

The Archbishops of the Churches of the Anglican Communion within Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England have all signed a memorial urging Parliament to not pass a the proposed internal market bill that is pasrt of the fall out from leaving the EU without a full agreement.  The bill threatens the accords in effect in Northern Ireland, and authorizes a government minister to break international law.  The full statement is here

Electioneering and Church-Going

With the U.S. elections only two weeks off, the news this week included stories of both presidential candidates attending church.  Joe Biden attended Catholic mass in Delaware, as he has done regularly.  After the service The Bidens stopped in the churchyard where their son Beau is buried.  The Bidens had the press traveling with them stay on the bus and not enter the church. The Trumps attended a service at a non-denominational Church whose pastor has visited the Trump White House on several occasions.  The sermon praised Trump, the minister announced that God had revealed to her in a dream that Trump would win a second term, and Trump was given a megaphone so he could speak to the congregation.  At one point during the service dancers twirling U.S. flags.  Mixing politics and religion is not only an issue in the U.S. The losing candidate for Prime Minister in New Zealand, Judith Collins,was offered a chance to slip into an Anglican Church and pray (she is a confirmed member of the Anglican Church of New Zealand).  A Collins aide then allowed the press to slip in and take pictures of her praying. The fact that this became a photo opportunity was the subject of a great deal of criticism.  

Continuing Stories

More Ministry During the Pandemic

Continuing Update's focus on outreach ministry during the pandemic,  we have 5 examples to offer this week.  The Diocese of Wyoming, which had committed $1 million to outreach during the pandemic, much of it dispersed by parishes, has made a direct grant of $13,000 to  YWCA program supporting those escaping domestic violence.  In the diocese of Virginia the retreat center is closed, but has opened its kitchen to an organization that cooks gourmet meals to fund a program that feeds thousands of hungry people in the Richmond area.  St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in the Diocese of El Camino Real has found ways to continue to support a ministry to those in prisons and transitioning back into the community despite the restrictions of social distancing.  Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, Virginia has opened its building to a program supporting children who had fallen behind in reading and math when schools switched to on-line instruction. In Germantown, Pennsylvania, St. Martin's-in-the-Field church has rallied to provide support to a beloved deacon who just celebrated her 100th birthday. The parish not only throws her a birthday part each year, but have helped her compiling a memoir (her second book), and with the need to stay home during the pandemic, has been providing her with meals. Other stories of parishes feeding the hungry include this one.  The announcement of the Wyoming grant program was noted here, and an example of a parish award is here.

Church Membership Declines 

Update earlier carried a story about the drop in membership in the Anglican Church of Canada.  Now the data for 2019 for The Episcopal Church has been made public and once again there was a drop in membership and attendance.  Most of the interpretation of the statistics has been grim, predicting the church would disappear by 2050, however there are spots of growth.  One of them was Pittsburgh where membership reported by the diocese increased by more than 400.  Church attendance figures were down slightly.  In 2019 about one-quarter of its members were in church on any given Sunday.