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, January 26, 2021

Week Ending 1/25/21

Executive Council Reaffirms Church Role in Reconciliation

After reflecting on the deep divisions in American Society, political, economic, and racial, The Executive Council for the Episcopal Church reaffirmed the Church's role in bridging the divides, healing the hurts, and bringing reconciliation.  The opening statements of the both the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies helped to frame this discussion.   The Presiding Bishop mentioned a variety of crises facing us, but spent the most time on racial justice.  Gay Jennings used her remarks as President of the House of Deputies to focus on the danger of Christian Nationalism. 

Washington National Cathedral Hosts Post-Inaugural Service 

Among the Inaugural week events was a post-inauguration national prayer service hosted virtually by the the Washington National Cathedral.  The service was interfaith with participants from participants reaching across all major world religions, and some more  specifically American traditions such as the Navajo.  Th preacher was Disciples of Christ bishop William Barber, who linked repairing the breech in American Society to correcting its inequalities.  Presiding Bishop Curry gave the final blessing. 

ACNA Reaffirms Stance on LGTBQ People

The ACNA College of Bishops has issued a long paper  providing guidance to its churches on the status of LGBTQ people in their church.  Characterizing  same sex relations as similar to other sinful human failings, such as adultery, divorce, greed, pornography, and disregard for the poor, the bishops declared celibacy the only acceptable course, refused to rule out conversion therapies, and urged the use of "same sex attraction" as the term to use rather than anything that might suggest a sexual identity.  The statement provides an unspoken contrast to the Episcopal Church positions affirming LGBTQ people  and approving liturgies for the marriages of same sex couples.  

Priest Calls Attention to Consumer Culture and Ecological Issues by What She Wore

The Rev. Sarah Robbins-Cole, a chaplain at Wellesley College, took up a challenge to show how people could live with less and thus reduce their ecological footprint and consumerism.  The challenge was wearing the same dress for 100 days.  Robbins-Cole chose a basic black dress, which of course, went well with a clergy collar, but also with a variety of scarves, jackets, tights, and other accessories.  Although initially telling only a few family and friends, she created an Instagram page documenting what she wore and soon gained  thousands of followers.  Over 65 papers around the world picked up the story. 

Updates on Continuing Stories

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Re-Licensed

 Lord  George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury got caught up in the safe-church investigations in England and was accused of covering up sexual abuse by Peter Ball and ignoring victims.  As a result in 2017 he resigned as Assistant Bishop of Oxford, and lost his license to provide religious services.  In 2018, a license to officiate in Oxford was restored,  but in 2020 it was again revoked when his actions in a different abuse case were questioned.  Now it has again been restored.  Update has covered each change of status.  

More example of Outreach

This week Update can note  three very different forms of outreach by Episcopalians.  Christ Episcopal Church in Bordentown, New Jersey was featured in local news for a variety of efforts to reach those who are economically hurting and how the parish has made outreach to the community its central theme.  St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Lafayette, Louisiana stepped up to offer space when local organizers were denied use of public property for a memorial to those in the county who had died from covid-19.  The church offered its lawn for the display of 210 flags with the names of those local people who had died, and the parish priest blessed the installation. In New York, the Episcopal Actors Guild has stepped forward to offer aid to those in the entertainment field who are in need since the industry has been largely shut down by the pandemic.  The Church of the Transfiguration provides a home base for the guild.  the Guild has a long-standing grants program and food pantry, but their work has expanded during the pandemic.  Update has been highlighting outreach ministries with notices almost every week.  Last week's notices are here

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Week Ending 1/18/21

Kamala Harris to use Marshall Bible During Inauguration

Kamala Harris will use two Bibles during her part of the inauguration.  One is the Bible of a family friend that Harris has used when sworn in to office in California.  The other is a Bible belonging to Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, and one of two Episcopalians that Harris mentions as inspirations to her.  Harris went to Howard Law School because of Marshall.  She also considered Constance Baker Motley, another Black Episcopalian as an inspiration.  Motley and Marshall were both noted civil rights litigators and Motley became the first African American woman appointed to the federal bench. Harris will be sworn in by Sandra Sotomayer, the first Latina to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Africa Gains and Loses Women Bishops

This last week Kenya announced the appointment of Canon Emily Awino Onyango as assistant bishop of the Diocese of Bongo in Kenya.  The Anglican Communion news story has a good summary of her distinguished career.  Anglican.ink puts her in the context of the issues that her appointment presents for GAFCON which supposedly has an moratorium among its members on appointment of women bishops.  There were three other women serving as bishops in African provinces when the announcement of Onyango's appointment was made, but Ellinah Ntombi Wamukoy, the Bishop of Swaziland died from Covid-19 on January 19.  Wamukoy was lauded as an advocate for women.  thus Onyango's appointment will not increase the number of women bishops in Africa.   

Episcopal Church Condemns Arctic Gas and Oil Leases 

On its way out the door, the Trump administration rushed to auction oil and gas leases in the arctic national reserve.  Leases were supposedly signed on his last full day in office.  The Episcopal Church is on record opposing those leases.  The Episcopal News Service has a story on the issues involved and the reasons for the Church's stance.  The question remains what the new Biden administration will do about the last minute leases and any future ones. 

Continuing Stories

On Responding to the Pandemic

As the death toll rises, many Episcopal Churches around the country have joined in a commemoration on the nearly 400,000 who have died in the pandemic in the U.S. and the more than 2 million who have died around the globe.  At 5:30 on January 19, Churches began ringing bells to commemorate the dead.  The local news story here  highlights one of those churches in Tennessee.  In an ongoing effort to reduce future deaths, cathedrals in England are opening their doors as sites for mass vaccinations.  This story features Salisbury Cathedral (which is offering music during the day to soothe the sting of the needle), but others are also opening their doors.   The Update has regularly been featuring stories on responses to the epidemic.  The most recent is here.

More Outreach Efforts During the Pandemic

Update has also regularly noted parishes that are making the news for their outreach efforts.  This week there was a local story about a parish in Liberty, Missouri that has opened a free pantry food shelf to continue in a safe way the larger food bank work the parish has done.  In Louisiana, a parish has responded to the destruction of many trees in the hurricanes and other violent storms that have struck the state by creating an annual program handing out bundles of seedling trees to replace those destroyed by storms.  The parish hopes to make it an annual event. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Week Ending 01/11/21

 Pope Makes Expanded Lay Women's Roles Law

Pope Francis has made official lay women's participation as readers including of the Gospel in Roman Catholic worship.  Since many parishes were already doing this, the change is minor except it is now supported by canon law, rather than custom.  Not all advocates for women were pleased, however, because he also made clear that the ordained ministries of deacon and priest were reserved for males. 

Archbishop of Wales to Retire

John Davies, the Archbishop of Wales has announced that he will retire on May 2, 2021.  Daives has been a strong voice both for revitalizing the Church of Wales, and for progressive causes, including LGBTQ participation and women as bishops.

Churches Condemn Attack on Capitol

The mob attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 has been condemned by many church leaders.  Presiding Bishop Curry made a statement calling the attack an attempted coup, and then also joined in a statement made by the leadership of the National Council of Churches.  The National Council of Churches leadership, including Presiding Bishop Curry issued a second statement saying that President Trump, must resign or be removed, using either of the 2 methods provided for in the U.S. Constitution (Amendment 25 and impeachment).  While evangelical leaders called the attack wrong, they were more divided on what should happen next and whom to blame.

Continuing Stories

Episcopal Church Files Response in Fort Worth Case

The filings in the Episcopal Church's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in the Fort Worth Diocese property cases should now be complete.  On January 6, the Episcopal Church filed its response to the brief submitted by the schismatic diocese.  The Episcopal Church filing documented a number of misrepresentations within the filing by the ACNA diocese.  The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on whether to hear the case sometime during the court term that just began.  Update has been tracking all the filings.

New Charges in Never-Ending Oxford Story

Apparently Christ Church College, Oxford has filed new charges against the Dean of the Cathedral and College.  The college has been at war with the Dean for well over 2 years, and Update has carried notes on the on-going saga.  ThinkingAnglicans.org  has a summary and links to various announcements surrounding this latest development.

Pittsburgh Bishop Election Delayed Again

Bishop Dorsey McConnell of Pittsburgh announced this last week that the election of a new bishop will be delayed another two months and similarly the consecration of a new bishop has also been delayed.  The delay is in hopes that the discernment retreat for candidates and the "walkabout" might actually be held in-person.  The election date is now June 26, 2021 and consecration scheduled for November 13.  The change of dates is not affecting McConnell's own retirement date which is September 11.  This is the second time the election has been delayed.  The first delay was announced in April 2020 at the height of the first surge of  covid-19 infections. 

Parish Provides Showers for Homeless

St. Andrews Episcopal Parish in Oakland, Michigan has teamed with a non-profit to host on the church property a mobile shower unit to provide showers for the homeless.  The church is looking for volunteers to help them staff the unit during the month it will be at the church.  The local paper has more on the effort.  This is the latest in Updates running series on church outreach during the pandemic.

More Responses to Pandemic Surge

The steep surge in covid-19 cases has led the leaders of all 4 major Churches in Northern Ireland to end any in-person worship.  The leaders of the Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Methodist made a joint declaration ending any in-person worship.  The earliest resumption of services will be February 6.  Meanwhile in Scotland, the canon of the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Glasgow is running a crowdfunding appeal to raise money to mount a legal challenge to the Scottish Government's action closing all churches as part of the lockdown efforts in Scotland to control the pandemic. Update will continue to track the varied responses of churches to efforts to prevent spread of the virus. The most recent previous story is here.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Week Ending 01/04/21

Ecumenical Groups Speak Out on Election 

Episcopalians were among the more than 800 faith leaders who urged voters to choose the two democratic candidates in the Georgia Senate election.  The endorsement was organized by the New Moral Majority and Faithful America, two progressive ecumenical organizations.  Their endorsement was based on the values expressed by the two candidates and their desire to work for unity and justice.    More than 2000 faith leaders signed a statement sponsored by Vote Common Good Faith 2020; Bend the Arc: Jewish Action; and the Union Theological Seminary on another election issue - recognition that the presidential election had been decided.  "As faithful citizens, we are praying for a peaceful, smooth, and dignified transfer of power. A delayed and drawn out objection on January 6th would not overturn the will of the American people and change the outcome of the election. It will be nothing but a disservice to the idea of e pluribus unum – and every Member of Congress who believes in the sanctity of our democracy should say so.”  Bishop Mariann Budde of the Diocese of Washington was among the Episcopalians who signed.

Parish Celebrates Centennial of its Pioneer Radio Broadcast

On January 2, 1921 Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh became the first religious body to broadcast a religious service over the cutting edge media of its day -the radio.  The host station, KDKA organized the broadcast as an experiment, but one that was such a hit they continued broadcasting Calvary services weekly for the next 40 years.  On Sunday January 3, the parish, one of the largest in the Pittsburgh Diocese, commemorated the event with an on-line streamed service using much of the music that the church had chosen for its original broadcast.  Both the Episcopal News Service and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have more details.  In 1921 KDKA was itself a pioneer operation of Westinghouse, and the first radio station to broadcast election coverage of the 1920 presidential election and begin scheduled programming.

Continuing Stories

Still Another Chapter in the Trump-St. John's Church Story

When federal enforcement agencies used force to remove protesters from Lafayette Square so Donald Trump could have a photo opportunity posing with a Bible in from of St. John's Episcopal Church, the action touched off major criticism.  Update followed the original story, the statements of outrage that followed, and the building and removal of a fence around the historic church.  Now another detail has come to the forefront.  The man (Anthony Ornato) who organized the clearing of the square was a Secret Service agent on leave to work as Trump's Deputy Chief of Staff.  He also was responsible for organizing many of the Trump rallies held around the country which turned into super-spreader events for covid-19, infectiing politicians, attendees, and a number of Secret Service agents.   Since the Secret Service officers are supposed to remain non-partisan, his change in roles was unusual.  He is now leaving the White House, but will be in charge of the Secret Service training center.