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, April 27, 2021

Week Ending 4/26/21

Key Post for Lambeth Filled by Bishop Who Questions LGBTQ Marriages.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have announced the appointment of a person to serve as the  "Bishop to the Archbishops" a position that provides liaison between the two English Archbishops.  The position was re-defined too be more heavily focused on the 2022 Lambeth Conference (delayed from 202 because of the covid-19 pandemic) and in planning meetings of the bishops in the Church of England.  The person chosen, Rt Revd Dr Emma Ineson, bishop of Penrith, unfortunately, does not seem likely to be a good mediator for who might attend the meeting but are divided by their stance on the role of LGBTQ+ people in Anglican Communion.  Ineson was one of the  89 evangelicals who signed a letter sent to all of the Church of England bishops stating their opposition to recognition of same sex marriage and contains language opposing any recognition of relationships other than heterosexual ones.  Thinking Anglicans carried a link to a blog raising these objections and providing access to the statement by the evangelicals.

Continuing Stories

Findings Published From Racial Audit of Church

Update has been posting numerous updates on the efforts of the Episcopal Church to address racism, both within the Church and elsewhere.  Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has made it a major focus of his term in office.  One aspect of this was a racial audit authorized by Executive Council in 2019.  The results of that audit, available in both an executive summary and a full report, are now available.  The audit is really of Episcopal leadership, including Episcopal Church staff, bishops, and members of the House of Deputies (clergy and lay).  It was beyond the scope of the  study to explore the larger world of diocesan and parish experience.  The study is therefore heavy on clergy experience, although including lay leaders.  It outlines 9 "patterns" of response to race, some intended to counter racism but all in some way implicit in racism.  The study also uncovered certain gender divides as well.  The Episcopal News Service has links to both the executive and full reports.

Last Sanctuary Seeker in NC Church Goes Home

 In 2017 the Trump administration revoked annual stays of deportation that had been granted to Juana Luz Tobar Ortega for several years.  Ortega, a grandmother, who had lived in the U.S. for a quarter of a century and was married to an American citizen sought sanctuary at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Greensboro.  The congregation has housed and protected her until this month she was again granted a stay of removal and can return to her husband and other family in Asheboro.  She was the last immigrant being housed by a network of sanctuary churches throughout the U.S.

Controversial Los Angeles Former Bishop Dies

Bishop Jon Bruno who led the Los Angeles diocese through a period including attempts by several parishes to withdraw from the Episcopal Church and moved the diocese to be more ethnically inclusive died unexpectedly in his sleep.  As bishop Bruno had had several major health issues, including an infection that required amputation of his foot. His record as a progressive bishop, however, was marred by a controversy over his mishandling of the property and re-building of a congregation decimated by a schism. St. James the Great had been a major source of  resistance to a more inclusive Episcopal Church nationally, and the majority of the congregation tried to leave the Church and keep its property.  Bruno won that battle.  Then the bishop allowed the rebuilding of of a congregation at the church in Newport Beach while secretly planning a multi-million dollar sale of the parish property to a developer.  The congregation, developers, and Bruno ended up in court. Bruno locked the congregation out of the building, which continued to meet, initially outdoors, and then in rented space while the building remained shuttered.  Eventually Bruno faced a Title IV hearing on the Bishop's handling of the sale and treatment of the congregation.  The panel hearing resulted in his suspension.  After his suspension, the congregation was able to return to the building as a mission of the diocese, and has now grown to the point that it is petitioning the diocese for readmission as a diocese.  Update covered all of the St. James controversy.  The final outcome post on the Bruno trial is here.


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Week Ending 4/19/21

 Parting of the Ways for Community of St. Mary

The Community of St. Mary is the oldest Episcopal religious order.  The Community now functions as three separately governing bodies, located in New York, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.  The New York Community, based in Peekskill, decided to follow their former bishop, William Love, into ACNA and ACNA assigned Love to serve as their Bishop Visitor.  The other two regions for the Community have made no move to leave The Episcopal Church (TEC)  The Community of St. Mary based at Sewanee, Tennessee, issued this statement about their intent to stay in TEC.  The Tennessee group's history includes the early sisters who are known as the "Martyrs of Memphis" for their willingness to give their lives caring for victims of the Yellow Fever epidemic in 1878.

Volcanic Ash Closes Churches beyond St. Vincent

The recent volcanic eruptions have resulted in over 20,000 people seeking refuse away from the direct flow and dangerous gasses on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent.   Neighboring islands have been housing some of the refugees.  However wind-born ash has made conditions on Barbados, which is directly to the east of St. Vincent, so difficult that Bishop Michael Maxwell of Barbados advised all 52 of Barbados's Anglican Churches to be closed and use only on-line worship on Sunday April 18.  The churches there had begun cautiously to return to in-person worship after a lockdown to prevent spread of the covid-19 virus.

Continuing Stories

Fort Worth Parishes Vacate Buildings 

Following the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to not hear the Episcopalians' appeal of the decision awarding all property to the schismatic group in Fort Worth, the six Forth Worth parishes that remained in the Episcopal Church were given notice that they would be required to vacate their property.  April 18 was the last Sunday for these parishes in their buildings.  The Episcopal News Service provided this story on their last Sundays.  The local Fox News stations carried a story on the changeover from the perspective of the schismatic group now in ACNA.  A Facebook post on the personal website of Katie Sherrod (a member of one of the dispossessed parishes, and a well-known journalist) provides a more personal look at the pain of the dislocation.  The editor notes that in dioceses where the Episcopal Church won the legal challenges, not all ACNA parishes have been forced to vacate.  In Pittsburgh, for example, several ACNA parishes have remained in their buildings for over a decade while acknowledging that the Episcopal diocese is the owner of the actual property.

Biden Refugee Policy Provokes Swift Response from Churches

Under President Trump admission of almost all refugees to the United States ground to a halt.  A number of churches, including The Episcopal Church had strongly protested the Trump policies. The Biden administration had promised a more welcoming approach to refugees, but when Biden announced that he would leave in place the tiny quota set by Trump for refugees in 2021, the Churches once again protested strongly, including the Episcopal Church.  By the end of the day, the Biden press secretary was announcing that the quota would be raised before the end of the year.  The Episcopal Church released this statement in response to that second announcement.   

Indianapolis Bishop Speaks Out After Still Another Shooting

The incidence of gun violence, including shooting deaths of multiple victims has been growing at an alarming rate.  Following the murder of 8 people at an Indianapolis FedEx site, Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, the Episcopal Bishop of Indianapolis, issued this statement, urging Episcopalians to not let the frequency of these shootings dull their outrage and pain at them.  The Episcopal Church has witnessed against gun violence and for better gun control laws regularly.  Update has carried numerous stories and statements from Church leaders about this issue.  The most recent previous post is here

Episcopalians Continue to Deal with Racist Past and Present

Under the leadership of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the Episcopal Church has made racial reconciliation and anti-racism a major focus. Churches have responded in multiple ways including the removal of plaques and memorials honoring slave owners or featuring symbols of the Confederacy from main worship spaces.  The University of the South, including Sewanee Seminary has been trying to come to terms with its own founding as an institution steeped in traditions of the "Old" South.  In the last several years it has removed Confederate symbols and offered guidance to Episcopal parishes and other institutions faced with similar situations.  Recent racial incidents on campus have not slowed that process.  Most recently the University has announced a decision to replace parts of a stained glass window in the university chapel supposedly showing reconciliation of North and South following the Civil war and including a confederate flag with landscape images representing North and South and renaming the window "Reunification."  They have also decided to rename the Dubose lecture series.  The Rev. William Dubose was a noted theologian at the university, but he also had owned slaves and promoted white supremacy.  The Episcopal Church is not alone among the the provinces of the Anglican Communion in dealing with racism.  The Anglican Communion News Service recently carried this story on actions throughout the Communion to protest racism.

Forum Addresses World-Wide Inequity in Covid-19 Vaccine

Update recently carried a story about the request from the Archbishop of the Anglican Province of Southern Africa to President Biden to made covid-19 vaccines more available to other countries.  Now Archbishop Makgoba participates in a virtual panel discussion sponsored by the Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations.  Other panelists included Archbishop Linda Nicholls, the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, a Bishop from the Church of England, and Rebecca Linder Blachly, the Director of the Episcopal Church's office of Government Relations.  The panelists stressed that the pandemic could not be stopped unless vaccinations were world wide, and that policies promoting an equitable distribution of the vaccines were imperative.  You can find more on the panel presentation here

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Week Ending 4/12/21

Priest Has Second Job as Mars Mission Scientist

Pamela Conrad mixes science and religion on a daily basis.  She is part of the NASA team that has been working on the Mars land rover projects.  She is also the rector of St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Glen Burnie, MD. She has been at NASA since 1999 and at St. Alban's since her ordination in 2017.   For more on how she mixes science and religion, read the Episcopal News Service article.

Church Auctioning Silver to Raise Money for Scholarships

St. Paul's, the oldest church in Baltimore is selling a communion chalice and paten to raise money for a scholarship at a private day school run by the church.  The school originally educated orphans, but not with a yearly tuition of more than $35,000 has not been accessible to many well qualified minority students.  The communion set dates from the late 19th century and is encrusted with precious stones. The parish is not using the set for regular worship and it has been locked up in a safe.  The vestry has agree to also put in money towards the endowment of the scholarship.  The goal is to raise enough to be able to fund a 4 year scholarship for one minority student. 

West Indies Archbishop Says Church Complicit in Violence Against Women

Archbishop of the West Indies, Howard Gregory used his Easter sermon at a church in Kingston, Jamaica to challenge his province to think about the ways the church has fostered ideas and attitudes that support violence against women.  The archbishop specifically noted that many still harbor ideas that women should be silent in church, or subordinate to men.

Update on Continuing Story

ACNA Welcomes Another Albany Bishop

A month ago Update carried notice that a former bishop of the Albany diocese, Daniel Herzog, was leaving the Episcopal Church for the second time.  Shortly after that, the recently resigned Bishop of Albany, William Love renounced his Episcopal orders and was received as a bishop by ACNA.  This week it was announced that Herzog would be joining Love in  ACNA.There is not yet word of where Herzog will serve, but hopefully it will not be in Albany. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Week Ending 4/5/21

 While the news doesn't take a break after Easter, the Update editor did, so this week's post is a day late.

International Religious Leaders Condemn Conversion Therapy

The 400 international religious leaders from 35 countries who signed a statement prepared by the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives included a number of Anglican primates, including those from Wales, Scotland, Canada, and New Zealand.  Numerous other bishops have signed including some from the United States.   The documents origins are clearly British Commonwealth although the commission that drafted the statement included a prominent Episcopalian.  There may be fewer Episcopal signers simply because General Convention has already put the Episcopal Church on record as opposing conversion therapy. The statement affirms the value of all persons regardless of their sexual or gender orientation or identity, and specifically condemns the practice of conversion therapy which attempts to change the orientation/ identity so that it is heterosexual.   You can read the statement, the list of public signers, and, if you wish, add your name as a signer here.

Updates on Continuing Stories

Former Albany Bishop Joins ACNA 

Former Bishop William Love, who chose to resign from his duties as Bishop of Albany after a church disciplinary panel ruled he had violated his ordination vows, took a further step by resigning his orders in the Episcopal Church.  The former bishop's statement is here.  Presiding Bishop Curry issued this announcement of Love's resignation. Love has now been received as a bishop in ACNA.   He has been assigned as an assisting bishop in the ACNA Diocese of the Living Word.  Update had earlier reported that several of the Albany clergy were leaving the Episcopal Church to join the ACNA Diocese of the Living Word.  The Standing Committee in Albany issue this response of hope and confidence in diocese.

Bishops of African Descent Issue Strong Statement on Anti-Racism

Recent racist incidents, especially the murder of Asian massage workers in Georgia and other anti-Asian attacks have led  22 members of the House of Bishops caucus "Bishops of African Descent" to issue a strong statement against racism, especially as it has been practiced in the United States against those of Asian and Pacific Island descent.  The caucus over the years has broadened its membership to include  those of Asian and Native American descent.  The letter calls on people to witness against racist acts and language directed at those of Asian and Pacific Island descent, links that racism  to other forms long practiced in the United States, and class on the whole church to find common ground in witnessing against such trauma.  Under the leadership of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the Episcopal Church has broadened its witness against all forms of racism.  Update has covered many of the Church's steps on this path.  The most recent post is here.  

Easter Worship During the Pandemic 

Update has been regularly posting on the variety of worship responses during the pandemic.  The Episcopal News Service has a recent article on the variety of approaches being taken by Episcopal parishes for the celebration of Holy Week and Easter.  The responses ranged from on-line only to hybrid approaches, to in-person worship.  

More Feeding the Hungry

We can now add the Southern Deanery of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina to the list of Episcopal entities trying to feed the hungry at a time when the pandemic has increased the number of families struggling to put food on the table.  The diocesan news blog has this story on parishes that banded together to provide a food distribution for twenty families.  Update has noted efforts whenever they come to our attention.