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, May 5, 2021

Week Ending 5/3/21

Mississippi Religious Leaders Press for Expansion of Health Insurance

The Episcopal bishop of Mississippi was one of the lead signers of a letter committing an interfaith group of leaders to seeking to expand Medicare by lowering the enrollment to cover those whose incomes are  up to 138% of the poverty rate.  Bishop Brian Seage was joined by several Catholic and Methodist Bishops, as well as leaders of various Baptist groups in issuing a letter committing those who signed to work for affordable health care insurance that will reach those making 138% of the poverty level or less.  The ELCA bishop was one of the later signers.  Mississippi's civil leadership has been opposed to Medicaid expansion.

Dean of the Birmingham Alabama Cathedral Steps Down

The /Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Birmingham has announced he is resigning because he is increasingly at odds with the direction the Episcopal Church has taken in opening all sacraments to  LGBTQ+ people. Dean Andrew Pearson has been a vocal and visible critic of The Episcopal Church's inclusiveness even before he was ordained.  It has grown increasingly awkward for the Cathedral Dean to be at odds with the Bishop of the diocese, especially since the cathedral should be the home parish for the bishop.  The announcement of Pearson's resignation also noted that the new bishop of the Diocese, Glenda Curry has already begun conversations with the Cathedral's vestry to create a better relationship with the bishop, the diocese, and the Episcopal Church.  A 2016 blog post by Ron Caldwell of South Carolina provides perspective on Pearson's long-term dissatisfaction with The Episcopal Church.

Diocese of Washington Sells Historic Church to Dissident Congregation

Bishop Mariann Budde has announced that negotiations have led to the sale of historic Christ Church, Accoteek to a private group representing most of the congregation of the parish.  The parish has been at odds with the diocese for over 20 years, and the previous bishop, Jane Dixon filed a suit in 2001 against the parish.  Bishop Dixon won that suit, but the underlying issues remained and the congregation has been an reluctant member of the diocese.  This arrangement frees the congregation to remain in their historic building as a member of the ACNA denomination.  

Continuing Stories

Biden Under Pressure from Churches Raises Refugee Quota

President Biden's initial decision to not raise the very low cap on refugees this year after initially filing documents to raise the cap by nearly five fold, resulted in immediate outcries from immigrant groups and especially the church groups that had offered resettlement support to refugees.  The result was that Biden reversed course and has raised the cap after all.  Of the 9 major resettlement agencies, six are church related, including Episcopal Migration Ministries.  The reaction to the announcement was mixed because it is late enough in the year that  the U.S. will not process enough people to reach the cap.   It is taking some time to rebuild the governmental structures needed to process large numbers of refugees.
You can find reports  by the Associated Press here, Religion News here, and the Christian Post here.

For the First Time a Woman to Lead South Carolina Diocese

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina elected Canon Ruth Woodliff-Stanley bishop at their convention this last weekend.  She is currently serving as Canon for Strategic change in the dioceses of Northwest Pennsylvania and Western New York (those two diocese share a bishop). The first woman to be elected bishop in a South Carolina Diocese, Woodliff-Stanley will join a growing cohort of women in the Episcopal House of Bishops.  She was the front-runner on the first ballot   (May 1 post of  scepiscopalians.org) and was elected on the second.  Pittsburghers may remember her as one of the candidates for Bishop of Pittsburgh in 2012.  She was also a candidate in in the Bethlehem and Colorado searches.  All of these dioceses, South Carolina included, have widely scattered small parishes and some history of division.   Woodliff-Stanley's comments via zoom to the convention after her election focused on what the South Carolina diocese wanted to become.  The South Carolina convention was held virtually, and had been delayed for several months by the pandemic.

Parish Relinquishment of Property Creates More Pain in Fort Worth

After more than a decade of legal battles following schism, the reluctant relinquishment by six Episcopal congregations of their church property to the schismatic ACNA diocese was, not surprisingly, marred by actions of both sides. Last week Update carried notice of the turnover of buildings.  This week some of the backstory of the transition emerged.  Several parishes stripped the buildings of all moveable objects including altars, pews, and furnishings.  Some of these items were returned when the groups were challenged by the remnant congregations moving in.  The schismatics continue to use the Episcopal name and in one case created a web page that was almost identical to the departing group's, including the web address. (The Episcopal parish address ends in .org while the schismatic groups address is .com.).  As a result the diocese affiliated with the Episcopal Church had to publish a long piece spelling out just exactly who was really affiliated with the Episcopal Church and who was not.