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, September 14, 2021

Week Ending 9/13/21

Bishops seem to be making most of the news this week . . .

Bishop John Shelby Spong Dies

Bishop John Shelby Spong died this last week, aged 90.  The bishop had been a lightning rod in the church for his early advocacy (and action) in support of ordination of LGBTQA people.  He also supported ordination of women. He was  the author of a number of books, which presented theology in terms a lay person could follow.  Spong's writings brought many people into the church. His take on theology was decidedly liberal, and as a result Spong was often used by conservatives as a  symbol to scare people into thinking his views were the official positions of the church. Many of his critics have left the church, and Spong lived long enough to see the Episcopal Church officially embrace the ministries of LGBTQA people, to see women at all levels of church ministry.  While his emphasis on inclusion has become mainstream in the church, his theological remain controversial.

First Woman Bishop in Scotland Facing Review

Ann Dyer, the Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney in the Episcopal Church of Scotland is the first and only woman serving as a bishop in that Anglican Communion Province.  She was appointed after the diocese was unable to agree on a bishop, and her appointment was controversial, not only because she was a woman, but because she supported same sex marriage and was appointed to a diocese where a majority of clergy did not.  Update carried a story on her appointment.  She has been shaking things up in the diocese and was recently subject to an investigation on charges of bullying clergy an laity in her diocese.  The Scottish House of Bishops, however, has not accepted the recommendation of the recently released report, and is has decided that what is needed is mediation.  One question, dismissed in the first investigation, is that her actions actions,while challenging, would have been acceptable if done by a male bishop.  One of the main charges of bullying, for example,  is that she attended a trustees meeting, noted that the trustees had permitted a number of actions contrary to law and church canons, and told the trustees that if they individually could not abide by the laws, they should resign.  Update will continue to follow events as they unfold in Scotland. 

Lutherans Seat First Transgender and Lesbian Bishops

 The Evangelical Lutheran Church in California has numerous jurisdictions, but two of them have new bishops.  The Rev. Megan Rohrer became bishop of one of the most northern synods and the Rev. Brenda Bos was installed as bishop of the Southwest Synod of the ELCA.  Rohrer is transgender and Bos a lesbian who knows first-hand many of the rejections that LGBTQA can experience, especially from various Christian Churches. Bos had a very successful career as a television writer, before answering a call to ministry.  Rohrer and Bos have been elected to six year terms as bishop. You can read more about Rohrer in this NPR interview.  The Washington Blade has a profile of Bos.

Episcopal Chaplain Finds A Way to Personalize Care for Those Unable to Speak

 Elizabeth Tracey, a hospital chaplain at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, had become concerned as she watched medical personnel become increasing detached from those they were treating, a factor that contributed to burnout.  With the onset of the covid-19 epidemic, she saw increased de-personalization of those being treated, especially those intubated and no longer able to speak for themselves. It also made it harder to ensure that medical staff made the right decisions about a patient.  As a result she began a pilot project that recorded short introductions to each patient by family members, thus providing a way for medical staff to know the person they were treating.  Staff could listen to the recordings while they were treating the patient. The introductions are embedded in the patient's electronic records and thus available to all staff.  The project has made a difference for those providing care, and doctors have asked for it to be applied to additional patients.  Johns Hopkins has now awarded the chaplaincy program a $50,000 grant to expand the program to other areas of the hospital.

Continuing Stories

Chicago's Bishop Elect Faces Another Personal Challenge

Bishop-elect of Chicago, Paula Clark suffered a stroke shortly after her election, and her consecration has had to be delayed while she continues to work on recovery.  Clark is working on recovery of speech and communication skills and the delay has been extended with Bishop Chilton Knutson, filling in as an Assistant Bishop. Now Clark faces another personal challenge.  Her husband, Andrew McClean has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma and the family must decide on a course of care. 


Presiding Bishop Preaches at September 11 Service in New York

 The Update last week carried a notice about the events planned by Trinity Wall Street to commemorate the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001.  One of the main events was a Requiem Eucharist at which Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was the preacher.  The Episcopal News Service has a article outlining the message of the Presiding Bishop at the service.  While Curry decried the "seeds of self-centeredness" that led to hate and division in our current world, he called on all to recommit to "a love that gives and does not count the cost," remembering that moment when Americans drew together in love and helped each other under very trying circumstances.

Another Update on Fort Worth Legal Case

The schismatic group in Fort Worth has gotten an appeals court decision requiring that property removed from the parish properties that courts ruled belonged to the group that left TEC had to be returned.  It is not clear how much property is involved since several Episcopal congregations had to scrounge for everything from Books of Common Prayer to communion sets.  However, in one case, the congregation took just about everything with them from the altar and pews to the the baptismal font.  This must now all be returned.  The court has ruled that moveable property was still part of the property awarded to the schismatics when they won the multi-year legal battle over parish property.  The original update story after the date when the six congregations had to eave their buildings this May, included a link to a picture that showed the stripping of one parish.