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 28, 2021

Week Ending 9/27/21


Witnessing to Social Issues Made Worse  by Pandemic

Two recent actions involving Episcopalians highlight the long term social issues that the covid-19 pandemic has impacted negatively.  In Alabama, the Nonviolent Medicaid Army and the Poor People's Campaign announced a candlelight vigil at five locations around the state.  The vigils were intended to highlight the additional stress and pain caused by large medical bills faced by the uninsured or under-insured as a result of the pandemic. Alabama is one of the 12 states that have not fully expanded Medicaid and there are over 200,00 uninsured state residents.  Of the five vigils, three are being held at Episcopal Churches, St. Mark's in Birmingham, Holy Comforter in Gadsden, and All Saints in Mobile. 

In a separate action, Episcopal leaders issued a call for better family leave policies, pointing to the severe stresses placed on women workers who during the pandemic have not only been expected to continue paid employment but to care for members of their families who became ill. The next General Convention will be addressing a proposal for a church-wide policy on family leave. 

Continuing Stories

National Cathedral Picks Artist to Design Replacement Windows

The Dean of the National  Cathedral has announced the names of the artist who will design two stained glass windows replacing ones removed in 2017 honoring Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. He also announced the name of the poet who will compose a new stone inscription which will replace one honoring Confederate Soldiers.  The artist, Kerry James Marshall is know for his colorful paintings depicting African American life, and the poet, Dr. Elizabeth Alexander, is also known for writing about experiences of people of color.  Both have a long list of honors.  The Cathedral is expecting to install the new windows and inscription in 2023.  For more details, consult the press release from the Cathedral. Update carried stories on the removal of the windows in 2017 following the violence and demonstrations in Charlottesville, VA, and has noted other churches dealing with Confederate memorials.  The most recent of those posts is here.

Episcopal Churches in the Thick of Afghan Resettlement

Update has carried many stories on the participation of the Episcopal Church, parishes, and dioceses in immigrant rights and resettlement of refugees.  (The most recent is here.) Religion News, however published a story this last week that focused on the model plan developed and led by Episcopalians in Connecticut for refugee resettlement.  The Episcopal Church, and its migrant ministry reached out to the community to bring in partners both in the interfaith community and secular groups.  They have depended on numerous small teams that may ever meet in person, but each provide a part of the support needed for successful refugee resettlement.  The model was first developed when dealing with refugees from Vietnam, and the various groups have now worked together for many years. 

South Carolina Gets Court Date

When the judge assigned by the South Carolina Supreme Court to implement the decision awarding almost all disputed property to those that remained in the Episcopal Church instead reversed the awards and gave everything to the schismatics, the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina filed an appeal with the South Carolina Supreme Court.  The appeal asked the court to uphold its original decision.  That appeal was filed in November on 2020.  By the end of February, the schismatic group led by Mark Lawrence, and now part of ACNA had filed its response, and Episcopalians had filed their answer to that response.  After 7 months, the South Carolina Supreme Court has set Wednesday, December 8 for oral argument.  Both the Episcopal Diocese and the ACNA one have issued statements saying they are looking forward to making their case.  As usual the blog scepiscopalians.com provides a good commentary.

ACNA faces Discontent Within

The ACNA denomination is a combination of overlapping jurisdiction, and groups that range from charismatic to high anglo-catholic.  Some ordain women, some don't.  What has held the group together  was its adamant stand against LGBTQA+ couples and ordination of people from that community.  This last month has highlighted what divides various groups and suggests the difficulty the group may have in not fragmenting.  Update has already carried stories about  how the decision of the Church in Kenya to consecrate two women as bishops has challenged the GAFCON coalition to which ACNA belongs.  While Archbishop Foley Beach (who currently heads both GAFCON and ACNA) issued statements emphasizing that ACNA and GAFCON need to accept that this is an area where the group has deep disagreements, the anti-women's ordination groups are not ready to let this lie.  The most recent statement against the actions in Kenya and women's ordination in general has come from the Diocese of Fort Worth.  The Standing Committee issued a statement that they do not consider women's ordination, and the consecration of a woman as a diocesan bishop in Kenya matters of second level importance, but instead a matter "necessary for salvation."  Christianity Today and Anglican.ink both carried articles on the Fort Worth statement.  
While this divide has been present from the beginning of ACNA, another possible fault line has developed.  St. Mary of Bethany in Nashville has announced that it is leaving ACNA for a loosely organized group, the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches.  The reason for leaving is that the parish has come to the conclusion that ACNA is too unwelcoming to LGBTQA people.  While not willing to marry same sex couples, the parish wants to fully welcome LGBTQA to its parish ministry.  The parish is going to try to incorporate both supporters and opponents of same sex marriage.  In fact its priest has announced he will no longer officiate and any weddings.