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 7, 2021

Week Ending 9/6/21

Church of Wales to Bless Same Sex Unions

While the Anglican Church of Wales is not ready to authorize marriage ceremonies for same sex couples, it has broken ranks with the Church of England by authorizing a 5 year period for a trial liturgy that will bless couples who have had civil ceremonies or registered for civil unions.  The action was supported by overwhelming votes at the church synod, although the action was criticized by those conservatives who opposed any recognition of same sex couples and by those who thought that the action fell short of a full embrace of same sex couples.  It will be interesting to see if it has any effect on the upcoming long-delayed Lambeth meeting of bishops from all over the Anglican Communion.  The Church Times provides one take on the discussion at the synod, and the official announcement from the Church in Wales a very different one.

Trinity Wall Street Plans Weekend of Memorials for September 11, 2001

Saturday, September 11, 2021 will be the 20th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Towers, the Pentagon, and another unspecified target in Washington D.C.  The last of these was foiled by the actions of the passengers and crew of flight 93 who fought to regain control of their plane and sent it crashing to ground near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall Street has an 18th century chapel, St. Paul's that was literally at the edge of the Trade Center complex.  Trinity is planning an entire weekend of memorial events and space for quiet reflection with chaplains available for September 10-12.  More on these events is available here.

Trinity School For Ministry to Search for New Head

Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA announced that its president and dean, the Rev. Dr. Henry L. Thompson (Laurie Thompson) was retiring.  Trinity is theoretically a seminary recognized by the Episcopal Church, but in practice is part of ACNA, a fact made clear by its appointment of the former ACNA primate, Robert Duncan (also the bishop who led the schismatic  Pittsburgh faction that left The Episcopal Church).  Thompson, although officially still listed as an Episcopal priest, has been serving also as one of the clergy for an ACNA parish in the Pittsburgh area.  He will step down from Trinity at the end of the 2021-22 academic year.  All this may help to explain why the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has been building stronger relationship to the local Presbyterian seminary, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.  That seminary has an Anglican/Episcopal track. 

Episcopal Migration Ministries Working to Resettle Afghanis

The Episcopal Migration Ministries is directly involved in resettling many of the refugees from Afghanistan that are arriving in the U.S.  EMM has issued a call to the church at large for help in providing services and supplies that they will need.  They are looking for sponsor groups and housing both long and short term is a highest priority,   An article in The Living Church  lists ways that people can contribute and where they can send money to help.  The Episcopal News Service has a longer article on the resettlement effort and need to dioceses or parishes to step forward as sponsors.

Churches Assess Damage from Hurricane Ida

Episcopal Church buildings in the path of Hurricane Ida did not escape unscathed. At least 8 parishes had damage to roofs and windows.  The worst hit was St. Andrews in Bayou Dularge where loss of large sections of the roof led to a collapse of the entire ceiling. The Episcopal News Service has an article that notes the damage done to several Episcopal parishes and also the the challenge long-term outages of power are bringing to the area.

Updates on Continuing Themes

Battling Climate Change

In a major interfaith announcement, the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, and the Orthodox Church made a joint announcement calling on Christians to pray and work to address the on-going climate change crisis.  The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is already living out that call.  The bishop recently dedicated solar panels installed at the sixth church in the diocese.  Plans are under way to install the panels on six more of their churches.  When this is done, 95% of the power needed by the diocese will come from the solar installations. Update has carried other stories about churches going solar, most recently here.

Witnessing Against Gun Violence

Red Letter Christians, an interfaith group of liberal evangelicals held a two day gathering September 4-5 in Houston, TX to witness against gun violence.  Originally planned to be held at the same time and the same city as a National Rifle Association meeting, the anti-violence group persisted even when the NRA cancelled.  As part of the event, the Episcopal Cathedral in Houston, Christ Episcopal hosted a memorial service to remember those who had died in gun violence with the former Bishop of Mark Beckwith as preacher.  Beckwith was one of the founders of the Bishops Against Gun Violence group in the Episcopal Church.  Update has regularly followed Episcopal participation or leadership in the anti-gun violence movement. Its most recent previous post is here.

Grace Cathedral Requiring Proof of Vaccination

Grace Cathedral in San Francisco is holding worship in person, but all those over 12 must show proof of vaccination for the Covid-19 virus.  The cathedral is encouraging advanced registration.  Masks are still required for indoor services.  The Episcopal Cafe article provides context.  The cathedral is continuing to provide on-line options for those who are over age 12 and are not vaccinated, or are hesitant about risking in person groups at this time.  The cathedral schedule lays out the options and requirements.  Update has been carrying notices of worship protocols during the pandemic.

More on Fort Worth Legal Fees

Last week Update carried a notice that the Episcopal Church had picked up the tab for over $4 million in legal fees that the ACNA diocese in Fort Worth claimed.   The official press release from the Episcopal Church in North Texas now spells out that the ACNA group actually went after a much larger amount, despite part of it being covered by insurance, and that it was not clear that they were owed anything.  Rather than prolong litigation, the Episcopal Church negotiated a settlement and paid  the reduced amount thus relieving the diocese of trying to come up with money that it did not have since the schismatics got control of the entire dicoesan endowment.

ACNA Troubles Grow

The mess in the Midwest Diocese of ACNA just gets worse.  What began as a mishandling of sexual misconduct charges and the removal/retirement of two bishops has now affected a third and spread to include charges of bullying of laity who did not fit into tightly prescribed gender roles. The latest bishop caught in the scandal is a Canadian, who had just brought a small group of churches into ACNA as part of the Midwest Diocese.  He has been told that his appointment as an Assistant bishop is now on hold.  Meanwhile multiple lay complaints about treatment of LGBTQ members, and of a husband wife ministry team have further complicated the investigation.