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         

Monday, October 25, 2021

Week Ending 10/25/21

Sudanese Episcopal Congregation Finds New Home

Syracuse has been home to refugees from the Sudan for more than two decades.  The refugees very quickly formed a church where they could worship in  their own language. They found space  several places before spending a decade at St. Paul's in downtown Syracuse.  In 2014 one of their congregation traveled back to South Sudan for ordination as a priest in the Sudanese Episcopal Church.  However by 2018, use of space between the Sudanese congregation and the St. Paul's congregation led to conflict and they had to seek a new home.  The Diocese of Central New York helped them partner with Emmanuel Episcopal and the two congregation have worked diligently to create a harmonious sharing of space.  In 2019, the Diocese of Central New York recognized Diangdit Mission and brought it fully into the Episcopal Church.  A Washington Post  feature article has more on the work behind the scenes that has made this a successful sharing.  

National Cathedral Hosts Colin Powell Funeral

 Given Colin Powell's status as a former Secretary of State and General, it is not surprising that his funeral will be held at the National Cathedral on November 5.  However, while his status as a national figure provides one rationale for the Cathedral hosting the service, there is a second one. Powell was a life-long Episcopalian whose faith shaped much of his life.  The Presiding Bishop issued a statement on Powell's death from covid-19.  Cancer had left him with a compromised immune system.

Albany Convention Blocks Vote on Changes in Governing Documents

The Albany Diocese used a parliamentary maneuver to block voting on a resolution which would have removed clauses restricting clergy and parishes from participating, hosting, or attending a same-sex marriage and which limited the ordained ministry only to those who were celibate or in a heterosexual marriage.   These sections of the governing documents are in conflict with the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church.  Church media had carried the story that St.Andrews Episcopal Church had submitted these resolutions, but at the convention an amendment to the Rules of order was proposed about 38 minutes into the session, which added a rule for conventions held virtually that forbade making any changes to diocesan governing documents. The resolution passed, thus preventing the resolutions from being discussed.  They were on the agenda later in the convention.  The rational was that virtual conventions were already subject to communication difficulties, and many felt uncomfortable with the virtual format and thus it was not a good time to make substantial changes. Given that other dioceses have not only changed their constitutions and canons in virtual sessions and have held elections for bishops virtually, the rational appeared strained at best.

Continuing Stories

African Churches Support New Anti-Gay Legislation in Ghana

Anglican bishops in several African Countries have been supportive of drastic anti-LGBTQ laws that not only punish sexual relations but advocacy or support for LGBTQ rights.  In 2013 and 2014 Nigeria and Uganda passed such laws with the support of the Anglican bishops in those countries.  Uganda had to try twice because the first law was declared void for technical reasons.  Anglican leaders from other parts of the Communion did speak out against those laws.  Now Ghana has proposed laws even more strict than those of Nigeria and Uganda, and the Anglican bishops of that country have endorsed the laws, offering only that LGBTQ people are welcome to turn to the church for help in changing their orientations.  The laws punish self-identification and advocacy for LGBTQ rights with longer prison sentences than those given for performance sexual acts.  So far, there have not been any official statements from others in the Communion condemning the laws.  For stories on the laws see both The Living Church and the Episcopal Cafe.

Fort Worth Episcopal Corporation Declares Bankruptcy

The property cases in Fort Worth focused on those properties controlled by the diocese either as Corporation sole or diocesan assets not related to a parish.  All Saints Episcopal Church had to be handled as a separate case, tried at the same time, because its deeds and property were not under the direct control of the diocese.  Episcopalians at All Saints had to leave their church building, and the schismatic ACNA diocese has continued to try to gain control of any funds or assets that the parish might possess. The parish had four parcels of property which were not covered in the original court order because they are held by a non-profit corporation created by the parish,  and include a school. Upon leaving their parish building, All Saints was invited to worship in the school chapel.  However, the schismatic diocese has pursued claims against the school.  The corporation, however, has quietly filed for bankruptcy which prevents any change in status during its reorganization.  The ACNA group has requested a rescheduled hearing since their suit is against the unincorporated parish, not the non-profit corporation.  The sticky point is whether any remaining assets belong to the corporation or the unincorporated parish.

Pandemic Protocols Limit Attendance at South Carolina Court Hearing

The South Carolina Supreme Court has notified both parties in the South Carolina church property case that pandemic safety will require them to limit attendance in the court room to two attorneys for each party.  The court date is in early December and is a result of an appeal by the Episcopalians  following a court order by a state district judge which overturned the opinion issued by the state supreme court.  The district judge was supposed to oversee implementing the opinion issued by the state supreme court. Given that what is at stake includes titles to most parishes in the original diocese, and a separate trust interest held by The Episcopal Church, previous hearings have included several attorneys on both sides.