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, December 20, 2021

Week Ending 12/20/21

Chicago Diocese Disciplined Former Kansas Administrator

The Rev. Robert Smith remained canonically resident in the Diocese of Chicago even though he was acting as the CEO of St. Francis Ministries, the largest single provider of foster care services in Kansas from 2014 to 2020.  He left St. Francis under a cloud because of questionable financial decisions he made.  Several were large payments for schemes to make money for St. Francis (such as scalping Cubs baseball tickets).  The Chicago diocese suspended him from ministry in August 2021 after an independent diocesan investigation suggested grave errors of judgement, and has required him as a condition of the lifting of his suspension  to take courses at Northwestern University on non-profit ethics and fiduciary responsibility.  The suspension was lifted when Chicago received confirmation that no further charges against Smith are pending in Kansas, by local officials or the F.B.I. 

Second Copy of Black Pieta Stolen

Kelly Latimore, an Episcopal iconographer, received a commission for an icon of a pieta (Mary cradling the body of the crucified Christ) from the Catholic University of America.  He created an image that showed both figures as people of color.  The painting was hung in the hall outside of the university law school chapel. What made the painting controversial was that Christ's face seemed to resemble George Floyd.  It was seen as an endorsement of Black Lives Matter by conservatives criticizing it.  The original was soon stolen, and the artist at the request of the university provided a smaller version as a replacement.  Now it has also gone missing.  In the controversy around the painting, Latimore received support from the Episcopal bishop of Missouri, Deon Johnson.  The university also has defended the image as a message against racism in world.  The Episcopal News Service article did not say what, if anything, will replace the second image.

Continuing Stories 

Albany Announces Assisting Bishop to Work with Bishop Smith

After Bishop Love of the Diocese of Albany was found guilty of violating his ordination oath by ignoring the canons and other actions by General Convention, he resigned and the Albany Standing Committee became the ecclesiastical authority.  Bishop Michael Smith (formerly of the diocesan Bishop of North Dakota) was named Assisting Bishop, a role he also holds in Dallas. The Standing Committee surprised everyone by announcing it would begin implementing the 2018 General Convention Resolution B012 to provide church marriages/and or blessings for same-sex couples. Now the Standing Committee has named Bishop Carol Gallagher to be the bishop providing pastoral services to the parishes wishing to implement B012.  Gallagher had served for several years as Assisting Bishop in North Dakota when Smith was the bishop, so the two are planning on working as a team to try to promote healing and unity in the diocese.  The announcement from the Albany Standing Committee is detailed and provides much more information on both bishops. 

Australian Church Regroups After Dismissal of Former Archbishop

Back in 2016 Update reported on the resignation of Australian Archbishop Roger Herft. Herft was facing an investigation on charges of ignoring reports of child abuse within the the Diocese of Newcastle.  In 2019, that review was still under way and the investigation had broadened to look at his handling of money.  The long process is finally over; Herft was found guilty of gross neglect and failure to investigate cases of possible child abuse, and removed from the church and stripped of all status as a member of the clergy.  Now the Australian Church is looking at ways to move forward and better respond to charges of abuse.

Soap Opera Continues in Oxford

The latest installment on the continuing saga of the battle between the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and the faculty of the college is a move for a medical review on the grounds that Dean Percy Martyn is "mad" and "unfit" and thus can be removed from his position. The motion was filed by a member of the faculty who has part of the group seeking to remove the Dean.  Thinking Anglicans has more on this chapter. Update reported recently that the college's efforts to remove the dean were so costly that they are resulting  in a possible review by the charities board which has the power to replace the entire college board.

Post Covid Attendance Struggles Affect Many Denominations

The on-line news service, Religion News, has a general article on the slow recovery of attendance at all sorts of houses of worship.  Among the parishes discussed is an Episcopal Parish in New York. The pandemic resulted in some regular church goers getting out of the habit, and either not returning or coming less often. Those attending on-line have become in many cases, observers rather than participants.  In addition, there are still a number of people hesitant to return to in-person services because of continuation of the pandemic.  Update has reported many times on the various ways covid-19 has affected worship, most recently here.