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.

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A Service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh         

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Week Ending 01/24/22

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Federal Bankruptcy Court Sides With Fort Worth Episcopalians

All Saints church in Fort Worth was among the parishes to be forced to relinquish their church following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to hear the Episcopal Church appeal.  All Saints, however, had an incorporated entity that held much of the liquid assets and title to several properties that were explicitly excluded from the general property law suit.  This incorporated body remained in control of Episcopalians.  The ACNA diocese however, has taken steps to try to claim all of that property, which resulted in the bank accounts belonging to the incorporated All Saints being frozen.  In a surprise move, reported by Update last fall, the Incorporated body filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal bankruptcy court.  This would allow it to reorganize and get a ruling that could unfreeze the bank accounts. ACNA responded by trying to have the bankruptcy filing thrown out on the grounds that they were the owners of the property.   The federal bankruptcy court quietly issued its opinion December 29.  ACNA's suit was dismissed and the bankruptcy proceeding filed by the Episcopalians can go forward.  The judge's opinion is available here. The judge was careful to say he was applying neutral principles of law, but he found that the Episcopalians had maintained continuous control of the governing body of the All Saints corporation, and that the law suit decision did not apply to this body.

 Pandemic Ministry Outreach and Challenges

Update has published numerous accounts of the responses of parishes to the pandemic, both in terms of outreach, and of parish life and worship  (See three recent examples here, here, and here.)  There are two more stories to add this week. The Episcopal Church of Jesus of Nazareth in Orlando and a supermarket have opened their doors to after work and late night testing for Covid-19, because many working class people were unable to get the tests during the day because they were working.  The program is a joint effort of the Episcopal Church Health Initiative, Coalition of 100 Black Women, and the Hispanic Federation Florida & Southeast.   The parish hopes that the availability of home testing may soon alleviate the need for after hours sites, but that right now the need is  very great.   
The stresses of dealing with worship and pastoral needs during the pandemic has brought a number of clergy close to burnout.  The Diocese of Chicago is addressing clergy needs by starting a clergy mini-sabbatical program.  Between now and Holy week, every parish in the diocese has been asked to designate a week in which there will be no meetings, office hours, and the clergy (except for pastoral emergencies) will have time to rest and regroup. The parish is encouraged to find a way to provide an alternative for Sunday service so that this too is a day of rest for the clergy.  The Episcopal News Service (ENS) has more on the program and other similar attempts.

Indigenous Children's Remains Repatriated

Recent press attention to the numerous graves of indigenous children who died while at boarding schools, has led both the Anglican Church in Canada and The Episcopal Church to respond.  Update most recently noted the participation of Canadian bishops in cleaning up a school burial ground and starting a process of repatriation (reburial in native homelands).  The Episcopal Church apologized and began exploring its own history of sponsoring boarding schools that forced children to abandon their own cultures and languages for English and white culture.  Now the Oneida reservation in Wisconsin has repatriated the bodies of three children who died at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, reburying them at the Episcopal church on Oneida lands.  The Carlisle School was a secular school, and one of the most famous of the boarding institutions in the U.S.

Churches Respond to Need for Homeless Shelters

The bitter cold and snow storms affecting much of the U.S. have led Episcopal Parishes to open their doors as emergency shelters, or provide supplies to existing agencies working with the homeless.  Many churches already had outreach efforts, but the existing shelters in many communities could not provide enough spots to handle the homeless, so some parishes opened either as day warming sites, or emergency night shelters.  The ENS has a fuller story about these efforts.   Update has carried numerous notices of Episcopal Parishes working with the homeless.  A recent one is found here.

ACNA Problems Multiply in Midwest

Update earlier had noted that the mishandling of sexual misconduct cases  by ACNA leaders had created a real mess in the ACNA diocese including Chicago.  The denomination created a Provincial Response Team with 8 members, 4 men and 4 women to handle the situation. However, three of the four women resigned as a mass protest that the voices of the victims and their needs were not being adequately addressed and that the focus was on mitigating damage to the institutional Church.  The Episcopal Cafe story includes responses from ACNA members and clergy who were upset by this turn of events.