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, February 22, 2022

Week Ending 02/21/22

Episcopalians Endorse Green Burials

The Episcopal News Service has a story on how Epsicopal parishes are working with groups to offer "green" burials, i.e. those with minimal or no treatment of the corpse, simple bio-degradable coffins, or no coffin, and natural landscapes.  There are twelve such burial sites now registered in the United States.  The object is to be more conservation aware and in tune with nature.  For more on this new trend, the full ENS article is here.

Australian Archbishop Decision on Ordination Upsets Conservatives

The Archbishop of Perth, Kay Goldsworthy, is going forward with an ordination that is upsetting conservatives in her area because the two men have had non-traditional relationships.  One had a long-term relationship with a woman in which they lived as husband and wife without being married and raised several children, and the other was in a civil partnership with another man.  The first couple has since married.  The one source carrying this story is the conservative news source Anglican.ink.  

Continuing Stories

Newburyport Church Creates Home in Its Undercroft for Afghan Refugees

St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Newburyport, MA, has converted its undercroft into apartments for two Afghan refugee families.  The church has gathered a group of volunteers and refugee service agencies to help the families settle in, start school, find work, etc.  A Boston news service featured the church with this story.  Update has noted other Episcopal parishes engaged in refugee resettlement, including one housing refugees in their former office space, and others involved in resettlement work done in conjunction with  others here.

Church of England Synod Debates How to Elect Archbishop of Canterbury

The Church of England Synod heard arguments both for and against the proposal which would change the Archbishop of Canterbury election commission membership to reduce representation from Canterbury and give seats to representatives from other parts of the Anglican Communion.  Put forward as a way to break with a colonial past, several of the opposing comments suggested that it would instead increase the image of colonialism.  Episcopal Cafe has a good summary of the discussion.  Update covered the original proposal here.

Chicago Bishop Elect Resumes Some Duties 

Chicago Bishop Elect, Paula Clark, has taken the first steps towards resuming duties and her consecration.  The process had been stopped and Chicago has been cared for by assisting bishops, most recently Chilton Knudson, while Clark rehabilitated following a brain bleed.  She is resuming office duties for about 20 hours a week.  Clark has had a slow recovery complicated by  her husband's diagnosis with cancer and subsequent death in November 2021. 


Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Week Ending 2/14/22

Site of Primates Meeting Changed

Access due to pandemic restrictions has changed the location of the upcoming Primates meeting for the Anglican Communion.  Originally the meeting was scheduled for Rome, but has now been switched to London.  The primates meeting is a gathering of the lead bishop in each of the independent churches of the the Anglican Communion.  It is not a policy making body, but helps to knit the Communion together. 

Presiding Bishop Curry Has a Busy Weekend

This last weekend Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached sermons at separate celebrations in New York.  Both were appropriate events for Black History Month.  On February 12, Curry was at St. Philip's Episcopal Church to mark the annual commemoration in the Episcopal Church of Absalom Jones, the first black to be ordained deacon and priest in the Episcopal Church.  Jones led a group in Philadelphia that founded the first black Episcopal congregation, St. Thomas African Episcopal Church.  St. Philip's in New York was the second black Episcopal congregation, and thus an appropriate site for a New York celebration.  The next day Curry preached at a special memorial service for Archbishop Desmond Tutu held at the Cathedral of John the Divine in New York. Update carried notice of Tutu's death in December and early tributes to him.  The Episcopal cathedral hosted an interdenominational memorial with eulogies by a range of distinguished speakers.  The Episcopal News Service provided full stories on each service.. 

Continuing Stories

Bishops in Ghana Change Stance on Drastic Anti-LBGTQ Law 

Update carried the story in October 2021 of the House of Bishops in Ghana endorsing a proposed drastic anti-LGBTQ law.  Over the next several weeks, that endorsement and statement received multiple critiques, including from the Archbishop of Canterbury, who then met with the bishops and twice revised his statement to be more moderate.  Now his talks have led to a slight modification in the position of the bishops in Ghana.  They have issued a new statement, saying that while the traditions and customs of that country are strongly supportive of heterosexual relationships, and their reading of scripture does not endorse marriage other than between a man and a woman, the Lambeth Conference of 1998 and Christian love require them to speak out against persecution of  LGBTQ, and that they think the proposed law goes too far.  The Living Church has an accessible summary of the latest statement based on a story first carried in the Church Times

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Week Ending 02/07/22

Parish Provides Forum on Banned Book

The action of the McMinn County school board in banning the graphic novel Maus, which has won multiple awards, including the Pulitzer Prize,  as a way to present the horrors of the holocaust to children, has led to a national controversy over the book.   National Public Radio did a story on the controversy and one of the responses featured a discussion of the book sponsored by St. Paul Episcopal Church in McMinn County

Priest Serves as Go-Between with Labor Unions and Companies

 The Episcopal News Service had a feature story on the Rev. Richard Smith,  a retired priest, who has long been active in the labor movement and is no serving as a intermediary between labor unions and employers whose workers are considering forming unions.  Part of the process is proving that a union has been authorized by individual workers organize at a particular place of employment.  Smith serves as the independent third part that checks the authorization cards, providing an official count and verifying the signatures. He connected  with the Catholic Labor Network to become one of those trained to do this work. For more, go to the ENS story here.  

Continuing Stories

Christ Church Oxford and Dean Reach Settlement

Last week Update noted that the long simmering controversy between the Dean of Christ Church and the faculty of Christ Church College might be resolved with a large payment and settlement, but that a second matter of a harassment charge was still pending, as was investigation by the Charity Board.  This week brings news that the dean accepted the settlement and resigned, and that the resignation also ended the harassment complaint.  Thinking Anglicans has the pertinent news stories here

News Media Pick Up Story on Parish Suing Town

Update had carried stories when Brookings Oregon residents began complaining about St. Timothy's work with the homeless; when the town passed an ordinance that would have prevented St. Timothy's Episcopal from continuing to feed the homeless four times a week, and when the parish and diocese sued the town to prevent enforcement of the ordinance.  Now national news media have picked up the story, including The New York Times, National Public Radio, and the Episcopal News Service.  Each has done their won interviews, but the story is not much different than the local news and legal filings Update has already referenced. What is clear from the stories is that the neighbors who were most upset reacted to a city initiative that requested St. Timothy's allow homeless to park in their parking lot overnight to give them a safe place.  The city has reacted by limiting the free meals, not the parking.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Week Ending 1/31/22

 Church of England Promotes Statue of Medieval Jewish Woman

The City of Winchester, England is installing a new statue honoring Licoricia, a 13th century Jewish woman who was among the most important financiers of Medieval England. She provided crucial support to three English kings.  Married and widowed twice, she was in her 70s when she and her Christian maid were murdered in what may well have been an antisemitic crime.  The Anglican Cathedral at Winchester  supported the efforts to fund-raise for the statue, and its installation is intended to be a reminder of the  positive role Jews played in English history, and also that the country needs to recognize its long history of antisemitism.  The statue is being installed as part of the country's activities during Holocaust Remembrance Week.

Anglicans Attacked in South Sudan and Pakistan

In two separate and unrelated incidents, Anglican Communion clergy were attacked in two  countries with large Muslim populations.  In Peshwar, Pakistan two clergy were followed by a gunman after conducting Sunday services at All Saints Church, a part of the Church of Pakistan.  The 75 year old minister, William Siraj died after being shot twice in the abdomen.  The other minister was wounded. Officials designated in a terror attack.  The second attack was aimed at two bishops of the Episcopal Church of the South Sudan.  Gunman entered the church compound at Bor at 3 am. This is the second time gunmen have enteed to compound, and the third time in a year that actions have been directed against the bishops there.   Two people were injured in the attack.  The Archbishop of South Sudan issued a statement which laid the blame on officials in the province who have been "misleading innocent citizens to practice such evil acts against the church."

Continuing Stories

Contrast Continues between Roman Catholic and Episcopal Approaches to Transgender People

This last week provided a contrast between the way the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the U.S. is responding to transgender people, and the way the Episcopal Church is.  The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee  last week issued a set of guidelines that require churches recognize only a person's gender at birth, requires them to use bathrooms based upon that gender, requires the church to enforce a dress code based on birth gender, to oppose use of any puberty blockers, to steer families only to counselors who work within church guidelines, and forbade churches to allow members to designate what pronouns they wish used to refer to themselves. While this notice was going out, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church was meeting with a focus on inclusion.  Two stories filed by the Episcopal News Service on that meeting focused on transgender inclusion.  They are here and here. One month ago, update carried a story of the criticism of Roman Catholic policy towards LGBTQ in Michigan by the diocese of Northern Michigan.

 Diocese and Parish Sue Town Over Feeding the Homeless

In November 2021, Update carried a story about how the town of Brookings was trying to prevent St. Timothy's Episcopal from feeding the homeless dinner every night, by passing an ordinance only allowing non-profit groups to engage in such activity twice a week.  The church argued that this was a matter of religious faith and freedom and vowed to file suit.  The Diocese of Oregon and the parish have now filed their suit against the city.  The diocesan website has all the details of their argument. 

South Carolina Joins Chicago in Encouraging Clergy Mini-Sabbaticals

 Last week, Update carried notice that the interim Bishop of Chicago, Chilton Knudson had issued a letter asking all of the diocesan parishes to designate a week sometime before Holy Week where the clergy  (and lay leaders) would be relieved of all obligations other than emergency pastoral work.  She stated that this was to provide a respite for the clergy who had been very stressed by the challenges of the long pandemic.  The new Bishop of South Carolina Ruth Woodliff-Stanley has now made a similar call to the parishes of the Diocese of South Carolina. 

Pakistan Anglicans Regain Some Control Over Edwardes College

The Church of Pakistan has been waging a long legal battle to regain control of Edwardes College in Peshwar.  The institution was founded by the Church Missionary Society and was run by the church until all private colleges were nationalized.  More recently a decree had been issued that should have restored church control, but the Pakistan High Court ruled against the church in spring 2021. (Update story is here.) Now local Anglicans are celebrating because at least partial control has been restored by the appointment of a college head who is Anglican, and apparently by a majority on the governing board.  News accounts are somewhat confusing about how much the Church has regained.   The Barnabas Fund report is celebrating return of control.  Another source claims that while the Principal is to be Christian, the institution is still state owned, and a third source suggests that the Anglicans also have control of the board.

Update on the Oxford Dean Conflict

This last month has been a busy one for news and comment on the continuing attempts by Christ Church Oxford to get rid of the Dean of the College and Cathedral. Update has carried each stage of the dispute.  The most recent development seems to be a very good financial buyout suggested for the Dean.  That offer, however, is controversial, and it may not save the college from other actions by the charitable board.  The Dean is apparently willing to accept the offer.  Thinking Anglicans has links to everything from this last month.

ACNA Diocese of Pittsburgh Announces Candidates for Bishop

In November 2020 the ACNA bishop in Pittsburgh, James Hobby, resigned because of mishandling a case involving charges of clergy sexual misconduct.  Almost immediately ACNA appointed Bishop Martyn Minns as interim while the diocese did a search.  That search has resulted in three candidates, two of whom have close ties to the diocese.  One, the Rev. Dr. Joel Scandrett,  is a member of the Trinity School of Ministry faculty.  Another, the Rev. Peter Frank, although now serving a parish outside the diocese, was formerly the Communications Director for the Pittsburgh Diocese and served in local parishes.  The third,  the Rev. Alex Cameron, is originally from Canada, is President of the Isaiah Forty Foundation and serves as Chair of the Bishop's Council for the ACNA Diocese of the Upper Midwest.  The election is scheduled for this spring.