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         

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Week Ending 03/27/22

All Stories are updates on continuing themes. 

Diocese Using Land to Address Housing Shortage

Update has carried notices a number of times on parishes that are addressing affordable housing shortages in their communities. (The most recent is here.) Our latest report, however is about a diocesan effort.  The Diocese of California is  going to develop a 9 acre plot of land it owns in a way that will create a mix of housing, rented and purchased and continue an organic farming effort that also helps feed the hungry and the community that will be developed around it.  You can read more on this effort here.

U.N. Women's Meeting has U.S. Members Learning From Others

Once again the Episcopal Church has a deputation attending the annual United Nations Conference on Women.  In additional to the official deputation, the Episcopal Church has another attendee because the Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton of Everett, Washington is a member of the an official Anglican Communion deputation.  The focus at this year's meeting is environmental and climate related issues and their impact on women.  Update has covered the conference each year.  The notice on the 2021 Conference is here. The meetings are being held virtually on-line.

Bishops Speak Out on Current  Issues

At the meeting of the House of Bishops last week, the Bishops prepared statements on several hot topics.  This was the first in-person meeting since the pandemic.  Meeting at Camp Allen in Texas the bishops issued a strong statement against recent state legislation and other actions aimed at the Transgender community.  The Texas governor was one of those who had issued policy directives that would adversely affect many transgender children and their parents. They issued a statement condemning the invasion of the Ukraine by Russia and the indiscriminate attacks on civilians that is a part of that invasion.  The measure also called for praying for peace  and for the many refugees from the conflict.  Update has carried earlier statements by church officials on the Ukraine, and by Church leaders on some of the most harmful actions against transgendered people.  

The editor apologizes for the latest of this posting, but teaching commitments overwhelmed the first part of the week.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Week Ending 03/21/22

All stories are continuations of previous topics

Renewable Energy Becoming Major Religious Cause

 Update has carried several stories (see latest here) on Episcopal Dioceses and parishes turning to renewable energy (especially installation of solar panels) and on previous statements by major international religious leaders of several denominations speaking out together on climate change.  Now a large group of interdenominational leaders and clergy in the British Isles have come together to urge the British government to turn to renewable energy (wind and solar) sources. 

Returning to the Common Cup

The Episcopal News Service has an article on dioceses returning to the use of the common cup in communion after abstaining or using individual cups.  The dioceses include New York, Los Angeles, Mississippi, Oregon, and Southern Virginia.  Some are requiring intinction administered by the server, not-self-intinction.  You can read the whole story here. Update has carried numerous stories on the adaptions made by parishes to worship during the pandemic and the removing of some restrictions.  The most recent is here.

Latest Documents Released for Indigenous Anglican Body in Canada 

Update has carried previous stories on the decision of the Anglican Church of Canada to create a separate space for indigenous peoples to work out a polity and worship within Anglicanism that provides autonomy and respect for indigenous traditions of decision making and spirituality.  Most recently, Update had a link to the draft document for the "constitution" of the indigenous group.  A final document has now been published.  The method of operating will be unique blending native traditions of respect for elders and consensus with interactions with the Anglican Church polity.  It is all described as a part of a sacred circle.  The Anglican Journal has an introductory article on the document. The full document is here.

New Complications in ACNA Misconduct Investigation

The difficulty of investigating and coming to a resolution satisfactory to all those affected by the recent  ACNA parish charges of sexual misconduct and harassment has gotten more complex.  The mishandling of the charges resulted in bishops in at lest two ACNA diocese stepping down.  Now those who filed the charges and were the subjects of the sexual abuse or harassment have split into two groups and are disagreeing over next steps.  One group is less critical of ACNA as a denomination and its handling than the other.   Update had carried earlier posts on the issue, especially since one of the bishops who stepped was the Pittsburgh ACNA bishop.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Week Ending 03/14/22

New Poll Has Interesting Take on Americans and Jesus

Results of a unique poll conducted by Ipsos for the Episcopal Church has been released.  Ipsos is an international polling and survey company with an emphasis on market research.  The survey was based on a sample of 3119 individuals in the U.S. who were 18 or older.  Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish in November 2021.  Unlike most other surveys, this sample is a cross section of Americans, not just church goers or Christians. What emerged was a high level of respect for Jesus as both an historical figure and as a spiritual leader, but a real disconnect between the way Christians (especially evangelicals) view themselves and the way non-Christians view them. A majority of non-Christians associated Christians with traits such as hypocracy and being judgmental while Christians listed traits of compassion and giving.   The survey confirmed that the pandemic had the effect of lowering church attendance, both with virtual church services and a resumption of in-person services. Generational differences also emerged by generation, with a quarter of Millenials saying their view of Jesus has become more negative, but Generation Z has the greatest shift 76% in a positive direction, and only 15% had a more negative impression.  You can find the whole survey report here and a good summary of finding in the Episcopal News Service article here.  

Churches Struggle to Address Issues of Sexual Misconduct

Issues around the handling of sexual misconduct, abuse, and harassment have dogged many of the  churches that are part of the Anglican Communion.  Two recent sets of events have brought home that even when a church has long established policies and has committed to taking complaints seriously, issues can still arise. 
In Canada a group has formed following missteps by senior staff of the Council of the General Synod.  The missteps took an early draft of an article that was to appear in the Anglican Church of Canada's magazine, The Anglican Journal.  Three survivors of abuse had been promised by the journalist and editor that their names would not be revealed and that information that might allow them to be identified would not be  in the article.  The draft included identifying information. when it was shared with a senior staff member, who then shared the draft with people at the institutions where the abuse occurred.   The Canadian Archbishop, Linda Nicholls, ordered an outside evaluation of the leaks to determine what might be done better.  The group ACCtoo has posted an open letter asking for the resignation of the senior official.  The Anglican Journal staff had already resigned. Nichols has responded to the open letter, but the answer did not satisfy ACCtoo.  The matter remains unresolved, but was to be discussed at the ACC Synod this week.  

Meanwhile at Trinity Church, Wall Street, the church was dealing with charges against its highly respected Director of Music.  While the church has detailed provisions for handling complaints against members of the clergy, lay employees are not covered by procedures in the Church constitution and Canons.  Even before conducting a full investigation of those charges, based on events in 2014, the Church decided that there were enough other issues that had surfaced involving the Director that he was abruptly fired before he was given a chance to offer a full defense. The story has been picked up by major media (see the New York Times account here), and the parish rector has issued a statement which can be found here.  The matter remains open.

Continuing Stories.

Michigan Diocese Takes Deep Look at "Redlining"

The Diocese of Michigan has begun a two year exploration combining spirituality and a hard look at the history and policies that shaped the communities in the diocese, especially Detroit.  Detroit was named the most segregated U.S. city with under 200,000 population in 2021. Part of the exploration of  urban planning led to a look at the maps that fixed Detroit's "redlined" areas where it was almost impossible to get loans for remodeling, repairs, new businesses, or home mortgages.  It also looked at the policies that directed slum clearance and interstate construction into these areas, destroying and scattering once vibrant black communities. The Episcopal News Service has a much fuller description of all the activities in the two year program, including liturgies for healing, Bible study and more. The diocesan program is a part of initiatives in many dioceses as part of the anti-racism and reconciliation efforts that have been a major focus of activity under Presiding Bishop Curry's leadership.  Update has reported on other aspects of this church-wide initiative.  One of the most recent posts is here.

Church of England in Europe Responds to Ukraine War

Both the Episcopal Church and the Church of England have Dioceses on the European mainland.  As a result, the Russian attack on the Ukraine, the resulting war, and stream of refugees to neighboring country has direct impact on the Anglican Communion.  Parishes in countries now receiving refugees and organizing relief.  This week there was a story on the community kitchen of the Pro Cathedral in Brussels, Holy Trinity.  The kitchen began as a response to the pandemic, but now is providing 2500 meals a week for the Red Cross refugee center, and is also taking food directly to those waiting in lines for processing.  They are preparing over 450 meals a day.   The Church of England Diocese has a parish, Christ Church, in Kyiv, and they have been getting reports on what it is like to live in a city under attack from one of the members of that parish, Alla Gedz, who uses a wheel chair and could not evacuate.  She has been posting regular updates and has given the Anglican Communion News Service permission to publish them.   The set of posts are available here. Update has posted before on the churches' responses to the Russian attack.

Legal Issues Continue in North Texas

Despite the disheartening outcome of the major  lawsuits over church property and assets in the Diocese of Fort Worth/ Northern Texas, the legal issues are not settled.  Update has carried stories previously about continuing litigation over parish assets and moveable property.  Recently a hearing in the 141st District Court in Tarrant County was held via zoom to try to resolve outstanding issues concerning parish property.  The judge asked the legal representatives for both ACNA and the Episcopal Church to work together to resolve the issues, ideally by April 15.  The court urged ACNA to act with generosity, especially when there were items given by donors with strong attachments to the Episcopal Church.  There will need to be another court hearing before the judge makes a final disposition of the case. The Episcopal Church in Northern Texas web site had update covering the hearing.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Week Ending 3/7/22

Anglican Church of Canada Launches Trial Liturgies for Gender Transitions 

The last General Convention of the Episcopal Church approved a liturgy for any name transition that could be used by those making a  gender transition, or any other change of name.  The Canadian Church has now launched a more specific trial liturgy for those making a gender transition.  Trial use will give the church time to make revisions in the liturgy that come from actual use.  It is the first liturgy in the Anglican Communion to directly address the transgender community. More about the new liturgy and its use is found in the story in Canada's Anglican Journal.

Survey Reveals Change of Attitude in England on Same Sex Marriage.

The Ozanne Foundation has done a repeat survey among residents of England who identify as Anglicans.  The survey was first given in 2013, repeated in 2016 and most recently administered in 2020.  The results show swift change of attitudes among those polled.  Only 38% of those surveyed in 2013 approved of same sex marriage.  The latest poll puts the number at 55% overall, with 72% of those under 50 agreeing that it is "right."  Disapproval of same sex marriage, needless to say, dropped from 47% to 29%.  The official Church of England stance is now out of sync with its members. ThinkingAnglicans.org has links to the full survey and foundation press release.

Continuing Stories

Long Island Diocese Begins Reparation Scholarships

As part of the efforts of the Episcopal Church to heal the racial divide and address past direct participation in slavery and segregation several church institutions have begun reparations programs.  Update has reported on these including that at Virginia Theological Seminary, and the Diocese of Maryland.  The latest diocese to offer a form of reparations is the Diocese of Long Island.  It has created a fund to provide grants to scholars pursuing further education. The Barbara C. Harris Scholarship Program is open to the descendants of enslaved people living in 4 counties: Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk.  The residency applies to the applicant, not to the place where the ancestor was enslaved.  It is open to those who are high school senior or enrolled in an accredited institution for post secondary education (vocational or academic). The grants are for up to $5000 per semester. 

New Caucus to Take Up LGBTQ Advocacy

Following General Convention 2018, the pioneer LGBTQ organization in the Episcopal Church fell apart in very public ways.  Now a new group advocating for full inclusion and welcome with the Episcopal Church has formed as an interest group within General Convention.   The LGBTQ Caucus of the House of Deputies has over 100 members already working in small groups on issues and legislation where they feel the perspective of LGBTQ people is needed.  Members of the House of Deputies have formed a number of different caucus groups.  Caucuses are not official parts of the House of Deputies, and those working at this convention are not at this time envisioning a permanent organization. The Episcopal News Service has more on the group

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Week Ending 2/28/22

Faith Leaders Speak Out on Russian Attack on Ukraine

As Russian troops encircled the Ukraine and then attacked its neighbor, church leaders began speaking out both for the Ukraine and for peace. Religion News has a story on the interfaith voices being raise in this way.  Thinking Anglicans has compiled links to the reaction from Church of England leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Archbishop of the Canadian Church's statement is here.  And the Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop has made statements carried by the Episcopal News Service.

Continuing Stories

Court Ruling in St. Mary's Case

A bequest left to the faithful remnant  of St. Mary's, Hillsboro TX was challenged by the ACNA group, which claimed that it should get the million dollar plus bequest because it retained the name and because of the decision in the diocesan case.  The bequest, however, was made after the split and the person was clear that he was supporting groups that stayed in the Episcopal Church.  Update carried the original story in January.  The probate judge has now made his decision in favor of the faithful remnant.  The judge thought it was very clear that the deceased had intended his money to support the group that had stayed in the Episcopal Church. However, because ACNA may appeal, the parish which worships in a converted bank building after losing its church building to ACNA, is holding off doing anything with the money.

Episcopal Church Holds Forum on Black Experience and Racism

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has made racial reconciliation and anti-racism a major focus of his leadership.  Update has carried many stories on the efforts of the Episcopal Church and its dioceses, parishes and institutions to come to terms with its racist past and to live up to its statements about welcoming all.  As part of the Church's efforts and to commemorate Black History Month, the affinity group for the  Church Pension Group (CPG) of African Descended people hosted a webinar panel looking at the Episcopal Church's current status and what the Church's racial audit had revealed.  The panel comprised 5 prominent black leaders including retired bishop Nathan Baxter; the Vice President of the House of Deputies, Byron Rushing; Dean of All Saints Cathedral in the Virgin Islands, Sandye Wilson, the executive VP of the CPG, Patricia Favreau; and the rector of Washington D.C.'s Church of the Epiphany, Glenna Huber.  Zoom attendance reached 500.  It is now available as a recording for others to watch.  The Episcopal News Service has More details.

Church Leader's Respond to Texas Governor's Letter on Transgender Youth 

Governor Abbott of Texas recently issued a letter defining medical treatment of transgender minors yo be child abuse, and directing the state's attorneys to investigate and prosecute parents and others involved.  It also required school officials to report any statements made by a child that suggested he or she was transgender to parents and authorities.  Episcopal Church officials have been issuing statements declaring the Episcopal Church to be a safe and welcoming space for all families and children, including the transgendered.  The Episcopal News Service story is here.  The Episcopal Cafe has the statement from the Bishop of Texas, and the statement of the Bishop of Northern Texas is on the diocesan web site.   Update has carried notices of The Episcopal Church's welcoming of the transgendered a number of times, most recently here.

Congregation Adds Members on Zoom

Pittsburgh Update has carried numerous stories of church adaptations to on-line worship in response to the pandemic. (The latest is here.) Many churches either live-streamed or hosted on zoom their worship services.  Some have discontinued their on-line services as parishes began to return to in-person services, but many have continued providing access on-line.  A small parish in Kansas, St. Luke's in Wamego dropped its live-streaming when in-person worship resumed, but switched to live zoom for those still connecting on line.  The parish has integrated their zoom congregants into the service and now, one, living 700 miles away in Chesterton Missouri, has been elected to the St. Luke's vestry.  You can find out more here.