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, 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.