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, April 26, 2022

Week Ending 4/25/22

Fort Worth Episcopalians Explore Merger

Following the disappointing Texas Supreme Court opinion that  left loyal Episcopalians in Fort Worth without parish and diocesan property, the diocese (now calling itself the Episcopal Church in North Texas)needed to think outside the box.  It turns out that what diocesan leaders did was to look to a bigger box, the Diocese of Texas and began talking to that diocese about a possible merger.  Conversations reached the point that last week the two dioceses made a formal announcement jointly about their talks.  While there are still some legal cases pending, the remaining legal issues seem manageable.  The official press release for the diocese is here.  Provisional Bishop Mayer's pastoral letter provides some additional information, and the article by the Episcopal News Service has a larger context.  While it might have seemed natural to reunite with the neighboring Episcopal Diocese of Dallas from which the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth was created, Dallas's conservative leadership is not a good match with the Episcopalians in the Fort Worth area.  Provisional Bishop Mayer is the bishop of Northwest Texas, and that diocese might have seemed an obvious match, but apparently it has been the much larger and wealthier Diocese of Texas that had stepped forward to help Episcopalians in North Texas, and thus was the best candidate to help in rebuilding.

Canadian Archbishop McDonald Resigns

Archbishop Mark McDonald, who has been the leader of Indigenous Anglicans in Canada since 2007, and was instrumental in the drafting and shaping of the Canadian Church's development of an Indigenous autonomous Church within a church, has resigned following sexual misconduct charges.  The nature of the charges are not public, but McDonald has confirmed their truth. His resignation is a major blow to the Anglican Church in Canada, and to Indigenous peoples in both Canada and the Episcopal Church.  Ordained in Minnesota, former bishop of the Diocese of Alaska and as an Assisting Bishop in Navajoland, McDonald was a respected leader and regular blogger.  Both The Living Church and the Anglican Journal have more to add about his leadership and the impact of his resignation.

English Church Leaders Criticize Plan to Send Refugees to Rwanda

 The Archbishops of Canterbury and York were among the church leaders in England to criticize and raise moral questions about Prime Minister Boris Johnson's announcement of an agreement that would send asylum seekers trying to reach England without appropriate documents to Rwanda where they would be processed and settled.  Church leaders pointed out that Rwanda has a  growing list of civil liberty violations and the resettlement a deflection of England's own duties to welcome refugees.  That criticism  touched off a battle of words between Johnson (accused of a responding to Archbishop Welby with a "disgraceful slur") and English bishops who defended Welby. Newspapers have weighed in on both sides, leaving the actual policy issues behind to focus on the personal clash.   Thinking Anglicans has links to all of this.

Continuing Stories

South Carolina Supreme Court Gives Split Decision

Last week saw the latest attempt of the South Carolina Supreme Court to settle the property issues created when Mark Lawrence tried to take the Diocese of South Carolina out of the Episcopal Church with all of its property.  In 2017 the court, in a decision where each judge wrote a separate opinion, seemed to award all diocesan property and most parish property to those who remained in the Episcopal Church.  They remitted the decision to a District Court for implementation.  That judge delayed for several years and then undid the Supreme Court decision by awarding all property to the schismatics.  South Carolina Episcopalians appealed and the case was argued in December 2021.  Update has covered all of that.  Now the Supreme Court has issued an opinion that is self-enforcing.  The Court deferred to the Federal Court trademark decision that gave the loyal Episcopalians full claim to the name, title, seals, and recognition of the diocese.  Thus it confirmed that all diocesan property belongs to the loyal Episcopalians (referred to in the opinion as the "Associated Diocese).  This includes the church camp, and the bishop's residence (where Mark Lawrence is living).  Parish properties were split with 15 parishes currently part of ACNA getting to keep their property, and 14 parishes having their property returned to the Episcopalians.   To do this the judges made some hairsplitting rulings about what constituted accession to the Episcopal Church Constitution and Canons.  Because Mark Lawrence is retiring, and a new bishop has been elected by the schismatic (ACNA) group, the next steps may not be so hostile.  The bishops of the two groups have already met to begin looking at how to handle the transition.  Meanwhile, both sides are also deciding whether they will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.  The court opinion is here.  The statements by  Episcopal Bishop Ruth Woodliff-Stanley and the new ACNA bishop, Chip Edgar are here and here. The official notice by  the Episcopal Diocese is here.  The April 20 entry in the blog scepiscopalians.com  has some interesting comments about the pressures on the state court.  The Episcopal News Service, The Living Church, and Anglican.ink all covered the story.  The Anglican.ink article is written by one of the lawyers who argued for schismatics in California, but gives a clear example of the hairsplitting logic used by the court.

Jesus College Won't Appeal Decision on Statue

Last week, Update carried a story on the outcome of a petition by Jesus College to remove from its chapel a memorial to a major benefactor of the college in its early years. Much of the benefactor's wealth had come from investments in slave trading. The College had intended to display it in another place on campus where it could be contextualized.  Because the Chapel is listed as a historic building the College needed approval from the Diocese.  The Chancellor ruled against the college.  This week, came word that the College did not want to spend additional resources on an appeal.  This disappointed many.  Archbishop Welby weighed in saying he understood that the court had ruled, but that he still hoped a way could be found to eventually move the memorial from the chapel.

Japan Consecrates Its First Woman Bishop 

In December 2021, Update noted the November election of Maria Grace Tazu Sasamori as bishop in the Nippon Sei Ko Kai, (the Anglican Communion Province in Japan).  She would be the first woman to serve as bishop in East Asia, and the second in the whole of Asia.   On Saturday she was consecrated as Bishop of Hokkaido.  She has been a priest in the Diocese of Tokyo.  The diocese of Hokkaido has 24 parishes.  Bishop Sasamori will be a pioneer in Japan because although Japan began ordaining women as priests in 1998, three of their eleven dioceses still do not do so.  Sasamori had been the Dean of St. Andrew's Cathedral in Tokyo.