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, May 3, 2022

Week Ending 5/2/22

Supreme Court Rules on Christian Flag Issue

When an ultra conservative was denied approval to fly the so-called "Christian Flag on the Boston municipal offices, he sued for denial of freedom of speech.  The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Boston City Government should not have denied the flag flying because they had allowed hundreds of groups to fly their flags in place of the municipal flag on a flagpole in front of the municipal offices. The number and variety lent support to the idea that the lack of enforced regulations on the process for applying to fly a specific flag had created an open forum that gave them no grounds to refuse a religious flag.   The decision leaves open the possibility for Boston to create additional regulations on what flags may be flown on the pole.  Both rreligionnews. com and the Associated Press carried stories on the decision.

"Sacred Ground" Initiative Report Shows Impact

The recently concluded Executive Council meeting in Puerto Rico heard reports on the impact that the 3 year-old racial justice initiative, "Sacred Ground" had on participants.  The small group curriculum have been developed by Katrina Brown as a follow-up to her videos on the role her family had played in the slave trade. In three years, the curriculum has reached over 20,000 Episcopalians, and when a sampling of 2900 were surved and reached via focus groups,  over two-thirds said the experience had had a major impact on their understanding of racism.  Ninety-four percent said they learned things that had been left out of their school lessons.  The Sacred Ground curriculum is providing an antidote to recent conservative attempts to bar discussion in schools of racism. 

Continuing Stories

Welby Apologizes for Indigenous Schools Abuse

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, used the occasion of a visit to Canada to announce his own apology to indigenous groups for the role that the Anglican Church has played in forced assimilation and through church-run residential schools. He termed it a "crime."  The children taken from their parents, were punished for any attempt to retain their native cultures, and a number died at the schools.  Canadian Church leaders had apologized in 1993, and more recently have been working to repatriate the bodies of children who died at the schools. 

More Perspective on South Carolina Court Decision

Steve Skardon, whose blog scepiscopalians.com has followed all the developments of the schism in South Carolina and the property law suits, has a piece posted April 25 that provides more perspective on the latest South Carolina Supreme Court opinion which gave diocesan property and 14 contested parishes  now participating in the ANCA group, to the South Carolina Episcopalians. Skardon notes that several of the 14 parishes are shocked at the outcome, and also that the new bishops of both dioceses have met and are trying to build as less contentious relationship.  Update carried the blog's announcement of the decision last week .

Misconduct Issues Grow Ever Larger

Attempts by ACNA leadership to limit the damage that might be done to their denomination by a sexual misconduct investigation continue to make things worse.  The group formed to provide support for the victims has apparently been more interested in mitigation of damages, and was not informing the members of their own committee who were supposed to provide victim support of complaints as they came in.  As a result, four women resigned.  Now one of them has written an article with a time line of ACNA actions and details on how the women with expertise in victim support were kept in the dark, or had their communications to victims suppressed or edited, and how both the Archbishop of ACNA and the bishop he appointed to lead an inquiry, put church reputation above victim support.   The official statement from ACNA  continues to downplay the issues.

Pittsburgh ACNA Elects Bishop

The ACNA Diocese of Pittsburgh elected the one outsider among its three candidates for bishop.   The Rev. Alex Cameron supports ordination of women, which will make the women clergy in that diocese breathe a sigh of relief.  That election will have to be approved by the ACNA House of Bishops before it final. Cameron has led a Canadian Foundation, the Isaiah Forty Foundation since 1936.   It provides leadership and spiritual programs in Canada, and most recently in parts of the U.S.  Cameron is currently residing in Chicago where he is working with a parish;  the Foundation he heads is based in Montreal. The previous Pittsburgh bishop had resigned in 2020 due to his handling of someone connected to a misconduct case that has become a major scandal in ACNA (see previous story). 

Conservatives Begin Implementing Methodist Exit Strategy

When U.S. conservatives and international members joined forces at the last Methodist synod to put stronger provisions into governing documents against LGBTQ members, they touched off forces that have led to the division of the Church.  Initially, liberals talked of leaving, but then a groups worked out a proposal for conservative congregations to form a separate body and leave with their property. Full implementation has been caught up in delays of the next synod due to the covid pandemic.  Now conservatives have announced formation of the Global Methodist Church.  Congregations have to vote to leave the United Methodist Church for the new one, and this will take time.  This development, however, should help clear the way for a full communion agreement between The Episcopal Church and the United Methodists to be accepted at the next major meetings of both denominations. Discussion and approval of the full communion agreement was removed from the  General Convention delayed from 2021 to 2022, and has been referred to 2024 because of Methodist meeting delays.