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         

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Week Ending 5/23/22

 I apologize for the silence of the last several weeks.  I was traveling and all attempts to reach the blog site to post were blocked by the internet providers.  What follows is a long post with notices from What would have been the posts for weeks ending  May 9 and May 16 as well as May 23.

Episcopal Church Leaders Affirm Commitment to Right to Choose

Following the leaked draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that signals a major overturn of Roe v. Wade and abortion rights, the President of the House of Deputies and Office of Government Relations issued a statement reiterating The Episcopal Church's support of the right of a woman to make all decisions related to her health care with, including an abortion.   The church's position has always recognized the sacredness of life, but stresses that includes women's lives, and while not supporting abortion as a mere convenience, sees the right to make decisions about reproductive health as essential to affirming the value of women.   The full statement is here.

Short, Smaller General Convention May Discuss Resolution on Open Communion

In response to the recent surge in covid-19 infections, including those tied to  Episcopal Church meetings, including this one, the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies, asked for a small planning commission to propose a way to limit possible infection and shorten the length of the upcoming General Convention.  The result is a 4 day convention with all ancillary group meetings eliminated,  limited in attendance to active bishops, deputies and first alternates, and dealing with only crucial legislation and elections.  One of the major proposals slated to be discussed at convention was a resolution which would open communion to the unbaptized.  The convention agenda has not yet been formalized to with enough detail to know if this controversial proposal will be discussed and voted on or not.

Sri Lankan Bishops Urge Government to Address Economic Issues

Sri Lanka has been hit by a rampant inflation and other economic woes that have left many in that country desperate, leading to violent protests.  The Bishops of the Church of Ceylon (the Anglican Communion province for Sri Lanka) have issued an open statement calling on the government to address the economic crisis before a "catastrophe" occurs,  and "listen to the cries of the people."  Rather than focus on suppressing demonstrations, the government needs to create and publicize short and long term plans to address the crisis. 

No Surprise -Trinity School For Ministry Picks ACNA Priest as Head

Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA has announced the choice of a new Dean and President of the seminary.   The Rev. Canon Dr. Bryan C. Hollon  will take the reins from the Rev. Dr. Laurie Thomson.  A well-published scholar, Hollon is currently a professor  of theology at Malone University, a small liberal arts college with about 800 undergraduates and 300 graduate students.  The college has its roots as a Bible College, but now offers a wide range of majors.  Hollon is one of two faculty members in the Department of Bible, Theology, and Ministry and serves as the director of the University's Center for Christian Faith and Culture.  His Ph.D. is from Baylor University in Texas, and his M.Div from Fuller Theological Seminary in California, and was ordained a priest in ACNA in 2015.
Trinity is confirming its position as an ACNA institution with this hire, and it remains a mystery why the Episcopal Church still lists it as one of its seminaries.

Continuing Themes

South Carolinians Begin Implementing Court Ruling

The fallout from the South Carolina Supreme Court Opinion giving all the diocesan property and 14 of the parishes currently participating in the ACNA diocese to the Episcopal diocese is still in its early stages. The ACNA Standing Committee has issued a statement saying that the diocese is not pursuing further legal hearings.  Eight individual parishes, have, however, asked for a rehearing of their cases Steve Skardon, Jr. who has had a blog focused on the SC Episcopal Church situation since 2004 has a May 4 essay that documents the initial reactions of the two groups, and provides commentary showing that the ACNA Diocese did not have the best interests of its parishes  in mind throughout the litigation.  Bishop Ruth Woodliff-Stanley of the Episcopal Diocese has noted that the talks about implementation have moved from an initial meeting between the two bishops to a larger group including others from the two dioceses in order to begin discussion of the handover of the property.

Australian Synod Divided on Same Sex Marriage

The Australian Anglican Church Synod met May 8-13, with one of its majors issues a response to a desire of several dioceses to bless same sex marriages, and a ruling by the church court that nothing stood legally in the way of doing this.  Two resolutions were presented to the synod, one supporting same sex blessing and one insisting that marriage  was between one man and one woman.  Neither resolution passed both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops, leaving the province in a standoff. A majority of Bishops supported the same sex marriage resolution, and a majority of the Deputies supported the one man, one woman resolution.  In civil law, same sex marriage is legal in Australia. As a result, GAFCON, which had organized an alternative "diocese" in July 2021, has issued a statement of shock, and will probably move forward inviting parishes to affiliate with its alternative as they did in New Zealand

Pandemic Forces Changes in Homeless Ministries

Before the pandemic, a number of Episcopal parishes participated in rotational shelters for the homeless where several local churches each took a turn at providing a week of housing in their building.  When the pandemic struck and church buildings closed, so did the rotational shelter.  In a number of places those working with the homeless then scrambled to find alternative housing.  Some rented a fixed space (such as a motel or former school).  These proved to give the homeless greater stability and has resulted in a change in how the parishes participate in helping the homeless, with no intention to return to a rotation.  Christianity Today has an article on the change.  Update has had a series of articles on ministries to the homeless before and during the pandemic.  The most recent is here.

United Methodists Begin Dividing

Because the United Methodist Church has been in conversations about full communion with The Episcopal Church, and both churches were planning on bringing a proposal to their general governance, Update has been following the debate and divisions within the Methodists over the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in all aspects of the Methodist Church life.  Update recently carried a notice of the body conservatives have created for congregations withdrawing from the United Methodists.  Christianity Today had an article detailing more about the new group and how congregations may join it.  This leaves the United Methodist body to pursue greater inclusion, which would put it more in line with The Episcopal Church positions. 

Lawsuit Filed in ACNA Abuse Mess

Update has been following the growing problems ACNA is facing in the Midwest due to the cover-up of a prominent lay church worker at one of the diocese's largest parishes.  The fall-out caused the resignation of several bishops (including the Pittsburgh one), two different organized groups of survivors, and two different investigations. Now, the family of a child abused by the worker has filed a civil lawsuit for damages, naming parishes, dioceses, and the whole of ACNA as complicit in the abuse.  The family hopes it will lead to others who were abused stepping forward.


Episcopal Elections Reinforce Diversity of the Church

Recent news about bishop elections in three dioceses, and the announcement that the Chicago Bishop elect, Paula Clark, has finally recovered enough from a serious stroke to have a consecration scheduled for September 2022, illustrate the growing diversity of the Episcopal episcopate. Clark will be Chicago's first black and first female to serve the diocese as Bishop. The dioceses of Massachusetts, Louisiana, and Florida have just concluded elections with the result that one conservative white male Charles Holt in Florida), one white male in a same sex marriage (Paul Mello in Massachusetts), and one white woman (Shannon Rogers Duckworth in Louisiana)  are joining the Episcopate.   Thus by the end of the year, the Church will have added one more black, two women, one gay male and one conservative male to the episcopacy.  Holt's election raised concerns among LGBTQ+ people in the diocese, but Holt says he will be a bishop to all, and firmly supports the resolution B012 which provides a means for parishes to conduct marriages for same sex couples. Update has long followed episcopal elections that create diversity (see a recent post here).  Readers may enjoy a picture of the women bishops who attended the March 2022 House of Bishops meeting.

Oxford Controversy Just Won't Go Away

 The controversy at Christ Church, Osford between the Dean and the faculty and board, seemed to have come to a conclusion with the announcement in February of a buy-out settlement with the Dean.  Update did note that there was a study underway on the governance of the college, but the Dean was back in the news this week.  He and his bishop ended up at odds over the service marking the end of the Dean's time at  Christ Church.  The Dean wanted to preach, but the bishop said "no."  Then the ceremony was moved to a location not under the control of the bishop, and the Dean used his sermon to get in final jabs at his opponents.  The web site thinkinganglicans.org  has compiled several accounts of this (hopefully) final chapter in this controversy.

GAFCON and ACNA Continue to Snub Lambeth 2022

 When the initial invitations went out for what was to be Lambeth 2020 (now Lambeth 2022), the Archbishop of Canterbury invited ANCA bishops to attend as ecumenical observers.  This did not sit well with the ACNA Archbishop, and he called it an insult, since he thought he should be invited as a member of the Anglican Communion.  Now that Lambeth is drawing near, GAFCON (also currently headed by the ACNA Archbishop) has put out another statement saying why they won't be attending.  The usual Archbishops from Uganda, Nigeria, and Rwanda/Burundi have said they will boycott Lambeth because the Anglican Communion has invited bishops from countries where LGBTQ+ people are included.

Episcopal Church Responds to Latest Mass Shootings

The mass shootings in Buffalo and at the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas have elicited very quick responses from the Episcopal Leadership, and offers of support for the families of the victims.   The Episcopal News Service has articles on the statements on Buffalo here, and the statement by Bishop Reed of West Texas here.  Update has carried notice of the demonstrations organized at recent General Conventions by Bishops Against Gun Violence, and of previous statements issued by church leaders.

Dioceses of Texas and North Texas Fast-Track Merger

The Episcopal Church in North Texas (i.e. Fort Worth) and the Diocese of Texas are wasting no time moving forward with a merger proposal.  A special diocesan convention in Fort Worth has been called for June 18, and the Diocese of Texas will meet June 9.  These dates will allow the dioceses to ask for approval of the merger at the July streamlined General Convention.  The dioceses have created a special web site with information here.  Update carried the original announcement of a possible merger here  This is the second of the five dioceses most directly affected by schism to merge with a larger diocese in the same state.  The Diocese of Quincy became a deanery within the Diocese of Chicago in 2011.  Earlier this year, three of the Wisconsin dioceses also moved forward with a plan to merge. While not a formal merger, and requiring no approval from General convention, the bishops of three dioceses in New England have announced an agreement where they will serve as assisting bishops in each other's dioceses, another creative way of dealing with changing circumstances in dioceses with small memberships. The bishops of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont are involved in the arrangement. 

Latest on Church Responses to War in Ukraine 

The Church of Wales has sent a request to the World Council of Churches distance itself from the  Russian Orthodox Church  because of Russian Church's support for the  invasion of the Ukraine. The Anglican Communion News site has more on this action.  Update has had several notices of the response by churches to the Ukraine invasion.  The most recent is here.