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, August 16, 2022

Week Ending 8/15/22

 Lutheran Synod Makes Familiar Moves

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, which is in full communion with The Episcopal Church held its National Synod, i.e. their version of General Convention.Many of the actions they took will sound familiar to those who have followed Episcopal General Conventions.  Like the TEC, the Lutherans elected a racial precedent shattering vice president of the denomination (in their case a lay South Asian Muslim convert).  Like, TEC, the Lutherans are trying acknowledge and repair the damage they have done to indigenous people.  The Lutheran Synod voted to create a committee to study structural reorganization of the denomination, something Episcopalians did several General Conventions ago.  You can read more about the synod here

Continuing Stories.

Election of Florida Bishop Ruled Irregular

At the end of May, Update carried a story on protest/complaint challenging the procedures used to elect the Rev. Charles Holt as the next bishop of the Diocese of Florida.  The Presiding bishop sent the complaint to the Court of Review for such matters, and that body has now issued findings confirming the election was held without a legal quorum, and that there were numerous other irregularities in the way the diocese tried to institute a last minute on-line option for clergy only.  The report  (full report available here) will be sent to all Bishops and Standing Committees who are now able to vote on whether to approve the election. The challenge delayed the date of consecration, and has made the approval uncertain.

More Lambeth Fallout

Comments, reflections and attempts by the Global South leadership to redefine the Anglican communion, continue in the aftermath of the Lambeth Conference.  The web site Thinking Anglicans has a good collection of retrospective comments from English bishops and some others.  Most were grateful for a time to be with other bishops from around the world and learn about their challenges.  Most also noted that the conference was not focused on sexuality, but rather on a whole range of challenges from evangelism to climate change. All were relieved that the conference did not try to create some definitive statements. The Episcopal News Service did its own collective overview by using comments from a variety of social media posts by Episcopal Church bishops. Blogger Mark Harris has some good thoughts about the attempts of the Global South to redefine the Anglican Communion.  Update has listed many other reactions to the meeting in last week's post

Scottish Bishop Gets Reprieve from Suspension

The first woman to serve as a bishop in the Scottish Episcopal Church, Anne Dyer,  has been the subject of complaints that she has been rude and bullied members of her flock.  This week in quick order the Scots bishops suspended her, and she appealed, an action that immediately lifted the suspension until the appeal has been heard and decided. Update has carried several notices on this controversy, the most recent previous one is here.

More on the South Carolina Property Transitions 

Both the ACNA diocese and the Episcopal Church now have materials on their web sites covering the property transitions for the 7 parishes where there is no further legal action.  The ACNA group has a listing where they are showing potential (or completed) transition dates and giving the location for worship of that part of the congregation that has chosen to stay in ACNA.  The Episcopal News Service has an article covering the transitions from the Episcopal Church side.  The South Carolina Episcopal Diocese is just putting up individual news stories announcing the name of the clergy person who is working with the parish and inviting people to the service.  There is going to be a fair amount of confusion as both ACNA and Episcopal congregations are using the historic parish name and ACNA groups are trying to find sites to use close by. (see the St. David's Cheraw sites as examples here and here.   It will be interesting to see how things shake out over time.  There are another 7 parishes who have asked the South Carolina Supreme Court to reconsider their decision that the property belongs to the Episcopalians, and it is not clear how long the court will let things drag out.   Update has covered the transitions that are already under way, most recently here

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Week Ending 08/08/22

Christopher Wells Appointed to Anglican Communion Post

The Archbishop of Canterbury has announced the appointment of the Communion's Director of  Unity, Faith and Order.   Wells is the current chair of the Board of Directors, for the Living Church, and was the paper's editor from 2009-2019. He has a long association with Episcopal conservatives, especially the group called "Communion Partners," who are opposed to same sex marriage, but have not left the Episcopal Church.  Wells is also a part-time instructor at Nashotah House which walks a very fine line between ACNA and the Episcopal Church.  It is an appointment that should provide some reassurance the Global South bishops.  What his appointment means for the Episcopal Church and other liberal member churches of the Anglican Communion, such as Canada, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, and Scotland will only be apparent over time.

Continuing Stories

Lambeth Closes With Lines Drawn But No Decision 

The Lambeth meeting of Anglican Communion bishops concluded with a focus on issues ranging from climate change,  to persecution of christians and  gun violence.  On these issues bishops divided over sexuality could find common ground and compassionate listening. A good overview of the meeting is here.  However, the lines remain drawn.  For a summary of the standoff on sexuality go here.  The Global South issued a communique after the meeting which began with concerns and challenges facing the whole world but ended with a long section saying they would continue to push from what they considered orthodoxy and building a coalition against the members of the Communion they saw as holding heretical opinions. The liberal bishops published a document affirming their love and acceptance of LGBTQ+ people and their support for full inclusion in the church.  This document was signed by 164 bishops from at least 12 different Anglican Provinces.  The published list has signatures through August 7.  It does not include Pittsburgh's bishop, Ketlen Solak.   Update had a mid-meeting brief on Lambeth last week

Episcopal Leaders Participate in Legal Challenge to Abortion Law

With the media focused on Lambeth, the participation of the Episcopal Church in a lawsuit challenging a  Florida abortion law on the basis of religious freedom not gotten the attention it deserves.  The Episcopal Church is part of a religious coalition including Reform Judaism, Buddhism,  the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Church that filed suit in Miami -Dade courts to challenge the Florida law banning abortions after 15 weeks. The suit argues that the law violates the faith-based groups constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of religion, and the separation of Church and State because there are penalties for anyone who advises, consults or aids someone seeking an abortion after 15 weeks.  The Episcopal Church has long stated that abortion is a matter of conscience and that the state should not prevent a woman in consultation with a doctor choosing the best reproductive health options for herself. Update carried notice of statements issued earlier this year following the Supreme Court decision.    

Churches Respond to Latest Natural Disaster

The Diocese of Lexington and Episcopal Relief and Development are already providing help to the parts of Kentucky that were hit hard in recent flash floods.  This is the latest in a long list of examples of the Church responding to such events.  For more on the Kentucky aid go here, and for a past example carried by Update, look here.

Anglicans Concerned by Latest Chinese Actions in Hong Kong

The Chinese government has been exerting stronger and stronger controls over expression in Hong Kong, and now has sent an administrator to that city who is known for his crack-down and closing of christian worship communities.  The Chinese government insists it has the right to review all church publications and ensure they are in line with Chinese government positions.  In Hong Kong, this control is actually creating a shortage of Bibles because printers are afraid to print new copies.  While the article is mostly about pressure on the Roman Catholic Church, Anglicans are also quoted warning about the loss of religious freedom. The current Anglican Archbishop of Hong Kong has previously expressed concerns and will face new pressures on his return from Lambeth.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Week Ending 08/01/22

All Stories are Continuations of Previous Topics


Parish Number Three Returns to South Carolina

The Diocese of South Carolina has now announced plans for a third parish to return to the Episcopal Church following the South Carolina Supreme Court Decision specifying which parish properties had acceded to the Dennis Canon and thus could not leave the Episcopal Church and which were exempt.  Update has already noted the return of St.Johns on St. John Island, and  Christ Church in Mt. Pleasant.  Now the diocese has announced that in August St. David's in Cheraw will also reopen as an Episcopal Parish under the leadership of the priest who has been providing services to a group of Episcopalians meeting in alternative space in Cheraw. There are still a number of parish properties that have not begun the transition, including several that are still trying to get the decision overturned.  

Lambeth Conference Latest Updates 

The meeting of bishops from around the Anglican Communion at Lambeth is now under way, and the situation seems to change every day.  Update reported last week that many bishops felt blindsided by a document outlining the Lambeth Calls that they were to discuss and then either assent to, or promise to give it further study.  There was no way to say "no," and the whole idea of using letting electronic devices to record the votes seemed to violate the promise that this meeting would not be focused on voting on resolutions.  The most controversial item in the calls was slipped in to the document after the working group for that call had finished its work, and it was a reaffirmation of a statement  from 1998 opposing same sex marriage and homosexuality. Since last week's Update was posted, the organizers first added the possibility of voting "no," then scrapped the voting devices and went to oral affirmations through silence, rewrote the controversial call to drop any mention of the 1998 resolution, and reworded the statement so that it said there was no agreement on a position on sexuality in the Communion.  This needless to say, upset the GAFCON bishops attending, and they have written their own resolution to present, refused to take communion at the opening service, and have requested their own separate space for worship since the "sinners" are not being excluded. The outcome of the discussion on this call on "human dignity" has not been made public at this point. Thinking Anglicans has a page with links to the various responses and issues here.  As a warm-up to the human dignity discussion, the bishops took up a set of statements about what constitutes Anglican Identity, and even these raised some hackles since the classic definition outlined in the call does not address morality issues at all, but did propose a fourth body to be created as an instrument of communion.  This was voted down, but a world conference on mission did get the go-ahead.