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, September 28, 2022

Week Ending 09/26/22

Support Urged for Federal Law on Same Sex Marriage

The recent decision overturning Roe v Wade on abortion raised concerns about other rights discerned in Supreme Court decisions, especially the decisions barring states from blocking interracial and same sex marriages.  The situation for same sex marriage is complicated by a 1996 law that declared marriage to be between one man and one woman.  As a result a new Law has been proposed, the Respect for Marriage Act which would protect and affirm as legal interracial and same sex marriages. On September 16, 2022,  the Episcopal Church was one of the signers of an interfaith letter sent to members of the Senate urging passage of the act,  and this week the Episcopal Policy Network sent out a notice asking Episcopalians to urge their senators to vote for the measure.  The Episcopal News Service has more on this effort here.

Parish Pays Voluntary Tax to Indigenous Tribe

St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church in Madison, Wisconsin, made a study last year about how to acknowledge that they occupy land originally claimed by indigenous people.  They decided to add a line item under "expenses" (not "outreach") for $3000 which they are paying as a voluntary tax for their use of indigenous land.  The payment goes to the Wisconsin Inter-Tribal Reparations Committee which represents the eleven federally recognized tribes of Wisconsin.   Episcopal News Service has more on this decision. 

Tutu's Daughter Barred from Conducting Funeral in England

The Bishop of Hereford denied Bishop Tutu's daughter, The Revd Mpho Tutu van Furth, the right to have any participation in the funeral service of her godfather, 93 year-old Martin Kenyon because she is married to another woman.  Kenyon had asked her to officiate  Tutu van Furth was ordained in 2003 in The Episcopal Church.  In 2015 she married Marceline van Furth, a professor of medicine in the Netherlands.  The church in South Africa revoked her license, but she conducts church services in Amsterdam.  The funeral was moved to a marquee at the rectory near the church and Tutu van Furth conducted the service there.   The denial has resulted in a flurry of posts, expecially as the Church of England is trying to find a way to be more inclusive of LGBTQ people while still maintaining a stance against church recognition of same sex marriage. Thinking Anglicans has more on the reactions.

Continuing Stories

Long Delayed Celebration in Chicago for New Bishop

In April 2021 Paula Clark, the bishop-elect of the Diocese of Chicago suffered a brain bleed. The consecration of what was to be Chicago's first Black and first woman bishop was put on hold while she went through months of recovery and therapy.  The challenges of her 18 month recovery were deepened by the death of her husband from a quick-moving cancer in November 2021.  The brain bleed left her with some long-term physical challenges, but on September 17, 2022 she walked down the aisle in a joyous rite of ordination. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was chief consecrator, Bishop Mariann Budde preached.  Thirty bishops were present and the six co-consecrating bishops included 3 women (two of whom were also the first African American women to lead their dioceses), and three men (one of whom was the first African American and first gay to lead his diocese, and another the local ELCA bishop).  In a service beginning an hour later in Salt Lake City,  Phyllis Spiegel  was consecrated as the Bishop of Utah.  Bishop Budde noted that Spiegel was watching via live stream the Chicago service until her own began, and Chicago greeted Spiegel who was also making history as the first woman to lead the Utah diocese. Spiegel's chief consecrator was former Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori.   Update carried notices of Clark's initial election, stroke, husband's death and recovery, most recently here.

Sydney Diocese Declares Breach of Communion

In a not-unexpected move, the Diocese of Sydney in Australia has voted that there is a breach of fellowship with the reset of the Anglican Church of Australia.  The vote at a diocesan synod was in response to the outcome of the Australian Church's last synod where that body did not pass a resolution saying defining marriage as an rite applying only to one man and one woman. The Sydney vote moves the Australian Church one step closer to a split, following on the heels of the implementation of a GAFCON sponsored diocese led by the former bishop of the Sydney Diocese. 

South Carolina Diocese Announces Legal Settlement

No sooner had the Diocese of South Carolina posted a full packet of pictures on its Facebook site, celebrating the return of Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant, than it broke other news on the legal transition front. After several weeks of intensive negotiations and mediation the Episcopal Diocese and the ACNA diocese had reached a final property settlement covering a variety of loose ends involving diocesan property, but provided few details.  A message to the Episcopal Diocese on September 27 outlined more of the specifics.  All real estate held by the Board of Trustees is to be returned to the Episcopal Diocese including the bishops residence, St. Christopher's Camp (including all of its assets, equipment, and banks accounts), properties in Santee and a rental site in Charleston. The records of the diocese will be available for copying by both groups and then the originals will go to the South Carolina Historical society.  After time for copying, the portraits of all bishops will be returned to the Episcopalians.  The historic silver without a parish claim will go to the South Carolina Museum, or another mutually agreed on museum.  There are a series of quit claims executed to confirm mission properties, a turnover of additional financial assets to the Episcopal Diocese, and a pledge for no future litigation.  The ACNA diocese is also withdrawing its appeal of the federal trademark decision. The Episcopal Diocese waived any claim on the leasehold of the former Diocesan Offices.   The day before the details were issued, blogger Steve Scaradon posted speculations on the possible terms.  His comments on several of the properties are useful for background.  Update has followed the split, legal issues and return of property in a series of posts, the most recent is here.


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Week Ending 09/19/22

St. Martha's Vineyard Parish Rescues Refugees

When the Florida Governor decided to try to embarrass northern liberals by dumping unsuspecting load of refugees northern locations, he didn't figure on the Episcopalians of Martha's Vineyard,  On September 13, a private plane dropped 43 Spanish speaking refugee families seeking asylum off without any notice to the island officials.  The refugees had been recruited in San Antonio with promises that they would be taken to Boston where jobs and housing awaited them.  They had spent all day on the plane without meals, and after being dumped at airport on the island of Martha's Vineyard had started walking.  Their walk ended when Episcopalians at St. Andrews Church of Edgartown, quickly mobilized, turned their parish hall and basement into emergency shelter, arranged for meals, got a Spanish class from the local high school acting as translators, and began sorting out the immigration status for the migrants. The parish had some experience in housing people since it was part of a homeless shelter program during the winter.  After two days, the migrants were moved to  Joint Base Cape Cod which has more facilities.  The Massachusetts Diocese has provided backup to the parish and is providing some continued support for the migrants after their relocation of Cape Cod. The event backfired on those who had unceremoniously lied to the refugees and dumped them on the summer resort island with a small year-round population because the Episcopalians mobilized the community and responded with radical welcome and aid. The story was carried on national news services.  The Episcopal Church has a strong commitment to helping refugees and migrants.  See the most recent update stories here and here.

Moderator of North India Province Arrested for Fraud

The two provinces in the Anglican Communion  from India are unique bodies merging what were once three different denominations.  However, each is led by a bishop as moderator who participates as a primate in the Anglican Communion.  This last week the moderator of North India was arrested and charged with fraud.  The government is looking at whether the leader of the province had misappropriated funds and also whether the church officials had "bought" converts. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  The moderator of South Indian was cleared in 2019 of similar charges after going through the same arrest and subsequent legal processes.   

Continuing Stories

Millions Watch Ceremonies for Queen Elizabeth II

This last week saw numerous solemn ceremonies as the body of Queen Elizabeth II was brought from her Scottish home to Edinburgh and then to London.  Well over a quarter of a million people patiently wanted in a line that stretched at its peak to 5 miles with a potential wait of 25 hours in order to file past the Queen's coffin as it lay in state.  On Monday, dignitaries gathered at Westminster Abby for the official funeral service followed my a solemn procession to Windsor where for the committal service. Millions watched services on television and computers and many more in London parks where large screen T.V. provided the broadcast.  It was a moment where Anglican liturgy was at its best  as it laid to rest a woman who had loved the church.   Update carried news of her death and statements by the heads of state and church last week. 

The Latest on the South Carolina Property Transitions. 

This last Sunday, another church building was reopened by the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant has roots dating back to the early 18th century.  The South Carolina Diocese prepared for the reopening by creating a set of You-Tube videos by the the Rev. Furman Buchanan who had been  appointed to serve the church as priest during the rebuilding, but there were no immediate news stories available on the reopening on September 18th, and the parish web site as of this posting still is directing people to the schismatic ACNA parish. The videos are available both on the Diocese of South Carolina You-Tube channel and on the diocesan Facebook page.   Meanwhile, the parish is preparing for the turnover of the St. Christopher's Conference Center and Camp on October 1.  The Diocese has recruited a couple with impressive experience in running church conference centers to lead St. Christophers.  The scepiscopalians.com blog for September 13  has comments on how the ACNA group management has erased the center's Episcopal roots.  Update has carried stories on the previous reopenings of recovered buildings.  The latest is here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Week Ending 9/12/21

Churches Mark the Death of Queen Elizabeth

The death of the 96 year old Queen Elizabeth II, has led the news all week.  As the titular head of the Church of England, leaders throughout the Anglican Communion posted statements on her death.  This article has a good sampling of those statements, including one from The Episcopal Church's Presiding bishop. 

Singapore removes last penalty on LBTQA+

When Singapore removed the criminal statutes on oral and anal sex several years ago, they did not remove the ban on sex between two men, but they stopped enforcing it.  Now the government has lifted that ban, but evangelical Christians are opposing removal and want guarantees that marriage will remain legal only for a man and a woman. The issue has divided Christians, some approving of the removal of the final criminal penalty. Evangelicals (including Anglicans)  are worried that the government wants to reserve marriage for heterosexual couples in a process that is easier to change than a constitutional protection.  Given that the Anglican province of South Eastern Asia has been one of the strongest opponents of LGBTQA rights and is active in GAFCON, the change begins a process of eroding that position.

Continuing Stories.

Florida Sets Date on Redo for Bishop Election

The Diocese of Florida's Standing Committee has announced that the Diocese will hold an in-person convention on November 19 to elect a bishop coadjutor.  There are 3 candidates, including Charles Holt, whose May election was ruled invalid because of a lack of a quorum in the clergy order.  The Standing Committee has set a period for additional nomination by petition, and has said there will be one round of meetings to introduce the candidates.  More details will soon be available.   Update carried notices of the earlier failed election, the protest, investigation,  Holt's decision to rescind his acceptance of election, and the decision to hold another election.  The most recent post is here

Two Queensland Clergy Join GAFCON Diocese

Two clergy have announced they are resigning their parishes in the Queensland diocese, as a result of the Australian Anglican Church's failure to endorse resolutions limiting ordination of and marriage by LGBTQ+ members.  The result left decisions on these matters to individual bishops and dioceses.  The clergy and parts of their congregations are joining GAFCON's schismatic new diocese the Diocese of the Southern Cross.  In Australia, the legal status of property is clear.  It remains with the Australian Church.   At this point, there has been no major rush of conservative clergy to leave dioceses. Update has carried earlier stories announcing the creation of the GAFCON Diocese.  These are the first two clergy to join.

ACNA Parish Asks for Rehearing 

In South Carolina, eight parishes that the South Carolina Supreme Court returned to the Episcopal Church, asked for a rehearing.  The Court dropped one of eight immediately but seven of the parishes got a rehearing. and the court reversed its two earlier rulings and said they could remain in the ACNA diocese.  The court's new "final" opinion granted six of the parishes the right to stay in ACNA with their property.  As Update reported earlier, the Episcopalians then filed paperwork asking for a rehearing on two of the six because the court decision was based on evidence that had not been litigated, and Episcopalians had not had a chance to present evidence.  Now it has been announced that the one parish whose rehearing was denied at the final stage has asked for another rehearing.  The ball is now fully in the South Carolina Supreme Court's court.  They may be regretting their decision to allow any rehearings given that this is becoming a case which simply won't end.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Week Ending 09/05/22

Diocese Brings Water to Jackson MS

Jackson Mississippi has long suffered with a crumbling infrastructure, including its water system.  A recent flood, however, has resulted in the shutdown of the system, orders to boil water before using it, and many sections of the city without any water service at all.  The Diocese of Mississippi sent an 18 wheeler truck filled with cases of bottled water to the New Horizons Church which was situated in a key area for distribution.  The Presiding Bishop and the Bishop Brian Seage of Mississippi came up with the $8000 it cost to fill the truck. Bishop Seage lives in Jackson and his household was among those without water.  The diocese has also consulted with Episcopal Relief and Development to prepare for what might be "forgotten issues" in this kind of emergency. 

Haitian Diocesan Officials Arrested

A priest, Frank Cole who serves as the diocesan executive secretary for the Episcopal Church's Diocese of Haiti, and the accountant for the diocese, Jean Gilles Jean Mary, have been arrested by Haitian authorities for gun trafficking.  They are accused of using diocesan funds to import and sell guns and ammunition in large quantities for several years.  The arrests followed the seizure at the airport of a large shipment of weapons and ammunition.  Haitian Society is in chaos and the diocese is divided after a failed election for a new bishop.  The chair of the Diocesan Standing Committee cooperated in the investigation, and issued a statement denying that the diocese had anything to do with the actions of the two employees.  For more see, The Living Church article here.

Continuing Stories

South Carolina Episcopalians Appeal Decision on Two Properties 

When the South Carolina Supreme Court's latest decision gave the last 6 contested properties to those who had left the Episcopal Church, it seemed that litigation had reached its end.  However, that turns out not to be the case for two of the parishes, the ones that the court said had acceded to the Episcopal Church Constitution and Canons after 2006, but also then had properly revoked that accession.  The Episcopal Diocese however has filed papers asking the court to reconsider because the issue of when the accession was made had not been litigated for these two parishes and the Episcopalians had never had a chance to show that the parishes had affirmed an accession after 1979 when the Dennis Canon was added and before 2006 when South Carolina law changed.  The two parishes are Old St. Andrews in Charleston, a parish with origins in the colonial period and The church of the Holy Cross in Stateburg.  The Episcopal Diocese news article has links to the full filings.  Historian Ron Caldwell has comments on this latest action here.

Property Transitions Continue in South Carolina 

Meanwhile, the ACNA diocese has begun the process of handing over the properties that were returned to the Episcopal Church.  The ACNA congregations are mostly moving to nearby rented space in schools while keeping their names.  The Episcopal Diocese has been naming the clergy who will care for each of the returned properties and Episcopalians who will once again be able to worship in the historic spaces.  The transition date for the St. Christopher's Camp site is the beginning of OctoberBlogger Steve Skardon notes that the congregations leaving are not necessarily doing so with any kind of grace.  Clergy have dredged up old claims of Episcopal heresy and there has been some vandalism of buildings, while Episcopalians returning are trying to put behind them memories of mistreatment that forced them from the parishes in 2013.

More Feeding the Hungry

Update has carried numerous stories about Episcopal parishes and dioceses feeding the hungry and poor.  (See, for example this story.)  However,t he Diocese of Northern California has started a process on a much larger scale that will both provide food and help the environment.  The diocese is encouraging parishes to use their land to create gardens that will provide both food and be more environmentally sound that large expanses of mowed grass.  Parishes in Northern California often were able to buy generous tracts of land as they built their buildings.  Now they are being encouraged to invite the community to create gardens on the land.   This kind of community garden program has been done on much smaller scale in a number of other dioceses.  In a more traditional approach to feeding the hungry, St. Luke's Parish in Stephenville, Texas has been featured on the Episcopal Church's North Texas web site for a food pantry that feeds 500 families every month.

More Fallout and Comment on GAFCON's Australian Diocese

George Browning, a retired bishop in the Australia Anglican Church has written a blog article that on the GAFCON-created "diocese" to be led by Retired super low-church Glen Davies.  Browning's point is simply that this is schismatic and it is not Anglican, no matter what GAFCON wants to call it.  Browning makes clear that the Diocese of the Southern Cross is outside the Anglican communion, and that if the Australian primate (also a member of GAFCON) tries to treat it as somehow inside the church, he is creating a real mess. Meanwhile the ACNA Archbishop and current head of GAFCON, Foley Beach, has written to Archbishop Welby of the Anglican Communion, almost as if he is a part of the that Communion (which he is not) about the Australian developments.  Beach claims the new structure is just a "safe haven" for those who cannot stay within dioceses that have begun "unbiblical" practices and that they are not schismatic.  It would be hard to explain how an organization not authorized by the Australian Church and not part of the Anglican Communion could be seen as anything other than schismatic, but Beach is trying to claim that.  Update covered the earlier responses to the announcement of the GAFCON diocese.

Albany Begins Process of Communion Across Differences

The Diocese of Albany had announced earlier that it was going to try a version of the conversations held before the schisms of 2008-2012.  The conversations of "communion across difference" had brought together Episcopalians with very different positions of theological and social issues.  The purpose of the Albany conversations would be to try to find a path for the diocese to follow that owuld allow those with very different positions to contribute a the diocese.  Assisting bishops Smith and Gallagher were charged with getting the conversation going, and they have now asked for volunteers from the diocese to form the core group of discussants.  Both clergy and laity are being sought.  It seems that the diocese may actually be serious about finding ways to repair the damage done by years of divisiveness.