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, January 10, 2023

Week Ending 1/9/23

Anglican Cemetery Vandalized in Jerusalem

Mount Zion Cemetery in Jerusalem was vandalized by two men in conservative Jewish garb.  The cemetery is owned and maintained by the Church Missionary Trust Association (an Anglican entity), and has been the site of burials since the beginning of the 19th century.  To get an idea of the damage, and hear from some Israeli Jews who were appalled at the damage to the historic property, watch this news video.  The Archbishop of Canterbury, and many other church leaders, including Presiding Bishop Curry have condemned the vandalism.  Many news stories referred to the cemetery as the "Protestant" cemetery in Jerusalem.  The Israeli government is supposed to be trying to find and arrest the two men. 

Continuing Threads

Largest United Methodist Church in South Carolina Begins Withdrawal Process

Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church is South Carolina's largest Methodist congregation with over 5100 members.  The congregation has begun the official discernment process which will end in a vote on whether to leave for a new conservative Methodist body, or stay part of the UMC. Those wishing to break away in 2023 must complete the discernment and voting process by March 1.   This is the latest conservative congregation to start the process.  The major issue is that the UMC is headed towards approval of same-sex marriage and ordination of LGBTQ+ people.  Update has carried notices of the division because the UMC and The Episcopal Church have sent a proposal for full communion between the two bodies to their governing conventions. The most recent previous article is here

Church of England Bishop Offers Rationale for Changing Mind to Support Same-Sex Marriage. 

Update has carried several stories on the discussion around the latest Church of England study document covering possible Church approval of same-sex marriage.  After a discussion at the House of Bishops, several bishops previously opposed to same-sex marriage have announced a change of heart.  One of the bishops, Bishop John Inge of the Diocese of Worcester, has now issued an extended statement explaining his reasons for  now supporting same-sex marriage.  You can read the whole letter here.  It makes a number of theological points on how scripture should be interpreted in light of experience and science.  

English Church Releases Full Study on Its Complicity in Slavery

The Church of England leaders were surprised to learn how deeply the church had benefited  from the institution of slavery, especially financially.  The detailed study of its complicity has now been released, and the report also includes a number of suggested action steps, including committing L 100 million to investment, research and grants with special attention to those affected by historic slavery. The whole report is here.  The study is an outgrowth of a closer look by whole Anglican communion at the issue of slavery.  Update has reported on other parts of this effort, including this post. 

Presiding Bishop Curry Urges Support for Historic Black Colleges 

In what has become an annual appeal by Presiding bishop Michael Curry, he has urged that Episcopalians consider making donations to the Historic Black Colleges affiliated with the Episcopal Church as part of their commemoration of Absalom Jones Day in early February.  Absalom Jones who was born enslaved, but became free, was the first  African-American to be ordained deacon and later priest in the Episcopal Church.  He shepherded blacks in Philadelphia through the process of founding a black congregation in the late 18th and early 19th century.   

Christ Anglican Issues Its Own Statement Following Interruption of Service

Christ Church Anglican in Irvington, New Jersey is the object of a turf battle between the Church of Nigeria's American branch and ACNA.  The battle led to a physical confrontation in the midst of a service, and statements from the Anglicans. Update covered these earlier stories. What is clear from the account is that the congregation used a legal action required to comply with Nigerian changes in diocesan structure,  as a means of  trying to abandon the Nigerian Church for ACNA.  The press release issued by the parish is long and appeared on Facebook.  That page does not have a direct link, but David Virtue reprinted the whole press release on his web site.  You can read it there. Despite the efforts of the church to justify its actions, it is clear that the Church of Nigeria tried to assert its authority and claims in a timely manner, is not happy that its tactics of creating schismatic parishes has been used on them.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Week Ending 1/2/23

 Maine Canon To Lead Land Mine Effort

The Canon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of Maine, the Rev. Michael Ambler, has stepped down from that role to focus on a long-term project of his, clearing landmines left in Laos during the Vietnam War.  Laos is the most heavily land-mined country on earth.  He will be working with 80 mine-clearing teams.  He also will serve as a consultant to the Maine bishop with a focus on conflict resolution in the Maine Diocese.

"Winter Talk" Will Live Stream

The "Winter Talk" is an inter-tribal annual event sponsored by the Episcopal Church's Office of Indigenous Ministries.  It is a conference highlighting indigenous traditions and contributions within the church and this year will include a session on the General Convention resolution directing dioceses to research and explore the treatment of native youth in church-run boarding schools.  There will also be a variety of other activities. and presentations including an annual status report.  Both the President of the House of Deputies and Presiding bishop Curry will attend and speak. The conference is a hybrid event, hosted on an Oneida reservation in Wisconsin  with in person activities designed to mark the 200th anniversary of the reservation and events also available virtually.  The "Winter Talk" is scheduled for January 21-23, 2023 and those interested in attending virtually should register for the live stream, which you can do here.

Continuing Threads

Judges Recuse Selves in Methodist Case

At least twelve Arkansas judges have recused themselves from the law suit filed by First United methodist Church in Jonesboro.  The congregation had voted to withdraw from the United Methodist denomination, but the district Conference did not approve.  Update noted that the Conference had moved to take over the congregation and suspended its minister after they voted a second time to leave.  What is now clear is that at the second meeting those present also voted to alter their governing documents.  This is what prompted the Conference to step in.  The judges have asked the State to provide a special judge to hear the lawsuit filed by the congregation challenging the Conference.  Apparently too many of the local judges have ties to the Methodists. 

Nigerian Archbishop Releases Bishop to ACNA

Bishop Felix Orji who led his U.S. parishes into ACNA has been released in good standing from the Anglican Church of Nigeria and is free to affiliate with ACNA.  Some of the American congregations in the entity that Nigeria set up as an alternative to the Episcopal Church chose to remain with Nigeria.  Orji's move is also part of the background to the competing claims on a New Jersey congregation that led to a physical confrontation.  The release came very shortly after the Nigerian Archbishop released a statement saying that the bishops in charge of the Nigerian missions in the U.S. had acted without his knowledge.  The release seems timed to help gloss over a very awkward situation.