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, February 8, 2023

 Week Ending 02/06/23

All stories pick up on issues or events we have previously covered.

Continuing Threads

Parish Deals with Bias Incident and Vandalism

Update has carried notices of previous times when vandals have struck Episcopal parishes for their inclusive stands, especially concerning immigrants , the homeless, or LGBTQA support.  See the previous posts here, here, and here.  The latest incident involves Trinity Episcopal Church, Asbury Park, New Jersey.  On the night that Trinity hosted a concert to benefit an anti-racism group in New Jersey, the parish's rainbow coalition flag was torn down and ripped, and an individual tried to pepper spray a group of people outside the church's community building after the concert.  Police are investigating the incidents as possible hate crimes.

Group Criticizes Diocese of Rhode Island for Use of Cathedral Complex

A group posted criticism of the Rhode Island diocese after Archdeacon Grace Swinski raised concerns about growing numbers of unhoused people in a talk in the Rotunda of the State House.  The group claimed that the diocese was sitting on millions of dollars of unused property, namely the St. John's Cathedral complex in Providence and several nearby houses.  The group claimed the building has been vacant since 2010, and that the diocese could sell the historic property for redevelopment, move the graves from the historic graveyard and use the funds to care for those without housing. Update has carried notices of several different diocese and parishes making creative use of church property to address the homeless (See here, here, and here.) However, the Rhode Island diocesan web site documents that the site is not vacant and unused.  In fact the diocese is making creative use of the historic space. The Cathedral site is home to four different groups offering various kinds of outreach and hosting a variety of events.  In addition, the building is on historic registers as is its cemetery and there is a committee working on how best to stabilize and restore the property.  

Another Possible Diocesan Reunion

Over the last decade, several dioceses have explored possible mergers or reunions as program needs, staffing, and finances made the actions attractive, Two of the five diocese that suffered major schisms had reunited with larger dioceses within their states. (Quincy became a deanery of the Diocese of Chicago, and most recently The faithful remnant of the Diocese of Fort Worth (i.e. the Diocese of North Texas) reunited with the Diocese of Texas, once again becoming a deanery of the much larger diocese. The three diocese of Wisconsin (Milwaukee, Eau Claire, and Fond du Lac) are in the midst of exploration of a variety of partnerships and sharing of resources, but have not formally sought permission from General Convention to merge.  Now the bishops of the two dioceses in Indiana (Northern Indiana and Indianapolis) have announced that they will be appointing members to work with a consultant on what are the best questions to use in discernment of reunification.  The bishops have already had conversations with their staffs and diocesan governing bodies, so the formation of the study group is not a surprise to those in the diocese.

Problems in Israel

The Christian community in Jerusalem has been increasingly concerned about attacks on their institutions and the violence between Israelis and Palestinians.  Christian religious leaders issued a statement on January 30 decrying the unwarranted violence and deaths of 32 Palestinians and 7 Israelis since the start of 2023, and tied it to the need to respect the religious traditions and sites of all religions if a lasting peace is ever to occur in the Holy Land. Among those signing the statement was the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, Hosum Nasoum.  Part of the context for that statement was a series of recent attacks by ultra right members of Jewish sects on Christian sites and gathering places, including a restaurant.  One of the sites mentioned in the essay in Religion News exploring the attacks was the Protestant (Anglican) cemetery.  Update had carried an earlier post on the vandalism at the cemetery. 

The Church of England and Same Sex Blessing Debate

This week the Church of England Synod took up the report that has recommendations in it allowing the creation of liturgies to bless same sex unions.  The debate has been very heated because the proposal is a compromise, not going far enough for many supporters of full inclusion of LGBTQA people in the Church, and those who see same sex unions as sinful and contrary to scripture. Meanwhile Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spent time traveling with the leader of the Scottish Presbyterian Church and Pope Francis on a tour where the pope made additional statements about LGBTQA rights.  He was urging countries to end laws criminalizing LGBTQA people, their supporters, and activities.    He drew a line between civil rights and church doctrines precluding same-sex marriage. Welby had already used the tour to make a statement that while he was happy to see the church offer liturgies for blessing same-sex marriages, he would not authorize or perform them in order to respect the beliefs of some Anglican Communion leaders.  Update reported that statement last week.