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, February 21, 2023

Week Ending 2/20/23

ACC Elects Lay Woman to Top Post

While the Anglican Consultative Council dealt with some tension arising from the recent vote of the Church of England Synod to allow blessings of same-sex couples, and while the Archbishop of Canterbury related that the decision to use church money for reparations in recognition of the Church of England's long involvement in slavery had resulted in some push back, the meeting generally focused on things that brought the different independent provinces together.  One of those actions was the election of  Canon Maggie Swinson of Liverpool as the Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council.  She was unopposed. Swinson was well-know to members of the ACC and had served as vice-chair of the ACC since 2016.  As chair of the ACC, Swinson will also chair the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. The Standing Committee is made up of the Archbishop of Canterbury (president), the ACC Vice Chair, 5 primates, and 7 members elected by the ACC.  The Standing Committee is a diverse body with members from the independent provinces of Jerusalem, the Congo, Brasil, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, Bangladesh, New Zealand, 
Tanzania, Canada, Pakistan, Ireland, and Kenya, as well as England.  

Continuing Threads

Some GAFCON Primates Reject Canterbury

As might be expected following the announcement by ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach as chair of the Global South group, the GAFCON leadership also has now issued a statement saying that they can no longer recognize the Archbishop of Canterbury as one of the "Instruments of Unity" for the Anglican Communion.  The Global South and GAFCON have overlapping leadership and membership. Although the Church of England synod passed a very moderate resolution allowing  individual clergy the right to bless individuals or couples, it is widely understood to allow blessing of same-sex couples. The  English Synod votes, however were too much for the die-hard leaders in provinces, most of which still define as a crime same sex relationships and identity.  Some of the African Primates demanded a statement of repentance from the Church of England. The GAFCON sponsored group of parishes in Europe that have left the Church of England and Wales and the Episcopal Church of Scotland issued a statement telling individual parishes that they were ready to provide "alternative oversight," (i.e. inviting parishes to leave the Church of England). The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Office of the Anglican Communion have issued statements, the latter suggests that the statements are an over-reaction. 

Afghani Refugees Still Making Home in Newburyport Parish

In December of 2021, Update carried a post that the  St. Paul's Episcopal Parish in Newburyport, Massachusetts was converting their church hall basement into temporary living quarters for refugee families from Afghanistan.  Update did a follow-up post in February 2022, but a year later, the refugees are still living in the church undercroft. In other ways the family has settled in with the adult members having found work and the children attending school.  But the longer-term housing options are still more a wish than a reality.  The 2 families living at St. Paul's have a total of 16 children (the youngest born in the U.S. 3 months ago).  There is a long waiting list for subsidized housing in Massachusetts, and few units are large enough to house a family with 8 children.  The minister of St. Paul's has now taken on the role of housing advocate, working with non-profits and the city to find a stable, long-term housing solution for the families. 

Methodist Congregations Leaving Are a Small Percentage 

Update has been reporting on the withdrawal of conservative congregations from the United Methodist Church. In some areas it has included the largest congregations in a conference.  Reporting piecemeal, however, does not give insight into how big the split actually is.  Since 2019, only 1831 congregations have voted to disaffiliate with the United Methodists.  The denomination has over 30,000 congregations in the U.S.  and the parishes that have disaffiliated are just under 7% of the total.  The impact, however, is very different depending on the region.  Texas has been the hardest hit, with the North Texas Conference losing 72% of its congregations. The 5 regions with the highest percentages of disaffiliations were (in order from greatest to least) were North Texas, Texas, North Carolina, Alabama, and Indiana.  These 5 conferences account for over half of all disaffiliated parishes.  For more, see the article in Christianity Today

Probe of Second Election in Florida Notes Discrimination

A second election for Bishop coadjutor in the Diocese of Florida had the same outcomes as the first, with the Rev. Charles Holt being declared the winner, and also having the result challenged by a group that filed a formal complaint.  The Committee of Review that investigated the second election has had part of its report released.  While the Committee found the technical issues of possible voting mistakes to have no substance, they did find that there had been discrimination against LGBTQA members in ways that excluded some of them from voting.  The biggest problems were the refusal of the current bishop to grant canonical residency to LGBTQA clergy,  to exclude candidates for ordination from the process unless they would pledge to remain celibate, and the exclusion of some LGBTQA lay members whose parishes had chosen them as delegates to the electing convention.  This report may affect the way the approval process plays out as the elected candidate mus receive consents from a majority of diocesan bishops and Standing Committees from all the dioceses of the Church. Update has reported on the various twists and turns of Florida's attempts to elect a bishop. The most recent post is here.