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         

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Week Ending 3/6/23

This is the last weekly posting for the Pittsburgh Update.  Future Updates will appear only if there is a major breaking story.  The original intent of the Update  when it began 15 years ago, was to track the attempted withdrawal from the Episcopal Church of a number of parishes and several dioceses, and provide analysis from a progressive point of view.   Those legal issues are now largely settled. The weekly Update began over time to cover a wider range of matters of interest to progressives. The one remaining part of the original focus is the slow train wreck that seems to be leading to withdrawal from the Anglican Communion of a number of provinces who have already begun forming their own alternative organization. 

All Stories Are Continuing Threads

Pennsylvania Bishops Join Gun Control Coalition

Update carried a post last week on the pastoral letter signed by the diocesan bishops of all five Pennsylvania dioceses.  This week, the Episcopal News Service has a follow-up article on subsequent actions by the bishops and others in Pennsylvania to create an interfaith action group and to lobby the state legislature.  It also notes the leadership of Episcopalians in other dioceses on similar actions. 

Parish Refurbishes and Converts House to Homeless Shelter

St. Edwards Parish in Lawrenceville, Georgia had a house that had been used for parish programs until its maintenance needs became too great, has found a new use for the building as a homeless shelter, and was able to use that focus to fundraise and get grants to cover the costs needed to refurbish the building.  The local churches had been spending a lot of money housing homeless families in motels.  The pandemic let them interfaith group rethink their approach and work with St. Edwards on a new solution.   The house is now rented for $1 a year to a non-profit that runs the shelter.  The shelter houses up to 3 families plus a resident caretaker.   Update has had other posts about work Episcopal parishes have done with the homeless (most recently here), and the impact of the pandemic on these ministries. 

Southern African Increases Pastoral Duties to LGBTQA But No Blessings

Southern Africa bishops meeting in Synod were unable to come to agreement over a proposal that would have allowed a diocesan level option allowing blessing of same-sex unions.  South Africa is the only African nation to have approved civil marriage for LGBTQA couples. Although the local option proposal did not pass, the bishops did appoint a subcommittee to focus on writing prayers that might used in blessing homes and children, and other pastoral settings for LGBTQA people. The Southern Africa province has been debating this for a long time, and at least one diocese has gone on record as wanting to bless same-sex civil unions.

More Fallout From the  Church of England Synod

The Church of England Synod's vote to allow local option of blessing same-sex couples fell short of changing the marriage canon, but was enough of a statement to set off alarm bells among the Global South and GAFCON.  The fallout continues.  This week the Church Times carried a story about a parish inviting ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach to talk about alternatives to the Church of England.  On the other side of the controversy, a group of English Evangelicals put together a statement supporting the Synod action and pointing out there are a large number of evangelicals who welcome and support LGBTQA people.  Thinking Anglicans has more on the evangelicals' statement.  

Atlanta Parish Is the Center of Refugee Work in Atlanta

All Saints Parish in Atlanta has made refugee work central to its ministry and has been at it for decades.  Because the state of Georgia and Atlanta provide no government funds for refugees, the parish became the center for coordinating all activities related to the greeting, settlement (including finding housing, jobs, schools, medical care, etc.) for refugees. The parish has enlisted volunteers from the community who held walk the refugees through all of the challenges of creating a life in a new place.   The Episcopal News Service has a new background article looking at this ministry effort.  Update has regularly carried notices on the Church's work with refugees. The most recent previous post is here.

Religion News Follows Up on Two Issues

Last week Update carried stories on the violence and legal harassment  directed at Christians in India, and on the partnering of Episcopal Parishes with RIP Medical Debt.  In India, over 20,000 attended a protest aimed at calling attention to the persecution of Christians my militant Hindu groups.  Update carried that story last week.  This week, Religion News has more on the rally and the persecution.  Update also noted in November that a third Pittsburgh Parish had concluded its drive to fund a buyout of medical debt.  In that case, RIP was able to buy even more debt than expected with the money raised. This week Religion News had a story on churches of several denominations (focused on a Presbyterian Congregation, but also noting Episcopal parish efforts) who had worked with RIP Medical Debt. 



Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Week Ending 2/27/23

Pennsylvania Bishops Issue Pastoral Letter on Gun Control 

The bishops of the five Episcopal Dioceses in Pennsylvania issued a joint pastoral letter that responds to the very high rate of gun deaths in Pennsylvania compared to other states. The bishops ask individuals to advocate for laws that limit purchases of guns to one a month, endorse extreme risk protection orders, ban sale of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition, and prohibit sale or possession of ghost guns.  The letter includes an invitation to a March 6 event at the state capitol.  The whole letter is here.

Chicago Parish Becomes Electric Vehicle Charging Stop

In a move designed both to support renewable energy and the reduction of fossil fuel use, St. Paul and the Redeemer Episcopal Church in Chicago's South Side, has partnered with Community Charging to install an electric vehicle charging station in the church parking lot. Drivers pay $.15 a kilowatt hour and the charger has had a steady stream of users.  It also has introduced some of those using the charger to the Episcopal Church.  Episcopal News Service's longer story begins with charging station efforts the United Methodist Church is making in Maryland. 

Galveston Episcopalians Find Long-Lost Grave of Black Priest

The Reverend Thomas White Cain, one of the earliest blacks to study at a seminary and who led the first black parish, St. Augustine of Hippo, in Galveston was among the victims of the 1900 Galveston hurricane. The hurricane sent waters sweeping over almost the whole of Galveston island and killed over 6000.  Cain's body was recovered and eventually buried in the Lakeview Cemetery.  However, the grave marker was lost and the location of the grave forgotten until a recently discovered map of the cemetery plots allowed Episcopalians to locate Cain's grave. St. Augustine was joined by 2 other Episcopal parishes, all within 1 mile of each other,  in  a social media campaign that overnight raised the money necessary to place a stone marker on the grave.  Born a slave, Cain had attended both the Episcopal Seminary in Philadelphia and Bishop Payne Seminary (blacks only) in Virginia. He was the first black ordained a priest in Virginia (1879)  The Diocese of Texas elected him an alternate Deputy to General Convention in 1892 and 1895, and at both conventions he took the place of a deputy about half-way through the meeting.  He was the first black priest to assume a deputy's seat.  The Episcopal News Service has more on Cain's life in their longer article. 

Continuing Threads

Global South Claims It No Longer Recognizes Welby

Update posted last week the statements made by a number GAFCON and Global South Primates.  These statements have now been taken to mean that the whole Global South no longer recognizes Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby as an instrument of union in the Anglican Communion, and they are demanding a "reset" of the way the Communion is governed.  While they are free to leave the Communion, their demands are not easily met since  there are both English laws and the Constitution of the Anglican Consulting Council standing in the way.  Also, several of the "provinces" that they recognize are actually schismatic entities not recognized as part of the Communion, in particular in Brazil and ACNA.  However, it is clearly another step in a process that may well result in a formal split in the Anglican Communion. For a deft commentary on these claims, see the blog post by the Rev. Mark Harris. 

More on the Florida Court of Review Report 

The report  by the Court of Review was leaked last week.  The Court was empaneled to investigate claims of irregularities in the second attempt of the Diocese of Florida to elect a bishop.The Standing Committee of the diocese has said it is taking time to craft a reply, but last week the Deputies of Color to General Convention issued a letter to all diocesan Standing Committees and Diocesan Bishops urging them to vote against the result of the election during the on-going approval process.   A letter from a large group of LGBTQA Episcopalians and supporters last week documented discrimination in the diocese and again urged disapproval of the election results.  The argument is that the current Bishop manipulated the results by refusal to grant canonical status to LGBTQA priests living in his diocese, and refusing to allow into the ordination process any LGBTQA candidates who did not promise to remain celibate. Howard denies he has done this, but a number of witnesses have come forward

Thousands Gather to Protest Persecution of Christians in India

Over 20,000 people gathered in an interdenominational event in India to protest violence and other forms of persecution against Christians that have led to destruction of entire villages, murder, and legal harassment. The meeting brought together various branches of Catholicism, evangelicals, and the United Church that includes Anglicans.  Persecution has increased under the militant Hindi government currently in power in India.  Muslims are also facing persecution. Update has carried stories of persecution of Christians in India on several occasions, most recently here.