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         

Monday, June 23, 2008

News for Week Ending 6/23/2008

GAFCON convenes in Jerusalem

The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) has now convened in Jerusalem and will continue through June 29. (See Pittsburgh Update story on GAFCON here.) The conference, attended mostly by conservatives from the U.S. and representatives from the Global South, is receiving extensive coverage in the press, including The New York Times, Reuters, and the BBC.

Episcopal News Service reported that Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani, who had earlier objected to GAFCON’s being held in Jerusalem at all, has called for participants to show a spirit of “peace, reconciliation and goodwill.” Religion Correspondent for The Times, Ruth Gledhill, has explained on her blog that eight people, not all of whom are even attending GAFCON, have been barred from GAFCON sessions. Among the so-called “GAFCON 8” is Colorado Bishop Robert O’Neill, who was asked by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to monitor the conference.

Participants in a closed pre-conference planning meeting that had been moved to Jordan at least in part because of the objections of the Jerusalem bishop adjourned early on June 19. The meeting was transferred to Jerusalem after Archbishops Akinola and Venables were refused entry into Jordan.

Conference organizers made available an on-line book, The Way, The Truth, and The Life, written by the conference’s Theological Resource Team shortly before GAFCON’s official opening. A statement by Archbishop Peter Akinola in one of the book’s essays was widely reported in the press: “There is no longer any hope, therefore, for a unified [Anglican] Communion.” The Nigerian primate’s rhetoric in his speech at the conference Sunday, June 22, however, seemed to hold out greater hope. (See the Telegraph story here.) Other addresses have been given by Pittsburgh’s Bishop Robert Duncan and Sydney’s Archbishop Peter Jensen.

London gay “marriage” condemned by Archbishops of Canterbury and York

In response to the blessing of the domestic partnership of two gay priests that took place in London earlier this month (see Pittsburgh Update story here), the Archbishops of Canterbury and York issued a brief statement in which they expressed “very great concern” over the incident. Clergy are not at liberty to disregard “the Church’s teaching,” the statement said. The statement was reported in The Guardian and elsewhere.

Duncan names “collegiate vicar” for Common Cause congregations in West

In his capacity as moderator of the Common Cause Partnership, an alliance of “orthodox” groups in the U.S., Pittsburgh’s Bishop Robert Duncan has named a priest as a “collegiate vicar” for the Association of Western Anglican Congregations. The individual chosen is the Rev. Bill Thompson, rector of All Saints’ Anglican Church in Long Beach, California. His appointment was announced June 14 at the Western Anglicans House of Delegates meeting in Newport Beach. Ron Speers, president of the Western Anglicans organization, said, “Hopefully, the appointment of the Collegiate Vicar for us can serve as a model for other CCP-related church clusters elsewhere in the country.” The story was reported by the Anglican Communion Network.

First openly gay deacon ordained in Diocese of San Diego

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported June 21, 2008, that Bishop James Mathes, Bishop of San Diego, recently ordained the diocese’s first openly gay deacon to the transitional diaconate. The new deacon is Thomas Wilson, a former schoolteacher who moved to San Diego eight years ago with his partner of 20 years. The Rev. Susan Russell, president of Integrity, said the action shows how San Diego’s generally conservative philosophy is gradually changing under Bishop Mathes’ leadership.

Prominent Fort Worth rector reiterates loyalty to Episcopal Church

The Rev. Christopher Jambor, rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church—one of the most prominent parishes in the city and diocese of Fort Worth—has gone on record pledging his loyalty to The Episcopal Church. “[L]eaving The Episcopal Church and claiming to be able to take her assets with you is not within the bounds of our polity. Doing so is not reforming that which is deficient. It is abandoning it. For me to support or advocate this course of action would be to break my solemn oaths made when I was ordained deacon and priest,” Jambor says in his statement.

San Joaquin congregation returns to Episcopal Church

The mission congregation of St. Andrew’s Parish has decided to reject the actions of its vestry and priest by requesting recognition as a congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. The vestry and vicar of the Taft, California, mission had originally aligned the parish with Bishop John-David Schofield’s breakaway Anglican diocese now identifying itself as part of the province of the Southern Cone. In April, Bishop Lamb of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin received a petition signed by 25 pledging members of the mission—average Sunday attendance is 18—asking for recognition as part of the Episcopal diocese. Lamb appointed a new bishop’s committee and is providing supply clergy to serve the mission. The congregation has changed the locks to its building to ensure that its rejected leaders cannot seize the property. Conservative blogs have accused Bishop Lamb of theft of both the congregation and its property. When Bishop Schofield broke with The Episcopal Church, he allowed congregations not in debt to choose whether to realign or stay in The Episcopal Church. Mission congregations such as St. Andrew's were given no choice, however; Schofield claimed them all.

Quite different interpretations of what has happened in Taft may be found on the Web sites of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, and conservative blogger David Virtue.

Pennsylvania bishop cleared of financial charges but awaits court verdict

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Title IV Review Committee found no basis on which to try Bishop of Pennsylvania Charles E. Bennison, Jr., for misuse of diocesan funds. Charges had been brought forward by the Diocese of Pennsylvania’s Standing Committee, which has been feuding with its bishop for some time. Bennison is still awaiting a verdict in his trial for conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy. (See the story from Religious Intelligence Web site here, as well as the earlier Pittsburgh Update story.)

Pittsburgh convention to be held October 4 in Monroeville

Whereas Pittsburgh’s annual diocesan convention is usually held over two days on the first weekend of November, there has been much talk of moving up the date to minimize the time before the convention during which the Diocese of Pittsburgh might be without a bishop should the House of Bishops depose Bishop Robert Duncan in September. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The diocese has now posted a letter from the bishop setting the date for the convention as October 4. The venue will be St. Martin’s, Monroeville. As explained in the letter, pre-convention hearings will be held in late September. The diocesan constitution requires that the annual convention be held in either October or November.