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.

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A Service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh         

Monday, November 2, 2009

News for Week Ending 11/2/2009

Anglican compassion in Uganda: jail, rather than execute gays

Uganda is considering a law to increase the penalties for homosexual activity. Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, but the law proposed by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati would make certain offenses capital crimes, as well as criminalize the failure to report homosexuals to the authorities. Changing Attitude has summarized the legislation here. A view from inside Uganda can be read in Kampala’s Daily Monitor. Australia’s Sky News reports concern for the legislation in the French and U.S. governments. Ugandan religious communities have urged modest restraint. From Kampala’a Daily Monitor, we have this argument against the death penalty:
“If you kill the people, to whom will the message go? We need to have imprisonment for life if the person is still alive,” said Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye, the provincial secretary of the Church of Uganda.
The Church of Uganda is a member of the Anglican Communion and a church closely allied with conservative dioceses and parishes in the U.S. and Britain. Archbishop Duncan has had close ties with Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of Uganda, who has visited Pittsburgh a number of times. Changing Attitude has urged the Church of Uganda, the Anglican Primates, and Church of England bishops with formal links to Uganda to oppose the proposed legislation.

Judge rules for Diocese of Georgia in Savannah case

On October 27, 2009, Judge Michael Karpf of the Chatham County Superior Court entered summary judgment in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia and against the breakaway leaders of Christ Church, Savannah. The congregation had tried to leave The Episcopal Church with its property. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) In his opinion, the judge begins
This case is one of a series around the country involving parishes of the Episcopal Church who have sought to disaffiliate because of doctrinal differences. Specifically, the case at bar involves a schism in what is likely the oldest church in the state of Georgia. The division within the church has resulted in one faction taking control of the church property, while the other has sued to regain it. It appears that both sides are passionate about the doctrinal issues, but it is well settled that courts have no business intervening in such disputes.
The judge proceeds to apply “neutral principles of law.” Along the way, he distinguishes the case from the recent South Carolina Supreme Court ruling in the Pawleys Island case, which also involved a parish older than The Episcopal Church. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) He concludes
Taking all of these factors into account, the court is entirely satisfied that a trust over the property exists in favor of the National Church and the Diocese of Georgia. Accordingly, the court finds that the church property reverts to the control of the Bishop of the Diocese of Georgia for the uses and purposes of the Episcopal Church and that plaintiffs are entitled to immediate possession.
Episcopal News Service reported on the decision on October 28, 2009. Savannah Morning News ran a story October 27.

Diocese of Tennessee sues to regain property

The Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee has filed suit to reclaim the property of St. Andrew’s, West Nashville. The congregation now styles itself an Anglican church and claims to be part of the breakaway Diocese of Quincy. According to The Tennessean the diocese and the Anglo-Catholic congregation have been unable to resolve their conflict over parish property for three years. The parish’s rector, The Rev. James Guill, claims that the church left the diocese and The Episcopal Church in 2006.

Fort Worth to ordain first woman

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has announced that it will ordain the first woman in its history. The diocese was formed from the Diocese of Dallas in 1983, and, before the recent departure of Bishop Jack Iker and his supporters, had been one of only three dioceses in which the priesthood was not open to women. Deacon Susan Slaughter will be ordained a priest by the Rt. Rev. Edwin F. [Ted] Gulick Jr. on November 15, 2009. The upcoming ordination is described on the diocesan Web site here. The Dallas Morning News ran a story on the upcoming ordination on October 27, 2009.

Duncan diocese renamed, vows appeal

On October 29, 2009, the group calling itself the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) issued a press release declaring its new name to be the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. The press release also indicated that the group intends to appeal the recent court decision favoring the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh rendered by Judge Joseph James. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The press release was posted on a new Web site at http://pittsburghanglican.org. The Web site that has been in use by the Duncan group has retained the title “The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican)” and makes no mention of the press release. The Episcopal Church diocese issued a brief statement expressing its disappointment with the promised appeal and its determination to see the litigation through to its conclusion.

The story was covered by Episcopal News Service, The Living Church, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.