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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Monday, March 11, 2013

News for Week Ending 3/11/2013

Blog is Archbishop of Canterbury’s latest outlet

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s Web site now includes a blog. The first post, titled “Moving the Frontiers,” was made March 7, 2013. The essay suggests that Welby may assume a different attitude toward Anglican conflicts than did Rowan Williams. It remains to be seen how active the archbishop will be as a blogger. (As of this writing, he has made two posts.)

In his post, Welby referred to the recently held Faith in Conflict Conference held last month at Coventry Cathedral. (Audio and transcripts of presentations at the conference can be found here.) Of particular interest to Episcopalians is a panel discussion with Bishop of Virginia Bishop Shannon Johnston and Rector of Truro Anglican Church Tory Baucum. Although these two men are on different sides of the conflict in the Diocese of Virginia, they have been meeting on friendly terms. Audio of the panel is here. The American Anglican Council has used the audio to prepare a transcript.

Bill to be introduced in Parliament to allow women bishops

Thinking Anglicans reported March 8, 2013, that Member of Parliament Diana Johnson intends to introduce a bill in the British Parliament March 13 that would allow women to become bishops in the Church of England. The bill will be introduced under the so-called “10-minute rule.” Passage is unlikely, but, according to a press release from Women in the Church (WATCH), the bill “will remind the Church of England that it lies within Parliament’s power to legislate for this, if the Church cannot do so quickly and in a way that is acceptable to Parliament.”

Reports available on meeting of Episcopal bishops

As noted last week—see Pittsburgh Update story here—bishops of The Episcopal Church are having their spring retreat March 8–12, 2013. Episcopal News Service has been reporting daily on the event, which has not yet proven very newsworthy. The ENS stories reported so far can be found here, here, here, here, and here. One or more additional stories can be expected March 12.

Nominating committee for next presiding bishop seeks advice

The Episcopal Church Joint Nominating Committee for the Presiding Bishop is asking for comments on a set of questions relating to the process of identifying candidates. If possible, advice is sought before the next meeting of the committee, which will occur on March 18. 2013. Details can be found here.

San Joaquin diocese fails to obtain summary judgment

The Fresno Bee reported March 6, 2013, that Fresno County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hamilton has rejected a request for summary judgment against John-David Schofield and his Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin that would have delivered property in the diocese to representatives of The Episcopal Church. Although the courts have accepted that Bishop Jerry Lamb is now the legitimate bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, the judge determined that the Episcopal diocese failed to establish that the 2008 vote to remove the diocese from The Episcopal Church was indeed improper. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The judge’s tentative ruling can be appealed, but a trial may be needed to adjudicate the remaining issues of the case. Judge Hamilton’s ruling can be found here, beginning on page 4.

Bishops escape serious sanctions

The Episcopal Church’s Office of Public Affairs issued a press release March 8, 2013, announcing the outcome of a conciliation conference held January 8 and 9 in Richmond, Virginia. Complaints had been brought against nine active and retired bishops who had submitted amici curiae briefs (or their equivalent) in the litigation in the Fort Worth and Quincy dioceses by members of those dioceses. Those briefs undermined the legal position of The Episcopal Church by disputing the nature of the church’s polity. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The conciliation meeting was held in accordance with Canon IV.10. The meetings were attended by, among others, representatives of both complainants and respondents.

Few details of the meetings themselves have been provided to the public, but the complete accord resulting from the conciliation is available in the aforementioned press release. The nine bishops did not admit that what they had done was contrary to canon, but they did admit to damaging the legal position of the church. They also admitted that the 2009 “Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of The Episcopal Church” published by the Anglican Communion Institute and endorsed by seven of the bishops “is likely a minority opinion.” The bishops will not be subject to further disciplinary liability. Additional details can be read in the press release.

Bishop vonRosenberg files federal suit against Mark Lawrence

The provisional bishop of what is having to be called The Episcopal Church in South Carolina has filed suit against former Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence and unnamed defendants in federal court. On March 7, 2013, the Rt. Rev. Charles G. vonRosenberg entered a complaint with the Charleston Division of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. In it, he asks for injunctive relief from the use of the name and marks of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina by the breakaway group led by Lawrence. Ironically, this is much the same action requested recently by Lawrence, et al., of a South Carolina court. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The action is described in a story on the Web site of the South Carolina Episcopalians who remain in The Episcopal Church.

Breakaway South Carolina diocese holds convention

The schismatic South Carolina diocese headed by Mark Lawrence held its diocesan convention March 8 and 9, 2013. The convention seems not to have produced any major news. It did, however, remove all references to The Episcopal Church in its constitution. Lawrence noted that his diocese is currently independent, but a task force has been created to look into possible affiliations. Lindsay S. Buchanan of the Florence, South Carolina, Morning News wrote about the convention here.

Episcopal diocese in South Carolina also holds convention

On the same days, March 8 and 9, 2013, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, what Episcopalians believe to be the real Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, held its annual convention. The new provisional bishop, the Rt. Rev. Charles G. vonRosenberg, addressed the convention on the subject of gratitude. The convention welcomed a new congregation, St. Mark’s, Port Royal. It also approved canonical changes and began the process of adopting a number of constitutional changes. (Certain constitutional provisions adopted under former bishop Mark Lawrence were deemed improper, and therefore null and void, by the special convention held January 26.) A balanced budget was presented, albeit one dependent on a $175,000 grant from The Episcopal Church. The convention also transacted other usual business, such as electing people to various offices. Details, as well as a transcript of Bishop vonRosenberg’s address, can be found here.

Note: The story on the Episcopal convention was corrected 3/12/2013. South Carolina Episcopalians did indeed deal with the constitution they inherited in a manner similar to that employed in Pittsburgh after its 2008 schism.