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, January 20, 2014

News for Week Ending 1/20/2014

CoE may have women bishops by Christmas

The Guardian has reported that the Church of England may have women priests by Christmas, much earlier than expected. It is anticipated that the General Synod, which meets next month, will approve a plan for women bishops. Additional steps necessary to authorize women to become bishops—approval by dioceses and by parliament—could be completed by November, allowing appointments in December. Conservatives are likely to offer little opposition in light of overwhelming support for women bishops and the coming battles over issues of homosexuality.

Archbishop of Canterbury gives ACNA priest Canterbury post

On January 16, 2014, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby announced the appointment of the Rev. Tory Baucum, rector of Truro Anglican, to be one of the Six Preachers of Canterbury Cathedral, a group of priests who preach at the cathedral on special occasions. Baucum leads the Fairfax, Virginia, congregation that attempted to remove the property of Truro Episcopal Church from the Diocese of Virginia and was forced to return the property by the courts. Baucum was most recently in the news for having been instructed by ACNA bishop John A. Guernsey to break off friendly relations with Bishop of Virginia Shannon Johnston. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) ACNA’s archbishop Robert Duncan declared, “This is an historically significant appointment.”

It is impossible to fully cover this story here except to say that there is concern that Welby has given some legitimacy to ACNA with this appointment, though it is also true that not all ACNA partisans are happy. (See this post from Stand Firm, for example,) Interested readers should read carefully the comments on the appointment on the Thinking Anglicans site here.

Nigerian anti-gay bill signed into law

Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has signed anti-gay legislation into law. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The legislation has popular support in the population at large and with the the Anglican church in Nigeria. (See Business Insider story here and, for example, Pittsburgh Update story here.) Many have remarked on the lack of comment from Lambeth on this unfortunate development. Activist Davis Mac-Iyalla, who spoke at a PEP meeting several years ago, has initiated an Internet petition urging the archbishops of the Church of England to speak out on human rights abuses in Nigeria.

Northwestern Pa. bishop nominated for provisional post in Bethlehem

The Rt. Rev.Sean Rowe, Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania, has been nominated to become the provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem. The Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall retired from Bethlehem December 31, 2013, and the Standing Committee has decided to elect a provisional bishop to serve for three years while the diocese considers its future. The election for provisional bishop will take place on March 1. Rowe will eventually divide his time between the two dioceses at opposite ends of the state of Pennsylvania. The nomination was announced in a press release by the Diocese of Bethlehem January 16.

Testimony of late bishop highlight of San Joaquin courtroom drama

The video testimony of deposed and deceased Episcopal bishop John-David Schofield climaxed a trial in Judge Donald S. Black’s courtroom January 13, 2014, intended to determine ownership of property in the Diocese of San Joaquin. (See Pittsburgh Update stories here and here.) The Fresno Bee reported on the proceedings in a January 13 story that includes the brief filed by the Episcopal plaintiffs. Black has given the parties until March 17 to file legal briefs and responses. A more technical discussion of the trial has been published on A.S. Haley’s blog here. (Note that Haley is a lawyer opposing the Episcopal parties.)

Update on South Carolina litigation

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina reported January 16, 2014, that federal judge C. Weston Houck has denied a motion to reconsider his August 2013 decision dismissing the trademark case brought by Episcopal bishop Charles G. vonRosenberg. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Meanwhile, the case in state court is on hold while the Episcopalians appeal a decision by Judge Diane S. Goodstein denying the continuing diocese access to client-attorney correspondence that took place before the diocesan schism. Details are in a report by the Episcopal Church in South Carolina here.