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, October 13, 2014

News for Week Ending 10/13/2014

CoE as family with disagreements not going well

The Church of England, which is embarking on church-wide conversations on sexuality, is off to a rocky start. In a press release, the conservative evangelical group Reform has advised members not to participate. Reform Council chairman Prebendary Rod Thomas is quoted as saying
The shared conversations must acknowledge that Scripture remains authoritative for the Church of England and that the outcome of the conversations is genuinely open-ended. Unless that is clarified and the recently announced new objective is withdrawn, we cannot see a way forward.
Reform is particularly upset by the recent statement made by the church’s College of Bishop, which declares that an objective of the shared conversations in the Church of England on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission—Reform’s “new objective”—is “to create space and an environment for the Church of England to live together as a family who disagree with one another.” (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Reform, apparently, is not interested in polite disagreement and is insisting that the church must maintain “its present, biblical, understanding of marriage.”

On another front, Archbishop of York John Sentamu was accosted by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell near Southwell Minster last week. (See BBC coverage here.) It is widely believed that Sentamu was ultimately responsible for Jeremy Pemberton’s being blocked from a hospital chaplaincy job as a result of his recent marriage to his male partner. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Andrew Brown has written a helpful commentary on both these developments for The Guardian.

Women bishops measure to go before Parliament

The Church of England is coming ever closer to providing for women to become bishops. Thinking Anglicans has noted that a measure to allow for this innovation in the church is to come before the House of Lords October 14, 2014. (Debate in the House of Commons has not yet been scheduled.) Both Houses of Parliament must pass the measure before it can receive the royal assent and become effective. The measure itself can be read here.

Preliminary Vatican report suggests new tone for Roman Catholic Church

A preliminary report has been released from the meeting of Roman Catholic bishops in the Vatican that was convened by Pope Francis to discuss abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and divorce. The report, which has come midway through the two-week meeting, acknowledges the gifts of gay Christians and, without calling for any change in church doctrine, seems to distance the church from viewing homosexuality as being “intrinsically disordered.” The report has been hailed as a “breakthrough” on one hand and condemned as “one of the worst official documents drafted in Church history” on the other. The report, released October 13, 2014, is described in a story by The New York Times. A BBC story is accompanied by helpful commentary.

AAAS launches Science for Seminaries

The Washington Post reported October 8, 2014, that the American Association for the Advancement of Science has launched a program to promote science at seminaries. Grants amounting to $1.5 million have been distributed to a diverse group of seminaries in a program labeled Science for Seminaries. According to the Post,
The grants will cover faculty, events, science resources, guest speakers and other related costs. Seminaries could incorporate applicable issues of modern technology, methods of science or the history of science into courses seminary students already take, such as church history, ethics, pastoral counseling or systematic theology.
No Episcopal seminaries are involved, and it is not known if any applied for a AAAS grant.

Gay marriage comes to additional states

Fallout from the Supreme Court’s refusal to review same-sex marriage cases—see Pittsburgh Update story here—continues. NPR reports that licenses for same-sex marriages are now being issued in North Carolina and Alaska. Boise Weekly reports that, due to the action of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, marriage licenses in Idaho will be issued beginning October 15, 2014. The October 7 Ninth Circuit ruling is expected eventually to make same-sex marriage available in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. (See Freedom to Marry story here.)

Foley Beach invested as ACNA archbishop

The Rt. Rev. Foley Beach was invested as the new archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) before 1500 people in a suburban Atlanta church October 9, 2014. Ten Anglican primates from the Global South or their representatives were on hand for the service that saw Beach become the official successor to Robert W. Duncan. Perhaps because of the recent declaration by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby that ACNA is not in the Anglican Communion—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the primates did not declare otherwise, though their support of ACNA was clear. (The story was covered by Anglican Ink on October 10.) An Australian diocese was not so reticent. The Diocese of North West Australia of the Anglican Church of Australia passed a synod motion declaring ACNA to be in the Anglican Communion. (See Stand Firm story here.) Moreover, The Telegraph reported that Pope Francis sent a message to Beach through Gregory Venables, the Anglican bishop of Argentina, offering “prayers and support.”

GTS 8 remain jobless

The eight faculty members of the General Theological Seminary who were fired on September 30, 2014—see Pittsburgh Update story here—have been given little hope by the Board of Trustees that they might get their jobs back. They will, however, meet with members of the board on October 16. (See updates from the GTS 8 on their Web site here.) In other developments, the on-line fundraising for support of the fired faculty members is getting closer to its goal of $40,000. (As of the evening of October 13, more than $33,000 has been raised.) An on-line petition asking for reinstatement was posted October 13 on Change.org. Over 900 scholars have signed a statement of support for the GTS 8. Ekklesia has described this and other developments. Ekklesia has also published a personal note on the situation from Simon Barrow, which includes a link to an FAQ file on the GTS crisis.

Bruce Shipman interviewed

The Rev. Bruce Shipman, the Episcopal Yale University chaplain who was forced to resign after he wrote a letter to The New York Times that many considered antisemitic—see Pittsburgh Update story here—was interviewed recently by the on-line Jewish magazine Tablet. In it, Shipman describes the events that led to his departure from Yale. His story, if true, paints neither Yale nor the Episcopal Bishop of Connecticut in a very favorable light.

Diocesan Convention Coming Soon

The annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will be held at Trinity Cathedral November 7 and 8, 2014. A pre-convention journal has not yet appeared, but the report of the Nominating Committee is posted on the diocesan Web site. Registrations are due by October 17. (Registration costs $30 this year.) Information sessions will be held October 21, 23, and 26. Complete information is here.