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, March 23, 2015

News for Week Ending 3/23/2015

Institution created to study lead books

A collection of seemingly ancient books with lead pages were said to have been discovered in a cave in Jordan several years ago. The authenticity of the unusual volumes has been the subject of controversy, however. Some authorities believe that the books may shed light on Christianity’s early history. The Centre for the Study of the Jordanian Lead Books was launched March 17, 2015, to authenticate and study the books. Details can be found in a March 20 story from Church Times.

First female CoE bishop interviewed

The Rt. Rev. Libby Lane, the Church of England’s first female bishop was interviewed recently by The Guardian. The interview reveals something of Lane’s background and, because of her circumspection, suggests a reason she may have been chosen as the pioneer woman bishop. In the interview, which can be read here, Lane avoids expressing any significant personal opinion on same-sex marriage, which continues to be a controversial issue within the Church of England.

Indiana religious discrimination law headed for governor’s signature

Episcopal Café called attention to Indiana’s Senate Bill 101, a “religious freedom” bill that would protect business’s ability to discriminate on the basis of religious belief. When that post was written, the Republican-backed bill was headed to the Indiana House. On March 23, the House passed the controversial bill 63–31. The bill is expected to be signed by Indiana’s governor. Details can be found in a story from BuzzFeed News.

Presbyterians allow same-sex marriage

The Presbyterian Church (USA), the largest Presbyterian denomination in the U.S., has approved a change in its constitution that will define marriage as “between two people,” rather than “between a woman and a man.” The change required that a majority of presbyteries (judicatories) vote in favor of the change. That majority was achieved March 17, 2015. The change takes effect on June 21. The church had already given clergy permission to perform same-sex weddings in states where they are legal. Additional details can be found in the March 17 Washington Post story.

Presiding Bishop issues Easter message

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has released her message to the church for Easter 2015. Her essay can be found here.

Episcopal bishops complete retreat

The spring retreat for Episcopal Church bishops ended on March 17, 2015. The press release describing the final day of the retreat can be found here. (See Pittsburgh Update story here on the opening days of the meeting.) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached on the final day of the retreat, and her sermon can be found here. Episcopal Café has published a post on the retreat, which includes links to commentary by blogging bishops. Episcopal News Service also posted a summary of the meeting.

Executive Council meets in Salt Lake City

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council conducted its last meeting before the 2015 General Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 19–21, 2015. The opening remarks from the President of the House of Deputies and Presiding Bishop can be found here and here, respectively.The sermon preached by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on March 21 can be read here. Episcopal News Service covered the Executive Council meeting here and here.

Church Archives produces anti-racism report

The Archives of The Episcopal Church has produced a report for the Executive Council Committee on Anti-Racism on the response of the church to the problem of racism. The eight-page report, “The Church’s Contemporary Response to Racism,” contains an extensive collection of links to General Convention and Executive Council resolutions going back to 1979. The press release about the report is here, and the report itself is here.

Blue Book contents continues to grow

The so-called Blue Book, the collection of background material prepared for the upcoming General Convention, continues to grow. (See most recent Pittsburgh Update story on the Blue Book here.) Episcopal Café has summarized the newly included reports from the Joint Standing Committee on Nominations  and the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM). The latter report is not yet complete, with additional material to be made available in May. Most notable in the SCLM report is the proposal of four marriage-related liturgies. According to Claiming the Blessing, adoption of the SCLM proposals “would end the defacto [sic] sacramental apartheid of ‘separate but unequal’ liturgies for same-sex couples/marriages in the Episcopal Church.”

Breakaway S.C. diocese to allow only opposite-sex marriages

The above headline should come as no surprise to anyone. Mark Lawrence’s breakaway South Carolina diocese went through the trouble of passing a resolution at its March 13–14, 2015, convention, however, asserting that “God's good intention for us is that sexual intimacy is to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other.” Resolution R-4 also says that member churches will not host same-sex ceremonies. The Christian Post reported this story and links to the resolutions presented at the convention.