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         

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Week Ending 12/14/15

Presiding Bishop Puts Three Senior Administrators on Administrative Leave

In a letter dated December 11, 2015 Presiding Bishop Michael Curry informed the Executive Council that the Chief Operating Officer of the Church, Bishop Stacy Sauls; the Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Sam McDonald; and the Director of Public Engagement, Alex Baumgarten had been placed on administrative leave during an investigation of possible misconduct.  The kind of misconduct was not stated. (See Stories on the Episcopal Cafe and the Living Church.) McDonald had been the Canon to the Ordinary for Bishop Sauls in the Diocese of Lexington, and Sauls brought him on to the staff at the Church Headquarters. Baumgarten's background was in social and economic policy advocacy and he had worked for the Episcopal Church in those areas before Sauls promoted him in to head Mission work at the Church Center.  A year ago Sauls added all of the public relations and news divisions to Baumgarten's charge. In many cases his appointment placed him above long-serving women heads of divisions.   Several conservative sources are linking the investigation of misconduct to tensions about the division of power and duties between Sauls and Executive Council. (See the Living Church and also here and Anglican.Ink).

Inclusive North Dakota Parish Asks for DEPO

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Fargo is the first North Dakota parish to request Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight following Bishop Smith's October 22, 2105 letter (see Update story) announced that he would not allow parishes or clergy to use the same sex marriage ceremonies approved by General Convention.  The parish has announced that they accepted the offer of Bishop Smith  to have Bishop Carol Gallagher provide pastoral oversight.  The parish, in a unanimous vote accepted the offer, seeing it as "an extension of a ministry based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Baptismal Covenant of respecting the worth and dignity of all people, as we see it and have discerned it for ourselves."

Revision of Last Week's Report on St. James

Pittsburgh Update reported last week that St. James Newport Beach had come up 24 votes shy in passing the legislation and resolutions supporting their fight to regain control of the church property Bishop Bruno is trying to sell.  The parish has now posted their own reflections on the diocesan convention.  Apparently one of their measures did succeed -- a committee has been appointed to review the properties currently held by the bishop as Corp Sole to see if any should be returned to oversight by the Corporation of the Diocese.

Lambeth Palace to Build New Library

The Lambeth Palace Library is the oldest public library in England, and is second only to the Vatican in the size and value of its holdings on church history. However, the holdings are scattered among several buildings which are not all able to meet high standards for climate control and preservation.  The Church Commissioners of England have announced that they have picked an architectural firm to work with them in designing a new library building which will not only bring the scattered collections together in a secure facility, but have a zero carbon footprint.

Equality and Human Rights Commission Weighs In on the Church of England Ad Controversy

Pittsburgh Update reported in November on the controversy that occurred when the two largest movie chains in England refused to run a Church of England advertisement featuring the Lord's Prayer.  Now the major organization working for human rights in England, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has issued a statement noting that "There is no right not to be offended in the UK" and saying they were available as a resource on legal issues.  The commission will conduct its own investigation of events. 

Minnesota Parish Builds "Tiny House" for Homeless

A year ago the Diocese of Minnesota decided to forgive a million dollars in outstanding loans to parishes in the hopes that this would free those parishes to use their funds in innovative ways for mission.  St. John's Episcopal Church in St. Cloud, did just that, partnering with a local agency and finding funds to build a "tiny house" to house a homeless person through the winter.  The house, which will be located on the church property, follows a trend for "living small" that has been featured on the HGTV network.  The parish has reorganized their ministry, relying on laity to lead the parish and using supply clergy for sacramental needs. The house is one of several ways they are opening ministries to the homeless.  The full ENS story is here.