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         

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Week Ending 10/30/2017

Presiding Bishop One of the Lead Signers in Amica Brief 

A major amica brief has been filed in the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission which is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.  The brief signed by nearly 1300 religious leaders supports the finding of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that a local baker did not have the right to refuse to make a cake for a reception celebrating the civil marriage of a same-sex couple.  Presiding Bishop Curry features prominently in the case being listed as one of the named filers at the beginning of the brief.  The five groups whose legal counsel are listed as drafters of the document are the general Synod of the Church of Christ, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Chicago Theological Seminary.   The Living Church story on the brief includes its full text, but not a full list of the 1300 signers.

Diocese of Southeast Florida Offers Parishes Hurricane Relief

Bishop Peter Eaton announced that the Executive Board of the Diocese of Southeast Florida had agreed to waive the diocesan assessments for November and December for every parish.  The intent is to help parishes meet costs not covered by insurance as they rebuild after the recent Hurricane.  The diocese has enough of a surplus to cover its necessary expenses for the last two months of the year.

Another Church Votes to Remove Lee Memorial

After a several years of discussion and study, Christ Church, Alexandria, Virginia has decided to remove a pair of plaques from the front of the sanctuary.  The plaques read simply "In Memory of George Washington" and "In Memory of Robert Edward Lee."  The plaques were prominently installed in 1870, one on each side of the chancel. (For those interested a picture here shows both plaques in their existing positions.) The two plaques will remain in place until it is decided where in the historic complex the memorials will be displayed. Both men were frequent attenders at the parish, and tourists can find the pews rented by them and now marked with discrete metal name tags. Another plaque erected in 1909 honors Washington and the men who served as pall bearers at his funeral.  The decision of the vestry at Christ Church follows on the heels of announcements that the National Cathedral will remove windows dedicated to Lee and Thomas ('Stonewall") Jackson, and that the Episcopal Church in Lexington, Virginia will change its name from the Robert E. Lee Memorial Church back to its original "Grace Episcopal Church."

South Carolina Media War Against Property Decision Continues

Bishop C. FitzSimons Allison (retired in 1990) has written the latest salvo in the media war being waged by the schismatic diocese in South Carolina against the state Supreme Court opinion awarding most diocesan and parish properties to the diocese that stayed in the Episcopal Church.  Allison's long letter to the editor has appeared in several newspapers.  In it he argues that the Episcopal Church is not a hierarchical church and the property should have remained with those who left. Blogger Steve Skaradon has a stinging commentary posted October 31, 2017 on Allison's action.   His position is very similar to that taken by 9 bishops in amica briefs filed in Quincy and Fort Worth.  Those bishops found charges filed against them, and a Title IV proceeding resulted in a formal agreement by which they promised to not to file or endorse similar arguments in litigation involving the Episcopal Church, and admitted that the Dennis Canon limited the authority of diocesan bishops. (See the Update Story here.)  The ninety year-old Allison is one of several resigned bishops still officially resident in TEC that are living in South Carolina and participating in the schismatic diocese. Allsion is best known for participating in the irregular Singapore ordination of Charles Murphy and John Rogers as bishops in what became the Anglican Mission in America in 2000.

Episcopal Relief and Development Gets a Major Grant for Work in Africa

Episcopal Relief and Development has had a pathbreaking program in Zambia that has improved the lives and survival rates of young children.  Now another grant from the Conrad Hilton Foundation will let them expand that work and carry it into neighboring Kenya. Both the Episcopal Cafe and The Living Church carried stories on the latest grant. 

Bishop of Oregon Hit with Lawsuit by Former Diocesan Finance Officer

Not satisfied after her claims were denied by a title IV panel (and a subsequent denial on appeal) and by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry, the former diocesan Finance Officer, Mary Macy has filed suit against Bishop Michael Hanley in an Oregon circuit court asking for $845,000.  The suit claims the bishop assaulted a woman priest, misused funds bequeathed to a diocesan foundation for a hospital chaplaincy, and fired her in retaliation as a whistleblower. You can read her filing here.  The Diocese of Oregon has issued a formal statement denying the charges. Those present at the diocesan convention this last week heard from the heads of the Standing Committee, Board of Trustees, and the Episcopal Bishop of Oregon Foundation.  A transcript of their remarks is here or you can watch it on video here.  Without going into detail, they made clear that Macy was fired after a series of audits were completed and an entire revamping of financial procedures were recommended and implemented. The Title IV investigation included the assault charge, and while no details were included, the assault consisted of the bishop placing his arm over the neck of the clergywoman and then standing behind her and pulling her very close to him. Both the initial Title IV hearing and the subsequent appeal resulted in the same finding, “No action taken apart from pastoral reconciliation.”

The ACNA Balancing Act on Women's Ordination

ACNA's bishop in Pittsburgh, James Hobby, has issued a long blog post reflecting on the denomination's recent decision to continue to agree to disagree about women's ordination.  Hobby's statement walks a tightrope not endorsing either position and giving equal time to both.  It suggest just how divided even his home diocese is on the subject.