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         

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Week Ending 01/22/18

Tennessee Episcopalians Vote Resolution Concerning Same-Sex Marriage

The 186th annual convention of the Diocese of Tennessee had before it a resolution requesting General Convention to allow local options on marriages for same-sex couples by making clergy the ones deciding if they would perform such rites, rather than requiring authorization of the rite by the bishop. It was introduced by members of All Sacraments for All People.  Bishop Bauerschmidt is one of 8 bishops to not only bar same-sex marriages in Episcopal Churches, but to forbid clergy from participating in such marriages anywhere else.  His convention address argued for continued conversation, but made clear his opposition to legislating on the issue and that his beliefs on marriage have not changed. After discussion, a substitute resolution was passed with only one dissenting vote asking that in any re-authorization of the rites for same-sex couples take into account the "exclusion, competing convictions, and loss of community experienced by this Diocese" under the current terms.  The whole substitute is here.

Church of England Synod to Discuss Ministry Sharing with Methodists

A shortage of clergy in rural parishes in England, has resulted in a proposal to share the parish ministry in rural places with Methodist clergy.  The Church of England Synod will discuss this measure in its upcoming session.  The measure is controversial because it does not include any laying on of hands on Methodist clergy.  Twice before, in 1972 and 1980 proposals were defeated, inpart because of the status of women's ordination at that time, and the fact that in England,  Methodists do not call their senior administrators "Bishops."  The Church of England and the Methodists have had a signed agreement to work for greater unity since 2003, but this proposal raises issues of ordination and administration of sacraments.

Episcopal Church Leaders Call for Serious Examination of Church Handling of Sexual Abuse

 As Executive Council gathered for its meeting, Presiding Bishop Curry and House of Deputies President Jennings issued a letter calling on the Episcopal Church to examine carefully the way it has handled and mishandled charges of sexual abuse and how the Church can do better in the future.  The full text of the letter is here.

Chancellor of the Diocese of the Trinidad and Tobago Chosen President of the Island Country.

Justice Paula Mae Weekes, who has served for twenty years as the Chancellor for the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago in the Province of the West Indies has been elected the President of Trinidad and Tobago.  The President is the head of state of the island nation which is part of the British Commonwealth.  The President, elected by an electoral college from the nation's parliament is responsible for appointing the Prime Minister and senate, approves bills, and heads the military.  Other than the soon-to-retire Chilean president, she will be the only female head of state among independent nations in the Americas. In addition to serving the church, Weekes has had a distinguished legal career, serving as a judge both in Trinidad and Tobago and the Turks and Caicos.

New Zealand Inches Closer to Local Option on Blessing Same-Sex Relationships

The New Zealand Anglican Church has been looking for a way through the conflicting views on same-sex marriage for several years.  The Church's unusual structure (with 3 parallel tracks) was designed to allow both autonomy and unity.  They have had a small working group for several years looking at structural proposals that will allow traditionalists to stay in the church if others accept same-sex unions.  The task force began work in 2014, but was asked to go back and rework it in the interests of unity. (See Updates here and here.)  The latest version is proposing local option as the way to allow unity, without changing formularies.  Basically it is urging that the church declare amnesty for those who decide to bless same-sex unions while rejecting extra-provincial solutions for either side in the controversy.  The full, Final Report is at this site along with all previous drafts.

Update on Hurricane Recovery in the Virgin Islands

The visit of the Presiding Bishop to the Virgin Islands has gotten very little attention except from Disaster News Network which has this story.  (Update did cover a story by the Episcopal News Network saying the visit would occur.) Recovery still has a long way to go, although power has now been restored to 90 percent of the Islands.  The two hurricanes that hit the islands have had a long term impact on schools, churches and everything from employment to The status of the islands has been lost in the focus on Puerto Rico, and other issues generated in Washington, D.C.

Controversy Ensues as Archbishop of Canterbury Refuses to Clear Bishop Bell's Reputation

Recently the update carried information on a scathing report of how the Church of England mishandled the investigation into a charge of sexual misconduct with a minor that had been levied long after Bishop Bell had died.  Bell was a revered figure in the church and the Episcopal Church had added him to Holy Women, Holy Men.  Archbishop Welby has refused to clear Bell despite the church findings because there can be a difference between the proof required for a criminal case, and that for a civil or church case.   Welby's rationale is not convincing many critics in England.  For two examples of English coverage of WElby's statement, go here and here.

St. Paul's School Settles Sexual Assault Lawsuit

The Episcopal Church School in Conway, New Hampshire, has been struggling with sexual abuse issues beginning with the trial and lawsuits surrounding the sexual assault of a fourteen-year-old student by Owen Labrie, then a senior, and followed by a larger investigation into abuse by faculty.  Labrie was convicted and sentenced, but a subsequent civil lawsuit against the school for not doing more to protect the victime was filed girl's family. That has now been settled. The school is trying very hard to put these issues behind them, and the terms of the settlement have not been made public. 

Pence Visit to Jerusalem Provokes Palestinian Christian Criticism

The visit by Vice President Pence to Israel and his confirmation that the American Embassy would move to Jerusalem in 2019 has not gone unnoticed by Palestinian Christians.  The Religion News story included statements from members of three different denominations.  While the Anglican Archbishop signed an earlier ecumenical letter opposing the embassy move, he seems to have made no public statements in response to Pence's visit.