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, February 13, 2018

Week Ending 2/12/18

South Carolina Break-Away Diocese Files Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court

Immediately after the South Carolina State Supreme Court denied a rehearing of the church property decision largely favorable to those who remained in the Episcopal Church, the break-away group announced their intent to file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Update reported that here.  On Friday, February 9, 2018 the break-away group filed their appeal.  The appeal itself basically argues that this is a federal issue because courts have applied the idea of neutral principles in contradictory ways.  The appeal argues that the majority of South Carolina judges chose the wrong interpretation and that the Dennis Canon alone was not enough to establish a trust claim on parish property under S.C. trust law.  Interestingly, the diocese participating in the Episcopal Church published information on the filing before anything appeared on the break-away groups web sites. As expected,  Allan Haley (who argued the ACNA position on this issue in the cases involving San Joaquin) has published a commentary that recaps his unsuccessful interpretation yet again.  Blogger Steve Skaradon  sees the filing as another desperate attempt to delay turning over property to the real Episcopalians in his February 9 post.  The Living Church also covers the events.  The filing included three documents.  The second was an appendix with the separate opinions of all five of the South Carolina judges. While it was necessary to include the opinion with the filing.  The clearly written opinions of the first 4 judges make a clear argument that rebuts the appeal's contentions. The third document states that the parishes whose property titles were sustained in the South Carolina court opinion are not participating in the appeal.

Working Together on Global Warming

The Rman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston hosted an ecumenical meeting of religious leaders and leading scientists in Massachusetts to look at how churches could stand together in addressing the impact of climate change.  Among the Episcopalians present was the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas who works full-time for TEC and the UCC on climate change issues. She reflects further on the conference on her blog.  While it is too early to see if this collaboration will be fruitful,  the Anglican Communion Environmental Network and the Global Catholic Climate Movement have collaborated on a Lenten discipline that is a "carbon-fast" and lets those who follow it focus each week on a different area where they can reduce their carbon footprint.  The materials are available in 5 languages.

Australian Church Drops Charges Against Bishops

Update reported that three bishops of the Anglican Church of Australia had been upset enough by the participation of two Australian Bishops  in the ACNA consecration of Bishop Andrew Lines who was going to set up a non-Church of England diocese for GAFCON in England, that they requested the Australian Church's disciplinary body look into charges against the men.  The disciplinary group has announced that that matter has been discontinued.  One further issue is still before the group: a complaint about the Diocese of Sydney's affiliated organization rules.

Church of England Synod Supports Closer Ties with Methodists

In lop-sided votes, the Church of England Synod "welcomed" a report moving towards recognizing each other's clergy.  The details are yet to be worked out, but the committees working on those have been urged to move rapidly.  Of 35 bishops in attendance only 2 opposed the resolution.  Of the 167 clergy voting on the issue, 131 favored the resolution.  The lay order favored the resolution with  124 of 169 votes cast.  Update reported on earlier discussions and sticking points here.

TEC Church Center Gains Adds a New Tenant

The Episcopal Church Center has been renting space to non-church groups as a means of getting a return on the investment in the New York City building, and making use of space the church is no longer using.  The latest tenant brings a strong liberal focus on social justice -- The Children's Defense Fund.   The Episcopal Church COO, Geoffrey Smith stressed that the CDF work was a good alignment with the Church's own values of social justice.  

Texas Parish School Claims Church Exemption in Lawsuit

An African-American family is suing Trinity School in Galveston for not responding appropriately to  bullying of a black child by white schoolmates.  The school, a parish day school owned and controlled by Trinity Parish, but with separate 501 (c)3 status, has defended itself by raising a religious freedom defense.  It is claiming that it cannot be held to secular standards, because that would impose outside values on a religious institution.  Under the diocesan canons all church schools must adhere to basic standards for health and safety set by secular authorities or they can lose the right to operate on church property. Most responses from the larger Episcopal world have been to point out that Church values would hold the school to even higher standards of behavior.  See the comments on the Episcopal Cafe and on the "General Convention" Facebook page.

Archbishop Welby Proposes Change in Selection Process for His Successor

Archbishop Justin Welby used his Synod address to call for a revision in the selection process for Archbishops of Canterbury and York.  Currently one primate from the Anglican Communion sits with  the Crown Nomination Committee which recommends a selection to the Queen.  The CNC has representatives chosen by Synod and by the diocese to be filled. The Archbishop of York sits with the CNC when selected someone for Canterbury and Canterbury sits with CNC when selected someone for York.  Welby wants one primate from five geographic area to sit with the CNC when selecteing a new Archbishop of Canterbury., and less representation from the diocese.  It is a recognition of the dual role of that office.  It also might be seen as moving closer to a model of a world wide Anglican Church rather than a Communion. It could either give conservatives more control in the Communion or undercut their efforts to create an alternative Communion through GAFCON.

Cape-Town Archbishop Responds to Water Shortage

Capetown South Africa is facing such a serious drought that all taps to individual buildings could be shut off April 16 unless the residents find a way to cut their usage.  Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Capetown is urging members of churches to substantially reduce their water use and should they succeed in getting the reduction needed to keep water flowing, to refrain from then claiming a false crisis.  He is urging that the 80% of Capetown that is "religious" lead the way with prayer and conservation.