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, April 16, 2018

Week Ending 4/16/18

Episcopalians Join Interfaith Group in Opposing Missouri Law Allowing Guns in Church

 An interfaith group of Church leaders joined together to issue a press statement opposing Missouri legislation that would allow concealed guns in churches unless a church posted a sign forbidding guns. Both Religion News and the Anglican Communion News Service carried stories on the press conference.  Noting that a first amendment issue of religious freedom was involved, and asking the legislature to consider other forms of gun legislation (such as extending background checks, or  banning bump stocks and high capacity magazines), the interfaith group included Episcopal  Bishop George Wayne Smith, the catholic archbishop, leading rabbis, the spokesperson for African American churches, the United Methodist Bishop and others. Bishop Smith has been working to end gun violence for several years, even appointing a a staff member in 2016 to focus on ending gun violence.

Church Called on to Help Save Historically Black Episcopal Schools

This year, Presiding Bishop Curry called on churches and individuals to contribute to the two remaining historically black colleges affiliated with the Episcopal Church, St. Augustine's in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Vorhees College in South Carolina.  The reason for the plea is now clearer.  St. Augustine, which played a very important role in educating black clergy, educators, and nurses in the years after the Civil War is facing a critical accreditation review.  The accrediting team has already flagged the school for financial shortfalls.  The appeals have raised $3 million for the school, but the college needs another $3 million by June 30  to reach the goals set by the accreditation body.  For more, see this Living Church story. 

Presiding Bishop Speaks Out on Gaza Violence

Just back from a visit to Israel and the Gaza Peninsula, Presiding Bishop Curry has added the Episcopal Church to the signatories of a joint statement by 15 churches and church agencies protesting Israel's response to the protest along the Gaza border. Earlier in the week he signed another interfaith letter sent to President Trump asking for protection of the vulnerable Christian communities in the Holy Land.  The letter cited actions by the Israeli Knesset that would allow Israel to retroactively appropriate land sold by the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches, and by Israeli leaders in Jerusalem to  retroactively tax some Church properties. Update has covered these actions including here and here.

Irish Church Leaders Weigh In on Proposed Abortion Law Change

Irish voters are preparing to vote in a referendum to appeal the 8th Amendment to their constitution, which forbade abortion. The Anglican Church in Ireland generally opposed the 1983 amendment because they believed that it was too stringent, and provisions needed to be made for cases involving the life and health of the mothers, the certainty that the fetus had no chance of surviving, and certain other limited compassionate circumstances. In an effort to clarify what would happen if the amendment were repealed, the Irish parliament announced it would then pass a law that provided for a number of exceptions to the abortion ban, including allowing all abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This proposed legislation caused the Irish Anglican archbishops to oppose repeal because of it liberality.  Now the former Anglican Communion General Secretary, the Rev. Kenneth Kearon, has published a statement arguing for repeal, but also stating that he thinks the follow-up legislation needs to be reworked.  Conservative Anglicans are trying to use the statement to paint Kearon as a complete supporter of abortion.

More Charges Filed Against Deposed Priest

North Carolina now has filed rape charges against Howard White, a deposed Episcopal priest who is already serving a sentence for sexual abuse in a Massachusetts prison. White pled guilty to charges that he had sexually abused a boy from St. George's School in Rhode Island on a school trip to Massachusetts in the 1970s. White had retired from the school decades ago. By 2016 when the charges surfaced,  he was serving as supply in a western North Carolina parish, although still canonically resident in Central Pennsylvania. Charges also surfaced from his years in Central Pennsylvania.  Bishop Scanlon of Central Pennsylvania initiated proceedings and deposed him in September 2016.  

Gallup Poll Sheds Light on Church Attendance

The Gallop Poll conducted a survey trying to find out what made people want to go to church, and why others did not go.  While community engagement and outreach, helped, what attracted most people already attending was good preaching, either helping to explain scripture or connecting the scripture to their lives.  Having good programs for youth and community outreach were next in importance.  The one split between Roman Catholic and Protestant church goers came in music.  Almost half of Protestants considered quality music important, while only a fifth of Catholics did.  Among those not attending, the answers suggested a disinclination to organized religion, either by choosing to worship alone or stating a dislike of organized churches.  Not religious came in third.   The Episcopal Cafe gives a good summary of the research.

Retiring Bishop Questions Community Support for Rebuilding New Zealand Cathedral

Christchurch Diocese in New Zealand has struggled to move forward with plans to either restore or build a new cathedral to replace the historic building destroyed in the 2011 earthquake.  The Update reported on the September 2017 decision of the diocese to restore their historic building, despite its high cost, after assurances from groups in the community at large that they would help pay for the work.  Bishop Victoria Matthews, who lost her own home in the quake, recently announced her resignation as bishop.  At an event to honor her, she made very pointed remarks accusing the community activists who had pushed the diocese to restore rather than build a new cathedral of backing off from their promises of funding.