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         

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Week Ending 05/28/18

Candlelight Vigil at White House Draws a Crowd

With the heavy media attention on Presiding Bishop Burrys' sermon at the recent royal wedding, it was inevitable that stories of the interdenominational prayer vigil and march to the White House  last week would focus on Curry's participation. Update carried a story on the plans for the march and its declaration in the May 14 posting.  The church hosting the prayer meeting could not hold all those who showed up, and crowd estimates suggest over 1000 marched to the White House for the candlelight vigil.  The actions were in support of a statement issued by the group "taking back Jesus" by advocating for care of the poor, the ill, and welcoming of the stranger and condemning as heretical the idea of "America First." A sampling of the stories follows: thehill.com, CNN, Christian Post, Episcopal News Service, the Guardian.

Same Sex Marriage Developments in Australia and Among Methodists

Recently the decision became public of Australian Anglican bishops to not allow Anglican buildings or liturgy to be used for same-sex marriage, following changes in Australian law permitting such marriages.  Anglican.ink carried a story on the way an Anglican parish got around the prohibitions by having the wedding of two of their parishioners hosted in the church of another denomination with participation from both the host congregation and the Anglican parish.  The article is clearly set up hoping to elicit an investigation and possible disciplinary action against the clergy.

The United Methodist Church has called a special three-day General Conference for early 2019 specifically to deal with the issues of ordination of LGBTQ members and same-sex marriage.  The Judicial Court for the Methodists has ruled that any body, group, or member of the Church may submit petitions “in harmony with the purpose” of the session.  Some church members are afraid that this will result in the Conference again getting bogged down in procedural debates and not getting to the substance of the matters in the admittedly short session.  This session will be of  special interest to Episcopalians because of the on-going discussions for a full communion agreement between The Episcopal Church and the United Methodists.

Adjusting to the Modern World

Several announcements this last week show the Church adjusting to a digital world, and one that is increasing aware of environmental issues. Fuller Seminary,  the largest multi-denominational seminary in the U.S. announced that it was selling its campus in Pasadena and will relocate to Pomona in a building better designed for the growing sector of on-line classes.  Regular enrollment has dropped dramatically, but their on-line courses have grown and are now over half of enrollments. Responding to the increasing dependence on digital assistants such as Siri, Cortana, and Alexa, the Church of England has announced that it has developed a module for Alexa that allows people to ask theological questions, or have the assistant say grace and offer daily prayer.  They hope to have the service offered through Google Play in the near future.  Another group in England is now offering polyester cassocks made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.  The fabric is supposed to feel like a soft wool and is being marketed to the ecologically aware clergy. Currently they only offer cassocks for men, but are working on designs for women.

U.S. Supreme Court Sets Date for Review of SC Case

The June 7, 2018 agenda for the U.S. Supreme Court review of possible cases includes the petition for certiorari filed by the Lawrence faction trying to overturn the property decision issued by the South Carolina Supreme Court.  Bishop Skip Adams has issued a pastoral letter asking for prayers and explaining what might happen next. 

Following-Up on Previous Stories

 Blogger Steve Skaradon has an interesting essay May 23 reflecting on the Presiding Bishops sermon at the royal wedding and showing the influence of  the African-American lay theologian Verna Dozier on his thought.
The pressure brought to bear by Baptist women upset by Paige Patterson's statements on domestic abuse  has born fruit.  Patterson has stepped down as President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, but he and his wife will remain as theologians in residence and get to continue living in a house on the campus built for them.  A columnist at ReligionNews.com comments on these developments here.
GAFCON leader Peter Jensen has issued a statement defending GAFCON's actions "admitting" the Province of Recife to their version of the Anglican Communion.  It is interesting for how he tries to reframe the structure of the Anglican Comunion.  Update covered the GAFCON action in April.

Abrupt Departure Raises Questions

The Living Church reports that Neva Rae Fox who has led the Episcopal Digital Network and was the chief communications officer for the Episcopal Church abruptly departed from her job on Wednesday of last week.  There was no announcement from the Church Center, and her name was simply removed from the staff listings. No one at the Center would comment.  Fox had been the chief communications spokesperson since 2007.  The timing is very puzzling because she had just returned from London where she handled press issues associated with the Presiding Bishop's appearance at the royal wedding, and the office is gearing up for the intense work schedule that General Convention will bring. The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is now listed as interim director.

Virginia Bishop Cancels Search for Suffragan

Bishop Shannon Johnson has issued a pastoral letter announcing that he has terminated the search for a suffragan bishop because of internal tensions among diocesan staff and leadership that need to be resolved, and because his own plans as bishop are now undergoing re-evaluation.  His letter is here.  Episcopal Cafe had this to say about the announcement.  The diocese is one of the largest in the Episcopal Church, but they also are not lacking in bishops they can tap.  the Rt. Rev. Susan Goff is Suffragan Bishop, and the Rt. Rev. Rober Ihloff is Assisting Bishop.  In addition the Rt. Rev. Ted Gulik is serving as interim Canon to the Ordinary.  There are also retired bishops living in Virginia.