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         

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Week Ending 6/18/18

Churches Condemn Policy to Separate Children from Parents at Border 

The policy of separating children from their parents when undocumented immigrants arrive at the U.S. border has been meeting with growing outrage.  That outrage grew louder when Attorney General Jeff Session tried to justify the policy using Chapter 13 of Romans. Sessions may not have realized that he had chosen a favorite passage used by slaveholders, Nazis, and other totalitarian regimes.  One after another, churches have countered that claim and spoken against the policy, including the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  The Episcopal Presiding Bishop has appeared on news shows as one of several leaders countering that claim. (See here and here for videos)  And to top if off, over 600 United Methodists clergy and laity have signed a formal request asking for disciplinary proceedings against Sessions (a Methodist) for conduct that includes racism, child abuse, and false teaching.  On Wednesday June 20, there will be a vigil protesting the treatment of children separated from their parents at the border in Pittsburgh.  The vigil is at 9 p.m. at Forbes and Murray in Squirrel Hill.  Church of the Redeemer is one of the organizers.

Connecticut Parish Challenging Bishop Again

 When the Rev. Christopher Leighton was rector or St. Paul's Parish in Darien, Connecticut, the parish distanced itself from the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Connecticut.  It was one of the six Connecticut Parishes that tried to break free of the Dennis Canon so it could leave the Epsicopal Church with its property.  St. Paul's, however, withdrew its lawsuit and stayed officially in the diocese but barely.  In 2016 they called a new rector.  He was originally from India, and had impressive credentials.  A year later the parish vestry voted to remove him. Bishop Ian Douglas informed them that there was a canonical process that parishes had to follow when a vestry and rector were at odds, and he invoked it.  After nearly a year or meetings, Douglas picked a date to inform the parish of his decision on whether the rector would go or stay.  The vestry responded by threatening to change the locks, and Douglas stepped in again.  His decision was that the rector should stay and all parties to be part of a reconciliation effort.  The vestry boycotted Douglas's meeting with the parish, and it is not clear what will happen next.

South Carolina Churches Planning Next Steps After SCOTUS Denies Appeal

 In the wake of the announcement that the U.S. Supreme Court would not hear the appeal filed by the South Carolina break-away group, both the Episcopalians and the break-away group have been taking first steps in response.  Bishop Skip Adams appointed the Rev. William Coyne as Missioner for Returning Congregations whose job it will be to handle all the transitions of property and people in the parishes covered by the state Supreme Court opinion.  How soon this will occur is not clear, because the break-away bishop, Mark Lawrence issued a letter to his clergy and parishes just before leaving to attend the GAFCON meeting in Jerusalem (see article later in this update).  The letter said that they would continue to fight the decision.  Blogger Steve Skaradon gives more details on Adams's plans for the diocese notes that Lawrence's response has left most SC lawyers puzzled as to what grounds exist for a review.

Church of England Synod Has Other "Hot" Issues

The Church of England Synod next month will not be discussing issues of sexuality.  All resolutions have been taken off the table until a theological report from the bishops is ready in 2020.  However, the announcement this week that a high-visibility Christian pop-singer had decided not to pursue ordination because as a lesbian she feels unwelcome in the church did not help to smooth the waters.  Meanwhile synod will be addressing other issues including a vote on a resolution asking Britain to end  nuclear proliferation.  There will also be votes on resolutions endorsing an investment policy that is environmentally sensitive and includes divestment as an option. 

Church of England Trying to Leverage Curry's Popularity

The Presiding Bishop's celebrity status continues in England. The Guardian has linked the invitation to preach at the royal wedding to efforts by the Church of England to "unstuffify" itself.   Black majority congregations have been growing rapidly in England, most are pentacostal and not affiliated with the Church of England. In a move called the "Michael Curry effect," the Church of England Synod meeting next month will be discussing resolutions that would ease ecumenical relations so that Church of England parishes could more readily cooperate with these black churches.

Anglican Communion Meetings in the News

GAFCON (Global Anglican Futures Conference), the alternative organization created by those unhappy with the inclusive direction of some members of the Anglican Communion is holding its third conference.  Although claiming to be the real Anglican Communion, and attended by many of the African, Latin American, and  Asian Provinces of the Anglican Communion, the conference denied press credentials to the Anglican Communion News Service.  They also have welcomed and seated as provinces break-away groups they helped create in parts of the Anglican Communion deemed too liberal. Those attending the meeting in Jerusalem are divided between groups wanting to continue to set up an alternative Anglican Communion, and others simply looking for fellowship and renewal.  In the past the conferences served as an alternative to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Communion, but Archbishop Welby delayed the once-a-decade meeting of the bishops in the Anglican Communion until 2020 hoping to use the time to build bridges and create greater understanding among provinces before the Lambeth Conference convenes.  Welby was able to take some thunder away from GAFCON by announcing a major grant to help bishops from financially strapped dioceses make the trip to England in 2020.