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, December 18, 2018

Week Ending 12/17/18

Oklahoma Interfaith Group Blesses Democrat Headed to Congress 

The moderate woman who turned a red congressional district blue in the midterm elections was sent to Congress with blessings by an interfaith group. The service was held at the Episcopal Church she attends.  The religious leaders participating included a wide cross section of the religious community including Jewish, Hindu, and Muslim leaders.  In a state where the "religion card" is played in favor of evangelical conservatives, Kendra Horn talked about faith as the source of shared values that informed her positions and attracted a diverse constituency, some of who crossed party lines to vote for her. 

Presiding Bishop Named Religion Newsmaker of Year

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was named Religion Newsmaker of the Year by the Religion News Association.  After stealing the show at the Royal Wedding in May, Curry has used his visibility to promote his message of love and speak out on social justice issues, thus keeping himself and the Episcopal Church in the news.

Archbishops of New Zealand and Polynesia Condemn Treatment of Papua New Guinea Indigenous People

All of the Bishops, the two Archbishops, and the Archbishop-Elect of the various parts of the Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia signed a letter expressing concern over the Indonesian government's suppression or the indigenous peoples in West Papua.  They vowed to bring up the oppression at world gatherings and shine a spotlight on the actions of the Indonesia government in Papua New Guinea.

Statute of Limitations Suspended for Three Years on Clergy Sex-Misconduct Complaints 

The Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies sent out a letter announcing implementation of General Convention 2018 Resolution D034 which called for a three year suspension of the church canon providing for a statute of limitations on accusations of clergy sexual misconduct involving adults.  The 2018 General Convention engaged in a number of actions addressing hurt caused by sexual misconduct by church members.   There is no statute of limitations in church canons on misconduct involving minors.  The letter stresses that this is a part of the process of bringing healing to those wounded by the church.   The suspension is in effect from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2021 and covers action back to the beginning of 1996.  Allegations should be directed to the diocesan intake officer, or if involving a bishop, the Office of Pastoral Development for the Episcopal Church.

Conservatives Upset by Church of England Rite for Transgender Transitions

The Church of England's House of Bishops has issued guidance on how to handle religious services acknowledging the transition of a transgender person.  The guidance stresses that the person is not to be rebaptized, but that the affirmation of baptism rite  is appropriate in a celebratory context.  Not surprisingly, those who have been opposed to the church becoming more affirming of  LGBTQ have been reacting negatively, condemning the guidance.  The blog Thinking Anglicans has a good summary of the kinds of objections being raised, especially by those affiliated with GAFCON.

Updates on Continuing Stories

Approval from Court Seals Pittsburgh Property Agreement 

In early 2018,  the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh announced an agreement covering the parish property of 9 parishes.  The agreement provided a unique path breaking the legal impasse over ownership of parish property for parishes who had separated from the Episcopal Church and the trust claim on that property by the Episcopal Diocese and the Episcopal Church.  The agreement proposed a long term relationship between the parishes and the Episcopal Diocese while allowing the parishes to remain outside the Episcopal Church.  There were a number of steps before the agreement became final.  The last of these, court approval has now been met.  

Episcopal Church Weighs Using Stock Purchases to Influence Gun Makers

General Convention 2018 approved an investment resolution B007 asking the church to consider buying stock in gun companies so that the church could propose resolutions at shareholders meetings that would allow for various forms of gun control.  The proposal was one of several put forward by the group Bishops Against Gun Violence.  The Church is now studying what such purchases might look like and whether the strategy would be effective.  The Episcopal Church has been active for a number of years in support of gun control and large demonstrations against gun violence were held at both the 2015 and 2018 General Conventions.

Diocese of Albany Called Out by Southern Poverty Law Center

The conservative church news blog, Anglican.ink has published a report that the Southern Poverty Law Center did a story in a December 13 newsletter on Bishop Love of the Diocese of Albany because of his refusal to implement General Convention Resolution B012.  The Resolution required all dioceses to make accommodations so that gay couples may marry in a church within their diocese.  Needless to say, Anglican.ink was not amused.  However, the story in question is not anywhere on the Southern Poverty Law Center web pages.

South Carolina Schismatics File Their Petitions for Summary Judgement

Last week the update reported on the filing by the Episcopal Church and South Carolina Episcopalians a request for summary judgement in the federal trademark case. It was based on the decision by the Carolina Supreme Court that the legitimate continuation of the Diocese of South Carolina was the body recognized by the Episcopal Church. The the break-away group's claims to be Episcopal confused people and did damage to the church and the Bishop of the Episcopal diocese.  Now the schismatics have dumped a load of papers on the federal district judge asking that the case be summarily dismissed and the trademark of the Episcopal Church be voided. They also asked that all three expert witness filings of by the Episcopalians be thrown out. The break away group's announcement casts this as part of the "long road to freedom" for their group.  The break-away argument boils down to a claim that the Episcopal Church is a generic term and can't be trademarked, and the diocese of South Carolina should get to keep and use all the identifiers it claimed when it left the Episcopal Church.  You can find good comments on the filings by blogger Steve Skaradon here and by historian Ron Caldwell here.  

St. Augustine's College  Gets Full Accreditation

The last two historically black colleges affiliated with the Episcopal Church have struggled because they are small colleges with limited endowments, and are competing for students in an age when the number of college-aged students is declining and black students can now be accepted at any college in the U.S.  This last year the Presiding Bishop made several appeals for the two colleges. The efforts of the church have had positive results.  St. Augustine, which educated almost all of the early black clergy and church workers, and many of the black nurses and teachers in the South, had been in serious trouble with its accreditation agency.  The college has righted its finances, in part with the support from the Church, and has received word that it will receive a letter of full accreditation