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, July 23, 2019

Week Ending 07/22/19

Episcopal Full Communion with Lutherans Expands

With the passage of a resolution at General Synod 2019 supporting full communion with Lutheran bodies in Canada and America, and with the The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada completed the process required to bring a memorandum of understanding among all four churches  into effect.  Each of the four parties (The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada) had previously been in communion with its equivalent body in the other country, and with the other denomination's body in the same country.  The effect for Episcopalians is to add the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada as a full communion partner. 

Former Pittsburgh Assistant Bishop Scriven Has New Post

Henry Scriven, who served as Assistant Bishop to Bishop Duncan before the 2008 schism, and continued working with him for a few months until he returned to England, has become the Interim General Secretary for the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion.  Scriven will serve until the next full EFAC Council meeting when the Council will choose a General Secretary.  The group has a position resembling the Communion partners, and seems to be walking a fine line to stay within the Anglican Communion.

Continuing Stories

More Fallout From Canadian Vote on Same-Sex Marriage

The narrow failure of a canonical change at General Synod 2019 explicitly altering the Anglican Church of Canada's marriage canons to allow same-sex marriage continues to provoke response.  A group is now considering proposing changes to the system of voting at General Synod so bishops could not block measures at General Synod that have wide support from clergy and lay deputies. The Chancellor's reading of the existing canon said that it made no specification about the sex of the two persons being married and thus individual bishops were free to permit same-sex marriage if they so chose.  Several bishops gave the permission following General Synod 2016.  Bishops are still free to authorize such marriages under the existing canon, and a number have announced they will do so.  Conservatives have challenged the Chancellor's interpretation, and the bishop of the Diocese of the Arctic has announced that he will have to separate his diocese from those that are permitting such marriages, and has declared a state of impaired communion.  (See coverage and later "qualifications" here, here, and here.) It is not clear how he can be both in the Anglican Church and not in communion with it. Another complicating factor is that almost 70% of the members of the Diocese of the Arctic are indigenous peoples, and technically, they now are part of an independent indigenous unit within the Anglican Church headed by Archbishop Mark McDonald.  

New Motion in the South Carolina Suit Against Church Insurance

Recent evidence surfaced that the Church Insurance Company of Vermont had honored claims by the schismatic leaders of several parishes for the costs of litigation in the lawsuit for South Carolina church property.  In 2012 the insurance company (CIC-VT) had denied claims for legal expenses from these parishes on the grounds they were not Episcopal parishes and hence not insured by the compnay. The schismatics then sued CIC-VT.  A settlement "with prejudice" was reached in 2015 and since then CIC-VT has honored several claims.  Once the diocese recognized by the Episcopal Church had proof of these payments, they sued CIC-VT claiming the company had committed fraud by paying claims to a group trying to take property away from the Episcopalians. (See the Update report here.)  CIC-VT responded to the new suit by filing its own suit and counterclaims.  Now the Episcopalians have filed documents asking that this filing be thrown out.  The reasons are explained in the legal filing and a summary found on the diocesan web page for the Episcopalians. 

Betterments Case Hearing This Week

Blogger Steve Skardon has a good background piece (dated July 20) helping to explain what is at stake in the Tuesday hearing on the lawsuit filed under the Betterments Act by the schismatic parishes.  The parishes are trying to claim that if the Episcopal Church regains their properties then they are owed compensation for every improvement ever made on those properties, which in some cases could mean more than 200 years of improvements.  Skardon believes that the suit should be thrown out of court because the schismatics don't have standing to sue.  In addition, a Betterments Act claim can only be filed after the case about ownership has been decided and all litigation closed.  The Lawrence leadership keeps insisting that the case is still open, and this suit contradicts those claims.

Move to End Refugee Resettlement Brings Episcopal Protest

Plans by the Trump administration to completely end admission of refugees by the end of the year have elicited a strong protest from the Episcopal Migration Ministries.  The protest points out that offering hospitality to the stranger is a biblical imperative, and thus to deny access to refugees is to prevent the Episcopal Church from  fully living into its faith.  Episcopal News Service has the full story.  This is the latest in a series of protests Episcopal leaders have made on behalf of immigrants and refugees.  General Convention has passed numerous resolutions supporting immigrants.  A number of parishes and dioceses have program in support of immigrants, both documented and undocumented.