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, October 22, 2019

Week Ending 10/21/19

Episcopalians Respond to Shooting of Atatiana Jefferson

Episcopal leaders and others responded strongly in support of the Jefferson family in the police shooting of Atatiana Jefferson at home with no warning. The Church has made strong witnesses against both racism and gun violence, and Jefferson's murder brought both issues together. The white officer who shot the black woman has been charged with murder.  Newark Bishop Carlye Hughes  was joined by Forth Worth Bishop Scott Mayer and Central New York Bishop De De Probe in issuing a challenge to everyone in Fort Worth to create a community where all are safe as they go about their daily activities.  All three bishops have roots in Fort Worth.  Other prominent Episcopalians also spoke out around the country.  The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has a good article that provides links to the statements here.  

Episcopal Church in Europe Responds to Yom Kippur Attack

On the solemn Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, terrorists in Halle, Germany tried to enter a synagogue, but ended up killing people on the street outside.  The religious leaders in Germay of The Episcopal Church issued a public statement of support and sympathy to the Jewish community.  The statement is available here.  The Episcopal Church has made numerous statements about gun violence and has been working to overcome the Christian legacy of antisemitism.  For example, in Pittsburgh, Calvary Episcopal Church hosted the high holiday services for the Tree of Life Synagogue, which has not yet returned to the building where 11 people lost their lives in a terrorist attack last October.

Retired Canadian Bishop Runs for Office on Green Party Ticket

The issues of governmental ethics and climate change have drawn the former Quebec Bishop Dennis Drainville out of  retirement to run for a seat in the Canadian Parliament on the Green Party ticket.  Thirty years ago Drainville was active in politics, but with the NDP.  The leader of the Green Party, Elizabeth May, is also an Anglican.  The Canadian Church's Anglican Journal has more on the bishop.

Haitian Collapse Affects Episcopal Church's Largest Diocese

Rioting and continued collapse of public services in Haiti has reached a crisis level never before seen in the Republic of Haiti.  A recent New York Times article on the collapse includes the ways this is impacting Episcopal Church hospitals, schools and churches.  One hospital has had to ration oxygen, choosing between the elderly and newborns.  Rioters had forced some parishes to not hold services.  The whole article is here.

Internationally Christian Churches Under Attack

 While many are skeptical about conservative's claims that Christianity is under attack in the United States, there is no doubt that Christianity is taking some hard blows in other parts of the world.  Chinese officials continue to tear down large Christian Churches, including those which have appropriate licenses from the government, and it is reported that in the Luoyang area, the official "Three-Self" churches have been ordered to replace the Ten Commandments  on their walls with quotes from the Chinese leader Xi.   In Algeria, the government has just forced the closure of three Christian churches, including the two largest in the country.  The closures came after Christians demonstrated in from of a government building to protest persecution. Since 2018, fifteen of about 46 Christian churches in the country have been closed, and the government agency that is supposed to register churches has refused to meet, making it impossible for churches to have legal recognition.  In Syria, Christians are among those caught in the Turkish invasion, and are fleeing areas where they made up as much as 20% of the population. In the Israel  and Israeli-occupied parts of Palestine a recent Mid East Monitor reports that economic and political oppression is resulting in a drop in Christian population.

Northern Ireland Church Leaders Upset by Abortion Proposal

The Republic of Ireland voted to remove restrictive clauses in its constitution last year.  At that time, the leaders of the Anglican Church of Ireland issued statements opposing the measures, but the measures passed. The Church of Ireland includes parishes in both the Republic of Ireland and the northern counties of the island which remain part of Britain.  The British Government has announced changes which will make abortion more accessible in Northern Ireland.  Church leaders in the North are protesting vigorously.  The British government is doing this to implement a 2018 report on women's rights in the northern counties.  Polls suggest a majority of residents of Northern Ireland support the changes, but the major denominations (Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methdist, and Presbyterian leadership opposes the move.

Continuing Stories

Minnesotans Continue Pressure to Rename Federal Building

Minnesota Episcopalians have been demonstrating to get the Federal Government either to move ICE offices out of   Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building or change the building's names.  They have now organized under the heading of "What Would Bishop Whipple Do?" and are holding events in local parishes and continuing their lobbying and picketing. They also have a Facebook page.  The protests have gained support beyond the Episcopal Church.  Bishop Whipple was the first bishop of Minnesota and was known for his willingness to support the causes of Indigenous people, the marginalized and the poor.  While he was a product of his time and encouraged assimilation, those organizing the protest argue that in today's world he would recognize the cause of immigrants.

More Information on South Carolina Judge Conflict of Interest

Last week Update carried notices of a possible conflict of interest involving a South Carolina Supreme Court Justice who just married a woman working for the law firm representing the schismatic group. The news was in a post by blogger Steve Skardon. The wedding was held at one of the parishes covered by the court decree, but which is still participating in ACNA.  Skaradon has published a follow-up  on October 15 that suggests the Justice's vote to deny a motion by Episcopalians in South Carolina that would have directed Judge Dickson to stop dragging things out and implement the court's now 2 year-old order, may have been attempt to win approval of ACNA Bishop Mark Lawrence for his remarriage after divorce.  The parish could not perform the marriage without Lawrence's approval.  For details go to the blog scepiscopalians.com.

Church Living Into Goal of Racial Reconciliation

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has made racial reconciliation a major theme of the ministry of the Episcopal Church. In September, the Executive Council ordered a racial audit of the church. The October Executive Council meeting in Montgomery, Alabama certainly carried the racial reconciliation theme forward with presentations and visits to important civil/human rights sites in the area.  Meanwhile, the Episcopal cathedral in Cleveland sponsored an exhibit on " Undesigning Red-lining." Red-lining is the real estate practice that helps sustain residential segregation.  The traveling exhibit will be at the cathedral until December 20, 2019.

Responses to Sydney Archbishop Address

Last week Update reported on the address by retiring Archbishop Glen Davies of the Diocese of Sydney and Province of new South Wales in the Anglican Church of Australia.  Davies said that he wished those who supported same sex blessings would just leave the church.  That statement has elicited considerable blow-back.  A number of  church leaders in Australia told Davies that they had no intention of leaving, and that pushing people out of the church was un-Anglican.  Even conservative churchmen were appalled. You can read responses here and here

Another Canadian Diocese Implements Same Sex Blessings

The Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada may have fallen a handful of votes shy of changing their canons to explicitly permit Churches to provide same sex blessings to couples married in civil services or preside at same sex marriages, but individual dioceses are going ahead implementing a local option for parishes.  Update reported on one last week.  This week the Toronto Diocese moved forward.

Two More Dioceses to Share a Bishop

 Bishop Sean Rowe of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania has pioneered the practice of serving as bishop of two dioceses, first while taking on the duties of provisional bishop for the Diocese of Bethlehem until they were ready to elect a new bishop, and most recently with the Diocese of Western New York.  Now another two dioceses are trying out the practice.  Bishop Houghland of Western Michigan has just been elected provisional bishop for the Diocese of Eastern Michigan.  The two dioceses are looking at greater cooperation and streamlining of services as part of the shared arrangement.  Together the two dioceses will have a little over 100 parishes and 12,000 members. 

Bishop Love Draws Line at Convention 

Bishop William Love of Albany is facing a Title IV church hearing because he has refused to implement the 2018 resolution requiring every diocese to provide a way for parishes and clergy to host and preside at same sex marriages, if they so desired.  The latest issue of the diocesan magazine has a long letter (pages 15-19) by Bishop Love in which he makes his rock-hard refusal not only clear, but makes statements that sound very much like those put forward by bishops who have since left the church.  He also compares his stand to those of the Coptic Christians who were martyred by ISIS in 2015 for refusing to give up their faith.  Elsewhere in the magazine is a report on diocesan elections.  Pittsburghers may be interested to see that the Rev. Leander Harding has been elected a clergy deputy to General Convention 2021.