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         

Monday, March 2, 2020

Week Ending 03/02/20

Federal Court Rules in Favor of Immigrant Sheltered by Church

A Honduran woman who fled her homeland after her husband nearly killed her sought sanctuary at a Chapel Hill, NC church. Two congregations, one Mennonite, and one Presbyterian share the building and have been supporting her in her quest for asylum. She was denied refugee status through the immigration courts, and then sued in federal court.  A three judge panel from the U.S. Fourth Circuit court of Appeals ruled this last week that she may not be deported.  It means the women can return to her NC home and four children. The appeals court ruled that the immigration court could not deny her asylum and deport her without considering the possibility she would be in danger if she were sent back to Honduras.  Religion News Service has the full story.  The ruling should bolster the cases of refugees being sheltered in other churches, including Episcopal ones.

Study Show Growth Among Church of England Members for Support of Same-Sex Marriage

The Ozane Foundation which supports the full inclusion of LGBTQ people into the church has just published the results of an attitude survey on same sex marriage. The Foundation conducted similar studies in 2013 and 2016.  The results document a swiftly changing popular perception among members of the Anglican Church.  In fact, there was almost an  swap between views in 2013 and 2019.  In 2013, 38% supported same-sex marriage and 47% opposed it, with the remainder undecided.  In 2020, 48% support same-sex marriage and 34% oppose it. The general public was even more accepting, and Anglican women were more likely to approve of same-sex marriage than men were.  You can read the report and see their charts here.

New Anglican Province in Planning for Mozambique and Angola

The Province of Southern Africa includes several countries besides South Africa.  It is now taking steps that will let it petition for a new Anglican Communion province for the part of the province that speaks Portuguese, namely the countries of Mozambique and Angola.  The process will start with the creation of several additional dioceses in that area. If the process goes forward, it would leave South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, and the Island of St. Helena and Tristan de Cunha in the Southern Africa Province.

Church Responds to Spread of Coronavirus-19 

The spread of Coronavirus-19has led to a number of statements by Church leaders in the United States and in the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal News Service (ENS) made a new travel ban the headliner in an article that more generally covers responses from a number of dioceses and church agencies.  The ban suspends all official travel to Hong Kong, China, Japan, North Korea, Iran, and Italy.  The travel ban takes effect just as a number of Episcopal bishops, including the Presiding Bishop returned from Taiwan where they  consecrated a new bishop. The ENS article includes a link to information and suggested preventative measures issued by Episcopal Relief and Development. Several diocese have issued statements or letters, including one by the Diocese of Northwest Pennsylvania. The Church of Ireland has issued a set of protocols for churches that include suspension of the administration of the cup at communion, hand sanitizing, visitation of the sick to be done electronically or by phone,  and elimination of shaking hands or other touching during the peace.  The Anglican Church of Canada has also issued a set of protocols for their congregations.

Updates on Continuing Stories

Massachusetts Priest Admits Guilt in Child Porn Case

Gregory Lisby, priest in the Ciocese of Western Massachusetts admitted guilt on a charge of possession of child pornography at a court hearing this last week. Bishop Fisher announced that Title IV proceedings would begin against Lisby.  The Bishop also revealed that a charge against Lisby had surfaced on inappropriate sexual conduct with a minor.  Update had carried the notice of Lisby's arrest last fall.  

Hearing Held on South Carolina Property Motions

A short hearing  Thursday, February 27 by Judge Dickson focused on motions for a special master and an audit in the South Carolina property cases filed in 2018 by Episcopalians.  The fact that the Episcopalians had filed a request with the state supreme court earlier that week for an order that would light a fire under Dickson to actually implement the property decisions was not mentioned.  None of the motions filed by the group that left the Episcopal Church were considered.  There is no indication as to when the judge might rule on these motions, however.   For a fuller discussion see the news release posted on the Episcopal Diocese web site. 

New Revelations in Christ Church, Oxford Scandal

The Times of London has an extended article showing that the roots of the conflict between the Christ Church, Oxford Dean and the faculty were about more than his salary and finances.  At the root was the college faculty's unwillingness to put in place a set of rules and clear designation of responsibility in cases involving sexual abuse.  The Dean pushed for clarification of roles and guidelines which the faculty resisted following a case in which a student at the college stabbed her boyfriend, and another case involving sexual assault. The faculty opposed changes because they would be burdensome to the faculty responsible for disciplinary actions.  Christ Church College has issued a statement denying any link to these matters, but the evidence in the newspaper article is convincing.  Update has been following this story for several months.

Bishops Decry Latest Ash Wednesday Mass Shooting

Bishops Against Gun Violence has issued a statement on the mass shooting at the brewery in Milwaukee.  The shooting occured on Ash Wednesday, a chilling coincidence that brought back memories of the Ash Wednesday shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida in 2018. The bishops are planing a trip to talk with lawmakers in Washington in April.  A similar trip was held last year.  Update has covered new about the Episcopal Church witness against gun violence and the specific activities of the bishop's group on a number of occasions. (For a recent example, see here.)