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, November 17, 2020

Week Ending 11/16/20

British Study Shows Social Action Can Grow Churches

Christian Today a media service based in London, but with secondary offices in New York, has published an article on a three year study in England that did over 350 interviews in 60 Church of England Parishes.   The study found an increase in social action, even as membership numbers declined in the church as a whole.  The findings indicated that churches that were visible in their community and whose social action was connected to and recognized in the community did show growth. 

Black Clergy Conference Gives Boost to Virtual Attendees

The Episcopal Church's Office of Black Ministries organized an international virtual meeting for black clergy that was attended by bishops and clergy from all over the Anglican Communion.  Some of the presentations and greetings were recorded ahead of the meeting.   The Office of Black Ministries has bee engaged in a re-imagining of its approach to be more inclusive of the full African diaspora, including immigrant communities with The Episcopal Church.   The conference was an extension of that approach.  Major speakers included Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the first black woman bishop in the Church of England, and  the head of the Union of Black Episcopalians.  All of the presentations will soon be available for viewing on the web site of the Office of Black Ministries.

Primates Meeting Finds Large Areas of Common Interest

Given the current pandemic, the meeting of the heads of each of the independent churches that are part of the Anglican Communion met virtually.  The meeting attracted 27 of the 41 leaders, with much of the meeting focused on problems they all shared: the pandemic and addressing and preventing sexual abuse within the churches of the communion.  They also received several reports, including one on the major study documents prepared for use in the Church of England on human sexuality.  The primates also welcomed the leader of the 41st province  in the Communion, Egypt and the Middle East.  Their actions were summarized in a Communique made available by the Anglican Communion News Service. 

Continuing Stories

South Carolinians Take Case Back to State Supreme Court

This last week the Episcopal Diocese of  South Carolina filed an appeal with the state supreme court asking the court to affirm its findings and decision by overturning the decision of District Judge Dickson to award all property to the schismatic group.  Dickson had been handed the task of administering the decision the state court had reached granting all diocesan property and most parish property to those who stayed in the Episcopal Church.  Instead he turned the property over to the schismatic group.   As usual, the blog, scepiscopalians.com has in its November 12 posting, good background and context on the 8 year struggle of Episcopalians to recover property taken by the schismatics.  The full initial brief is here.

Controversial Dean at General Theological Seminary Resigns

Dean Kurt Dunkle whose heavy-handed reform of General Theological Seminary  (GTS) led to a major controversy in which seven of eight full-time faculty were either fired or resigned, has now announced his own resignation after seven years as its head.  Dunkle himself, briefly faced disciplinary charges during the controversy.   General Convention 2015  in response, formed  a committee to explore the relationship of GTS to the Episcopal Church.  GTS, the oldest Episcopal Seminary,  is the only one created by General Convention, with Trustees elected by the Convention.  Dunkle led a complete revision of the curriculum, managed to weather a major drop in enrollment following the controversy, and a financial crisis that led the seminary to sell some of its property.  His resignation may help dissipate any residual tension and ill feelings by alumni and friends of the seminary.

Australian Church Court Rules Diocesan Blessing of Same Sex Marriages Legal 

Australia made civil marriage for same sex couples legal several years ago, but the Anglican Church of Australia has been greatly divided by how it should respond to couples.  The Diocese of Sydney, which participates in GAFCON  has been the source of much opposition to church blessing of unions, or conducting same sex marriages.  However, The dioceses that make up the Province of New South Wales (which includes Sydney) withing the Australian Church are not all agreed, and there are dioceses that would like to offer Church blessings to same sex couple. Newcastle went ahead and authorized a blessing ceremony.  They were soon joined by another, Wangaratta, in Victoria Province.  Both dioceses put their measures on hold until reviewed by the Church's highest legal court.  That court has now issued its opinion.  The opinion carefully deals only with canon law, not theology, but came to the conclusion that there was nothing in the church canons forbidding the actions.  Inevitably, this will now be a topic for the next synod of the Australian church.  

Archbishop of Canterbury Responds to Criticism 

The Church of England has been engaged in a several year investigation, law suits and policy reform in the area of safeguarding members of the church, especially young people, from sexual abuse.  The  Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby,  has come in for his share of criticism for being too soft on one of the clergy involved in numerous cases.  Welby has issued a statement defending his actions, but mostly pledging he will continue to work to change the culture in the Church of England so that it will be a safe place for all.  The full statement is here.  

Martyn Minns Appointed as Interim Bishop in Pittsburgh ACNA Diocese

Martyn Minns, the former rector of Truro Parish in Virginia and consecrated bishop by the Nigerian sponsored CANA group is coming to Pittsburgh as the pastoral interim bishop in Pittsburgh following the resignation of Bishop James Hobby.  Minns is familiar to many in Pittsburgh because as a young priest before the schism he served at several Pittsburgh Episcopal Parishes.  The Standing Committee is retaining ecclesiastical authority, but Minns will handle those pastoral duties that only a bishop can do.