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 24, 2020

Week Ending 11/23/20

One-Fifth of Members Are Skipping Church 

A Survey done by the Barna group has found that about one-fifth of those who had been attending church before the pandemic have stopped going  entirely.  The decision to skip church was most evident among those who attended about once a month before the pandemic.  Christianity Today has more on the survey here.

Archbishop of Canterbury Taking Sabbatical

Archbishop Welby has announced that beginning immediately he will be on sabbatical for several months.  He will use the time to refresh himself spiritually and to study, most likely at Cambridge and in the U.S.  The Christian Post has a story on his sabbatical here.

Continuing Stories

Fort Worth Episcopalians Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court

The Episcopal Church and the Diocese in Fort Worth quietly filed an appeal of the Texas Supreme Court opinion which gave all diocesan and parish property to the group that left the Episcopal Church.  The Texas Court had used  so-called neutral principles to rule that the Dennis Canon of the Episcopal Church which put a trust claim on all property could not be enforced in Texas, and to rule that the schismatic group was the successor to the Episcopal Diocese.  The Filing asks the court to overturn the use of neutral principles and recognize that freedom of religion requires that courts recognize the governing documents of churches.  The schismatic diocese has filed for and received an extension until December 23 to file a reply.  Anglican.ink, which has sided with the schismatics in the legal cases has a story that includes the full filing by the Episcopal Church. 

Churches Struggle With Response to Surge in Covid-19 Cases

The surge in cases of covid-19 has led Episcopal Churches to urge caution.  Bishop McConnell of Pittsburgh has urged churches to err on the side of caution in holding services.  Bishop Scanlon of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania has issued a directive that parishes in her diocese are to suspend all in-person services inside until 2021.  Carefully distanced outdoor services may continue.  The Episcopal Church has decided to delay General Convention until 2022 in order to err on the side of safety.  Normally this would be a time of increased activity and meetings in preparation for the triennial convention. This will require the extension of terms of office for a number of  elected positions on commissions, committees, and church officers.  The National Cathedral used its annual Ignatius Forum to focus on the pandemic with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Directior of the  National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins and Dr. Luciana Borio, a member of Biden’s new coronavirus task force serving as a panel offering advice and perspectives.  More than 7000 people attended the forum virtually.  The Update has been regularly including notices of how the Episcopal Church is responding to the pandemic.  The most recent previous post is here.

Another Story of Feeding the Hungry

Trinity Church in Iredell County, North Carolina supported the local cooperative ministry food shelf by collecting more that 1500 pounds of foodstuffs. Iredell Christian Ministries food shelf serves around 800 families every month.  The local newspaper thought the food drive by the church was extraordinary during the economic hard times of the pandemic.  Update has regularly published stories of parishes continuing or starting outreach ministries to help their communities. 

New Charges Filed Against Oxford Dean

The Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Rev. Martyn Percy has voluntarily stepped aside from duties while a complaint filed under the Clergy Discipline Measure is investigated.  The complaint is a rehash of his handling of sexual misconduct issues brought to his attention as Dean.  Percy has been under fire for several years by a group of Christ Church faculty who have done everything in their power to have him removed.  Update has followed the twists and turns of this ongoing battle between Dean and faculty.  The most recent previous post is here.

Responses to the Australian Tribunal Decision on Same-Sex Marriage

Last week Update carried notice of the decision of the Australian Church's tribunal concerning the efforts of two dioceses to move forward with blessing same sex civil marriages.  The tribunal found nothing forbidding the actions in canon law, and left any theological discussions to the church's synod.
Since then the Primate for the Anglican Church of Australia and the House of Bishops have both issued statements.  Basically they both stressed that the theological position of the church remained that marriage was to be between one man and one woman, but they also realized that the two dioceses might go ahead with plans for blessings, and that other parishes or diocese might follow.  The Steering Committee of GAFCON which has been adamantly opposed to changes in marriage offered support to those clergy and parishes that might feel isolated by a movement towards allowing blessings of same sex couples.  GAFCON, which claims to be part of the Anglican Communion, but continues to recognize and create units functioning as alternatives to the actual dioceses of  Churches in the Anglican Communion.