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, December 15, 2020

Week Ending 12/14/20

Trump Supporters Vandalize Signs at Black Churches

Weekend protests in Washington D.C. by Trump supporters claiming election fraud degenerated after dark  into what the police called a riot when the large "Proud Boys" white supremacist contingent of the protests clashed with counter demonstrators.  The Proud Boys faction also tore down and burned banners at two historically black churches in the central part of the city.  That action prompted a statement in condemning this action by the dean of the National Cathedral and Bishop Budde. The statement characterized the actions as hate-filled, racist, and unchristian.

Shooting Incident at St. John's the Divine

Immediately at the close of a Christmas concert on the front steps of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City,  a lone gunman fired shots from a Cathedral scaffolding.  He was shot by police and later died from his wounds.  The man fired his shots into the air and was apparently hoping to provoke his own death.  The incident, however put a damper the cathedral choirs attempt to provide a some holiday joy in a safe and socially responsible way.   Bishop Dietsche and the cathedral dean quickly issued a statement of comfort and sorrow.

Scottish Episcopal Church Sets Goal of Net Zero Carbon Emission 

The Scottish Episcopal Church is the most progressive of the various British Isles Anglican Provinces.  The Church continued to lead the way by voting in Synod to bring in a plan by 2021 which would allow the Church to reduce its carbon footprint to a net zero by 2030.  The Synod also heard a report that they had completely divested from fossil fuel companies. Episcopal News Service has the details on their actions to address climate change.

Continuing Stories

Chicago Bishop Election Adds to House of Bishop Diversity 

Update noted in October the path-breaking set of nominees for Bishop of Chicago.  All were people of color, and two were women.  As The Episcopal Church explores its racist past and seeks reconciliation, this slate marked a milestone for the Church as well as the diocese. On the fourth ballot the Diocese chose the Rev. Paula Clark, currently serving in the Diocese of Washington as their next bishop. Clark, an African-American woman joins a growing number of women of color in the House of Bishops.  Update has marked the trend to elect women as bishops on a number of occasions, most recently here.   

Virginia Looks at Possible Sale of Truro Property

Truro Parish was among the largest parishes in the Episcopal Church before the majority of its members chose to leave the Episcopal Church, resulting in a long set of legal challenges over church property.  The Diocese of Virginia prevailed in those suits, but then negotiated a lease arrangement with the congregation so that the large church complex remained mostly in the hands of those who left.  The terms of that lease and the friendly relations between Truro's previous rector and Virginia's now-retired bishop, led to a sharp rebuke of the congregation by its ACNA bishop.  Now Bishop Goff of Virginia has announced that for the last year the diocese and congregation have been having discussions about a change in the lease and possible purchase by the congregation of the property. 

More on Creativity On-Line for Christmas Services 

Outdoor services in December in snowy Buffalo, New York might seem unlikely, but that is what the Episcopal Cathedral is planning.   Between 5 and 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve, the parish is sponsoring a light show and concert that locals can enjoy by walking through the Cathedral park or from their cars.  Later that night the Cathedral will have an on-line service, and another on-line service on Christmas Day.  The local news has the story.  Meanwhile, other congregations are sponsoring traditional Lessons and Carols services.  St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Washington State is one of those who have refused to break a long-standing tradition of offering the service.  This year the choir will do the service via Zoom.  This is the latest in an Update series featuring ways Episcopal parishes are continuing worship during the pandemic.

Reparations Movement Grows

Update has been carrying stories on the movement among Churches to deal with racist pasts and offer reparations as a means of beginning to find a way to reconciliation.  Religion News has also picked up on these actions, noting the leadership of the Episcopal Church in its original story and a recent follow-up.  Churches are also dealing with the racism inherent in the Doctrine of Discovery and the displacement and wrongs done to indigenous peoples.  Religion News also featured this week a story on a church returning land to a Native American tribe.

Same Sex Blessings Proposed by Welsh bishops

The Church of Wales has been inching its way towards blessing the civil unions and marriages permitted under British law.  This last week the House of Bishops announced a concrete step by formally proposing a bill to be voted on in the fall 2021 Synod which would authorize and experimental liturgy  to bless same-sex union.  Meanwhile, GAFCON has responded to an Australian church tribunal ruling allowing two dioceses in Australia to implement same-sex blessings by announcing creation of a separate jurisdiction under GAFCON (not Church of Australia)for conservatice congregations.

Church Membership Again in the News 

The recent release of annual statistics by The Episcopal Church has led to much concern over falling numbers.  A recent piece by Terry Mattingly, a conservative commentator on religion focused on the Episcopal Church and the fact that it has the oldest average age of members among major denominations. His commentary was reprinted in a number of newspapers.  Mattingly, an Antioch Orthodox Catholic has no sympathy for liberal changes in the church, and paints a grim picture.  The Episcopal News Service, however, has a story on the ways that young LGBTQ people have found their way to The Episcopal Church, and affirmation for themselves, especially in the pioneering life of the Rev. Pauli Murray.