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, February 9, 2021

Week Ending 2/8/21

Churches Begin Work of Rebuilding Refugee Resettlement Programs

President Biden's executive order reopening the U.S. to refugee resettlement and quadrupling the number of refugees that can resettle this year in the U.S. was good news to resettlement programs, including that run by the Episcopal Church.  However, because of the drastic reduction in resettlement that the previous president imposed, the agencies have to retool, reopen, rehire and reestablish networks of support before they will be able to handle resettlement for the much larger group of eligible  refugees.  The Episcopal News Service has a story on the challenges ahead for Episcopal Migration Ministries. 

Invitation to Mega Church Pastor Creates Controversy

The Washington National Cathedral stirred up a hornet's nest  by inviting  Max Lucado, the pastor of an independent mega church in Texas to preach the Sunday service on February 7.  Lucado comes out of the Church of Christ tradition and has made numerous statements offensive to  and condemning of LGBTQ+ people.  In this case the dual role of the Cathedral as both the cathedral of the diocese of Washington with an active Episcopal congregation, and its role as a house of prayer for all of the nation, including those of other traditions were at odds with one another. The fact that Bishop V. Eugene Robinson celebrated did not calm the critics.  Bishop Robison made a statement during the service that he was there not to support the beliefs of the preacher, but because the Episcopal Church needs to model its welcome to all people, even those with whom they disagree.

Pauli Murray Film Premiers at Sundance Festival

The same group that produced the highly respected documentary RBG is back with another documentary of a path-breaking woman.  This time their subject is the poet, civil rights activist, feminist, and Episcopal priest, Pauli Murray.  The group first was introduced to Murray when Ruth Bader Ginsburg brought her up.  They have made extensive use of recordings and film from the Murray papers.  The documentary covers the many ways that Murray was ahead of her time as well as covring Murray's personal life.

Continuing Stories

Supreme Court Reverses Course on Church Pandemic Limits

Although the final outcome in the latest covid-19 restriction case to come to the U.S. Supreme Court was a 6-3 decision that California's covid-19 limits on in-person worship infringed the first amendment promises of free exercise of religion, the court was split with 3 separate opinions by justices in the majority and a dissent from the 3 liberal judges on the court.  Earlier this year the court had upheld 5-4 California limits on the size of in-person congregations.  It had similarly upheld restrictions imposed in Nevada.  However, in a decision that came after restrictions had expired, the court had ruled  in November against New York  restrictions. The replacement on the court of Justice Ginsburg with Justice Amy Barrett clearly has made a difference.   The underlying question in all the cases has been  whether churches had been unfairly categorized when compared to with secular entities (such as theaters) in setting limits.  Justices Barrett and Kavenaugh left in place limits on singing and cantoring because there was not evidence presented to show that they were treated differently than performances in secular venues.  Thus a 5 person majority upheld for the time being those restrictions.  California is already looking to revise restrictions to fit the latest decision.

Oxford Squabble Continues 

 The Christ Church, Oxford controversy that now includes an investigation of the controversial Dean's behavior in a sexual harassment charge continues to find its way into the media.  Among the pieces this week is a statement from the woman who filed the complaint. As usual Thinking Anglicans has links to the various statements.Update's most recent previous coverage is here.

  More on Episcopal Churches Serving Their Communities

The latest stories on churches reaching out to serve their communities during the pandemic address very different parts of ministry during the pandemic.  Many churches around the country have participated in rotating shelters that provide a place to sleep for the homeless on their church grounds.  However these programs had to close down during the pandemic.  In  Carlisle, PA officials had been housing homeless families in hotels at a major expense. The Diocese of Central Pennsylvania had a closed property, formerly a home for the elderly,  and it has now been repurposed as a shelter with appropriate safe distancing for families.  It provides greater stability for the families than previous arrangements.   On the other coast of the U.S., Episcopalians in Pomona, CA responded to a need for securing appointments to receive the covid-19 vaccine by setting up a core of people who track down locations with vaccine and help those people with few computer skills to get the appointments they need.  For previous example of outreach, see this Update story