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, September 6, 2022

Week Ending 09/05/22

Diocese Brings Water to Jackson MS

Jackson Mississippi has long suffered with a crumbling infrastructure, including its water system.  A recent flood, however, has resulted in the shutdown of the system, orders to boil water before using it, and many sections of the city without any water service at all.  The Diocese of Mississippi sent an 18 wheeler truck filled with cases of bottled water to the New Horizons Church which was situated in a key area for distribution.  The Presiding Bishop and the Bishop Brian Seage of Mississippi came up with the $8000 it cost to fill the truck. Bishop Seage lives in Jackson and his household was among those without water.  The diocese has also consulted with Episcopal Relief and Development to prepare for what might be "forgotten issues" in this kind of emergency. 

Haitian Diocesan Officials Arrested

A priest, Frank Cole who serves as the diocesan executive secretary for the Episcopal Church's Diocese of Haiti, and the accountant for the diocese, Jean Gilles Jean Mary, have been arrested by Haitian authorities for gun trafficking.  They are accused of using diocesan funds to import and sell guns and ammunition in large quantities for several years.  The arrests followed the seizure at the airport of a large shipment of weapons and ammunition.  Haitian Society is in chaos and the diocese is divided after a failed election for a new bishop.  The chair of the Diocesan Standing Committee cooperated in the investigation, and issued a statement denying that the diocese had anything to do with the actions of the two employees.  For more see, The Living Church article here.

Continuing Stories

South Carolina Episcopalians Appeal Decision on Two Properties 

When the South Carolina Supreme Court's latest decision gave the last 6 contested properties to those who had left the Episcopal Church, it seemed that litigation had reached its end.  However, that turns out not to be the case for two of the parishes, the ones that the court said had acceded to the Episcopal Church Constitution and Canons after 2006, but also then had properly revoked that accession.  The Episcopal Diocese however has filed papers asking the court to reconsider because the issue of when the accession was made had not been litigated for these two parishes and the Episcopalians had never had a chance to show that the parishes had affirmed an accession after 1979 when the Dennis Canon was added and before 2006 when South Carolina law changed.  The two parishes are Old St. Andrews in Charleston, a parish with origins in the colonial period and The church of the Holy Cross in Stateburg.  The Episcopal Diocese news article has links to the full filings.  Historian Ron Caldwell has comments on this latest action here.

Property Transitions Continue in South Carolina 

Meanwhile, the ACNA diocese has begun the process of handing over the properties that were returned to the Episcopal Church.  The ACNA congregations are mostly moving to nearby rented space in schools while keeping their names.  The Episcopal Diocese has been naming the clergy who will care for each of the returned properties and Episcopalians who will once again be able to worship in the historic spaces.  The transition date for the St. Christopher's Camp site is the beginning of OctoberBlogger Steve Skardon notes that the congregations leaving are not necessarily doing so with any kind of grace.  Clergy have dredged up old claims of Episcopal heresy and there has been some vandalism of buildings, while Episcopalians returning are trying to put behind them memories of mistreatment that forced them from the parishes in 2013.

More Feeding the Hungry

Update has carried numerous stories about Episcopal parishes and dioceses feeding the hungry and poor.  (See, for example this story.)  However,t he Diocese of Northern California has started a process on a much larger scale that will both provide food and help the environment.  The diocese is encouraging parishes to use their land to create gardens that will provide both food and be more environmentally sound that large expanses of mowed grass.  Parishes in Northern California often were able to buy generous tracts of land as they built their buildings.  Now they are being encouraged to invite the community to create gardens on the land.   This kind of community garden program has been done on much smaller scale in a number of other dioceses.  In a more traditional approach to feeding the hungry, St. Luke's Parish in Stephenville, Texas has been featured on the Episcopal Church's North Texas web site for a food pantry that feeds 500 families every month.

More Fallout and Comment on GAFCON's Australian Diocese

George Browning, a retired bishop in the Australia Anglican Church has written a blog article that on the GAFCON-created "diocese" to be led by Retired super low-church Glen Davies.  Browning's point is simply that this is schismatic and it is not Anglican, no matter what GAFCON wants to call it.  Browning makes clear that the Diocese of the Southern Cross is outside the Anglican communion, and that if the Australian primate (also a member of GAFCON) tries to treat it as somehow inside the church, he is creating a real mess. Meanwhile the ACNA Archbishop and current head of GAFCON, Foley Beach, has written to Archbishop Welby of the Anglican Communion, almost as if he is a part of the that Communion (which he is not) about the Australian developments.  Beach claims the new structure is just a "safe haven" for those who cannot stay within dioceses that have begun "unbiblical" practices and that they are not schismatic.  It would be hard to explain how an organization not authorized by the Australian Church and not part of the Anglican Communion could be seen as anything other than schismatic, but Beach is trying to claim that.  Update covered the earlier responses to the announcement of the GAFCON diocese.

Albany Begins Process of Communion Across Differences

The Diocese of Albany had announced earlier that it was going to try a version of the conversations held before the schisms of 2008-2012.  The conversations of "communion across difference" had brought together Episcopalians with very different positions of theological and social issues.  The purpose of the Albany conversations would be to try to find a path for the diocese to follow that owuld allow those with very different positions to contribute a the diocese.  Assisting bishops Smith and Gallagher were charged with getting the conversation going, and they have now asked for volunteers from the diocese to form the core group of discussants.  Both clergy and laity are being sought.  It seems that the diocese may actually be serious about finding ways to repair the damage done by years of divisiveness.