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, October 25, 2022

Week Ending /10/24/22

 All Stories are continuing from previous posts

Pittsburgh Diocese Parishes Clear $1.6 Million Medical Debt

Update has carried several stories on the involvement of Episcopal parishes with RIP Medical Debt, a non-profit that buys up medical debt at pennies on the dollar and then forgives those debts. The most recent notice was of two parishes in the Diocese of Pittsburgh who were beginning a campaign to raise the funds to forgive medical debt in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  That campaign has come to a close and 1615 families have had notices mailed to them that their medical debts have been cleared.  The total debt retired was over $1.6 million. The two parishes are not large.  One is a small parish in Cannonsburg, PA and the other a congregation that had to rebuild membership after the diocese recovered the building from a departing ACNA group.  
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Latest on Racial Reconciliation

Christ Church, Cambridge, MA was surprised to learn that not only was a former slave buried in the church,  but that many of their members before the Civil War were slave owners.  As they learned more of the background of  Darby Vassall, a former slave buried in the same vault at the church as his former owners, the parish decided to make an 11 minute film about Vassall and his descendants.  The film premiered at an outdoor showing attended by many of the descendants of Darby Vassall.  The film is part of the parish coming to terms with a part of their history that shocked many of the current members, and is another aspect of the Episcopal Church's attempts to offer reparations and reconciliation.  Update has carried stories on the Sacred Ground curriculum, which explores the entanglement of the Church with slavery and of various reparation programs.

Latest on ACNA Abuse Scandal

Update has had several posts on the very messy sexual and spiritual abuse cases in the ACNA Diocese of the Upper Midwest.  That scandal managed to taint not only the Bishop of that diocese, Stuart Ruch, but spread to include the ACNA bishop in Pittsburgh James Hobby.  Ruch went on voluntary leave for a year.  Hobby resigned, and ACNA sent Martyn Minns to Pittsburgh to serve as interim until the diocese could search for, elect, and consecrate a new bishop. A new ACNA bishop for Pittsburgh was recently consecrated.  Now Minns has a new assignment, serving as a mentor/overseer for Ruch as he returns to duties in Chicago.  The scandal and lawsuits in the diocese are still ongoing

Florida Diocese Election Going Forward 

The clergy and laity who asked for a further delay in the election of a coadjutor bishop for the Diocese of Florida after the previous attempt in the spring was declared irregular for a lack of clergy quorum, received a disappointing answer.  The Standing Committee of the diocese announced that they were going ahead with the November election, and were providing transportation to a number of clergy (via busses) to try to make sure that the clergy presence would reach quorum. 

GAFCON Adds to Divisions

The GAFCON presiding officer, Foley Beach, Archbishop of ACNA, presided over the consecration of 3 new missionary bishops who would serve congregations in Europe, including Scotland.  A fourth consecration will take place later this year in the U.S.  The addition of these bishops fosters further parish withdrawals and the creation of alternative dioceses and "provinces" to those recognized by the Anglican Communion.  GAFCON has been setting up competing dioceses/provinces in several places, most recently in Australia. 
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GAFCON Protests Canterbury Dean Selection

 Last week Update carried a notice that the appointment of a new Dean of Canterbury Cathedral was raising some conservative hackles because the Dean had a formal civil partnership with another man.  This week a group of GAFCON leaders signed a formal letter of protest that this appointment made a mockery of the church's supposed position on sexual conduct of clergy and undermined the idea that marriage was reserved for heterosexual couples.  The Church of England and the Anglican Communion office responded saying that the protest letter included several factually incorrect statements, stressing that a Civil Partnership was not a marriage although it gave the couple legal standing and similar rights under secular law as a married couple.  The response also pointed out that the Church expected clergy in civil partnerships to refrain from sexual relations.  Just how the Church monitors this behavior is unclear.

Latest On Oxford College Battles

Christ Church, Oxford cannot seem to put the long term battle with its former dean which included several issues, including charges that he had mishandled a case involving inappropriate behavior towards a woman on the faculty.  This last has been investigated several times, and the Dean was cleared of formal charges, but  one further investigation popped up this year when the  new Independent Safeguarding Board of the Church of England decided to conduct a review of the previous investigations.  Now it has put that review on hold while it reviews the findings of the previous reviews of how the matter was handled, and whether in fact they have anything to add by doing a new review. 

Bishop Allison Formally Joins ACNA 

Bishop FitzSimons Allison, who had served as Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina in the 1980s, has formally resigned from the Episcopal Church and joined ACNA.  The only thing surprising about this is that it didn't happen sooner.   the 95 year-old Allison has been serving with an ACNA parish in the diocese since the schism and published a piece supporting the claims of the ACNA group to the property of the Episcopal Church.  His ability to stay in the Episcopal House of Bishops despite these actions showed the reluctance of the House of Bishops to move against a retired bishop.