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         

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Week Ending 11/14/22

Have Three Provinces Left Communion?

Archbishop Linda Nichols, the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada's recent reply to an email asking for comments on the Lambeth Conference this last summer made clear that she thinks three provinces, Nigeria, Uganda, and Rwanda, have effectively left the Anglican Communion by boycotting the conference.  These same three provinces were among those who also deliberately absented themselves from the 2008 Lambeth meeting of bishops.  She went on to talk about the ways that the more than 650 bishops who attended the 2022 meeting found many points of mutual interest and while there was some underlying differences about LGBTQ matters, most left with a sense of hope that the Communion could work together on concerns of poverty, global warming, and other major challenges to the world.  She also noted that the Archbishop of Canterbury told the conference that he did not have the power to throw any province out of the Anglican Communion.  The Anglican Journal, the official publication of the Canadian church,followed up her statement by asking other bishops for comment, and  most agreed that the summer meeting had opened lines of communication and brought bishops closer together. The Journal also contacted the primates of the 3 named countries.  Only one, the Archbishop of Rwanda replied.  His rely, as expected said they were in compliance with the Communion. "Those who have a problem are those who have departed from the authority of Scripture and going against the teachings of the Scripture."

Oklahoma Bishop Signs Letter Opposing Death Penalty

Bishop Poulson Reed of Oklahoma was among the 26 original signers of an interdenominational letter opposing the decision of the state's Criminal Court of Appeals to recently set dates for the executions of 25 men on death row. Other original signers included the Catholic Archbishop, numerous pastors of protestant churches, and leaders of humanitarian organizations.  Since then another 198 people (including 32 identifying as Episcopalian) have added their signatures.  More are invited.  The letter is steeped in Biblical references, drawing heavily on the New Testament, and then goes on to point out the concerns that the Oklahoma justice system has a documented racial bias in sentencing and that 10 people on Oklahoma's death row have been exonerated and released.  It also notes that almost none of the recommendations of a 2017 study of the criminal  justice system in the state have been implemented.  The study commission had recommended continuation of a stay of all executions until the reforms were in place.  That stay, however was lifted by the court this year at the request of the state attorney general.  Read the letter here.

Continuing Stories

Massachusetts Diocese Creates Reparations Fund

The Diocese of Massachusetts has joined several other dioceses and other church organizations who have set up funds to provide reparations to the Black community in recognition of the participation of Episcopalians in the state in the practice of slavery, including the slave trade after the state abolished slavery in 1783. The diocesan convention passed the resolution put forward by the Diocesan Commission on Racial Justice after a year of study by parishes.  Beginning with a $3 million draw on existing diocesan funds the diocese committed to  an annual 15% draw from diocesan funds until the goal of $11.1 is reached.  Next year's convention will vote on a proposed process and guidelines for the distribution of funds.  In other resolutions, the diocese recognized the need for study and further reconciliation with the indigenous peoples of the state as well.

Federal Fraud Charges Filed Against Former Priest

In December 2021, Update reported that the Chicago Diocese had lifted a suspension against the Rev. Robert Smith whose financial handling of St. Francis Ministries, founded by Episcopalians in Kansas, had led to an investigation and his resignation as the head of the charity in 2020.  Smith worked in Kansas, but his canonical residency was in the Diocese of Chicago. At the time of the original restoration of ministry,  the Chicago diocese required he take courses in management, but noted that no criminal charges were forthcoming.  However, further evidence resulted in a second suspension in February 2022 which was lifted this September.  Now Smith has been charged with wire fraud and money laundering as a result of a 2 year F.B.I. investigation.  He has once again been suspended and barred from any access to church financial instruments of any kind.  Bishop Paula Clark has pledged full support for any investigation. 

Charity Commission Warns Oxford College

The Christ Church, Oxford, problems simply will not go away.  Update has followed the twists and turns of a story that began with a struggle between the faculty and dean of the college, but eventually led to other issues, including questions about the handling of a sexual harassment complaint, and misuse by the College board of College funds in pursuit of their campaign against the dean.  It is this latter issue that is the subject of a formal warning by the Charity Commission noting concerns of mismanagement and warning that further action might be taken if the college's board of trustees does not take steps to correct a number of management issues that surfaced as the college spent  L 6.6 million on legal and other fees in its struggle with the dean.  About L5.3 million of that was not approved until after it had been spent.