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2003 YEAR IN REVIEW - Part Four


(Part 4)

By David W. Virtue


On Saturday, June 7th, the Rev. Canon V. Eugene Robinson was elected by
the Convention of the Diocese of New Hampshire to succeed the current
diocesan bishop. A practicing homosexual canon who left his wife was
the favorite to be the next Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire. Canon
Gene Robinson, 53, the second most senior figure within the diocese of
New Hampshire beat out three other candidates and was elected bishop
coadjutor. He replaced the retiring Rt. Rev. Douglas E. Theuner. Canon
Robinson was described as "the most dangerous man in the American
Church." Seminary Dean Dr. Peter Moore (TESM) opined that the election
of an openly gay man to be the bishop of New Hampshire would provide
comfort and encouragement to a tiny minority within the worldwide
Anglican Communion. Revisionist Washington Bishop John Chane said the
election of Robinson would be a "challenge to the Holy Spirit".

Canon Bill Atwood of EKKLESIA said the Global South majority of
Primates and bishops were so offended by the conduct of Canada, UK, and
ECUSA in the last ten days, they were no longer going to be willing to
have parallel jurisdiction. "I'm guessing," he writes, "that what will
emerge is 'replacement jurisdiction.' By doing so it will not allow for
the cancer to continue without being addressed.

The Brazilian Diocese of Recife promptly declared itself out of
Communion with both the Diocese of New Westminster and New Hampshire.
Bishop Robinson Cavilcanti in a letter to VIRTUOSITY said the acts by
those two dioceses was contrary to Scripture and the Lambeth Conference

And in the ECUSA the first parish in the DIOCESE OF TENNESSEE left the
Episcopal Church for the AMIA. It was the 51st Episcopal Church to
leave the theologically fractured denomination. The new congregation
took the name Faith Anglican Church. The parish located itself in the
rapidly growing suburb of Memphis.

The 15th Annual Assembly of FORWARD IN FAITH, NORTH AMERICA met in
Rosemont, at the Church of the Good Shepherd, near Philadelphia and
announced that the creation of an orthodox Province of the Anglican
Communion in North America was just around the corner. The group also
called for the immediate consecration of two orthodox bishops. The
Assembly was held at the Evangelical Anglo-Catholic parish in Rosemont,
whose rector, Fr. David Moyer has been "deposed" by ultra-liberal
Bishop Charles E. Bennison. Among the dozen bishops from the Church of
England, Africa, the Southern Cone, Australia and the Continuum were
five bishops from The Episcopal Church including the Rt. Rev. Keith
Ackerman, (Quincy) Rt. Rev. William Wantland, (Eau Claire, ret) Rt.
Rev. Donald Parsons, (Quincy ret.) Rt. Jack Leo Iker (Ft. Worth) and
the Rt. Rev. Edward W. MacBurney (Quincy, ret.). Meeting under the
banner "We have This Gospel to Proclaim" - Good News for Today's World,
delegates heard leaders tell them that now was the time for the
creation of an orthodox Province of the Anglican Communion in North
America. "The province must exist and must exist now," said Australian
Archbishop John Hepworth, the new leader of the Traditional Anglican
Communion, (TAC) a continuing Anglican group that broke with the ECUSA
at St. Louis in 1978. "We want to consecrate bishops because we are
going to the same place and we have the same destination. FIFNA and the
TAC have resolved one way or another, to have an orthodox province of
Anglicans in the world. The Rt. Rev. John Broadhurst, chairman of
Forward in Faith International and Bishop of Fullam (UK) said the
situation was just another nail in the coffin of unity. We are divided
over women bishops and moral teaching, which different people hold
passionately. It is gospel unity verses passionately held beliefs."

The CHURCH PENSION GROUP issued a blockbuster report mid year
expressing alarm that not enough young people were being attracted into
the ordained ministry, with far-reaching implications for The Episcopal
Church itself. A sobering analysis of church attendance revealed that
on an average Sunday, 17.5 percent of the people in the pews were
attending only 3.3 percent of Episcopal churches. At the same time,
only 15.4 percent of Episcopalians attend 47.5 percent of Episcopal
churches on an average Sunday. The CPG asked the question, "Are we
still a denomination of small churches?"

Nearly 50 percent of the churches are in the "family" group with an
average Sunday attendance of one to 75 people. FOR SOME 3,465 CHURCHES
THE ACTUAL SUNDAY ATTENDANCE WAS 37, a startlingly low number, the
report said. By contrast there are only a handful of really big
churches. In what the CPG calls the "resource" category, those churches
with an average Sunday attendance of over 400, there were only 245

Further lamentations about the election of a gay bishop in the Diocese
of New Hampshire came from the Bishop of Albany, Dan Herzog and the
Bishop of Tennessee, Bertram Herlong.

VIRTUOSITY wrote at the time that the battle for the soul of the
Anglican Communion, which had been simmering for some years in the
Anglican Communion, had now broken out into full-scale war.
Revisionists and Evangelicals were now locked in fierce combat over the
church's doctrine on what constitutes true morality.

The injunction against the former Accokeek rector, the Rev. Samuel L.
Edwards was lifted bringing closure to that nasty little battle between
the former Bishop of Washington Jane Dixon who had filed a lawsuit
against the ECUSA Anglo-Catholic priest. Edwards left ECUSA and joined
with the Anglican Province of Christ the King.

TWENTY-FOUR orthodox bishops of the Episcopal Church signed an open
letter to the primates of the Anglican Communion stating that a crisis
of faith and order now existed in The Episcopal Church and they called
on them "to address the situation under your leadership." In their
letter they state that "the election in New Hampshire of a man who
openly confesses an active homosexual relationship to be Bishop
Coadjutor, and the inclusion of a measure affirming the blessing of
same-sex unions on the agenda of the upcoming General Convention,
served as symbols of a desperately confused, errant and disintegrating
Anglican province. At stake were the fundamental doctrines of
apostolicity and of marriage." Separation was now a conceptual reality
in The Episcopal Church. The 24 bishops also declared themselves out of
communion with the Diocese of New Westminster and Bishop Michael

GENERAL CONVENTION loomed on the horizon with promises of moral and
theological strife. No one was disappointed.

An Ad Hoc Committee sponsored petition calling for the rejection of
homosexual marriages and the election of New Hampshire Bishop Gene
Robinson garnered 52 Episcopal Church Wardens and 1,000 laity, but it
failed to move the powers that be.

A meeting of six Primates, 15 orthodox ECUSA bishops, several
theologians and a number of concerned clergy met at Truro Episcopal
Church in northern Virginia to discuss a strategy if ECUSA's General
Convention passed either one or both resolutions concerning rites for
same sex blessings and consents for Gene Robinson to be the next Bishop
of New Hampshire. An official press release said that a constitutional
crisis and dramatic realignment would take place if the ECUSA House of
Bishops passed either of these two resolutions.

Virtuosity was told by Charles Nalls, who heads the Canon Law Institute
that at least 100 large ECUSA parishes "are seeking legal advice and
turning over tough decisions" regarding their future. "These are
parishes with no fixed churchmanship. They range from Evangelicals to
Anglo-Catholics," said Nalls.

Seeing the crisis facing him PB Frank Griswold plead for understanding
in a Letter to the Primates on July 22. "The polity of our church
places the election of a bishop and the nomination process which
precedes it entirely in the hands of the electing diocese."

Rowan Williams expressed his own concern and in a letter to the
Primates he said anxiety threatened the Anglican Communion's common
life. He raised the question whether the communion wanted to be a
Communion, or just a federation of local churches.

The Archbishop launched into the Episcopal Church mess urging
Episcopalians not to pick a gay bishop. In a private letter to his
fellow primates, Dr Rowan Williams urged individual provinces in the
worldwide Anglican Church to delay unilateral decisions that could
destroy its unity. His plea was seen as an 11th-hour attempt to
persuade the Episcopal Church, the American version of the Church of
England, to prevent Canon Gene Robinson becoming Bishop of New
Hampshire. His appeal fell on deaf ears.

GENERAL CONVENTION OPENED with deep foreboding. The bishops quickly
approved a procedure for Robinson to get consents and after all the
politicking was over the votes were in from both the House of Deputies
and House of Bishops, and Robinson was confirmed among the "elect".
This despite charges that Robinson's "OUTRIGHT" website for
homosexually oriented youth, exposed by VIRTUOSITY, was only a click
away from hard core porn. Robinson also managed to weather sexual
harassment charges, paving the way for his election to be the next
Bishop of New Hampshire.

Following his confirmation some 20 orthodox ECUSA bishops lead by
Bishop Duncan decried the confirmation and with deep emotion in his
voice he read a statement that said the Episcopal Church would be
subject to discipline, and had divided itself from millions of Anglican
Christians around the world. But the outcry and outrage from Primates
and orthodox bishops from within ECUSA over his election would rage on
for several months.

WEST INDIES archbishop Drexel Gomez wrote to Frank Griswold saying that
"you seem not yet to have taken the full measure of the destructive
potential General Convention's affirmation of a new teaching and order
with respect to homosexuality will have for the communion God has
granted us, nor do you seem to acknowledge sufficiently that the divine
gift itself comes as something with a defined nature for whose
integrity we are responsible, individually and collectively." Griswold
ignored his pleas.

Some 4500 petitions were received from several conservative ministries
opposing same-sex unions and the nomination of Gene Robinson to be the
next Bishop of New Hampshire were received at General Convention. "This
petition is an expression of the grave concern that the overwhelming
majority of Episcopalians feel for the items that have become central
to this convention over the last 30 years, but do not connect with the
real issues of how to keep marriage and family together in the parish."

Another story by-lined: Gay Rites Would Not Bless Ecumenism Could also
Impair Anglican Work Overseas, said that Roman Catholics, the Eastern
Orthodox, and the formularies of every mainline Protestant denomination
except for the United Church of Christ opposed blessings same-sex
unions or allowing non-celibate gay clergy.

Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan expressed his grief and a Statement
from Anglican Mainstream greatly regretted the vote to confirm the
appointment of a gay bishop.

The Bishop of the Diocese of Nelson, New Zealand issued a statement
condemning the confirmation and Australian Archbishop Peter Jensen
noted with profound regret the confirmation of the election of Canon
Gene Robinson. He said it violated the clear traditional teaching of
the Christian Church, which is based on the clear teaching of the

The Anglican Communion in New Westminster made up of 11 biblically
orthodox priests and eight congregations came out in support of
Anglican Mainstream over the confirmation of Robinson. The whole
Communion roiled in turmoil.

Four ECUSA dioceses - Springfield, Florida, Central Florida and South
Carolina held special Diocesan Conventions to discuss the crisis in
ECUSA. The withholding of funds to the National Church became the new
game in town.

In a Virtuosity interview with AAC PRESIDENT CANON DAVID ANDERSON, the
mainstream president said he would convene a meeting in Plano, Texas on
Oct 7, 8, 9 for leaders of dioceses and parishes who are biblically
orthodox to come together, take counsel and seek God's leading. He also
applauded the Archbishop of Canterbury for calling an extraordinary
meeting of the worldwide Anglican Primates in London in October. Bishop
Duncan, Chairman of the AAC Bishops Network wrote, "I am confident that
the Archbishop will make adequate provision for mainstream Anglicans in
North America."

FORWARD IN FAITH wrote a press release with a headline that screamed
"ECUSA HAS IGNORED CANTERBURY". Fr. David L. Moyer said the
revisionist majority had taken the Episcopal Church out of the
Christian religion and severed it from any claim to uphold Biblical,
Catholic, Apostolic, and Evangelical Faith and Order. The Episcopal
Church had ignored and dismissed the counsel of the Archbishop of
Canterbury, and has rejected the mind of Anglican Communion. The
Episcopal Church as a denomination had willfully created a new

Following Robinson' election a raft of international primates, bishops
and orthodox diocesan ECUSA bishops came out with statements condemning
the actions of General Convention.

The most potent came from the Anglican Church of Uganda. "Homosexuality
will not be tolerated, said its leaders. Canon Jackson Turyagyenda, the
provincial secretary at Namirembe cathedral said "we protest the
inclusion of gays in church activities, let alone as church leaders.
Our position has not changed, we are not ready to have communion with
those who ordain or bless marriages of gay people."

In Uganda as in numerous African Provinces and diocese their leaders
were furious.

Peter Steinfels wrote in The New York Times that the Episcopal Church
tottered on the brink of schism even self-destruction, theologically
and ideologically fractured, like many American religious groups, over
homosexuality and other issues prominent in the nation's culture wars.

In a no brainer vote, George Werner handily defeated Louie Crew two to
one to continue his role as president of the House of Deputies.

But a little reported on RESOLUTION B001 revealed the true state of the
ECUSA. It came before the House of Bishops, authored by Bishop Keith
Ackerman of Quincy, asking the HOB to affirm their continued belief in
two things. The first was the statement found in the Articles of
Religion, the church's constitution, and in the Ordination Services
that we believe "The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to
contain all things necessary for Salvation." The resolution was voted
down. Stunned, Bishop Ackerman asked for a roll call vote. One by one
the Bishops rose and were counted. Eighty-four of them refused to
affirm that scripture contains what is needed for salvation. Eighty-
four of them refused to affirm the Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral. Only
sixty-six voted for these core truths. The failure to pass what
Scripture and the Prayer Book affirmed spoke volumes more than the
issue of sexuality; it touched the very core of Anglican faith and
practice. Its defeat truly signaled the end of ECUSA as a Christian

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams republished an essay
affirming committed homosexual relationships a move designed to ratchet
up the anger in the Anglican Communion, making schism seem inevitable.

hemisphere Primates met in Nairobi. The conservative archbishops were
increasingly confident that they could force the expulsion of the
American Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion over its liberal
line on homosexuality. Rowan Williams, contemplated for the first time
the possible break-up of the 70 million-strong worldwide Anglican

When things looked like they couldn’t get much worse for Griswold, two
letters suddenly appeared in Virtuosity written by Griswold to Charles
Bennison Bishop of Pennsylvania over Fr. David Moyer saying that
Bennison's heavy hand in dealing with the Anglo-Catholic priest was
"autocratic and monumentally unpastoral." Griswold cited Gerry Wolf and
her willingness to let Keith Ackerman make a visitation to her orthodox
parishes as an example. The letter fell on deaf ears.

A second letter by Griswold to Bennison only ratcheted up the pain on
the PA revisionist bishop. Griswold wrote: "[The Archbishop of
Canterbury] made it absolutely clear to me that he regards the
situation as very serious in the life of the Communion. He also said
that your stance serves to justify the actions of Rwanda and Singapore
in the eyes of many around the Communion."

and individual parishes beginning to withhold monies. Griswold himself
wrote in a desperate plea to his fellow Primates of the crisis saying,
"my own sense is that one of our Anglican gifts is to contain different
theological perspectives within a context of common prayer. This is not
a matter of compromise but of acknowledging that the "truth as in
Jesus" is larger than any one point of view." The Global South Primates
did not buy it.

IN THE DIOCESE OF NEW WESTMINSTER the eight orthodox ACiNW parishes
welcomed three Primates from Africa, India, and South American to a
special service to celebrate their unity a special service on September
7, in Tsawwassen, British Columbia. Some1600 attended from across the
globe came to celebrate, covenant and commission and to move forward in
faith and hope, praying for the sweeping fires of spiritual revival in
Canada. They also came to support the Rt. Rev. Terry Buckle the Bishop
of the Yukon who was providing ecclesiastical cover for the ten
besieged parishes.

It was payback time and New Westminster Michael Ingham invoked a rarely
used church canon and fired the wardens, trustees and entire parish
Synod delegation of St. Martin's, a traditionalist parish in North
Vancouver, saying the church had an irresolvable pastoral crisis. He
attempted on Saturday to change the locks on the doors of St. Martin's
parish while the conference in Tsawassen was in progress and then sent
his archdeacon to read a statement from himself to the congregation in
which he alleged the parish was in turmoil because of its failure to
replace a biblically orthodox priest who resigned over the Bishop's
approval of same sex blessings. Bishop Ingham promptly named his own
replacements for the parish positions. The Primates promptly condemned
his actions. The Yukon bishop was commissioned by two primates to serve
the ten orthodox parishes in the Diocese of New Westminster under siege
by their bishop.

BACK IN NEW YORK a group of ECUSA bishops met with Griswold and gave
him an earful about disaffected parishes leaving the ECUSA. He was told
a massive rally of orthodox Episcopalians would meet next month in
Dallas to consider their future in ECUSA. Griswold responded in a
letter on the meeting saying that the Robinson decision "clearly caused
pain, confusion and disbelief in many parts of the church, and a sense
of rightness in other parts." He further said the meeting "was very
helpful to me in thinking about how we can assist our church in living
through this time in faithfulness, taking care not to lose sight of the
mission we share as members of Christ's risen body, and the fact that
our church is everywhere filled with life and a deep desire to embody
the gospel." It was total rubbish that nobody was buying.

WITHHOLDING FUNDS became the new pastime. The DIOCESE OF FLORIDA and
the DIOCESE OF DALLAS both said they would withhold funds from the
National Church as did a slew of orthodox parishes around the country.

statement on the actions of the 74th General Convention of the
Episcopal Church saying "the life style of a homosexual relationship is
not expected of the character and qualification of an ordained man or
woman Bishop, Priest or Deacon."

The DIOCESE OF FLORIDA decided to uninvite Presiding Bishop Frank
Griswold for the much- anticipated consecration of John Howard as our
Bishop Coadjutor. He replaces Bishop Stephen Jecko.

And the DIOCESE OF SOUTH CAROLINA passed three resolutions critical of
the Episcopal Church. One declared the Episcopal Church "under
significant judgment by God" because of its drift away from orthodox
Christianity, as evidenced by the General Convention approving an
openly gay bishop and accepting same-sex blessings. The second called
on the top leaders of the Anglican Communion to require Episcopal
Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold to explain why he lobbied for the
approval of the Rev. Gene Robinson, who is in a homosexual
relationship, as bishop of New Hampshire. The resolution accused
Griswold of leading the Episcopal Church into a "an entirely new
teaching of the church in the area of human sexuality" and called on
the primates of the Anglican Communion -- the top leaders of the
Episcopal Church's parent body -- to ask him to explain his position.
The third resolution promised to help non-Western church leaders who
lost financial support for speaking against the Episcopal Church's
approval of homosexual behavior.

And in what must have been one of the most interesting newspaper turns,
the Philadelphia Gay News, featured a front-page story on Charles
Bennison the revisionist, pro-gay Episcopal Bishop of Pennsylvania. In
a three-column banner headline, "Bishop Warned Not to Remove Priest",
the Associated Press article blasted Bennison for attempting to remove
Fr. David Moyer from his parish - the Church of the Good Shepherd in
Rosemont, PA.

THE INTERNATIONAL ANGLICAN FURNACE continued to heat up. The feisty
hard-headed Primate of Nigeria, Peter Akinola has took on Archbishop
Ndungane of Southern Africa, and blasted him saying, "Isn't it a
paradox that the Archbishop of Southern Africa sees no arrogance in
those whose flagrant disregard of the stand of the entire Anglican
Communion has plunged us into this sad and avoidable controversy."
Akinola also made it clear he would not be influenced by Western money,
and he was prepared to cut ties with Western liberal dioceses and
provinces that disobey Scripture. Archbishop Akinola was elected
president of the Council of African Provinces of Africa (CAPA) this

IN THE ECUSA itself, in one diocese after another, special diocesan
conventions revealed more hidden anger than was ever known. Griswold's
notion of 'graceful conversation' was now a bad joke.

In the DIOCESE OF CENTRAL FLORIDA five resolutions were unanimously
passed overwhelmingly in support of Bishop John W. Howe's opposition to
the confirmation of Gene Robinson and same-sex blessings.

In the DIOCESE OF ALBANY, Bishops Dan Herzog and David Bena got
resounding affirmations from their people in holding the line on same-
sex unions and against the confirmation of Gene Robinson. Five
resolutions were overwhelmingly passed. An attempt by an alternative
group of clergy and laity to reverse the bishop's vote, and diocesan
thinking, was shot down by orthodox voices at the special diocesan

And in the DIOCESE OF VIRGINIA, Bishop Peter Lee, a one-time moderate
and now firmly in the camp of ECUSA's revisionist bishops got an
earful from biblically orthodox clergy and laity living in the northern
half of his diocese about the way he voted for Robinson at GC2003.

lost monies from orthodox dioceses, the revisionists who run the church
said that if funds were withheld the national church would cut its
budget that benefit children, women, the poor and the underprivileged.
Nasty is as nasty does.

And in an evangelical Anglican conference in Blackpool, England Oxford
theologian Dr. Alister McGrath ripped into New Westminster Bishop
Michael Ingham, telling more than 2,300 Evangelicals gathered at a
four-day conference on mission, that he had lost the theological war
and was forced to use canon law to get his way in the diocese. "Ingham
should be awarded the Spong medal for liberal bravery in the face of
overwhelming theological arguments," he told an approving audience.
Ingham would win the award in spades, he said. "When I was younger,
liberals and conservatives respected each other. In New Westminster we
have an intellectually bankrupt liberal, and in desperation he is
forcing his will on believing evangelicals," said the Principal of
Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, an evangelical college that trains ordinands for
the ministry. "This is the unacceptable face of liberalism and it
exposes the harshness, bullying character and dogmatism of this man."


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