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2003 YEAR IN REVIEW - Part Three


(Part Three)

By David W. Virtue

Tensions heightened in the Diocese of New Westminster when the bishop, Michael Ingham delivered his final ultimatum to the "Vancouver 11" and their eight parishes - reject Yukon Bishop Terence Buckle's offer of spiritual sanctuary and accept my authority, or I will throw the lot of you out of your parishes and out of the Anglican Church of Canada. "Declare your obedience or face discipline," he told the faithful.

The Anglican Church in New Westminster (ACiNW) - that core of faithful parishes responded telling Ingham, in so many words, NUTS. We will not surrender to accommodate your miserable sexual morality.

The CANADIAN ESSENTIALS GROUP asked the House of Bishops to accept Bishop Buckle's offer of alternative episcopal oversight saying it would make it possible for them to remain within the Anglican Church of Canada.

But Vancouver-based Bishop Michael Ingham appointed Bishop William Hockin, 64, the soon to be retired diocesan Bishop of Fredericton, New Brunswick as an episcopal visitor to parishes that oppose the Diocese of New Westminster's decision to bless same-sex unions and feel themselves "adversely affected." The Episcopal Visitor measure was offered as a part of the blessing motion at the Synod 2002 in New Westminster. The eight parishes rejected it then, and have continued rejecting it ever since.

But Hockin, along with several traditional Bishops from Canada and the United States did urge the Diocese of New Westminster not to proceed with a rite of blessing for same sex unions. But the central core of the problem was that Bishop Terry Buckle (Yukon) offered Ingham oversight WITH JURISDICTION for the beleaguered eight. That was not what Ingham was offering Hockin. The truth we all learned was that Ingham would not yield an inch on jurisdiction to Buckle or anyone.

Archbishop David Crawley, British Columbia's metropolitan started disciplinary action against Bishop Buckle even though Bishop Buckle had done nothing except make an offer.

Canadian Primate Michael Peers perhaps feeling the pressure announced he would resign.

Canon Bill Atwood, EKKLESIA, an international organization linking Western orthodox and Global South bishops said what was needed now was not parallel jurisdiction, but replacement jurisdiction. Certainly the church was heading in that direction.

The CHURCH OF ENGLAND was told to rethink its bar on sex before marriage. The C of E was told it should consider changing its teaching on sex before marriage and preach that cohabitation should be viewed as a new path from the single state to the married one.

And ANGLICANS ONLINE offered an unqualified apology to the Jensens of Sydney, for its editorial blast at the two men. The Rev. David C. James came out with an unqualified apology saying, "We were out of place to express an opinion of that nature. Our motives were pure, as we expect that the Jensens' were, too, and any differences that we might or might not have with the way a diocese is operating, we should keep to
ourselves or communicate in private."

The Bishop of Jos, NIGERIA, Benjamin Kwashi weighed in on Bishop Bennison's outrageous remark that Jesus was a sinner and wrote VIRTUOSITY saying,
"This only goes to show that the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan (Bishop of Pittsburgh) was right! It also further proves Fr. David Moyer (Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont) was right. The [Episcopal] Church is definitely in trouble and Bennison is only a symptom. His statement will be unacceptable to Islam and one wonders who he wants to please. This is shocking and a pity, "mene, mene, tekel, peres."

The House of Bishop's Theology Report, which nixed same-sex rites for homosexuals truly gored the ox of the Rev. Michael Hopkins, president of Integrity. He like Louie Crew was outraged at the report and said he and the Claiming the Blessing crowd, "were struck by the scant amount of theology contained in a report which defines itself as
theological." Hopkins said the terms "gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people" were accepted by the world-wide LGBT community "to describe the rich diversity of our own reality."

THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY convened a three-day meeting of Christian and Muslim scholars in Doha, in the Gulf state of Qatar. Dr Williams said the seminar, "Building Bridges", was "a clear demonstration that we do not have to be imprisoned in mutual hostility and misunderstanding". About 30 scholars attended the meeting, which was a follow-up to one held in Lambeth Palace in January 2002 by Lord Carey, when he was still Archbishop.

Then came shattering news revealed by Dr. Kirk Hadaway, Director of Research at the Episcopal Church Center, that the typical Episcopal congregation had average Sunday attendance of 80 persons. "It is the typical Episcopal Church that has been our primary source of growth during the last decade." Not very heartening news, but then if you
don't have a discernible gospel to declare why should bishops and priests believe that people are going to knock down the doors looking for New Life when none is to be found?

The episcopal left blind-sided by the U.S. victory in Iraq took a body blow in the person of its arch-defender Frank Griswold when the television image of the caste iron figure of Saddam Hussein fell to the ground. The elitist left in the ECUSA establishment got mud all over their collective faces when it was finally apparent to the world that the US forces of liberation had won a war with unbelievably light American casualties.
CATHOLIC AND EPISCOPALIANS proposed joint-bishop meetings to foster Christian unity. The idea was part of the Americans' response to a 1999 report on church authority produced in international talks between the Vatican and the Anglican Communion (in which the Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch). The American paper said Episcopal and Anglican bishops should accompany Roman Catholic colleagues when they make their periodic reports to the pope and attend Vatican synods, and participate in meetings of the U.S. bishops' conference with a voice but no vote. Similarly, Catholic bishops would join regular meetings of Episcopal and Anglican bishops. On the authority issue, the paper says a "reformed understanding and practice" of the papacy is needed for reunion, and that Anglicans have problems with Catholic views of infallible teaching and lay participation

This all later collapsed when the openly homosexual V. Gene Robinson was consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire.

The DIOCESE OF MICHIGAN voted at their diocesan convention for same-sex unions in disobedience to world Anglican opinion.

In a message to the 8th Anglican Indigenous Network (AIN) Meeting in New Zealand, Frank Griswold said, "A gift of our Anglican Communion is that we are able to come together to share in one another's realities and contacts, and therefore have a better understanding of how Christ moved throughout the world."

The search for a new Bishop of NEW HAMPSHIRE heated up with some interesting candidates. The most interesting was of course, V. Gene Robinson the current Canon to the Ordinary, an openly homosexual man who announced his divorce to his wife at a Eucharist, and later moved in with his new male lover, became Dean and now wanted to be a bishop.

THE AMERICAN ANGLICAN COUNCIL the conservative wing of the ECUSA, and the Claiming the Blessing/Integrity leaders met in Maryland with the leaders agreeing to be nice to one another when they met at GC2003 in Minneapolis. Both sides would present their respective points of view at GC'03, but they acknowledged that the struggle was going to be difficult for everyone.

Movements and rumblings in the ANGLICAN CONTINUUM continued with Archbishop Louis Falk resigning as head of the Traditional Anglican Communion, the largest of the international Continuing Church groups. The TAC has 80,000 followers in India and another 80,000 in South Africa and about 3,000 in the U.S. Other TAC members can be found in Australia, Torres Strait, England, Canada with missions in the US and Puerto Rico, Central America, Mexico and Columbia. The new Primate John Hepworth of Australia was named to replace him.

Inter communion relations progressed with closer ties between two longtime--and long- divided--Continuing Church bodies - the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) Metropolitan, Archbishop-Brother John- Charles FODC, recently called on his entire flock to pray for the leaders of both the ACC and the Anglican Province of Christ the King (APCK), whose leader Archbishop Robert Morse also sought to heal damaged relations between the two bodies and pave the way for "mutual work...in fulfilling our joint mission."
But a split occurred in the APCK with members, forming the Diocese of the Holy Cross moving for the establishment of a "free" or third province for English traditionalists with Forward in Faith, UK (FIF-UK).

In RIDGECREST, North Carolina 1,000 Episcopalians and Anglicans from a dozen Anglican provinces, 30 Episcopal dioceses, two seminaries, over a dozen Episcopal bishops and another dozen bishops from overseas, 200 clergy and hundreds of laity came together to explore ways to be obedient to the Great Commission, proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, make disciples, build the kingdom and plant churches. New Wineskins for Global Mission 2003, sponsored by the Episcopal Church Missionary Community, Ambridge, PA has become the most ambitious and successful Episcopal Mission outreach in the ECUSA today.

Lady Caroline Cox a feisty British Baroness and a world authority on Christian persecution gave a moving presentation on the persecution of Christians in the Sudan.
She blasted President George W. Bush for reneging on the US's hard line policy against the Government of the Sudan opposing the slaughter of Christians in the southern part of that country. She said the Bush administration had gone back on its policy of no compromise with the government while it continues to slaughter Christians in the south over oil and religion and a petition was drawn which was forwarded to the White House.

The CANADIAN HOUSE OF BISHOPS thumbed their collective noses at the wider Anglican Communion by repudiating their own guidelines and Lambeth, which forbade the blessing of same-sex unions. Some revisionist like BC Archbishop David Crawley (a 100 percent Ingham supporter) said he was not worried at all about the views of Primates from around the world and how upset they were. Many orthodox bishops in the Canadian House were sickened, appalled and infuriated by the decision.

The Bishop of Pennsylvania, Charles Bennison tasted more of his own shoe leather by
comparing God to Saddam Hussein' saying "God uses Weapons of Mass Destruction. The flood was the first weapons of mass destruction." His mouth became a WID - Weapon of Individual Destruction. Bennison then proceeded to moderate a meeting at the Prince Music Theatre in Philadelphia, which included a gay rabbi, the first openly gay ordained Episcopal priest and a Muslim homosexual. It was part of what used to be called "PrideFest". His actions only alienated him further from the orthodox in his diocese.

DEPOSED MEXICAN BISHOP said he was innocent of stealing more than $1 million dollars. The Bishop of Northern Mexico, the Rt. Rev. German Martinez Marquez wrote a letter to the US Episcopal Church saying that he was innocent of the charges of grand larceny leveled at him by a fellow bishop, and urged the Episcopal Church to send funds to support he and his family. Both he and the Archbishop and Primate of Mexico Samuel Espinoza were found guilty of the theft of millions of dollars over a period of years; money given by the ECUSA and were deposed.

BY MID YEAR it was apparent The Episcopal Church was caught in three great crises. The first was a crisis of false teaching, the second was a crisis of catholic order, and thirdly a crisis of courage. Nothing was solved, the crisis got worse as the year progressed.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, perhaps seeing the writing on the wall dropped a bombshell while in New York City talking up Benedictine spirituality. In a private conversation with ECUSA's Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, he asked him, "are we a federation of churches or a communion?" He raised the question just prior to the meeting of the Primates in Brazil.

The Anglican Church of Canada acknowledged that it had closed 954 churches of which 526 were closed between 1992 -1994 (almost 5 a week and very close to one every day). And while this was going on in Canada, the Church of the Province of Nigeria was adding literally millions of new Anglican believers with whole new dioceses, bishops and archbishops. This prompted Fr. Charles Nalls, a priest and head of the Canon Law Institute, in Washington, D.C. to say that "real communion means real relationship; real relationship means workable discipline." None was forthcoming.

ST. JAMES THE LESS in Philadelphia closed its school doors because of the litigation by Bishop Bennison. Fr. David Ousley, parish priest and headmaster of the school still faces being tossed out of his parish and rectory. His case is on appeal.

The British queen's representative in AUSTRALIA. Peter Hollingworth stepped down over rape claims. Hollingworth, 68, denied the rape, which allegedly happened in the 1960s but only surfaced this year. His accuser, Rosemarie Anne Jarmyn, 57, committed suicide.

Integrity Uganda, a knock-off of ECUSA's sodomite organization and a plant on African soil, fabricated a false Griswold invitation and put out a press release saying that they had been asked by the Archbishop of Uganda to be part of the welcoming committee for ECUSA Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold when he came in June. Virtuosity smelt a rat and got the truth. The Anglican Archbishop totally repudiated any such offer and Canon Stanley Ntagali wrote and told Virtuosity that it was all a fabrication.

THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION'S 38 Primates representing some 70 million Anglicans globally gathered in Gramado, Brazil to contemplate their future together as an undivided communion.

Prior to the Gramado meeting a group of African archbishops, known as CAPA - the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa - met behind closed doors in Sao Paulo, with only a handful of the archbishops aware that such a meeting was taking place. CAPA is comprised of all the provinces of Africa, though only seven Primates were present at this meeting. CAPA was formed to provide links for common concerns for the Anglican provinces in Africa. They met very discretely in San Paulo a day before the Primates gathered in Gramado to weigh the implications of the book "True Union in the Body" and the possibility of broken communion if Western provinces continue to perform same-sex marriages. There was clear agreement that the same-sex agenda had the capacity to split the communion.

THE 36 ARCHBISHOPS met in the Serrano hotel in their first closed-door meeting where Archbishop Drexel Gomez (West Indies) made a "brilliant presentation" speaking for 30 minutes on the book "True Union in the Body" which came down hard and fast against same-sex marriages and the blessing of same.

After considerable discussion the PRIMATES declared rites for same-sex unions unacceptable. The Primates said in a Pastoral Letter that rites for same-sex unions have no theological consensus, and "therefore, we as a body cannot support the authorization of such rites." The question of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions was still a cause of potentially divisive controversy, they declared. The Archbishop of Canterbury confirmed that there was no theological consensus about same sex unions.

An Integrity response to the Pastoral Letter from the Primates of the Anglican Communion condemned the report arguing that their stories were not heard. They were even mad at Griswold for not taking the opportunity to share with his brother Primates the theology statement offered by Claiming the Blessing, and for presenting only the Report from the Bishops' Committee on Theology which the House of Bishops declined to receive as a Mind of the House when it met in Kanuga.

But in the midst of the Gramado meeting came explosive news out of England that the Church of England had elevated to the bishopric, England’s foremost gay apologist Canon Jeffrey John, Canon theologian of Southwark Cathedral as the new Suffragan Bishop of Reading. Rowan Williams hurried back to confront the situation. Finding himself under siege by Oxford's Evangelicals coupled with a financial revolt that could have deep-sixed the C of E, he forced Canon Jeffrey John to back down. The Bishops of Reading and Southwark were outraged, but Evangelicals new found muscle won the day.

The INDIAN PRIMATE came out slamming same-sex blessings. The Most Rev. K. J. Samuel wrote saying, "attempting to bless and affirm behaviours that are proscribed by the Scriptures is a mistake. It is wrong. It is sin." Archbishop Samuel, who could not be with his fellow Primates in Brazil, wrote praising the efforts of his fellow Primate Drexel Gomez (West Indies) for his study "True Union in the Body?" condemning such blessings, and warned of schism and broken communion if acted upon.

LAY CELEBRATION IN 2008 will not usurp the authority of the bishops. A report coming out of the meeting of Anglican Primates that a parallel congress of international Anglican laity will meet with the Lambeth Conference of Bishops in 2008, that would mute their ecclesiastical authority, were wildly exaggerated. Behind the idea was Canon John Peterson, the ultra-liberal secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) the fourth arm of the Anglican Communion. The idea of an international lay congress to run in parallel with the 2008 Lambeth arose at the Lambeth Conference in June 1998 following the vote by bishops overwhelmingly opposed to homosexual behavior.

It was viewed as an overwhelming defeat by the liberals, especially Canon Peterson who had been guaranteeing Western liberals that he would keep a decision off the agenda. Angered by the vote, Peterson told his Western paymasters and friends that never again would he let that happen, and he would do everything in his power to prevent such a re-enactment or vote on sexuality issues taking place again. He came up with the idea of generous lay involvement, the theory being that certain lay people would be invited to tell their stories and overwhelmingly destroy the ecclesiastical power of the bishops if things should be brought to a vote. The idea died.

IN AN INTERVIEW WITH ARCHBISHOP BENJAMIN NZIMBI OF KENYA the new Archbishop who took over from the popular and outspoken Archbishop David Gitari, told Virtuosity that the issue of theological education raised by the Primates would result in his people going to seminaries which were sound and balanced theologically, "because we would like to have the church continue as one holy, catholic and apostolic church."

A SAME-SEX RITE was authorized in the Diocese of New Westminster with Ingham's
blessing in complete disregard to Primates Pastoral Letter news. He authorized the rite
to take place at St. Margaret's parish in East Vancouver. The in your face act was in total defiance of both the 1998 Lambeth resolution on human sexuality and the recent Primates Pastoral Letter out of Gramado, Brazil which said no to such actions. Clergy in six parishes within the Diocese of New Westminster were authorized to perform the rite of blessing of committed same sex unions.

And then it happened. A same-sex blessing took place at St. Margaret Cedar Cottage. Two men, Kelly and Michael, dressed in identical black suits wearing white shirts, and corsages, fulfilled the promise of a rite approved by the majority of the Diocese of New Westminster and authorized by New Westminster. Ingham declared open war against the Primates.

The actions of Ingham roused the concern of the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, who, when he learned of the Vancouver bishop's actions to allow a same sex blessing to occur hard on the heels of the Primates meeting, expressed "sadness" at Ingham's actions and publicly rebuked him. Ingham's green light to allow this blessing to take place reverberated around the Anglican Communion.

The Primate of Uganda, Archbishop Livingstone Mpalanyi-Nkoyoyo, described the Canadian bishop as a "rebel" who would be banned from his province, adding: "He needs to repent. His teaching is heretical." The Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez, said: "I am very disturbed and upset. I will be in consultation with some of the primates over the next few days, but it's clear to me that there's going to be some kind of dislocation." Archbishop Gomez said Bishop Ingham should not be invited to the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the 10-yearly council of Anglican bishops, because he is now "outside the flock".

THIRTEEN CANADIAN BISHOPS promptly condemned the bishop's action breaking communion with him. They spoke out for Anglican unity and against same-sex blessings in New Westminster. "We are sure that most clergy and congregations will remain faithful to Scripture, to our Constitution and Disciplines, and to the Resolution of the Global Anglican Bishops at the most recent Lambeth Conference. We will work to keep the maximum degree of unity possible, with and between churches. Any bishops and clergy that do proceed will be breaking communion with large portions of the Anglican world, and will have impaired standing in the worldwide communion."

Archbishop Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada expressed dismay by the decision of the synod and said he was convinced that it should not have been implemented.

REFORMED EPISCOPAL CHURCH PRESIDING BISHOP, Leonard Riches wrote a letter stressing evangelism, church planting to the Anglican primates on behalf of some ten jurisdictions representing some 300 participating in the U.S. Anglican Congress, in Atlanta, Georgia. Out of that meeting was forged a new paradigm of inter communion relationships. A smaller Task Force had met in Atlanta on April 28 and 29, 2003, to undertake the effort of carrying our purpose forward. That purpose is expressed in the Atlanta Covenant, a document which emerged from the December, 2002 gathering.
"We are committed, without reservation, to the ultimate authority of Holy Scripture, to the teachings of the historic Ecumenical Creeds, and to the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. In the sessions of our Task Force, a clear consensus emerged that priority in our efforts should be devoted to the work of evangelism, church planting, and Christian formation. Another gathering in the fall of this year in order gave further substance to the vision.

In an article in the SCIENCE section of TIME magazine titled, "What Makes You Who You Are," the writers argued that biology was not destiny. "We can no longer argue that genes are immutable things handed down from our parents like Moses stone tablets, but are active participants in our lives, designed to take their cues from everything that happens to us from the moment of our conception." This one sentence was compelling; "You will have to enter a world in which your genes are not puppet masters pulling the strings of your behavior..." homosexuals take note. Behavior can change...it is a matter of choice, not a matter of plumbing. And right now The Episcopal Church along with a number of mainline denominations is making a choice to commit collective spiritual suicide on the phallic cross of their own sexual desires.

FAITHFUL ECUSA EPISCOPAL LAITY signed a petition saying that the overwhelming majority of Episcopalians were concerned over a resolution that would be considered at the 2003 General Convention in August calling for development of new rites for blessing homosexual relationships; and with continuing unilateral acts of blessing such relationships and ordaining non celibate single persons outside of marriage while General Convention debated the issues.

They asked that deputies and bishops to General Convention respect the 2003 House of Bishops Theology Committee Report and reject Resolution C005 calling for the blessing of homosexual relationships; and that ECUSA's bishops immediately suspend all acts of same-sex blessings and ordinations of non celibate single persons outside of marriage, thereby creating an incentive for the Church to engage in further examination and open discussion of homosexuality and the social and Church wide impact of this proposed action.


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