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AMIA makes news...Florida priests fight back...Alabama...Central NY...Ct. news

"A house divided against itself will fall" - Luke 11:17 (NIV)

www.virtueonline.org
1/17/2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In Birmingham, Alabama last week nearly 1,000 Anglicans -- including 105 priests, two dozen bishops and nine primates -- met at the Sheraton Hotel to hear the leader of the Anglican Mission in American declare that his goal was to reach 130 million unchurched Americans with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Bishop Chuck Murphy also said that the Episcopal Church would wither and die without a clear discernable gospel and that the archbishop of Canterbury would have to make a decision as to where he stood or the Global South primates would force his hand and the Anglican Communion would implode.

It was also a week in which this writer enjoyed open access to eight African primates, other bishops from Africa, an archbishop from Southeast Asia, two Episcopal bishops, and more than 100 clergy.

There was no need for a press conference here, there was unfetted access 24/7, and the six exclusive stories in today's digest give ample evidence of this. This is in direct contrast to primates' meetings where archbishops are hidden away, concealed from sight by the liberal-led Anglican Consultative Council, and guards are put on hotel floors and outside rooms, and maneuvering is required to get any kind of news at all. Dromantine, Ireland, was the worst example in recent memory.

The upshot of it all was that your scribe got open invitations to come to five African provinces to write, speak, meet clergy, view church growth and worship, and see the circumstances under which many of our African Anglican brothers and sisters live and where many suffer for the sake of the gospel.

Ironically, liberals are not the only persons guilty of stifling access to world Anglican leaders. At the Anglican Essentials conference last year in Toronto, evangelical minders kept most of the same Global South leaders under wraps and whisked them away from the media, an action that angered and infuriated this reporter. Only a single press conference with one primate was held.

But revisionist Episcopal Church bishops are also not without their intrigue, and they are quite prepared to play political games if it is in their best interests.

The BISHOP OF ALABAMA, Henry N. Parsley, proved he could play games just like many of his fellow bishops. After telling his clergy not to have anything to do with this AMIA Anglican conference at the Sheraton and to stay away (which they did), he then set about arm-twisting the publisher of the Birmingham News, Mr. Victor Hanson, asking him not to cover the AMIA conference -- a request that was denied. They sent reporter Greg Garrison to cover it on two occasions. Parsley's final act of hypocrisy was to turn up at the hotel on Saturday afternoon, by himself, and offer to take the archbishop of Burundi, the Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi, out for a coffee and chat.

Perhaps Bishop Parsley thought he could razzle dazzle the newest primate in the Anglican Communion, who has been an archbishop for only four months, and persuade him of the Episcopal Church's enlightened views on human sexuality.

Parsley failed miserably. I met with the African archbishop an hour after he met with Parsley, and he told me the story. Parsley thought he could make some headway with at least one, the newest African primate, but the archbishop turned the tables on the bishop and challenged him on why he supported the Episcopal Church's unbiblical homosexual agenda, asked him to defend himself from Scripture and challenged him on his church's decline. Parsley couldn't, of course, and he quickly returned the primate to his hotel. The funny thing is that Parsley thought Nthahoturi might be just an ignorant unenlightened African archbishop who needs to be brought up to speed on Western notions of pluriformity. He got the shock of his life, and the shock was doubled because Parsley did not know that the African archbishop had been educated at Cambridge University in England, spoke better English than Parsley, was better educated than Parsley, and didn't need any further "enlightenment," thank you very much. Score another one for the African archbishops.

One discovers that among these primates there is tremendous loyalty to those who care about them. Rwandan Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini said publicly that even though the Americans had abandoned Rwanda, culminating in a terrible genocide, he would not abandon his Anglican (AMiA) friends in America. Grace abounding, indeed.

If you think these African archbishops are not without resolve, consider this. Central African Archbishop Bernard Malango, faced with a revolt by some of his priests in the Diocese of Lake Malawi over his rejection of English cleric Nicky Henderson, is resolved to make sure that the next bishop in that area is orthodox in faith and morals, and he will be African. A temporary retired bishop, Leonard Mwenda, was rejected by those same priests (some of whom still want Henderson), but Archbishop Malango told VirtueOnline that Mwenda's appointment (he is retired) is only delayed, not rejected, and that a synod will be called in February to appoint a new diocesan bishop.

I HAVE posted a number of stories from this conference, including an overview; an interview with the leader of the Anglican Mission in America, the Rt. Rev. Chuck Murphy; and a story about Archbishop Bernard Malango of Central Africa, who again warned that if work being done on a covenant, describing what we believe and how we live together fails, the communion will fracture into a number of "sad fragments." I also have posted in interview with one of the leaders of the REFORM movement in England who says that the Church of England is heading for extinction unless it recovers the gospel and a story about how a group of remnant orthodox Canadian Anglicans have found a permanent home in the Anglican Communion, and they will do in Canada what the AMIA is doing in the USA. Truly the realignment is underway with a vengeance.

If all the predictions come true, then the Anglican Church of Canada, the ECUSA, and the Church of England could all be out of business by 2050 with "For Sale" signs up, or they will just be pale reflections of historic Anglicanism, a sad indictment of national churches gone astray imbibing "another gospel." An interesting sidebar to this is that the Church of England wants the British Government to cough up 55 million pounds (about $97 million) to rescue historic Church of England parishes.

IN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH this past week the flights, lawsuits, and estrangement of orthodox priests and parishes moved to a heightened level.

In the DIOCESE OF FLORIDA, parishes are fleeing out the door by the day and week. To keep up with all of them is nearly impossible, so I am posting a couple of local newspaper accounts of what is happening there with Bishop John Howard.

I spoke briefly with three fleeing cardinal rectors from Jacksonville, Florida, at the AMIA conference in Birmingham -- Neil Lebhar (Redeemer Anglican Church), Sam Pascoe (Grace Church), and Jim McCaslin (All Souls Church), and they all told me that they have come together to fight Bishop John Howard for their properties. They have a team of lawyers working on the Dennis Canon, and they are not going to go down without a major fight. They have legal precedent now in three churches that have successfully fled Bishop J. Jon Bruno in the Diocese of Los Angeles, so the Dennis Canon is clearly vulnerable. How vulnerable? Time will tell. But clearly evangelical spines are stiffening against these rogue revisionist bishops who have no gospel to proclaim. The day of reckoning is at hand for Bishop Howard and for a lot of revisionist ECUSA bishops. The consecration of V. Gene Robinson is coming at a heavy price that not even the revisionists anticipated.

In the DIOCESE OF CENTRAL NY, a $4.35 million lawsuit was filed in Tioga County against the Bishop of Central New York, Gladstone Skip" Adams, Gael Sopchak and the diocese. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Rev. David Bollinger, rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Owego, N.Y. The priest is saying the bishop tried to silence his efforts to investigate alleged sexual abuse that occurred in the 1970s. "I reported accurate information to him and I was punished for it," said Fr. Bollinger. "I deny that completely," retorted the bishop. "Any actions taken concerning Fr. Bollinger have been done completely independently." Bollinger said he first contacted Adams in 2002 about a victim of alleged sexual abuse by a former rector at the Owego parish. He said the diocese has failed to respond. Bollinger said he told Adams in 2003 of a second alleged victim. He said a third victim came forward last week. The diocese has financial problems, and it recently abandoned its retreat center.

And in the DIOCESE OF CONNECTICUT it was made official. Bishop Andrew D. Smith formally deprived the Rev. Dr. Mark H. Hansen, formerly of St. John's, Bristol, of the right to exercise the office of priest in the Episcopal Church. This action followed an inhibition of Dr. Hansen's priestly ministry for six months, beginning July 13, 2005. For the group that now calls itself St. John's in Exile, the Connecticut bishop's decision to remove Hansen from the priesthood is heretical. "Bishop Smith has done us and the church a great injustice. He'll have to stand before our Lord one day. I don't like him, and I disagree with him, but I'll pray for him," said Eleanor Little, 74, a member of the group.

In the DIOCESE OF SOUTHERN VIRGINIA comes word that an "interim, interim" bishop has been appointed in the person of Robert H. Johnson, retired bishop of Western North Carolina. Bishop David Bane (of thrice blessed memory) departs next month. Wrote a reader from that diocese, "Maybe this will be the year something actually happens, although it already sounds like the line in the sand is moving to [Lambeth] 2008. If nothing happens in response to GC in June I'm finished this time with ECUSA. I'm really embarrassed to tell anyone I'm Episcopalian."

In the DIOCESE OF WASHINGTON, the diocesan webmaster shut down part of a one-sided attack on the "Book of Daniel" blog after Friday's show. The blog was shut down because of too many negative comments. The comments primarily affirmed the authority of Scripture, traditional moral values and the power of prayer. According to the webmaster, "This thread is closed to comments. It was careening down hill. I like a good argument as much as the next person... That (sic) wasn't what was happening here." Ah, liberal notions of free speech. The thread had many more posts than any other section of the Web site, showing more on Monday morning than all the others since then.

The response to ECUSA Diocesan spokesman Jim Naughton was from the biggest offender, someone called Kat, who had gotten into an online argument with the producer of the show and other "Daniel" supporters, who said: "Can't you handle the truth, Jim? It seems that after the facts are stated you don't want to hear the truth anymore. At least leave the posts in their entirety. As an online editor myself, I don't think you want me to let people know that this blog is edited for the liberal point of view only do you?"

Naughton claimed Kat was "rude". He is reported in a Monday Washington Times article as claiming the purpose of the site is evangelism and having 21,000 hits to the site. The site appears to really be a way to drum up support for the show and the liberal Episcopal views of its principal characters. Critics of the show are silenced and criticized on the site. Supporters of "Daniel" postings pass without comment or are praised.

In the DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA, the Diocesan Council passed an interim budget of $950,000 with monies coming from unrestricted net assets. Bishop Charles E. Bennison is calling a special Diocesan Convention for Saturday, March 25 to vote on a new budget. Word is he will push for mandatory assessment on parishes again. Two staff positions were cut from Church House effective February 1, and 10 more may be cut if the proposed, lean, budget is passed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A special alert released today by the American Anglican Council may be found below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: 770-414-1515

AAC Warns of Email Scams Bearing Archbishop Orombi's Name

The American Anglican Council (AAC) has recently been advised of an email scam currently circulating which purports to be a letter from Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda and requests the loan of a large sum of money in order to assist with a health situation involving his wife, Phoebe. In a sample scam letter made available to the AAC, Mrs. Orombi was said to have been diagnosed with a "heart complication" and in critical condition after treatment at a South African hospital. The main letter, bearing Archbishop Orombi's name, was accompanied by two attachments that are also fraudulent: a report from the hospital's heart unit, as well as a photo of a check claimed to have been received for "consultative work" but which was "post dated" and therefore unusable until the check's February 13, 2006 date. The letter urgently requests that funds be sent with promises that they will be paid back.

FROM THE AMERICAN ANGLICAN COUNCIL come this. Do not respond to any emails bearing resemblance to the one described above, as they are fraudulent. The AAC has confirmed with Archbishop Orombi that the letter is indeed a scam, and he has assured us that his wife is in good health at this time. Numerous scams utilizing the names of Anglican archbishops have circulated in the past, and the AAC urges anyone to take caution when receiving emails claiming to originate from such individuals and to verify information before taking any action.

IT WILL come as no surprise to VirtueOnline's readers that the Episcopal Church recently reaffirmed its membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. The membership had caused some controversy during the last General Convention. In a related resolution (NAC-040), the council asked for a report at its March meeting regarding "membership of or on behalf of the Episcopal Church in external organizations." The National Concerns Committee is considering whether the church needs a more specific policy on membership in such organizations. Women's ordination, sodomy, abortion -- only the full affirmation of euthanasia remains as the final frontier for ECUSA's House of Bishops.

In the DIOCESE OF LOUISIANA, the Rev. Jerry Kramer reports that my story on his efforts to help the good people at the Church of the Annunciation in New Orleans following Katrina brought in over $20,000! May God be praised, he writes.

Here is what he recently wrote: "Today we celebrated what may well be the most glorious Sunday in Annunciation, New Orleans' 162-year history. With our folks and volunteers from out of state working nearly around the clock, often by car headlights at night, we readied for the double-wide to serve as our new church and all-purpose building. Our bishop was on hand to preside and a local multi-racial gospel choir, Shades of Praise, nearly blew the roof off. We crammed 100+ (probably about 120) inside with standing room only. I gave up my chair and had to stand throughout! Not a spare inch. A number of friends from around the diocese and community came to support us. It was all such a huge lift for our folks who've suffered so much -- definitely our best day since August 28th." Pictures are up on the Web site: www.annunciationinexile.homestead.com where you can also make a donation.

Thank you, dear readers, for your extreme generosity. It is most heartwarming to this scribbler to know that stories like these, when read, are acted upon with love and commitment. I am truly delighted at your generosity to Fr. Jerry, his family and church. We hope VirtueOnline's readers will continue to support Fr. Jerry and his struggling congregation.

In the CHURCH OF ENGLAND a report due on women bishops by a working party of Church of England bishops is hoping to head off a potential split with a compromise plan on the ordination of woman bishops. Its report proposes a group of male bishops -- known as "flying bishops" -- to work in parishes unwilling to accept the authority of a woman. Calls to set up a separate division of the church have been rejected. The General Synod voted in July to begin the process that could lead to the consecration of women bishops. The move to consecrate women bishops comes amid a row over the ordination of openly gay priests. A committee headed by the bishop of Guildford will introduce the report at a news conference in London. It will detail how the church might avoid a walkout by traditionalists, who say there is no biblical precedent for women bishops. You can read that lengthy report here: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3502

ARE people like me being driven out of the Church of England or not, asks John Broadhurst, bishop of Fulham. BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Piggott said traditionalists claim that up to 400 clergy could leave the church if there is no compromise. A similar number left the Church of England after it first ordained women priests in 1994. Introducing flying bishops would remove what the traditionalists believe is "the taint of someone being ordained by a woman or even by a man who sympathizes with women bishops," Bishop Broadhurst added. Christina Rees, a member of the Church of England Synod, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme she believed the plans would prevent a split.

The archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams. and his second-in-command, the archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, have said they have no theological objections to women bishops.

On a brighter note, FORWARD IN FAITH UK says its planned Forward in Hope gathering in Central Hall, London, is full. "Forward in Faith is delighted to announce that there are no further seats available in Central Hall for Forward in Hope on Saturday, 28th January. Over 2,100 tickets have been sold," commented Director of Forward in Faith Stephen Parkinson, "which is a remarkable effort in just twenty days; it will send a very clear message to the Church of England that nothing less than a structural solution for traditionalists will suffice, in the event that the General Synod proceeds to the ordination of women as bishops."

VIRTUEONLINE can now report that during the month of December 2005 the number of unique visitors to the Web site, www.virtueonline.org, totaled 217,000! The site is currently averaging over 1,000,000 (one million) page views per month. The Web site is updated multiple times daily so please visit it frequently to get the latest breaking news.

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All Blessings,

David W. Virtue, D.D.

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