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ASIA: Sleeping Giant awakes...Rowan in Rome...ECUSA news...more

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

SABAH/SINGAPORE. My three week stay in Malaysia has drawn to a close. I have seen the future and it is Asia and that includes the sleeping giant of China with its one billion souls, one hundred million of whom are said to be Christian already with more than 25,000 a day coming to Christ.

In Southeast Asia there are more than one million Anglicans, mostly Evangelical and charismatic with a portion in West Malaysia being Anglo-Catholic. But the truth is they are all working off the same page. There are no liberals, revisionists or pansexualists, no ratification or gratification of aberrant sexual misbehavior here in SE Asia. When I talk about the crisis in the Anglican Communion and mention homosexuality it is incomprehensible to them. Chinese leaders, native Christians, Malays, Indonesians turn away in disgust at even the mention of it, and they are truly bewildered that it could split the whole Anglican Communion. "If they knew Mr. Robinson was a homosexual why did they elect him," asked one woman, "because they were stupid and fools" was all I could manage after an hour of speaking and answering questions. Everyone laughed.

How do you explain an Episcopal process that starts with bad teaching in the seminaries, which in turn filters into the pulpits with theologically deconstructed priests preaching "inclusion" down into the pews, with the whole show being led by bishops who no longer believe in the authority of Scripture? I didn't have the heart to tell them.

In Asia one is in another world. The church, led largely by Chinese is strong and vibrant. For those desiring to lead the church the standards are high, the training rigorous. The vast majority of the people are under 30 and those that choose the ministry must meet the highest standards which usually include starting out as evangelists, starting a parish from scratch, and then perhaps a stint of theological training in Singapore, Sydney, England or Toronto.

The focus is on the Great Commission - making disciples of the nine nations that surround Malaysia. Each nation is fair game to evangelize even if the population is largely Muslim. It might be illegal to evangelize Muslims but it is not illegal to share one's faith if asked.

While women are not ordained, they perform most functions especially evangelism in rural areas, where they labor in conditions that often exclude electricity, clean water and toilets. They are undaunted. One woman evangelist we visited in the interior had a dozen volunteers breaking down the wall behind the pulpit to extend the church 20 feet to meet the growing converts from her jungle church. She couldn't be happier. These stories are endless.

When the subject of women's ordination was briefly broached at the clergy conference by a couple of young Turks in Kota Kinabalu, the diocesan center, the archbishop quietly but firmly stopped them. This was not the time, place, or forum, and he would not allow the subject to be raised. It was not on the agenda. He was keenly aware that, among other things, his time as Bishop of Sabah and Archbishop of SE Asia was up in 10 months and he would leave that issue to his successor to deal with. He would not even say where he stood on the matter. He is a wise man.

But the Chinese are among the shrewdest of people that I have met. I had very little idea what my schedule would be when I arrived in this distant land, but within hours I had a two-page outline given me with every day arranged right down to where, when and to whom I would speak, the story possibilities and more. I was not a tourist. I was well taken care of but worked hard, and when I was not speaking or watching what was going on I was writing or sleeping. One could not help but be impressed with how it was all put together. They have no time for fools or people who will waste their time.

I have come away deeply impressed with the quality of the ministry of these dear Asian men and women, the quality of their lives, their churches and much more. They know who and what they want and they will go after it relentlessly. (I had put off going to SE Asia for over three years, but the archbishop and his wife kept the pressure on and I relented.) Following later in June will be AMIA Bishop Thad Barnum, one of the best preachers in America today. He will fire them up as few can.

These Asian believers are unerring in knowing what it is they want, and how to get it. I have no doubt, that over the next five years, this province will double if not triple its converts at all societal levels and in all cultures. They are committed, focused, biblical, evangelistic, determined and driven by the Great Commission...and they will never give up, and if the communion splits over sodomy they will carry on regardless, saddened by the fact of the American Church's apostasy, but unwilling to bend to Western pansexuality and bad theology or cease what they are doing.

I have posted a number of stories about my time there and one very special one that will appeal to an older generation of Episcopalians and Anglicans, the unveiling of a Window of Remembrance at an Anglican Church honoring the 2,400 Australians and British who died on the infamous Borneo Death March. I found this quite moving and I hope I have conveyed that in today's digest.

One benefit of my travels to Southeast Asia has been the growing number of invitations received by other Primates to visit provinces in the communion where God is at work. As plans are firmed up, I will let you know.

IT WAS ANOTHER WEEK in the wider Anglican Communion that reminded us yet again that the spiritual cancer now deep in the Communion, if not removed, will kill it or reshape it minus a few body parts.

At Benedict XVI's inaugural mass Dr. Rowan Williams was invited but Frank Griswold was not. Archbishop Drexel Gomez (West Indies) was invited, but the Canadian archbishop was not. The US church was represented by Bishop Pierre Whalon of Europe, and Bishop Christopher Epting, the Griswold's deputy for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations.

Symbolism is everything. When the new pope met with the patriarchs from the Orthodox churches there were public embraces and kisses, but when Benedict XVI met Williams there was only a handshake. Dr. Williams edged forward perhaps hoping for a papal embrace but it was not forthcoming.

Ruth Gledhill of the London Times said that Williams will hold talks with Pope Benedict XVI, and she noted that it was "highly significant" that the Pope should choose to meet the honorary head of the Anglican communion in the very first hours of his official pontificate. That audience included Dr Drexel Gomez, Archbishop of the West Indies. Dr Gomez is one of the leaders of the Anglican Communion's traditionalist wing, and chairman of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations.

Another bit of history was made when Dr Williams became the first serving Archbishop of Canterbury to attend a papal inauguration since the Reformation.

After a chilly period for Anglicanism under the last Pope because of the ordination of women priests, Benedict XVI appears eager to usher in a new era of closeness between the two communions.

Even in his last job, writes Gledhill, he took a close personal interest in Anglican affairs. As Cardinal Ratzinger, he went so far as to write a letter of support to traditionalist Anglicans in the US meeting in opposition to the consecration of an openly gay bishop. ECUSA in Rome.

Church of England newspaper columnist Andrew Carey, writing on his blog notes the delegation that went to Rome included two ECUSA representatives. "Is this what the Primates had in mind at Dromantine when they asked ECUSA to withdraw from Anglican Communion instruments of unity? ECUSA has not one but two delegates in the Archbishop's delegation - a very privileged status for a Province which has rebelled against the clear view of the Anglican Communion on sexual ethics," he writes.

The interesting thing about it is the full list of his delegation. They include only two well know orthodox persons - Archbishop Drexel Gomez and Nazi Ali

The Most Revd Drexel Gomez, Primate of the West Indies and Chair of the Inter Anglican Standing Committee on Ecumenical Relations (IASCER) - orthodox The Rt Revd David Beetge, Anglican Co-Chair of ARCIC - Liberal The Rt Revd Michael Nazir-Ali, (ARCIC) - orthodox The Rt Revd Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop of the Diocese in Europe (C of E) - liberal The Revd Jonathan Goodall (also Diocese in Europe) - liberal Rt Revd Chris Epting (Representing ECUSA) - liberal Rt Revd Pierre Whalon (Convocation of American Churches in Europe) - liberal Revd Andrew Norman Archbishop's Secretary for International and Ecumenical Affairs - liberal The Revd Jonathan Jennings, Archbishop's Press Secretary - liberal.

I wonder what conclusions the Vatican will have drawn from this.

OF COURSE no papal enthronement would have been complete without homosexuals blasting the new pope. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) noted that Ratzinger "authored a Vatican document condemning marriage and adoption by gay men and lesbians in July 2003." The group expressed "concern" that Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, "does not present a hopeful vision of the future or inspire optimism for affirming language, policies or outreach."

But the Families and Friends of Gays & Ex-Gays (PFOX) welcomed the new Pope and commended the College of Cardinals for selecting Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new Pope Benedict XVI. "As the successor to John Paul II, we believe Pope Benedict XVI will continue the Holy Father's commitment and compassion to Catholics with same sex attractions," said Regina Griggs, executive director of PFOX. "As a Catholic, I am grateful to the Catholic Church for taking care of its homosexual members," said Griggs. "Many dioceses across the country have implemented a Courage chapter for their gay brethren. Founded in 1980 by Fr. John Harvey, Courage is the only Vatican approved ministry to Catholics with same sex attractions. Courage assists Catholics with homosexual desires to lead fulfilled chaste lives in accordance with the Catholic Church's teachings. Its sister ministry, Encourage, supports Catholic parents of children living homosexually." BUT THE HONEYMOON could be brief for Williams as nothing has appreciably changed since he met with Pope John Paul II. In truth matters have only gotten worse in the Anglican Communion with open schism seemingly impossible to avoid.

THE DOYEN OF EVANGELICALISM, Dr John Stott has been named among the 100 most influential figures in the world by Time magazine.

Stott, who is 84-years-old, was ordained in 1945, after which he served as a rector at All Souls, Langham Place in London. He has been a key player in the resurgence of previously marginalized evangelicals. In the early 1960s, he established the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Church, which has since spread throughout the world, offering scholarship in the West to potential future leaders in Asia, Africa and South America.

He has been presented with numerous opportunities to be appointed bishop, archbishop or to head several of the world's top theological seminaries, but instead, he has remained committed to equipping leaders in countries where resources and experience are limited. The author of over 40 books, he was awarded the Lambeth Doctorate of Divinity in 1983, and has honorary doctorates in America, Britain and Canada. He has been Chaplain to the Queen since 1959.

The American Episcopal Church is on the verge of imploding with fleeing parishes in a numerous dioceses, and this situation will only worsen if a dozen parishes in the DIOCESE OF FLORIDA up and jump ship later this year.

Whatever plans the remnant orthodox in ECUSA are planning for GC2006, events might overtake them when in June the Anglican Consultative Council meets in Nottingham and the Americans and Canadians decide to stay on after they have made their case for why they ordained a homoerotic bishop to the episcopacy and allowed same sex blessings to be performed in Canada. One can't imagine Primate Peter Akinola of Nigeria won't throw a blue fit and pull the plug on the communion then and there taking 15 Primates with him and declaring it is over. He has shown himself to be gutsy in more ways than one, including being willing to cross diocesan lines to form a Nigerian convocation of churches right under Griswold's nose in North America.

And this week he came out blasting the Episcopal Church, calling the ECUSA duplicitous. He said that a statement by the US Episcopal bishops, after they met in Texas was disappointing in that the only regret offered was for their failure to consult and the effect of their actions instead of an admission that what they have done has offended God and His Church.

Of course if you don't think that homosexual activity is sin then Griswold will never repent.

And in other news that should make the Episcopal Church feel happy and gay is that word has been received that The Archbishop of Canterbury's forthcoming "panel of reference" will not have the power to compel bishops to offer delegated episcopal pastoral oversight, a spokesman for the Anglican Consultative Council told The Living Church, but its recommendations will possess the moral authority of the Anglican Communion.

Wrote one VirtueOnline reader; "This is yet one more piece of evidence that the orthodox Primates left Ireland believing that they had done something to help the orthodox in ECUSA and Canada . . . without having done so." One must ask the question can the Primates really do anything to help the orthodox in ECUSA and Canada, if they don't go about cleaning up their own houses.

It was another week of mayhem in the Episcopal Church with the Bishop of the DIOCESE OF CONNECTICUT Andrew D. Smith finding himself stalled by his own clergy who did not give him the green light to act against the "Connecticut Six" but to seek some sort of reconciliation that would not result in separation of the priests or their congregations from the diocese. At this time of writing the priests' fate are still in doubt following this meeting. His diocesan priests told him to cease and desist and not to do it, said one of the Connecticut Six to VirtueOnline.

Six orthodox priests from other dioceses came to their parishes last week assuming they would be inhibited. They took the pulpits, but Smith apparently decided for the moment to do nothing.

But Smith has been hammered by 23 Episcopal bishops and hundreds of e-mails telling him in no uncertain terms what they think of him, and his call for a diocesan-wide clergy meeting was more an attempt to try and find a way out of the crisis that doesn't involve him facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit for wrongful dismissal a day after he dumps these godly men. Even he can smell the sludge from the burst theological sewer pipes in his own diocesan basement.

Vickie Gene Robinson's consecration is coming at a price he never thought he would have to pay, but pay he will if he proceeds against these men. The fallout in lost priests, fleeing parishioners and lost income will be unrecoverable.

The six priests have refused to acknowledge Smith's authority as their bishop, and Smith has threatened to inhibit or remove them from their parishes, claiming that they have abandoned communion with the church. The six say it is Smith who has broken communion through his interpretation of Scripture. VirtueOnline will keep you posted.

And in the DIOCESE OF NEW YORK the Episcopal Church of St. Andrew on Staten Island, New York, consecrated a special cemetery for pets at an 11 a.m. service on Earth Day, Friday, April 22. The Cemetery for All God's Creatures included the interment of various pets and is located on the church grounds. "The Cemetery for All God's Creatures is an expression of our commitment to live into our mission statement which reminds us that we have been called 'to be stewards of all God's creation,'" said the Rev. Michael Delaney, rector of St. Andrew's. "Pets are an important part of our lives, and this cemetery is one way of honoring what they have meant to us and to our families."

I suppose that a church which is desperately trying to hold on to whatever it can should not be inhibited from burying its pets. It buried sound doctrine and biblical morality a long time ago.

Last week the suffragan bishop of the DIOCESE OF MASSACHUSETTS Gayle Elizabeth Harris announced she was splitting from hubby Peter of 19 years, another casualty of the sex wars. Will she step down? Not a chance, she is fully supported in her separation by the Bishop of Massachusetts Tom Shaw who sees no problem with a divorced bishop or a gay bishop for that matter, or having gay priests a plenty in his diocese. But if you commit adultery watch out, you're toast. It must be nice to have a fix on what you think morality is and is not and then feel free to pick and choose from the morality smorgasbord to suit whatever your taste is.

SO IT WON'T come as a surprise that US Catholic, Pentecostal, Mormon and Orthodox churches are growing while those belonging to Protestant churches described as "mainline" are dwindling in numbers. The rolls of Pentecostal churches, and some with mostly African American adherents and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) are growing, new figures show. The 2005 "Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches" also reports growth in a number of US Orthodox churches, including the Orthodox Church in America, which, with 1 million members, is now listed in the top 25 denominations in the United States.

The CHURCH OF IRELAND has said their Constitution should include a broad definition of the family to recognize numerous units which are not marriage-based, including same-sex unions. In a public oral submission made yesterday to the Oireachtas [Irish Parliament] Committee on the Constitution, which is reviewing family rights, the church advocated changes in the Constitution to protect not only the institution of marriage but to recognize other domestic situations such as cohabiting and gay couples.

And from the LATIMER FELLOWSHIP IN NEW ZEALAND comes this. "Will two Anglican priests within the Auckland Diocese be amongst the first to conduct civil unions come April 26? There are implications here not only for the Auckland Diocese, but also for the rest of the province and even for the whole Anglican Communion. How so? Because one of the priests has announced his intentions in the most public of fashions - national TV. The other Priest holds a position of provincial responsibility at St John's College (the main training college of the province). And the Bishop of Auckland happens to be the chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council!"

AUSTRALIA TRIBUNAL CONSIDERS CALL TO BAN ALPHA COURSE. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) met to consider a call to ban Alpha, the well known introductory course to Christianity. Robin Fletcher, a self described witch, called for the ban under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act passed in the state of Victoria in 2001. This is the same law that pastors Daniel Scot and Danny Nalliah were convicted under for "inciting hatred" in December 2004. In that case it was hatred against Muslims; in this case, Fletcher claims, it is hatred against witches. "It constitutes a personal danger to my health and safety within the prison system," he said, citing negative references to witchcraft in the course material. He is currently serving a 10 year prison sentence for sexually abusing two teenage girls.

The GOVERNMENT IN THE UK has tried to introduce similar legislation that will also ban incitement to religious hatred. However in order to pass an important bill through parliament before the general election, the government removed the hotly contested clause. Nevertheless, if re-elected, they have committed themselves to bringing it back in, and next time will use the Parliament Act to force it through. From the outset Barnabas Fund has claimed that such legislation presents unacceptable restrictions on religious freedom of expression in Britain. The usage of the law in Australia suggests that this will certainly be the case.

And in MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA this past week at Christchurch inaugural services more than 437 present and former members of Church of the Ascension showed up. Normal attendance at Ascension was usually 300, said a layman who wrote to VirtueOnline. Meeting at Unity Presbyterian Church, the crowd show up blew away all expectations. "We met at 1:30 Sunday afternoon; different time, different place. A feel of the Holy Spirit filled the crowd. We saw just about everyone that we normally see, plus many more others not counted on." It seems that Christchurch will align itself with a new Anglican Province in America. "We're not looking back. The bishops voted themselves control of the properties. It did not work."

And in the DIOCESE OF KANSAS the departure of Christ Church, Overland Park represents ten percent of the communicant strength of that diocese, wrote a VirtueOnline reader. A couple more departures like that and the diocese will have to borrow money just to pay the bishop's salary! Revisionists will never learn that when you abandon the faith don't expect the believers to jump onto your ship when it is full of holes.

And in GOOGLEFIGHT news it was learned that if you compare the number of results for two competing keywords Louie Crew and David Virtue the results make for interesting reading. Crew came up with 200,000 hits Virtue 3,210,000 hits! It seems sodomy trails orthodoxy in faith and morals by 16 to one.

WELCOME TO VIRTUEONLINE. Today's stories reflect only a portion of what you can find at the website www.virtueonline.org where stories are posted several times a day. Please make a point of dropping in, read the stories, make a comment if you wish at the end of any story you see and would like to comment on and sign the guest book.

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All blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

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