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Bonfire of the Sacristies...Easter chills...California expected to be defiant

"The unhappy first officer on the Titanic's bridge when it struck the iceberg is said to have shot himself in remorse before the liner sank; if he were an Episcopal bishop today, he would seek to inhibit the iceberg and issue statements deploring schism between the water-tight compartments. And if there is going to be one good, final and for-all-time demonstration of episcopal failure and the inadequacies of the whole sorry apparatus whereby the least-prepared are inducted into the ranks of the most-responsible, it is precisely the schism which now begins to loom iceberg-like over us as the General Convention of 2006 draws near." The Rev. Dr. Allen Guelzo in the BONFIRE OF THE SACRISTIES: TO THE 2006 GENERAL CONVENTION.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
4/19/2006

There are new predictions of what might happen at General Convention in June. As you know there is a battle going on between radical and moderate to liberal bishops over the Windsor Report. This emerged from the recent HOB meeting in Kansas and has been extensively written up by VOL.

The latest word is that ECUSA will endorse the Windsor Report saying we're sorry we created such a mess. But this will not stop one of the three gay candidates from getting elected in California. Why? Because Frank Griswold weighed in and asked that none be placed on the ballot and they went ahead and did it anyway. The true revisionists no longer totally trust him, so one of the gays will be elected because the Diocese of California wants to tell everyone to go stuff it. (Those are the nice words.)

However, if that happens, the consents to consecrate will be denied by the HOB, but California will go ahead and do the consecration and ECUSA's bishops will not discipline the California consecrators because, they will argue, the diocese has the ecclesiastical right to do it anyway and it is not their position to conform to the Windsor Report. This was the same argument Griswold used to the Primates over the Robinson consecration. We shall see.

IF YOU thought that the Episcopal Church might have gotten through Easter theologically unscathed, think again. Some of our leaders managed to makeover Easter to conform to the spirit of the age quite nicely thank you. Adjustments to the Easter service were made in various places around the country, most notably in Boston in the thoroughly revisionist Diocese of Massachusetts where pro-gay Bishop Tom Shaw lamentably runs the place.

At the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul in Boston, the congregation stripped Holy Week observances of traditional content that struck members as offensive. On Palm Sunday last weekend, parishioners heard an adapted Passion narrative that removed biblical language seen as blaming Jews for Jesus' crucifixion. And the hundreds who observed Good Friday didn't pray for those who haven't yet received "the Gospel of Christ" but for those untouched by "the grace of God" - a new gesture of respect for the Muslims who use the church for Friday worship.

The goal of these adjustments, said Cathedral Dean Jep Streit, is to reflect in practice who Jesus is and what he represents. And that message-refining process, he says, echoes the debate between orthodox believers and dissenters centuries ago. "We have this give and take through the first two or three centuries [after Christ's birth], and it continues today, as it should," he says.

The president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention Richard Land took a hearty swipe at this nonsense and said, "The same standards hold from age to age, regardless of who's in charge. You can have disagreements about doctrinal interpretations of particular issues - that's why we have Catholics, and we have Presbyterians, and we have Baptists, and we have Methodists.... But if you deny the resurrection [or other core teachings], well, according to historic Christianity, you are beyond the pale."

Not so, said the Rev. Jayne Oasin, a social justice officer for the Episcopal Church, USA. She said that "to consider there to be only one truth is to me a form of oppression."

There you have it. At the end, in the Episcopal Church, the TRUE oppressors are the orthodox who dare to say there is only one truth about who Jesus is, why he died on a cross for our sins and so much more. Oasin is parroting her uber-boss Frank Griswold who believes in pluriform truths at the expense of the one 'true' truth, that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

Is it any wonder then that as the orthodox in the ECUSA get painted more and more as the oppressors of those who desire all manner of freedoms both sexual and personal, that in time we will either have to leave or be forced out of the church? Those who desire unlimited and unfettered freedoms - sexual, social and personal cannot live with their alleged oppressors it is a contradiction in terms and offends their consciences.

Right now we are seeing orthodox clergy being oppressed and run out of town by revisionist bishops like John Howard, Gladstone "Skip" Adams, Drew Smith and many others. And that list will only increase with time as the "oppressors" come up against those who desire license in the name of "progressive Christianity", liberty and unlimited personal freedoms and those who allegedly hold the middle ground like the Via Media.

This lies at the very heart of the sexual revolution, begun in earnest in the 60s and now playing itself out in The Episcopal Church in the 21st Century. And it is this kind of sexual license that the deep thinkers in the Episcopal Church hopes the Global South will latch on to as they become more enlightened about the modern world that is yet to fully encroach on them.

But 9.2 million Ugandan Evangelical Anglicans and 18 million Nigerian Evangelical Anglicans are not going to buy into this, unless hell actually does freeze over.

BUT the ECUSA is not bullet proof even from within. Orthodox laity are getting roused up and a new organization LEAC - Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion is now in play in an effort to galvanize the rank and file to bring presentments against 35 bishops for ordaining V. Gene Robinson. You can read VOL's interview with Mr. James Ince in today's digest and how you can get on board.

NOW if you want to know where the ECUSA is actually heading, we got another glimpse this past week when a photo caption appeared in the Independent newspaper in Columbia County, NY (Albany Diocese) picturing a smiling and happy priest with a caption that read in large letters: "We don't ask if you believe what we believe. We ask if you will break bread with us before the Lord."

Underneath was a story saying that "open baptism" was now being offered at Christ Church Episcopal as part of its Easter Vigil service. Apparently the only requirement for people wishing to be baptized is that they show up a half hour ahead of the ritual and join a relatively brief baptismal recitation. The rector of Christ Church, Father John Perry, acknowledged that this type of baptism is a departure from Church practice, but he sees it as a gesture of welcome intertwined with one of the oldest and important events in the Episcopal Church, the Easter Vigil. "We feel strongly that the church should do all it can do to remove any barriers, real or imagined, that keep people from finding and expressing spirituality in church," says Fr. Perry

TRANSLATION. We are desperate for new members, and we will dumb down baptism, Holy Communion, the requirements for confirmation (if need be) just to get you in the door. Beliefs needed: minimal or none at all, come as you are, stay as you are. ALL WELCOME. This is the Episcopal Church of the 21st Century.

This, in essence captures the plight of the modern Episcopal Church. It doesn't matter what you believe (pluriform truths makes nonsense of absolute truth), but we want you to come in and share the Eucharist with us. So you can be a Jew, Buddhist, Muslim, Bahai, whatever, come on in and share with us...doctrine be damned. NOTE: There is no knowledge that the Diocese of Albany approved of what Fr. Perry did. Stay tuned.

BUT THE STORY OF THE WEEK comes from the Rev. Dr. Allen Guelzo, professional historian, world authority on Abraham Lincoln and Episcopal priest whom Bishop Charles Bennison refuses to license in the Diocese of Pennsylvania because of his orthodoxy. His article titled BONFIRE OF THE SACRISTIES: TO THE 2006 GENERAL CONVENTION is a must read.

Some choice paragraphs: "We should content ourselves with the realization that Episcopalianism is a mandarin taste in religion (like Shostakovich or crème brule) and not worry our heads over what is, in reality, a mark of cultural superiority."

Or this: "If the General Convention has any hope of avoiding the shipwreck that, at this moment, seems surely before it, then this hope can be based only upon the sufferings of Christ. "The church lives true to itself when she obeys the call to take up the cross," wrote N.T. Wright over a quarter-century ago, "If that means self-denial at a personal level, at a corporate level it will mean that tradition and custom and fashionable ideas are all to be laid on the altar before God to be sacrificed. ...A church that seeks merely to save its life, merely to preserve itself for posterity, will lose it." If the dissidents are prepared to throw all their lives, careers, properties, pensions and what-not into the cauldron of Christ's suffering, and walk away as though these things never existed or never mattered...if they are ready to rebuke themselves for having broken the unity of the Body of Christ and offer full and meet repentance for an action that they know to be tragic rather than celebratory...and if they are then prepared to go forward without a look back to the Church, but only forward to the Kingdom of God...then they will be irresistible."

A former ECUSA priest wrote saying that this is perhaps the most thorough big-picture" explanation of where both we "dissidents" (although I would prefer to be called something else) and others in ECUSA are, and how we got here. Some of it fits so closely in the Diocese of Florida as to be painful. For example: "The result is that many second-careerists enter the priesthood ...when they will not be able to acquire sufficient years of parish service to deepen their understanding of what pastoral administration is all about. Let them become bishops, and they will fall back on the reflexes of their first careers, and a great deal of what we have seen in the way of inhibitions and canonical proceedings reflects exactly that - the response, either of irritated bureaucrats for whom my-way-or-the-highway is the operating principle, or (worse) of inexperienced bureaucrats who are afraid to be seen as weak in front of the long-service office-holders in diocesan headquarters."

If you missed the story you can read it here: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3886

In the DIOCESE OF CENTRAL NEW YORK in the case of Fr. David Bollinger versus Bishop Gladstone "Skip" Adams, the judge denied the motion to dismiss the case and said Bollinger's $4.35 million lawsuit would continue. The priest from St. Paul's, Owego will have his day in court on June 16. You can read the full story in today's digest.

IT is open season on the Da Vinci Code, and even the Archbishop of Canterbury weighed in on Dan Brown's book this past week. Dr Williams said that conspiracy theories would not undermine the truth of the Gospel. Dr. Thomas Wright, the Bishop of Durham, said that an "ethically confused, navel-gazing society" had made Dan Brown's novel a bestseller. You can read more stories in today's digest.

AND THIS from The Anglican Theological Review Jan. 1980 Vol.LXII No.1) "Theology and Religious Renewal"

"...Prayer Book revision. After beginning in the 1950's with fervent protestations that no theological change was to be contemplated or tolerated, the Standing Liturgical Commission (SLC) grew progressively more silent on the subject in the face charges by the... (Prayer Book Society [PBS]) that this was indeed what was happening. No matter what one may think of the PBS, we know they are correct. The 1979(BCP) indicates a notable shift in theology fr1979 prayer book/1928 BCPom the The 1928(BCP)."

AND TO LET YOU know that orthodox parishes have a strong social conscience the Anglican Communion Network focused in on St. Luke's Church, Akron, Ohio and showed it had a big heart for the world. They loaded 1,000 sheets of drywall onto tractor trailers headed for Pearlington, Mississippi to rebuild churches and homes. They also repaired 150 donated bicycles onto a container bound for Liberia to provide transportation for pastors and workers. They also collected hundreds of pounds of donated formula, medical supplies, clothing and food for shipment to the Children's Infectious Disease Hospital in Kharkov, Ukraine. The Network parish has a mission's ministry that reaches around the globe. The 40-year-old parish of 500 congregants commits one-third of its annual budget to support missions in countries like Ukraine, Mexico, Brazil, Kenya, Liberia, Uganda, and Afghanistan as well as supporting ongoing local and domestic outreach.

Since November 2005, St. Luke's has been under the pastoral care of the Rt. Rev. Frank Lyons, Bishop of Bolivia, and is now part of the International Conference of the Anglican Communion Network. The Anglican Communion Network now boasts some 900 parishes and over 2200 clergy.

THE SICK DEPRAVED WEBSITE Soft Skull Press, the publishing company that will print Bishop Gene Robinson's book can be found on the notorious sexual blog site: Myspace.com. Click on: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=1296013 and check out the bizarre sexuality of this website. (If you are underage or squeamish do NOT check it out).

THE Archbishop of York revived the baptism rite of full immersion in a heated swimming pool. Dr John Sentamu baptized four people by total immersion in a specially erected inflatable pool, outside the church of St Michael-le-Belfrey, close to York Minster. Baptism by total immersion has always been regarded as valid by the Church of England but has been rare because of the practical difficulties. It is a much more common custom in Africa, where the archbishop was born.

A NEW ORTHODOX PARISH in the DIOCESE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE is open for business. St Michael's Anglican Church has a new location. Starting June 4th they will meet at the Grange at 21 Charles St Rochester NH. Sunday morning services at 9:30am. The parish now has 50 people on Sunday mornings. "We have hired a choir director who used to be with the Wolfborough Episcopal church and decided he could not work for them any longer. He started worshiping with us and we decided to hire him. Our newly formed choir is awesome and he has made a difference," said Lisa Ball, St. Michael's Rectors Warden.

In the DIOCESE OF NEW YORK THE Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, is in serious financial trouble according to the New York Times. To help the unfinished cathedral which is running a debt of up to $1 million a year and facing up to $20 million in maintenance expenses, the cathedral is trying to develop two underutilized perimeter parcels on its property. The Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, dean of the cathedral, told the New York Times in an April 4 article that income from the two parcels might generate up to $5 million annually to support the cathedral's mission, helping the cash-starved institution increase its small endowment, undertake deferred maintenance and meet operating costs.

THE Episcopal Province of New England has called a new executive director to empower ministry in the Episcopal Church in New England," Bishop Chilton R. Knudsen of Maine, president of the Province of New England (Province One), announced recently.

"The job, as I have seen it, is a ministry of relationship, a ministry of connection," said Susan Ohlidal of the Diocese of Vermont. No mention of "connecting" with the gospel and making disciples in Vermont, or helping people to get into a vital "relationship" with Jesus Christ.

A COMMON CAUSE note. The American Anglican Convocation a partner in the Anglican Communion Network and the Anglican Diocese of the Good Shepherd are pleased to announce that they have completed their merger. The process of unification, begun formally in Oklahoma City less than one year ago, was given final approval at an extraordinary meeting wherein both Houses of Bishops and both Standing Committees gave their unanimous approval. The Rt. Rev. Melvin Pickering will continue as Bishop Ordinary of the ADGS, which, together with its missionary areas (which will become dioceses in their own right, under their respective suffragans, on Pentecost) have joined the American Anglican Convocation. The Rt. Rev. Martin Sigillito will continue as Presiding Bishop of the American Anglican Convocation

LORD GEORGE CAREY is taking it in the neck from a number of liberal Church of England bishops who think he is being disloyal to the present Archbishop of Canterbury. Not true said Carey. You can read a VOL exclusive on Carey's recent take on the Tel Aviv suicide bombing and a personal letter he wrote to a Jewish professor in England

THE enemy of my enemy is my friend so the saying goes. The attached link will take you to excerpts from an interview on Al Jazeera TV with an Arab woman (Wafa Sultan) who is a practicing psychologist in LA. This lady describes herself as a secular Muslim. She has insights and wisdom that one rarely sees or hears. She is bold in her pronouncements. http://switch3.castup.net/cunet/gm.asp?ai=214&ar=1050wmv&ak=null. This is not for the faint hearted.

THE STAGE IS set at General Convention for the election of the 26th Presiding Bishop on June 18 at the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Columbus, Ohio. The Presiding Bishop will succeed Frank Tracy Griswold, whose nine-year term ends on November 1. At least seven names will be formally submitted to a 2:30 p.m. joint session of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies on Saturday, June 17, including a slate of four recommended by the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop.

WE ARE ONLY A FEW WEEKS AWAY FROM GC2006 and VOL urgently needs funds for this major, perhaps last momentous event for the orthodox in the ECUSA. VirtueOnline is trying to raise $25,000 to cover costs for staff; travel, hotels, meals, Internet connection, and coffee to keep us up 12-14 hours a day to bring you the news. A trip to Africa follows the convention to bring a number of Primates up to speed. Stories will be posted to the website www.virtueonline.org hourly and a digest cut every two days.

You will get a front row seat, so please take a moment and sit down and write a tax deductible check to:

VIRTUEONLINE
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THANK YOU

All blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

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