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CANADA: 37th General Synod opens...blessing same sex unions debated...

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

ST. CATHERINE'S, ONTARIO--The 37th General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada is underway here on the campus of Brock University, and it promises to be the most significant of all synods ever held, with decisions made that could set the course of the church on the road to renewal, or conversely continue its trajectory downward to decline and inevitably to its own demise.

Two decisions will determine the church's direction.

The first will be how the church votes on the blessings of same sex unions, and the second will be on who they elect as their next leader and primate.

A misstep on either subject could spell the church's end.

The blessing of same sex unions, a convulsive issue that is tearing at the heart of the Episcopal Church is also ripping at the very fabric of the Canadian church's 30 dioceses, with only 13 considered orthodox enough to resist changes to the church's received teaching.

The issue is whether General Synod will pronounce on this issue or toss it back to the dioceses. First discussions began on that yesterday.

The theme of this tri-annual event is, "See, I Am Making All Things New," but the subtext reads like something out of a United Religions Initiative Manual of Inclusive 'Wisdom' - a salad bowl of post-modern phrases designed to send the Global South bishops to their knees.

Here it is: "As Anglicans we live in a diversity of relationships, differing theological paradigms, unique challenges and controversies. At the same time, we are on the verge of new directions: a new strategic plan, the new agape a new Primate, and, we pray, a renewed sense of the church's unity in its diversity. We remain God's people, living in hope that grace is indeed stronger than any of our challenges; that God's faithfulness can indeed do more than we can ask or imagine."

The "diversity of relationships" is a big enough red flag to send orthodox believers scurrying for the hills with mothers gathering their children around them hoping and praying that such "diversity of relationships" doesn't include their precious Jane holding hands with Jill as they come marching through the front door of home.

It is passing strange that there was not one mention of Scripture or even a reference to the Book of Common Prayer, Lambeth Quadrilateral or the 39 Articles.

THE ANGLICAN CHURCH OF CANADA is in lockstep with The Episcopal Church USA on sexuality issues and so it comes as no surprise, therefore, that this year's guest preacher to the some 500 assembled here (300 are delegates), is none other than Frank Tracy Griswold, the ECUSA presiding bishop.

He will be greeted as the reigning hero of pansexuality and conquering Caesar of inclusivity, never mind that some 55 million Anglicans have ceased to recognize him, won't have him near their provinces, and if he doesn't repent of his actions for consecrating V. Gene Robinson the homoerotic Bishop of New Hampshire, he will be neutralized at all future primatial gatherings with no voice, no vote.

It is significant too, that among the list of Ecumenical visitors that usually turns up to these Synodical gabfests is the absence of a Roman Catholic Church representative. Nobody can recall a time when Rome did not send, at the very least, an observer. The Canadian Council of Churches is, of course here, as is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, The United Church of Canada, the ECUSA and from overseas The Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia and the Church of Ceylon, Diocese of Colombo, the latter two both liberal in faith and morals. Canadian Church Media spokesman Sam Carrier said the partners have to be paid to come and there wasn't enough money to bring everyone in. The Council of Churches representative and the overseas visitors exhausted their funds, he said.

Also notably absent are any representatives from the vast orthodox body of the Global South - Africa, South East Asia and the Southern Cone.

There will, of course, be the now standard talk on HIV/AIDS in Africa by UN special envoy Stephen Lewis, but there was no invitation extended to Uganda Anglican Archbishop Henry Orombi on how AIDS is on the decline in his country because of sound biblical teaching on sexual morality. That is not on the agenda. Such talk would only offend Canada's already pain-filled and much aggrieved gay Anglican community.

One ray of hope and light is the organization ESSENTIALS CANADA that has brought together all the orthodox forces within the Canadian Anglican Church. Their equivalent in The Episcopal Church is the American Anglican Council - both ministries being the church's loyal opposition.

They have set up shop at Concordia Lutheran Seminary on the grounds of Brock University and are preparing strategies on how to handle resolutions on same sex issues.

ESSENTIALS hit a temporary road block this week when they were hauled in for a friendly chat with the campus authorities following a scurrilous letter loaded with innuendo written by the Archdeacon of the Diocese of Niagara to campus and regional police urging action against the group and another group from Texas that has yet to materialize. You can read that story today. The Bishop of Niagara Ralph Spence was visibly embarrassed by pointed questions from this writer about who authorized the letter, and flatly denied that he had done so.

When I challenged Archdeacon Bruce A. McPetrie and asked him point blank if he wrote that letter on his own recognizance or was he pushed to do so by his bishop, McPetrie replied: "I have done what I have done and I have nothing more to say."

Virtuosity: Who authorized you to write that letter?

McPetrie: "No comment."

Virtuosity: Who are the Texans coming here that you mentioned?

McPetrie: "We're finished."

Virtuosity: Thank you for your candor Archdeacon.

THE THREE CONTENDERS to be the next primate of Canada includes an evangelical, Bishop Don Ferris of Algoma, but the scuttlebutt has it that it will go to the revisionist Archbishop of Montreal, the Most. Rev. Andrew S. Hutchison who will continue the policies of his predecessor Michael Peers whose reign saw the church continue its steep decline - the legacy of a false inclusion and liberal theology. Hutchison is, I am told, a softer version of Michael Ingham the revisionist pro-gay Bishop of New Westminster, but he could turn out to be the iron fist in the velvet glove once he gets the top spot. Revisionist bishops have a way of turning out like that, based on what we now seeing in the US Episcopal Church.

Ingham fancied himself as a contender for the top job but when the votes were counted he got only three, one of which included himself, so a source told Virtuosity. His pal, the Most Rev. David Crawley, Acting Primate following Peer's retirement earlier this year probably voted for him as well. That leaves only Ingham's alter ego. Ingham has been in an aggrieved snit ever since. The bully of Vancouver as he has been dubbed by one theologian, is laying low these days, having not gone after the three priests who have pulled out of his diocese. Word has it he will step up to the plate, baseball bat in hand, once the Synod is over.

Looking at the Synod in session one sees an acre of gray heads. This group is sad, old and tired. There is no life in this party. One wonders if the Holy Spirit did a repeat of Acts 2 whether they would even notice.

I am posting a number of stories from the Canadian Synod for your interest and enlightenment.


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All blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

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