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Canterbury, ECUSA, Vancouver, C of E Synod...and more

"These difficulties are not all of a merely disciplinary nature, some extend to essential matters of faith and morals." Pope John Paul II to Archbishop Rowan Williams

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Three important events transpired this week.

THE FIRST was that the Archbishop of Canterbury said at the Church of England Synod meeting in Windsor that he supports the new network of orthodox dioceses, clergy and parishes set up in the US that oppose the homosexual consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson.

This is in direct contradiction to what Frank Griswold said in an interview with Beliefnet.

Dr. Williams, addressing the General Synod of the Church of England said that he had been following "sympathetically" the discussions about setting up a network to operate within the Episcopal Church of the United States.

THE SECOND EVENT was the meeting of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council in Tampa which reported a shortfall of $3 million in the 2004 budget, a drop of over 6 percent of the $48 million expected revenue.

The cause: parishes and dioceses withholding funds to protest the Robinson ordination. The revised budget was dropped to $45.1 million.

Julia Duin at the Washington TIMES observed that if 107 dioceses followed the lead of the Diocese of Virginia, the country's largest, which recently shaved $257,428 off its annual contribution to the New York-based denomination, the losses could be in the millions.

The national church headquarters alone has about $300 million in assets, its finance officer said. Denominational assets run into the billions when added to assets from 7,305 parishes: everything from the stained glass to the pews, altars and carpets.

Kurt Barnes, the national church's treasurer, called the lower contributions "almost not material" in the effect on church operations.

"The reduction is well below what nay-sayers and doomsdayers were predicting last August," Barnes said.

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold said the church intends to keep some vacant jobs open and trim other expenses, but added that its religious and charity missions will not be affected. He said church operations would be "slightly curtailed."

The national church has pledges of $16 million from 51 dioceses, along with pledges of future support from another 33 dioceses totaling $8.1 million. Two dioceses, Pittsburgh and Dallas, have refused to send any money to the national church in protest.

Bruce Mason, spokesman for the American Anglican Council, a conservative group of Episcopalians, said the reduction in financial support for the national church might be slight this year but that doesn't mean it will remain so.

Mason said some dioceses have tapped endowments to make up for parishioners' cutbacks.

The more than 7,000 congregations of the Episcopal Church receive $2.14 billion in offerings a year, and forward a portion to the national church. Individual dioceses are asked to send 21 percent of their income, but about half of the dioceses who have already made their financial pledges to the national church fall below that threshold.

And while the budget shortfall is small and will not effect much of anything, you can be sure that this is only just the beginning.

Virtuosity is receiving reports from across the country of parish and cathedral budgets experiencing dramatic drops in income. And it can only get worse. Every time a parish splits and the majority of its member leaves, that is a direct income loss to the parish, the diocese and ultimately to the national church. There is no escaping it.

Oftentimes it will cost more. In the end The Episcopal Church will operate more and more on Dead Men's Money, spent by a generation of Spiritually Dead Men and Women.

THE THIRD EVENT occurred at the Church of England Synod in Windsor where a report by four bishops called for "interpretive charity" between reformers and conservatives and a balancing of biblical teaching with social reality.

"Christian tradition is dynamic and not static," said revisionist Oxford Bishop Richard Harries. It was Harries, you will recall, that tried to broker in Jeffrey John as the next Bishop of Reading and got destroyed by Oxford's Evangelicals.

The report he and three other bishops compiled says the debate on sexuality will not go away and he urges Christians to remember that "real people really do have homosexual and bisexual desires."

The bishop is right of course, and occasionally this writer has a real desire to be a millionaire, but fantasy must give way to reality, and it ain't gonna happen.

Funnily enough, Richard Kirker, general secretary of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said the report was "very deficient". "No self-respecting gay or lesbian person has put their name to it. It talks to, rather than with or about, gay people, in any meaningful sense," he said.

So Harries report is being shot at from both sides. One sincerely hopes retirement is just around the corner for this bishop. He has done enough damage as Bishop of Oxford.

IN A QUESTION AND ANSWER PERIOD THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY again reiterated that he would not license New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson to officiate in England even though he was duly elected by ECUSA, but has said he will license Fr. David Moyer to officiate even though he was fraudulently "deposed" by Pennsylvania Bishop Charles E. Bennison - a double rebuke of ECUSA.

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF CHURCH SPLITS there is some oddly good news.

In almost every instance a parish that has left the Episcopal Church and gone to the AMIA or come under the authority of another Anglican jurisdiction they have started out in good financial shape. I am posting two stories of churches that are doing very well thank you very much.

Local communities and other churches kick in organs, chairs, hymn books, prayer books, start up money and a place to worship and much more. The Prince of Peace parish that split from St. John's in Melbourne, Florida met last week for the first time and when they had finished passing the hat around they had taken in $100,000! The new parish in Morehead City, North Carolina has been dubbed the "miracle church" for the abundance of riches bestowed upon them, and in Atlanta the new Light of Christ Church had pledges of $270,000 from 100 people. And a parish split in Jackson Tennessee already has a new group looking for a church to buy. There is clearly something galvanic about starting over free from the clutches of ECUSA that has people reaching deep into their pockets.

ON THE ECUSA SIDE OF THE FENCE comes this news from a Virtuosity reader. It is typical of most dioceses. A report from the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of Mississippi shows giving to the National Church will decline about $150,000 in 2004. The bishop is balancing his budget (as Virtuosity predicted) with trust funds.

AND THEN THERE'S THIS FROM A VIRTUOSITY READER in Williamsburg, VA. "There is lots of talk about money, but no one is really talking about the decline in volunteerism. One symptom in our church is that there are not enough volunteers to serve a Shrove Tuesday pancake supper - the people just don't have the heart to involve themselves with church business. The minister has responded by scrapping the pancake supper and substituting a bring your own meal dinner. There is no question that the church is hurting more than just financially. The 2003 convention has ripped the very heart out of most congregations and substituted suspicion and angst in its place. As far as I can tell, the revisionist inclusiveness doctrine would accept incest, bestiality and polygamy if modern society said it was OK - really sick."

FINALLY THERE'S A REPORT OUT OF THE ENGLISH SYNOD that the three wise men who visited Jesus might not have been men. The Magi could refer to three women, queens perhaps? I suppose we should be grateful that in the slightly crazed world of professional theologizing that the Magi's historic genealogy does not reach ECUSA's very own Quean Lutibelle.

AND IN A DESPERATE ATTEMPT TO SPIN THE LIBERAL LINE in the Anglican Communion, something called the Anglican Telecommunications Commission, dreamed up by John Peterson and the Anglican Consultative Council, as "an instrument of community" will attempt to use the Internet to push its "gospel", that is, " find meaning and significance in community with one another."

They use the term “telecommunications” in a broad sense to mean office and wider area networks, multimedia, online collaboration tools and other Internet and web-based services. A whole range of liberal Anglican illuminati can be found on this board. One insider said the real motivator for the emergence of this group is the rapid growth of orthodoxy on the Internet that is seriously damaging the liberal agenda.

They recently met in Canterbury where representatives from across the communion came to the inaugural meeting. The idea is that linking ECUSA's website with Nigeria will create Anglican clubiness! I can assure you that linking these two provinces is like connecting a spider web with a black widow in the middle. The imbalance, often called the “Digital Divide” is being addressed in dramatic ways by the Trinity Grants Program, of Trinity Church in NY, the richest church in the world, who will pour a ton of money into this project to see if they can undo the likes of Virtuosity. It's off to war we go.

And UPI Religious Affairs Editor Uwe Siemon-Netto reports that more than 50 million Americans, perhaps even twice as many, including a substantial segment of Catholics, consider themselves evangelicals, according to the Rev. Gerald R. McDermott, an Episcopal scholar. You can that story today.

I AM POSTING A NUMBER OF STORIES on churches dissolving, new ones forming and much more. From Puerto Rico comes fresh word that the Bishop there one David A. Alvarez is stepping up his campaign against two orthodox priests who did not approve of last year's General Convention votes on sexuality issues. He started this campaign once before but stopped when Virtuosity got wind of the story. Now he is trying for a second run at the Rev. Professor Dennis Paris, author and priest. Whoever said the revisionists believe in inclusion clearly is not reading from the same script as the rest of us. Inclusion means stamping out the opposition by any means possible or whipping them into line so they pay for the church's revisionist agenda. I have also done a lengthy interview (in two parts) with the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, orthodox Episcopal theologian. He makes the case for staying in the ECUSA torn as it is 'by heresies distressed.' And in LATE-BREAKING NEWS nine clergy in Western Canada have obtained Alternative Episcopal Oversight from four Anglican Primates. You can read all these stories and more in today's digest.

CORRECTIONS: From Bishop William J. Cox (ret.) Oklahoma. "I need to correct an article published on line by VIRTUOSITY VIEWPOINTS 1-31-2004. It is not true that Bishop Moody of Oklahoma "has stripped me of my Episcopal functions" The Bishop does not have that authority, although he could prohibit my ministry in congregations in his diocese. If he were to do that, I would respect his decision since he is the Bishop of Oklahoma and he has jurisdiction. Yet, he has not done that. I celebrate the Holy Eucharist almost every Sunday at St. John's Church in Tulsa. It is no secret that the Bishop and I are in disagreement on the issue of the Consecration of Vicky Gene Robinson in New Hampshire. I can never accept that decision of the General Convention for many reasons.

Guatemala is a diocese in the province of IARCA (IGLESIA ANGLICANA DE LA REGION CENTRAL DE AMERICA), it is not a province on its own. Virtuosity wrote: "A NUMBER OF ANGLICAN PROVINCES including Guatemala, Papua New Guinea, Kenya and the Sudan all expressed themselves in profound disagreement with the actions of the Episcopal Church this week. We are happy to correct the record.

In the story on Women and the cost to the C of E, the figures were wrong. Jonathan Petre's story said A326m which is $ 48.3m. The number 3 was in fact a pound sign. My error.

WELCOME TO VIRTUOSITY. If you are a first time reader and like what you read please pass the good word around and invite others to sign up. You can do so by pointing them to the website: www.virtuosityonline.org.

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Thank you for your support,

All blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

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