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Courageous Battles of the Orthodox

"If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself." St. Augustine of Hippo

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Across the country biblically orthodox parishes and their rectors are waging courageous battles. From New Westminster, to North Dakota, from Montana to Tennessee, from Southern Virginia, to Albany and even in New Hampshire, the battle rages. No diocese is unaffected.

Funds are being withheld at record levels: They are down $1.2 million in Nth. Carolina; $900,000 in Virginia, $950,000 in D.C. and a senior warden said that the cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC is down $3 million in pledges for 2004 and so on. This takes two forms. The first is a deliberate withholding of funds to the diocese by wealthy parishes, and secondly those parishes that are not taking in enough to pay their diocesan pledge over and above their assessment. (One is mandatory the other is optional). At St. John's Cathedral, in Albuquerque, N.M., Dean Alan G. Dennis noted the cathedral had a shortfall of $300,000 to meet basic mission needs. Pledges are down $107,000 from a year ago, according to last Sunday's (January 25) bulletin. This is being repeated across the nation.

The national church is losing funds left and right from dioceses both orthodox and heterodox. And by all accounts it is going to get worse. There would seem to be no way back unless legal threats of coercion are made and ecclesiastical action is taken by revisionist bishops whose final recourse is the Canons and Constitutions.

What is happening in some dioceses is that revisionist bishops are drawing down from their own Trust Funds to keep the national church afloat and making the numbers look better than they really are. So it is unlikely that Griswold and the Executive Council will feel any immediate pain. That might be a year or two away. But that there is a slow imploding going on cannot be denied.

In the end all that heterodox bishops have are threats and coercion, but even they can't hold people back from leaving. If all a revisionist bishop has at the end of the day is a property and monies he is left with dust and ashes. For what shall it profit a bishop if he should gain all the parishes and all their monies but lose the people and ultimately his own soul?

God will not be mocked. He may no longer rain down fire and brimstone from heaven, but He can and does withdraw his Holy Spirit, and in the end that is a whole lot worse. What is left will wither and die on the vine - the end of pansexualism is perversity writ large.

IN VERSAILLES, KENTUCKY, where Bishop Stacy Sauls pulled the plug prematurely on St. John's, attendance at the main (9 am) service last Sunday was about 27 (down from c. 125+). A group was busy writing personal notes to the break-aways asking them to "come home", a source wrote Virtuosity. The St. Andrew's group is meeting at a building located in Falling Springs Park on the edge of town. They have hired their own priest and they are ready to rock n roll. Bishop Sauls may have "won" the property, but he lost the people. Some victory. You can read stories about that in today's digest. I am indebted to John Lockwood for his able reporting of the situation there.

AND IN THE DIOCESE OF WASHINGTON this week the convention tabled indefinitely a motion to vote on the 39 articles, Nicene Creed, and the statement that Holy Scriptures have all things necessary for salvation. Fr. Tom Logan of Calvary, D.C introduced the resolution. It was based on Resolution B001 sponsored by Bishop Keith Ackerman (Quincy) at the last General Convention. Extreme revisionist John Vanderstar voted to table it. Fr. Dick Downing, another revisionist, spoke against it, as did former Integrity President Fr. Michael Hopkins. No surprise there. That diocese is driven totally by sexuality issues not Scripture.

SO WHAT EXACTLY IS GOING ON in dioceses like Florida where the new Bishop John Howard says he will not allow same-sex marriages nor will he ordain gay priests but won't sign on to the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes?

People are calling and writing Virtuosity saying they are confused. Be confused no more. What is happening is this. Bishops like Howard are walking a tightrope. He has a dozen parishes that are withholding funds, he has liberal parishes and priests that don't like orthodoxy, so he must throw them a bone and play the corporate game. For example a resolution to declare the diocese autonomous failed. On the other hand Howard said he intended to explore membership irrespective of the vote. And then some orthodox delegates who did not withdraw their funding said a decision NOT to join could push them from out of the diocese. So Howard plays it down the middle. He is against the national church's bizarre sexuality, but he won't sign on to the NACDP. It's called stayin' alive. The question must be asked is why he wanted the job so badly at a time he knew it would be nothing but trouble? The call of the Purple must be awfully compelling.

In CENTRAL FLORIDA, Bishop John W. Howe has signed on to the NADCP but not to the AAC. And he has just lost a parish to the AMIA. Are you confused? Trust me when I tell you it is going to get a lot murkier and worse before it gets better. But it should be noted that the Howe/AMIA precedent is no help to those parishes who want to keep their property. Charles Bennison (Pennsylvania) would be happy if Fr. Moyer and his congregation moved to the basement of a Baptist church.

But the departure of St. John's in Melbourne was handled well by all accounts. There was a three-hour service in which the church was packed. Prayer and praise was offered and the meeting was decent and orderly, loving of others, respectable. A vote was taken. Those voting totaled 362. Bishop Howe made a 25-minute presentation followed by a DVD of Bishop Chuck Murphy (AMIA) with CEO Tim Smith present and Fr. John Miller. A vote was taken. Only members 16 and older in good standing with St. John's were qualified to vote. Each person had to sign his ballot. 282 voted to leave ECUSA and join AMiA. 62 voted to remain at St. John's. 18 abstained from voting.

Canon David Lord, the new Vicar, was introduced by Bishop Howe who later met in the parish hall with the 62 choosing to remain.

The outgoing rector Fr. Miller had prepared a letter to all parishioners, to be picked up on the way out of the building. Included in the envelope were directions to the meeting place of Prince of Peace Anglican Church, the newly incorporated church. Parishioners of Prince of Peace will be able to contribute to the new church immediately. "We walked away with not so much as a paper clip," said a Virtuosity reader.

"Our Father's House, a Southern Baptist Church until about a year ago, is across the river. They have opened their facilities and office equipment to us. We will worship at 8:30 next Sunday, February 8, followed by a fellowship period and Sunday School. While we are in Sunday School, their church service will be held. God is good!" she wrote. "This was a spirit-filled service that honored our risen Lord."

Score one for both sides. Perhaps revisionist bishops like Charles Bennison and Tom Shaw could learn a thing or two from bishops like Howe about how to handle graciously those who disagree with them.

In a real power play reminiscent of Tammany Hall politics, the annual convention of the DIOCESE OF TENNESSEE stalled because revisionist priests used underhanded and possibly illegal tactics to prevent parishes redirecting their funds away from the National Church to the diocese, whose bishop is the righteous Bert Herlong. You can read that story today. The convention adjourned without voting on several controversial resolutions. They will have to have another convention to deal with all the issues. So much for peace, love, kisses, diversity and comprehensiveness from the revisionists.

And in the DIOCESE OF TEXAS we have this from Rick Kercheval. "Bishop Don Wimberly of Diocese of Texas, votes for the truth and says some of the right things at Convention yet his true colors were revealed in a letter to the clergy and diocese right before council in which 4 resolutions were to be brought to the floor confirming a stance against the cult leadership of the Episcopal Church now in place, defining marriage, and reaffirming Scripture as our only source of behavior and authority. He explains that, "We are called to be focused on our mission and vision and not to be sidetracked by the winds of doctrine." (Page 1 2nd column). He also shuts down introduction of the resolutions (found on the Diocesan information page) by Godly council, which means no one in the clergy had dare cross him without defrocking threat. In effect, he has killed any chance for this diocese to turn it around since many pledging families were hanging on by the fingernails in order to see the 'light and truth' fought for.

In the DIOCESE OF WEST TENNESSEE, Bishop Don E. Johnson's pastoral letter of January 15 has affected the climate in the diocese in interesting ways. In response, some laity have organized a meeting to be held of February 12 at Independent Presbyterian Church in East Memphis. An official from AAC will be on hand to make a presentation about the real purposes of AAC. All are invited. Bishop Johnson has been personally invited.

Then, on February 14 at 9:00 a.m., Presbyterian theologian Dr. Robert Gagnon will appear at All Saints' Episcopal Church to speak on The Bible and Human Sexuality. Bishop Johnson has been informed and invited to this as well. This conference gives anyone who really wants to understand what the Bible says about human sexuality in general, and homosexuality in particular.

On February 20-21 at their Diocesan convention two resolutions will be presented. One will uphold the teachings of Christ as it relates to heterosexual marriage and the other asks the diocese to repudiate the confirmation and consecration of the Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of New Hampshire and the recognition of the blessing of same sex unions.

And from the DICOESE OF NORTH CAROLINA comes word that Bishop Suffragan J. Gary Gloster Bishop has resigned. He will undoubtedly be replaced a fellow liberal traveler. The notion of someone orthodox replacing him is almost as laughable as an orthodox bishop being enthroned in the Diocese of Newark. He's out the door August of this year.

IN LATE BREAKING NEWS All Saints in Anchorage, Alaska, has been given permission to have adequate Episcopal oversight. Their overseeing bishop will be Terry Buckle from the Diocese of the Yukon, Canada. Kudos for this goes to Bishop Mark MacDonald for taking the high road. He has set a precedent, perhaps others will now follow. This was the same bishop who faced presentment from the Canadian House of Bishops because he offered episcopal oversight to 11 priests and their parishes in the Diocese of New Westminster, where the bully Michael Ingham reigns.

RUMORS THAT THE RADICAL REVISIONIST VIA MEDIA GROUPS springing up in orthodox dioceses to manipulate the process to put in revisionist bishops were being funded by the Episcopal Church Foundation in New York are not true.

VIRTUOSITY spoke with Dr. Bill Anderson president of ECF who said that his organization, which is separate from the Episcopal Church, was not funding these groups.

"The Foundation has, since 1964, played a key role in expanding the ranks of learned leadership for the church. The Doctoral Fellowship Program they operate supports promising scholars who are planning teaching careers in theological education in the Episcopal Church. Fellows are chosen based on both their academic skill and ability to share their specialized knowledge with the broader church", Anderson told Virtuosity.

A Conference on Reconstructing Anglican Comprehensiveness sponsored by the ECF is being held at Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, Alabama. Virtuosity will post significant papers from this conference including one by the Rev. Dr. Paul Zahl, the cathedral Dean. Zahl is one of the truly bright lights in ECUSA. He holds a doctorate from Tubingen and he has done brilliantly building up the congregation at the cathedral. It will probably come as no surprise that his bishop, Henry Parsley, an abject liberal, is no friend of the good Dean.

The conference "Reconstructing Comprehensiveness" aims to examine and provide strengthening intelligence for the church about the transformational power of faithful disagreement.

FAITHFUL ANGLICANS IN THE HEARTLAND, Inc., Mainstream Anglicans in the Episcopal Church are inviting you to join them as a testimony to God's faithfulness.

They write: "Are you grieving and angry about the recent actions of General Convention to affirm the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire and to acknowledge that same sex unions are being blessed in some dioceses? Sadly it seems our church has left us...

So we are inviting mainstream Anglicans and others in the Evansville - Tri-State area to join us in the formation and establishment of an Adequate Episcopal Oversight Congregation, NOW! If you want to join up drop them a line at: PO Box 23171 Evansville, IN 47724.

PURPLE DISEASE

After several years of combined research, doctors from around the world issued a warning today on the dangers of wearing ecclesiastical purple. While the doctors are still trying to find the origin of the disease, they issued the following symptoms.

1. One of the immediate reactions to putting on ecclesiastical purple is a disintegration of the backbone. This in turn opens the spinal cord to outside pressures of the world.

2. Pressures on the spinal cord cause swelling of the brain which lead to cowardice, irrational behavior, double-talk, and self-righteousness. These behavioral traits are paralleled with visions of grandeur and godness.

3. Sufferers tend to hear voices, which they attribute to heavenly sources.

4. Sufferers also have an uncontrollable need to be right in every situation. Here their use of double-talk is invoked.

5. In the final stages, deterioration of the brain continues and one may only retire and enjoy the fruits of a large retirement system.

Preliminary reports suggest that plants used to make the dye for ecclesiastical purple may contribute to this disease. Further research and study will surely add to the revelations of this disease. In the meantime, researchers suggest that people wearing ecclesiastical purple be avoided.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke (1729-1797), Irish philosopher, statesman. The orthodox bishops in ECUSA must move beyond pep rallies to action. On a Sunday in the near future all of them must cross Diocesan and minister to orthodox parishes in revisionist dioceses. Otherwise nothing will happen and those parishes will surrender or their members will leave ECUSA. Promises were made at Plano. Those promises must be turned into action.

AND THEN THERE IS THIS LINE FROM A VIRTUOSITY READER; "Maybe the symbol on the ECUSA flag should be an ostrich. Take away the pomp, ceremony and embroidered vestments and you have a bunch of Unitarians who like drama."

I AM POSTING A NUMBER OF STORIES for your interest and enlightenment. Virtuosity is adopting a policy that it will post stories surrounding events going on in the ECUSA midweek and internationally on the weekend. All stories are posted to the website daily. They can also be found in the ARCHIVES. Go to www.virtuosityonline.org.

VIRTUOSITY has had more than 800,000 hits to its website. PLEASE INVITE people to check us out. There is no longer any need to stay in the dark about what is going on in The Episcopal Church. None. The choice is entirely yours and theirs.

VIRTUOSITY also needs your support. Without it we cannot survive. You can make a tax-deductible donation at the PAYPAL link at the website: www.virtuosityonline.org or you can send a check to VIRTUOSITY, 1236 Waterford Road, West Chester, PA 19380. Thank you for your support.

All blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

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