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Denial over for Griswold...no fudge Lambeth Commission report...ECUSA news...

"Those made alive by the Spirit grounded in sacred scripture come to these times confidently." Methodist theologian Thomas Oden

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Panic, or perhaps the realization that the days of denial are over, have finally dawned on Frank Griswold, the Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop. Confirmed reports say that Griswold is flying to London tomorrow to consult Archbishop Rowan Williams over the looming crisis. While he is scheduled to preach at St. Paul's next Sunday there can be little doubt that he will be talking at length with Dr. Williams about the consequences for himself personally of the Lambeth/Eames Commission report. Two stories, one written by your scribe about the Lambeth Commission and another by Ruth Gledhill of the London Times, documents the 'inside story' and it does not make for pleasant reading for ECUSA's pansexualists.

The plain facts are that the Lambeth/Eames Commission report will not be an Anglican fudge. The report is going to have teeth; it will be disastrous for the Anglican Communion's pansexualists; there will be some kind of "formal suspension" of The Episcopal Church, following which there will be a radical restructuring of the Anglican Communion that could see the dissolution of the Anglican Communion Office in London because of its ultra-liberal pro-Western stance.

The Queen has apparently made it clear to Dr. Williams that she will not permit the break up of the Anglican Communion over the gay issue, and that Williams must do everything to see that the orthodox are not "penalized" for their views, sources in London told Virtuosity. Clearly the Primate of Nigeria, Peter Akinola is not to be trifled with; at the end of the day he might have more power than Dr. Williams. He can galvanize 50 million African Anglicans. Williams cannot. You can read the full story in today's digest.

And to add to the pyrotechnics of the whole situation, Primate Henry Orombi of Uganda will consecrate Sandy Millar of Holy Trinity, Brompton, as 'Bishop in Mission' to serve in London to look after the ALPHA churches. He has done this with the blessing of both the Bishop of London Richard Chartres and Dr. Williams!

The Rev. Millar, has helped pioneer the Alpha course that has revived evangelical Christianity in Britain and worldwide. What is going on here is a quid pro quo for evangelicals who are bloody furious over the appointment of Jeffrey John as Dean of St. Alban's. The wannabe gay bishop of Reading is giving the Church of England's evangelicals apoplectic fits and they were ready to import orthodox African or Asian bishops for confirmations and other services. Now they will be able to call on Bishop Millar, one of the international evangelical movement’s most respected figures to perform these ecclesiastical functions. Ironically Bishop Chartres is no liberal, he is an Anglo-Catholic and not unsympathetic to the demands of the Evangelicals in his diocese.

Perhaps ECUSA's revisionist bishops could take a lesson from his Book of Inclusion about how to handle marginalized orthodox priests in the U.S. He has clearly taken the high road and is prepared to make the compromises in the name of a greater unity.

Now you will recall the last time Griswold sped across the waves in fear and loathing was over the consecration of two bishops to the newly formed Anglican Mission in America. Clearly he is starting to feel the pain of possible Exclusion from the Primatial Club, and you can be sure that "talks" with Williams will include money (which ECUSA has lots of while the C of E has less and less of) and the future of The Episcopal Church itself in the Anglican Communion. Stay tuned.

THE OTHER MAJOR EVENT of the past week was the ESSENTIALS conference in Ottawa, Canada that your scribe attended and which I have reported on at length in today's digest.

These are Canada's orthodox Anglicans. Some 700 of them met at Bethel Pentecostal Church in Ottawa to affirm before the world three things: First a renewed Canadian Anglican "orthodox" that aims at recovering the principles of their heritage. Secondly, a mutual determination to support and expand orthodox Anglican ministry in Canada, and thirdly to unite with faithful orthodox believers within the worldwide Anglican Communion.

These orthodox believers are still in a state of shock over the passage of a resolution at their last General Synod that affirmed the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships. They have taken up arms against a troubled church and they are fighting back with all that they have for the sake of the integrity of the gospel.

Present on this occasion were a half dozen ECUSA bishops including Bob Duncan (Pittsburgh); Ed Salmon (SC), Dan Herzog and David Bena (Albany), Peter H. Beckwith (Springfield) as well as Archbishop Greg Venables (Southern Cone). Virtuosity obtained an exclusive interview with the orthodox Primate and you can read that interview today. Venables is one of the youngest and brightest of the Primates and his letters to Griswold condemning him for compromising the gospel will go down as masterpieces of ecclesiastical writing. Also present for the occasion was American Anglican Council (AAC) leader Canon David C. Anderson.

Among the things these Canadian Anglicans did was to announce the formation of a new Network and Federation to tie them together, and to forge links with the Network of orthodox Episcopalians in the U.S.

Very clearly there is a picture emerging here that should not be missed. Take the U.S. Network plus the AAC, add the formation of a new Anglican Aid organization to support the Global South; then link it to orthodox Canadian Anglicans and before you know it you have a cross-jurisdictional, non-geographic province led by Network leader "Presiding Bishop" Robert Duncan, fully recognized by the Global South as the ONLY authentic voice of Anglicanism in North America, totally isolating the Episcopal Church. Brilliant, might be one word to describe it. One can see the makings of an endorsable strategy here. I talked with Bishop Duncan following his speech to this ESSENTIALS conference, and you can read his thoughts in today's digest.

Might one see in the not too distant future, a grand coalescence of pan-orthodox jurisdictions, evangelical and Anglo-Catholic on the North American continent? It is not out of the realm of possibility.

In the DIOCESE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA on Vancouver Island in Nanaimo, BC Anglican rector Tom Semper was asked to resign after a petition on same-sex unions went to the bishop. The struggle in the Anglican Church about blessing same-sex couples has now focused on St. James Anglican Church, (and temporarily away from Vancouver, BC) and its conservative rector. Following the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, the diocese under its new Bishop, Jim Cowan, asked Semper for his resignation, and Semper submitted it. He is now no longer licensed to practice as a parish priest and is no longer a member of the Anglican Church of Canada. The majority of his congregation has left as well: Another example of neo fascist inclusivity.

And to cap Canada's humiliation, the Pope denounced gay marriages this week. Pope John Paul kept up his campaign against gay marriage telling the ambassador from Canada -- where some provinces allow same-sex couples to wed -- that such unions create a "false understanding" of marriage. Do you think the Anglican Church of Canada is listening?

While property issues and the Dennis Canon continue to weigh heavily on the hearts and minds of ECUSA's orthodox priests under siege by revisionist bishops, they can take heart that the three parishes in the DIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES who left the diocese, Bishop Jon Bruno and ECUSA can be optimistic on the issues of their church property. Charles Nalls of the Canon Law Institute says the decision in California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church et Al., v. St. Luke's United Methodist Church marks the reaffirmation of the "neutral principles" analysis of the 1981 Barker case--an action in which three of four defendant parishes avoided the effect of ECUSA's claimed trust.

The Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court that the evidence presented at trial supported the trial court's conclusion that a trust in favor of both churches was created. Significantly, however, the appellate court sided with the congregation and found that it could and in fact did revoke the trust which had existed in favor of the United Methodist Church.

ONE OF THE MOST MOVING presentations at the ESSENTIALS conference was the stories told by three Anglican ex-gays. A woman and two men, (two were priests) told moving stories of liberation from the bondage of homosexuality, abuse, pornography and rape. Their stories brought tears to the eyes of many. You can read their stories today.

Canadian theologian Douglas Farrow gave a paper "Ecclesial Existence Today" which is long and can be read in its entirety at the Virtuosity website. He maintains that the crisis in the Anglican Church of Canada does not concern the word Anglican, but the word Church.

ACROSS THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH, orthodox dioceses and parishes are in a continuing state of crisis with their revisionist bishops.

In the DIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES this week, revisionist Bishop Jon Bruno continued to ratchet up the pressure on the three departing parishes by announcing that he was sending in his assistant bishops to oversee the churches. It never happened. No church-goers were locked out of the three Sunday morning services at St. James Church. Instead, church-goers got a visit from the Rt. Rev. Maurice Benitez, retired bishop from the Diocese of Texas. He urged his hearers to focus not on the past, but on the future, on what lies ahead. Their new ecclesiastical bishop, Evens M. Kisekka of the Diocese of Luweero sent his blessings. The previous week, Bruno had ordered the parishes to give up their church buildings, financial records, even prayer books and hymnals. They told him to go fly a '79 Prayer Book.

In the DIOCESE OFALABAMA, the Rev. William Wilson a priest who was on the staff of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Mountain Brook for four years has left the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama. Wilson had objected to the Episcopal Church's consecration of V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, and said "It's the end of the sacredness of sexuality. I do not think the Christian vision of sexuality includes sex outside marriage." Wilson applied for acceptance as a priest in the Anglican Diocese of Bolivia and was granted that recognition. He had hoped he would be allowed to function as a visiting Anglican priest in Alabama Episcopal churches, but that request was denied by Episcopal Bishop Henry N. Parsley. Instead, Parsley inhibited and deposed Fr. Wilson so that he could not serve as a priest in an Episcopal parish in the Diocese of Alabama; another fine example of inclusivity.

And in the DIOCESE OF MISSOURI, Bishop George Wayne Smith officially deposed the evangelical priest, the Rev. Paul Walter, rector of Church of the Good Shepherd in St. Louis this week. Walter is trying to keep his parish property and congregation and is up to his legal eyebrows in a fight with the bishop. He's in it for the long haul and is not in the least surprised by the bishop's action. More on this story in upcoming digests.

And if you were wondering about the consequences of consecrating V. Gene Robinson, Calvary Episcopal Church, a flagship parish in the DIOCESE OF WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA let it be known that for the first time in recent history, the 2004 proposed budget is in deep trouble. Money has been withheld from the National Church, many pledging church members have withheld or decreased their monetary pledges to the church and a few families have left the church altogether. Programs have been cut all over the place say Vestry leaders. The music/choir/organist program was cut 40% in 2004; Christian Formation/Youth program was cut 29%; Outreach was cut 57%. The deficit will be $76,500 by years-end. How can Calvary survive? It was once said, ‘If you are not growing you are dying’. The saying may have been meant for corporate business but it certainly applies to the Church.

And in the DIOCESE OF THE RIO GRANDE four candidates have been announced for bishop coadjutor to replace ailing Terence Kelshaw. They are: The Rev. Canon F. Brian Cox IV, Rector, Christ the King Episcopal Church, Santa Barbara, California, Diocese of Los Angeles. He's a hotshot church reconciler but hasn't made much headway of late with the church's revisionists and orthodox. He's orthodox. The Rev. Dr. Ronald W. Jackson Rector, St. Luke of the Mountains La Crescenta, California, Diocese of Los Angeles is orthodox, Virtuosity was told. The Rev. Martyn Minns, Truro Church, Fairfax, Virginia, Diocese of Virginia is an Evangelical and the odds on favorite, but has been running for bishop more times than there are miters in the Diocese of Virginia and Washington put together. The Very Rev. Dr. Graham Michael Smith, Rector, St. David’s Episcopal Church Glenview, Illinois, Diocese of Chicago is also orthodox and sits on the board of the Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD) in Washington, DC.

In the DIOCESE OF SAN DIEGO four priests and a Canadian bishop have been nominated as candidates for election to succeed Bishop Gethin Hughes as the fourth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego. The five nominees are Bishop Anthony Burton of the Diocese of Saskatchewan in Canada; the Rev. Jonathan B. Coffey Jr., rector of St. Anthony on the Desert in Scottsdale, Arizona; the Rev. Kent S. McNair, rector of Faith Episcopal Church in Cameron Park, near Sacramento, California; the Rev. James R. Mathes, Canon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of Chicago; and the Rev. David A. Stenner, rector of All Saints' in Reisterstown, Maryland, near Baltimore.

Virtuosity has learned that at least two are thoroughly orthodox. Tony Burton is a thorough-going Canadian Evangelical and with the experience he has had would make a great bishop. He is chair of the Council of the North, which oversees Canada's ten missionary dioceses, and episcopal visitor to the South American Missionary Society. The other is David A. Stenner, rector of All Saints'. He's a graduate of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry. When asked, both men said no to the blessing of same sex unions and the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals. The other three waffled.

And in the DIOCESE OF COLORADO, Bishop Rob O'Neill produced his famous Task Force report on same-sex unions. "There were no statements of absolute truth allowed. The report lets homosexuals continue to practice perversion and move forward with their agenda to create a new church where they replace God at the center," said feisty Evangelical rector Don Armstrong of Colorado Springs. "He couldn't care less about Communion teaching already established and wants to base unity on cocktails with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and uses that old liberal ploy that all this is a matter where good people can disagree and personal choice, like abortion has nothing to do with biblical injunctions. O'Neill expects conservatives to be nice and always polite, and pay their assessment, of course. You can read theologian Ephraim Radner's take on the report at the website; Where have all the Scriptures Gone? Armstrong lit into the bishop saying, "too bad you failed to put someone like Ephraim [Radner] who knows what he is doing on your otherwise well meaning but incompetent task force." OUCH.

And in the DIOCESE OF ATLANTA, retired Bishop Bennet Sims let the cat out of the bag. Richard Ostling, religion writer for the Associated Press says the bishop has a book out called "Why Bush Must Go." In it, according to Ostling, Sims accuses Bush of "calculated neglect of danger" and of purposely disregarding pre 9/11 warnings from his own intelligence. He goes on to say that America is in the grip of "apocalyptic right wing ideology" and that it may take a revolution to break that control. Then the bishop turns to the Bible and argues that the ancient Israelites with their "violence prone male dominance" displaced a peaceful pagan civilization. "Why Bush Must Go" is recommended, says Ostling, by Desmond Tutu, John Spong, and the Rev. William Sloane Coffin. Enough said.

And in the DIOCESE OF OLYMPIA, Bishop Vincent Warner warned that six parishes received notice that they are under consideration for designation as aided parishes due to their failure to pay their assessments. Two more parishes are behind on this year's assessment and will join the list if they are unable to pay their assessment in full by Dec. 31. A Virtuosity subscriber in the diocese said the zero's have a common denominator. "I can vouch for the fact that Port Gamble, Poulsbo, Darrington, and St. Luke's in Seattle (noteworthy old charismatic watering hole) are all unhappy with the current state of affairs." One wonders if Bishop Warner is getting the message.

AND THE SLAUGHTER OF HUNDREDS of innocent children in Russia this week set the Archbishop of Canterbury into a bit of a tail spin. Where Was God At Beslan, opined the Archbishop? Williams admitted that the slaughter had led him to momentarily question his faith in God. "It would be inhuman not to question one's beliefs in the light of such evil." Dr. Williams said that the terrorists had perpetrated the most evil kind of action imaginable and insisted that the murdered children had not been abandoned by God. The Archbishop quoted the Bible in which Jesus said it would be better for people who committed such offences against children to have millstones around their necks and to be cast out into the sea.

And hot off the press is a new book "Frank and I, The final disillusion of a lifelong Episcopalian" by Christopher Johnson $23.00 Paperback: 342 pages. Take two Prozac before reading.

WELCOME TO VIRTUOSITY. A special welcome to all new readers who have joined the growing Virtuosity cyber family this past month. You can play catch up by going to the website www.virtuosityonline.org and combing through some 70 stories on the front page and Virtuosity's extensive ARCHIVES. Add a comment to the GUESTBOOK if you so choose.

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