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Duncan Rips ECUSA's Revisionists...Diocesan News...more

"A gospel of inclusion without a gospel of transformation is no gospel at all." The Rev. Martyn Minns

"If the Episcopal Church were to face the facts, it would acknowledge that it was no longer a Christian body because it was following neither the traditions of the church nor the teachings of Scripture." Secular newspaper columnist

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In what are undoubtedly the hardest hitting statements to date about the true spiritual condition of the Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, bishop of Pittsburgh, ripped the church's revisionist leadership. He calling its position "counterfeit" and said its message of inclusion is actually no message at all.

He did it on the steps of the capitol in Hartford, Connecticut, in the company of nine other orthodox ECUSA bishops and a Ugandan bishop. The leader of the Anglican Communion Network blasted the Episcopal Church's revisionist bishops, saying they were promoting a counterfeit religion, while he lauded the "Connecticut Six" orthodox Episcopal clergy for standing for the "faith once delivered."

Duncan ripped Connecticut Bishop Andrew Smith, saying "there are wolves here that are set upon the flock. Does a shepherd come after the sheep? Does a shepherd seek to disable his flock? This too is a counterfeit, and those who lead in this way are counterfeiters."

Duncan said the infamous suicidal six (orthodox Episcopal priests) have stood and sounded the alarm. "They have struck a note all over the world that this counterfeit religion is being offered."

"A gospel of inclusion without a gospel of transformation is no gospel at all. We are to here to warn the people of Connecticut of this culture and to say there is a counterfeit abroad in the land that looks like the real thing, but when you try to spend it, it has no currency. It is a counterfeit."

You can read about this and another history-making event that took place at Bishop Seabury Church in Groton, Connecticut, in today's digest. For the record, this reporter has never heard this bishop come out so devastatingly against the Episcopal Church's revisionist bishops and the overall direction of the church; it is Bishop Duncan's most hard-hitting denunciation of the church to date, and it clearly opens the door to what can only be an inevitable split in the Episcopal Church down the road.

WHILE in Connecticut for the Solidarity in Faith gathering at Bishop Seabury Church I bumped into several members of THE LESSER FRANCISCANS a fellowship of likeminded Christians who follow a common mission and a common Rule of Life. As a Servant Community they are bound heart to heart and hand to hand to heal wounds, to reunite that which has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way. They follow a common Rule to strengthen their spiritual lives so they can be better equipped to fulfill their mission. Their website is www.lesserfranciscans.org.

General Convention 2006 will be the last line in the sand for the orthodox. They can no longer continue to walk with the apostate majority. The only question is what this split will actually look like.

Orthodox Episcopalians under Duncan have said they will not leave, and you can be sure the revisionists have got too much at stake to leave either, so what could happen is that the Global South Primates led by Archbishop Peter Akinola will simply declare that the ECUSA is no longer Anglican or even Christian, and recognize the Network, Common Cause and the AAC, and a Third Anglican province could be in the making. Add to the mix the Canadian branch of the Network, which was very present in Connecticut last week in the person of Bishop Donald Harvey of Newfoundland and you have a force to be reckoned with. We shall know more ere long.

It is also abundantly clear that the revisionists have become canonical fundamentalists, believing that the canons and constitutions, assisted by General Convention resolutions, are the only standards of truth for the Episcopal Church, while the orthodox believe Holy Scripture is the only standard for absolute truth supported by the 39 Articles, the Creeds, and the Lambeth Quadrilateral.

VirtueOnline has learned that sitting orthodox diocesan bishops will not cross diocesan lines until they get the nod from the Global South Primates. But the stage is being set, and the players are all in place.

IN THE DIOCESE OF DALLAS this past week two resolutions were passed by in a Special Convention at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church. The diocese overwhelmingly received, accepted and endorsed the Windsor Report, and pledged to comply fully with its proposals and expectations. The diocese also passed a resolution saying that it affirmed its constitutional responsibility for being a constituent member of the Anglican Communion based upon the Preamble of the Constitution of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. While this diocese under Bishop James Stanton is overwhelmingly orthodox, there is a strong minority of highly vocal revisionists who will have to be contended with in any break up of the Episcopal Church.

The DIOCESE OF FLORIDA will go to it's postponed ANNUAL CONVENTION this Saturday, May 21.There are resolutions on the floor that will stop the Diocese from sending money to 815; another one that will request the bishop not take communion with the sodomites and one that will help facilitate the sale of church property to individual parishes. These are the BIGGIES a reader told VirtueOnline.

In the DIOCESE OF LOUISIANA, the Episcopal News Service reports that diocesan Controller Selwa Perry resigned after confessing May 2 that she had "misappropriated funds from the diocesan account for her personal use." In a letter to the diocese, Bishop Charles Jenkins said that Perry's husband, the Rev. Rex Perry, canon to the ordinary for the diocese, "had no knowledge of her actions."

"The chancellor of the diocese, Cove Geary, has notified our insurance company of the defalcation," Jenkins said. "We do not expect to have to file a claim if full restitution is promptly made. The work of the iocese will continue. Obviously, there will be personnel changes and changes in our safeguards and operations procedures to strengthen controls."

Shades of Ellen Cooke, who fleeced the national church of $2 million when she worked for Ed "the Weasel" Browning, former PB in New York. You gotta love it. The church is heading into the toilet over bad morals and thin theology, and the liberals are fleecing it of its loot even as the ship sinks.

In Long Beach, California, after nine months of legal maneuvering, a date has been set to hear the first pretrial motion in the suit by the Episcopal DIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES against three local breakaway churches. The diocese has filed a lawsuit seeking the parishes' financial records. Diocesan officials want to obtain the property, hymnals and financial records of the three churches, including All Saints Church in Belmont Heights, which left the Episcopal Church USA and placed itself under the jurisdiction of an Anglican Diocese in Uganda. The diocese is also seeking punitive damages. On June 9 in Orange County Superior Court, the three churches will present similar motions to Judge David Velasquez claiming that the suit by the diocese infringes on First Amendment protections of freedom of speech and religion. The motion, known as an anti-SLAPP motion, is typically filed by individuals or groups who say they are being sued for exercising their First Amendment rights, usually of free speech and petition. SLAPP is an acronym for strategic lawsuits against public participation.

VirtueOnline recently spoke to a member of St. James Newport Beach, one of the departing parishes, and learned that since leaving the Episcopal Church the parish was up 15 percent in giving and 15 percent in membership.

Bishop J. Jon Bruno sees these departures as a personal slap at his notion of inclusivity, but he will learn the hard lesson that inclusivity without transformation is no gospel at all.

And in the DIOCESE OF NORTHWEST TEXAS, St. Nicholas' leaders report receiving calls and e-mails of support from churches all across Texas and the world, some of which are planning a pilgrimage to Midland for the congregation's last worship service together at the 4000 W. Loop 250 N. location on May 29.

Meanwhile, the new church, Christ Church Midland (Anglican Communion), has been chartered for those leaving St. Nicholas'. The new church expects to gather June 5 at Midland Classical Academy.

Some 500 members of St. Nicholas Episcopal Church in Midland, Texas, left the Episcopal Church over the Robinson consecration.

THE ANGLICAN FELLOWSHIP OF HIGH SPRINGS, a band of former ECUSA priests in the DIOCESE OF FLORIDA will travel to Nassau County, Florida on Saturday, May 21to assist another group of disenchanted Episcopalians launch another Anglican Fellowship. When the Anglican Fellowship severed ties with the Episcopal Church USA, they committed themselves to doing all that they could to assist others who no longer find it unconscionable to remain in fellowship with the ECUSA or the Diocese of Florida. Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti, of the DIOCESE OF RECIFE and bishop for the Anglican Fellowship in High Springs has given his full support and blessing and has agreed to embrace the new congregation of Nassau County into his ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

"We are but a lifeboat," said the Rev. Claudia Kalis, former ECUS priest. She wrote to VirtueOnline that "the people of Nassau County recognize that to stay in the Episcopal Church is to stay aboard a sinking ship that has fundamentally isolated itself from the rest of the Christian world. We'll keep the people of Nassau County floating as we all await the arrival of sturdy ship that will carry us all to new shores."

Episcopalians throughout North America are having to choose whether they will remain loyal to an institution that has abandoned its very raison d'etre or take up the cross and follow Jesus. There are people in Nassau County who have made their choice -- they will follow Jesus. The Anglican Fellowship of High Springs, along with Bishop Cavalcanti, the American Anglican Council and the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes will do all they can to assist these people in taking up the cross of Jesus Christ. The Anglican Fellowship of Nassau will be meeting on Saturday, May 21. For more information, please contact The Rev. Claudia Kalis (386) 462-1189 or cbkalis@aol.com.

And in the DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA the craziness continues. All Saints Episcopal Church in Northeast Philadelphia allowed a Hindu "living saint" known as Sri Sri Sri (yep that's three Sri's) Shivabalayogi to lead a meditation program as part of his North American tour. Devotees say the south Indian swami has achieved enlightenment and has a divine mission to promote peace through meditation. You can also get a private session with the swami.

So I called the church to ask them how and why a swami was permitted to function in an Episcopal Church that was still ostensibly Trinitarian. A woman answered the phone and said the Episcopal Church was very liberal and allowed the swami in. She said that she attended a weekly Janus Meditation group at the church, thanks to the rector.

I asked if I might possibly get a private session with the Swami to see if he could offer a formula for "peace" for the fractured Episcopal Church but was told this was not possible as I had not yet achieved the highest level of enlightenment, and I needed to do some more meditating. Really.

Update on Relations with the Anglican Communion. The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Anglican Communion Office have announced that the most recent report of the Anglican - Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), entitled Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ, will be presented to the public on May 16th, 2005. The official launch of the document will take place in Seattle, USA, where the Commission last met and completed its work on the document. The text is NOT an authoritative declaration by the Catholic Church or by the Anglican Communion, who will further study and evaluate the document in due course. The statement on the role of Mary in the doctrine and life of the Church brings to completion the second phase of Anglican - Catholic theological dialogue on an international level.

QUEERLY BELOVED. The bishop of the DIOCESE OF NEW WESTMINSTER, Michael Ingham, said the blessing of same-sex unions would continue within his diocese despite pleas from many of the world's top Anglican leaders not to proceed in that direction as it violates the Windsor Report's findings.

But it's been a week of will he or won't he for this revisionist bishop. Early in the week he said he would continue to allow same-sex blessings to be performed in his diocese in any parish that so chooses. Ingham endorsed an April 27 statement from a meeting in Windsor, Ontario, where Canada's Anglican bishops unanimously committed themselves "neither to encourage nor to initiate the use of such rites" until a nationwide synod settles the issue. The next synod session is in 2007.

But as Ingham sees it, the bishops agreed to take "no further actions beyond those already started" and left his diocese free to continue its practice of same-sex blessings. "No bishop was in any doubt that I did not commit myself to a moratorium on same-sex blessings," Ingham said.

But by the end of the week the Canadian diocese at the heart of the Anglican Church's fight over the blessing of same-sex unions agreed to temporarily limit the number of parishes that perform the ceremony. The diocese rejected a call from worldwide Anglican leaders for a total moratorium on the ceremonies that have deeply divided the church's liberals and conservatives. Backers of the partial moratorium said it was an olive branch in the dispute, but they denied that the diocese was changing its mind on the gay rights issue that has caused some of its own parishioners to leave.

Is that a compromise or what? We know of course it isn't. Ingham will do exactly what he wants to do in defiance of everybody. After all, if you are a clone of former Newark Bishop Jack Spong, why would you compromise anything? Ingham is heading into the pit and wants to take as many as he can with him.

Canadian Anglicans will gather at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto, June 16-18 in what is likely to be the largest gathering of orthodox Canadian Anglicans in the history of the Anglican Church of Canada. ANGLICAN ESSENTIALS CANADA will play host to the "Open Door" Conference in Toronto, Ontario.

Congress presenters will include Anglican leaders from across Canada, who will be joined by primates and other key representatives of the worldwide Anglican Communion to discuss and identify the critical issues and choices facing the Anglican Communion at this moment in history. VirtueOnline will be there to report on this historic occasion.

Anglican Essentials Canada is a federation of orthodox Canadian Anglicans, whose purpose is to be the theological and spiritual rallying point for historic Christian orthodoxy in the Anglican Church of Canada, calling the church to embrace and live by its orthodox Christian heritage under the renewing guidance of the Holy Spirit.

MEA CULPA. In my last digest I mentioned an Anglican theological college that closed while a number of Canadian colleges that still remain faithful to the teachings of Scripture remain open and are prospering. I omitted the obvious. WYCLIFFE COLLEGE is the largest Anglican theological college in Canada. It is evangelical in theology, though it receives students from various liturgical traditions from across the country and internationally. It is located in downtown Toronto, designated by the UN as the most diverse city in the world. It has a theological statement of faith rooted in the Creeds and the Reformation, called "the 6 Principles," and a statement of moral vision committing it, among other things, to the traditional view of marriage. It welcomes men and women who are interested in ordination and have a strong record of graduates finding placements. Its principal is a personal friend, the Rev. George Sumner, who is also Helliwell Professor of World Mission. Wycliffe is a member of the ecumenical Toronto School of Theology, which offers a Th.D. conjointly with the University of Toronto. You can locate it at www.wycliffecollege.ca."

IN AUSTRALIA, the election of a new primate moves slowly forward. The Anglican Church of Australia has announced that the election of its new primate to replace ultra-liberal Archbishop Peter Carnley will take place July 9. Please pray that Evangelical Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen gets the nod. If so it will change the whole complex makeup of the primates. If he wins, he will be the first Western orthodox primate to sit with this august body. The U.S., Canada, England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and New Zealand all have liberal primates. The thought of Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola, CAPA leader, and Australian Primate Peter Jensen working together should send shivers down the spine of Rowan Williams.

IN IRELAND this past week the General Synod met and noted the different aspects of freemasonry: social, charitable and religious. It concluded that the practice of freemasonry did not equate with the fullness of the Christian teaching of the Church of Ireland. However, participation in and membership of the Masonic Order was a matter of personal conscience and a choice to be made by individual members of the church. The Church of Ireland is the last major denomination to look at freemasonry. There was concern at the use of the Bible at Masonic meetings, Masonic prayers where references to Jesus had been removed, and Masonic hymns which are sung with Christian tunes and have all mention of Jesus and the Holy Spirit omitted.

THE Church of Ireland archbishop of Dublin, Dr. John Neill, admitted that a "shiver went down my spine" when Pope Benedict XVI was elected head of the Catholic Church last month. However Neill said he was "prepared to wait and see" what the new pope would do, and he was encouraged by the emphasis he placed on Christian unity in his first sermons as pontiff. Archbishop Neill, who previously criticized Cardinal Desmond Connell, the former Catholic archbishop of Dublin, as representing "reactionary" theology, said it would be churlish of him not to acknowledge the message of unity the new pope had sent out to other Churches.

BUT divisions emerged over homosexuality, in particular at the U.S. Episcopal Church's decision to elect Canon Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. Members of the Church of Ireland debated the Windsor Report, which sought ways of preserving Anglican unity despite the divisions. Speakers lined up to attack and defend Bishop Robinson's election. The Rev. Eric Culbertson of Armagh said the consensus within Anglicanism was against recognition of homosexual unions. The Rev. Stephen Crowther of the Clogher diocese said he was concerned that the Church of Ireland hierarchy had not declared its position on the issue. There is a "thundering silence" on the matter, he said. Dean Michael Burrows of the diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, said he had developed a more much tolerant attitude on sexuality as he grew older. Another delegate, Alan Acheson, said "some of our best priests live in open, loving, same-sex relations."

An excellent essay ON THE HOLY SPIRIT by the Rev. Ephraim Radner is posted at the Web site. Although it is too long to post to the digest I urge you to hit this link and read it. http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=2466

Dr. Radner's concern for the third person of the Trinity grows out of Frank Griswold's evolutionary notion of the Holy Spirit, who lispeth where he bloweth, and apparently he is blowething in the direction of New Hampshire these days. Dr. Radner provides a much-needed corrective. Writes Radner: "One of the most theologically knotted areas of our present disputes within the Church is the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. I daresay that it is this doctrine, more than many others, where some of the greatest confusions and errors have come home to roost among us. In general, these confusions center on a view that sees the Holy Spirit as a kind of independent divine operator, responsible for the function of creating new things. This stands in contrast to the traditional understanding of the Spirit as, in a fundamental way, the expressive motion of God's given character as the Father in fact made known in the Son. The confusion has cut in many directions, always seeking somehow to justify the reordering of the Church's historical form of life. But at the moment, the most common and destructive direction taken by this pneumatological confusion is that which considers the "creative freedom" of the Spirit as primarily innovative in the life of the Church and the world.

Radner blasts ECUSA's Presiding Bishop for propounding a theology of "unfolding truth," whose movement in history he ties to the particular work of the Spirit.

VIRTUEONLINE continues to grow and expand. This week we crossed the 6 million "hit" mark at the Web site www.virtueonline.org, but this is NOT translating into making it a $6 million ministry. We are paying the bills, but with travel to Canada (ESSENTIALS conference) and England (for the ACC conference in Nottingham) upcoming in June, more funds are URGENTLY needed. These are over and above the ordinary expenses needed to keep the Web site up and running, staff salaries and medical expenses.

Please consider a gift to help defray the costs of travel. The dollar is in the tank, making hotel bills exorbitant, especially in England. You can make a tax-deductible donation using PAYPAL at the Web site: www.virtueonline.org or you can make a snail mail donation by sending a check to:

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All blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

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