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ECUSA follows Kubler Ross in Death and Dying, Commission floats trial balloon

"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out, that it might be plain that they all are not of us." I John 2:19

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In her famous book “On Death and Dying” Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified five stages in the process of dying. First there was Denial and isolation, followed by Anger, then Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance.

The Episcopal Church is in varying stages of Kubler-Ross’s DABDA acronym.

A number of revisionist bishops are still in denial and isolation - "no, not me, it cannot be true,” unwilling to admit that the Robinson consecration is tearing the Episcopal Church apart. This writer was in the Diocese of Connecticut this past week speaking on the ECUSA situation to some 20 orthodox priests and learned that the ultra-liberal bishop there, one Andrew D. Smith told several hundred Episcopal ladies at an ECW luncheon that the Episcopal Church was in a terrible mess and he could not see a way out of it. “He looked awful, haggard,” an ECW delegate told Virtuosity. Smith might be making his first tentative step out of denial.

Many more bishops like J. Michael Garrison of the Diocese of Western New York are angry, “why are you (the orthodox parishes) doing this to me by cutting off funds.” That angry statement is being repeated around the Episcopal Church in one diocese after another.

Then there are the bargainers. “So you won’t pay your fair share, aw come on guys pay up…or else I’ll come down on you like a ton of bricks. (Charles E. Bennison, Diocese of Pennsylvania). “You want to leave the ECUSA with your property…in your dreams.” (George Wayne Smith, Diocese of Missouri). “If you stay maybe we could work something out. Maybe.”

Then there is the fourth stage - depression, and God only knows how many bishops are depressed about the whole situation, both orthodox and revisionist. Each side is feeling the heat from angry parish priests withholding money and making threats to join the AAC or NACDP or possibly leaving for the AMIA or coming under a Global South Primate.

It’s a mess all over and depression is running rampant throughout the whole denomination despite all the talk of “graceful conversation” much ballyhooed by the Presiding Bishop.

Revisionist bishops don’t want to believe or even acknowledge that their dioceses are in numeric decline, that they are faced with orthodox priests willing to challenge their authority, withhold funds and make waves. Furthermore laity are leaving, and those that stay are not willing to remain silent. They are beginning to speak up forcefully and determinedly against their revisionist bishops; their diocesan policies, theological proclivities and biblical interpretations.

But still the bishops continue to live in denial, with many refusing even to answer letters sent to them by both clergy and laity about the state of the ECUSA, the Robinson consecration and much more.

AND THIS WEEK a trial balloon was floated out of England when both the TIMES and the TELEGRAPH newspapers announced, in separate stories, that plans for a formal split in the Anglican Church are being considered in an attempt to resolve differences over attitudes towards homosexuality.

A proposal to turn the Anglican Communion into an Anglican confederation is being considered by the Lambeth Commission, the international body of 18 members set up last year by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote Gledhill of the Times.

Jonathan Petre of the TELEGRAPH clarified the issue saying that an all-powerful "star chamber", headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury will be created to avert the collapse of worldwide Anglicanism over homosexuality. A blueprint drawn up by advisers will
grant significant new powers to Dr Rowan Williams though not sufficient to transform him into an Anglican "pope".

It would be a loose federation with new loyalties and allegiances across geographic lines.

Perhaps this is the moment of Acceptance or reality breaking through into the Sufi driven mind of Frank Griswold, that all is now lost and we have the ECUSA and the action of consecrating an avowed sodomite to the episcopacy to thank for the break up of the whole Anglican Communion.

Said one priest to Virtuosity, “maybe it should happen. I hope it does. At the end of the day we will know who is on the Lord’s side, those driven and beholden to Scripture and the traditions and doctrines of the church. If and when it happens, Griswold and his 62 revisionist bishops will be isolated and we can all watch them whither and die on the pluriform vine.”

He has a point.

How it will all play out is still anyone’s guess, but clearly Irish Archbishop Robin Eames is not succeeding in using his immense charm to hold it all together and is perhaps realizing that the days of the Communion are numbered.

Clearly the noises out of Africa are less than irenic in tone and orthodox forces in the US Episcopal Church coming from the American Anglican Council and the Network (NACDP) is causing a few headaches, coupled with the steady stream of documents from groups like Plano and from individual dioceses about the state of ECUSA, is less than encouraging.

The next seven months will be crucial in the life of the entire Anglican Communion, and orthodox priests and bishops are ratcheting up the pain on ECUSA’s liberal and revisionist leadership as never before. Today’s lead story addresses this issue.

This writer has spoken in four major locations in the last ten days to several thousand Episcopalians concerned about the present state of ECUSA and many parishes are now working up strategies on what they will do and say to their bishops.

These are heady days. A lot is at stake.

FRANK GRISWOLD got a blast from Southern Cone Primate Greg Venables this week over a letter Griswold wrote trying to put the best light on his recent actions. Venables lashed out at Griswold saying, “you speak with clarity about your grief over the pain your actions have caused and yet you proceed with your relentless agenda. Do you not see that there is an enormous contradiction here?” Of course Frank doesn’t. Pluriformity means never having to say you’re wrong, and Griswold will fall on his sword rather than “betray” ECUSA’s pansexualists. You can read both letters in today’s digest.

CONTINUING THE PRESSURE ON THE LAMBETH COMMISSION to stand firm for orthodoxy, the Rev. Canon David H. Roseberry of Christ Church, Plano reports that some 600 signatures have already been received in response to his letter, “and the list is growing daily.” If you want to sign the letter you can do so by going to
www@ChristChurchPlano.org. The Eames letter is also posted.

IN THE CONTINUING SAGA OF THE OTIS CHARLES MARRIAGE, the retired Bishop of Utah, has been removed from his position as an assisting bishop of California and his license to officiate has been revoked by the Rt. Rev. William Swing after The San Francisco Chronicle revealed that Bishop Charles had been “married” to a four-times divorced man at St. Gregory of Nyssa Church in San Francisco, April 24. The matter is under investigation, said the Rev. Canon Michael Hansen, the diocese’s executive officer.
This qualifies as one bad act in Swing’s theatre of the absurd. The California bishop who heads the United Religions Initiative, a Gnostic, pan-everything grab bag of religious impulses and “spiritual” weirdos has now sandbagged Charles from functioning as a bishop in his diocese! This is the pot calling the kettle black. Swing is as revisionist and pro-gay as the day is long and now he inhibits Charles! When you have no core doctrine anything goes, and in California it goes on all the time and now Swing fires a former bishop that, deep down, he has no disagreement with…the absurd antics of ECUSA’s revisionists bishops never ceases.

AND FROM THE DICOESE OF THE CENTRAL GULF COAST comes this from a Virtuosity reader. A convention address of Bishop Philip M. Duncan II excoriates the AAC. “To establish an alternative ecclesiastical body either within or without the Episcopal Church has, in my opinion, not been helpful in working together to reconcile our differences and seems to be fostering its own brand of turmoil and schism. I am not in agreement with what I understand their agenda to be. They do not have my support.”

On same gender relationships and marriage he had this to say. “Our teaching on sacramental Christian marriage has not changed. It is a gift from God, a life long relationship between a man and a woman. Committed same gender relationships are part of our culture and are important to many living within this diocese. In my deliberate study of Scripture, I do not find that these relationships are affirmed nor are they blessed by the tradition as we have received it in this church. Neither do I find, as have some, the condemnation of homosexuality.

So what do you believe bishop?

“To be clear, as I have stated to the clergy and laity in other settings: the norm for ordination in this diocese continues to be a person living a single celibate lifestyle or in a heterosexual Christian marriage. I will not allow nor authorize the blessing of same gender unions within our diocese.”

Bishop Duncan bemoaned the downward spiraling finances of the Diocese, noting “giving is down in a number of congregations and financial support for the Diocese is down nearly $200,000. In addition, about $233,000 of pledges to the Diocese have been restricted to Diocesan use only. We are honoring those restrictions.”

AND FROM THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH national conference held in Pittsburgh comes news that United Methodist delegates had voted 579-376 to hold the line on homosexual behavior. "The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching." They also voted 527-423 to defeat the resolution that "Christians disagree on the compatibility of homosexuality with Christian teaching and affirm that God's grace is available to all."

The Methodists have become the first Mainline Church to oppose same-sex marriage. This is an important development with practical relevance to the Lambeth Commission, to the Primates, and to the pending decision regarding the tragic division that has occurred within the Communion. The United Methodist Church, a body that is four times the size of the Episcopal Church, USA, in America, is saying in effect that it agrees with the incompatibility of homosexual practice and Scripture (Lambeth 1998). The U.S. Methodists are also saying to the world, "The Biblical position is so clear that Christians cannot agree to disagree on this subject - and the church need not accommodate American culture on this subject." The necessity of accommodation to American culture, which is the major argument of the Episcopalian leadership ("please make an exception for us because of our culture"), is repudiated by the Methodist's vote.

These votes show a consensus among Christians throughout the world on these issues, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Russian Orthodox, Baptists, the majority of Anglican bishops at Lambeth, and the orthodox Episcopalians who have dissented from the actions of their General Convention. The United Methodist Church vote aligns the US Methodists on this issue with the American Anglican Council and the Network of Anglican Dioceses and Parishes in the United States.

What is going on among mainline Protestants is this: Minister violates Scripture, minister brought to church trial, church jurors decide church law doesn't mean what it says, minister let off the hook, other churches upset, journalists ponder possible "schism" in the denomination.

AND FROM THE DIOCESE OF UTAH comes word that Bishop Carolyn T. Irish will allow procedures for holding same-sex blessing services in her diocese. “After discussion with clergy, Diocesan Council members, and others, I have now set the following policy for our Diocese to allow same-sex blessings. It is important that bishops formulate such policies, not only for authorization of liturgies not provided in the Book of Common Prayer, but also to share with the clergy the responsibility for such occasions. It is possible that a later bishop may change this policy.” One hopes.

This was the same bishop who “converted” from Mormonism but was never re-baptized as a Christian. On same sex marriages she had this to say, “In Anglican tradition we can live with such diversity. Each diocese was left to sponsor further conversation, develop policies, and gather liturgical materials for such blessings, as seemed appropriate to their situation.” This is the kind of thinking that drives Global South Primates to their knees and then rise up in wrath to say they are no longer in communion with the likes of Ms Irish.

THERE’S A CHANGING OF THE GUARD AT TRINITY EPISCOPAL SCHOOL FOR MINISTRY (TESM) in Ambridge, PA. The Rev. Dr. Paul Zahl has resigned as Dean of the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, Alabama to accept the position of Dean/President of TESM, effective August 1. He succeeds Dr. Peter Moore who is retiring. Zahl is an excellent choice. (See full story in today’s digest).

He writes: “On Tuesday morning May 4th, I accepted the unanimous call of the search
committee of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, to be their new Dean/President. This is an awesome decision for Mary and me, a decision to which we came finally with complete clarity, and joy. I shall remain Dean of the Advent
through July 31st. We hope to move to Pittsburgh during the first two weeks of August.

Henry Parsley, the BISHOP OF ALABAMA is no lover of orthodoxy and he has publicly condemned the Network and is threatening those who would join. (See digest for full statement). As deans are appointed by bishops not vestries you can be sure that Parsley will never allow someone with Zahl’s orthodoxy or scholarship to replace him. Zahl was under enormous pressure by the bishop and by dissidents in the cathedral. Parsley will no doubt use this as an opportunity to put a liberal in his place. If that happens you can be sure hundreds will leave. Two of Alabama's three churches that allowed redirection of funds are now looking for new leadership. With Parsley preparing to crack down hard on John Michael and the Ascension in Montgomery for joining the network, the bishop appears to be succeeding in driving out the orthodox voices in his diocese.

AND IN ENGLAND about 40 angry evangelicals will meet with the Bishop of St Albans over the appointment of Jeffrey John. Watch for the sparks to fly.

AMONG THE STORIES POSTED TODAY, Dr. Robert Sanders, Virtuosity’s resident cyber theologian raises the question of who we are and who we are not in communion with. “What does Nicea teach us? It teaches us that believers need to come under the oversight of bishops, that they cannot receive from heretical bishops, and therefore, orthodox bishops must officiate in dioceses headed by heretical bishops. In short, if Nicea means anything, there must be a network.”

Dr. Leander Harding raises the issue of Homosexuality, The Church, and Truth and Justice for Children. An excellent read. And there is much more. If you can’t read them all at once, take time to read a few stories each day before the next digest comes down.

Please feel free to forward them to your friends. With the INTERNET nobody needs to stay in the dark anymore. Tell your friends to join by going to the website: www.virtuosityonline.org and signing up, or you can simply read the stories at the website.

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All blessings,

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