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ECUSA Sinks Lower...Gay Bishop Marries...Scandal Among The Clergy

“Wait till the end and you will see the outcome of events. Don't fuss, don't worry yet awhile. Imagine someone who is not of the trade watching a blacksmith start melting down gold and mixing in ashes and straw. If he does not wait till the end, he will think that the poor piece of gold is going to be destroyed. Now, if the farmer waits all the winter, so much the more ought you to await the final outcome of events, remembering who it is that ploughs the soil of our souls. And when I speak of the final outcome, I am not referring to the end of this present life, but to the future life -- God's plan for us aims at our salvation and glory.” St. John Chrysostom, On Providence 9. 1

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Orthodox believers are being refined in the crucible of the Episcopal Church. The fire is raging all around us. We are all being sorted and sifted. We are being tested to the very limits. Yet St. John Chrysostom tells us to wait.

It was another horrible week in the life of the Episcopal Church. ECUSA’s first openly homoerotic bishop Otis Charles, now 78, married a 62-year old man who had been married four times before to women. The ceremony lasted two hours and 45 minutes. When it concluded, Charles, the world's first openly gay Christian bishop, also became the world's first bishop to wed his same-sex partner in church. The retired bishop turned up with his grandson to the “wedding”. That alone is enough to have mothers running for cover with their children in hand.

When I asked a lady in Colorado Springs, why more and more women were signing on to Virtuosity, becoming more open in their support of this ministry, declaring themselves out of communion with ECUSA, and willing to write for VIRTUOSITY, she had this to say.

“Pansexuality threatens our children. When you move sexuality away from God ordained limits our children can become victims of sexual predators, because no one knows where the boundaries are any more.”

She is right of course. ECUSA is, sexually speaking, without boundaries. Old sodomites marry younger ones; a transgendered man is ordained a deacon, he goes from being Paul to Paula, a pregnant lesbian priest runs the youth ministries for a diocese, a sodomite is consecrated to the Episcopacy, the age of consensual sex is getting lower…and on and on it goes.

Parents see their moral authority challenged and they run for cover and take their children with them. “We will leave the Episcopal Church before we allow our sexually vulnerable children hear things approved of that God says a resounding no to,” said the woman.

And that may well be ECUSA’s undoing. Women, mothers with young impressionable teenage children; the rot will stop with the women.

IN OTHER DEVELOPMENTS, BETHLEHEM BISHOP Paul Marshall, author of a book on lesbian love, comes out swinging, putting his handful of orthodox priests on the defensive? You can read that story today.

Or why a self-professed lesbian priest in the DIOCESE OF COLORADO may face disciplinary charges because she is accused of luring the lonely widow of a deceased priest in the Diocese into a sordid lesbian affair, and then making up a liturgy to marry her at the church altar to sanctify her misconduct. You can also read that story.

BUT THE NEWS is not all bad. The recent Anglican Communion Institute conference in Colorado Springs was a win win. The conference emboldened church leadership around the country.

“The sense of urgency that everyday delayed hundreds leave the church is finally dawning on many of us. Clearly the financial situation is far worse than predicted. Parishes are all in a bind, payrolls hard to meet as people are failing to show up, not return after breaks for skiing and spring break, and collections are plummeting. Diocesan assessments are simply going to be the first thing to go--just to keep the lights on and the salaries paid,” writes the Rev. Don Armstrong an ACI leader and parish priest who is prepared to stand up to his revisionist bishop Rob O’Neill.

The numbers being shared by the clergy around the church are far worse than was first predicted. Members are leaving this tension filled church that lacks leadership and a gospel in droves. The Episcopal Church is disintegrating before our very eyes. In three years the Diocese of Colorado--if things go really well will close 40 congregations--in seven years there may be only a couple dozen Episcopal congregations still viable and the diocese will be bankrupt---all so a practicing homosexual can be a bishop in New Hampshire, and because we lack the integrity and love to tell gays to straighten up and instead take the easy way out by saying they are just fine--when they are not.

The Rev. Kevin Martin president of Plano-based VITAL MINISTRIES and an expert on congregational development for more than 15 years says in his recent newsletter that in the 40-year steady decline ECUSA is experiencing that we are losing our percentage of the U.S. population faster than the actual numbers.

He writes: First is 1930 when we began a long period of steady growth. Second is 1965 when ECUSA was at its largest. Third is 2000, the last year that we have full numbers. It clearly shows the rise and decline of the Church. Several points stand out. Among these I would list: The decline of congregations. The dramatic decline of children in Church schools. Today, the average church school has 37 children. The increase in clergy fueled by the larger number of non-parish and retired clergy. The relative stability of the burial number. The back door remains consistent. The decline in adult baptisms, receptions and confirmations. The fact that we baptize less than one adult per congregation. It is beyond any reasonable comprehension that our leaders can know these numbers and claim that ECUSA is doing well.

“I can only attribute this to either denial or political spin,” he says. You can read his full report today.

The AMERICAN ANGLICAN COUNCIL BOARD met this week in Atlanta, Georgia and celebrated the realignment of Anglicanism, noting a strong grass roots movement of individuals and churches that are forming coalitions and planning program initiatives, networking, assisting with missionary endeavors and planting churches. A full report is in today’s digest.

And from the DIOCESE OF ALABAMA comes this. “I am a member of the Church of the Ascension in Montgomery Alabama. Our Bishop, Henry Parsley, voted against the consecration of [V. Gene Robinson] but since then he has spent most of his energy threatening the few Alabama Priests brave enough to attend Plano (including our own) saying we need to "move on". When Parsley discovered that Ascension was bringing in an orthodox speaker to discuss the Network, he insisted on being on the agenda as well, and at a well attended and feisty forum pledged to block any effort by the church to join the Network. When asked why Integrity is given free use of the Diocesan facilities, he pointed out that he had no more control over what they did in such facilities than other groups, such as "The Daughters of the King". The comparison did not go over well.”

AND IN THE DIOCESE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE conservatives in that diocese led by the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop have left to form a breakaway parish.

About 40 parishioners of the new Anglican Church of the Resurrection are using facilities of the Durham Evangelical Church, spokesman Richard Ellwood said. The new parish does not consider itself part of Robinson's diocese. It has joined the national Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, formed by conservatives who remain within the Episcopal Church but oppose Robinson's election. Two other New Hampshire parishes have taken steps to affiliate with the conservative network but have not quit the diocese. Said Ellwood, “the issue is far greater than Robinson,” calling his election an example of the way the "Episcopal Church has split away from Scripture."

CONCERNED EPISCOPALIANS OF RHODE ISLAND has been formed by parishioners in that state who oppose Robinson's election. The group, which expects to become a chapter of the conservative network, drew representatives from more than two dozen of the state's 64 parishes to a meeting last weekend.

IN VIRGINIA, the Robinson election spilled into another denomination. The Baptist General Association of Virginia withheld $350,000 from Averett University in Danville over a professor's pro-Robinson article. The Baptists have now agreed to fund a new independent clergy training program, but not Averett's religion department.

IN ATLANTA a new Anglican parish was aborned with Bolivia Bishop Frank Lyons present to kick it off with 330 confirmations! The Rev. Dr. Foley Beach an ex-ECUSAN priest couldn’t be happier. You can read that story today.

IN CANADA Bill C250 has passed into law. Within a month or so it will be a criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada to speak out against the gay and lesbian lifestyle, against same sex marriage, gender reassignment, and everything connected with that way of life. The Bible will be deemed hate literature, and clergy who stand up and say “thus saith the Lord” will go to jail. I will test that when I cross the Canadian border some time in the future. Virtuosity’s website has already been declared homophobic.

Writes Brian McGregor-Foxcroft of Canada and a Virtuosity reader, “This issue, and same sex marriage, should have been put to the vote, so that all Canadians could have a say. But the government knew that a vote would have defeated both proposals. But this should not surprise anyone. Even the current prime minister has subverted the democratic process by parachuting his own candidates into various ridings and shutting out the due process whereby riding members elect their own candidates. We see several political parties doing this. All they care about is getting and holding power. This is not democracy.

AND IN DETROIT the Rev. Richard W. Ingalls, Rector of Mariners Church of Detroit, will be consecrated Bishop today by chief consecrator the Rt. Rev. Melvin Pickering, Bishop Ordinary of the Anglican Diocese of the Good Shepherd (ADGS). You may remember that the ECUSA bishop of the area tried unsuccessfully to take over Mariners after a lengthy battle, and failed. There are a few success stories, but not many. Mariners is one, as is St. Michael's in Broken Arrow, OK.

The EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY CHURCH continues to grow reports its presiding bishop and former Episcopal priest the Rt. Rev'd William Millsaps. From his Monteagle headquarters in Tennessee he says he has a new parish with its own building in Benton, Kentucky; planting a new church in Chattanooga in Eastertide. A parish in Oregon has quadrupled and St. Andrew's in Gainesville, Florida has grown fivefold over the past few years. “Most of our parishes and missions have had their best Lent since our founding,” he writes.

THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND is facing the growing possibility of disintegration as opposition to Canon Jeffrey John’s appointment as Dean of St Albans gained momentum this week.

Leading evangelicals warned that the appointment would change the relationship of their churches with bishops across the country, raising the possibility of impaired communion across the Church.

St Albans clergy met this week to discuss action that they would be taking in protest at Dr John’s promotion at a time when the Eames Commission had called for calm and restraint. Many of the churches will be deciding whether to cut payments to the dioceses, and to stop the Bishop of St Albans. They said that the Southwark canon’s promotion had “changed everything”. The split in the St Albans diocese is expected to widen at the national level, according to one evangelical leader.

The Rev John Coles, leader of the New Wine network, which represents the leaders of 600 Anglican churches, said that Dr John was “publicly committed to undermining the historic Christian position.” New Wine is now working in connection with the other traditionalist streams in opposing the appointment.

The gay dean hit back accusing those who opposed his ministry as being akin to 19th century supporters of slavery. Coles fired back: “The appointment was inflammatory, and his comments are very inflammatory. The house is on fire and we are going to put it out.”

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All blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

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