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ECUSA'S Left Launch Attack on Orthodox..ECUSA Canons target laity..Diocesan news

ON ECUSA OPPRESSION: "Former "oppressors" have been duped, both in church and society: There is no stopping at redressing real oppression, no "Song of Moses" on the other side of Jordan, no "Magnificat" tucked into the Evening Office. Liberation is not about justice but about seizing any opportunity to "empower" rage, hatred, envy, or any social toxin that destabilizes the status quo. It doesn't care what improvement it does or does not bring to the body as a whole or even to its professed constituents, so long as the "oppressor" is weakened. It cannot stop at redress but must seek new targets. It is not about liberating anybody -- for that matter, it is not about anything. It is spiritual cancer, pure and simple. When the last "oppressor" is cowed into oblivion, the "liberators" will turn on each other, allegedly raising the bar of "justice". But make no mistake: the last thing they can tolerate would be a truly just society, because then they would have nothing to feed on. Thus they have no interest in real oppression that transcends that of all racists, industrialists, and union-busters. Malignancy cannot achieve a new status quo. It can only kill and then die. While it lives it is Death Incarnate." - The Rev. Gary L'Hommedieu is Canon in charge of Pastoral Care at St. Luke's Cathedral in Orlando, Florida.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It was a week of the long knives. Two major left-wing publications in the Episcopal Church came out swinging against the orthodox and their supporters. It is the most serious blast to date and comes just weeks before General Convention.

The Episcopal Church's left wing have launched a massive media campaign of disinformation, half truths and spin, painting the orthodox as schismatic, destabilizers of ECUSA, bankrolled with millions of dollars from rightwing foundations, placing the blame on the Washington-based Institute of Religion and Democracy and a number of orthodox Episcopal organizations and ministries.

The first rip and tear came from James Naughton, Communications Director of the Weekly Washington, the official mouthpiece for the Diocese of Washington, in a two-part piece "Following the Money". A second rip and tear came in an article by Daniel J. Webster called "This Schism Is Brought to You by the IRD" from The Witness, a cyber magazine. Both stories indicate just how serious opposition to the revisionist juggernaut, organizations like the Anglican Communion Network have become, and how threatened the Left feels about not having all the marbles to play with in the ECUSA play pen.

We have not seen such anger and outrage by the left, whom one would have thought that, with the church in their back pocket, they would need to respond as they did. But respond they have, and VOL has taken their stories and spin apart, piece by piece. You can read it here http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3969 or in todays digest.

What is truly sad is that they claim the battle is all about money, when it is not. It is about 'the faith once delivered to the saints' - a faith sadly, they can no longer endorse or uphold. This is truly about spiritual warfare. We are in a battle for the church's soul and the whole world is watching. An Anglican Civil War is underway.

AROUND the dioceses things are not getting much better as we head to Columbus, Ohio.

In the DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA this week, the Standing Committee held an open forum on the future of Charles Bennison, and before 300 clergy and laity they were told that $20 million had been spent on Camp Wapiti with another $500,000 a year for upkeep, and if the diocese cannot find a way to pay its regular bills the whole diocese could go belly up. Bishop Bennison's future still remains uncertain, with no way formal way, apparently, of getting rid of him. Asking him to resign or retire has not worked and no one will file presentment charges because one rector said it would take nine years for the diocese to recover and cost over a million dollars. That at least was the price the Diocese of New Jersey had to pay to get rid of the worthless Bishop Jo Mo Doss.

The truth is the diocese has an incompetent, heretical, untrustworthy, sociopathic leader for a bishop, who refuses to go. As one irate Episcopalian wrote to VOL; "This man has not preached God's word and has squandered $20 million on some stupid "camp" on a flood plain, 90 minutes from the diocese and gotten himself and the diocese exposed to a seven figure liability, via his reprehensible actions in the Fr. David Moyer case. The Standing Committee has until now, through lack of assertiveness, become an enabler to his hellish leadership antics. It is hemorrhaging membership, and is on the verge of a financial meltdown. If this is not handled correctly, getting rid of Bennison will be like getting rid of Saddam Hussein."

He concluded his blast by saying, "However, there is some hope. The Standing Committee said that they considered going to "Attorney General's Office..." They said, that they decided against this course of action "pending the outcome of the ($28,000) audit and further review by the Diocesan Chancellor." This line is typical of the type of ecclesiastical "turn the cheek and cover our butts and pretend it never happened mentality" that got the Catholic Church in hot water over pedophile priests."

To add to Bennison's woes only four percent of parishes have paid their tithe so far this year. That figure should be closer to 30 percent. Bennison is also in trouble with the Black clericus, the union of Deacons and his once loyal liberal clergy. You can read the full story here or in today's digest: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3973

IN other news, it looks as though getting rid of Fr. David Ousley from his parish, St. James the Less has backfired. You'll recall that it cost the diocese $320,000 in legal fees to do the dastardly act. Well, after Fr. Ousley was ousted, Bishop Bennison put in his lackey Fr. Robert Offerle, but no one turned up to Sunday services. VOL was told that at 8am no one showed and at 10.00am just two persons showed up. Fr. Ousley had taken his whole flock with him. Now that Bennison is on the ropes, there is talk of leasing the architecturally distinctive church (which has five bishops and a member of the scion Wanamaker family buried in the graveyard) back to Fr. Ousley on a 99-year lease. We shall know more ere long.

In the DIOCESE OF TEXAS they elected the Venerable Dena Harrison as Suffragan Bishop of Texas. She will be the diocese's second bishop suffragan. Harrison, 59, was elected on the third ballot during the election held at Christ Church Cathedral in Houston. She becomes the 13th woman elected as a bishop of the Episcopal Church. She will serve with diocesan Bishop Don A. Wimberly, Bishop Suffragan Rayford B. High Jr. and Assistant Bishop John C. Buchanan.

A VOL reader who was present said that during the 'walkabouts' before the election, Dena was clear that she would not support gay unions or ordinations. She, like Bishop Wimberly, is a staunch Windsor Report supporter. The consensus opinion among the more-or-less conservative evangelicals was that she and Frank Rodriquez were the only two of the four who were 'reliable' votes (from the conservative standpoint) on human sexuality issues. James McGill was regarded as an almost-certain 'yes', and Al Rodriguez as a probable yes. All said they would follow Bishop Wimberly's lead in this.

"For those of us (a minority of a minority) still opposed to Women's Ordination, this was not a good outcome; but, I don't think that Dena is another Jane Dixon -- that is, she seems to be moderately 'conservative' and not an autocrat --at least, we hope so." She will be assigned to the Austin-Waco area of the diocese.

In the DIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES, Bishop J. Jon Bruno seems bent on a pathway of self destruction if not totally financial irresponsibility. He is trying, for the fourth time, to seize a parish the 400-member orthodox parish of St. Luke's of the Mountains Church which left the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Episcopal Church and realigned itself with the African Province of Uganda. Bruno is suing them in an effort to seize the property. Included in the lawsuit is the priest, the Rev. Dr. Ron Jackson and the 12-member vestry. The parish, naturally, is fighting back. Dr. Jackson maintains the property of St. Luke's is, and has always been, owned by a separate California non-profit corporation, not the Diocese of Los Angeles. You can read the story by clicking the link here or read it in the digest. http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3959

And in the DIOCESE OF NORTH CAROLINA Bishop Michael Curry is demanding a 'Declaration of Interest' on all parish properties. Last week he sent a letter to all 122 rectors and vicars parishes in the diocese demanding copies of their title deeds and a review of all their tax records. VOL obtained a copy of the "Declaration of Interest" from the diocesan chancellor Edward Ambree III. The four-page "Declaration" was sent out on Monday of Holy Week stating that all "real property for any parish, Mission, Congregation, or Institution is held in trust for the Protestant Episcopal Church in the US and the Diocese of North Carolina." This statement is an unprecedented use of canons to tyrannically impose on parishes and Bishop Curry's action is the clearest statement of spiritual bankruptcy one can imagine. Not having any faith that can evoke free and committed response as a basis of unity, they and his kind are forced to this unprecedented fascist tyranny. From North Carolina to San Diego the bishops are striking. When and where will the next bishop strike? You can read the story by clicking here, or reading it in today's digest. http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3956

AND IF YOU WANT TO KNOW what is going on at the parish level to "educate" the laity in all matters sexual, and why parishioners are leaving in droves, Grace St. Luke's in Memphis, Tennessee is doing a special series on marriage equality. They are showing a film called Tying the Knot, to celebrate Freedom to Marry Week. The film highlights the vulnerabilities faced by many gay couples who are without civil marriage rights, says the rector John Moloney. There will also be an opportunity to learn more about plans to oppose a Nov. 2006 ballot referendum that seeks to ban marriage equality in Tennessee. Moloney is also sending out letters to the parishioners asking for money. "I guess he cannot figure out why people are leaving," wrote a VOL reader. "That is one reason why my parish (St. John's) is booming...we are getting their conservative and more moderate members. They have run off a lot people with fat bank accounts." www.stjohnsmemphis.org

IN THE MIDST of the ECUSA madness there is genuine pain and suffering and you can read my story/interview with Fr. Jerry Kramer of Annunciation in New Orleans. This godly priest has endured more than most priests in the Episcopal Church. He and his family have suffered for their faith as missionaries in Tanzania, and their nightmare only continued in New Orleans with Katrina. Read the story here or the digest: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3974 Pray for this man and support him financially if you can. He is doing sterling work with few resources. Try driving round trip every day from NOLA to Baton Rouge just to buy hundreds of gallons of bleach to clean the church floors and the homes of his parishioners. Please be generous.

PROPOSED Episcopal Church Canons targets the laity. If some folks have their way at General Convention 2006 that will all change. Laity, including chancellors, church lawyers, bloggers, wardens, vestrymembers, treasurers, secretaries, clerks, lay activists, or even the directress of the parish altar guild would be subject to punishment by bishops which can include removal from any church position or office. The mechanism for this is a complete revision of the entire chapter on church discipline. This proposed replacement to the existing Title IV of the Canons can be found in the 2006 Blue Book as part of the report of the Task Force on Disciplinary Policies and Procedures.

New York attorney Raymond Dague has written about the dangers of this canon should it be passed at General Convention. You can read it in today's digest or click here: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3971

YOU can also read what the Bishop of Southwest Florida John Lipscomb has to say in an editorial piece, "Can the Church and the Communion Survive?"

AMERICAN EPISCOPALIANS have the lowest rate of worship attendance of any Christian denomination, a Gallup poll recently reported. Episcopalians come third from last on the table of weekly attendance with less than one in three attending services, beating only Jews and those who have no religion. The Episcopal Church "is prone to attract people with less sense of being full-blown Episcopalians than simply participants in a particular congregation that happens to be Episcopal" the Rev Dr William Sachs, Vice President for Learning and Leadership at the Episcopal Church Foundation in New York, told The Church of England Newspaper. "The good news is that we get people in the door; the challenge is to hold them and to form them," Dr Sachs, the Church's leading statistician, noted.

Dr. Sachs noted that conflict within the Church may have diminished attendance as well. Really. However, the "most important factor" Dr Sachs said, was that people "want clear religious identity and clear, practical purpose". "A dual focus on formation and on mission would do much to enhance the Episcopal Church's life," he said.

AN HISTORIC occasion was recorded in the PROVINCE OF UGANDA when Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi married 95 couples at St. John's Cathedral in Kabarole. They were all heterosexual. "Never in the history of the Church of Uganda or in this country has a diocese or church carried out a mass wedding. Rwenzori Diocese, you have made history in Uganda," he said amid applause from the Christians. Most of the newly-weds were the elderly. The wedding was also part of celebrations to mark the cathedral's 110th anniversary.

NIGERIAN ARCHBISHOP PETER AKINOLA made TIME magazine's top 100 list this past week. Akinola captured headlines last year for leading the worldwide revolt of evangelical Anglicans against the ordination of gay bishops in the U.S. by the Episcopal Church. He has become one of the people who shape our world, wrote Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven life. He has the strength of a lion, says Warren. No sign of Vicky Gene Robinson or Frank Griswold on the list. "Akinola personifies the epochal change in the Christian church, namely that the leadership, influence, growth and center of gravity in Christianity is shifting from the northern hemisphere to the southern. New African, Asian and Latin American church leaders like Akinola, 61, are bright, biblical, courageous and willing to point out the inconsistencies, weaknesses and theological drift in Western churches."

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold was in Florida last week and confessed that Bishop John Howard and his Jacksonville-based diocese face one the most dicey legal and theological situations in the nation because of parishes quitting the denomination over questions of biblical interpretation and human sexuality. All or parts of 10 congregations have left the 33,000-member Episcopal Diocese of Florida since November and some priests predict a "wave" of individuals may quit beginning this summer. Some of those congregations have refused to leave their buildings, and Howard is suing Redeemer Anglican Church in Jacksonville to force it from its Southside property. Ironically the day before Redeemer Anglican Church fired off a lawsuit at Bishop John Howard saying that they had the legal right to stay on their church site. Bishop Howard filed suit in Duval County circuit court in March against the Church of the Redeemer demanding its rector and lay leaders hand over the property because the parish quit the Episcopal Diocese of Florida and joined an overseas diocese. You can read both stories in today's digest.

The Archbishop of Canterbury won't be attending ECUSA's General Convention in June. A statement from the Presiding Bishop's office said that typically the archbishop does not attend Episcopal Church's General Convention, and this is the case for the 75th General Convention, VOL was told.

THE CULTURE WARS are heating up in other denominations.

A split is looming within AMERICAN BAPTIST CHURCHES. Delegates representing congregations of the American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest have voted overwhelmingly to recommend severing ties with the national denomination. There has been a growing split within the more than one million-member American Baptist Churches, USA over homosexuality. The denomination has taken previous stands against gay sex. But it has not disciplined congregations with liberal gay policies, drawing the ire of the Pacific Southwest region and others. The matter now goes to the region's board of directors, which has already recommended withdrawal from American Baptist Churches, USA.

The UNITED METHODIST CHURCH'S top court has refused to reconsider its ruling that a minister acted correctly when he refused church membership to a gay man, the church announced on Tuesday. The nine-member Judicial Council was split on the matter, however, reflecting the continued divisions within many churches on the treatment of homosexuals in matters ranging from same-sex marriages to roles in the clergy. The tribunal reaffirmed a decision made last October that the Rev. Edward Johnson of the South Hill, Virginia, United Methodist Church was within his rights for refusing to admit a homosexual man to church membership and should not have been suspended for doing so.

REALIGNMENT CONTINUES. The EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY CHURCH under its Presiding Bishop the Rt. Rev. Williams Millsaps is seeking to align itself with the Province of Uganda under its Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi. Talks have begun. The Continuing Anglican body has some 30 parishes in 17 states. The EMC had its beginning when it was faced with ongoing rejection and hostility from modernist reform elements in The Episcopal Church and withdrew from the ECUSA in 1992 and formed the Episcopal Missionary Church, completely separate from and independent of ECUSA. The Right Rev'd. A. Donald Davies, retired Bishop of Dallas and Fort Worth, was named the first Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Missionary Church. The EMC started talks in Birmingham, Alabama at the AMIA conference earlier this year and they are awaiting word from the African archbishop about how to proceed, Bishop Millsaps told VOL. "We have had two good visits with Archbishop Orombi and I hope to hear from him directly about our future proposals."

A PETITION from ECUSA PRIESTS GIVING VOICE TO VOWS is being circulated at VOL's website: www.virtueonline.org. Emanating from Plano, Texas by the Rev. Canon David Roseberry, the petition is an effort to organize and amplify the voices of thousands of orthodox priests around the country in anticipation of the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church to be held June 13-21, 2006 in Columbus, Ohio. Canon Roseberry is rector of the largest attended Episcopal parish in the ECUSA, Christ Church, Plano, is collecting signatures via a website called www.bcp526.org. SIGN UP TODAY.

WE ARE ONLY SIX WEEKS from General Convention and we are working towards our goal of raising $25,000 to cover expenses and travel to Africa following convention. We are slowly but surely reaching it, and I want to thank all those who have made a contribution to date. It has been most heartening to receive both the "widow's mite" and those of you whom God has blessed more abundantly. We still have not reached our goal and urgently need more support as we go down to the wire. Please be generous. VOL will be present covering convention hour by hour, day by day with stories posted to the website: www.virtueonline.org with digests cut every two days. We will leave no stone unturned as you enter the no spin zone with us.

We know this is not going to be a pleasant occasion; some of you have already described it as going into the belly of the beast. But whatever it is, VOL is totally committed to bringing you the unvarnished truth - win, lose or draw. So please take a moment and send a tax deductible check to:

1236 Waterford Rd.
West Chester, PA 19380

Or you can go to PAYPAL at www.virtueonline.org and make a contribution there.


All blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

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