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Griswold on homosexuality...Two parishes flee ECUSA...Diocesan News...more

"Every individual who seeks the truth faces a struggle. Each of us has some sort of devil raging within, wanting to deaden and destroy something in us. We are all in danger of thinking we are doing God a service, when in fact we are just following our own will. That is why, over and again, we must tell ourselves: ?Keep a tight rein on yourself! Stand by the truth when it dawns on you, even if it hurts, even when it denies everything the world has accepted as true until now!? - - C. F. Blumhardt

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold says his church's consecration of a homosexual bishop is like the apostle Peter welcoming uncircumcised Gentiles into the early church.

In a speech at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Salt Lake City, Griswold said, "The Holy Spirit prods and prompts us to go beyond what seems acceptable and normative."

Conservative Episcopalians and other Anglicans abroad say the Bible is clear that God reserves physical intimacy for a husband and wife. The Episcopal presiding bishop said, "Some of the law needs to be kept, but not all of the law needs to be kept."

This doubly confusing statement only highlights the shallow thinking of Frank Griswold. The only connection between a homosexual bishop and circumcision is the male appendage; after that there is no connection at all. The proscription on homosexual behavior found in 1 Cor. 6 (and other places) is just as clear as the Holy Spirit falling equally on converted Jews and Gentiles in Acts. 10. 44-46.

If Griswold is going to manipulate Scripture to suit the Episcopal Church's new-found sexual proclivities, then he had better check those other verses that are equally condemnatory of sexual behavior outside of marriage between a man and a woman. If he opposes adultery then he must also oppose homosexual, bisexual, in short lesbitransgay behavior. He also might want to take a refresher course in biblical exegesis.

Secondly, to say that "some of the law needs to be kept" begs the question as to which "some" of the law he has in mind and who decides: Griswold and ECUSA's pansexualists? The ceremonial aspects of the law have indeed ceased, but the moral law has never been abrogated, and any hint by Griswold that it has, is entirely fallacious -- and his attempts at doing so are only because he wants to justify the sexually aberrational behavior of V. Gene Robinson.

Is it any wonder that just before his election as pope, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger gave a speech about the need to pursue timeless truth and to resist "the dictatorship of relativisms"?

No wonder Griswold's Episcopal Church faces division, disinterest, and disastrously declining numbers. In the marketplace of religious ideas, most consumers seek guidance, rigor and continuity, not New Age nuance or anything-goes trendiness.

Lutheran scholar Martin Marty observes that there are two types of believers -- "protean" people who shop in the supermarket of ideas and values, and "constrictive" people who "rule out all other signals except the one they choose."

The protean Episcopal Church will incorporate just about any people with trousers and skirts (from United Religions Initiative to sodomy) if they will only just come in the front door and write out a check. The standards will in time include "open communion" -- no commitment, no repentance necessary, just come as you are, stay as you are.

FRANK GRISWOLD got the nod this past week to attend the culmination of five years' work by the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), "Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ," by the Roman Catholic bishop of Seattle, Alexander J. Burnett, despite the fact that Griswold was forced to resign from ARCIC over the Robinson consecration.

Why Rome allowed this is a mystery. The whole thing would be a bad joke if it wasn't for the fact that the newly installed Benedict XVI has serious issues with Griswold over sodomy.

Griswold's attendance at the unveiling of this document is pure politics. Griswold has about as much interest in the Virgin (perpetual or otherwise) Mary, as he has in celibacy for homosexuals.

The Mary document is the final agreed document in the process begun in 1966 by Pope Paul VI and the Most Rev. Michael Ramsey, the archbishop of Canterbury. The great unveiling will occur on May 16. Griswold's being there will not advance Christian unity; those ecumenical days are over. Robinson killed that goose.

LAST WEEK two more churches fled the Episcopal Church.

In the DIOCESE OF NORTHWEST TEXAS, parishioners at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church took a vote and wanted out. This parish has the largest weekly attendance of any parish in the diocese, with some 500 members. The usual culprit cited is V. Gene Robinson. Diocesan Bishop Wallis Ohl told the rector, the Rev. Jon Stasney that all who wanted to leave ECUSA must be off the property by June 1. Way to go, Wallis.

The departure of this parish will leave a gaping hole in diocesan finances and figures. The 40 parishes in the diocese only draw some 3,000 on a weekly basis. The loss of this parish will denude the diocese of some 13 percent of its active and dues-paying members. Ohl is not singing ole.

And in Raleigh, N.C., the Church of the Holy Cross left the DIOCESE OF NORTH CAROLINA to join a new and rapidly growing group of U.S. churches no longer willing to affiliate with a national denomination they say has strayed from its biblical roots.

Members of Holy Cross, which now calls itself Anglican, have hitched themselves to the Province of Uganda. They say the decision to leave has been brewing since the Episcopal Church USA consecrated an openly gay man as a bishop two years ago. The Rev. John W. Gibson, rector of Holy Cross, said the entire church backed the move.

Though the diocese claims some 48,600 members, only 17,000 turn up on an average Sunday. The loss of 500 plus in this parish will leave a gaping hole the bishop will never be able to fill with his revisionist gospel.

Last year, several dozen members of Raleigh's Christ Church quit to form Holy Trinity Church. They were angered by the denomination's vote to consecrate V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire. Bishop Michael B. Curry voted for Robinson's consecration. In a local news story about the departure, Curry put on a happy face and said everything was just fine in the diocese. Right.

TOTAL LOSS TO ECUSA LAST WEEK: 1,000 Episcopalians.

>From Connecticut to Kansas, Episcopal churches are seeking affiliation with overseas Anglican primates who are more conservative theologically than most of their American counterparts. These fleeing churches want to maintain their ties with the worldwide Anglican Communion by bypassing the liberal Episcopal Church. One wonders if the deep thinkers at 815 2nd Avenue in New York are getting the message or if they have a calculator that works.

THE ADULTEROUS former bishop of New York, Richard Grein, who dumped his wife for another woman and then got a woman priest fired from another Manhattan church so his then lover could get the job and then lost a BIG civil court case. is still functioning as a bishop in the diocese. He is visiting churches in the New York area at the behest of N.Y. Bishop Mark Sisk. I guess if Frank Griswold could make 39 presentment charges laid against him disappear in a cloud of ecclesiastical smoke then anything is possible. Don't watch for the Holy Ghost power to descend on any parishes Grein visits.

And in the DIOCESE OF LONG ISLAND, Bishop Orris Walker, who won't tell if he has AIDS or not, revoked the license of a Nigerian priest because the priest wrote and told him that consecrating Robinson has no biblical basis. Walker, who is no stranger to beating up the orthodox in his diocese, feels it is his divine prerogative to make the diocese over in his own image. You can read the full story in today's digest.

And in the DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA, Bishop Charles E. Bennison declared in an editorial in The Pennsylvania Episcopalian that "Catholicity is like a basket full of every kind of fruit there is, while Orthodoxy is like a jar of all-fruit jelly." You can read my analysis of this theologically Jell-O bishop in today's digest.

And a three-member panel has been named in the DIOCESE OF SOUTHERN VIRGINIA comprising the Rt. Rev. Charles E. Jenkins III, bishop of Louisiana; the Rt. Rev. Chilton R. Knudsen, bishop of Maine; and the Rt. Rev. Gordon P. Scruton, bishop of Western Massachusetts, to try and resolve the conflict and division surrounding Bishop David C. Bane's episcopacy. The diocese managed to unload its suffragan bishop, Joy Gallagher, recently and gave her a payout to get lost. The odd thing here is that it is Bishop Bane who has been on the hot seat. While he votes the right way, sources tell VirtueOnline that he is grossly incompetent and yet another recovering alcoholic. You gotta wonder what kind of people selects some of these men and women to wear a purple shirt.

The diocese had requested that the presiding bishop intervene, and he naturally passed it along to Bishop F. Clayton Matthews of the House of Bishops' Office of Pastoral Development. In ordinary language, he's Frank's dirty laundry expert who picks up the pieces and reassembles them when bad boy bishops appear on Griswold's radar screen. He also makes things go away;just ask Richard Grein. If Matthews ever writes a book on all he knows about the HOB it'll be an instant best seller. He knows more secrets than Michael Jackson.

In the DIOCESE OF MARYLAND at its 2005 convention in Hagerstown, the diocese passed four revisionist resolutions, including a resolution opposing any amendments to the Maryland and U.S. constitutions that would preclude gay marriage.

Wrote a VirtueOnline reader: "The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has just committed suicide. May God have mercy on the souls of those foolish enough to stay!"

Maryland's bishops imposed a gag-order on clergy re discussion of the proposed resolutions. Presumably this was to minimize publicity, optimize the prospects for passage of the resolutions, and then "engage members in dialogue" after the votes have occurred. They were successful.

SEWANEE AGAIN. An insider told VirtueOnline that while Robinson will not get an honorary degree this time around, it will come eventually. "Bishop Neil Alexander (Atlanta) is supposedly on the ballot for the bishop regent election, and if elected, Robinson is a shoe-in for the degree after the $180,000,000 Sewanee Call campaign is over." Like prostate cancer, watchful waiting is called for.

And members of congregations in the DIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES will take part for the third consecutive year in the Christopher Street West Parade (GAY PRIDE 2005), scheduled for Sunday, June 12, in West Hollywood.

Sponsored by the Bishop's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Ministry (BCGLM), the Episcopal Church contingent will wear matching T-shirts and an array of hats reflecting their personalities, occupations, hobbies, or ethnic origins. Some of the marchers will carry placards identifying some 94 "welcoming congregations' in the diocese.

"This is a great opportunity to spread the Good News of the Gospel to a population that has been estranged from the church," says the Rev. Susan Russell of BCGLM. Now what gospel is that, Ms. Russell?

AND from the DIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES comes word from Bishop Bruno that he will not run as a candidate to replace Frank Griswold as next PB. He declined, saying his work in the diocese was not yet completed. Presumably he can concentrate his legal efforts in getting rid of four orthodox priests from their parishes in the name of his inclusive gospel. He needs to concentrate his efforts to raise a pot full of money for legal fees.

And in the DIOCESE OF FORTH WORTH some good things were happening. At a dinner with Dean of the cathedral in Fort Worth, the senior warden of the cathedral auctioned off the shirt off his back to support a mission trip to an orphanage in Mexico. The tropical shirt was sold for $100, and over $4,000 was raised for mission work.

AND IN A SIGN OF THE TIMES a communicant at the Falls Church in Falls Church, Virginia, wrote to VirtueOnline to say that a new sign is hanging outside the church building. The word "Episcopal" is no longer in the name. In time we will see more of this as embarrassment rises over Robinson's consecration. The name Episcopal will give way to Anglican as more and more parishes no longer want to be associated with the Episcopal Church. Stay tuned.

A RECENT GALLUP POLL revealed that less than one-half of 1 percent of Americans said they would advise a young man to enter the ministry as a career. Fewer people named the ministry/clergy as a career choice for males this year than in March 2001, when it rated 1 percent. In 1949, 7 percent said they would recommend the ministry, a number that remained constant for two decades, before peaking at 8 percent in 1973.

Clearly this is impacting the Episcopal Church, which seems to be drawing in angry, divorced, lesbian women and effete, soft males.

And at Grace Episcopal Church, Syracuse, in the DIOCESE OF CENTRAL NEW YORK the Rev. James Knowles of Oklahoma dipped an eagle feather into a small pot of burning cedar and brushed the smoke toward worshippers gathered outside the church to honor a Native American saint Oakerhater, a Cheyenne, who converted to Christianity and was baptized at Grace Episcopal Church in 1878.

"It's just a way to recognize cleansing," Knowles told about 80 people who stood in the garden of the church at 819 Madison St. After walking among the crowd for the traditional Native American smudging, Knowles asked the people to face east to begin a prayer to the four directions. As he read a prayer that praised the sun, the alligator, the moon, and the turtle, worshippers turned as he described the qualities of each direction.

Whatever happened to "Though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many, and lords many), but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him."

IN VANCOUVER on May 31st, St. Simon's Anglican Church in Deep Cove will abandon its premises after 55 years. The decision to move the congregation -- made unanimously on the Easter weekend -- is the conclusion to a seven-year long emotional and legal battle over a scriptural argument. The Anglican Church worldwide has been rent asunder by the fight over the "full inclusion" of gay and lesbian people in the church. The issues included the ordination of gay clergy, the sanctifying of same-sex unions, and the church's teachings about sexuality.

Nowhere has the issue had more impact than in Deep Cove, where a seven-year legal battle has raged over control of the local church.

"It's not about the homosexual issue," said the Rev. Ed Hird. "Our concern is that we want to be true to what Anglicans have always believed. Anglicans have a strong commitment to what's called the authority of scripture." Carrying on the fight could have bankrupted the congregation and detracted from the day-to-day work of the church.

It wasn't easy, he said. Not only is he losing his church building, he's losing his home. "We're being evicted from the rectory as well," he said.

But the DIOCESE OF NEW WESTMINSTER is not winning all the rounds. The church has definite financial problems. A Diocesan Task Force on Ministry and Outreach has found that Diocesan ministry and outreach in New Westminster is close to being broken. Chief among the recommendations is that the synod winds up the Stewards in Action (SIA) program, the annual campaign that collects voluntary contributions for diocesan ministry from individuals and parishes. Begun in the mid-1980s, over the past 15 years it has raised over $10.5 million. But the task force concluded that SIA had "run its course."

"Despite several attempts at rejuvenation, donor fatigue has set in. Giving peaked in the early 1990s and income has decreased annually since," the report stated. Giving to the diocese has dropped off dramatically. From peak giving of $804,000 in 1993, it has plummeted to $353,000 in 2005. In 2004 it was $430,000. Ah, the joy of inclusive sex.

AND IN SASKATOON, CANADA, a college that trains leaders for the Anglican Church will shut down next month, leaving students to choose from only two large cities in Eastern and Western Canada to study theology.

A VirtueOnline reader sent the following report: "With the decline in Anglican ordinands over the past decade, the college has had to struggle to keep its funding levels up. Unfortunately, it has been running a deficit for the last decade and could no longer demonstrate its viability as an educational entity. This comes as no surprise, for almost all the Anglican colleges in Canada are on shaky financial ground at the moment. This is due to two factors, the lack of integrity in current Anglican doctrine, and the liberal agenda of most Anglican institutes of higher learning."

What is particularly sad about the closure of this institution isthat with it ends a substantial piece of Canadian history on the Canadian Prairie, as well as being the loss of a real player in the development of the Anglican Church in Canada. But in another way it's a real indicator of the health of the Anglican Communion in Canada. In Canada the Prairie Provinces are seen as the country's Bible Belt. The collapse of a "faith"-based institution in this particular region can be interpreted as being like a very sick patient about to expire (i.e., the Anglican Church of Canada). No doubt the church will try to put a positive spin on this event, but it can't help but fall flat.

And while all Canadian theological institutions, both conservative and liberal, are taking a hit financially due to decreasing enrollments, Regent College's own Anglican Studies program continues to grow and prosper, with ordinands turning up from all over North America. So it's not a lack of interest in Anglican theology that's causing the closure of certain colleges in Canada. It's the lack of interest in the liberal agenda of those colleges that's sealing their sorry fates.

If candidates do want an education they should seriously consider the Anglican Studies program at Regent College on the campus of the University of British Columbia. This is a first-class institution with top-of-the-line professors. Of course it will never get an endorsement from New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham, but then what would you expect? Regent College is one of the finest theological institutions in North America. Not only is sound teaching proclaimed, they dive right into contemporary culture and are willing to look at the hard questions from a biblical worldview.

IN IRELAND, Freemasonry, child pornography, and finance are among the issues Church of Ireland members will be considering ahead of their General Synod. Up to 660 Church of Ireland faithful are expected to attend the denomination's annual three-day meeting. Made up of lay people, clergy and bishops, the General Synod is the church's main decision-making and legislative body, drawing its membership from across its 12 dioceses. The church may not be a democracy, but General Synod members hoping for a better balance in representation between north and south will be disappointed when they travel to Dublin. With the publication and distribution of reports for General Synod comes the news that the Synodical Reform Working Group has disbanded. The Working Group, which was commissioned by the synod to look at possible future synodical arrangements, floundered on its first challenge, that of finding a more equitable method of representation for the General Synod. In practical terms, it means that the synod is "weighted" in favor of the less-populated dioceses in the south and west of the island, while the larger dioceses to the east and north have a less proportionate say in the decisions affecting the Church of Ireland. The imbalance is even more striking when one realizes that dioceses pay levies into central funds according to their size. All this represents yet another blow against orthodoxy.

AND TO CAP THE WEEK, NOEL -- the Episcopal Church's National Organization of Episcopalians for Life, which rejects abortion -- got a meeting at the White House with President George W. Bush. NOEL President Georgette Forney and 19 other Protestant leaders, including a number of other Episcopalians, met with the president. Present were Bishops James Stanton of Dallas, Keith Ackerman of Quincy, Peter Beckwith of Springfield, and Daniel Herzog of Albany; Canon David Anderson of the American Anglican Council; and Ms. Sharon Stockdale of the Episcopal Church Missionary Community. After Bishop Herzog led the group in prayer, the president arrived and greeted everyone individually. Beginning with the concept of leadership, Mr. Bush led a discussion that ranged from the sacrifice of the troops in Iraq to the challenges of the Middle East to Social Security to the value of faith-based initiatives for the American people. Mr. Bush shared how he came to Christ during a troubled time in his adult life and how that faith sustains him and gives him hope. He said how he wants to share that hope and see others grasp it as well.

The group responded with questions and comments. In reply the president was clear that he values life, wants others to share that value, and is saddened that life-affirming issues have become politicized. NOEL President Forney said, "As a woman who regrets her abortion and works with many others who feel the same, I worry about the emotional and spiritual consequences for those who choose euthanasia for a loved one or support the destruction of embryos. We especially need to help women so they can choose to have their babies and care for them."

One cleric present asked how they could pray for the president. He asked them to pray for him to have "oneness with the Lord's will, strength, wisdom, and serenity." Bishop Stanton commended him for his often-unheralded work against AIDS in Africa. Frank Griswold was not invited.

As Marine One landed outside to take Mr. Bush to Airforce One for a commitment in Mississippi, Bishop Ackerman asked if they could pray for him right there before he left. The president accepted his offer, and those on either side of him, Ackerman and Forney, gently laid their hands on him as all prayed for the president of the United States of America.

The DIOCESE OF DALLAS will call a special convention to study the Windsor Report on May 14 at St. Michael and All Angels Church, 8011 Douglas Ave., Dallas, convening at 9 a.m. The purpose of the Special Convention is to consider and respond to the Windsor Report. A resolution is on the floor that calls on the diocese to receive and accept the Windsor Report and endorses its proposals and expectations, especially those set out in paragraphs 134 and 144.

On May 26 the bishop of the DIOCESE OF RECIFE, BRAZIL, will send a representative in the person of Archdeacon Miguel Uchoa to London on Thursday May 26, to speak at St. Paul's on Robert Adam Street from noon to 2:30 p.m. The meeting is sponsored by Anglican Mainstream in association with the South American Missionary Society. Canon John Sutton, the general secretary of SAMS, will also be speaking. The Diocese of Recife has appealed to the archbishop of Canterbury for assistance from the Panel of Reference in the current action of the primate against the bshop, Robinson Cavalcanti.

Archdeacon Miguel Uchoa is archdeacon of the South in the Diocese of Recife, Brazil, and priest of the Church of the Holy Spirit, Diocese of Recife, which with 1,000 members is the largest Anglican parish in South America. The church runs over 40 different programs and ministries, and has planted four other churches in the last three years.

THE TOPIC OF OPEN COMMUNION (receiving the unbaptized at the Eucharist) is finally emerging as a subject for public discussion in ECUSA. One wonders why it has taken so long. Certainly we have been aware of the burgeoning practice for some time. At least 10 years ago it was the public posture of the Cathedral in Denver and of several other churches in Colorado (including some well-known evangelical churches). It is certainly the public policy now of cathedrals and parishes around the country. I have posted a major critique of this issue "On the Sorrow of Open Communion" written by the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Rader on the Web site. It is too long to post on the digest, but I would urge you strongly to hit the link below and read it. http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=2434

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