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GRISWOLD'S Disastrous Leadership...20 ECUSA bishops say Crisis real...Recife...

"When the church is fulfilling its vocation to worship the Lord and to evangelize the people it is always adapting and changing -- not adapting and changing its doctrines, basic forms of worship, moral teaching and discipline and ministry, for to do so would be to engage in the path of apostasy. Rather, adapting as occasion requires, its methods of communication, its style of presentation, its ways of having fellowship, its use of music, its relation to the local community and culture, the relation of clergy and laity in shared ministry, and so on." Dr. Peter Toon

By David W. Virtue

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Frank Tracy Griswold, the 25th putative head of the Episcopal Church, will soon see the end of his leadership of the Episcopal Church. At the next General Convention in 2006 the church will nominate a new leader for a church in steep decline.

To say that his leadership has been disastrous doesn't really begin to touch it. When he took over from Ed "the flexible" Browning, he promised to be the bishop of all, telling the story about how God had spoken to him in Italy as he visited the significant sites of the life and witness of Francis of Assisi. He said that God told him to "rebuild His church."

He went on to say that he wanted to be a reconciler between conservatives and liberals and pledged to be "a presiding bishop who belongs to all."

It never happened. Now, nine years later, the Episcopal Church is in free fall, with thousands of Episcopalians fleeing the church and numerous rectors and parishes fighting in courts for their properties.

I have examined at length Griswold's tenure in today's lead story, GRISWOLD AGONISTES. This spiritual dilettante of a man quoted Sufi Rumi more freely that he quoted the Psalms. He blatantly failed to listen to the orthodox wing of his church, preferring the company of homosexuals and lesbians and "listening" to their stories while turning a blind eye to the rapacious ecclesiastical acts of revisionist bishops like Pennsylvania Bishop Charles Bennison, or Long Island Bishop Orris Walker towards orthodox priests and parishes. He pled for justice for sodomites but failed to offer any justice for evangelicals or Anglo-Catholics. History will record that Frank Tracy Griswold caused the Episcopal Church to have to "walk apart" from the whole Anglican Communion over his in-your-face approval of an avowed homosexual to the episcopacy and much more. Read this story and weep for the church.

AN AD HOC GROUP OF SOME 20 EPISCOPAL BISHOPS who met first in Los Angeles in July to determine if in fact the Episcopal Church can stay together met again in Chicago recently. The 20 bishops represent the breadth of the theological spectrum in the church and wanted "frank, respectful" discussion on why the church is coming apart at the seams. VirtueOnline was told by a source that what took place was "only that there was near-unanimous agreement that the crisis is upon us and may well be irreversible. Also, near unanimous expression of shame over how Forward in Faith folks have been treated for the past 20 years. Beyond that they are not saying what happened at the meeting."

IF YOU WANTED any further proof that revisionist dioceses and their bishops who have no transformative gospel to proclaim, only inclusion and diversity even though they don't practice them for those who are orthodox. Then one need look no further at the DIOCESE OF NEWARK in New Jersey. The Bergen Record –- the largest newspaper in northern New Jersey -- published an extensive article about the decline of the Episcopal Church in the diocese. In brief, this is what it said: The Diocese of Newark under Bishops Spong and John P. Croneberger has lost nearly 24,000 congregants –- or 46 percent of its membership since 1972. It has closed 23 congregations, and "many congregations are struggling," with "a significant number incurring operating deficits ... some are in fear for their very existence." This is the diocese of Louie Crew (homosexual) and Elizabeth Kaeton (lesbian), among the loudest and noisiest persons pushing the gay agenda for ECUSA, and their diocese is dying. No transformation, no hope, no gospel, no glory. Croneberger will be out the door shortly, and his replacement will undoubtedly be another revisionist. For the diocese to hire someone orthodox the Search Committee would have to be struck by lightning many times.

However, the rants and ravings of Louie Crew are apparently getting to some liberal bishops. Bishop Peter John Lee of South Africa wrote to Crew recently and said this: "Can't you find something more useful to do than pushing this stuff? We live with thousands orphaned daily and have to find time to read this guff. There is something ethically questionable about the sheer greed of the gay agenda for the time, energy and work of the church when there is so much important stuff to do. You don't need to debate that with me -- just think responsibly about it." Responsibly, RESPONSIBLY! It has been Crew's life work to legitimize sodomy in the church, but he, like his diocese, is in free fall. Now at the end even some liberal bishops are waking up sick and tired of his constant braying for acceptance. It's too little, too late; they have destroyed the church and brought shame on us all.

AT THE OTHER end of the theological spectrum, a December fund-raising letter from the AMERICAN ANGLICAN COUNCIL signed by Canon David Anderson distinguishes itself from the Anglican Communion Network by saying that "the AAC has inherent freedom to move across classic hierarchical boundaries within the Anglican Communion." Anderson also claims that the AAC work includes "covert activity" and "international diplomacy." Perhaps this now explains why Bishop Robert Duncan of the Network hired his own man in the person of Doug LeBlanc to be his media and public relations person. Good move on Duncan's part. LeBlanc is a seasoned reporter and knows the ropes. He served the network well at the Anglican Hope conference in Pittsburgh recently and will churn out press releases on an as-needed basis. He was the able reporter for Episcopalians United before it morphed into Anglicans United.

A VERY TROUBLING DEVELOPMENT is the IRS proceeding against the parish of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, over a sermon the Rev. George F. Regas preached with the title, "If Jesus debated Senator Kerry and President Bush." Father Regas, it would seem, gave the debate to Senator John F. Kerry (D-MA) because in that priest's view Kerry's views were more in line with those of Jesus Christ than were those of the president.

Someone complained to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the IRS has threatened to take away the tax-exempt status of All Saints based upon that sermon. The Internal Revenue code states that section 50l(c)3 organizations (such as churches) are "prohibited from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of, or opposition to, any candidate."

VIRTUEONLINE regards this as a clear violation of free speech, even though we disagree with the church's very pro-gay stance and partisan liberal positions. Churches should not declare for any candidate, but they should be free to discuss issues. One fails to see how different the actions of this parish are compared with the blatantly partisan sermons by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. and the Reverend Al Sharpton and their followers (both men having run for president) in independent and black Baptist Churches all over America. The IRS also ignored collections taken up in Greek Orthodox Churches on behalf of presidential candidate Michael S. Dukakis. The IRS is targeting religion over a single sermon, which began with a partisan disclaimer on a single Sunday.

All Saints' rector, J. Edward Bacon, put it this way: "If the IRS interpretation stands, that means that a preacher cannot speak boldly about the core values about his or her faith community without fear of government recrimination." We agree. The IRS should get off the back of this parish.

THE VANCOUVER SUN newspaper, one of the most widely read in Canada, featured a story by staff writer Gordon Hamilton about Anglican priest Michael Foreshaw, who has AIDS. Apparently he left the Roman Catholic Church in 1991 when he was diagnosed with AIDS. He practiced safe sex with his partners! Well, New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham knew he had AIDS and that he was a homosexual but appointed him a priest in 1999 in the Diocese of New Westminster anyway. In the article Foreshaw admitted that he was addicted to sex. Now retired but considered to be in good standing, he conducts Mass at St. Paul's in Vancouver. It's ironic that while Ingham feels the pain of one man dying of a self-induced behavior, he has ripped and deposed half a dozen godly priests in his diocese who believe (gulp) that "Jesus saves." Wrote a VirtueOnline reader, "This is the most sick-making story I have read for a long time." Indeed.

THE DAM IS CRACKING...A canon at Salisbury Cathedral in England had a civil partnership ceremony for himself and his partner, followed by a "Solemn Mass and Service of Thanksgiving," followed by 60 guests invited to a wedding breakfast!! And, oh yes, the bishop of Salisbury went to the breakfast. The Church of England is now lockstep with the ECUSA and the Anglican Church in Canada on sexuality matters. One can now add Scotland, Wales, and Ireland succumbing to the charms of gay agit-prop, and now you know why Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola and the majority of African primates are up in arms against the West.

THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION OFFICE'S "listening" team will report next year (probably before General Convention) that it is making progress and will recommend to Dr. Rowan Williams that ECUSA and Canada send "goodwill ambassadors" to provinces and dioceses that are seriously engaged in the process. Burundi and possibly CPSA will be named as provinces asking for such visitors. "Listening," of course, is a euphemism for acceptance, couched in high ecclesiastical language.

In 2007, a report will be made to the Lambeth Design Team that all is going well in the listening process. The report will recommend that ECUSA and Canada send their bishops to Lambeth and will also recommend that their be small group sessions held throughout the time of the conference. Williams is already on record as saying there will not be many, if any, "resolutions" offered. We shall see.

If the topic of women bishops is still roiling the Church of England, Williams may decide not to invite suffragans again, citing the cost and pointing out that there are few suffragans in Global South dioceses. If that is the case this gives the edge to orthodox bishops and archbishops on votes if sexuality issues erupt again at Lambeth 2008.

But as a sign of their prejudice, the Anglican Communion Provincial pages of the Anglican Communion Office in London, still maintains that the bishop of Recife is the Rt. Rev. Filadelfo Oliviera Neto and not the lawfully elected Bishop Robinson Cavilcanti. The office continues to post that the true bishop is Neto.

The latest news out of the DIOCESE OF RECIFE is that the diocese has grown by 25 percent in its membership in 2005, under Bishop Cavilcanti. Despite tension, persecutions and financial limitations, the Diocese of Recife registered a growth of about 25 percent among its communicant members in the present year, from 2,310 in 2004 to 2,883 in 2005, with a total of 573 new confirmations. Including children and not-confired adults (the so-called "congregated") the Diocese of Recife is constituted by a community of 4,371 persons, enrolled in 37 parishes, missions and missions stations, led by 41 clergy and 16 lay ministers and evangelists. Clergy ordinations also grew by 25 percent in 2005. The diocese has a network of social projects among the poor and uses Cursillo, Alpha Courses, Encounters with Christ, and Life with the Spirit seminars to reach the middle class with the Gospel. It is divided into four local archdeaconries, supported by 10 specialized secretaries. On May 20, 2006 the diocese, led by Bishop Cavalcanti, will commemorate the 30th anniversary of its founding with several plans of quantitative and qualitative growth.

And news just out from the Diocese of Recife they have created a "North-American Archdeaconry". At its XXV Synod (December, 1-3th) they voted for the creation of an extraterritorial "North American Archdeaconry" for its parishes and missions in the United States. The Rev. Duncan Clark, St. Charles, Poulsbo, Wa, was designated Archdeacon for the area. Recife has other four Archdeacons for its local territory. Six priests, two retired priests, three deacons, serving in two parishes and four missions in four US States are under Recife's Episcopal oversight. The Rev. Carol Harlacher, St. Stephen, Oak Harbor, Wa, was present, representing the group. By other decision, the Synod plenary appointed the Rt. Revd. Peter Beckwith, of Springfield ("Companion Diocese" with Recife) as "Auxiliary Bishop for Pastoral Care", available to the new Archdeaconry. Bishop Beckwith spoke to the Synod and preached in its closing Service, with Baptism, First Eucharist, Confirmation, the Ordination of one Deacon and two Priests and the Theological Seminary Graduation. The diocese is under the Primate of the Southern Cone, the Most. Revd. Gregory J. Venables.

IN NIGERIA recently an "historic" first meeting for gay Nigerian Christians took place, indicating to one person an "alarming insurgency in the Anglican Church of Nigeria." That has also happened in the Province of Uganda in Kampala, where the ECUSA organization called Integrity has gained a foothold, and there are reports that the Episcopal Church of Sudan is being courted by the ECUSA with partner dioceses, scholarships to VTS, with American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (AFRECS) sending "missionaries", etc. The Episcopal Church is determined to rope in as much of Africa as it can either through its own financial resources or through Trinity Wall Street. This will be a fight to the end.

IN THE DIOCESE OF LAKE MALAWI which recently rejected London cleric Nick Henderson, a fight is looming over his rejection by Archbishop Bernard Malango. Some 20 clergy have signed a statement saying they reject (in the strongest terms) the appointment of Rt. Revd. L.J. Mwenda as bishop of Lake Malawi and want Fr. Henderson to be reconsidered. They say the confirmation court was biased since it did not allow any representatives from Diocese of Lake Malawi that elected Nicholas Henderson but only allowed the objectors to come in large numbers and consequently the court made a decision according to the request presented by the objectors. Stay tuned.

NEW HAMPSHIRE Bishop V. Gene Robinson recently boasted in England that only one congregation had left his jurisdiction following his consecration as an openly homoerotic bishop. What he didn't say is that eight new orthodox parishes have been formed, with more than half started since he was consecrated. One church left ECUSA immediately following his consecration.

In the DIOCESE OF MISSOURI, the convention changed how the diocese assesses parishes. Basically it was this. They changed the formula for assessments, giving congregations the discretion to set their assessment rates within a range of 12.5 percent to 15 percent of assessed income and if they choose not to pay the full amount, they do so knowing the penalty. The situation is that each congregation will have a minimum of two delegates with an additional one for each 75 in average Sunday attendance with no maximum. This ties each congregation's number of delegates with a vote at convention to the proportion of its assessment the congregation has paid. If you don't pay up,...no delegates. In his address to the convention, Bishop George Wayne Smith reaffirmed his intention to look to the See of Canterbury as the focal point of unity in the Anglican Communion. "To calibrate the highest possible degree of unity, I have set my eyes on Canterbury," he said. "My eyes are not on Nigeria. And my eyes are not on New Hampshire, either." This is the perfect pluriform solution.

In the DIOCESE OF SOUTHEAST FLORIDA, Bishop Leo Frade told delegates in his address to convention that they should "make known to all people the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, including all, excluding none, as a challenge that may seem at times like an insurmountable task." He warned that one of the obstacles the church faces is division. "We must stop burning 'heretics' and each other at the stake with the fire of our intolerance. This applies equally to both sides of the argument . . . To be an Anglican is not to seek uniformity, but to promote in our midst what Hooker called 'a harmonious dissimilitude'," Frade said. Now, I wonder if that applies to revisionist bishops who are busy destroying orthodox priests, or to gays who insist on whining they don't feel accepted even though they now run the show and are running the orthodox out of town.

Near SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, a new orthodox Anglican parish under the ecclesiastical oversight of the Rev. Christopher Seddon is in play. It is St. John's Anglican Church, Park City, Utah. Fr. Seddon writes: "The Lord is blessing us hugely, and we had the involvement of EMC, AMiA and ACN at the celebration of our new ministry." St. John's Anglican Church was formed by a small band of faithful Anglicans two years ago. From small beginnings with four parishioners in May 2004 they had their annual meeting in January 2005, when the congregation stepped out in faith and hired a full-time priest despite not having the funds to achieve this. Fr. Christopher Seddon arrived on June 1 and celebrated Holy Eucharist for the first time on June 5. They were blessed and grew. New faces arrived each week, including many former Episcopalians. They moved to a larger worship space and now average more than 60 at Eucharist each week. On September 17 they had a service celebrating the official institution of their first priest. Officiating were Bishop William Millsaps of the Episcopal Missionary Church, assisted by Bishop Sandy Greene of AMiA and Fr. Bill Thompson of the Anglican Communion Network. This was clearly an example of common cause at work. The Episcopal Diocese of Utah is in the hands of Carolyn T. Irish, a former Mormon who was never baptized as a Christian. She is also a recovering alcoholic. The diocese only has 22 parishes, and while it claims more than 5,300 members in good standing, average Sunday attendance is a mere 1,800. If a dozen evangelical Anglican parishes with 200 in each left, the diocese would be out of business.

IN OTHER CONTINUING NEWS, the Most Reverend Mark D. Haverland, Ph.D., was elected archbishop and Metropolitan of the Anglican Catholic Church at the Provincial Synod in Grand Rapids, MI. Archbishop Haverland succeeds the Most Reverend John-Charles Vockler, OFDC.

WE ARE FAST APPROACHING the end of 2005, and I hope you will take a moment to consider a tax-deductible donation to this vital ministry that keeps you informed on a daily basis about news of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Please consider a generous check to support this ministry. This is the one month of the year when we will know whether or not there will be another year of writing the news to keep you informed. GC2006 is less than six months away. You want VirtueOnline to be there to keep you informed without the spin. Your gift is desperately needed at this time. Please send your tax-deductible check to:

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Advent Blessings,

David W. Virtue, DD

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