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Impossible to overrate ill health of ECUSA, says global strategist


By David W. Virtue

BEDFORD, TX- (6/28/2004)--It is impossible to overrate the ill health of The Episcopal Church. The difficulty nowadays is to make a caricature of the institution. The biggest concern is not that the parts are in ill health but the impact it has on those of us who have good health, says a leading orthodox Episcopal leader who travels the globe interfacing with the Global South bishops.

"We [the orthodox] have been tremendously impacted by what is going on," said Canon Bill Atwood, general secretary of Ekklesia, an organization that links First World Orthodox bishops with bishops in the Global South.

"A full page article in a Texas Newspaper said the consecration of V. Gene Robinson had not caused schism. This is nonsense when 21 of the 38 provinces are in impaired or broken communion. That is not schism?"

"These Global South bishops have gone on record saying we will not eat with you [Griswold], we will not speak with you [Griswold], and we don't want your money, and that is not schism?"

Atwood told deputies to the 16th Annual Assembly of Forward in Faith NA that the leadership of the Episcopal Church was trying to say those things are not there, they are not happening.

"But it's a lie, they are happening, and they will continue to happen till Frank Griswold is formally DISCIPLINED by the world's Anglican Primates."

"Orthodox people in the ECUSA should be clear about what is happening and going to happen. If we hand together as Anglicans then the Episcopal Church and its leader Frank Griswold must be disciplined with a minimum 'no voice, no vote.' It is impossible to think otherwise."

Atwood urged his hearers to talk in their families about what fidelity to the gospel means. "When the family is in crisis it is imperative to be clear. Stand up and be accountable, the stakes are very high."

"The direction the Episcopal Church is going is leading people away from Jesus Christ. We are supposed to be leading people to Christ and be transformed by His grace and power. This is an evangelistic imperative; this is a struggle about eternity."

"When you understand this then you know why the Global South is so outraged, and they will not be complicit in one person being lead away from Christ and lead to hell. That is the core and heart of the issue of the Global South," he said.

Atwood pointed to the paper delivered by West Indies Primate Drexel Gomez which pointed to the theological foundations of realignment.

"There are three things that he identifies. The first is that this is a salvation issue. Peoples' eternal souls are being imperiled therefore the wider Anglican Communion cannot be silent."

Atwood said that in the Province of Canada, the promise was made for adequate episcopal oversight, and they said they would provide that oversight, but they haven't. It comes with so many strings, that it is not worth the paper it is printed on. The evidence is that Michael Ingham in Vancouver now wants the properties of the faithful and wants them gone. That is tyranny of the worst sort, he told Virtuosity.

"We tend to focus on the temporal when we should be focusing on the eternal."

Atwood said he had even thought about digging up his parents from a parish that was now revisionist and putting them in more hallowed ground.

Atwood said there are African Archbishops laying down their lives for the gospel.

"Bishop Objwan in Northern Uganda was recently kidnapped by members of the Lord's Resistance Army. His livestock was stolen his property ransacked. He was rescued by an anti-guerrilla forces in Uganda. He was beaten nearly to death. He is not shrinking back from his diocese because he sees things in terms of eternity."

"We can't make our decision on what the outcome of the property will be, but on what the gospels teach and how precious people are."

Atwood said people can change the church. "Like raindrops forming a flood, we can change it one drop at a time. The Anglican Communion is in crisis. The Primates will no longer tolerate Western innovations. There have been attempts to sabotage and hijack the African Church with money and offers of education for African priests in revisionist ECUSA seminaries, but they have failed. Gays love to tell touching anecdotal stories about their lives and how they are changing the course of The Faith, but we have a responsibility to really love them...to say no to behaviors hat dramatically shorten their lives. The debate needs to be about accountability.

Atwood expressed concern about the communion's, four instruments of unity. "These instruments of unity must all step up to the plate or they will no longer continue to be the yardstick of the life and health of the communion. They have lost their moral ground to be called instruments of unity.

"What is going to happen? It is impossible to say for sure. The Episcopal Church should repent and at the minimum given 'no voice no vote.' The ECUSA needs to return to the faith once delivered. What happens next...let it be written let it be done."

Atwood said the signs are terrifying. "It is agonizing to discipline, but it must be done. If the commission comes through with tremendous resolve then the communion will survive. If it doesn't go through and ECUSA is still defined as a constituent member then the communion as we know it is finished."

"The Global South bishops see the issue in simple terms. It might seem bad and schismatic, but they will not pitch their future with ECUSA, the gospel is too important to leave in the hands of revisionist diocese, who have no gospel."

Atwood said the Global South bishops are looking to the Network rather than 815 2nd avenue (ECUSA's national headquarters) as they way forward. "They will affiliate with the Network."

"What happens if the communion or Rowan Williams are insufficient in their solutions, or they speak sufficiently and ECUSA refuses to repent, there will be a formal separation with many provinces going their own way and forming a new communion."

"It is incredibly costly leadership. The question must be asked; Where is your hope? If you have it fixed in a bishop or a priest you have it all wrong. Our only hope is God."



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