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INTERVENTION, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Florida, Rio Grande, AAC and more

“If it be hard to endure, it must be more hard to endure hard things; and of all things hard to be endured, the hardest is death. And that if He endured, and no more but that, it might suffice; it is worth all we have, for all we have we will give for our life. But not death only, but the kind of death is it. Morten, morten autem crucis, saith the Apostle, doubting the point; ‘death He endured, even the death of the cross.’” Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

INTERVENTION. It is what friends, family and loved ones do to an alcoholic who cannot see what he or she is doing to themselves, to friends, family and loved ones, and to those with whom they work in the wider world.

It is tough love, but for the sake of the person involved it must be done or the repercussions of inaction will ripple in all directions wreaking havoc on everyone.

The Episcopal Church desperately needs intervention. It is sick unto death. It is sick because of the continual compromises made over faith and morals by the House of Bishops and because it is patently obvious to anyone that unless there is intervention, the ECUSA is on the verge of imploding.

Around the country, in one diocese after another, there is tension, anxiety and despair. Calls for reconciliation grow more shrill, demonstrating they are as fictional as Frank Griswold’s Affirming Catholicism.

The consecration of an openly homoerotic bishop has brought nothing but bitterness, anger and cries for help.

This week it reached right into the DIOCESE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE, Robinson’s own diverse backyard. Several parishes said openly and determinedly that they will not have Robinson reign over them. And so the proverbial you know what hit the fan. The laity in one parish is holding Robinson’s feet to the fire and they want an answer in two weeks about alternative episcopal oversight.

ECUSA’s revisionist leaders fatuously believe that they can dismiss the orthodox as just a bunch of homophobic fundamentalists unfairly trying to thwart their own enlightened minds as they jack boot their way into a progressive future…a future that looks more like the Third Reich army on retreat to Berlin.

The future grows increasingly bleak with each passing day. The choice is between Holy Scripture and anal sex. There is no middle ground. Intervention is desperately needed.

Two possibilities present themselves. The first is, of course, the conclusions of the Lambeth (Eames) Commission due out later this year. Will this be the much needed intervention for ECUSA? But what if the results are less than adequate or salvific?

The second possibility, and one that appears more likely, is that the African bishops lead by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, will launch their own salvos with more deadly accuracy, piercing the theologically and morally bankrupt paper thin armor that no longer hides Frank Griswold’s karma, a karma which long ago ran over Biblical dogma.

The attempts to hold the unity of the church on the basis of territory while jettisoning the sworn commitments to the Christian Faith will not hold the church together.

NIGERIAN ARCHBISHOP PETER AKINOLA was in the US recently, for less than 48 hours, but managed to deliver himself very succinctly about where he stands, and he said he would never break bread again with Frank Griswold. And if Akinola lines up the other African Primates behind him, then the Primates annual gatherings won’t be worth going too, and Frank and Rowan will be looking at each other across a less than crowded room.

Akinola laid it on the line when he was here. He argued that the liberal factions that had captured the leadership and bureaucratic machinery of several Western Churches must “either repent and come back to the fold, or give up on the Anglican family.” He also stated that unless the leadership of the American Church repented in its advocacy of the homosexual agenda, he would not attend pan-Anglican gatherings where they would be present.

Africa’s continuing place in the Anglican Communion will come under sharp scrutiny April 14-16 when the leaders of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa [CAPA] meet in Nairobi. The summit will draw the 12 African Primates and the Bishop of Egypt, the Archbishops of Southeast Asia, South America, the West Indies, the Philippines, Pakistan, and New Guinea along with other Anglican leaders. Observers say that it is the most significant gathering of Primates since the emergency meeting held at Lambeth on October 14-15.

This is called laying it on the line. Clearly Mt. CAPA is ready to blow and you can be sure the smoke and ashes will be felt for miles in all directions.

But Akinola is not the only one announcing his displeasure with the direction of Western liberal morals and theology.

IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, orthodox Episcopalians said they will not have the homoerotic Robinson reign over them and Redeemer Episcopal is giving him two weeks to come up with a suitable bishop to provide ALTERNATIVE Episcopal Oversight and not the HOB DEPO fudge proposal. You can read that story today.

IN CONNECTICUT a priest there says the revisionist Bishop Andrew D. Smith laid down the law about what DEPO really means to all the rectors and wardens but it involves lots of money, and he is being challenged by parishes in the AAC-Connecticut family, and they will not bend to his will. Total withholding from the diocese is over $700,000 so far. That story is posted here.

IN THE DIOCESE OF FLORIDA the newly anointed Samuel Johnson Howard is starting to play hardball with parishes that don’t cough up their full assessment. One of the larger Network churches in the Diocese of Florida, All Soul’s Jacksonville, resolved to send 9% of its 10% assessment to the Diocese of Florida and to redirect the additional 1% to the Network. While the Diocese of Florida has ALWAYS retained only 9% of the 10% assessment with the 1% to be directed either to the ECUSA or to missionary work outside of the diocese. Bishop Howard wants it all. All money is to go through him. NO local options. When All Soul's sent their 9%, Bishop Howard returned their check. (More on what Howard is doing to this diocese at a later date).

AND FIVE PARISHES IN THE DIOCESE OF NEW YORK are withholding nearly $300,000 from their bishop Mark Sisk, Virtuosity was told this week.

AND AMERICAN ANGLICAN COUNCIL president took more swipes at ECUSA’s liberal leadership this week. The AAC and Network have clearly dug in for the duration and they will fight Griswold and the revisionists all the way to Lambeth Palace and Lagos, if necessary, before they cave in to liberal tyranny. David C. Anderson and the AAC are soldiers in a battle for the soul of the Episcopal Church.

The DIOCESE OF THE RIO GRANDE has received the necessary consents for the election of a new bishop to succeed Bishop Terence Kelshaw. This, despite a formal request from the local pro-gay advocacy group Via Media requesting that consents be withheld. This revisionist gang doesn’t want another orthodox bishop to succeed Kelshaw; they’d like a liberal who believes in pansexuality. They lost in their demand. The Diocese received a sufficient number of canonically required consents from both bishops and standing committees to hold an election for bishop coadjutor. But the standing committees of Atlanta, Olympia and Western New York refused. Of course. They are among the worst of the revisionist bishops in the ECUSA and would probably have refused consents to Jesus if he were running for Bishop of Nazareth, no doubt for his lack of inclusivity of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

IN SAN DIEGO, Virtuosity asked if the orthodox Gethin Hughes replacement would be orthodox. Back came the answer. “No, the revisionists beat us to death at the Diocesan Convention in February. They out-politicked us and, at least among the clergy, outnumber us. They know all the nuances of Constitution, By Laws and Roberts Rules of Order and they buried us.” Said the source, “we are trying to get more political wisdom but we all have the same problem in devoting so much energy to the political process. Pray for us and for the Global South Primates to act forcefully, quickly and successfully.”

AND IN THE DIOCESE OF SOUTHERN VIRGINIA, the Diocese cut its budget by $400,000 to offset a drop in contributions from parishes upset with the national church's endorsement last summer of a gay bishop. The diocese plans to spend $1.35 million this year. Last year, it budgeted $1.76 million, but saw revenue fall short by $200,000 when some parishes didn't fulfill their pledges.

CONCERNED EPISCOPALIANS OF RHODE ISLAND (CERI) will host a gathering at The Church of St. Andrew and St. Philip, Coventry for those RI Episcopal Church members who are distressed about the direction of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA), Saturday April 24. The mission of the group, comprised of lay and clergy leaders, is to provide information and hope for those church members in Rhode Island who are concerned about recent events in the church and who may be in search of opportunities for traditional, Biblically based worship and teaching.

In addition to worship together, the one day conference will feature a number of presentations for those seeking a better understanding of what has happened and what the future holds. The presentations will cover the evolution of ECUSA to its current revisionist stance, and the exciting developments now unfolding within the Anglican Communion that will provide organizational, spiritual, and pastoral care for all Episcopalians seeking to proclaim Jesus Christ and move forward with the true mission of the Church. Speakers include The Rev. Mark Galloway, The Church of St. Andrew and St. Philip, Coventry, The Rev. Canon Jonathan Ostman, The Church of St. John the Evangelist, Newport, The Rev. Dr. Gary C. Lemery, The Church of the Transfiguration, Edgewood, The Rev. William Fraatz, St. Barnabas, Warwick, and The Rev. Donald Parker, St. James, Woonsocket. Lay leaders from CERI will give a presentation on the resources that are available and actions that can be taken by individuals and parishes. For more information about the CERI conference and to register, log on to www.CEofRI.org or call 401-734-9619. The liberal Bishop Geralyn Wolf is not amused.

IN THE DIOCESE OF CALEDONIA, Prince Rupert, B.C. the Bishop, William Anderson came under fire for licensing an orthodox ECUSA priest in the Diocese of Wyoming recently because the priest in question could not, in conscience, live with the Robinson consecration. The bishop took the priest under his wing because in his view it was a moral and spiritual response which should always outweigh a bureaucratic response, particularly if it is intended to support a man who is trying to live faithfully according to Scripture, the teaching of the Anglican Communion, and his ordination vows. In taking the American priest under his wing he violated canons on both sides of the border. The media picked up on the story as did Virtuosity as there were threats to discipline and depose the bishop.

However, the bishop writes that the possibility of discipline, while raised, has gone nowhere. “I have not been contacted by the Metropolitan to discuss this, nor have I been informed of any possible proceedings, impending or otherwise.” Virtuosity will keep you posted.

A CHURCH OF ENGLAND BISHOP, N.T. WRIGHT (Durham) has come out attacking low levels of ‘biblical literacy’ that is affecting even established congregations in England.

Tom Wright said that, together with a number of other factors, this is affecting the way people view the Church. The situation is so poor that he says he wants to walk down Fleet Street carrying a large banner proclaiming that the Gospel of Jesus is alive and well in his diocese. In a wry comment in the Newslink he says: “The Church has had one bitter snowfall after another. Fewer people come to worship. Money is scarce. The national media rubbish us. Biblical literacy is low -- even in established congregations.”

He goes on: “Many clergy are disheartened. And now the Anglican Communion is threatening to break up. Many feel as though, like people driving through thick snow, we’re skidding this way and that, hardly able to see where we’re going, resigned to the fact that we’re probably going to end up in a ditch.”

In the ECUSA biblical illiteracy works in favor of the revisionists. Their hope is that the less people know about what the Bible really says the better they can sell their doctrines of niceness, inclusivity and diversity, none of which has anything to do with the really Good News. Their fear is that when and if people start reading their bibles they might become acquainted with the Scriptures which could make them “wise unto salvation” and sodomy, a more dismal prospect cannot be imagined for revisionist bishops and their acolytes.

HUNDREDS OF EPISCOPALIANS HAVE WRITTEN VIRTUOSITY asking for a list of ministries and organizations they can give their monies too now that they are being diverted from their revisionist bishops and dioceses. I have provided such a list for you in today’s digest.

IN CANADA the Senate delayed voting on Bill C-250 which would have made any criticism of homosexuality a hate crime punishable by imprisonment. Most Senators support the bill. So it was expected to pass into law. However two amendments were introduced in the Senate on April 1, preventing Bill C-250 from being passed, just when all the activists anticipated it would be slipped through. The Senate has recessed for Easter break until April 20. Due to the amendments, debate and voting on the bill is re-scheduled for April 20. If the Prime Minister calls an election before then, the bill will die. Orthodox Anglican and Roman Catholics are thankful for the delay and they are hopeful the complete failure of Bill C-250. “Freedom of speech and religion have not yet been oppressed by Bill C-250, and we remain optimistic,” said a source.

THE SUDAN STORY I posted in the last digest provoked a storm of protest from Faith McDonnell of the Institute of Religion and Democracy (IRD). This in turn provoked a counter response from Mr. Wheatley. Both sides are presented in today’s digest. Basically what she reports is true, up to the middle of last year, when the government troops withdrew, says Wheatley. “There are still militias operating in Dafur, and many blame the government for not reining them in. The government this week arrested the political and military leaders who were allied with the militias. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported it as the arrest of opposition leaders who were then charged with plotting a coup. They are former government leaders ousted as part of the peace process to make room for SPLA representatives in the cabinet.” Clearly the Sudanese situation is fluid, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

THE PASSION IS PLAYING IN EGYPT AND QATAR, much to the surprise of Christians in the Middle East. The Crucified Jesus is the talk of the whole world. A Virtuosity source in Cairo wrote to say that “everyday, for the past many weeks, newspapers and TV talk shows in Egypt have been talking about Jesus, and Him crucified! If you had ever told us that this would have been possible, we would have replied “Not in our lifetime!” But - like the unexpected fall of the iron curtain a few years ago - God is constantly surprising us by what he is doing! The shocking pictures of Jesus’ suffering as depicted in “The Passion of the Christ” movie have become a common sight throughout the world, including the Middle East,” he writes.

“This is surprising not only because we are in a Muslim region where talk about Jesus is not common, but also because Muslims have generally interpreted the Koran as claiming that Jesus was NOT crucified. (The official reason why the movie has gotten so much attention in the Arab world is because of the opposition of many Jews to its screening!) Pirated CDs of the movie are in many homes in Egypt and--whether or not people will get to see it in the theatres where it opened on March 31;--thousands have seen and will see it in their homes!

THE ALL NEW EPISCOPAL CHURCH ANNUAL – General Convention Issue - 2004 is out. One interesting statistic that emerges is that the Average Sunday Attendance based on a 52-Sunday average, reported for 2001 was 860,686. In 2002 that figure had dropped to 846, 640 – a drop of more than 14,000 or 1.63 percent. There can be little question that in 2003 that figure will be down another 20,000 with 2004 seeing a massive cliff edge drop owing to the Robinson consecration and the siphoning off of large congregations to the Anglican Mission in America. The Anglican Church of Canada has been losing an average of 20,000 congregants a year, so it would not be an exaggeration to say that unless there is massive spiritual renewal and a return to the gospel and proclamation of non-pluriform Good News, both churches will be virtually extinct by 2040. The Episcopal Church will still have a lot of buildings and, presumably, a Pension Fund.

The Church Annual is the most comprehensive, updated reference book available on the Episcopal Church. Contains more than 500 pages of well-organized information and current statistics, including the names and addresses of 17,300 Episcopal clergy, 7,300 Episcopal parishes and missions, and hundreds of church-related organizations. Also includes the names of newly elected and appointed committee and commission members for the current Triennial and contact information for Lutheran bishops and synods. It is available for $34.95. Contact Jeff Hamilton, Director of Sales & Marketing (717) 541-8130 ext. 703 fax: (717) 541-8136 jhamilton@morehousegroup.com

CORRECTION. In my last digest I said that Alan Jones was the Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Diego. Incorrect. He is the Dean of the Cathedral in San Francisco.

I do hope you all had a blessed Good Friday and a glorious Resurrection Sunday. Christ our Passover Lamb was sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Feast! (1 Corinthian 5:7-8) VIRTUOSITY wishes all its readers a very blessed Easter.

WELCOME TO VIRTUOSITY. If you are a first time reader, a very special welcome. If you see a story you like please feel free to forward it to your friends that you think might interest them. Invite people to join VIRTUOSITY or go to the website at www.virtuosityonline.org.

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All Blessings

David W. Virtue DD

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