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INTRIGUE, Politics, Tension Mounts as GC2006 Draws Closer...Sewanee..Apb's Panel

The Christian and good works. "Although we cannot be saved by works, we also cannot be saved without them. Good works are not the way of salvation, but its proper and necessary evidence. A faith which does not express itself in works is dead. From "Christ the Controversialist" by John R. W. Stott, author, teacher and peripatetic preacher.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It was a week in which the divisions in the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church got sharper and more defined. Intrigue is everywhere with back room politics, closed door meetings and much more. The pressure is mounting on all sides as we get closer to General Convention next month in Columbus, Ohio.

VOL learned this week that a dozen ECUSA bishops, including the Bishop of Southwest Texas, Gary Lillibridge, and the retired Bishop of South Carolina, Ed Salmon have been invited to a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury. VOL has been given to understand that there are six left leaning bishops and six right leaning bishops who have been invited. VOL's sources in London have not learned anything as yet, but we shall know more ere long.

The politics get crazier along with the intrigue. There's so much more going on under the cloak of confidentiality it's hard to know where the truth begins or ends and the spin kicks in. The Panel of Reference did not take up a suggestion to send an official delegate to GC2006. The Archbishop of Canterbury is also keeping his distance from Columbus, Ohio, which is not exactly a surprise, anyway.

The DIOCESE OF TENNESSEE took center stage with news that the University of the South at Sewanee was fast moving towards becoming yet another former Christian university with Episcopal distinctiveness. Eighteen faculty want to change the university's purpose statement to drop the words "...and enlightened by Christian faith in the Anglican tradition" and adding the words: "committed to justice". You can read the full story in today's digest or click here: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=4055. The University is trying to raise $180 million and have $50 million to go! Why in heaven's name would alumni give to a school that won't look like anything that he or she experienced 10 years from now!

In the Diocese of Tennessee it's a whole new ball game as they search for a bishop. The diocese failed in 36 ballots to secure a new bishop. The current bishop Bertram Nelson Herlong has asked for a new search committee and a new slate of candidates. Those who were on the original slate could run but it would be political suicide. A source told VOL that what the liberal and revisionist priests and laity have said is that they will not consider anybody associated with the Network. Canon Neal Michell (Diocese of Dallas) was from a network diocese. "His answers were really good. When he was asked about his affiliation with the Network he said the Network has allowed people to stay in the church and have a place to stand and was not schismatic. He further said that the only way to remain in the Anglican Communion is through the Network, especially if things go belly up at GC2006." The source told VOL that a group calling themselves the Continuing Episcopalians of Tennessee - a liberal group - waged a campaign of fear, and said if Michell was elected bishop he would lead them out of the Episcopal Church. It was not true of course, but fear ruled the day."

In the end nobody got elected. The source was particularly incensed why the neo-conservative Rev. Brian Cox, who hadn't a prayer of winning, didn't bow out and toss his votes to Michell. Cox told Tennesseans that his bishop J. Jon Bruno had recommended DEPO so he and his parish got Bishop Ed Little from Nthn. Indiana! Bruno still makes visitations however. The liberals didn't like Cox either, because he was a network parish and because he had chosen DEPO, said the source. The diocese requires a two-thirds margin from both lay and clergy deputies to elect a bishop.

EVERYONE got caught with their pants down including the Network, AAC leaders and the official Episcopal News Service (ENS) when they failed to reveal that the new bishop of the Diocese of Northern California the Rev. Canon Barry Beisner, is a twice divorced, three times married priest! It's probably why he didn't return my call. To oppose Gene Robinson's election on moral and Scriptural grounds and not to oppose Beisner's election "reeks of hypocrisy" a source told VOL. While there have been over a dozen American bishops who have been divorced and remarried, Canon Beisner will be the first priest to have been divorced twice and married three times before he even dons a miter.

In the DIOCESE OF CONNECTICUT this week the orthodox 'Ct. Six' parishes got word that their appeal to the Panel of Reference in London would not be heard. "We, our priests, vestries and congregations, were shocked and gravely disappointed to learn of the Panel of Reference's actions in causing the Archbishop of Canterbury to withdraw his referral of our applications to the Panel. Our congregations appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, requesting he refer our situation to the Panel of Reference in July 2005 in light of the abusive and hostile actions of the Rt. Rev. Andrew Smith, Bishop of Connecticut. It was Smith, after all who provoked the civil litigation. You can read the full story in today's digest or click here: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=4057

In the DIOCESE OF FLORIDA it was the opposite story. Redeemer Anglican Church -- formerly the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Jacksonville will have their case heard by the Anglican panel. They have agreed to hear an appeal for help from the orthodox parish embroiled in a legal and theological fight with the Episcopal Diocese of Florida. But whether the case of is taken up by the London-based Panel of Reference may depend on Bishop John Howard agreeing to drop or delay the lawsuit he filed against the Southside parish in March. "The diocese is still considering how it will respond," said the Rev. Canon Kurt Dunkle, Howard's chief of staff.

ON a brighter note COMMON CAUSE MID-SOUTH held a weekend conference recently in Memphis this past week. Between 130 and 140 turned out for the occasion and heard distinguished British author and evangelist Michael Green stir the troops with a powerful address on 'The Way Forward: equipping the saints.' It was a lay initiative, mainly elderly but with some good priests in attendance. They came from half a dozen or more jurisdictions including Reformed Episcopal, Charismatic Episcopal, AMiA etc. Some churches were still in ECUSA (unhappily) but also in the Network. The retired Bishop of West Tennessee Alex Dickson gave a talk on Anglicanism from his perspective - catholic, evangelical and charismatic. "A real sense of partnership and determination to actually do something together ran through the group, ably led by an interesting international financier Lyman Aldrich, president of the AAC Midsouth," said Green. For more go to their website: www.anglicancommoncause.org.

OFFICIAL PRAYERS for General Convention lack biblical orthodoxy says the Rev. Dr. Peter Toon of the Prayer Book Society. The apostasy that the General Convention has caused to occur within the Episcopal Church since the 1970s occurred primarily because the membership ceased really and truly to pray "in Jesus' Name" even though parallel phrases were used in a liturgical form. And it ceased to pray thus because it was not living in such a way as to believe, adorn and propagate the Gospel of the Lord Jesus, says Toon. For the ECUSA to change in ways that are noted as significant in heaven, there has to be throughout its now diminished membership the recovery of truly praying "in Jesus' Name," and this of course will only occur when there are growing numbers of renewed lives of consecrated discipleship of the same Lord Jesus. You can read his complete statement in today's digest or go here: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=4061

TRINITY EPISCOPAL SCHOOL FOR MINISTRY announced the graduation of its largest class in history. On May 13, 44 students received master's degrees or the degree of Doctor of Ministry, and a good number of distance students received diplomas. The exercises were held in Trinity Cathedral, Pittsburgh. The speaker was Dr. Philip Jenkins, author of The Next Christendom. It was also announced that the new Chairman of the Board of Trinity is The Rev. Canon David H. Roseberry, Rector of Christ Church, Plano, Texas. Christ Church is the largest attended parish in the Episcopal Church USA. Stepping down as Board Chairman of Trinity is Hugo Blankingship, Esq., of Fairfax, Virginia. Mr. Blankingship described his tenure of service on behalf of Trinity as "the most important thing I have ever done in my life." Blankingship was elected an emeritus trustee of the School and a continuing member for one year of the Executive Committee.

VIRGINIA THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY (VTS) announced this week that its Dean and President, the Very Rev. Martha J. Horne is retiring. "I am writing to let you know of my intention to retire next year as Dean and President of the Virginia Theological Seminary. I do so with mixed emotions because I love this Seminary so deeply and treasure the rich network of relationships that I have enjoyed with members of the Board, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends. In a letter to the Seminary Community, the Rt. Rev. Peter Lee, Bishop of Virginia and Chairman of the Seminary's Board of Trustees announced the appointment of Dr. David Charlton, a long time member of the Seminary's Board of Trustees and a former faculty member, as Chair of the Search Committee that will begin the process of searching for Dean Horne's successor.

In the DIOCESE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA a source told VOL this week that all the closures don't seem to be fazing the bishop. "A little bird whispered in my ear that the parishes being slated for closure in the Diocese of British Columbia are those in which the clergy are not "bishop's men." This information happened by way of a "slip of the tongue." Hum! And could this be why with a diminishing diocese the bishop is still ordaining new clergy (all modernists who endorse the revisionist agenda)?"

PRO-LIFE leader Randall Terry has become a Roman Catholic. Between 1987 and 1994, Terry led Operation Rescue, the country's largest peaceful civil disobedience movement. He now serves as president of the Society for Truth and Justice, and is running for a Florida Senate seat. One of the leading evangelical pro-life leaders in the country, Terry quietly entered the Catholic Church on Holy Thursday with his wife Andrea and three sons.

Jaroslav Pelikan Dies. One of the world's foremost scholars of the history of Christianity died this past week He was 82. Pelikan was the author of more than 30 books, but his magnum opus was The Christian Tradition, a five-volume history of Church doctrine published between 1971 and 1989 and tracing the story of what, in its 20 centuries, "the church of Jesus Christ has believed, taught, and confessed on the basis of the word of God". In all The Christian Tradition runs to more than 2,100 pages; there are 80 pages of references to modern authorities, and another 100 for "authors and texts" in their original languages (Latin, Greek, German, French, Russian, Danish, Czech and Swedish, among others).

THE LEADER of the Anglican Church in New Zealand's evangelical wing has resigned his bishopric to take up a post in North Africa. Bishop Derek Eaton will retire in October after 16 years as Bishop of Nelson to become Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Egypt, North Africa, Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. A native of New Zealand, Bishop Eaton and his wife were studying in London when in 1968 they decided to enroll in the University of Tunis to study Arabic and Islamic culture. A request to provide vacation cover for a few weeks for the local Anglican vicar led to a year-long lay chaplaincy in Tunis. Eaton took up the post of vicar to the expatriate community in Tunis in 1972. In 1978 he became Dean of Cairo, returning to New Zealand to educate his children in 1983.

THE South African Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane says it is time for his church to stop discriminating against homosexuals. Ndungane has been an anomaly in Africa for voicing support of openly gay Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who was ordained in 2003, The Washington Post reported. "The Anglican Communion should be on the forefront of fighting social ills and not bothering about what Gene Robinson may be doing or not doing," Ndungane said in an interview with the Post. "He has been elected by his people and the people are comfortable with that." It should be noted that he is the ONLY African archbishop to make such a statement and the only primate out of sync with the rest of Africa. It should also be pointed out that he receives a lot of money from the American Episcopal Church.

The Archbishop also announced his retirement this week, before he hits mandatory 70. "It is my intention therefore to retire in 2008. This year will be a significant one in the life of our church. It is the 160th anniversary of the Diocese of Cape Town and also the year in which the Lambeth Conference is due to be held again." He has been archbishop for 10 years.

The DIOCESE OF RECIFE received congratulations from Anglican leaders around the world and from leaders of several Christian denominations on the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the Rt. Rev. Robinson Cavilcanti of the Diocese of Recife. They include, bishops Michael Nazir-Ali, of Rochester and Michael Scott-Joynt, of Winchester from the Church of England. From the Episcopal Church USA, came messages from Bishops Peter Beckwith, of the Companion Diocese of Springfield, Henry Scriven, Assistant Bishop of Pittsburgh and that of the Diocesan Bishop Robert Duncan, Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network of Dioceses and Parishes in the USA. Others who sent their greetings include Canon David Anderson, of the American Anglican Council and Canon Bill Atwood, of Ecclesia, as well from the leaders of the US Recife Archdeaconry. From Brazil, Bishop Cavilcanti received messages from Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregationalist, Pentecostal, Lutheran and Roman Catholic leadership, as well from Continuing Anglican jurisdictions. A Thanksgiving Service will be held May 20th, the preacher on that occasion will be the Bishop Donald Harvey, Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network, Canada, and representative of the Primate of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America, Most Revd Gregory J. Venables, under whose, the new Primate for the Diocese of Recife.

IF you want to know why Western liberal Christianity is tanking read this: A report out of Geneva by an Ecumenical news agency says that a joint effort by the Vatican and the World Council of Churches (WCC) to seek a common code for religious conversions has begun by affirming the freedom of religion as a "non-negotiable" human right while stressing that the "obsession of converting others" needs to be cured. "Freedom of religion is a fundamental, inviolable and non-negotiable right of every human being in every country in the world," states the report of the 12-16 May meeting in Velletri, near Rome, that launched the cooperative study. The apostle Paul would not agree with this statement or mission of the church. Conversion IS the church's business.

AMONG TODAY'S must read articles, is an AS EYE SEE IT by Dr. Peter Moore titled WHEN ANGLICANS GOT SPIRITUALITY RIGHT. I cannot commend this piece too highly. It speaks directly to our situation. Click here to read it immediately. http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=4038


Dear Readers,

A few weeks ago, VOL implemented new software to assist with the creation and distribution of our weekly digest. One of the changes that you may notice is that each paragraph of each story does not have hard line breaks to paginate the text. This is a result of the way we are now pulling the text directly out of our website database before sending it to you via email.

If your email reader does not automatically paginate the paragraphs for you and you find that the text scrolls off the screen horizontally to the right, we offer the following suggestions.

1. Try using Mozilla's free email software, Thunderbird. This application is very good, stable, and will protect you from email viruses that often plague Microsoft Outlook users. You can download a free copy here: http://www.mozilla.com/thunderbird/

2. Each week I post the text of each digest to the website. These copies are formatted for printing and viewing online. You can find the weekly digests on our website here: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/tinycontent

Robert webmaster, VOL

WE ARE FOUR WEEKS from General Convention and we are still working towards our goal of raising $25,000 to cover expenses for the convention and travel to Africa later. The pressure is mounting but there is good news in the mix. VOL got a phone call from NOEL (the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life) this week to say they want to join forces at GC2006 to bring their news on what transpires at GC2006. VOL is delighted with alliance.

Please make a donation to keep the news coming to you. VOL writes nearly 10,000 original words each week, gathering and sorting through dozens of stories, condensing and commenting 16 hours a day. It is to keep you informed. No one else does this. VOL IS the alternative Anglican voice that brings you all the news you won't read anywhere else.

So please take a moment out of your busy schedule and drop us a note and tell us what you think and consider a donation, however small. We are enormously grateful to you our readers. Your donation is also an encouragement for the long hours worked, and when the basement flooded, as it did again this week, the afternoon mailed cheered this writer. VOL is totally committed to bringing you the unvarnished truth. When we make mistakes occasionally, we will also quickly rectify them. So please take a moment and send a tax deductible check to:

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All blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

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