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Ireland again...Florida Convention...Griswold's team to UK..Diocesan news...more

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

When the Primates met at Dromantine, Ireland earlier this year the following encounter took place that can now be reported on, but which escaped the media net at that time.

When the endless discussion on same-sex blessings started to heat up and finally overheat the Canadian Archbishop Andrew Hutchison rose to his feet and said that as the Canadian government was about to pass legislation making gay marriage legal it behooved the Anglican Church in Canada not to get behind on the issue and to see same sex blessings and gay marriages as a justice issue and get on board as quickly as possible.

There was a pause and he sat down. At that point the Primate from Pakistan the Rt. Rev. Dr Alexander John Malik got to his feet and said, "Archbishop Hutchison I hope you don't mind that when we have the next Primate's meeting I bring along my four wives. You see in my country the government has passed a law saying it is legal to have four wives. I take it you would have no objection. Clearly it is a justice issue."

According to my source the meeting collapsed.

REINFORCING the idea that the communion will never make up its collective mind on the rights and wrongs of homoerotic behavior, Anglican troubleshooter Robin Eames issued a warning this week that all the ingredients are there for schism over the consecration of gay bishops.

In an interview with Reuters, the Archbishop called on conservatives and liberals to lower the temperature of debate and recognize cultural divisions between North America and Africa in particular. "They are not listening to each other," said Eames, author of the Windsor report that sought to find common ground.

This is nonsense of course, the problems have nothing to do with culture they are very clearly moral and theological. If they were cultural then the Province of Southeast Asia would have totally collapsed by now because on any given Sunday the gospel goes forth in five or six languages amidst as many cultures. It doesn't collapse of course, because they have one gospel and Chinese, Malay, Indonesian and numerous indigenous groups have one very fixed idea of how human beings should behave sexually. You can read the full story in today's digest.

THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH announced its delegation to attend the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting in Nottingham, England next month. Frank Griswold wrote to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church and said the following would join him: They are: The Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, Bishop of Atlanta; (revisionist) the Rev. Michael Battle, associate dean of academic affairs and vice president of Virginia Theological Seminary; (revisionist) the Rt. Rev. Charles Jenkins, Bishop of Louisiana; (moderately conservative) the Rt. Rev. Catherine Roskam, suffragan bishop of New York; (revisionist) the Rev. Susan Russell, President of Integrity; (lesbian) and Mrs. Jane Tully of Clergy Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (C-FLAG) (pro gay). They will join Griswold and the Canadian delegation.

The inclusion of Louisiana Bishop Charles Jenkins is interesting. He has joined an informal network of bishops trying to find a "third way" through the church's growing crisis over homosexuality, a way that involves neither schism nor either side's retreat from principle. Jenkins is the leader of 25,000 Episcopalians in Southeast Louisiana and is a conservative in the homosexuality debate. He has forbidden same-sex ceremonies in his diocese and, in 2003, voted against the consecration of Robinson.

Bishop Alexander voted for Robinson's consecration and Bishop Roskam PARTICIPATED in the consecration. Susan Russell is a lesbian and president of ECUSA's largest advocacy group for lesbitransgays founded by Louie Crew, and Mrs. Tully who is the wife of the priest running St. Bartholomew's Church in New York City is a leading advocate of another pro-gay organization. Now why wasn't a person chosen from P-FOX - Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays for example, or someone truly orthodox on sexuality like Albany Bishop Dan Herzog or his suffragan David Bena or, God forbid, Network Bishop Bob Duncan himself! The earth would open up and swallow the whole of 815 before that happened.

And Griswold has the nerve to call this group representative of the ECUSA, who are we kidding! The dice is once again loaded in favor of the church's pansexualists. The orthodox don't have a prayer of ever having their voice or concerns heard at this meeting in England and you can be sure that's just fine by Canon Kearon who heads the ACC. The Global South Primates should raise Hell over these choices.

NATIONALLY the big news of the week was the diocesan convention of the DIOCESE OF FLORIDA in Jacksonville. I was planning to attend but I was told by Communications Director Paul Van Brunt that all outside media were banned from attending, and this came from the top, namely Bishop John Howard. I was told that ONLY the diocesan news person would be present presumably to keep a tight rein on what was said and to spin things for the diocese. However I called several orthodox priests in the diocese and you can read my account in today's digest. In a word the orthodox were rolled over at convention. "We got taken to the cleaners," said the Rev. Dr. Rob Sanders, a diocesan priest. "We got slaughtered and they had the votes and they stepped on our throats" said the Rev. Sam Pascoe rector of Grace Church in Orange Park. This was echoed by The Rev. Neil G. Lebhar rector of Church of the Redeemer, Jacksonville, who told VirtueOnline that this was the last straw. "A number of conservative rectors will gather this week to think their way through the options."

But tempers did flare and a lay person and Convention Delegate from St. Bartholomew's allegedly assaulted the assistant rector of Redeemer, the Rev. Shawn Porter at the parish where the Rev. Claudia Kalis, its former priest preached and was fired. The priest went back onto the floor of the convention and called for a point of order. He shared that he had been assaulted by the delegate from St. Bartholomew's and suggested that he should be dismissed from the convention. Howard dismissed the priest. "The bishop is very dismissive of people whom he does not like and Shawn did not make a very sympathetic victim," said a priest.

And in the DIOCESE OF OKLAHOMA last week the Church of the Holy Spirit in Tulsa got reduced to mission status. This is the only congregation in the Diocese of Oklahoma to join the Anglican Communion Network. They got reduced to mission status in June, after a meeting between vestry members and the Bishop of Oklahoma Robert M. Moody. A meeting took place with Bishop Moody and with the vestry only. The Rev. Vic Smith rector is on sabbatical. The usual culprit in these defections is Vickie Gene Robinson. A goodly number are expected to leave. "The actions of GC2003 prompted this was Robinson and the authority of scripture and the lordship of Jesus Christ," said a church spokesman. The parish has failed to pay its diocesan assessment. Many members, with the permission of the vestry, designated their gifts for local use only following the controversial actions of GC2003 a 'no no' to the revisionist bishop. The Diocese of Oklahoma will retain the current church buildings, but not the name. The departing members will move to a new site. Recently St. James in Oklahoma City departed ECUSA and has come under the authority of the Bishop of Recife, the Rt. Rev. Robinson Cavilcanti. Bishop Moody recently announced he was going to retire. Another liberal bishop who is on his way out the door and into retirement is CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA Bishop Michael Creighton. His claim to fame was destroying a godly Anglo-Catholic priest and his congregation...ah the price of fame.

In the DIOCESE OF OHIO a church is no more. St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Latonia closed its doors having dwindled down to 43. The church's priest said the church became a victim of declining membership and a changing society where big churches with more to offer are becoming the standard. He forgot to add the advancing cancer of revisionism which is destroying his and more like it. His church is the tip of the iceberg.

WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL AND DARTH VADER. In the department of 'this really didn't happen' the Cathedral hatched a startling idea. It would hold a competition for children to design decorative sculpture for the Cathedral. As the cathedral approached completion, the west towers rose towards the sky, striking toward heaven a Darth Vader Drawing Word of the competition was spread nationwide through National Geographic World Magazine. The third-place winner was Christopher Rader, with his drawing of that fearful villain, Darth Vader. The fierce head was sculpted by Jay Hall Carpenter, carved by Patrick J. Plunkett and placed high upon the northwest tower of the Cathedral.

To Find Darth Vader you have to leave the building through the ramp entrance. This is located at the northwest corner of the nave, through the double wooden doors of Lincoln Bay. Go down the ramp, and step into the parking lot. Then, turn around and look back up at the tower closest to you. He is almost impossible to see without the assistance of binoculars. Almost at the top of the tower is a gablet, or small peaked roof, located between the two huge louvered arches. At the bottom of each slope of this gablet is a carved grotesque. Darth Vader is on the north, or right-hand, side. There is a carved skull situated on a gablet much closer to the ground which many people often mistake for Darth Vader. From this skull, Darth Vader is up and to the left. For more info see Darth Vader Self-Guided Tour. So now the liturgy will begin:

The Lord Vader be with you!
And Also with you.

Or maybe

The force be with you!
and also with you

WHO IS THE REAL FUNDAMENTALIST? Secular Jewish writer Michael Medved says it might just be John Shelby Spong. The former Newark bishop has written a radical new book called "Sins of Scripture," blaming the Bible's "terrible texts" for literally centuries of persecution of women, minorities and homosexuals. He also says the Apostle Paul was a tormented homosexual and in "most Christian churches" Jesus is "simply an idol created in a primitive time." When Medved challenged him on his radio show concerning his certainty that all biblical miracles are frauds, he (Spong) cited "settled scholarship" concerning the deceptive human authorship of biblical books. When Medved pointed out that this so-called scholarship rests on assumptions and interpretations of ancient text, rather than scientific or archaeological proof, he refused to debate, likening the argument to insistence that the earth is flat. In other words, he thinks it's right to challenge writings considered sacred for thousands of years, but inappropriate to even question academic theories less than 200 years old. Who, here, is the true fundamentalist fanatic?

A GROUNDBREAKING AND ORDINATION took place in Mobile, Alabama last Sunday marking a milestone for Mobile's Christ Anglican Church as the clergy and congregation broke ground for a new building and ordained a new priest on the same day. During the 10:15 AM service at the Mobile Convention Center the Reverend Alan Armstrong, currently a deacon and the church's Youth Pastor, was ordained an Anglican priest along with the Rev. Conlee Bodishbaugh, Rector, and the Reverend Rob Grafe, Assistant Rector. Armstrong was ordained by the Most Reverend Emmanuel Kolini, Archbishop of Rwanda and Bishop of Kigali, Africa. Archbishop Kolini is one of the presiding Bishops of the Anglican Mission in America, of which Christ Anglican Church is a member.

FOR SHEER GOBBLYDEGOOK TRY THIS. The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, president and dean of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, (that Proto-Marxist any orifice institution) said in a May 22 sermon on www.Day1.net that Jesus' command to "go therefore and make disciples of all nations" does not give Christians the authority to tell other people how to believe and how to pray, how to dress and how to speak, how to act and how to think. "That is authority Jesus never gave to us because he knew that we could not handle it," he says. Really. Quick rip out the Sermon on the Mount and then tear out Mt. 28:16. There now doesn't that make you feel a whole lot better.

INTEGRITY, ECUSA's very own homoerotic organization is ticked off that Vickie Gene Robinson is not getting an honorary doctorate from the University-of-South at Sewanee despite a petition by the University of the South's Student Assembly proposing that the school award an honorary doctorate. This suggests that the conservative campaign to pressure the Board of Regents into keeping +Gene off the list of recipients was successful. No one was returning emails written by Integrity members to the vice-chancellor regarding this matter. Never mind, if Integrity just keeps whining long and loud enough they will roll over. I'll stake my 1928 Prayer Book on that. As VirtueOnline predicted the Bishop of Atlanta J. Neil Alexander was indeed elected to a 6-year term on the board of Regents, the very same bishop who helped push Guy Lytle out as Dean. VirtueOnline just might start a raffle on how long it takes for the University to roll over. Don't forget to add the fact that it has a massive fund-raising campaign upcoming and VGR's DD would come at a very high price.

AT TRINITY CHURCH, NEW YORK on Trinity Sunday they had a Clown Eucharist, "doing church" as if it were a circus come to town. They celebrated the Eucharist and learned about the basic traditional outline for Eucharistic worship by experiencing it and participating in it from a new perspective. "Whose fool are you?" asked the Rev. Dr. James Herbert Cooper, rector of Trinity Church-St. Paul's Chapel, as he introduced the "Clown Eucharist"...we won't answer that, it is way too self-evident and it would spoil the fun.

VETERAN ANGLICAN REPORTER, Dorothy Mills Parker, died this past week. She wrote for The Living Church for 30 years and for THE CHRISTIAN CHALLENGE (among other publications) on a number of occasions. Mrs. Parker had a vast knowledge of and circle of friends and contacts within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. She had a close friendship and correspondence with, among others, two Archbishops of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey and Robert Runcie. At the 1988 Lambeth Conference--the third of the decennial bishops' meetings that Mrs. Parker covered--Archbishop Runcie presented her to the Queen. Several years ago, in light of her long and faithful service in reporting Anglican affairs, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Nashtotah House Seminary in Wisconsin. She is described by Auburn Traycik, current editor of the TCC as "a grand lady who reported on Anglican affairs for over three decades."

New Faculty and Staff are coming to Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry. Dr. Paul Zahl says he has appointed the Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Mackey as Academic Dean and Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology. The Rev. Dr. Justyn Terry has been appointed as the Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology. He is a priest of the Church of England and now serves as the Vicar of St. Helen's, London, England. The Rev. Martha Giltinan has been appointed to the position of Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology and Director of Field Base Education. She is an Episcopal priest from Christ Church, Hamilton, Massachusetts where she has served with the Rev. Jurgen Liias. The Rev. Dr. Leander Harding, has been appointed as Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology and Head of Chapel. He comes to Trinity from his role as rector of St. John's in Stamford, Connecticut where he has served for the past 15 years in an urban setting. He comes to Trinity with over 25 years of parish experience in serving a broad range of congregations. Dr. Erika Moore has been appointed as Assistant Professor of Old Testament. Dr. Moore has made a remarkable difference to education at Trinity through her role as an adjunct professor, and through her auspices the study of Biblical Hebrew has become extremely meaningful and popular. She did her PhD at Westminster Seminary in Hermeneutics and Biblical Studies on the subject of the use of proverbial sayings in the prophet Ezekiel, graduating in 2003. The Rev. Tina Lockett has been appointed as the new Director of Admissions and Dean of Students. Tina is a graduate of Trinity and has been serving as Assistant to the Rector of Ascension Church in Pittsburgh. The Rev. Dr. Mark Stevenson has been appointed as Coordinator for the newly defined Center for Christian Ministry Initiatives in the TEEM office at Trinity. Dr. Stevenson has had a long and distinguished teaching career at Chatham College; he is a seasoned actor, as well as a permanent deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Zahl and Ian T. Douglas of Episcopal Divinity School have just completed a book "Understanding the Windsor Report; Two Leaders in the American Church Speak Across the Divide." I will review this book shortly. My initial impression is that it is one of the best analysis of the Report to date, and both men, while they differ, do it with a grace and love.

SPIN, SPIN, SPIN. The Episcopal News Service in writing about the "Connecticut Six" under siege from Bishop Andrew Smith ran a headline: "Connecticut - Question of authority unresolved."

"Whether or not six priests will acknowledge the authority of the diocesan bishop is the central issue of an ongoing dispute in Connecticut."

This is pure deception. It is about conformity to Scripture as the primary source of our authority and not to the canons or General Convention resolutions. Smith endorses the consecration of V. Gene Robinson, the "six" do not. One cannot endorse heresy and believe God will nod and wink. He won't. Neither Smith nor ENS get it. That is a tragedy.

NIGERIA BLAME RELIGIOUS LEADERS FOR CORRUPTION. The Anglican Bishop of the Kaduna Province of the Church of Nigeria, the Rt. Rev Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has accused religious leaders in his country of encouraging corrupt practices. Religious leaders according to Rev Fearon do not bother to query the source of huge money that individuals and government officials donate to most religious bodies during launching and fund raising. Speaking in Kaduna recently, the Anglican Bishop said that most religious bodies encourage corruption through the actions and responses displayed by them towards the amount of money donated by each donors or invitees.

LOOKING FOR A DIOCESE OR PROVINCE THAT WILL GIVE YOU COVER. I got a note this week from the Rev. Erich Kasirye, Diocesan Mission Coordinator for Bishop Samuel Ssekkadde, in the Diocese of Namirembe. This was the first Diocese in East and Central Africa which now has over 5 million membership.

Kasirye wrote saying: "This is to inform you that my Diocese would like to adopt a parish in the States which is orthodox and lacks ecclesiastical protection. Kindly let us know those churches which might need some pastoral and personal support. We are very much aware of the poisonous efforts of the revisionist forces which face orthodox churches in ECUSA-and we do not want them to be vulnerable. The Diocese of Namirembe recently celebrated its 150 years. Of course the question that springs to mind is why not ask why an orthodox US bishop to do this?

IN THE U.S. THIS WEEK was Ugandan Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi. He came to my parish, the Church of the Good Samaritan in Paoli, PA in the DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA briefly but did not preach or administer Holy Communion. I talked with him briefly. He has no intention of refusing any ECUSA parish that wants protection from the church's marauding revisionist bishops. Why should he stop, after all they come to him he does not seek them out. It is their call not his.

MASSACHUSETTS EPISCOPAL BISHOP M. Thomas Shaw, a leading Christian advocate for Palestinian rights, told a local Jewish organization that he will oppose efforts, now sweeping through mainline Protestantism, to divest church funds from Israel. Shaw's statement, nearly four years after he provoked the ire of local Jewish leaders by joining a pro-Palestinian demonstration in front of the Israeli consulate, paves the way for a joint Jewish-Episcopal trip to Israel and Palestine this winter during which each group will introduce the other to different perspectives on the Middle East conflict.

The American Jewish Committee, a century-old advocacy organization with an emphasis on interfaith dialogue, had told the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts that it could not proceed with preparations for a joint trip unless Shaw publicly articulated his opposition to divestment from Israel. In his statement to the Jewish group, Shaw wrote, "I do not support proposals for divestment in Israel." He said divestment is "especially inappropriate" now, at a moment he described as a "period of hope for peace," and he also said divestment would harm Palestinians because of the interrelationship of the Israeli and Palestinian economies. "I will continue to work for the rights of the Palestinian people and a secure state of Israel," Shaw wrote. Now that should float like a lead balloon in the HOB which has been so pro-Palestinian to this that the Jewish born Bishop of Indiana Edward S. Little called the HOB "anti-Semitic." Ah the winds of change.

PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT to sit down and write out a check to this ministry. I am in urgent need of funds for travel to Canada and England next month. Without them it will not be possible to cover major events in the life of the Communion, events that will change all our lives. It is very hard to write 70 hours a week, seven days a week, travel constantly and raise funds all at the same time. It is simply impossible. The loss of my board chairman recently has been very hard on me personally and financially so please consider a tax deductible donation. The summer months are also very hard on non-profit organizations, and yet the news goes on and must get out.

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All blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

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