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Kanuga: Penny drops for bishops..GC2006..Akinola in America..Ohio, Florida, more

"The norm of Christian experience, then, is a cluster of four things: repentance, faith in Jesus, water baptism and the gift of the Spirit. Though the perceived order may vary a little, the four belong together and are universal in Christian initiation. The laying-on of apostolic hands, however, together with tongue-speaking and prophesying, were special to Ephesus, as to Samaria, in order to demonstrate visibly and publicly that particular groups were incorporated into Christ by the Spirit; the New Testament does not universalize them. There are no Samaritans or disciples of John the Baptist left in the world today." -- From "The Message of Acts" by John R. W. Stott, Anglican teacher, author and peripatetic preacher

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It was another week in which the limits of our unity within the Anglican Communion were severely tested.

Reports coming out of the recent House of Bishops meeting in Kanuga indicating an about face or climb-down from the Episcopal Church's current positions on pansexuality were wildly exaggerated, but "extreme caution" and "repentance" are in the probable wording of the recommendations from the Special Commission.

The Church of England Bishop of Exeter, the Rt. Rev. Michael Langrish made it very clear in his "Reflections" to the House of Bishops, that these are very slippery and subjective terms.

He had this to say: "As I listen to those other parts of the Communion that I know best, that any further consecration of those in a same sex relationship; any authorization of any person to undertake same sex blessings; any stated intention not to seriously engage with The Windsor Report -- will be read very widely as a declaration not to stay with the Communion as it is, or as the Windsor Report has articulated a vision...of how it wishes to be."

The Church of England bishop continued; "As I look at the Anglican Communion at present I see its life threatened by two intersecting fault lines, each with its own totem. The first is the issue of same sex relations, with its focusing in Lambeth 1.10. The second is the nature and future of Communion, with its focus being the Windsor Report and the Windsor/Dromantine process."

Langrish made it abundantly clear that if the Episcopal Church persisted in further gay consecrations it would immediately become impossible to claim that there was any body that spoke for the Communion as a whole, and several existing relationships would be irrevocably altered. "All the signals seem clear that for example there would be no further round of ARCIC and that the dialogue process with Al Azhar would end."

TWO ECUSA bishops, one orthodox, Jeffrey Steenson of the DIOCESE OF THE RIO GRANDE, and the other liberal, the Rt. Rev. Kirk Stevan Smith of the DIOCESE OF ARIZONA, both weighed in with their interpretation of events and, oddly enough, both were in more or less agreement.

Here is what Bishop Steenson said: "There is now evidence that a majority of bishops are beginning to rethink the position staked out by the General Convention 2003 when it approved the election of the Bishop of New Hampshire."

"In everyone's mind is the May 6 episcopal election in the Diocese of California, where three candidates have identified themselves as having same-gender partners. If one of these persons is elected, the consent process at General Convention will in effect become an up or down vote on Windsor, and the special commission's efforts to find a solution to hold things together until Lambeth will be for naught."

And Bishop Smith also expressed his misgivings in a letter to his diocese. He spoke of a restatement of our commitment to the Communion and the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury; an endorsement of the Windsor process as the way forward for all of us and an expression of "repentance" (and that is the word used rather than "regret") for actions of our church, which have caused pain to the wider Communion.

"I think one might say this represents a "go slow" approach for our church. Without backing away from decisions we have made, it is nonetheless a clear message that we will work to conform to the requests of the majority of the Anglican Communion as expressed in the Windsor Report."

BUT the two bishops' reports got the ire up of the President of Oasis/California the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender "ministry" of the Episcopal Diocese of California, the Rev. John L. Kirkley of St. John the Evangelist in San Francisco. He wrote a frantic note saying that the two bishops' opinions were purely speculative and is nothing more than "spin" designed to heighten anxiety and fear. "We must reject the temptation to buy into it. What individual bishops think may be interesting, but it is hardly determinative. A lot can and will happen between now and General Convention."

Mena, mena, tekel upharson perhaps?

You can read the full story on what transpired in today's digest or click the link here: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3844

GENERAL CONVENTION promises to be the hottest convention ever, and we are not talking climate changes. When we all meet in Columbus Ohio in June it will be gloves off time. A plethora of pansexual Episcopal organizations that includes Integrity will gather under the umbrella of Claiming the Blessing where they plan a media blitz with specific objectives to keep the Episcopal Church on its present course. Delegates to these Lesbitransgay advocacy groups recently announced their intentions at a March 25 joint meeting at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland to, as they say, "communicate our identity, articulate our beliefs and convey our sense of call to prophetic action and pastoral presence." It'll be interesting to see what orthodox reaction, if any, comes from this. Now the pressure will not just be from ECUSA's orthodox minority, the pansexualists will also have one eye on what the Archbishop of Canterbury is thinking as they contemplate the demands of the Windsor Report for their future. One false move and the Episcopal Church could be reduced to observer status at Lambeth 2008.

There's real irony here. At GC2006 the orthodox are going to be a distinct minority whose votes will count for very little. In the broader Anglican Communion, ECUSA's liberals and revisionists are a distinct minority. At Lambeth '98 they never had a prayer with Resolution 1:10, (526 to 70) and whatever they win in Columbus, Ohio - another gay or lesbian bishop, or rites for same-sex "marriages" - it will get them marginalized by the broader Anglican Communion. At the end of the day it is the revisionists who will have their backs to the wall. There is now zero tolerance for Frank Griswold by the Global South.

WITNESS what happened this past week with the visit of the Most Rev. Peter Akinola to these shores. The Nigerian Primate was making the rounds visiting orthodox ECUSA leaders and his CANA churches and on a visit to an Anglican parish in New York City where he met with a number of evangelical Anglican priests and laity said this; "Make no mistake about it, if any Nigerian priests are in ECUSA and do not remove themselves, they will face ecclesiastical charges, because we are no longer in communion with ECUSA."

Those might be the harshest words to date by the African Primate against Griswold. Clearly there is no love lost between these two men. The African Primate also met with Ft. Worth Bishop Jack Iker where he ripped into the Episcopal Church saying that the consecration of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson has torn the fabric of the Communion and will lead to further division "on this and further issues." You can read the full story in today's digest.

In the DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA The rector's warden of St. Christopher's, the church of the Rev. William Wood, president of the Standing Committee, has said the Bishop of Pennsylvania, Charles E. Bennison, can visit the parish to preach and confirm on April 23rd, even though the highest diocesan decision making body had asked Bennison to resign or retire by March 31. Bennison refused.

Mr. Tom Allen wrote a letter to the parish saying they had asked Bennison to "consider" sending another bishop, but when Bennison refused, the rector's warden did an about face and said, "surely we should welcome the bishop on that day, and support his message to our confirmands."

Has the diocese just snatched defeat from the jaws of victory? Will this capitulation to Bennison come back to bite them? We await the auditor's report.

In yet another move CONCERNED PENNSYLVANIA EPISCOPALIANS, a coalition of orthodox and liberal clergy and laity has blasted a $40 million Capital Campaign requested by Bennison saying it raises more questions than it answers. "Now is the wrong time to begin a $40 million Capital Campaign. If there is a campaign the goal should be cut back sharply." These are the major findings of the Preliminary Findings of the Campaign Planning Study for the Diocese by Schultz & Williams (S & W), experts in the field of fund raising. Kathleen Watson, Senior Associate of S & W writes: "Recognizing that a $40 million goal cannot be achieved at the present time, the diocese should evaluate its funding priorities to identify "Phase One" priorities that can be addressed by raising an initial goal of $5 to $10 million." You can read the full report at this link: http://concernedpaepiscopalians.org/news/2006/04/04/wrong-time-for-capital-campaign/

In the DIOCESE OF LOUISIANA there is some good news. The Rev. Jerry Kramer of Church of the Annunciation reports that among other good things, they have electric power back on the church property, they are no longer threatened with being bulldozed for green space, and the Kennedy School of Government has adopted them for a variety of kinds of support. This does NOT mean that Episcopalians should stop supporting the Kramers. Please take a moment, sit down and write out a check to this godly man to support his ministry and send it to:
Church of the Annunciation (in exile)
P.O. Box 750698
New Orleans, LA 70115-0698

In the DIOCESE OF OHIO Bishop Mark Hollingsworth, Jr. wrote a letter to his Diocesan Sr. Wardens condemning the DVD "Choose This Day" clearly feeling the pain of orthodox intrusion into his diocese. He blasted the Rev. D. O. Smart, Dean of the Mid-Continental Convocation of the Anglican Communion Network for daring to say that the differences in the ECUSA are mutually exclusive and irreconcilable. The bishop attacked Smart in an ad homonym fashion as he had run out of arguments against the video.

In the DIOCESE OF FLORIDA, Bishop John Howard seems bent on destroying the last vestiges of orthodoxy in his diocese. Now he is aiming his guns at the Rev. Neil Lebhar At Redeemer church in Jacksonville. The Times-Union reported that Howard has turned to the courts to force a Southside Jacksonville congregation to turn its church over to the Episcopal Diocese of Florida. Howard filed a lawsuit in Duval County this week demanding that the rector and lay leadership at the Church of the Redeemer hand over the keys and all other parish property to his Jacksonville-based diocese. The lawsuit contends that Episcopal congregations hold their property in trust for the diocese and that Redeemer forfeited its property rights by quitting the diocese in January. The Rev. Neil Lebhar, rector at the Church of the Redeemer, called the lawsuit "unbiblical" because it violates New Testament Scripture prohibiting lawsuits among believers. The Anglican Alliance of North Florida also expressed sadness at the actions of the bishop.

In the DIOCESE OF NORTH CAROLINA, if you want to know how to do apologetics and evangelism, consider Oxford trained Anglican evangelist, author and theologian Canon Michael Green. He wrote VOL to tell of a fascinating debate he had with a leading atheist philosophy professor at State Univ., NC, on the existence of God. He writes: "It was the largest meeting every held on the campus with 1700 crowded into a room scheduled for 1200 (the floors and gangways were packed and people standing round the walls.) I don't think he had prepared very carefully. I had. And it showed! The next night I had 1000 or so at an evangelistic address in the sports hall and you could have heard a feather drop." Green is part of a team building a new evangelical parish ministry, Holy Cross Anglican (formerly Episcopal) in Raleigh, N.C. coming under the Province of Uganda. Now that's an example of facing the world with an award-winning message and winning: strong apologetics coupled with rigorous evangelism...it doesn't get much better than that.

In the DIOCESE OF CENTRAL NEW YORK a retired Episcopal priest who was accused of pedophilia by another priest, has apparently confessed his crimes and allegedly renounced his orders to Bishop Gladstone "Skip" Adams and Fr. John Martinicchio, Chairman of the sexual abuse, "Pastoral Response Team". However, he later allegedly retracted his confession. The bishop has allegedly threatened a presentment against him.

The priest who revealed the sexual activities of the priest Fr. Ralph Johnson is Fr. David Bollinger, priest for 20 years at St. Paul's, Owego, NY. He himself has been inhibited by the bishop for alleged financial irregularities and for allegedly whistle blowing on Fr. Johnson. This situation just grows messier and messier, and Bollinger has now had to file a $4.35 million lawsuit against the bishop and members of the diocese just to protect himself. You can read that story in today's digest. A former priest in the diocese wrote and told VOL that Fr. John Martinicchio's parish of Christ Church, Binghamton was once a huge vibrant church complete with a cardinal rector. "Today it is a historical monument open only on Sundays. I went to one of the parish house doors and there was a note for those seeking help to go to the other door. When I went to the other door there was an identical note. I think this is called pastoral care."

WHEN HE WAS IN WASHINGTON, DC last week addressing a Christian Muslim dinner Archbishop Rowan Williams, guests at the dinner, including Arab ambassadors based in Washington, heard Dr Williams describe as 'outrageous, unjust and exceptional' the death sentence passed on an Afghan Christian who had converted from Islam Law. You see our leader can make a definitive stand on some issues. The Afghan did live and he has fled to the West where he is safe from mad Islamic mullahs.

PENTECOSTAL, LESS TRADITIONAL PROTESTANT CHURCHES GROW IN US. Pentecostal and so-called non-mainline Protestant churches show continuing growth in the United States, while mainstream churches continue to lose membership, according to the latest annual figures on US church membership. The largest Protestant denomination in the United States, the Southern Baptist Convention, showed a decline in membership, while the Roman Catholic Church, the largest single church body, showed a slight increase. The US National Council of Churches this week released the figures in the 2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian churches.

AND IN SWEDEN the new Swedish archbishop, Anders Wejryd, bishop of Vaxjo, in southern Sweden warned male priests to work with women, and if they don't, he said he would not hesitate to report male priests who refused to work with female priests to the police. "We have a law against discrimination and in these cases it is a question of particularly insulting treatment," Wejryd noted. The Swedish church accepted the ordination of women as priests in 1958, the first woman being ordained in 1960. Opponents of the ordination of women have claimed in recent years they have been marginalized within the church, the largest in Sweden. Forward in Faith would certainly understand this type of thinking.

EPISCOPAL parishes from California to Maine are holding "U2 Eucharists" in an effort to make their services more attractive to young people interested in rock music and social activism. At the Grace Episcopal Church in Providence, Rhode Island, the Reverend Robert Brooks welcomed worshippers and then added some unusual advice he warned them to protect their hearing. "If the sound's an issue, we do have earplugs available," he said. Brooks said the special service is part of an effort to reinvigorate his congregation by infusing it with young people and those interested in social activism. The service included an offering for local charities and enlisted volunteers for The ONE Campaign, an effort to alleviate global poverty and fight AIDS that is backed by U2's lead singer, Bono. "We absolutely need to grow in order to survive," Brooks said. No mention was made of the gospel to reinvigorate congregations.

MAJOR BUILDING construction is set for Chicago, San Diego and Salt Lake City. An ENS reports that the church of the future just may be connected to a high-rise. The Diocese of Chicago is moving forward with plans to erect a 64-story elliptical-shaped glass office and condominium tower, which will double its current space and help fund future ministry, said Michael Stephenson, canon for development. "Proceeds from the ground lease will fund future mission of the diocese in such areas as congregational development, church starts or more direct ministries," added David Skidmore, communications director. In San Diego St. Paul's Cathedral has embarked on a $17 million project to complete construction of the cathedral and to refurbish two nine-story towers in the city's downtown district for low-income housing and additional community meeting space, the Very Rev. Scott Richardson, dean of the cathedral has announced. And in downtown Salt Lake City, two separate projects-a new diocesan headquarters and a new parish hall for St. Mark's Cathedral-are planned on the same site, said Stephen Hutchinson, chancellor of the diocese. Their development has been aided by the diocesan Project Jubilee, which, since 1999, has contributed $10.5 million toward construction of five new churches with seven others pending, including the diocesan and cathedral projects. Nearby, work has already begun on the $4 million, 23,000-square-foot cathedral center, which will house a parish hall, offices, sacristy, choir and meeting room space, said the Very Rev. Rick Lawson, St. Mark's dean. Construction is also underway a short distance away for the Hildegard Food Pantry, which serves about 200 families a week. It is expected to reopen May 1. None of these projects "will add to the church daily those who are being saved." This is called keeping the institution alive while the people depart.

In the DIOCESE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA parishes are shrinking so badly that Bishop James Cowan has had to issue a report recommending a complete reorganization of his diocese that will directly affect over a quarter of all its parishes. Five congregations will be disestablished, and ten will be amalgamated into four new congregations, if Diocesan Synod adopts the recommendations of the seven-person Diocesan Ministry Resource Review Team (DMRT) which produced the report after two years of study and consultations. The report also calls for the creation of seven new congregations in growing areas of Vancouver Island. But one newspaper report says that when they close down St. Paul's Anglican Church in downtown Chemainus, the people will NOT go to another Anglican Church they are so angry about the forthcoming closure that most of them will sit in the pews of the Catholic or United Church. "It's a shame. Some people have been here 50 years and are still going to church." The recommendations are not going over well with the locals. There are 53 parishes on Vancouver Island, with 33 of them having fewer than 120 people on average Sunday service. The DIOCESE OF NEW WESTMINSTER (next door) is in not much better shape, and to survive they have upped the mandatory giving by all congregations to keep the diocesan budget alive. Some of the laity is seriously questioning the bishop's motives.

In the DIOCESE OF OTTAWA, a controversy over Bishop Peter Coffin's decision to grant a temporary licence in the diocese of Ottawa to an American lesbian priest who is in a relationship with a woman continues, with a group of clergy calling for a rescinding of the decision saying it constitutes a "breach of the General Synod process in place in this country and puts our relationship with the world-wide Anglican Communion in jeopardy." You can read the full story in today's digest.

John Howard, the conservative Prime Minister of AUSTRALIA, has vowed to block any legislation giving gay and lesbian couples the same rights as married couples. The PM who is a strong opponent of gay marriage, said that he would legislate to stop the Government of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which administers Canberra's population of 326,000, from using marriage celebrants, which are licensed by the federal Government, to preside over civil unions between gay couples. The Prime Minister said that the change in the law proposed by the Government of the ACT was "marriage by another name" and he would not allow it. This prompted major support from North Sydney Bishop Dr. Glenn Davies who, speaking on behalf of the DIOCESE OF SYDNEY, congratulated Prime Minister Howard, for his strong and positive stand regarding the Civil Unions Bill proposed in the ACT. Said Bishop Davies, "We recognize the importance of removing discrimination in legal matters, and allowing for the rights of single people in matters such as inheritance and property. Nevertheless, we cannot agree to any proposal that would tend to equate a civil union with marriage between a man and a woman. To conduct a marriage-like ceremony, although it purports to be different by calling it a civil union, would be an affront to the established view of marriage as enshrined in the Marriage Act, and could eventually threaten and strike at the foundations of marriage."

But across the oceans, IRELAND'S Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, pledged to an audience of homosexual activists that Ireland would install gay "marriage" as in the UK. "Sexual orientation cannot, and must not, be the basis of a second-class citizenship. Our laws have changed, and will continue to change, to reflect this principle," Ahern told Ireland's leading homosexual political pressure group the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network on Monday. Ahern cited the country's deep Catholic roots as an obstacle to granting legal equivalence to homosexual partnerings compared to the UK where only approximately 16% attend church regularly. Ahern could face serious opposition in Ireland which is one of the few European countries where church attendance is on the rise.

AND IN ENGLAND British PM Tony Blair and his family have been celebrating Masses conducted by a Roman Catholic priest at Downing Street. The Prime Minister is a High Church Anglican. His wife Cherie is Catholic and the couple's four children have been raised within the faith. The Downing Street press office declined to comment on the reports, which it regards as a "private matter". It is understood that the Masses were conducted by Father Michael Seed, an adviser to the Archbishop of Westminster. The Prime Minister, although attending the services in the Downing Street sitting room, is understood not to have taken Holy Communion with his wife and children.

IN LESS than two months GC2006 will be upon us. VirtueOnline will be there with reporters to cover all the news that's fit to print and then some. But we can only be there if you support us now. It will eight rough and tumble days. You will get the news daily as it is posted to the website www.virtueonline.org and multiple digests coming directly into your computers each morning you wake up.

BUT this can only happen with your support. Without your donations we will be restricted in what we can cover. If all you want is the liberal spin from Episcopal Life you can get it. The BLOGS will only give you one-sided personal perspectives they do not understand the BIG picture. But if you want the unvarnished truth VOL will give it to you, win, lose or draw. We have years of experience at this. Not much slips by us. But you must support us now. Time is running out. Please we urgently need to hear from you. Keep orthodoxy alive, support a winning team.

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Thank you for your support.

All blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

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