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Legitimizing homosexual relationships...revisionists bishops blast orthodox...

"Much of the sexuality debate revolves around human demands about what God allegedly must do if God is to be considered loving and just, rather than accepting with open hearts the singular way God has provided for acceptable sexual expression." Presbyterian biblical scholar Robert A. J. Gagnon in Theology Matters

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It was another week in which the Episcopal Church's revisionist bishops showed their hand in beating up on orthodox rectors and continuing their in-your-face acts against the predominantly orthodox Anglican Communion pushing pansexuality and much more.

If the Global South ever wanted overwhelming evidence that the Episcopal Church does not plan to change course, they need only go to www.virtuosityonline.org and hit the ARCHIVES link and read to their hearts content, or perhaps discontent.

"In the whole messy business of legitimizing sodomite relationships comes the question of why not legitimize threesomes and foursomes? What about bisexuals, who are attracted to both genders? And why not abolish marriage altogether?"

Thus spake Marvin Ellison, ethics professor at the United Church of Christ's Bangor (Maine) Theological Seminary, in "Same-Sex Marriage? A Christian Ethical Analysis." Professor Ellison is a non-orthodox gay theologian, so his comments come with added irony.

"Besides pondering marriage for bisexuals, he protests that the narrowly "bipolar" definition of marriage excludes "intersexuality, transgenderism, transsexuality and other
sexualities." Like other gay writers, Ellison wonders whether government should abolish marriage altogether rather than redefine it to include gays.

Of course there is no end to this sexual absurdity, and the Episcopal Church is right in the forefront of the sexual revolution with its fawning desire to please lesbitransgays: misplaced compassion knows no abatement.

When I asked an Episcopal orthodox psychiatrist how he dealt with people who came into his practice he said simply that you start with whatever behavior they are addicted to and work on them to stop. If you are an alcoholic go to AA, if a homosexual go to HA. Do whatever it takes to stop the bad behavior, then backtrack into the whys and wherefores. Medication can help in cases like depression, but most psychiatrists defer the whys and wherefore about depression to therapists and counselors, but they can prescribe drugs for immediate relief where therapists cannot. The key word is STOP; in these two cases excessive alcohol and bad (read wrong) sex can kill you. Two very good reasons to stop.

The Episcopal Church, on the other hand, because of its misguided and misplaced compassion affirms bad behaviors because it doesn't want to appear uninclusive, little realizing that they could be signing a person's death warrant.

Take the actions of the Rehab Sisters in the DIOCESE OF OREGON this week who were awarded a Pentecost Offering for their work among prostitutes. The Council awarded $1,750 to these Sisters, an outreach ministry to Portland's prostitutes.

This group invites women from the street into the Columba Center (Saints Peter and Paul) where they can eat, talk, and find other forms of support while learning about the welcoming aspects of the church. According to the Rev. Sara Fischer, Grace Memorial, they are offered the kind of hospitality "we hope we would be offered if we were on the street," says Fischer. "We provide a clean, safe place for food, coffee, health items, and respectful, no-strings attached conversation." Translation: Come as you are stay as you are.

So what this says is that the Rehab Sisters, in order to appear non-confrontational and non-judgmental, never offer them the greatest news of all - a life changing encounter with Jesus Christ. That apparently is off-limits. So in order not to appear "fundamentalist" this Episcopal parish is acting like a non-profit charity or Kiwanis Club. No gospel, no Good News just Food and Clothing News and that omnipresent all-knowing "listening" much beloved by our Presiding Bishop. The women are affirmed in their womanhood, if not their lifestyle and back on the streets they go. The notion of Jesus saying "neither do I condemn thee go and sin no more", is lost on the Rehab Sisters.

In the DIOCESE OF SOUTHERN OHIO an orthodox priest, Fr. Rick Terry resigned rather than cave into the Bishop Herb Thompson. In Chillicothe, Ohio, the Evangelical rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church found himself at odds with the bishop over his parish's affiliation with the Anglican Communion Network. "For the sake of the Gospel, I'd rather switch than fight," said Fr. Terry to Virtuosity.

In his letter of resignation, that has been widely circulated, he wrote, in part, "Rather than pursue the avenue of an inhibition, an ecclesiastical court trial, a potential deposition, and all the accompanying pain and expenditure of resources that would accompany such a process, I have decided to leave quietly. This is not about me. This is about fidelity to the Gospel of Jesus Christ ..." He's off to the AMIA. (You can read the full story in today's digest.)

Bishop Thompson blames the Network for being schismatic. Not true. The moderator of the Network, Bishop Bob Duncan, had this to say. "The Network is committed to moving forward with the mission and ministry of the Church. It will operate within the constitution of the Episcopal Church and in full fellowship with the vast majority of the Anglican Communion." Bishop Thompson has a problem reading apparently or doesn't want to fall out with his fellow bishops...collegiality to the end...and to Hell.

And in the DIOCESE OF PUERTO RICO, the revisionist bishop David A. Alvarez fired the orthodox and Evangelical Catholic priest and hospital chaplain of St. Luke's hospital for holding orthodox biblical views on the issue of homosexual practice.

The Rev Luis Morales, 55, a Forward in Faith priest in the Diocese, was terminated by revisionist Bishop David A. Alvarez and relieved of his job as a chaplain to St Luke's II Episcopal Hospital in the city of Ponce, Puerto Rico. He has not been immediately inhibited or deposed but expects the bishop to proceed in that direction. (You can read that story today.)

Not to be outdone the DIOCESE OF BETHLEHEM reports that a Task Force in the Diocese is drawing up guidelines for clergy who find themselves in a position of doing same gender, pre-Blessing counseling. "While we see a lot of similarities in doing both pre-marital and pre-blessing counseling, there may be a few differences to which clergy should be sensitive and aware. We hope to share this document with a wider Church when we fine tune it," said a diocesan spokesman. This is further evidence that whatever the Lambeth/Eames report says or does, the Global South should know that the ECUSA will never change its ways.

And the DIOCESE OF OLYMPIA is showing major signs of financial and spiritual fatigue. A Virtuosity reader in that diocese reports on the terrible financial shape of the diocese which is probably one of the most liberal in the United States. Figures at their website show they had a deficit of $461,000 dollars in 2003 and a deficit for the first half of 2004 of $359,137.20 on a projected income of $1,816.561 in assessments or about a 20% shortfall. The bishop has cut all programs by 26%.

Of course the Bishop blames the economy not the consecration of V. Gene Robinson. However, this should give heart to those voting with their pocketbooks because this is the home of Martha Christie a pro-choice leader in the recent demonstration in Washington, DC. The diocese also has an openly gay dean of the local cathedral. Need we say more? The diocese also announced the sudden resignation of four rectors this week. None of them were leaving for sexual hanky panky or over Robinson's consecration, they simply had had enough.

Now this raises a whole new level of enquiry and it is slowly being borne out in the liberal seminaries. What does a newly minted liberal priest have to say after five years in the pulpit? With no transcendent gospel to proclaim you are left with issues, a well-honed liturgy and "inclusivity" and not much more. Fishing for salmon in Puget Sound is more exciting and more rewarding.

In the DIOCESE OF THE RIO GRANDE there is intrigue galore as the diocese seeks for a new bishop to replace the retiring Terence Kelshaw. On August 16, the Episcopal Discernment Committee will finalize their list of Five Nominees and refer them to the Standing Committee. The Committee includes a number of well meaning Evangelicals who are so intent on getting an outsider elected to their desire that they have decided to leave Canon Jeffrey Steenson off the list, Bishop Kelshaw's own preference, said a Virtuosity reader.

Now Jeffrey would clearly be the early odds on favorite around the Diocese. If he doesn't run or withdraws, the diocese will be forced to go to a humiliating petition process, which will mean feverish politicking, and the possible splitting of the conservative vote. This is potentially disastrous, said the source, particularly since Jeffrey is known to desire to move the Diocese into the Network. A polarizing process will mean losing precious time for the next Bishop-whoever he is-and take a year or more just to re-build confidence, rather than lead this Diocese into the Network.

According to the source Jeffrey must be included on the Ballot, for the spiritual health of the Diocese, rather than allow a rather inexperienced, politically inept Committee to be looked at suspiciously be many in the Diocese, with their credibility questioned.

One of the contenders for bishop is the Rev. Brian Cox a well known ECUSA peacemaker consultant. All the others are outsiders as well, including Martyn Minns of Truro, VA, who may not be electable if the politicking begins, with a possible shifting of heretofore good alliances to elect a conservative nominee changing and splitting the votes. One other candidate the Rev. Richard Crocker of EFAC fame was discarded early on. The list will be announced September 1, with the petition process allowing names by September 15. Electing Convocation is Saturday, October 16.

And in the DIOCESE OF OKLAHOMA you will recall the story about St. James, in Oklahoma City, The Little Church That Could? When their bishop Robert Moody threatened to lock their doors unless they started supporting him and ECUSA, most of the members left the church building they had worked so hard for, left the church bank account, vestments, candles and candle holders and went across the street to a Baptist Chapel and organized St. James Anglican Church.

Well today the good news is that they now have a new priest, Vern Caswell, a newly minted graduate of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, and they have a new bishop, Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone. They are now officially part of the Diocese of Argentina.

Wrote a new member, "the altar has to be packed up and moved after every service, the Senior Warden made the wooden processional cross and the torches are supported on remade shovel handles, but the spirit is palpable. As Senior Warden Don Gumm put it: "The last few months under ECUSA we were a depressed parish. We were losing members and hope. Now we're back. Attendance is increasing and best of all, everyone is proud to say: "I go to church at St. James!"

The NIGERIANS ARE COMING, THE NIGERIANS ARE COMING...THE NIGERIANS ARE HERE. Word has it that the number of Nigerian Anglicans in North America has grown so large that if they were to organize it would be the tenth largest province in the world. Funny thing is that they are not making their way into Episcopal churches. Can we see Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola sending pastors and missionaries to North America? they can't come too soon.

Speaking of costs, Canon Bill Atwood of EKKELSIA, who travels the Anglican Communion more frequently than the Archbishop of Canterbury, says the ministry of the provinces in Africa could be run on what orthodox churches in North America pay for air conditioning. Interesting thought.

In a recent story "Where Has All the Money Gone" about the DIOCESE OF UTAH some interesting notations about the figures have come to light. The Diocesan Treasurer is
saying that the congregations are only asked to make a 4% contribution to the diocesan budget, the rest of it coming from the +$100,000,000 (that's ONE HUNDRED MILLION) endowment. The diocesan budget is over $5,000,000. That makes it second (only to Texas) that also just had over $5 million. The contribution to the budget by the people and congregations was to be only 4%, which appears to be only $200,000. Amazingly, with 5393 communicants, that adds up to a whopping $37 per year, per communicant. That would make it the lowest per capita giving in the church, BUT the
amazing thing is that they could not make even that!!! They have had to make cuts.

In true missionary vision it is my understanding that the money can only be spent inside the diocese. Can we say "rich but dysfunctional." Maybe we should revoke other bishops' Christian baptisms so they can learn Utah-ian stewardship.

ANNUAL PLEDGES FROM 100 NATIONAL EPISCOPAL OFFICES to the central coffers are expected to be $27.8 million this year, down from almost $30 million in 2003, said Kurt Barnes, the denomination's treasurer, recently. Two dioceses, Dallas and Pittsburgh, sent signed pledges of "zero," church officials said.

Contribution amounts have fluctuated in recent years, going from $26 million in 1999 to $23 million in 2000, and church officials said the economy was a factor as well as the controversy over Robinson. But note these are pledges, not guarantees of what will actually come in by year's end. The final figure will be considerably lower say informed sources.

A breakaway church pastor is calling on ECUSA to repent. A MILWAUKEE PRIEST who left the Episcopal Church over its approval of an openly homosexual bishop says it is time for evangelical Episcopalians to move on and let the denomination "die on the vine, because it's already been uprooted."

The ECUSA's disregard for scriptural authority prompted Pastor Tere Wilson to form a breakaway Anglican congregation called "Light of Christ Church." It is the first such splinter group in Wisconsin, and its head is urging other Episcopal congregations to follow his new church's lead.

Wilson, who was an Episcopal priest for nearly 20 years, says the concerns of his congregation have been "absolutely ignored" by Milwaukee's Bishop Steven Miller and other diocesan leaders. Now he and members of his Light of Christ Church have parted ways with the ECUSA in protest of its approval of the homosexual lifestyle.

The leader of Light of Christ Church says evangelical Episcopalians need to go ahead and "get out of Dodge," leaving the heretical ECUSA, and calling those still in it to repentance. Of those who choose to stay in the denomination, Pastor Wilson urges his members and others to pray for them and challenge them; but if necessary, he says it may be time to let the ECUSA "die on the vine."

The University of the South at SEWANEE has received a Campus Heritage Grant from the Getty Foundation in order to prepare a conservation plan for the historic buildings, sites and landscapes of the 15 square miles that compose the campus and community surrounding the institution. The University, because of its location on the Cumberland Plateau in Sewanee, has a wealth of prehistoric, Native American and Civil War-era resources, as well as a campus that includes a rich collection of Collegiate Gothic academic buildings.

"Jacques Going to the Chapel". Human Rights Campaign President Cheryl Jacques took time off from her crusade for same-sex marriage to tie the knot herself Sunday. Jacques, 42, and her partner of nearly seven years, Jennifer Chrisler, 33, were married in a Boston hotel in a ceremony presided over by sister-in-law Katherine Jacques, a justice of the peace, and their friend, the Rev. Miriam Gelfer, an Episcopal priest. Will the Bishop of Massachusetts intervene and depose this woman for her actions? He has said he would as he does not approve of same-sex marriages being done by his priests. Don't count on it.

THE ATLANTIC monthly magazine reports on the changing face of religion in North America noted that the Northwest was the "the nation's most godless locale." Catholicism had a changing face: The Catholic Church grew by 16 percent in the 1990s, and its heart is shifting to the South and the West. The Dakotas are Pious Dakotas: The Atlantic identifies Bismarck, N.D., as "the third most religious metropolitan area in the country, trailing only Provo, Utah, and Lafayette, Louisiana." The Baptist Belt: "The South is Baptist country: the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest denomination in eight of the eleven states of the old Confederacy, and also in Kentucky and Oklahoma."

And the most interesting statistic of all is the rise of Islam. Even by the estimate of 1.6 million Muslims in the United States, "Islam is on its way to outstripping the dwindling mainline Protestant denominations. New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago already have more than twice as many Muslims as Episcopalians." We can't be totally surprised. After all Islam is not a candidate for pluriform truths which Frank is. If and when the Mullahs come knocking on the door at 815 demanding he convert or die, we'll see how pluriform plays out then.

In today's lead story, THE FUTILE JOURNEY OF THE THREE NOT SO WISE MEN, two American Episcopal bishops and a seminary Dean are in Africa trying to understand why African Anglican Provinces and their bishops will have nothing to do with ECUSA's theological and moral innovations. The story which is posted at the website www.virtuosityonline.org lead one wag to write:

We three dupes of Bennison are,
Bearing funds we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

O star of Griswold, star of Spong!
Star of Pike and Robinson!
Leftward leading, still entreating,
Make our conversation long!

And in the CHURCH OF ENGLAND...horror of horrors, the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield, will admit women candidates for ordination training. Women have been admitted as theology students for many years, and the Bishop of Wakefield, the Left Revd Stephen Platten, who chairs the new governing body, has described the move as “a natural development” in the college’s life.

Mirfield is responding to the Hind report on theological training. The Superior of the Community of the Resurrection, Fr George Guiver CR, said: “The new governing body has greater freedom for action . . .: after 100 years of service to the Church, we are clear that it should go forward for another 100 years on the best possible footing. Mirfield was once a proud male bastion of Anglo-Catholic thought; latter day traditionalists are not amused.

And to complete your day Gene Robinson will be a guest speaker at the Fellowship of reconciliation conference. The title of his address: "Organizing the Real Superpower: People of the World Choose Peace.” Perhaps he is going to reveal to us all how he will bring peace into the Anglican Communion. We wait with baited breath.

KEARON AGAIN. The ACC leader says churches are essentially about community and building community, and community is not only about positive things, but they also sometimes have their tensions. Really.

Rubbish. The church is a family and it is in the business of Kingdom building,
proclaiming the Good News about Jesus. It is this kind of liberal hogwash that makes Virtuosity believe that the ACO office will be simply more of the same ol, same ol. You can read my analysis of this man's mission and more in today's digest.

Word has it that members of the Church Club in NYC and the Compass Rose Society continue to come up with funds for keeping the ACC staff afloat, because they are still thrilled to be able to attend black/white-tie dinners and "rub elbows" with whatever CofE celebrity attends (as well as "rub elbows" with the PB).

The Episcopal Church's official homosexual organization Integrity wants to correct the record about its activities in Uganda. The Rev. Hopkins said Integrity Uganda did lose its founder, Rev. Erich Kasirye, who stole a significant portion of property belonging to Integrity Uganda. But, he says, Integrity Uganda is alive and well under the leadership of Bishop Chrisopher Senyonjo and President Denis Iraguha.

VIRTUOSITY WEBSITE NEWS. Many of our readers have said that one of the more meaningful pieces that we circulate are the weekly DEVOTIONALS. To make them more accessible and easy to find, we've posted them to the Virtuosity website and created a menu item to allow you to browse them easily. Go to http://www.virtuosityonline.org and click the Devotionals menu on the left column. On this new page, you can browse and read all the devotionals that we've circulated during 2004. We hope that they are a blessing to your life. (A word of thanks to my webman Robert Turner for making this possible.)

And the BIBLE SOCIETY launched a 'youth Bible' - a tale of sex and masturbation this week. According to the London Telegraph, "Sex is "fulfilling," masturbation is "difficult to resist" and Mary Magdalene "had something of a dodgy past". The new "youth Bible" which talks frankly about pornography and lust has been condemned by traditionalists for "dumbing down the message of salvation". The Contemporary English Version Youth Bible, jointly published by The Bible Society and Collins - which also publishes more traditional versions of The Bible - is written in modern idiom and includes a number of extra passages penned by contemporary authors on "youth issues".

TELEGRAPH EDITORIAL BLASTS NAZIR-ALI as possible successor to Dr. Hope. The widely read British broadsheet newspaper The Telegraph has come out slamming the possible appointment of Pakistani-born Bishop of Rochester, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Michael Nazir Ali as a successor to Dr. David Hope who retires shortly as Archbishop of York. Virtuosity takes a hard look at this statement.

Please read URGENT APPEAL. It was written by a long time Virtuosity clergyman reader with no axe to grind except to say how much he both enjoys and NEEDS virtuosity.

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All blessings,

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