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Liberal Christianity...Kanuga...Pennsylvania...CofE...Anglican crisis

"Wait till the end and you will see the outcome of events. Don't fuss, don't worry yet awhile. Imagine someone who is not of the trade watching a blacksmith start melting down gold and mixing in ashes and straw. If he does not wait till the end, he will think that the poor piece of gold is going to be destroyed. And when I speak of the final outcome, I am not referring to the end of this present life, but to the future life -- God's plan for us aims at our salvation and glory." St. John Chrysostom, On Providence 9. 1

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Liberal Christianity does not interpret historic Christianity; it studies the historic landscape seeking a point upon which to assert itself, thus bringing Liberal Christianity into being. It could not exist without orthodoxy, any more than Nazism or radical Islam could exist without the Jews.

And so it is with The Episcopal Church. Revisionism would not exist without the 'faith once delivered' to react against. Pansexuality only exists because it is in reaction to heterosexuality, and that is why, at the end, it cannot win or prevail either in the church or in the broader culture.

For if it does it will, like Samson, bring the whole temple down on itself and destroy not only us, but them.

We are fast approaching a time when liberal Christianity, already on a downward slide will, it would now seem, slide inevitably towards its self-appointed oblivion. The mainline Protestant denominations, already in meltdown, are gasping in their death throes. They are on life support using up Trust Funds and endowments with fewer warm bodies and no gospel to proclaim.

And in KANUGA this past week competing theological forces in ECUSA - orthodoxy and pansexual liberalism met to make their case before the Lambeth Commission - a group of 17, mostly orthodox men and women.

Frank Griswold delivered himself of his notion that he speaks for the "diverse center" of the church. He took a group of his liberal pals with him and said he represented the real Episcopal Church. Funny thing about that, he never took anybody from the center or the right. They were all from the left...the far left. You can read what Virtuosity had to say about that in today's digest.

An ACNS press report spun it as a "constructive meeting". Those are the nice words for it. Mercifully the American Anglican Council in the person of Canon David C. Anderson was there as were a number of other orthodox folk to make the case that ECUSA REALLY is in a mess and no amount of gerrymandering, finger in the dike, why-can't-we-all-just-get-along approach will fix it.

Griswold's "diverse" team included David Booth Beers, Chancellor of the Episcopal Church USA, Barbara Braver, Assistant to the Presiding Bishop for Communications, Bishop Charles Jenkins, President of the Presiding Bishop's Council of Advice, Dean George Werner, President of the House of Deputies, and Bishop Arthur Williams, former Vice-President of the House of Bishops - not one single orthodox voice among them.

The other side of the fence included the Bishop of Pittsburgh, Bob Duncan, Moderator of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, as well as Hugo Blankingship, a Virginia attorney, Diane Knippers of IRD, Dr Michael Howell, a brainy African American scientist and layman, The Rev. Martyn Minns, rector of one of the largest parishes in the country and his wife Angela.

Of his time there Minns wrote in a letter to his parish, "The Commission really listened to our talks and afterwards asked tough and penetrating questions. We all sensed their desire to find a way forward for the Communion. It also seemed evident they supported our contention that this is not business as usual and that some kind of discipline and structural relief is necessary. We explored issues of theology, sociology, ecclesiology and canon law. It was hard work!"

The explosive news of the week though came out of the DIOCESE OF LONG ISLAND and it concerns Bishop Orris Walker who fired the Dean of the cathedral James L. Cardone, for, among other things, allegations of racism. The New York Times writer asked Walker if he had AIDS! The bishop would neither confirm nor deny. Walker is an alcoholic, he has, in the past, misappropriated funds from his diocesan accounts, tried to broker back into the church a sodomite priest who appeared in Penthouse magazine under an article titled, "The Boys from Brazil"...and that's just for openers. Virtuosity is working on a major soon-to-be-released story about this venal bishop. When it is all out in the wash, Hollywood will have enough for a mini series that will make Sex in the City look tame. And they can shoot it all on Long Island.

Here is what Dean Cardone had to say about Walker: "In my opinion, he is a disgusting, despicable excuse for a human being, and he should have been removed from the church years ago.'' What doubled Dean Cardone's agony is that his son recently committed suicide and so he called his firing so close to his son's death ''a callous dismissal that even the worst of business executives would have enough depth of human understanding and sensitivity not to do.''

And that's just the "nice" stuff.

Bishop Charles E. Bennison, DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA continues to cut a swathe through the diocese, leaving pain and suffering wherever he goes.

As he attends orthodox parishes the crowds get thinner by the Sunday. Memo to Public Relations Dept. of the diocese from CB: "My last hostile visit was a disaster! The "port-a-congo" bus got lost and there were only 8 people at St. Paul's, Oaks. Effective immediately, I am to be issued 50 smiley face balloons which Glen Matis, the head of the Diocesan Standing Committee can release as I enter the church."

And in another memo from Bennison to the security department; "Security must be tightened at Camp Wapiti. Last night, orthodox vandals (as distinguished from revisionist Visigoths) painted over the sign to make it read "Camp Haven't Got a Clue". One is obliged to find humor in the midst of the insanity that passes for truth in this diocese.

In the moveable world of ecclesiastical politics Bishop Duncan met briefly this week with Archbishop John Hepworth head of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC). Both are in Ft. Worth, Bishop Duncan for a meeting of Anglican Communion Network (ACN) bishops, and Archbishop Hepworth for the Forward in Faith (FiFNA) meeting. They met at Archbishop Hepworth's request. It was a positive meeting in which Hepworth, as courtesy, shared developments in the TAC. He is very aware of ACN's commitment outlined in the Structural Charter to gather the Anglican Diaspora. "We further commit ourselves to the ongoing re-union of the Anglican Diaspora in North America," he told Virtuosity. (ACN Structural Charter, Article IV). The realignment is moving rapidly into high gear.

And in the DIOCESE OF TEXAS disagreements over homosexuality prompted one more Episcopal parish to move on. In Northwest Austin the vicar of St. Barnabas the Encourager's congregation voted to sever ties with the Episcopal Church over long-festering theological disputes and to align itself with a Chicago-based evangelical denomination. "I was trying to respect my people and myself and the word of God," said the Rev. Jeff Black. "It came down to a matter of conscience," said Black. Last Sunday, the congregation voted almost unanimously - 196-2 - to leave the denomination and temporarily associate with the Evangelical Covenant Church, a national organization of churches founded by Swedish immigrants in 1885.

And in the DIOCESE OF NEW YORK, the outrage continues. "Join the Episcopal Diocese of New York at the Pride March (formerly known as Gay Pride Day) in New York City on June 27!" screamed a headline.

For those who want to do both, NY Suffragan Bishop Catherine Roskam will celebrate Holy Eucharist earlier in the day, and then you can all line up with what is euphemistically called "the religious and spirituality contingent" of the Pride Parade...and march, showing your solidarity by bringing parish banners if you wish...the more the better says Roskam. Please be sure to bring water and lots of sunscreen. Of course. And you wonder why the Global South bishops believe the ECUSA is unreformable. This death march will have a diocesan float complete with sound system. Perhaps they can reel off the names of all those who died believing and practicing the joys of anal sex.

WEST INDIES PRIMATE DREXEL GOMEZ took a major swing at The Episcopal Church and V. Gene Robinson when he went before the Lambeth Commission this week.

He said that Robinson's consecration should be declared invalid. The he said this: "Canon Robinson should not be invited to the Lambeth Conference in 2008 since he is not a bishop and this would avoid the problems that an invitation to him would raise. Secondly, with the agreement of the other Primates of the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church (USA) could be invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury to fill the see of New Hampshire with an acceptable bishop and to censure those bishops who were involved in his consecration on the grounds that they took part in a consecration that they must have known was invalid.

Failure to take this action within an agreed time frame could then be regarded as a sign that the Episcopal Church (USA) no longer regards itself as part of the Anglican Communion."

Complete clarity there. One wonders if Episcopal Life will run the Primate's statement in full, on the front page! Don't hold your breath.

IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND, new measures for church discipline is on the horizon, with the re-introduction of what the Times is calling “heresy trials” to discipline clergy who stray from the straight and narrow in matters concerning doctrine and ritual.

The move could enable the evangelical wing of the Church to lay siege to the liberals in ways they have previously only dreamed of. The Church of England is to consider whether it ought to update its procedures for disciplining clergy over matters of doctrine, ritual and ceremonial for the first time in nearly half a century.

The move comes as the church faces more profound splits over doctrine, with some conservative evangelicals accusing the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, of being a false prophet and teacher of error for his views.

The debate, at the CHURCH OF ENGLAND GENERAL SYNOD in York next month will establish whether the synod wishes to update procedures for bringing complaints against unorthodox clerics.

The question is, if the C of E can do it, why can't The Episcopal Church? Of course in ECUSA's case Griswold would load the "jury" with liberals and all the cases would collapse, that is, if they ever got out of the Title IV Review Committee...which is highly unlikely.

In a recent story regarding the woes of the Lutherans (ELCA) Virtuosity mentioned only Kairos News. An orthodox Lutheran wrote to say that there are several organizations and ministries that are upholding the truth in that denomination. The oldest and largest is the WordAlone Network. It got its start over the Concordat/CCM, but has been taking an orthodox stand on sexuality issues as well. An offshoot of the WA Network has formed its own new church body, Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ. It has grown to about 100 local churches in 3 years. Another group, Fellowship of Confessional Lutheran Churches sees things a little differently in terms of structure and ecclesiology, and they are found at www.newlutheranfellowship.com. The two newest to join the fray are the Solid Rock Lutherans (which include ELCA members from both sides of the CCM debate) www.sldrck.org and is focused exclusively on the sexuality debate. Finally, a collection of the largest ELCA congregations have joined the Dorado Covenant www.doradocovenant.org seeking to form a non-geographic synod. You can read their 5 affirmations at their site.

Virtuosity is delighted to pass this along. It makes us, as Episcopalians, aware that there are others contending for the faith and we are not alone in our struggles.

I HAVE POSTED A NUMBER OF STORIES FOR YOUR ENLIGHTENMENT, so please feel free to pass them along to others, encouraging them to sign up to the FREE digest, or at a minimum, point them to the website www.virtuosityonline.org where new stories are posted daily.

Please know that the website, www.virtuosityonline.org is brilliantly maintained by Mr. Robert Turner, and allows you to actually comment about particular stories you read. Jump in, enter the fray. Iron sharpens iron. There is also a guestbook if you have something to get off your chest. Contact Mr. Turner at webmaster@virtuosityonline.org.

VIRTUOSITY passed another milestone this week with the 2 millionth hit at its website. If you know who you are please drop me a line and I will send you a complimentary book. Send your note to dvirtue236@AOL.COM.

This digest is posted to you from Bedford, Texas where Forward in Faith NA is holding its 16th Annual Assembly. Their theme: "Forward in Orthodox, Unity and Mission." I will post stories from this conference to the website as the news breaks.

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All blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

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