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MERE ANGLICANISM roars like a lion...Four Revisionist Candidates for PB...more

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

CHARLESTON, SC: It was a spectacular turn out of The Episcopal Church's brightest and best.

Scholars, theologians, bishops, clergy, seminarians and laity came from 33 dioceses, comprising more than 250 who came to the Mere Anglican conference that included leaders from The Episcopal Church, Anglican Mission in America, American Anglican Council, Anglican Province of Christ the King, the Anglican Province of America, the Reformed Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church of America, the Presbyterian Church USA, Episcopal Missionary Church, with Anglican leaders coming from as far a field as Nigeria and Uganda.

The line-up read like a Who's Who of orthodox Episcopalians: Dr. Os Guinness, Dr. Stephen Noll, Dr. Ashley Null, Dr. Robert Sanders, Dr. David Scott, Dr. Joe Murphy, Dr. Bill Dickson, Dr. Guy Lytle, a slew of cardinal rectors, and brilliant activist laymen like Dr. Ernest "Bubber" Cockrell, a theologically trained neuro-psychiatrist, all under the watchful and intellectual eye of the Rt. Rev. Dr. C. Fitzsimons Allison, the retired Bishop of South Carolina, who, along with a group of thoughtful Episcopalians called the conference, concerned over the imploding situation in the Episcopal Church.

The two main speakers; Dr. Os Guinness, author and social critic, gave testimony to the global crisis the church faces in a 'liquid', fiber optic, increasingly borderless, globalized universe, while the Rev. Dr. Stephen Noll, Vice Chancellor of Uganda Christian University, lectured on the Global Anglican Communion and talked of an Episcopal Church "in exile".

Here is a taste of what Dr. Noll said: "Anglican leaders, led by the Global South, spoke clearly and forcefully at Lambeth in Resolution 1.10 on Human Sexuality, but they have not yet followed up by exercising discipline of those Provinces that have flouted the substance of the Resolution. The Episcopal and Anglican Church of Canada have been asked to repent of their position...they will not repent. The Episcopal Church for one is too deeply immersed in the gay-rights ethos to turn back corporately at this point. So the question is, what comes next? The Primates may well carry through with their threat and cut these churches free to walk apart. But there is another course of studied inaction which I think equally likely; indeed it seems to be the one contemplated by the Archbishop of Canterbury and his 2008 Lambeth Design Team. That scenario involves a "business-as-usual" Lambeth Conference, with North American churches present, where we change the subject and just move on. Brothers and sisters, the latter course will, I predict, incur the judgment of God and effectively put an end to the Anglican Communion as a serious, respected Christian body."

"Renewal from within is no longer possible total reformation is the only way forward," he said.

You can read Dr. Noll's full critique of the Anglican Communion in today's digest. Please feel free to send this to as many Episcopalians as you know. It is one of the most thoughtful, concise, no nonsense analyses of the present condition of the Anglican Communion in print. Heresy is the chief cause of this ecclesiastical disunion, he says.

From a sociological perspective, liberal Anglicanism is reaping the harvest of unbelief. The Episcopal Church is flush with funds, even as parishioners race for the exits, leaving endowments for window dressing. The pursuit of pansexuality is only hastening its own demise. The fault lines are clear; will the Episcopal and Canadian churches be cut loose? Time alone will tell. One thing is for sure, Jesus Christ is still Lord; the Gospel is not in retreat and the global Anglican Communion is coming.

The Rev. Professor Guy Lytle, a theologian teaching at the Seminary of the South in Sewanee, spoke for many, when he said there was now a near total loss of joy in the Episcopal Church. "From the first day General Convention did what it did, I began to ask, what do we do, where do we go? V. Gene Robinson had a choice of being a flamboyant gay and homosexual cause advocate or be the center of the unity of the church. The bishop thought he would do the latter. He has failed." Lytle said his own advocacy of the recent establishment of the Council of Anglican Provinces of the Americas and Caribbean (CAPAC) as an Anglican Communion structure whereby orthodox Episcopalians can be protected while this [mess] gets sorted out, got him into trouble at his seminary, with two fellow professors trying to get him fired, he told conferees.

Another thread that ran through the conference was; what has all this got to do with what is really going on in people minds? The Anglican Communion is a reality. But what is the Anglican Communion, and what does it have to do with me in Tennessee, asked Lytel.

"The Anglican Communion is far away. It is further away than New Hampshire. We have not been successful in educating normal parishioners about problems and possibilities, and it is not just the laity but clergy. Globalization can produce negativism," said Lytle.

"Much of the arrogance of the dominant white Episcopal mind can be summed up in the retort by one man I heard: 'We started the Anglican Communion and we can end it if we want to.' It's as though Joe McCarthy had spoken. The attitude is 'we don't want to listen. We rich, white, suburban Episcopalians don't have to listen to those blankety, blank Africans.'"

Lytle said we need to educate our people. "I have taught for 22 years in Sewanee. There is an Anglican communion out there, and people need to know that we are part of it and we are accountable to it."

Lytle said he was worried about the Roman model of the Archbishop of Canterbury. "Desmond Tutu was great on apartheid, but I would not want him leading the Anglican Communion today. We could elect a very dangerous person."

Lytle urged the need for an Anglican Covenant; "But can we submit to a communion-wide covenant? I don't think we can; what is called for is a good old fashioned revival."

Dr. Ashley Null, Canon theologian [of Western Kansas] and historiographer of Thomas Cranmer [editing his papers while a visiting research fellow ] at the University of Berlin said doctrine matters; truth makes a difference. "God's revelation of himself and the truth about who we are is fundamental: union with Him...that is worth dying for. [The English Reformers] paid the price for their insights by offering their hands and bodies to the fire. [Uganda's first believers did, too.] The Africans don't think of the gospel as a Western import because it changed the lives of the people who heard it...so with joy they gave their lives."

Null savaged the Windsor Report saying that report made clear the principle that truth was not at the center of the document. "Process is. It designs a process to determine truth and who will determine truth. Whatever legal body is formed of this new covenant community, it will determine truth. Although the orthodox are members of the covenant, it is being interpreted by liberals. Lambeth 2008 or 2018 could make it binding as God's Word for us. We must take the initiative to define what that covenant and tradition is, and put the primacy on God's word as necessary for salvation. In any covenant, Scripture is squarely at the foundation of what truth is."

Anglican Mission in America Bishop, John H. Rodgers, said the Archbishop of Canterbury had no real authority. "Nobody is minding the store. The Global South will take the bit in its mouth and move forward."

Anglican theologian Edith Humphrey said the Episcopal Church was no longer walking apart but walking alone. "Worship should be our main calling and focus. Worship is primary."

IN TODAY'S DIGEST you can read what Os Guinness had to say about the Western Church, globalization and modernity. His three lectures to the Mere Anglican conference were nothing short of brilliant.

IF YOU WANT A LOCAL SNAPSHOT of where the Episcopal Church is going; my wife and I, on a brief vacation in Mexico, listened as a woman told us that she and her husband recently left Trinity Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh. "We got very upset over all the talk about homosexuality. My husband and I are not theologians but we know the Bible is pretty clear about that sort of behavior. We now attend Trinity Bible Church down the road. We miss the liturgy, saying the creeds and prayers of confession, but this issue [homosexuality] was a bridge too far and we left. We found all this talk about gay sex revolting and disgusting."

IN OTHER ECUSA news, it is now official. The Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop for the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) has announced their nominations for Presiding Bishop: the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, Bishop of Atlanta; the Rt. Rev. Edwin F. Gulick, Jr., Bishop of Kentucky; the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of Nevada; and the Rt. Rev. Henry N. Parsley, Jr., Bishop of Alabama.

None of the candidates are orthodox. Of these four nominees, Bishops Alexander, Gulick and Jefferts Schori voted against a resolution affirming the authority of Scripture and basic tenets of Christian faith (B001) and voted to approve the consecration of V. Gene Robinson at General Convention 2003. Bishop Gulick, consecrated in 1994, has an extensive record of supporting the revisionist agenda.

The DIOCESE OF VIRGINIA'S largest Episcopal parish, Falls Church Episcopal, called on the Rt. Rev. Peter J. Lee to "repent and return to the truth" over supporting the ordination of the openly homosexual bishop of New Hampshire. Leaders of the Falls Church Episcopal said in their eight-page, single-spaced letter that "no compromise on this issue is possible," although they refrained from specific threats. In the past, the parish's rector has threatened to depart. In a letter to the church's 2,200 members, the church wrote: "A Christian leader does not approve of sin, or purport to declassify it," the letter said to Bishop Lee, who backed the 2003 consecration of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. "Rather, he calls sinners to repentance and proclaims the Good News that sin can be forgiven and new life can be obtained in Christ." No word or response from Bishop Lee as we went to press.

IN THE DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA, the standing committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, by unanimous vote, has asked Bishop Charles E. Bennison, Jr., to retire or resign.

In a letter to diocesan clergy dated Jan. 25, Bishop Bennison said he was "seriously praying about the standing committee's request," and called for prayer "for me, for our colleagues throughout the diocese, and above all for the unity and health of our diocese." A day later he sent a second letter to clergy in the Diocese telling them he refused to resign.

We will see if the Standing Committee has the courage to move forward and get rid of him. Bennison's latest idiocy may spur them on. In his message in The Pennsylvania Episcopalian (February 2006), Bennison doubts the "historical accuracy" of the four gospels and compares Mark, Matthew, Luke and John to the words on the Soviet War Memorial in Berlin! You can read Bennison's "I won't resign" letter in today's digest.

Bennison has been on a spending spree with an estimated $20 million of unrestricted net asset money to refurbish the cathedral and buy Camp Wapiti (he sees this as his legacy). When Bennison opened the diocese's 222nd convention on Nov. 5 with a call to affirm his leadership he said this. "If you feel I'm not leading you effectively, tell me, and if I feel it is God's will, I'll resign."

Why there wasn't a stampede to the microphones remains a mystery.

The Convention rejected a proposed $4.8 million budget as well as a proposed mandatory parochial assessment and approved a resolution calling for the election by convention of finance and property committee members, removing their appointment from the bishop's authority.

Fr. David Moyer, rector of Church of the Good Shepherd called for the resignation of Charles Bennison four years ago because of his false teachings and duplicity, and his fraudulent actions towards him. "I am pleased that the Standing Committee has taken this action, but call upon them to recognize that his failure as a bishop began with dishonesty and the abandonment of his vows to guard the faith."

As to the two lawsuits Bishop Moyer filed against Bennison, he stated, "Unless resolved, the litigation I commenced will continue even if the bishop resigns."

VirtueOnline had been calling for the bishop to be fired for more than five years.

And in the DIOCESE OF ROCHESTER action has been taken against an embattled Episcopal priest in Irondequoit. Bishop Jack McKelvey told the Rev. David Harnish he can no longer function as a priest in the Episcopal Church. Harnish was rector of the former All Saints Church in Irondequoit. All Saints leaders refused to pay the Episcopal Diocese its assessment because it did not support the diocese's recruitment of gay priests and the support of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire. In November the diocese declared All Saints dissolved but Harnish continued to hold services. You can read the full story today.

And in the DIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES, St. James Anglican Church, Newport Beach has withdrawn its lawsuit against the diocese. After a series of court victories ruling that the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and the national Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. had no right to confiscate its property, St. James voluntarily withdrew a lawsuit it had filed against the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles in June 2005.

The lawsuit alleged that the Diocese of Los Angeles breached a written promise made in 1991 that it would not attempt to claim St. James property. The lawsuit alleged that by initiating the lawsuit against St. James Church and its volunteer vestry members in September 2004, the Diocese and Bishop J. Jon Bruno breached that promise to the severe detriment of St. James.

"We have been vindicated in our fight to preserve the property St. James members have sacrificially contributed to build and maintain," said Father Praveen Bunyan, Rector of St. James Church. "As a growing, vibrant church, we want to stay focused and use our resources on our core ministries instead of being distracted with continuing a lawsuit where we already have the victory. We call upon the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Episcopal Church to do the same, and not drag their church through endless appeals that will bear no fruit for them or God's Kingdom."

GROUP PROPOSES JUSTICE BECOME A SAINT. Episcopalians from a church where the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall worshipped are asking their denomination to name him a saint. Marshall, who died in 1993, was a towering figure in the civil rights movement and the first black justice to sit on the nation's highest court. Members of St. Augustine's Church in Washington, D.C., will seek initial approval for the honor from delegates to the convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

IF YOU WANT A VIGNETTE of what things are truly like in the DIOCESE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE, V. Gene Robinson's bailiwick, consider this from a VirtueOnline reader about a cardinal parish, St. Paul's (Concord, NH) nearby diocesan headquarters. The December Newsletter focused on declining attendance and pledges, and a quarter of a million dollar shortfall!

Their "About Us' page claims the following statistics about St. Paul's:

* Number of members: 1300
* Annual operating budget: $800,000
* Average Sunday worship attendance: 400
* Church school enrollment: 75
* Youth group enrollment: 40
* Outreach programs: 8

And this, according to the December Newsletter: "Last Year (2005) 356 families and individuals pledged $558,900. But as of November 19% remained unpaid. To make up for the loss, St. Paul's took out roughly $136,000 in savings... As of the beginning of December (2005) 287 families and individuals pledged $497,100..."

"St. Paul's is a premier ECUSA parish in the State Capitol. They have a gay Deacon and apparently cannot afford to fill the "co-rector" vacancy left when Rev. Heath Civetta (a female priest) took a call as Chaplain at the very prestigious St. Paul's Prep School in Concord, this past fall. The Rector of St. Paul's Church, David Jones, is a staunch supporter of V. Gene Robinson and is extremely 'inclusive'. They even welcome non-baptized persons to receive Holy Communion. Is there any wonder why they are seeing a decline in attendance and financial support?"

NBC CANCELS 'Book of Daniel'. Apparently NBC's decision to pull The Book of Daniel shows the power of the pocketbook. NBC didn't want to eat their economic losses. Nearly 700,000 individuals sent emails to NBC and thousands called and emailed their local affiliates complaining that the TV miniseries depicting Jesus as blasphemous, and portraying Christ as tolerant of sin in talks with an Episcopal priest.

CONSIDER THIS FROM A VIRTUEONLINE READER. "My former parish in the DIOCESE OF EL CAMINO REAL, St Francis' in San Jose, has been hijacked by the LBGT (Queer) crowd, and Via Media has moved in. A woman priest associate rector has made it a point to raise social issues so often, that's one of the reasons why my wife and I left. There were times when we didn't hear Jesus mentioned in her sermons! The entire diocese, with the exception of one church near Monterey, is radically Liberal. When Richard Schimpfky was bishop, the membership dropped from around 38,000 to 12,000...and I don't think it has improved any." PS. Schimpfky has made his way to the ulra-liberal DIOCESE OF LONG ISLAND as a priest, a fitting epitaph to a failed bishopric.

IN THE DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS comes this: "I am a pastor of a small Evangelical Christian church located in a suburb of Richmond Va. Our church is looking to hire someone as an accompanist, Recently I tried to place a help-wanted advertisement in the large Richmond daily newspaper, "The Richmond Times Dispatch". I had my secretary send them the copy for the ad which read as follows: "Vibrant growing Jesus-loving congregation looking to hire a talented pianist/organist for Sunday morning worship services and evening choir practices. Pray about it, then send your resume to...(our address)."

We received a call back from the paper saying they would not run the advertisement unless we dropped the words "Jesus-loving" and "Pray about it". I asked to speak to a supervisor who confirmed that this was, in fact, their position, so I asked her to send me a letter stating their objections and why these phrases were being rejected. She told me that she would have to check with the company attorney about that but she would get back with me later in the day. A couple of hours later she called back and told me that she had spoken with the Media General attorney, (the Times-Dispatch is owned by Media General, a large media conglomerate based here in Richmond), and he had advised them to tell me that they would not run our ad if we used the words "Jesus-loving" or "pray about it" in the text. He also advised them not to send me a letter or put any of this in writing. (I guess they fear a law suit?). What blows my mind is this: This paper prints so-called "personal" ads where people can openly advertise that they are looking for homosexual sex or adulterous relationships. They print display ads in the sports section every day for the local strip clubs...but according to them I can't describe our church as "Jesus-loving." That just doesn't make much sense to me! Isn't that sort of the definition of a Christian church? We love Jesus. Anyway I'm not quite sure what my next step is. I'm praying about how to address this obvious discrimination in a way that brings glory to Christ and leads people to faith in Him. Please pray about how this might be used for the Kingdom in a positive way. The letter is signed: David A. Crisp, Sr. Pastor, Hanover Evangelical Friends Church, Mechanicsville, VA 23111. 804-730-9512

THE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST is also experiencing fallout from its controversial decision to affirm support for same-sex marriage equality. Leaders of the 1.3-million-member church say that about 49 churches - or less than one percent of the UCC's 5,725 churches - have voted to disaffiliate, according to the denomination's research office. Most, but not all, of the departures appear related to disagreement with the marriage-equality resolution. The Episcopal Church is not the only denomination in trouble. The PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH USA is also embroiled in the same dispute. I was delighted to meet the editor of The Presbyterian Layman, Mr. Robinson Parker while at the Mere Anglican conference. He is a fine orthodox brother who has taken a lot of heat from liberals in his church, even and including an attempt to excommunicate him. But his readership is so wide and deep (over 400,000) in the PCUSA that even the heavy hitters dare not go after him. He will report on the World Council of Churches meeting in Brazil later this year and file reports for VirtueOnline.

CLERICS OPEN LONG PATH TO FEMALE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY. According to a report in the Guardian newspaper, The Church of England's bishops have cautiously opened the door to the possibility that, at a future date, there may be a female Archbishop of Canterbury. A committee has drawn up plans for first women bishops with opponents getting separate 'space' in Church. In a working party report, a committee also attempted to keep the church's divided congregations together over plans to appoint the first women bishops. It recommended a new order of male bishops to minister to the minority of congregations who still cannot accept women being ordained to the clergy. One wonders who really has their hand on the Church of England's till, and who it is that is ready to push the self-destruct button.

CORRECTION: As Senior Warden and Associate Rector at The Falls Church we would like to provide a corrective to the information you received regarding The Falls Church. Although The Falls Church has been engaged in a civil discussion with Bishop Lee and members of his leadership team on a variety of issues of concern over the past several months, there is no plan or intention to undertake any of the actions described in your comment. We would appreciate your acknowledgment of this in your newsletter. The Honorable Sam Thomsen, Senior Warden of The Falls Church The Rev. Dr. Frederick Wright, Associate Rector, The Falls Church

DEAR READERS, please forgive this delayed digest. I am on a brief vacation with my wife and am writing to you from Mexico following a marvelous conference in Charleston, SC. Thank you for your patience. It is a joy and privilege to serve you.

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All blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

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