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OHIO: Diocesan Bishop Spins Visit to Archbishop of Canterbury

OHIO BISHOP SPINS VISIT TO ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue
9/24/2004

The newly anointed Bishop of Ohio Mark Hollingsworth, along with three other bishops met recently with the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace and endeavored to put the best possible spin on the Episcopal Church in their visit with him.

The other three bishops included the Rt. Rev. Don Johnson (West Tennessee), the Rt. Rev. Robert O'Neill (Colorado), and the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw (Massachusetts).

Here is what he said: "We are two new bishops and two established bishops, and together we reflect both the theological and ecclesiological breadth of the American Church. Our desire was first to describe our experiences working toward reconciliation and unity in our respective dioceses and in the American province as a whole, what is contributing to that effort, and what is deterring or undermining it. We spoke very candidly about the American Anglican Council and the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, how we are experiencing their activities and actions, and about the activities of bishops from other dioceses and other provinces of the Anglican Communion within our jurisdictions. Second, we sought from the Archbishop some sense of how our continuing efforts might best support him in his work to bring greater unity to the Anglican Communion. Third, we described to Dr. Williams how we felt his ministry and leadership could most support the American Church."

Hollingsworth then shared three personal hopes. One is that Archbishop Williams will exercise his extraordinary gift of teaching particularly in regard to issues of our common life as a Communion; that the Episcopal Church will be responded to and supported by all in the Anglican Communion, as a single entity, as a whole, and not as individual factions, and thirdly that we might be accountable to one another and live through our diversity and differences into a deeper unity as the Body of Christ.

Bishop Hollingsworth must have thought he had found Frank Griswold's "deeper place" of "graceful conversation" and Sufi Rumi's "plain" all at the same time. What they said to the Archbishop of Canterbury was a total fiction and a tissue of lies.

To say that the four bishops "reflect both the theological and ecclesiological breadth of the American Church", is patently false.

Shaw is among the worst of the revisionist bishops. His diocese has so many gay priests they could start their own bathhouse and keep it filled all day long. Shaw has personally thrown out orthodox priests in his diocese and made others feel unwelcome. He and his Standing Committee have refused to allow orthodox priests into his diocese and he personally destroyed a parish that dared to stand up for the gospel. He is also a very close personal friend of Frank Griswold.

Bishop O'Neill of Colorado, a rampant revisionist, is in a permanent state of warfare with the orthodox clergy of his diocese, and they are cutting him no quarter over same-sex blessings, gay clergy and more. Because of the positions he has taken he has lost over $500,000 from orthodox laity, and he recently hired a public relations firm to boost his public image and to get acceptance for his pansexual agenda.

His task force report has so deeply divided his diocese that he hopes the PR firm will help his people "live together in disagreement." He should try the Bible, it's cheaper and there is no spin. Furthermore he has ignored one of a small handful of orthodox theologians in the whole of ECUSA who happens to be resident in his diocese - Dr. Ephraim Radner, because he is too biblical in his views.

The third bishop Don Johnson of West Tennessee is both hated and feared by the orthodox in his diocese. Johnson says he will not endorse, nor will he have his diocese in any way associated with the American Anglican Council, though Integrity is welcome of course. He recently wrote in a pastoral letter saying, "I will use all the power of my office to see to it that our clergy and congregations will not be in any formal membership arrangement with this or any other such group seeking to destroy the Episcopal Church. In a Response to Bishop Johnson's Pastoral Letter the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, Senior Fellow, The Anglican Communion Institute wrote, "the only thing surprising about Bishop Johnson's pastoral letter is the level of vituperative hostility; the content itself represents a consistent ignorance about the Anglican Communion and a willful denial about ECUSA's standing, externally and internally, with respect to its canonical legitimacy in the eyes of both that Communion and many of our own members." Bishop Johnson embodies inclusivity.

And then there is Hollingsworth himself. He got the job five months ago following the disastrous reign of Clark Grew who emptied the diocese faster than an annually pumped out septic system. Just ten days into his reign and he met with the Integrity crowd and helped relaunch the gay Episcopal activist organization. Hollingsworth came from the Diocese of Massachusetts a totally pro-gay diocese under Shaw and learned his lessons well. But after the pleasantries were over the new bishop was told by five Northeast Ohio congregations that uphold traditional teachings on sexuality to stay out of their churches. Hollingsworth was a supporter of the Robinson consecration which automatically puts him in the revisionist camp of bishops likely to be punished by the Lambeth/Eames Commission.

And now at Lambeth these four bishops have the nerve to tell Williams that they are
working toward reconciliation and unity in their respective dioceses and in the American province as a whole.

Then these four wise guy bishops sought from the Archbishop some sense of how they might best support him in his work to bring greater unity to the Anglican Communion and how Williams' ministry and leadership could most support the American Church.

Now what support would that be? If the Lambeth/Eames Commission report demands that ECUSA be disciplined, perhaps even excluded for a period from the Anglican Communion what is Williams going to do; rush across the Atlantic and hold Frank's hand and tell him that he feels his pain? These guys are blowing smoke out through the Titanic's funnels.

Then these four "brave" revisionist bishops got down on their knees and pled that Williams exercise his extraordinary gift of teaching particularly in regard to issues of our common life as a Communion and hoping that the Episcopal Church will be supported, by all in the Anglican Communion, as a single entity and not as individual factions and that we might be accountable to one another and live through our diversity and differences into a deeper unity as the Body of Christ."

How much fiction can you pack into one paragraph?

The Episcopal Church is already in a state of divorce writes orthodox theologian Dr. Stephen Noll, the only question is how the properties are going to be divvied up, and these four purple shirts think they can pull the wool over Williams' eyes?

It was Williams who argued for the formation of the Network to begin with, a Network these four miters hate with every breath in their bodies!

They hope he can maintain the Anglican Communion as a "single entity...whole and not as individual factions." Really. Already 22 primates have declared themselves in impaired or broken communion with the ECUSA. Many refuse ECUSA's money. The Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church won't even sit down in the same room with Griswold because of L'Affair Robinson. There is no longer a single entity; the ECUSA is already fractured beyond repair.

The Network, plus the AAC, plus Ekklesia, plus SAMS, plus the Anglican Relief and Development Fund amounts to a de facto new orthodox Anglican jurisdiction already in place within ECUSA!

The point is the Episcopal Church is unable to "live through diversity and differences" it is coming apart at the seams. If it wasn't, the AMiA would not exist, neither would the Network with its 1,000 clergy and 800 congregations...these four revisionist bishops are living in a fantasy land worthy of a Disneyland movie with Robin Williams imitating 82 revisionist bishops' voices pleading for unity where there is none.

The realignment has begun. It will not be stopped. Dr. Williams cannot stop it, and these four bishops totally ignore the power of numbers the Global South possess that could make Williams' life a living nightmare if he doesn't come down on Griswold and the Canadian Anglican Church.

This last minute effort by these four bishops to spin the ECUSA to Dr. Williams reveals a depth of spiritual blindness matched only by the last 40 years of the liberal Protestant churches loss of a transcendent gospel and their own inevitable slide towards extinction.

The dark night of the soul has begun for the ECUSA and it will not end until there is either full repentance by Griswold or equally a complete separation from ECUSA's apostasy.

END

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