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ORTHODOX PERSECUTED IN CANADA AND US...MORE NEWS

"Conservative Christians in the U.S. should take heed. Christianity is thriving where it faces obstacles, like repression in China or suspicion of evangelicals in parts of Latin America and Africa. In those countries where religion enjoys privileges - Britain, Italy, Ireland, Spain or Iran - that establishment support seems to have stifled faith." - Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times (March 26, 2005)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

These words are worth weighing and pondering as we watch the slow evisceration of orthodoxy in the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada. (We might also add Ireland and the Church of England.)

But behind the bad news of the slow strangulation of orthodoxy, something new is taking place. Whenever a church or rector has voluntarily stepped down or been forced to leave the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church in Canada and the priests inhibited and deposed, a strange thing happens - those priests suddenly feel liberated, and their ministries always prosper.

Of the dozens of parishes (and they are usually large) that have left revisionist dioceses in the ECUSA, this writer can think of only one parish that has not made it. In every instance where a revisionist bishop has come down hard on orthodox priests who will not toe the pansexual line, the initial agony has been great, the soul-searching severe, the break usually painful, but in the end they have always come out on top. The loss of buildings, connections, clergy and collegiality has been replaced by renewal, joy, a fervent desire to evangelize, renewed hope, and in some cases a massive interest in the ministry leading to ordinations, start-up congregations, missionary endeavor, para-church ministry and more.

Whether it is something as small as a start-up Anglo-Catholic parish in Washington, DC; new thriving parishes in St. Louis, Missouri; or evangelical parishes in Raleigh, North Carolina; Roanoke, Virginia or Tempe, Arizona; with several hundred members, one finds joy, hope, and gospel salvation.

In Vancouver, BC, it happened during Holy Week. Two orthodox parishes and their godly priests were told to vacate their premises or face being dragged into court by the revisionist bishop of New Westminster, Michael Ingham. So they are leaving, with their heads held high. They will lose only their properties, but their priests, their faith, their people and their monies will follow them.

The lesson, then, is this: Wherever true faith is stifled and suppressed sooner or later it breaks out and the message demands to be heard afresh. So what Kristof writes of China, Latin America, Africa (he could have included South East Asia) applies equally to orthodox priests (evangelical and Anglo-Catholic) in the U.S. Persecution might just be the best thing to cleanse and purify a hopelessly moral and theologically bankrupt Episcopal Church.

So revisionist bishops beware: You may think you are winning, but you are not. You are losing, and you will go on losing. Your people will leave, the money will dry up, your clergy will grow disillusioned, and you will learn the bitter lesson that a church that pushes sex outside of heterosexual marriage will falter, and in time fail. That lesson is being learned not only in the United States, but also in Canada, Australia and England. All the mainline denominations in these countries are falling apart as one Uniting Church after another announces their latest figures of fleeing parishioners; the Anglican branches in those countries that preach the same "gospel" are also dying. You have been warned.

ON THE INTERNATIONAL SCENE things grow worse by the day. One can't imagine that Dr. Rowan Williams isn’t seeing Easter in personal terms of his own crucifixion. Surveying the wondrous cross must remind him of the cross he has been placed on by a bitterly divided communion, which is, to all intents and purposes broken, perhaps irretrievably. You can read my article; "Lines Harden as Anglican Communion Roils towards Schism." Across the world - from Australia to Uganda, from Scotland to the USA, archbishops and bishops are firing canons across each other's bows. It is not a pretty scene, and it will only get worse.

AND this week a statement by Southeast Asia Archbishop Yong Ping Chung that the provinces of the United States and Canada have been suspended from the Anglican Communion got sharply contradicted by the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon. He wrote a letter to the Church of England newspaper saying that the action taken by the primates did not amount to effectively suspending the provinces of Canada and the US.

Archbishop Yong wrote: “Basically, ECUSA and Canada are both suspended immediately to give them time and space to go through their Canonical and Constitutional procedures to express their desire and will to stay in the Anglican Communion by repentances and reversing what they have unilaterally endorsed and put in place. They have until the Lambeth Conference 2008 to do this.”

Even Canadian Archbishop Andrew Hutchison told a recent gathering at Toronto’s St James’ Cathedral that “the Anglican Communion is broken.”

Kearon and his Fourth Instrument of Unity, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) don't get it. He may not like the word "suspension" because if the ECUSA and Canada are suspended now or after they have explained the theological underpinnings for their decision to consecrate an openly gay bishop and allow same-sex blessings, and neither church is allowed back in the communion, then ECUSA will dry up the financial fountain that provides some $600,000 a year to keep the ACC afloat, and Kearon can't afford to let that happen. The ACC would virtually close down, so he has everything to gain by keeping them at the table. Furthermore, look at the makeup of the ACC: Of the 40 jurisdictions with some 80 bishops, clergy and laity, fully 90 percent are liberals! So you know who is calling the shots in the ACC, and it is not Nigerian primate Peter Akinola, who has blasted the ACC for its all-white and decidedly non-African staffing policies. Kearon is the successor to the Svengali figure of Canon John Peterson, who manipulated the Global South primates for his American paymasters when he ran the ACC. It would not be out of the realm of possibility that the Global South will excommunicate the ACC or excommunicate itself from the ACC when all is said and done.

The Rev. Dr. Peter Toon, who was in Dromantine for the meeting of the primates, had this to say: "My view is that the African and Asian conservative primates left the writing of the Communiqué to the drafting committee, and Carnley (Australia) was the major player. Since they had, as they thought, clearly won the argument and had the votes, the African and Asian primates did not really bother to check the communiqué. Further, they did not consider the implications of its content and impact. I noticed right from the word go that there was a difference in style and understanding between the Westerners and the others."

"The Westerners were/are most conscious that each province is autonomous and so they are well aware that no meeting outside the province can tell any province what to do. So Carnley wrote in terms of the Primates asking the North Americans NOT to attend further meetings of ACC, etc. However, the Africans believed that a majority had agreed to the expulsion of the North Americans from the future meetings of ACC meetings, primates' meeting, etc. This was so obvious to them that they did not insist on it being said in the Communiqué for they expected it would be there in diplomatic or biblical language."

"When they spoke to their friends outside the meeting it was in terms of expulsion and this is what David Virtue was told and why he wrote as he did to the world on the Thursday of the Primates Meeting - again I was there and I heard and saw. He was right in what he wrote for he conveyed what African Primates told him, even though the communiqué later seemed to make him wrong for it presented a much gentler picture!"

AND FROM IRELAND THE INTRIGUE CONTINUES. A spy within the Church of Ireland Theological College wrote VirtueOnline to say that access to certain "orthodox" Web sites has been blocked by the college's internal webserver. The Web sites of Reform Ireland (www.reform-ireland.org), Irish Angle (www.irishangle.net) and Irish Church Missions (www.icm-online.ie) have all been blocked within the college. The source did not try Virtue Online, however. This is the message received: "Web Page Blocked. You have tried to access a web page which is in violation of your internet usage policy," and it names the following URL's: www.icm-online.ie; www.irishangle.net and www.reform-ireland.org

VirtueOnline's source said, "All Irish ordinands must attend this college, yet we see that certain traditions appear verboten within it. Indeed ordinands are forbidden to have any contact with Irish Church Missions, which is a recognized Anglican church within Dublin diocese, and its minister Eddie Coulter, a licensed cleric of the diocese has been banned from speaking at any meetings within the College." So much for the spirit of academic freedom and inquiry; so much for "liberalism!"

And in CANADA this past week, the revisionist bishop of New Westminster, Michael Ingham, finally got his way, and two congregations were evicted from their parishes with legal threats that if they didn’t leave the courts would make them. While the two parishes had strong support from their five sponsoring Anglican primates internationally, the local legal threats from their ex-diocese made it untenable for them to continue worshipping in their buildings. You can read the full story in today's digest.

Now, if the archbishop of Canterbury had stepped up to the plate and said Ingham was being expelled from the Communion, then that would have given these two parish priests the legal clout they needed to go to the courts and say that as Ingham was no longer recognized by the Anglican Communion, he had no authority to toss them out of their properties. Dr. Williams was stony silent, as he has been on the Diocese of Recife case that was dropped into his lap several weeks ago.

Ingham is the same bishop who caused the whole Canadian Province to get suspended at Dromantine in the first place, and now he gets away with this! Are conservative Canadian bishops so frightened to come to the rescue of these two priests for fear of losing their own jobs? Whatever happened to good old-fashioned courage? What does it cost a bishop to lay down his miter "for my sake and the gospel?" Furthermore, whatever happened to the promised oversight by Williams that was much ballyhooed in Dromantine. The silence is deafening.

Ingham also admitted this week that his diocese is in financial trouble with a loss of over $300,000 because eight parishes refused to pay their diocesan assessments and have now fled the diocese. He says that dropping contributions may require a special financial synod later this year. Clearly there's a price to pay for blessing same-sex unions and being in defiance of the Anglican Communion primates.

ON ANOTHER NOTE, history was made in Canada this week with the first ACiC Services of Confirmation. Some 102 people were confirmed by the Rt. Rev. T.J. Johnston during the 450-strong Anglican Communion in Canada (ACiC) celebration at Richmond Emmanuel Church in British Columbia. Three new deacons who were recently ordained were privileged to assist in the Eucharist held as part of the 18th annual renewal mission for St Simon’s, North Vancouver (ACiC).Clergy and lay leaders from congregations across Canada were able to join for the weekend’s renewal mission and the Sunday celebration. The ACiC is a year-old coalition of 11 congregations from across Canada formed as a result of the offer of adequate episcopal oversight by five International Archbishops being administered by AMiA’s Bishop Johnston. The ACiC, alongside the Anglican Mission in America, is committed to the "Common Cause" partnerships with seven orthodox Anglican groups across North America.

THE UGANDAN CHURCH IS NOT GOING AFTER GAYS. It was reported by New Vision magazine and posted by Louie Crew on the HOB/D listserv that the Ugandan Church was going after gays. It is a lie. I got in touch with my sources in Uganda, and they issued the following statement:

From the Church of Uganda Provincial Secretary, the Rev. Aaron Mwesigye Kafundizeki.

"In the 21st March 2005 issue of The New Vision newspaper (p. 3), reporter Jude Etyang incorrectly reported that the Church of Uganda 'will arraign gay sympathiser Bishop Christopher Senyonjo before the provincial tribunal if he continues to ask the church to soften its position on homosexuality.' The Church of Uganda has not initiated any ecclesiastical discipline against Senyonjo and calls upon The New Vision to publicly apologize to the Church of Uganda and Senyonjo for implying that it has.

"The Church of Uganda continues to be distressed that a retired bishop, namely, Christopher Senyonjo, persists in openly misrepresenting the teachings of Scripture. In so doing, he is misleading the public on the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the historic teaching of the church on human sexuality that the Church of Uganda upholds. When he speaks, he speaks only for himself, and has no authority to speak on behalf of the church.

"On human sexuality, the Bible is very clear and, as Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi has previously stated, the good news that we in the Church of Uganda joyfully proclaim is this: 'Sexual intimacy is reserved for a husband and wife in a lifelong, heterosexual, monogamous marriage. We are committed to offering the gospel to those struggling with homosexuality. For us in Uganda pastoral care means leading people into the fully transformed life that Jesus promises to those who call upon his name.'”

ON THE DOMESTIC FRONT, THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH'S Executive Council will hold a special meeting on April 13 at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Ill., to decide whether the ECUSA will send official representatives to the June 21-29 session of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). The Canadians say they will attend in full force, hinting that they may stay for the whole meeting even though they have been asked only to come to explain the rationale behind their recent legislative decisions on homosexuality and the theology that supports it.

In the DIOCESE OF MINNESOTA, a source told VirtueOnline that at a diocesan trustees' meeting Bishop James Jelenek bragged about how the HOB covenant represented "the full spectrum of opinion in the House of Bishops." [R-I-G-H-T...] He said eight people voted against it, including two who felt it wasn't liberal enough. He further said that Ackerman, Herzog, Iker, Creighton, Rawley, Schofield, Peter Lee, and Armed Forces Bishop George Packard were not present at the meeting at all, with some bishops leaving before the vote.

AT ST. PAUL'S K STREET, in Washington, D.C., where PB Frank Griswold was invited to hear confessions, a VirtueOnline reader wrote to say that Griswold behaved abominably. Signing herself "an official mystery worshipper" she said Griswold showed contempt for liturgy and could hardly keep himself from cracking up and laughing at us Anglo Catholics. "Before the Mass started everyone around him was genuflecting to the altar where there was a reserved sacrament. When the acolytes went back into the sacristy he was left alone around the chancel, he just looked around and tipped his head to the sacrament and I couldn't tell if he was smiling intensely or actually laughing. I am serious. Griswold refused to speak in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, which is required in our church. The crowd was huge for communion. The rector tried to share one of the sides of the rail as we always do serving the bread. Griswold sideswiped the rector taking over the entire rail…the rector and curate were left to stand around and double on the wine. At a point during the Eucharistic Prayer he could not hold his laughter and started to laugh in the middle of 'The Lord Be With you' (and with thy spirit) Lift Up your hearts---and there he lost it!!!..of course we continued with 'we lift them up unto the Lord'. After a pause as we waited, he then continued. We chant the whole thing."

When our Curate read the Gospel from the center of the church with incense...he (Griswold) stayed back at the altar and refused to stand up during the Gospel!". St. Paul's does Rite 1 and the full Catholic [old] Mass.

And in the DIOCESE OF NEW YORK, a Virtueonline reader wrote saying that an elderly member at a parish in the South Bronx sent her a packet of materials she'd gotten on Palm Sunday. In it was a flier, printed on purple paper, which read: ST. PAUL'S WELCOMES VISITORS & GUESTS. WE'LL HAVE DOOR PRIZES FOR ALL VISITORS ON EASTER DAY AND PRIZES FOR THE BEST HATS! On Good Friday the revisionist priest had a one-hour service followed by a fish fry. Desperate is as desperate does, apparently.

TERRI SCHIAVO…A QUESTION. If Roe vs. Wade marks the beginning of the extermination of millions of pre-born children, will Schiavo vs. Schindler mark the beginning of the extermination of millions who, for whatever reason, are judged unfit to live? Kathleen Parker, whose column appeared in the Greenville News, says it all. "Even granting Michael Schiavo the benefit of the doubt, however, his insistence that Terri be starved to death when her parents want to care for her borders on the bizarre." Perhaps "diabolical" would be a better word.

And then there was this incident sent to VirtueOnline from a Catholic priest on Long Island. "A cluster of cameras formed around the police barricade at the entrance to the hospice around 1 p.m., alerted by religious leaders that they would try to send volunteers across the police lines in an effort to deliver water to Ms. Schiavo. "It's good, it's good, my son is going to be a man," said Scott Helbreth of Charlotte, N.C., as he watched his 10-year-old son, Joshua, take his place in line carrying a cup of water. Mr. Helbreth said Joshua had read about Ms. Schiavo and asked his father to drive him to Florida. "I am so proud of him," Mr. Helbreth said. "Only in America do we have children like this. The crowd sang hymns and one by one protesters took their place in front of the cameras, made a short statement, then stepped across the police line and were taken into custody. When it was Joshua's turn, he seemed cowed by the hulking camera crews, muttering quiet answers to their shouted questions. He didn't know how he felt, he replied. He just wanted to do the right thing. He wasn't afraid. Joshua took two steps across the line, then looked up at two police officers, each one three times his size. They spoke to him quietly, placed a hand under each of his arms and led him toward a police car. 'What a statement this makes," Mr. Helbreth said. "We have a culture of death in this country, but this strikes a blow for the culture of life.'"

The Anglican Communion Institute (ACI) reports a good response for the HOUSE OF STUDIES, but there is still room for more clergy and laity to come following Lent and Passion Week, says the Rev. Robert Haskell. With a title: Theology for Communion. The speakers and topics include such luminaries as The Rev. Dr. Edith Humphrey: Singing Praises with Understanding--Biblical, Ecclesial and Contemporary Questions for Authentic Christian Hymnody; The Rev, Dr. Ephraim Radner: Leviticus: Sacrifice and the Character of the Church; The Rev, Prof. Christopher Seitz: The Psalms in the History of Interpretation; and The Very Rev. Dr. Philip Turner: Christian Ethics: Dodo or Phoenix. DATES: Wednesday, March 30, 2 pm to Saturday, April 2, 1 pm. LOCATION and Directions: www.Christ-the-King-Center.org, 575 Burton Rd, Greenwich, NY 12834, 518-692-9550.

CORRECTION From the DIOCESE OF WESTERN NEW YORK comes this from a VirtueOnline reader. The parish mentioned St. Michael & All Angels, was incorrect. It was St. Mark's.

In my story about Father Terence L. Wilson I mentioned the Diocese of Wisconsin. A reader pointed out that there is no Diocese of Wisconsin. He is correct. There is a STATE of Wisconsin, with three dioceses: The Diocese of Milwaukee, which is grossly liberal; with the other two being Eau Claire and Fond du Lac. Bishops of the latter two voted against Robinson, and are both trying desperately to ride the fence with their parishes, with Eau Claire actually being aided by ECUSA. Both have seriously increased budget/funding problems, said the source. One parish in the Diocese of Fond du Lac is heading for the wall in the near future with the 2005 parish budget out of balance by $87,000, largely because the bishop is riding the rail and not joining the Network. The Diocesan budget apparently reflects the same problem, VirtueOnline was told.

IN TODAY'S STORIES you can read what happened in the DIOCESE OF ARIZONA this week with a large Evangelical parish leaving the diocese. The Rev. Dr. Paul Zahl has to say about the state of the church. He's the newly anointed dean and president of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry. We met briefly this week when he was preaching at my parish, the Church of the Good Samaritan, in Paoli, Pa., and he says the seminary is looking up in every way. People are smiling, new faculty are coming on board, and they are ready for whatever the future holds. People are being trained for the ECUSA, REC, AMIA and Continuing Church ministries. Both Trinity and Nashotah House are shining examples of orthodoxy. If they can weather the political and theological storms raging in the ECUSA, they might just provide the next generation of godly priests to drag the Episcopal Church out of its moral quagmire. We shall see. You can also read an article by the former president of Trinity, the Rev. Dr. Peter Moore, titled, "The Wrong Thing for the Right Reasons."

In an article titled "Abusing the Fathers: The Windsor Report's Misleading Appeal to Nicea," Muhlenberg College historian William Tighe takes critical aim at the Windsor Report, especially those parts crafted and touted by the Anglican bishop-theologian N.T. Wright after the report's release, that find a purported precedent in the Council of Nicea that prevents orthodox bishops from ministering to clergy and laity in the dioceses of heretical bishops. He says this misreading of the Council of Nicea was repeated in a recent directive issued by the Anglican primates after their meeting in Northern Ireland. You can read that article in today's digest.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE. I have been invited by the archbishop and primate of South East Asia, the Most Rev. Yong Ping Chung, to fly to Singapore and Sabah to lecture and to witness the growth of the church in this region of the world. While there I will observe ordinations, churches at work, and the growth of the Province of Southeast Asia and be present for a special service honoring Australians who gave their lives in WWII with the installation of a stained-glass window in the cathedral. I have also been asked to address issues relating to the state of the Anglican Communion and media issues. This is a great honor for me personally, and something of a vindication of my own writings. It will also be an opportunity to present the case for the Global South to stand firm against the apostasy of the Global North. I value your prayers.

I am including a number of links to stories that will not be in today's digest but which I encourage you to read at your leisure.

• '95 Encyclical Foresaw Cases Like Terri Schiavo's

• The Pelagian Captivity of the Church - by R.C. Sproul

• It's time to stop the shouting and finger pointing - by Todd Wetzel

• Bishop Griswold Should Resign - by Diane Knippers

• ECUSA May Have To Walk Apart - by Bishop Ben Benitez

• "Anglican Church of Canada is being lead astray," says theologian

• "Communique is childish defiance...American power politics" - by David Roseberry

WEB SITE. The Web site is now being updated several times a day. Go to www.virtueonline.org for the latest news. PLEASE consider a tax deductible donation to this ministry to help maintain the digest coming to you FREE, support the Web site and defray costs in traveling to Southeast Asia.

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My grateful thanks for your support.

All blessings,

David

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