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PRESSURE on Primates mount...meetings in London, Chicago...ECUSA news...more

"It is time for North American Anglicans to ask where they want to be after the religious map is redrawn. Who will be their closest neighbors -- North American protestants, international Anglicans, Roman Catholics or Orthodox Christians?" David A. Tait in Anglicans After Realignment in TLC (December 18, 2005)

By David W. Virtue

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

A fourth Primate stepped up to the plate this past week and disowned what he called the 'hectoring' letter put out by Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola, and distanced himself from the Global South letter that criticized the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Archbishop of Burundi, the Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi, was one of three Primates listed among the 17 signatories as "Present but had to leave before the final draft was circulated". He has also confirmed that he did not sign.

He responded in a message to the Church Times saying: "I have read Archbishop Akinola's letter. Without going into details of the content, I would like to make it clear that I was not present when that letter was written, so I did not take part in its conception. It is sad what is going on."

ONE should not read too much into this. At the end of the day all of the Africans, with the possible exception of Southern Africa are on the same page theologically so you will not see any serious splits among them. But further light was shed by the Primate of Southern Africa, the Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane who told the Church Times that he was represented at the meeting in Egypt, where the letter was drafted, by the Bishop of Pretoria, Dr Johannes Seoka.

Bishop Seoka had "found himself excluded from meetings, including those at which the letter was discussed - despite the presence, it appeared, of others who were neither Primates nor, indeed, from the Global South", the Archbishop wrote.

Now if in fact this is true, it is no different from the games liberals have been playing and John Peterson of ACC fame was a master at when he was manipulating African primates for his liberal American paymasters. Two can play that game apparently. The Africans are just getting smarter and showing more political astuteness.

THIS WEEK a number of meetings that could determine the future of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion will take place in London and Chicago.

In London, the Archbishop of Canterbury is pulling together his Lambeth Design group which consists of eight primates, a number of bishops and lay people around the Anglican Communion to build an invitation list of who will be invited to Lambeth 2008 as well as sort out an agenda. The word is Dr. Williams wants it to be 'Lambeth lite', but one doubts the Africans will allow that if they see revisionist ECUSA bishops present.

And an ad hoc number of ECUSA bishops will meet in Chicago today and tomorrow, to continue what Frank Griswold euphemistically calls "conversation" to try and figure out a way forward that keeps them in the Anglican Communion without really repenting of anything. They will discuss why they are causing all the pain and scratch their heads in bewilderment.

THEY ELECTED a new primate for the Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia last week. He is the Right Reverend, Dr John Chew Hiang Chea, the Bishop of Singapore. He will be the third Primate (Archbishop) of the Province. Bishop John Chew succeeds Archbishop Datuk Yong Ping Chung when he is installed in St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore, on Sunday, 5th February 2006. What is significant about his election is whether he will be on board with the Anglican Mission in America as his two predecessors Dr. Moses Tay and Archbishop Yong Ping Chung were, who helped birth that mission movement. Stay tuned.

AS IF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND doesn't have enough troubles what with the Queen announcing this week that Camilla, Prince Charles' wife, will not be named in state prayers; (hold on to your tea cups everybody) the possibility of women bishops giving apoplexy to the church's Anglo-Catholics and civil partnerships tacitly supported by the church as long as all gay clergy and their lodgers only share nothing more than Ovaltine at bedtime, news out of Central Africa emerged this week nixing a London cleric who desperately wanted to be the next Bishop of Lake Malawi. Central African Primate Bernard Malango gave the hands down to the Rev. Nick Henderson arguing that his rejection was directly tied to his support for the homosexual agenda and his statements minimizing the importance of ECUSA's decision to go forward with the Robinson consecration. The rejection by an ecclesiastical court was a bitter pill for the British priest and made more so by early exposure of his positions by VirtueOnline which got the Bishop of Willesden (Henderson's supporter) up in righteous anger at this reporter for interfering in private matters and diocesan affairs. You can the read the full story in today's digest.

And to top it all off came news out of Oxford that Bishop Richard Harries' Director of Communications the Rev. Richard Thomas a key advisor to the Bishop of Oxford was accused of a string of child porn offences. The bespectacled Thomas, a 55-year-old married priest was arraigned in court on Monday and charged with eight counts of making and eight counts of possessing indecent pictures of children, according to the INS News Agency. Thomas neither admitted nor denied the charges during the short hearing at Didcot Magistrates' Court, Oxford. However a Google search revealed that Thomas has been deeply involved in pagan worship and practices and is doing a doctorate in paganism. An Oxford theologian who asked to remain anonymous, told VirtueOnline "That we in Oxford have long known that this man is not on the side of the angels and is a pro-gay lobbyist. The Bishop of Oxford, frustrated in his desire to promote Jeffrey John has more than one closet gay on his staff. If Thomas is convicted it will go far to destroying the last shreds of credibility for Bishop Harries who is on his way to retirement." Some legacy. The Diocese of Oxford is pretty solidly evangelical but they have had a charming, liberal, bon vivant for a bishop who wanted a prayer that described God as "mother" to be introduced to the Church of England's liturgy. He wanted the prayer to be said at the centre of the Eucharist, the most sacred moment of a church service. Fortunately this lunacy was rejected. He also said that homosexuals are equal to heterosexuals in the eyes of God and should not be condemned for being gay. He also wrote a book "God: Outside the Box", which led one wag to note, after reading it, whether God could in fact be located after Harries had finished with Him/Her.

And finally in England, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, the Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon, has appointed the Revd Canon Philip Groves as the facilitator of the "Listening Process" for the Communion. The task as defined by the 1998 Lambeth Conference is setting up "a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion". This was too good to pass up and I have written a satirical essay on this new Orwellian development. Of course it would be far more appropriate if the church had a facilitator for an "Obedience Process" but that would be too much to hope for.

ON AN UPBEAT NOTE Durham Bishop Tom Wright wrote an article saying that Dr Rowan Williams must stand firm on what the Windsor Report asks of ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada. This is why: "No such expressions of regret have been forthcoming. ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada have expressed regret for the consequences of their actions - that is, that other Anglicans were hurt and offended by them. They have clearly and specifically not expressed regret for breaching the constraints of the bonds of affection - that is, for going against the stated mind of the Instruments of Unity. ECUSA has said that that could be done only by a General Convention, which won't take place until next summer.

It is therefore hard to see how a "blanket invitation" to Lambeth, such as this paper urged (Leader comment, 25 November), can be issued to all bishops, irrespective of the Windsor-report rubric. This is a matter of both logic and process.

Logic: those who have disregarded the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference, and have not said that they regretted doing so, can hardly claim the right to be part of a body that they have so obviously disregarded.

Process: the Archbishop of Canterbury, having commissioned the Windsor report and convened the Primates, can hardly ignore the recommendations of that report and that meeting. If he is to "hold his ground", as some have suggested, this is the ground to be held. In this, the Archbishop deserves the full support that the General Synod promised him in February."

He then goes on to criticize the recently released Global South letter from Egypt saying it was as "unfortunate as it was ill-judged" and he plead for the Windsor process going forward.

Bishop Wright, like Archbishop Akinola is emerging as a major orthodox thinker and leader for Western orthodox Anglicans. Now if those two men ever put their heads together...

IN CANADIAN NEWS it was learned that an Anglican priest in Vancouver is dying of AIDS and wants a new drug to keep him alive. He is the first Anglican cleric in Canada to come out. The Rev. Michael Forshaw spoke out after obtaining the blessing of revisionist Vancouver Anglican Bishop Michael Ingham, who has been involved in a bitter battle with conservative Anglicans in Canada and around the world over same-sex blessings.

But a truly insidious development in the Canadian House of Bishops and one that truly smacks of fascist behavior questioning both freedom of speech and assembly is how the bishops are dealing with conservative elements in their diocese? This was the dominating question during the first session of the recent meeting of Bishops in Mississauga, Ontario recently.

James Njegovan, Bishop of Brandon, began by asking, "How are other bishops dealing with [Anglican] Essentials in their dioceses?" He said Essentials Manitoba "is not something that I can support. Claiming Essentials supporters have no respect for "those in authority over them", Njegovan has banned the distribution of Essentials materials in his churches, along with the independent Anglican Planet newspaper, even though it is not an Essentials publication. Essentials is made up of both a Federation and a Network. Jim Cowan, Bishop of British Columbia [Vancouver Island] was also particularly concerned about the Network. Ron Ferris, Bishop of Algoma, defended the Network as a lifeboat some Anglicans, in good conscience, might need to consider if they want to remain within the teachings of the global Communion and the Anglican Church of Canada goes a different direction. Now this is truly ironic as the Archbishop of Canterbury was happy to recognize Essentials and its American counterpart: "There is no doubt in my mind that these networks are full members of the Anglican Communion." Sooner or later orthodoxy will be proscribed just about the time the Anglican Church in Canada goes out of business completely before the middle of the century.

ON THE ECUSA HOMEFRONT, VirtueOnline obtained a confidential letter written by Frank Griswold when he was Bishop of Chicago saying that he had no problem with active non-celibate homosexuals acting out their sexuality as priests in The Episcopal Church. The letter dated June 23, 1997 and marked "CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION" revealed that, before he became the Presiding Bishop of the ECUSA he had no intention of following the church's traditional teaching on sexual morality and would hue his own pathway. In it Griswold, who was clearly responding to a question about homosexuals in the church and wrote, "Thank you for your letter of May 25 and for your forthright expression of concern regarding the presence of homosexual persons in the ministry and for the judgement which will surely be mine at the hands of the risen Christ." You can read the full letter in today's digest.

In one diocesan convention after another, delegates are trying to make up their mind whether to support the Windsor Report and just how far should they go in doing so. What it boils down to is this; revisionist dioceses will support it as long as it doesn't interfere with their right to do exactly what they like with 'local option' as the guiding principle. They also say they want to be a part of the Anglican Communion but they won't be dictated to be anyone especially African Primates but they do care about what the Archbishop of Canterbury thinks.

A case in point is the DIOCESE OF WEST VIRGINIA from whence comes word that Virginia Anglicans were trounced at their convention recently. They lost a lot of battles on the Convention floor but things are looking up for WVAnglicans, said spokesperson Eddie Swain. "We have re-organized, renewed and re-tooled!"

The Diocese has finally posted the results of its Convention and this will give you an idea of how convoluted any discussion by a revisionist diocese can be about the Windsor Report.

This is how the Diocese displayed Resolution 4. It makes it perfectly clear that the Convention completely gutted a Godly resolution that would have signaled our humility and willingness to take the rest of the Communion seriously. Instead, it was turned into a smug "in your face" to the rest of the Communion by saying -- we want to be with you; we love you, but only on our own terms -- not yours; not the Bible's; not God's -- our terms or nothing at all.

Majority vote struck out: ". . . this Diocese should never allow itself to be put in a position of having to 'learn to walk apart' . . ."

Majority vote struck out re-affirmation of Lambeth 1998 1.10.

Majority thought the "Windsor Report" is simply for "study, discussion and exploration." Majority does not accept the findings of the report -- at least not those that say that "ECUSA caused offence" and "acted in a way that was contrary to the clear teachings of the Communion." The report says that stuff, of course. WV just doesn't accept it, that's all.

Majority wanted nothing to do with any sort of moratoria on same-sex blessings or election of gay bishops.

Majority does not want WV representatives to support the Primates' request to implement the "Windsor Report."

Instead, majority wants WV representatives to "continue their efforts to strengthen the bonds of affection."

That last part is most ironic. The Communion has already told us what we must do to strengthen the bonds of affection, and, what they asked us to do was in the sections that were struck!

Wrote Eddie Swain an orthodox layperson, "At least now we know where the Diocese stands, do we not?"

"The final resolution is anything but "genuine" I believe. It certainly does not express our desire to remain in the Anglican Communion -- at least not unless we can be a part under our own (or ECUSA's) terms. It is pretty much as far from a Biblically sound position on the flashpoint issues of controversy in this crisis as one can get without being in the Diocese of Pennsylvania or LA.," he wrote.

In the DIOCESE OF SOUTH CAROLINA a circuit court judge rapped both the diocese and All Saints' Pawleys Island over their simmering five year property dispute. He took the gloves off and lit into both sides. You can read the full story in today's digest. This Christian judge said enough was enough and sent both parties into mediation.

And in the DIOCESE OF CENTRAL NEW YORK, the inhibited Fr. David Bollinger (he blew the whistle on a pedophile priest) got nominated to run for the Diocesan Standing Committee. He mailed in his application saying if elected, "I will serve". Within a day back came the response from Bishop Gladstone "Skip" Adams promptly squashing it. Writing to VirtueOnline, Bollinger said he was now under the second extension of the Temporary Inhibition. "It commenced on the first Sunday of Advent, November 27th. It was delivered to me the day before Thanksgiving." Sort of reminds one of the Bishop of Long Island, Orris Walker who fired his Dean the day after the Dean's son committed suicide. The truth is I have never had any problem whatsoever in believing in Hell as a place or state of mind. One only has to be around ECUSA bishops long enough to know there is a hell.

In the DIOCESE OF SOUTHWEST FLORIDA at their convention last Saturday at Harborside Convention Center, in Ft. Myers, FL delegates voted a resolution to have the Diocese accept and live by the Windsor Report. Bishop John Lipscomb gave a passionate address supporting its passage. The resolution was debated extensively, survived a motion to table it. It was amended to show that the Diocese appreciated the need to continue discussions on differences in opinion. But then a paper ballot was called and the resolution to uphold the Windsor Report was overwhelming passed 194 - 94. Lipscomb is an odd fish. He is basically orthodox, he really believes the gospel, but then he sups with gays and participates in Eucharist with them as though sodomy were as normal as heterosexual behavior. He doesn't see with the clarity what orthodox evangelical Anglicans or the Pope for that matter see, that their behavior is intrinsically disordered, has eternal consequences and that enabling them is sending them an eternal death sentence!

When the DIOCESE OF BETHLEHEM held its recent diocesan convention three weeks ago, for the third year in a row, Bishop Paul Marshall did not once mention the issues at hand in the Episcopal Church - issues that he and his other 60 plus revisionist buddies caused. This keeps his record intact, said a source. "Not once before, during or since GC 2003 has he commented on the issues threatening the church, as though they are simply going to go away and things will be OK. Vestries and congregations know nothing about what is happening, for example - the Episcopal Church being removed from the ACC and the new gospel which was the reason we did what we did. Vestries and congregations are just as guilty for not demanding more from their Bishops in the way of information and just what the future holds. Shame on us!"

And the DIOCESE OF OHIO at its convention passed after three tries, a Third Proposed Amendment to the Canons which gives absolute control to the bishop. The Text of Proposed Amendment: Title II. Canon 1. reads thus:

Of Parishes

Sec. 1. Parishes are recognized as constituent parts of the Diocese of Ohio. Each Parish shall make provision in its By-Laws or Articles of Incorporation acknowledging its accession to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church and to the Canons of General Convention and of the Diocese of Ohio. As provided in the canons of General Convention, parishes hold title to all real and other property in their care and custody in trust for the Diocese.

Rationale of the Proposer. The Committee on Canons withdrew an earlier version of this proposed amendment from consideration at the 188th Annual Convention for the purpose of further study. Having undertaken further study, the Committee on Canons proposes this amendment for the dual purposes of clarity and consistency.

The amended wording states more clearly the existing polity of the Episcopal Church, and the relationship between parishes, dioceses, and The Episcopal Church. The canon as amended would directly correspond to Article I of the Constitution of the Diocese of Ohio, which reads:

"The Diocese of Ohio is a constituent part of The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America and accedes to the Constitution and Canons thereof."

With regard to the final sentence of Section 1 above, Members of the Convention are directed to Title I. Canon 7, Sec. 4 of The Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church for the purpose of understanding its derivation. Section 4 states, "All real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Parish, Mission or Congregation is held in trust for this Church and the Diocese thereof in which such Parish, Mission, or Congregation is located. The existence of this trust, however, shall in no way limit the power and authority of the Parish, Mission or Congregation otherwise existing over such property so long as the particular Parish, Mission, or Congregation remains a part of, and subject to, this Church and its Constitution and Canons."

As a source in the diocese wrote to VirtueOnline: "If only Hitler had conducted the Anchluß of Austria with such skill --- and the sad thing is probably 90% of people in the diocese have no idea their puppet delegate signed them away."

"BISHOP ROBINSON CAPTIVATES BRITISH AUDIENCES" screamed a headline in the New Hampshire Episcopal News. That's how they spun the homoerotic bishop's recent visit to the UK. But the secular media didn't always see it that way, except of course the Guardian which is so biased towards gay sex that it regards African Anglicans as little more than bigots about the subject. Robinson met with Dr. Rowan Williams for a little prayer meeting and then Robinson made an absurd comment about "Pope Ratzinger as the best thing to ever happen to the Episcopal Church" a statement that will undoubtedly alienate Anglicanism from Catholicism and the broader evangelical community. His vaunted doctrine of inclusion is isolating orthodox Episcopalians in the US forcing thousands to flee each week. Robinson is only polarizing the church, which in the end might not be a bad thing as it makes it clearer and clearer where he stands and where the rest of us are going...and it's not to New Hampshire.

BARONESS CAROLINE COX of Queensbury who was in the U.S. recently speaking at the Anglican Hope conference in Pittsburgh told me that she has started her own organization. Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) has been established to aid those who are, or who have recently been, suffering oppression and persecution in various countries across the world. Priority is given to those who are neglected by other aid organizations, and who are often out of the sight of the worldwide media.

"What can we do to help the "forgotten people in forgotten lands"? she asks "To be a "Voice for the Voiceless" one must first meet them, touch them, look into their eyes and hear them say their name and speak on their own behalf."

Our aim is to help communities become self-sufficient by enabling them to redevelop in ways that are sensitive to both their cultural and religious values. HART is committed to the following four principles: Authenticity: gathering first hand evidence of oppression, persecution and humanitarian needs. Aid: assessing and providing the most appropriate type of relief. Advocacy: making known the needs of those who are suffering. Accountability: to those for whom we speak to and to those who fund our work. You can make a contribution and learn more about her ministry among persecuted Christians by writing to HART. Please make your donations payable to HART and send to either: HART, 3 Arnellan House, 146 Slough Lane, Kingsbury, London NW9 8XJ United Kingdom or American Friends of HART, PO Box 18613, Irvine, CA 92623

IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE SO Register now for the AMIA Winter Conference, 2006, in Birmingham, AL. The theme of "Pressing on Toward the Goal" will be celebrated in worship, workshops, plenary sessions, and the presence of ten archbishops of the Anglican Church. This is an unusual and unique opportunity to rub shoulders with and learn from Primates of the church, according to Bishop Chuck Murphy, the AMiA's Chairman. "The Global South will be shaping Anglicanism in the 21st century, and much of that leadership will be with us in Birmingham." The Winter Conference 2006, will be held on January 11-15 in Birmingham, AL. Also in January is the MERE ANGLICAN conference in Charleston and VirtueOnline urges those who can to attend. Its being held in Charleston, SC., Jan. 19 - 21. The list of theologians and planners who have signed on to the concept of Mere Anglicanism is substantial. You may view that list of theologians -- along with others and sign up for the conference: http://www.MereAnglicanism.com/contact.htm#resourcedevcommittee

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Advent Blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

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