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Primates to meet in Feb. '05...Griswold's broken promises...PA, CT...

"The vocation of the church is to proclaim the Gospel, not to defend the American way of life, not to 'build socialism,' not even to 'build a just society'--because, quite apart from the fact that we don't really know what this is, our notions of justice are fallible and finally marred by Sin." The Fabricated Luther by Uwe Siemon-Netto

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The cat is out of the bag. The 38 Primates will meet next February in Newcastle, County Down, Ireland to discuss, perhaps finalize, the fate of the Anglican Communion.

It is interesting to note that it is in the backyard of Robin Eames the liberal Commission's head and it will be overseen by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Eames told the Belfast Telegraph: "I am very pleased that the Primates Meeting will be coming here in February. A number of venues were considered and Northern Ireland was deemed to be the most suitable on this occasion." That will make the liberals happy but not necessarily the orthodox.

The final draft of the Lambeth Report will be sent up early in October, and then there will be four months for the spin to begin. Once the Anglican Communion Office gets a hold of the document the spin cycle will begin in earnest.

If the document calls for overt disciplinary measures against Frank Griswold, ECUSA's Presiding Bishop, you can be sure there will be much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth by Eames, the Anglican Consultative Council, even Dr. Rowan Williams himself.

But it will be showdown time at the Anglican Communion corral. If the Global South primates stick to their guns and DEMAND that Griswold repent or be disciplined then that will depend on what that actually means. If discipline means "no vote, no voice" and Griswold still remains in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, then this will amount to little more than a slap on the wrist. Griswold has argued all along that that is all he is interested in.

The question is whether that will prove acceptable to the Global South Primates. If it is then nothing essentially changes. Griswold will not repent, be temporarily cast out, (but privately Rowan will smooth his feathers), and the need for some sort of discipline will have taken place.

But the CAPA bishops have issued a directive saying that Griswold has 90 days to repent.

Of course we know he won't, and then we wait and see what will happen. The ball is no longer in the court of the Archbishop of Canterbury but Nigeria and the rest of Africa.

How tough will they get, that is the only question that remains? All the signs coming from Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola are that he will play hard ball with the ultimate declaration that he, with his fellow African Primates will split from Canterbury and form a new Communion with headquarters elsewhere. A quick visit to the Queen and it is all over.

Could it happen? Most of the African Primates and not a few of its bishops have already publicly disassociated themselves from the Episcopal Church, most are now refusing its money, so what have the Africans got left to lose in not blowing off the Anglican Communion as it is now constituted. Canterbury offers them nothing but history, but history is not enough when it comes to the salvation of souls and the Africans have made that very clear.

Whatever happens we will see history in the making, the like of which we have not seen since the Reformation.

AND IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND THIS WEEK, Virtuosity's prediction that money would be used to punish St. Alban's for allowing Dr. Jeffrey John to become its next dean has come true. The Church of England's largest diocese, London, is leading an unprecedented revolt, preparing to withhold more than £100,000 ($187,000) in protest over spiraling costs. Evangelical parishes will cap their quotas in protest at the Church's policy on homosexuality and using money as a weapon.

In the US, in the DIOCESE OF CONNECTICUT, six orthodox priests have come under fire from their bishop Andrew D. Smith over their request for DEPO, and he has ordered all of them to appear before him on or before July 24th. The bishop has refused to meet all six clergy and their vestries jointly, demanding that they meet with him separately at Diocesan House. He has refused to address all the issues of DEPO the six priests and their vestries unanimously raised in their letter to him. He has met with two individually, but clearly they are just at the beginning of the end with that revisionist bishop. (See full story in today's digest).

In the DIOCESE OF EASTERN MICHIGAN, 25 members of the AAC Mid-Michigan chapter have written a letter to Bishop Ed Leidel blasting him for allowing a non-celibate homosexual supply priest to function in the diocese. In their letter to the bishop they expressed outrage that the bishop's action went against the teachings of Scripture and assurances he made that he would not act in this manner. Furthermore three orthodox priests in the Flint River Convocation (Deanery) have resigned over the consecration of V. Gene Robinson and three more are weighing their options. The diocese is in free fall. It is a relatively new diocese, but the revisionist bishop is running it into the ground by alienating his orthodox wing. The diocese is also running out of money.

In the DIOCESE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE a reader noted that The Church of the Redeemer (ECUSA) in Rochester New Hampshire where all but three left The Episcopal Church has given birth to three continuing church congregations: They are Trinity Anglican Church (ACA) the oldest, now in its attractive and consecrated church building on the Rochester Hill Road (hwy 108). This is the congregation recently visited by Archbishop Hepworth (primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion); An ACC congregation meeting at Emmanuel Church (Advent Christian) and Saint Michael's, the name adopted by the most recent departure from Redeemer and which is holding services in the East Rochester Baptist Church.

In the DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA, Bishop Charles E. Bennison has shown his "dark side" when he came to depose Fr. David Moyer, he said he was "grieved" and "pained" it should have been a solemn and sad occasion. Not for Charles Bennison. He summoned two priests to witness him signing the sentence of “deposition”. To get them in the mood, he began to tell jokes. When all three were smiling, a photographer was summoned to take a picture of the smiling Charles Bennison signing the “deposition”.

In his visit recently to St. Luke's, Newtown Bennison said that from 1992-1997 the Episcopal Church was the fastest growing church of the mainline protestant denominations in the US. "We experienced a 2% yearly growth in members. There is a decline in some areas but growth in other areas." Not true said a numbers cruncher who consulted The Episcopal Church Annual-2004, page 21 (aka-"The Red Book"). From 1992 the number of baptized members was 2,491,996, but by 1997 that figure was 2,339,113 down 6%. Baptized membership is a cut and dried figure-actual names on the books. Communicant strength is pretty much the clergy estimate of those who are regular attendees (whatever regular means). Speaking personally, we tend to stretch "regular" to the limit," he writes.

IN KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE a group of Anglicans have formed a new fellowship, more continuing fallout of the Robinson consecration. It's called the Anglican Fellowship in Knoxville (AFK), and they held a historic meeting on July 11, 2004. The Anglican Fellowship in Knoxville is a group of faithful Episcopalians and members of other denominations from various churches in the Knox County area who share a common bond of Biblical orthodoxy and want to explore new local options for worshiping in the historical Anglican tradition. The Reverend Jeff Jones, Rector of the Church of the Epiphany in Lebanon, Tennessee is providing pastoral support and advice to the AFK. The group are considering affiliation with the “Anglican Communion Network” as a separate parish or aligning with an established “Anglican Continuing Church”. The Anglican Fellowship in Knoxville meets again on August 8, 2004 at 5:30 PM EDT at the Deane Hill Recreation Center. This group can be reached by email knoxanglicans@yahoo.com or call (865) 671-0341.

And if you want to know just how theologically bankrupt the church is, read what the weekly newsletter from St. Mary the Virgin, a famous Anglo-Catholic in the DIOCESE OF NEW YORK, which in recent years has become a heaven for gay people. The Rector, Stephen Gerth says: "The Episcopal Church is famously a Christian community where Scripture and tradition alone do not define our faith. Reason along with Scripture and tradition does too. We don't have to pretend Peter was the first pope - or that anyone alive in his day thought he was. We don't have to pretend that the Bible is literally true - we believe it reveals to us what we need to know." Of course.

On the topic of WOMEN'S ORDINATION, women are now priests in all but 12 of the Communion's 38 provinces. Eleven provinces have no canonical bar to a woman bishop, though none are ordained yet. Three provinces-the USA, Canada, and Aotearoa/New Zealand-have had women bishops since Barbara Harris' consecration as suffragan of Massachusetts in 1989.

Although women¹s ordination is widely accepted, the controversy over women clergy continues to simmer-and occasionally boil over-even as newer issues such as the place of lesbians and gay men in the church and the rise of a strongly evangelical Anglicanism in the Global South hold the spotlight. It is still the lightening rod issue for Forward in Faith and the Network.

What the 1997 Eames Commission report on women's ordination termed a "process of reception" continues to meet resistance, even as the notion of "reception" is lifted as a model in submissions to the current Lambeth Commission on Communion as it contemplates how Anglicans can disagree and remain together.

IN THE DIOCESE OF NEW WESTMINSTER, Bishop Michael Ingham has served 'eviction notices' to two priests opposed to same-sex blessings. Both priests chose in March to leave the Anglican Church of Canada because they oppose same-sex blessings, but continue to operate out of churches the diocese considers to be its property. Rev. Ed Hird of St. Simon's Church in Deep Cove and Rev. Barclay Mayo of Christ the Redeemer in Pender Harbour were "invited" in letters from Bishop Michael Ingham to "seek out alternate worship space for those whom [they] lead." "Essentially, it says, 'Get out or we'll throw you out,' " Rev. Hird said. He said the members of St. Simon's hold the deed and title to the property. But George Cadman, chief legal officer of the diocese, said a parish cannot legally leave the Anglican Church.

The ANGLICAN COMMUNION NETWORK (ACN) has called for a Day of Prayer and Fasting on Thursday, August 5, 2004, in observance of the first anniversary of the confirmation of V. Gene Robinson, the first openly homosexual bishop of the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA). The following Sunday, August 8, 2004, is set aside as a day to recognize and prayerfully support global missions whose ministries and resources experienced the negative repercussions of General Convention 2003."

THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH through its Northern California Bishop Jerry Lamb has sent out an Open Communion Letter and questionnaire to all Bishops in the Episcopal Church soliciting their insights. "More and more of the churches in the Diocese of Northern California are adopting the custom of Open Communion or as our Task Force describes it, “Administering the Sacrament of the Eucharist to Those Who Have Not Been Baptized”. I have been issuing a carefully worded open invitation at Confirmations and other major events in the Diocese," writes Lamb.

When I asked one orthodox bishop what he thought of about this, here is what he said. "It is not only a radical departure from 2000 years of the Faith, but it is typical of the "no commitment - no repentance necessary" nonsense being foisted upon us by the revisionists. But since they do not believe in St. Paul's words anyway, why would they worry about "eating and drinking condemnation unto themselves" since God condemns no one anyway? How true.

Bishop V. Gene Robinson of the DIOCESE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE, the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop, asked gays, lesbians and transgendered people to give the church another chance during a sermon Saturday at St. Paul's Cathedral in Burlington as part of the gay pride celebration. Robinson told some 300 worshipers at the service that many churches have become more accepting of homosexuals. Robinson blames the church for those who turned away from it. Religious traditions have told homosexuals that who they are is a sin.

Wrong Mr. Robinson. The church has never told anyone WHO THEY ARE IS A SIN, but what they DO. Sexual orientation never killed a living soul performing anal acts can kill you. Let's get that right.

The FEDERAL MARRIAGE AMENDMENT failed with Episcopalians in Senate evenly divided. Episcopalian senators were evenly split on the issue when the U.S. Senate defeated an attempt July 14 to amend the U.S. Constitution by defining marriage and prohibiting same-gender civil marriage.

In a procedural vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment, the tally was 50 to 48 -- 12 votes short of the number needed for senators to end debate and vote on the actual amendment, according to the Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations in Washington, D.C.

The Reverend Phyllis Nesbitt, national director of the CANADIAN BIBLE SOCIETY, is accusing Ottawa of curtailing freedom of religion. The federal government has told the Canadian Bible Society to end its 50-year tradition of offering the New Testament to new Canadians at citizenship ceremonies because doing so is inconsistent with Canada's promotion of multiculturalism.

And a NIGERIAN ANGLICAN BISHOP says cell phones should be banned in churches. The Anglican bishop-elect of the Ukwa diocese in south-eastern Nigeria has banned the use of mobile phones during his services, saying the love of the electronic instruments is becoming a new form of idolatry. Preaching at St. Bartholomew's Anglican Church, Kubwa in Abuja the Rev. Eze said the ban on cell phones during church services should be made the "11th commandment" in addition to the 10 commandments in the Bible.

It's ironic that Western Primates think Africans are so backward it is they the Africans who are getting whacked for not turning off the dreaded ear machine.

And in CHINA authorities detained and interrogated well-known house church leader Samuel Lamb after recent worship services. Ten of his co-workers were also detained and interrogated. This is the first time in 14 years that Chinese authorities have taken repressive steps against Pastor Lamb, who reportedly hosts 3,000 worshippers per week at his new meeting place in Guangzhou. Sources in China say it is no coincidence that just two days earlier, authorities detained and later released 100 leaders of the China Gospel Fellowship house church network in the central city of Wuhan. Prior to these incidents, members of a high-level Politburo meeting reportedly issued a secret directive calling for a crackdown on all “illegal” religious activities such as unregistered house church meetings. Chinese authorities may be over-reacting to high profile publicity concerning house churches and the “Back to Jerusalem Movement” published in overseas media.

NEW STORIES ARE POSTEDTO THE WEBSITE around the clock... 24/7 and you will find readers around the clock from around the world reading and checking out the myriad links and much more. You should regularly check in at www.virtuosityonline.org for the latest news. You can read stories BEFORE they make the digest.

IN TODAY'S DIGEST you can read my critique of Clinton's former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and his belief that Evangelicals want to start a war in America. You can also read my take on Griswold's lamentable history of broken promises as well as a number of ECUSA diocesan stories of betrayal and more.

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