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PRIMATES Squabble...ACC Chairman: "Keep Primates Out"...ECUSA News...more

"The lies are just more and more blatant every day. There is one standard of doctrine, and that is the Word of God, which Martin Luther said "cannot lie or deceive", and which Cranmer said "contayneth alle Thynges necessarie unto saluacion and in there is no uenomous Meate." Hooker said, "God doth not lie." Blasphemy is a man and his wife celebrating a special mass in celebration of their divorcing so that he could pursue homosexual relationships. It's a man praying to Hecate and Hermes. The Church is not about process, structure and hierarchy. It's about the Word and the Sacraments." Kenneth Howes, Trinity Theological Seminary, Illinois.

By David W. Virtue

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The heat got turned up a notch on Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola this week when a third Primate, Archbishop Drexel Gomez (West Indies), described the letter sent out by the African leader as "an act of impatience and a disrespect for process. Unfortunately we never had a discussion of the letter. It was just circulated along with other documents - we only had 40 minutes to meet and were only told about the background to it."

Are we seeing a break in the ranks among orthodox primates over Akinola's impetuosity? No. What we are seeing is the growing pains of Global South orthodox primates emerging out of the shadow of Western liberal captivity, flexing their muscles and bumping into one another as they do so. One should not read more into than that.

That Archbishop Akinola is a little mad at the West is now all too predictable, that he wants to disassociate himself from western revisionism is understandable, but clearly he has emerged as the leader of the Global South primates. Less well known is the fact that while he has become the front man for orthodoxy in the Anglican Communion, behind the scene is another leader.

Archbishop Gomez is a careful, thoughtful, reflective and articulate Anglo-Catholic who understands evangelicals and knows which way the wind is blowing. He knows Frank Griswold and how he thinks and can articulate his heresies better than most bishops.

At the recent Anglican Hope conference in Pittsburgh, it was Gomez along with archbishops Yong Ping Chung (Southeast Asia) and Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda) who were sent to answer questions from the media at a press conference. Akinola was notably absent. Akinola's blast, "you are either in the ECUSA or the Network" had sent the media into a headline frenzy about how the communion was going to split and more. But the idea of two communions is not going to happen. What is being called schism is much more complicated than that. It was Gomez who said in answer to a question about the possibility of schism that Dr. Williams had no legal authority to throw the Canadians or the Americans out of the Communion; his (Williams') power was not that of the pope. Without committing himself or the future of Anglicanism to anything more, Gomez carefully deflected the question. Such is the man's brilliance. He is shrewd, careful and should never be underestimated. He, along with Archbishop Greg Venables orchestrated the new regional body CAPAC - the Council of Anglican Provinces of the Americas and Caribbean which, modeling itself on CAPA - the African equivalent, and together they now form an orthodox pincer movement around The Episcopal Church.

Nor should one underestimate the Archbishop of Canterbury. A story from the Church Times ran a headline, "Dr Williams hopes for 'Lambeth-lite'. A group of eight Primates, bishops, and lay people from across the Communion that make up the Lambeth design group along with Dr Williams, will consider radical changes to the 2008th Lambeth conference which could lower the chances of conflict.

Dr Williams is already on record as saying that he wants a "Lambeth-lite", with fewer resolutions, Sue Parks, manager of the conference, said this week. Commentators suggested that Dr Williams had to hold his ground concerning the Lambeth Conference and the Anglican Communion. Global South leaders last week argued that the American and Canadian provinces should not be invited unless they "truly repent".

Canon Andrew Deuchar, Rector of All Saints', Nottingham, and a former secretary for Anglican affairs at Lambeth, said this week that leaders across the Communion were not reflecting what their people thought.

"I think the Archbishop has got to stand firm. Of course there will be people who will walk away; but, from my knowledge of the Anglican Communion, most will want to stay part of it. People certainly don't want a pope. They still believe in a worldwide Communion, with the Archbishop of Canterbury in an iconic role."

There you have it. And the fact that Dr. Williams was graciously received in Cairo at the recent South to South Encounter III by orthodox Anglican leaders demonstrates a deep affection for the man even though their subsequent communiqué made it clear that they wanted him not to separate his private views on homosexuality from his stated public views that he sides with the majority of the communion. There's enough ambiguity in all this to keep journalists on edge wondering when and where the next shoe will drop.

BUT NOTHING it seems will stop the revisionist primates from wanting their way. In Canada recently, Auckland Bishop and Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) Chair John Patterson, speaking to members of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) said that member provinces and churches of the ACC would not likely approve a motion that would allow 38 primates around the world to become members of the Anglican Consultative Council. He said there was "a great deal of unease" expressed by ACC members at the possibility of the body being dominated by primates. Let me unspin this for you. Patterson, when he was Primate of NZ found himself among the minority of the primates on sexuality issues. He, like his Australian pal Peter Carnley voted always for pansexuality and against the Global South. So for him to see the majority of orthodox Primates on the ACC would dilute the liberal leaning ACC as it is now constituted and he does not want to see that happen. It was Akinola who blasted Rowan Williams recently about how the ACO (Anglican Communion Office) was captive to Western liberalism and Patterson doesn't want to see that edge lost. Now this is where the battles are going to be fought. Who will dominate the instruments of unity? As they go, so goes the Anglican Communion. Watch for liberals like Patterson to step up the pressure on Williams to bend to his will. Also keep an eye on what Akinola does and says.

A MAJOR NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT came this week when An Open Letter from Church Renewal leaders from various North American Protestant denominations, wrote to say that the debate within their churches over biblical standards for human sexuality was entering a new phase. "For decades, revisionists have argued that the Scriptures, properly understood, do not prohibit homosexuality as it is practiced today. Indeed, they have insisted that biblical values of "justice" require the acceptance of homosexual relationships. Increasingly, however, the arguments have shifted. We now see, in several denominations, a new strategy to win the church's affirmation of homosexual acts. This new strategy is less direct. It is offered as a "compromise," a "third way." Yet the effect would be the same: to undermine and ultimately to set aside the historic Christian teaching that affirms God's good gift of sexual intimacy solely within the marriage of man and woman." Among the signers were two Episcopalians - Bishop Robert Duncan (Pittsburgh) and ACN moderator, and Fr. Todd Wetzel of Texas based Anglicans United. You can read the full story in today's digest or click here. http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3305

ON THE ECUSA HOMEFRONT, a number of angry congregations and dioceses faced their bishops over property issues and money with the subtext at all times being the Robinson consecration.

In the DIOCESE OF ROCHESTER, Bishop Jack McKelvy declared All Saints Episcopal Church "extinct" because of its opposition to the denomination's homosexual rights agenda. But the parish refused to hand over the keys saying it was determined to keep its property -- despite being declared "extinct". Their attorney for the parish says it is "alive in Christ" -- and anything but extinct. Attorney Raymond Dague, who represents All Saints should the congregation be sued by the diocese, says McKelvey came down on the parish like a "SWAT team." "When the bishop came asking for the keys, we sent him packing with nothing but a handshake," the attorney explains. "We're not going to sue the bishop," Dague says. "Will he sue us? Generally Christians are not supposed to be suing one another. I would hope that he would abide by that scriptural admonition -- but I am a little bit concerned because there was a very thinly veiled threat that a lawsuit may be coming. It's not coming from us."

Laurie Swain of Standfirmfaith.com writes that the diocese decided that it wanted to have its cake and eat it too. At their convention they passed a resolution asking ECUSA to respond to the Windsor Report in a very specific way. First, Rochester expresses its "deep desire to remain in the Anglican Communion." They then go ahead and say that their understanding of communion is based on communion with Canterbury, and not much else. So, Global South Anglicans -- we really don't need you or your orthodox Christianity -- so there.

"Of course, Rochester only wants to remain in the Anglican Communion under its own terms -- which, according to the resolution includes the right to reject any Communion teachings which they may find objectionable -- especially Lambeth '98 Resolution 1.10. The fact that the Windsor Report specifically makes acceptance of Lambeth 1.10 a requirement for not choosing to "walk apart," appears not to matter one whit to the good folks in Rochester. Next, Rochester claims that agreement or disagreement with ECUSA on its non-Biblical teachings regarding homosexuality should not impact Communion unity. Instead, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral is all we need to maintain unity. The delegates must not have read the C-LQ before they voted, or they would have seen that fundamentalists wrote its first article -- that communion first of all requires a belief that the Holy Scriptures are the "revealed Word of God." Surely, this is not what Rochester meant. Can such a foundation undergird the entire Communion? Of course not, so, I guess we'll just have to go back to Rochester's earlier claim that Communion with Canterbury is the real source of unity. No wonder we're all so confused!"

But that's not all, writes Swain. "Rochester accepted ECUSA's voluntary withdrawal from the ACC but then asserted that ECUSA must be invited to the 2008 Lambeth Conference, and must return to the ACC after 2008 -- apparently regardless of what ECUSA says in the end about the Windsor Report. Again, it doesn't matter what the rest of the Communion may have to say about the matter. ECUSA has the money, so we better be at the table! Finally -- and here's the real doozy -- Rochester proposes that ECUSA clearly state that "we have no desire to impose a uniformity of position either in our own church or the Communion itself..."

In the DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA, Bishop Charles Bennison got slammed by both conservatives and liberals at its recent convention. Neither group trusts him any more. He lost on mandatory giving and his budget. You can read the full story in today's digest. It is clearly time for him to go. All it requires is for the head of the Diocesan Standing Committee to make the call to Frank Griswold's consigliore Bishop Clayton Matthews and set the wheels in motion. It was Bennison who said that Jesus was a sinner who forgave himself! How much more blasphemy do you need than that! Bennison has also invited Robinson to ordain several of his deacons, one of whom is a practicing homosexual from New Hampshire. There is no end to the outrage apparently.

Also in the Diocese of PA, the Church of St. Asaph in Bala Cynwyd announced that the incoming rector the Rev. C. Rodney Hudgen would be bringing his partner Allen Finley an interior designer with him. With St. Mary's having its very own lesbian rector, Philadelphia's Main Line is fast becoming Sodomy Central.

At the DIOCESE OF FT. WORTH convention recently, delegates entering the grounds where the Convention was being held, saw six Via Media protesters greeting them with a sign which asked "Episcopal: Yes or No?" They also sought to hand out some literature outside the doors of the Convention. They were assuming that Bishop Jack Iker was going to take the diocese out of the Episcopal Church and wanted to force his hand into declaring his intentions. "The convention went very smoothly with no major resolutions or controversy. No one spoke on anything related to the issues facing the church at this time," said a source. Here is some of what Bishop Iker said: "We have already begun to learn to walk apart. A realignment of the Anglican Communion is already under way. Our Communion is fragmented and broken, and the Anglican Communion as we have known it, no longer exists. There is no evidence that the Episcopal Church is willing to turn back from the innovations of the 2003 General Convention for the sake of preserving the Communion. Some deputies to General Convention are already saying, "Who needs the Anglican Communion?"

Many faithful Episcopalians around the country are asking, "Is there any future in the Episcopal Church for us - or must we find another way to remain Anglican?" Is there a future for us in ECUSA if we oppose the ordination of women as priests and bishops? Is there a future for us in ECUSA if we cannot accept same-sex blessings and the ordination of practicing homosexuals? Is there a future in ECUSA for those who uphold traditional language for God and in our liturgical worship, who believe that Holy Scripture is the ultimate authority for morality and theology, who maintain that to be a catholic Christian means believing only what has been believed always, everywhere and by all?

In the DIOCESE OF CENTRAL NEW YORK, things got a little out of hand at their convention. A source told VirtueOnline that Bishop Gladstone "Skippy" Adams was conducting a rather acrimonious clergy conference when someone said that 'this is being tape recorded.' It turned out that the local head of Integrity (which is really only about a one-woman organization,) was the offender. When her taping the conference was "outed" the bishop demanded the tape. He got it.

But the diocesan parish in the hot seat is St. Paul's in Owego, NY where the rector Fr. David Bollinger continues (now past six months) to await judgment about alleged financial irregularities. In the latest round he says the bishop is retaliating against him for Bollinger's claim that the diocese mishandled a decades-old allegation of sexual abuse from a former parishioner against another rector. While he waits Judgment Day the parish suffers. Sunday attendance has dropped from 125 to 70. "This inhibition (Bollinger's temporary removal) is having a highly detrimental effect on the morale and finances of our parish and we need you to know this," said Bollinger The Diocese of Central New York which is starved for money and in chaos revealed figures that were given at their convention by the diocesan treasurer showing that a forensic audit of St. Paul's, Owego cost $30,000 where the bishop found nothing amiss, and P.R. Services (Eric Mawer & Associates) - between $4,300-4,400.

And in the DIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES, Bishop J. Jon Bruno has allegedly hired a priest who practices astrology to be his new in-house legal counsel. Her name is the Rev. Pamela Tyler, former associate rector of St. George's Episcopal Church, Laguna Hills. "She is a former lawyer and professional astrologer and author," a source told VirtueOnline. "She was in the ordination process in Southeast Florida but Bishop Schofield at the time would not ordain her, as she would not repudiate her astrology background. She came to Los Angeles and was ordained there." She still practices and advises people, although not professionally, VirtueOnline has learned. Here are some links. Mercury, The Astrological Anatomy of a Planet by Pamela H. Tyler. http://www.caerclud.vscotland.org.uk/articles/astro2.html Astrological Psychology Institute (UK) http://www.claruss.demon.co.uk/apae/memberspages/api.htm And you wonder why three orthodox parishes fled that diocese with more to follow.

And the BISHOP OF NEW HAMPSHIRE, V. Gene Robinson made Out (a gay magazine's) top 100 list, where he was described as "2005's most intriguing gay man..." next to his picture was the commentary-- "In his first full year as Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, Robinson faced daunting pressures as conservative Episcopalians denounced him and threatened schism over his elevation. But Robinson stood firm in his faith, as did the 77-million member Anglican Communion, which rejected attempts by traditionalists to punish the US branch of the church for supporting him." In the same issue he appeared again (photo) in an ad for Lexiva, a medicine to fight AIDS. That's our Vicki.

REFLECTING growing Common Cause the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) was on hand at the recent South to South talks in Egypt. Three delegates from the Anglican Mission-Bishop Chuck Murphy, Canon Tim Smith and Mr. Bob Devlin-were invited to participate as part of Rwanda's delegation that also included Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, Bishop Geoffrey Rwubisissi and the Rev. Ernest Maharo. "There was no resistance or consternation caused by our presence," stated Bishop Murphy, the Anglican Mission's Chairman. "We were fully included in the activities of the plenaries and small group sessions, and welcomed with graciousness." The Anglican Mission members were included at the invitation of Archbishop Kolini and the approval of the working committee that provided leadership for the historic event. That committee, which issued all invitations, included Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria, Archbishop Yong of SE Asia, Bishop John Chew of Singapore, Archbishop Gomez of the West Indies, Archbishop Venables of the Southern Cone, and The Rt. Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis of the Episcopal Diocese of Egypt.

The AMiA's presence underscored a strategy, courageously initiated by the Archbishops of Rwanda and SE Asia, that has now been adopted by much of the Global South. The creative and prophetic strategy that birthed the Anglican Mission five years ago-of providing canonical residency off-shore, crossing boundaries for the mission of the Gospel, and establishing parallel jurisdictions-has clearly been recognized, embraced and affirmed by the Global South, as evidenced by the eight Anglican Global South provinces that now offer some sort of protection and mission in the United States and Canada.

"It is very clear that the Global South is fully aware of the crisis of faith and leadership in North America," observed Bishop Murphy. "They affirm that the way forward is with a clear and specific adherence to our historic faith and to the Scriptures. This is evident as an across the board commitment of the Global South leadership. They are speaking with one voice." The AMiA's Chairman also expressed appreciation for the ongoing support of Rwanda. "It was very helpful, in strengthening relationships, to meet many of the Global South leaders I had yet to meet. I'm also personally grateful for the confidence shown in us by Archbishop Kolini and the Rwandan delegation by including us so fully and completely."

ALSO AT the third South South Encounter the Primates decided they needed to establish an ongoing leadership team. Elected were the Most Rev'd Peter J. Akinola, Primate of All Nigeria as President, the Rt. Rev'd John Chew, Bishop of Singapore as General Secretary, assisted by the Venerable Oluranti Odubogun and Canon Martyn Minns, and the Rt. Rev'd Mouneer Anis as Treasurer. They also established a Primates Advisory Group consisting of the Most Rev'd Emmanuel Kolini, Province of Rwanda, the Most Rev'd Bernard Malango, Province of Central Africa, the Most Rev'd Drexel Gomez, the Province of the West Indies the Most Rev'd Gregory Venables, the Province of the Southern Cone. A number of initiatives were developed that will strengthen their common life, the first of which will be a Global South Consultation on Economic Empowerment planned during 2006. Also established was anew website: globalsouthanglican.org which will provide information and online access to many reports.

A SURVEY OF BRITAIN'S elite reveals they are half as likely to believe in God than the general population, and far less likely to believe in life after death, writes Ruth Gledhill of The London Times. Michael Irwin, a retired GP and former chairman of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, wrote to 1,600 randomly selected people listed in Who's Who. To his surprise, 761 took the time to write back. One Anglican bishop said that he did not believe in the survival of individual "souls" after death. The bishop did admit, however, to the possibility of a non-specific "life force" energizing everyone on Earth.

In the DIOCESE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA the defection of clergy and the collapse of parishes in the diocese is continuing apace. Two more resignations were offered and accepted, including one from the vicar of Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria. In accordance with the canons, when the vicar resigns the Bishop fires all the cathedral clergy, so that the new vicar can appoint his/her own people to work with. Pretty much all the conservative clergy in the diocese have taken early retirement or resigned, and the bishop has systematically pushed out the rest, replacing them with New Age creatures of his own creating, wrote a source to VirtueOnline. The bishop is having to recall retired clergy to fill the gaps left by those defecting. "Even I never anticipated that the Diocese of BC would unravel this fast," he wrote.

ON A BRIGHTER NOTE Boston's Roman Catholic Archbishop told homosexuals, "because we love you, we cannot accept your behavior." Archbishop Sean O'Malley wrote a pastoral letter last week calling on Catholics to show true love to persons with homosexual tendencies. This is done he said by telling them that homosexual acts are sinful, he said. Otherwise, the bishop continued, we are dangerously "deceiving people." Read the full post: http://www.christian-underground.com/blog/read/index.php?aid_=754

CORRECTION. In my last digest I said that Bolivian Bishop Frank Lyons was refused ordination by Washington Bishop Ron Haines, the previous bishop to John Chane. That was inaccurate. Lyons was refused ordination by the Standing committee under Bishop John Walker in 1980 until they learned that Ecuador wanted him and they wouldn't have to have him actually in the diocese. That standing committee included such "outstanding liberals" as William Swing of United Religions Initiative fame, a grab bag of Gnostic religions looking for a one world religion and peace on earth.

VIRTUEONLINE enters December as busy as ever. Even with Advent upon us the news continues unabated. I do hope that many of you will consider a tax deductible donation to this vital ministry, as you contemplate your end of year giving. Every week, 52 weeks of the year you receive the equivalent of a small book (75 pages) of copy. That's a lot of work, so please, if you have never made a donation, please think about it. You can send your check to:

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Please be generous.

All blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

A REMINDER: I hope you will consider attending the Mere Anglican Conference 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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