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San Joaquin Punts...Virginia parishes Confront bishop...Apb. of York Rips VOL

Loyalty to the gospel. "Only loyalty to the gospel can secure unity in the church." --From "The Message of Romans" by John R. W. Stott

Unity in truth. Evangelicals hold different views regarding the nature of Christian unity and whether the visible, organic union of churches is a desirable goal. But all would agree that no movement towards reunion can be pleasing to God or beneficial to the church which is not at the same time a movements towards reformation. True unity will always be unity in truth, and truth means biblical truth. If only church leaders would sit down with their Bibles, would distinguish clearly between apostolic traditions (which are biblical) and ecclesiastical traditions (which are not), and would agree to subordinate the latter to the former by requiring the former of each other but giving each other liberty over the latter, immediate and solid advance could be made. --From "Christ the Controversialist" by John R. W. Stott

Dear Brothers and Sisters
www.virtueonline.org
12/7/2006

Three major events occurred this past week in the life of the Episcopal Church.

The first was the vote by the DIOCESE OF SAN JOAQUIN at its diocesan convention to change its name from Episcopal to Anglican. The vote was overwhelming and delegates to the 47th convention rose to their feet as one to applaud the decision. It was a momentous day in the life of both the bishop, John-David Schofield and the Anglo-Catholic diocese.

The language of article II, "Anglican Identity" now reads as follows: "The Diocese of San Joaquin is constituted by the Faith, Order, and Practice of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church as received by the Anglican Communion. The Diocese shall be a constituent member of the Anglican Communion and in full communion with the See of Canterbury." The constitutional amendment will not take effect until a second vote is taken at another annual convention in 2007. The second reading will require a two-thirds majority in order to pass. This is the second and final stage of separation for the diocese and it will be determined at a special convention called by Bishop John-David Schofield. Craig Petz, from St. Mary's Church in Manteca, Calif., said he was delighted by the resolutions, as were a number of other persons who sent e-mails to VOL. Of course the lesbigay caucus and a group called Remain Episcopal were none to happy with the decision, with the Rev. Rick Matters, a co-founder of the movement saying, "There is a schism, and it's a sin." But almost immediately the announcement was made, Mrs. Schori, the new TEC Presiding Bishop, said she "lamented" the action taken by the diocese to, in her words, "repudiate their membership in The Episcopal Church." "I deeply lament the pain, confusion, and suffering visited on loyal members of The Episcopal Church within the Diocese of San Joaquin, and want them to know of my prayers and the prayers of many, many others," she wrote. "I continue to consult with others involved in responding to this extracanonical action." Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

What loyal members? There are only one or two liberal parishes in the whole diocese and they are free to go if they want to says the bishop, and they can keep their property and endowments.

But you can be sure that Mrs. Schori's legal Doberman, David Booth Beers is gearing up for war.

But then the temperature rose even further when the Archbishop of the Southern Cone, the Most Rev. Gregory Venables stepped up to the plate, and in an impassioned plea from his office in Buenos Aires to the diocese, said in a taped video message (http://tinyurl.com/ygcqje) that the diocese was not alone, that they should hang on, and assured delegates that a second Anglican jurisdiction in the United States, one that was independent of The Episcopal Church was on the way and would be ratified when they met in February in Tanzania.

"Although you might need to separate from an agenda that long ago separated from the plan of God for the Christian Church, at no time will you have to separate from the Anglican Communion," said Venables. The taped message was shown at St. James' Cathedral, Fresno.

Venables said the TEC would "pay a price" for departing from the faith once delivered, so clearly nothing Mrs. Schori will find the tables turned on her when and if she appears in Dar es Salaam next February. The Primates have already said a new "structure" is in the works for orthodox Episcopalians under siege in The Episcopal Church. It will be a defining moment, perhaps the defining moment for her and the revisionist runaway train called The Episcopal Church.

I was told that Venables asked the diocese not to mention their future affiliation with the Southern Cone at their convention last week thus removing any excuse Mrs. Schori to come down hard right away.

ADDING to the tension the Archbishop of Canterbury this week defended his selection of the orthodox Primate of the West Indies, the Most Rev. Drexel Gomez, as chair of the Anglican Covenant drafting committee.

Dr. Williams was taking a lot of heat for choosing the orthodox primate from the newly formed liberal TEC group called the "Episcopal Majority". Williams explained that a covenant among the churches of the Anglican Communion was necessary because the "existing historic links and bonds are not proving effective as expressions of mutual accountability."

Earlier in November the Episcopal Majority wrote to Archbishop Williams, urging him to remove Archbishop Gomez as chairman of the covenant drafting team because of his public statements on The Episcopal Church. The letter accused Gomez of showing his bias by signing the Kigali Communique, and accused him of partisanship "dedicated to isolating or even overthrowing the American Episcopal Church."

But Williams responded to the Episcopal Majority said the covenant drafting team would "include people who hold differing perspectives on the question, whatever the views of the chair. Since nearly every primate in the Communion has some sort of 'record' on the divisive questions of the day, I simply note that it is practically impossible to find a chair unequivocally acceptable to all."

In response to a second letter from Episcopal Majority, which asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to condemn calls for alternate episcopal oversight on the grounds they were "illegal," "secessionist" and would "legitimate the break-up of the [Episcopal] Church," Archbishop Williams affirmed he had no jurisdiction in the United States. He noted that he had "not sought" nor was "seeking to impose any new structure" on Episcopalians.

Now Dr. Williams might not impose a new structure, but that will not stop the majority of the Global South Primates from doing so. The sparks will certainly fly in Tanzania.

THE SECOND major event of the week was the ongoing crisis in the DIOCESE OF VIRGINIA. Here things got downright nasty and vicious.

Two parishes in the diocese have now made it clear they are leaving the Episcopal Church. The Falls Church, Falls Church and Truro Church in Fairfax with combined membership of 3,000 dues paying Episcopalians will leave the TEC (but not saying whose ecclesiastical wing they will come under) following their "40 Days of Discernment."

On hearing the news Bishop Peter Lee sent a letter to the rectors, vestries and wardens of congregations warning them of the potential legal and canonical consequences of a decision to separate from the Episcopal Church, especially with regard to property and personal liability. Furious at their decision, Lee wrote saying that any decision to leave the Episcopal Church will be a source of regret for future generations.

Lee, who positions himself as a moderate, wrote saying, "Ours is a faith historically defined by our ability to bring together people with different theological emphases within traditional faith and order."

These two parishes are not buying this argument. Now you need to know what 3,000 departing Episcopalians looks like. The entire Diocese of Nthn. Michigan has less than 900 Average Sunday Attendance. The ASA for BOTH North and South Dakota dioceses combined is just over 3,000. The Diocese of Nevada (Mrs. Schori's former diocese) only draws 2,300 on any given Sunday. In fact the average Sunday attendances of the entire dioceses of Europe, Columbia, Venezuela and Micronesia combined barely equals these two parishes. The Diocese of Eau Claire comprises about 2,230 Episcopalians worshipping in 23 congregations. So the loss to Bishop Lee and the diocese will be enormous. And this does not count other parishes waiting in the wings to flee the diocese. Even if Lee wins the properties in some drawn out court battle, he has lost the people forever. There is no way he can or will recover. A future bishop will look at a sadly diminished diocese. The price for The Episcopal Church's apostasy and adoption of pansexuality is enormous and growing by the week.

THE THIRD major event this week occurred in the DIOCESE OF NEW YORK. VirtueOnline obtained an exclusive report that a leading traditionalist priest at the prestigious parish of St. Thomas had been charged with "conduct unbecoming a priest" by Newark attorney Michael Rehill. The charges under Canon IV.3.23(a)(2) were forwarded to the Review Committee of the diocese. The Rev. Andrew Mead, rector of the flagship parish was charged with a laundry list of abuses and accusations by twelve persons including a former priest, deacon and 10 lay people. The charges include alcohol abuse, engaging in sexually inappropriate conduct, plots to overthrow the priest, and Fr. Mead's charges of homosexual activity at a former priest of the parish the Rev. Harry Krauss. You can read the story here http://tinyurl.com/ycjm6s or in todays digest.

When this story first appeared at the website, an irate evangelical priest phoned VOL to say that Mead was no orthodox priest as he had done nothing to defend or speak up for orthodoxy in the diocese. "He is not one of us," he protested loudly. He may have a point. Last year the parish allowed the former Bishop of New York Richard Grein to preach during Holy Week a theologically heretical act as Grein had managed through his pal Frank Griswold to slip past 39 ecclesiastical charges against him including adultery agreeing only to resign. He still functions in the diocese at the behest of Bishop Mark Sisk. Rehill is the former Newark Diocesan Chancellor, who is also involved in a lawsuit to unseat Charles E. Bennison, Bishop of Pennsylvania. Other equally irate parishioners wrote VOL to either defend or condemn Mead. This story has only just begun.

IN OTHER NEWS, VOL heard back from the Archbishop of York, following my exposure of his less than orthodox stands in my story, "The Troubling Orthodoxy of John Sentamu." We received a blistering letter from his media person. You can read the unedited, unexpurgated letter and my response to it here: http://tinyurl.com/yd3cfc

The newly elected, but not yet consecrated BISHOP OF SOUTH CAROLINA, the Rev. Mark Lawrence, when asked by a group of bishops and standing committee if he would lead the diocese out of the TEC said this: "I shall commit myself to work at least as hard at keeping the Diocese of South Carolina in The Episcopal Church, as my sister and brother bishops work at keeping The Episcopal Church in covenanted relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion." Cute answer. He knows, as we all do, that the TEC is already on the outs with 22 of the Primates, so the answer is, dare we say, obvious. A bishop, who shall remain anonymous told VOL that even if Lawrence doesn't get consents from the HOB they will go ahead and consecrate him anyway. Of course if they don't give consents it will only confirm the worst fears of the Primates that while Gene Robinson IS acceptable to ECUSA, an orthodox bishop is not.

Here's a great quote from Fr. Lawrence: "My friends, we in TEC are in a grievous state. This demand for promises to Constitution and Canons when many of the great teachings of the faith are up for grabs strikes me at times like a theatre of the absurd. We decline each year in numbers and in our significance to American culture, while growing yearly more out of step with the vast majority of Anglicans across the world. When some like me make provocative statements to draw attention to the culture of denial that dims with regularity our too frequently myopic provincial eyesight, I am seen by some as unworthy for the episcopate and as a threat to our common unity. On what grounds should consent be denied-for daring to say, "Not only does the emperor have no clothes, but he isn't getting any new subjects either, and some of those he had once have long left. Maybe its time the emperor reassess his reassessments"?

ACROSS THE DENOMINATION dioceses are trying to assess where they are coming from (or going too) in the Culture Wars.

In the DIOCESE OF SAN DIEGO the eighth congregation fled the diocese this past week. St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Rancho Peñasquitos left the San Diego diocese, joining seven other parishes - Alpine, Oceanside, Fallbrook, San Marcos, Vista, Ocean Beach and Carlsbad to do so. The parish left along with its two priests, and formed a new Anglican parish. But the departure came with a twist, according to a local newspaper. This time, the diocese became involved in the process and both sides called the separation "totally respectful."

"This is like a divorce, this is very painful," the Rev. Russell Martin said after his final Sunday service as rector of St. Timothy's. "I don't want to vilify anyone." But one wag wrote VOL saying: "What this means is that the diocese has lost hundreds of baptized parishioners and 12 priests/deacons in one year, but fear not Bishop Jim Mathes is still committed to reconciliation and that "holy new thing the spirit" and Mrs. Schori are creating."

The DIOCESE OF EAU CLAIRE claimed itself a place in 'the central, moderate spectrum of historic Anglicanism' at their convention recently. But the history of fence sitters is always that they roll to the left in the TEC. No exceptions. If not they get paid "friendly" visits from the Via Media, or The Episcopal Majority or Integrity and they can be VERY persuasive. Just ask the inhabitants of the Diocese of South Carolina.

Five resolutions attempting to align the diocese with the stance of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (NACDP) were either defeated or withdrawn. However one resolution on the Lordship of Jesus was approved!

This diocese, like all liberal dioceses, now have one thing in common - they give their full support to Mrs. Schori's Millennium Development Goals. You see that is the ONLY thing everyone can agree upon. Jesus, (his full divinity and humanity), how Episcopalians should behave with the bodies might be up for grabs, but saving the world is a must, even as The Episcopal Church continues to empty.

In the ultra liberal DIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES they passed a resolution at their recent convention ripping GC2006 resolution B033 voicing protest and disagreement with the resolution of the church's recent General Convention, but they also said the diocese needed to repent for discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people and they authorized and reaffirmed the full inclusion of all such persons regardless of sexual orientation, into all areas of the life of the Church. To make the point they called upon the Bishops and Standing Committee of the Diocese to uphold canon law in both letter and spirit when considering consents to the consecrations of new bishops. So they can go against B033, but if an orthodox diocese does it, the liberals are all over them for their lack of inclusion. Double standards abound.

At the recent DIOCESE OF OLYMPIA convention they too affirmed the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church. The resolution passed with 317 in favor, 79 against, and 51 abstentions.

"We know that the issue is not human sexuality," Bishop Vincent Warner told the convention, noting that the General Conventions of 2000, 2003 and 2006 "were times when the whole Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion were focused on issues of human sexuality. It's really been about our understanding of the Biblical authority that we have as Episcopalians as we live into the world of the Anglican understanding of the three primary bases for our theology: scripture, tradition and reason," he said.

ON THE DOWNSIDE for liberals was the announcement this week that The WITNESS magazine had died. The Witness ceases publication after almost 90 years. The "peace, love and justice" magazine just plain ran out of peace, justice and money to keep it afloat. The magazine first died as a print magazine but then this week it died in its online version. Is this a portent of things to come for the broader church?

WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED when a group of Primates met in Virginia recently. One interpretation from the British gay Anglican organization Changing Attitudes suggests that Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola was very unhappy with his "secessionist" friends in the USA.

Colin Coward, Changing Attitude leader said that the meeting behind closed doors at the Falls Church in the suburbs of Washington from 15-17 November to formulate a plan to create an alternative ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the United States, independent of the Episcopal Church but still part of the Anglican Communion, made Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola very unhappy. "The discussions had not gone at all well from his point of view. He wanted a very private meeting and endorsement for his own plans but he didn't get what he wanted. One of the Americans bishops at the meeting, who Archbishop Akinola expected to give unequivocal support to his plans, instead repeatedly told him that the American bishops need to think about the legal problems before they are able to take further action. This apparently came as painful news to Akinola who had assumed his needs and agenda would be met, but they weren't. It appears that he wanted his American friends to be needier so that he could present himself as coming to their rescue. Instead, he discovered that they are not able to do as much as he expected and this is giving him a big problem, which not surprisingly, includes the problem of money. His American supporters are no longer providing adequate financial support for his plans."

Now there might be some truth to all this. VOL has known for some time that Akinola has developed the reputation for being a bully, even from some of his African primate friends and from other leaders in the Global South. This reporter has experienced some of his bullying tactics.

Now if Akinola doesn't cool his hot-tempered, quick-off-the-draw ways, he will lose it all to Rowan Williams. We need an Evangelical leader and Akinola is probably it, but if he does not exercise some humility the whole Communion will come unglued and fracture into a thousand pieces. A 39th Province might be in the wind but who oversees it will be very important indeed.

One of the contentious issues between Global South and secessionist north may be plans formed by Archbishop Akinola for a small conference prior to Lambeth 2008 and a second, major conference after Lambeth.

The TRADITIONAL ANGLICAN COMMUNION consecrated two new bishops for Anglican Catholics in Australia recently. Fr. David Robarts and Fr. Harry Entwistle (Chairman and Vice-Chairman of FIF Australia) were both consecrated by Archbishop John Hepworth, Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

The event took place in the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Peter, Adelaide, which had been loaned for the occasion.

Honored guests included senior clergy from the Antiochan Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and Oceania representing His Eminence Archbishop Paul Saliba. A congratulatory message from His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion, of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand, was read. Bishop Robarts referred to the Antiochans and the Russians as "historic, Catholic and Apostolic churches who know that we are serious and have a good deal in common."

A letter of support was also received from Church of England Bishop of Fulham and Chairman of Forward in Faith International, the Rt. Rev. John Broadhurst, saying that "we will continue to work in close collaboration in the years to come."

Bishop Ross Davies of The Murray (who last year had been a co-consecrator in the USA for Bishops David Moyer and David Chislett) hosted a gala reception for the new bishops in the afternoon.

"We are resolute in taking a very different path to Forward in Faith North America, remaining totally committed to our Communion Statement and our Concordat with the Traditional Anglican Communion," wrote Bishop David Moyer.

ACCORDING TO OPERATION WORLD the fastest growing religion in the world today is Evangelical Christianity. Here are the figures:
Evangelical Christianity 4.7 per cent
Christianity (not evangelical) 1.5 per cent
Islam 2.1 per cent

Evangelical, according to Operation World means..."all who generally emphasize the following: the Lord Jesus Christ as the sole source of salvation through faith in Him; personal faith and conversion with regeneration by the Holy Spirit; a recognition of the inspired Word of God as the final basis for faith and holy living; commitment to Biblical witness, evangelism and mission that brings others to faith in Christ." This certainly is distinguished from the faith of Mrs. Schori.

AT A WHITE HOUSE press briefing this week that feisty White House reporter Les Kinsolving, (a former Episcopal priest and a former liberal) asked if President Bush who sometimes has worshiped at St. John's Episcopal in Lafayette Square in Washington, and "Since the president is known to be deeply concerned about religion, and he worships regularly at St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, does that parish agree with his support of marriage as one man, one woman, or do they support the Episcopal sodomist marriage movement, which was on page one of The Washington Post?" Kinsolving asked.

Tony Snow, who avoids 'ecclesiastical' position on Episcopal 'gays' declined to express an opinion on the dispute between Episcopalians who endorse and promote homosexuality, and those who do not.

"Now you're trying to get the president into ecclesiastical disputes," was White House spokesman Tony Snow's response. "You stated a position. Is that what they call it?"

"Don't you think it's sodomy?" the questioning continued.

"I'm just asking you, is that what they call it, Les?" Snow said.

"Much to the disappointment of your listeners, I am not going to play on that one," Snow said.

SADLY we must announce that a number of orthodox ECUSA bishops both active and retired are seriously ill. Bishop John-David Schofield was hospitalized briefly after his diocesan convention. He was suffering from gallstones and pneumonia in one lung. Retired Colorado Bishop Bill Frey underwent quadruple bypass surgery last week. You can read the full story here. http://tinyurl.com/ykc64d

MERE ANGLICANISM CONFERENCE. This 2007 conference to be held in Charleston SC promises to be a winner. The line up of speakers can only be described as stellar and include such world class speakers as Rochester Bishop Michael Nazi-Ali, Pittsburgh Bishop Bob Duncan, Cranmer Scholar Ashley Null, Theologian Edith Humphrey, Uganda Seminary president Stephen Noll and many more.

The Conference will be held January 25-27 and is being hosted by the Diocese of South Carolina. Owing to the extensive renovations underway at the Cathedral, the 2007 "Mere Anglicanism" Conference will be held at St. Philip's Church and Parish House in historic downtown Charleston. The Conference registration fee (which includes box lunches on Friday and Saturday) is $75 per person. Registrations may be made at www.mereanglicanism.com or by calling 843-722-7345.

"Mere Anglicanism" has a vision for a reinvigorated Anglicanism within North America. Central to "Mere Anglicanism" are educated, authentically discipled, active Episcopalians - both lay and clergy - who are prepared and formed for leadership. "Mere Anglicanism" provides the tools and resources to disciple, train, and educate lay and clergy leaders. "Mere Anglicanism" Conferences are intended to equip leaders who "take theology home with them." This year's conference will have globally renowned speakers, connections, interactions, and worship opportunities. VOL strongly urges its readers to come to this conference. The teaching is superb, the conversations brilliant and there is my favorite, a night of singing and eating at the most famous, historic Episcopal "landmark" in Charleston.

Bishop C. FitzSimons Allison (SC ret.) will chair a panel of representatives of "Common Cause" including Praveen Bunyan, Bishop Robert Duncan, Bishop Jack Iker, Bishop Leonard Riches, and Bishop John Rodgers. Dean William McKeachie will chair a panel of scholars including Torrance Kirby, Neal Mitchell, Joe Murphy, and Rob Sanders. Sarah Hey will chair a panel of Lay Activists. The Rev'd Professor Stephen Noll will give a reprise of his lecture last year on criteria for a global Anglican Covenant. Click here for more details: http://www.dioceseofsc.org/mt/archives/000228.html

DESPITE A PERSONAL setback last week, VOL is glad to offer you a full digest today. As we approach the final weeks of the year I hope you will seriously think about making a tax deductible donation to VOL to help with increasing costs for 2007. Travel, online, health and staff costs are expected to rise next year and we urgently need your support.

You can make a donation through PAYPAL at www.virtueonline.org or you can send a check via snail mail to:

VIRTUEONLINE
1236 Waterford Rd.,
West Chester, PA 19380
david@virtueonline.org

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT.

All blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

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