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UNITY...Communion Chaos, CofE Synod on discipline...firestorm over Rowan

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

There is a deep contradiction (perhaps many) inside Frank Griswold, The Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop.

He talks much about the need for unity in the church, a need to come together across divisions, to "hear" and "listen" to one other, to have "deep conversation" and much more, all the while he and his fellow revisionist bishops do things that continue to separate us all from one another.

While it is true that Anglicans do not have a central authority, we are bound, at the very least by Holy Scripture and more, all the while Episcopal church leaders continue to say that we are independent of the other 37 Primates and their provinces, accountable only to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The truth is ECUSA revisionist bishops, especially Frank Griswold don't care what the other Primates think anyway, he prefers to act independently on issues of sexual morality.

All the while the ECUSA itself is riven by growing factions because of the church's sexual and doctrinal innovations.

The more Griswold shouts unity, the more things keep falling apart. And it is not like Women's Ordination as the revisionists keep saying, and while the church survived, it paved the way for further innovations. What is worse is that the Global South bishops know it and so does the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Lambeth Commission will deliver itself of a verdict ere long, and then we will know for sure who is "independent" of whom.

And when it comes to language, no one is better than Griswold at twisting words to make them mean what he wants them to mean. I have taken a long hard look at the way he uses words like "listening", "dialogue", "mediation" and "conversation". They are often smoke screens for my way or the highway.

On the brighter side I interviewed TAC Primate Archbishop John Hepworth and you can read what he has to say about the future of traditionalists in the Anglican Communion.

IT WAS ANOTHER WEEK OF CHAOS AND MAYHEM in the Anglican Communion.

Episcopal globe trotter and strategist for the Communion's orthodox Primates Canon Bill Atwood made the case at the recent FIFNA conference in Texas that it was impossible to overrate the ill health of The Episcopal Church. He writes, "The difficulty nowadays is to make a caricature of the institution. The biggest concern is not that the parts are in ill health but the impact it has on those of us who have good health." You can read that story.

In the DIOCESE OF COLORADO, two priests and two bishops duke it out in the press with charges made of deception, "secret protocols" and perjury by the orthodox clergy, with a revisionist bishop hissing and taunting the priests saying "present me if you dare".

In the DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA Charles Bennison got taken over the coals by parishioners and vestry at a Forward in Faith parish - St. Luke's, Newtown - where, in a face to face encounter his answers proved indisputably just how far off base revisionist bishops can get when they have no authority for what they say except "stories" and themselves.

And a parish in the DIOCESE OF LOUISIANA, Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge, wrote a letter to Frank Griswold saying, "We, the vestry of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit, are most distressed by the misapplication of Holy Scripture and the grievous distortions of the Gospel contained in your pastoral letter of June 23 to the Episcopal Church." You can read the full letter in today's digest.

And in the DIOCESE OF LONG ISLAND the sad saga of Bishop Orris Walker continues with a story saying the cathedral Dean was summarily fired by Walker and that the bishop's letter saying he resigned was a "gross inaccuracy". In a copy of the Dean's letter obtained by Virtuosity, Cardone wrote that "he [the bishop] never asked for my resignation, either verbally or in writing," and he accused the bishop of having a "convenient memory lapse" or being "a deliberate ruse." You can read that full report.

And in the DIOCESE OF OHIO the homosexuality debate has divided the Episcopal Church with three churches in the Greater Akron area having a different view on what is acceptable. The Church of Our Saviour is proud to be part of the Episcopal Church USA, which ordained an openly gay bishop. St. Luke's is still Episcopal but would rather not be and Hudson Anglican never was Episcopal, having started with people who left the Episcopal Church over the ordination. Those differences are a reflection of the division that remains within the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.

In the DIOCESE OF CONNECTICUT, six orthodox parishes have written to The Rt. Rev. Andrew D. Smith applying for DEPO. The six parishes are Bishop Seabury Church, Groton; Christ Church, Watertown; St. John's Church, Bristol; St. Paul's Church, Darien; Trinity Church, Bristol and Christ & The Epiphany Church, East Haven. We wait with baited breath to see what eventuates.

And in the DIOCESE OF HAWAII, the Bishop's Warden of Holy Cross at Malaekahana in Honolulu wrote a heart-wrenching letter to the liberal bishop there one Richard Chang on the impending split in the worldwide Anglican Communion. "American Episcopalians, a tiny (and declining) minority of the world's Christians, are so confident that we honor and ordain an exemplar of the open practice of a specifically forbidden sin. This to many is in apparent defiance of the prior understanding of most Christians as to the faith once received, and in disregard of the leaders of millions of worldwide Anglicans who call us to repentance. Why then are we so timorous in our discussions about it? Do we despair of reason?" You can read the full letter in today's digest.

The Rev. Tony Seel rector, Saint Andrew's, Vestal, in the DIOCESE OF NEW YORK has written a piece in defense of the gospel. But he got taken to task by Louie Crew, over his parish's statistics. When the story was posted on the HOB/D list Crew said that in 1989 St. Andrew's reported between 300-400 members. "When Seel became rector six years ago, in 1998, the parish reported only between 200-300 members, down by about one-third. Crew said that in 2002 St. Andrew's reported no growth, with membership still between 200-300 members."

Seel's response: "We cleaned the books (something I have found that liberals don't often do, because it decreases a parish's representation at diocesan conventions in a lot of places). I did the same thing in my previous parish. The parish has not lost a third of our members in my six years - this is totally false. We were pretty much on a plateau until GC 2003. Over 20 people left over GC 2003, some conservative, most liberal (left in response to parish joining the AAC). We have picked up a similar amount of new attendees, but giving is down from before the GC."

ON THE INTERNATIONAL FRONT sweepstakes are being taken on who will succeed John Peterson as head of the Anglican Communion Office. Odds on favorite are Canon Gregory Cameron who works in the same office and is a close personal friend of Rowan Williams. He appeared at the Canadian Anglican gabfest in St. Catherine's recently and gave a middle of the road speech on whether the Canadians should offend gays or Global South bishops as they move forward into an unknown future. Word has it that Frank Griswold is pushing for an American to get the job. Either way a liberal will hold the top slot, thus marking it out for isolation by the Global South.

But the real action this week was in the CHURCH OF ENGLAND SYNOD where the ARCHBISHOP OF YORK opined that the CofE is in danger of suffering a seismic rift over the issue of homosexuality. Dr David Hope called for church members to move on from the debate and concentrate on the Church’s original task of converting the unbeliever.

But the truly sinister stuff going on at General Synod is that they "kicked out" the Draft Clergy Discipline Measure, thus defeating the Conservatives who created the measure, and giving freedom to the gays. But this is all liberal spin says a Virtuosity reader who is at the Synod. "The first piece of evidence the press don't consider is that the Measure was created by General Synod itself, not the evangelicals on it, and it has been about four or five years in the cooking. The second piece of evidence that the press choose to ignore is that evangelicals have consistently opposed the measure; not because they don't want orthodoxy tests (we do), but because in its present form the measure was also designed to clip the wings of evangelical churches who were (for instance) church planting into liberal parishes, refusing to pay their quota because of the St Alban's debacle, not having an unorthodox bishop to do confirmations. The third piece of evidence: the argument that this was an evangelical move to clip heresy would explain why it passed through the House of Laity (who are the most conservative of the three Houses), and might explain why it failed to get through the House of Clergy. What the paradigm fails to explain is why the Measure passed massively in the House of Bishops. The last thing the Bishops want is to be tied up in a series of heresy trials, so why would they vote for it? Because it gave them more power over trouble makers, who are overwhelmingly at the moment the Conservatives. Why else would the bishop of St Alban's type of man want it through? In a word P-O-W-E-R. Press coverage is saying that it was a conservative plot against the gays? Of course.

The Parliament of the World's Religions opened this week with such illustrious figures in attendance as "His Holiness" the Dalai Lama and "Her Holiness" Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, popularly known as Amma, the Indian-born spiritual leader who works to establish charitable institutions. London-based author Karen Armstrong, whose books include "A History of God," "Islam," and "Buddha," will also speak, as will Catholic theologian Hans Kung, president of the Foundation for a Global Ethic, and Rabbi Michael Learner.

Among Episcopalians scheduled to participate in the Parliament gathering are Bishop Christopher Epting, the Presiding Bishop's deputy officer for ecumenical and interfaith relations; Sonia Omulepu, coordinator for the Episcopal Church's Interfaith Education Initiative; and Richard Parkins, director of Episcopal Migration Ministries. Episcopal deacon Gwynne Guibord, officer for ecumenical and interfaith concerns in the Diocese of Los Angeles, and Episcopal lay leader Kay Lindahl, director of the Listening Center in Laguna Niguel, California, are among Episcopalians leading workshops.

It's ironic when you think about it. The Episcopal Church is imploding, it is doing its best to eviscerate, marginalize, yell homophobia, fundamentalist and much more at its orthodox and Evangelical wing, but it must make haste to Barcelona to make nice with this phony "parliament" who would water down all distinctions of faith and belief in favor of a grab bag of loosely held liberal notions about the goodness of mankind even as Islam rears its ugly head in countries like the Sudan, Nigeria, Iran, Iraq and Indonesia to wipe out Christians and Jews. It is really sad when in northern Nigeria, Shari'a loving Islamicists are busy slaughtering Anglican Christians. It's the irony to end all ironies, and The Episcopal Church is right in the thick of things pushing diversity and inclusion even as souls are being lost for all eternity.

And you wonder why millions of orthodox Global South Anglicans have no respect for the Episcopal Church.

On the specifically Anglican front regarding same-sex issues, the new Primate of New Zealand is a Maori and, as such, is opposed to homosexuality. In Canada, the First Nations are opposed and in the Diocese of New Westminster a large number of the clergy opposed are Chinese. In the United States, the Black clergy are also opposed. In Australia, the Uniting Church a few years ago failed to pass pro-Gay legislation because of the opposition of the Aborigines. And, of course, the Primates of the Global South are noisily opposed to homosexuality. This is a matter of record. Are we getting the picture here?

NEW BIBLE FIRESTORM. Rowan William's backing of this "Good as New" book is setting off a firestorm amongst the English bishops, and, from several phone calls received not a few ECUSA prelates. Given previous divisions over the scandals in England and America last year, this really blanches the cabbage, de-centralizing Williams from the "supposed" centrist position which he took after the English problem in June, putting him right into the fire kettle with Griswold and Robinson. Effectually, it compromises his position as first among equals in the now very uneven worldwide episcopate, making himself the focus of all that ails. An orthodox CofE bishop says it could enflame a constitutional crisis if enough of the bishops of the bench, that is, those in Parliament, take issue with him over his authority to subsume Scripture. Of course, this will set off a firestorm with the already doctrinally handicapped ACC in the UK, further widening the chasm within ECUSA.

A NEW GROUP calling themselves "Accepting Evangelicals" in the CofE believe the time has come to move towards the acceptance of faithful, loving same-sex partnerships at every level of church life, and the development of a positive Christian ethic for gay and lesbian people.

Accepting Evangelicals … is a network of people who are increasingly uncomfortable with the hard-line statements which are being issued by some Evangelical groups, and the damage which this is causing, both to the church and the mission of the Gospel. Accepting Evangelicals … is open both to people who believe that the Bible does not condemn loving, faithful same-sex relationships which are built on mutual commitment and self-giving love and to people who, although they do not personally hold this view are willing to accept the integrity of those who do."

David Phillips General Secretary, Church Society, THE evangelical organization in the Cof E says he is one of those groups mentioned as making hard-line statements. "By this I presume that they mean statements which could have been made by any orthodox Christian through the last two millenia. This is where evangelicalism has come, that people can delude themselves into believing that they have an interpretation of the Scriptures which is completely at odds with what every previous generation of believers have held. Of course they will not like it but it is clear they are not evangelical."

CORRECTION: In my report on the dating of the Primates Commission, I cited Oct. 16 as the revelation date. However this refers to a memo from John Peterson saying the report should go to the ACC/Primates standing committee on Oct 15 & 16. He does not plan for the report to be public then. The Primates still want this in their hands first so Peterson can't spin it.

In another note on Ingham's appointment to represent the Canadian Anglican Church in ECUSA comes this from Fr. Steve Lane: "He was elected by the General Synod to serve on the Council of General Synod (like our Executive Council). The Council elected Michael to represent it as the Partner to the Episcopal Church. The Council of General Synod also elected Bishop Rodney Andrews as alternate."

IN TODAY'S DIGEST you can read a number of fine stories from commentators around the world, including Timothy Bradshaw, Bob Wenz and Max Stackhouse.

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All blessings,

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