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WELCOME TO 2006...Floridians Flee ECUSA...Maryland Anglicans dumped..Global news

"Today there are two Gospels in competition for the allegiance of members of the Episcopal Church. One is the Gospel that has been received from Jesus through the apostles, through the tradition of the church and Scripture, and which persists and is still intellectually respectable [despite the counter charges of the skeptics who are putting forth a different Gospel] and which is understood to be the actual revelation of God to humankind and is understood to be true. The other "Gospel" is one that has been made to eliminate everything that was thought needing to be eliminated from the authentic, original Christian Gospel in light of the supposed enlightenment and insights of intellectuals and the supposed requirements of our living in a modern, scientific world." The Rev. Bruce A. Flickinger, BA, M Div. presbyter, The Episcopal Church USA

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

WELCOME to the first digest of 2006.

For most of us, we are glad to see the back of 2005. It was, by any definition, a rough year for thousands of orthodox Episcopalians. Many of you left for greener ecclesiastical and theological pastures and shared the relief you felt with me. I, in turn, tried to keep you informed about both those who both left and those who stayed to fight another day.

It was another sad year for the Episcopal Church as it lost more of its members, dipping below 800,000 practicing Episcopalians for the first time in its history. All the indicators are that this will continue into 2006, with perhaps thousands more leaving after the 75th General Convention in Columbus, Ohio.

With members go money, and with the loss of income go the closure of parishes around the country. It won?t simply be the inhibition and deposition of godly priests by revisionist bishops, but the slow deterioration of parishes as they sink below 40 members, facing the reality that the average-age Episcopalian is now in the mid 60's and the average size parish is 74.

The Episcopal Church is not helping itself. Its promotion of theological ambiguity and moral relativism and its fatuous belief that by ordaining a non-celibate homosexual to the episcopacy would result in thousands joining the church was and remains a profound fiction.

Furthermore, the Episcopal Church is being assailed on all sides: by orthodox Global South primates beating it over the head for its positions and refusal to act on the Windsor Report, by bishops and archbishops picking off plum ECUSA parishes, the steady advance of the Convocation of Anglican Nigerian Churches in America (CANA), the increasingly-high profile Anglican Mission in America (AMIA), the strengthening Anglo-Catholic movement, all now pose a serious threat to the liberal-run hegemony of the Episcopal Church.

I wrote a few months ago that the Episcopal Church is surrounded by a cloud of witnesses screaming that the emperors (bishops) have no clothes, and what little they have is covering unrepentant sin. A church that follows the zeitgeist and does not stand against it is doomed to oblivion. Tolerating sin in the name of inclusion will inevitably bring down upon it the judgment of God.

I have examined at length all this in the Year in Review -- 2005, which is included in this digest.

THE BEAT GOES ON. In the DIOCESE OF FLORIDA it was the beginning of the Great Exodus for a number of parishes and for thousands of parishioners. January 1 was the deadline for the exit of orthodox parishes in that diocese. One can only imagine what Bishop Samuel Johnson Howard must be thinking. Was Robinson's consecration really worth all this?

"We have all declared ourselves Anglican Churches as of Sunday, January 1, 2006 and are operating under new 501c3s but have not 'exited,' because we believe it is more accurate and helpful to say we are realigning," wrote a cardinal rector from that diocese.

"St. Michael's in Gainesville is starting as Servants of Christ this coming Sunday, worshipping at a Vineyard congregation there. Calvary already left. St. Luke's Community of Life is now a mission partner congregation with St. Peter's in Tallahassee, under Uganda. Grace, Redeemer, and All Souls are still in negotiations with the diocese concerning oversight, clergy status and property," the cardinal rector wrote to VirtueOnline.

A second wave is mounting rapidly behind it and may well be larger and cause a greater loss to the diocese than the first. There appear to be at least eight and possibly as many as 14 other churches preparing themselves for a similar move to separate at some point between January 1 and soon after General Convention in June.

Many of the second-wave clergy and vestries have communicated with Bishop John Howard to express their spiritual solidarity with the rirst-wave churches and to urge him to be graceful in his handling of the issues surrounding the realignment, especially with property. The rector of one of these churches, The Rev. Mark R. Eldredge of Epiphany, Jacksonville, shared his vestry's letter to Bishop Howard. which said; "Along with many other congregations, we too are struggling with the issue of remaining loyal to the Episcopal Church unless there is the significant repentance as called for by the Primates of the Anglican Communion. We request therefore that those congregations in the Diocese of Florida who have already, for reasons of conscience, decided to align themselves with other Anglican jurisdictions be allowed to retain their properties. Please consider that the treatment of these congregations will affect our long-term relationship."

A third wave of departures will include a silent majority of individuals and families from churches throughout the diocese that choose not to remain in the Diocese of Florida and the Episcopal Church.

Even if Bishop Howard inhibits and deposes all the clergy and takes over their buildings the victory is pyrrhic. He can never reverse this amount of mass hemorrhaging going on; the body can't take it.

The bottom line on all this is that the open proclamation of sin cannot and will not be tolerated, and it will bring no blessing to the Episcopal Church. A church that has no fix on sin has no fix on salvation; it has lost its way. God cannot and will not include and bless what openly violates his irreversible Moral Law.

In the DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA, the Anglo-Catholic parish of St. James the Less lost on appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, forcing out Fr. David Ousley, who had been there for 22 years and nearly all his parish with him. Earlier, he had closed down a school because of Bishop Bennison's rampage against him for daring to uphold what Bennison neither affirms nor believe. You can read that full story in today's digest.

In the DIOCESE OF MARYLAND, the revisionist bishops of that diocese, Robert Ihloff and John Rabb, allegedly ousted a new orthodox Anglican congregation which had, in December, given birth at a Presbyterian Church -- no room in the inn for this group. It looks like a case of raw naked power being played out against one small growing orthodox Anglican parish that dares to stand against the monolithic revisionist ECUSA.

And from the DIOCESE OF NEBRASKA comes this warning from an orthodox priest.

"Dear Mr. Virtue,

"I am taking the liberty of sending you (attached) a Via Media information sheet about the session to be held in this diocese on January 20th. The information sheet they put out states: 'Via Media is the new evangelism tool for the Episcopal Church. . .' From what I understand this is just garbage. They are as revisionist as the revisionists and are only trying to find a new way of presenting their stuff. The person who is putting this on for via media is a woman cleric of the diocese. Naturally, they all want the whole ball game to go on here. Aside from the two orthodox parishes, St. Barnabas and St. Martin in Omaha, everyone else is of the idea that all is well. It's not."

Fr. Fred Raybourn +SSC"

And in the DIOCESE OF JERUSALEM, a verbal fight broke out on the convention floor over the bishop's desire to twin with the pro-gay DIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES. You can read that story today as well.

What VirtueOnline has learned is that the word has been put out that for the Episcopal Church to stay in the Anglican Club it must get individual liberal and revisionist dioceses to twine with African, Asian, and Middle East dioceses by pouring money into them, educating their clergy in the US at revisionist seminaries, in short, seduce them with money and power and, in so doing, offer them ECUSA's version of pansexual acceptance. It's subtle, devilish and will, in a number of cases probably work, though Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola has made it clear he doesn't want ECUSA money and he won't be sending his ordinands to American ECUSA seminaries. But will other African and Middle East bishops follow his lead? Time will tell.

In other news from the PROVINCE OF NIGERIA, Archbishop Akinola issued a warning about the activities of some fraudulent personalities who exploit Christian love and the good name of the church in a bid to defraud unsuspecting people, especially foreigners, of money.

"The trend has become alarming recently as we receive dozens of mails seeking to verify supposed priests administering bequests of non-existing estates, missionaries selling pets that never get delivered or collecting aids for the sick or orphaned with seemingly convincing pictures. We have even seen a situation where a supposed knight collects money to organise homosexual meetings that only take place on sponsored news reports," he wrote.

"The Church of Nigeria strongly dissociates herself from all these activities and states categorically that no respectable minister of the Gospel in our Church nor indeed any true member sends unsolicited mails to people they have never met offering or requesting money." AVOID them and IGNORE their mails, he writes.

PRIMATE AKINOLA also issued a disclaimer against the activities of a person who goes by the name of Davis (David) Mac Iyalla. "He claims to be a homosexual member of the Anglican Church but extensive searches revealed that he is NOT registered in any of our over 10,000 local parishes as of the past two years. None of our over 6,000 priests recognise him as an active member in any of their parishes. The Church of Nigeria wishes to emphasise that she continues to minister to all her members regardless of the problems they face. Our priests are adequately trained to counsel and pray with all manner of persons who go to them for help."

And from the DIOCESE OF NEW WESTMINSTER comes this view from the pew. A senior warden at one of the wealthier parishes in the diocese was voicing his anger over the fact that [Bishop] Michael Ingham is using the wealthier parishes as cash cows to cover the financial losses caused by the loss of revenue from the orthodox parishes in the diocese (this man's parish is being assessed an additional $16,000 per year). As I left him this morning he stated in a loud voice that "We don't need a Michael Ingham: We need a Martin Luther. He knew the score."

On another note the VANCOUVER SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY (VST), a liberal institution with Anglican students is uglying up the west end of the UBC campus with a mega-money-grabbing housing project. In spite of its many attempts to develop one wing-nut theological program after another, VST continues to lose ground. It recently cut its faculty by 25 to30 percent.

And in another move in Canada, the government ruled on the use of the name "Anglican" and ordered a group of dissident churches to stop using the name "Anglican Communion in Canada."

Aissa Aomari, deputy director of Corporations Canada, wrote to the group's lawyer that "corporation #409786-6 was granted a name which does not represent the Anglican Communion in Canada nor does it have any recognized ties with the international fellowship of ,churches known worldwide as the Anglican Communion."

A spokesman for the Anglican Communion in Canada (ACiC), the Rev. Paul Carter, who lives in Vancouver, said Corporations Canada subsequently granted the group an extension but declined to say when it expires. "It is in the hands of a legal team working on our behalf," he said in an interview. "The next step is for us to find an agreeable name that Industry Canada (which oversees Corporations Canada) will accept. It is unfortunate that the Anglican Church of Canada is challenging us." The group, which includes seven churches in British Columbia and three in Saskatchewan, was incorporated in July 2002, one month after the Vancouver-based diocese of New Westminster voted to approve offering blessing ceremonies to gay couples. Mr. Carter said all the ACiC congregations have left the Anglican Church of Canada and are under the authority of Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, one of five foreign archbishops who oversee the group. The moral of this story is first change the church's teaching on morality, then when priests and parishes flee for the sake of their souls, inhibit and depose them and take their parishes from them. And then when you have got them where you want them, stamp on their heads and wipe them out.

NORTHERN INDIA has a new primate. At the 12th triennial synod of the Church of North India (CNI), the Most Rev. Joel V. Mal, bishop of Chandigarh, was elected to a three-year term and installed as the 10th moderator of the CNI. He succeeds the Most Rev. Z. James Terom.

THE POPE received the first English Catholic ambassador since the Reformation recently. Pope Benedict XVI stressed religious tolerance, diversity, and respect for the human person as he received the Letters of Credence Dec. 23 from the new ambassador of the United Kingdom to the Holy See, Francis Martin-Xavier Campbell. He is the first English Catholic ambassador to the Holy See since the Reformation.

Charles W. Socarides, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, has died at the age of 83. Dr. Socarides maintained publicly, long after it was considered scientifically acceptable to do so, that homosexuality was a condition amenable to treatment and even to conversion to heterosexuality. Dr. Socarides (pronounced sock-uh-REE-dees) was a clinical professor of psychiatry for many years at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, where he retired in 1996.

A frequent guest on television talk shows and news programs, Dr. Socarides wrote a half-dozen books about homosexuality. They included "The Overt Homosexual" (Grune & Stratton, 1968) and "Homosexuality: A Freedom Too Far -- A Psychoanalyst Answers 1,000 Questions About Causes and Cure and the Impact of the Gay Rights Movement on American Society" (Adam Margrave Books, 1995). In 1992, Dr. Socarides helped found the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. The primary mission of the organization, of which he was a past president, is "to make effective psychological therapy available to all homosexual men and women who seek change," according to its Web site. In his writings, public appearances and private practice, Dr. Socarides argued that homosexuality was a "neurotic adaptation" that in men stemmed from absent fathers and overly doting mothers. In "Homosexuality: A Freedom Too Far," he estimated that he had helped 35 percent of his gay patients to "become heterosexual" and a slightly smaller percentage to control their gay impulses. Ironically, Leanne Payne was saying this about 20 years ago, but few listened. Someone should communicate this knowledge to Frank Griswold, who believes that change is not only not possible but not desirable. Dr. Socarides maintained his position long after the American Psychiatric Association rescinded its definition of homosexuality as a form of mental illness in 1973, a watershed moment for the profession. He maintained his position, too, despite the fact that one of his children is openly gay and was a nationally prominent gay-rights advocate.
You may view NARTH's work which he co-founded. A great resource for research on sexuality and homosexuality in particular can be found at http://www.narth.com/

And from the DIOCESE OF MALAWI comes word that a delegation of 21 clergy who rejected The Rt. Rev. Leonard Mwenda as the next bishop of Lake Malawi following the defeat of English cleric Nicky Henderson met with Archbishop Bernard Malango in Lilongwe, where they persuaded him to overturn the decision of the court of confirmation.

A source told VirtueOnline that another election should take place. But according to the Canons and Constitution of Central Africa, the Elective Assembly ceases to function after an election of a bishop, and new members have to be elected. A note of the synod meeting has to be given a month before the meeting, and this will not be complied with.

"In this case they have decided first to hold a SYNOD where they will elect members of the elective assembly and thereafter hold another election," the source said. "The archbishop has not yet communicated to his fellow bishops, and we intend to write to him objecting to what he has done. Bishop Mwenda has already been told not to come to start work, but no reasons were given. This is very surprising, bearing in mind that he was part of the bishops who came up with that decision that he (Mwenda) should come and start work in January, and the appointed bishop had already been given a letter of appointment."

For yet another brilliant take on the WINDSOR REPORT read Dr. Paul Zahl's reflection and analysis in today's digest. It is worth its weight in gold.

THE NEW YEAR WOULD NOT BE RUNG IN if we failed to mention that the distinguished Bible teacher, expositor and leading British evangelical Anglican the Rev. John Stott received a CBE in the Queen's New Year Honours List, "for services to Christian scholarship and the Christian world". Our heartiest congratulations go to this evangelical statesman and humble servant of God.

MANY of you are still sending in last-minute 2005 tax-deductible checks to support this ministry. THANK YOU. I am deeply appreciative of your support. You are making it possible for me to write, travel, support an expanding Web site that needs daily attention, employ a small part-time staff and so much more. I am deeply, deeply grateful. You are all very kind in helping me get the news out daily to the Web site and weekly in a digest. You can send donations to:

1236 Waterford Rd.,
West Chester, PA 19380

OR you can make a donation at the Web site using PAYPAL. www.virtueonline.org

All Blessings,

David W. Virtue, D.D.

LATE BREAKING NEWS...URGENT PRAYER REQUEST. VirtueOnline has just received word that Bolivian Bishop Frank Lyons is seriously ill in hospital. He has been suffering with a blocked kidney duct since last week. He has undergone several procedures and many tests, but so far all attempts to remove the blockage (two stones) have been unsuccessful. This is NOT a case of pain with a bladder stone; this is a life-threatening problem. He has been hospitalized for several days now and things have only gotten worse. The doctors had resigned themselves to remove the kidney stones by abdominal surgery because they had shut down his one kidney and caused a blood-pressure spike, but now his blood pressure has gone so high that it is too dangerous to do the surgery. It seems that right now only God can make things better. Prayer, and lots of it, is desperately needed.

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