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Williams weighs options if more gay bishops...Albany elects orthodox bishop...

The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half-built towers -- the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ's warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so-called 'nominal Christianity'.--From "Basic Christianity" by John R. W. Stott.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Dr Williams has convened a meeting at Lambeth Palace on April 24 to examine the 'options and scenarios' for the Episcopal Church's 'post-General Convention period' in the Anglican Communion.

Those invited include the Bishops of Durham, Winchester, Exeter, Manchester, Norwich, Bristol and the Dean of St Paul's as well as representatives from the Church's mission agencies and Anglican Mainstream.

They will discuss the implications for the Church of England and how the 'Instruments of Unity' should respond to whatever happens in ECUSA this summer.

In his letter of invitation, leaked to Ruth Gledhill, religion correspondent of the London Times, Dr Williams' head of staff Chris Smith says the roundtable discussion concerns the 'next critical months' in the life of the Anglican Communion. 'This is too important a set of issues to allow events to overtake us,' he says. My source, who is not one of those invited, interprets it this way: 'The wording of the invitation makes it fairly clear that Lambeth is expecting no backtrack from ECUSA and is therefore working out how to manage the oncoming schism.'

The General Convention in the US could see the ratification of the election of a gay or lesbian Bishop of California. Convention will also debate where ECUSA goes now in response to the Windsor Report. The outcome will determine whether Gene Robinson and the bishops who consecrated him are invited to Lambeth 2008. My guess, says Gledhill, is that when the invitations go out later this year, some of the US bishops and suffragans might be invited with observer status only, rather as the ECUSA delegates attended the ACC meeting in Nottingham. But beyond not inviting people and issuing public rebukes, there is very little Dr Williams can do with respect to ECUSA if the North Americans do decide to follow their liberal agenda, as seems likely.

Meanwhile, work is going on to examine the Anglican Consultative Council's constitution for a way forward. The constitution is framed to allow new members to be elected into the Anglican Communion but there is no mechanism for expelling anyone or inviting them to leave.

That the Anglican Communion is in deep crisis is no longer news. What IS news is what the Archbishop of Canterbury will do and, despite all the best prognostications, only he knows the answer to that question. But fence sitting is clearly no longer an option.

IN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH this past week, good news was made in the DIOCESE OF ALBANY where they elected an orthodox priest to be their next bishop. The Very Rev. Bill Love rector of St. Mary's Church in Lake Luzerne, NY for 14 years was elected on the fourth ballot.

My wife and I know this man personally when we summered in the Adirondack region and got to know Bill and his wife Karen. They are a wonderful godly couple. Bill is an Anglo-Catholic, Nashotah House graduate and is extremely pastoral, with a mission heart to grow the diocese. He took a small failing parish in a no-growth area where International Paper was closing down all its plants and turned the parish into a triple figure church. It was painfully hard slow work. But he did it.

Before attending seminary Fr. Love was an officer in the Air Force. His wife, Karen, is a full bird colonel in the Air Reserve. He and Karen have a son, Christopher, 19, and a daughter, Catie, in eighth grade. Dean Love will become the ninth bishop of Albany.

A priest who knows him well says Dean Love is a very spiritual and capable priest. He also is an orthodox defender of the faith and proclaimer of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. God has picked a good and humble man. Indeed. This is a victory for orthodoxy in the diocese and a sign that charismatic renewal and the healing ministry are here to stay. He got a ten minute-plus standing ovation, following his election. He has been a strong supporter of Bishop's Herzog and Bena. Albany Via Media is not happy, VirtueOnline was told.

The problem is that Fr. Bill is such a nice man, godly and pastoral that he will be a sheep among revisionist wolves in the HOB. He needs to quickly make alliances with bishops like Iker, Ackerman, John-David Schofield, Steenson, Stanton and others, otherwise the revisionist pack lead by pro gay bishops like Griswold, Shaw, Ihloff, and ultra-feminist bishops like Barbara Harris will attempt to eat him for lunch. He will also need to take a strong stand from the beginning with the Via Media in his own diocese. This man is going to need all the prayer he can get as a new young bishop. But this diocese does have some amazing prayer warriors at Christ the King Spiritual Life Center lead by Nigel Mumford. The center is also the residence for The Sisters of St. Mary, a godlier group of nuns you could not find. Nonetheless Bishop Love will need a strong spine from Day One to stand against the prevailing zeitgeist of the theologically and morally bankrupt House of Bishops.

IN OTHER DIOCESAN news, they failed again in the DIOCESE OF TENNESSEE to elect a new bishop. It took them 14 ballots, in round two, to decide that they couldn't decide. Total to date: 30 ballots and counting. The laity is digging in its heels and wants the thoroughly orthodox Canon Neal Michel of Dallas to be their next bishop, the clergy want the corporatist Canon Jay Magness. The clergy should listen to the laity, after all it is the laity who is paying their salaries. A VirtueOnline source said that with two thirds majority needed they might never choose a bishop. The laity has an evangelical who is quietly keeping their feet to the orthodox flames.

Here is what is happening. The liberals want a solid liberal so they initially voted for the pro-gay liberal candidate, the Rev. Winston Charles from North Carolina. Behind this was the idea to siphon off votes from the orthodox Canon Neal Michel. This would allow, so the liberals thought, a chance for the institutionalist/corporatist Dean Jay Magness to garner the votes to defeat Michel. It backfired. The orthodox clergy are standing fast behind Michel as is the laity. The liberals gambled on Charles and lost big time. After a number of ballots, it was apparent that Charles would not garner the votes to win, so the liberal clergy swung their votes to the centrist Magness. That failed. If the neo-orthodox Brian Cox wants now to do the right thing he should throw in his cards and let his votes go to Michel that would probably secure his victory. For now nothing will happen and a third round of voting will take place May 6. The laity will not be moved. If nobody wins then the orthodox Standing Committee will run the diocese for the next two years.

In the DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA it was another bad hair week for Bishop Charles E. Bennison. A special diocesan convention called to decide a budget, clipped Bennison's spending wings. More than 500 clergy, deputies and laity passed a revised diocesan budget that limited the budget to using no more than $550,000 out of the dioceses' Unrestricted Net Assets (UNA) tossing aside a request for a budget that would have used $950,000 of the trusts from the Unrestricted Net Assets. The net effect of this resolution is a reprimand to the Standing Committee for supporting the bishop's spending requests. Ironically the Standing Committee delayed doing anything for over four years. They cut Charles down to size by reducing his notorious spending habits and demanded a full and total audit of the Unrestricted Net Assets. They have called for a full audit and they want to know WHO has been spending the money HOW MUCH has been spent and who to blame. You can read the full story in today's digest. You can also read another story about how Bennison wants to close down a black parish while ostensibly saying he wants more black priests in the diocese. The Black Caucus of priests is also very unhappy with Bennison and you can read why in today's digest.

Now what is most notable here is that when Jo Mo Doss the worthless Bishop of NJ finally got tossed out, it was the Black Caucus that did him in. The question that begs to be asked is how is it that the most revisionist and liberal bishops get accused of racism and the orthodox don't, (see Spong at Lambeth '98) while liberal bishops who push anti-racism training wind up getting the heave ho from their liberal constituencies!

There is so much irony here you could scrape it off Frank Griswold's miter. Liberals love inclusivity, diversity, pansexuality, women's rights to an abortion and just about every liberal shibboleth known to the 20th and 21st centuries. And of course they hate judgmentalness and perceived Fundamentalism and narrow-minded orthodox types, BUT when it comes to money, they suddenly get 'orthodox' religion. And so we see the specter of normally benign and brain dead we-go-along-with-the-bishop-because-he-is-the-bishop laity and clergy in the diocese standing up at a specially called diocesan convention saying that resolutions to contain Bennison's spending are so loose you could drive a Mack Truck through them. (This was actually screamed at from the convention floor by an irate liberal priest). Suddenly the liberals who love Bennison's "Jesus was a sinner who forgave himself" or "Jesus winked at sin" are no longer winking back at Bennisin. And gosh darn they are being judgmental about one of their own. Now they all want the SOB gone, because he has been raiding the till. When the convention restored original diocesan spending, the first thing that got restored was money for distressed and mission parishes. You could hear the sighs of relief. Bennison can't close down any more parishes, initiate any more lawsuits against orthodox priests without permission of the Diocesan Council. They have tied his hands but good.

At the recent SAN DIEGO DIOCESAN CONVENTION the orthodox St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church offered up a resolution on the Windsor Report. But delegates gutted it and a so-called "friendly" amendment passed. Here is what it originally said and how it was stoned to death. "The Episcopal Church of San Diego receives, accepts, and endorses ('and submits to' were deleted) the Windsor Report (and pledges to comply fully with its proposals and expectations) was also removed. A source wrote to VirtueOnline saying that what was amended was toothless and not worth the paper it was written on. "This convention gutted it, removing the only words which promised to be meaningful. Never mind that "repentance" was not in the original resolution, even the words "submits" and "comply fully with it's expectations and expectations" were thrown to the dogs.

ARE LIBERAL BISHOPS finally getting the message. Bishop Kirk Stevan Smith of the DIOCESE OF ARIZONA has written a personal reflection about the recent HOB meeting in Kanuga. The liberals are blinking and the Integrity crowd is mad as hell over his comments about the demands of the Windsor Report. Among other things he says that from his perspective, these resolutions represent an endorsement of the Windsor Report and express a clear desire not to do anything that would further jeopardize our standing with the rest of the Communion. You can read what he said in today's digest.

Charges of racism briefly erupted at the HOB meeting in Kanuga recently, according to Minnesota Bishop James Jelinek. He wrote this in a note to his diocese. Another source told VirtueOnline that the charges erupted over a message of some kind for John CHANE (Bishop of Washington) that was inadvertently given to Dick CHANG (Bishop of Hawaii). When Chang corrected the person, whoever it was said to him, "You all look alike." Change erupted and angrily reported it to the House as a racist remark. According to the bishop it was meant as a good-natured, silly play on the fact that they DON'T look alike. But Chang got pissy anyway and blew a fuse. No orthodox bishops were involved.

Also at the HOB meeting they played the DVD, CHOOSE THIS DAY not once but twice to a full house. This news came personally from an orthodox bishop who was there. That must have been a one two punch to Griswold's solar plexus. If you have not seen or purchased this video then by all means do so. You can go to www.virtueonline.org and click on the link or go to www.anglicandecision.com. Everyone going to GC2006 this summer should see this extraordinary video.

AT the meeting they "roasted" Frank Griswold in the wrong way at a dinner on the last evening. According to Bishop Jelinek it was a very good event. "We bishops can all speak about his limitations in various dimensions of this ministry, yet we all know the position has so many complexities that no person could be good at everything. So we cut him some slack." WHY? Griswold has single-handedly got the ECUSA booted out of the ACC, shunned by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches and may well be responsible, in the end, for destroying the unity of the Anglican Communion. Let's hope V. Gene Robinson at least picked up the bar tab.

In the DIOCESE OF NEW YORK a West Bronx pastor has a safe-sex message. When congregants receive Communion at the church of San Romero de Las Americas on the upper West Side, the altar looks like any other - except for a glass bowl full of condoms sitting next to the wine and bread. The church's pastor, the Rev. Luis Barrios, sees a sacred duty in promoting safe sex among his congregants. A report in the NY Daily News says the church's pastor was trying to promote safe sex among his congregants. His anti-AIDS work set off alarm bells in the New York Episcopalian diocese in the early 1990s. Today, AIDS is still a leading cause of death among Latinos, and Barrios is still busy setting off alarms. Barrios first came to New York in 1990 as a minister of St. Anne's Episcopal Church in the South Bronx, where he ran an underground clean-needle exchange for addicts to reduce the risk of AIDS from sharing syringes. At the time, it was illegal to buy and distribute needles without a license, so Barrios hid them in boxes marked "religious materials."

The Bishop of the DIOCESE OF CHICAGO, the Rt. Rev. William Percell announced he is retiring. He said his exit was motivated by his age, his more than three decades of ordained ministry, and health considerations. It is unlikely his replacement will be anybody remotely orthodox.

LAMBETH PALACE has confirmed that Dr Rowan Williams will visit Pope Benedict XVI in Rome in autumn this year. The announcement was made on the 40th anniversary of Archbishop Michael Ramsey's visit to Pope Paul VI. Dr Williams was last in Rome for the funeral of Pope John Paul II in April 2005, and for the inaugural mass of Pope Benedict shortly afterwards. The two met briefly the next day. At the same time, the Archbishop of Westminster's office reported that the Pope's diary did not permit a visit to Britain in 2007, as had been rumored last week.

FAITH UNDER FIRE. In Kabul an Afghan court dismissed a case against a man who converted from Islam to Christianity because of a lack of evidence and was released, officials said. The announcement came as U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai faced mounting foreign pressure to free Abdul Rahman, a move that risked angering Muslim clerics here who have called for him to be killed. He quickly vanished after he was released from prison, apparently out of fear for his life with Muslim clerics still demanding his death.

ONE OF THE CANDIDATES for Presiding Bishop is Bishop Francisco Duque-Gomez of Colombia. Sources tell VirtueOnline that he is the bishop of exactly 11 priests, 2 deacons, and a handful of what are called missionaries (laypersons). They have 1 cathedral, 6 parishes, and 11 so called missions (some of which might just be church plants). Sources say he is a token candidate put in there so ECUSA can look good as the "church of equal opportunity". Duque studied theology at the Seminary of the Caribbean in Puerto Rico, the Universidad Javeriana of Bogota, and the Theological Training Center of the Diocese of Colombia (CET), where he currently serves as a professor of constitution and canons. He did not vote for the Gene Robinson's consent. The bishops in the ninth province will never leave the Episcopal Church, and have been critical of the Global South for its clear theological stance. A statement given some months ago in a meeting they had in Central America, was evidence of that. They have never taken a stance against any revisionist practice in ECUSA, like the Network has, and they love US dollars. Province IX is pretty much the same story as Brazil, Central America, or the Mexican province. The way ECUSA deals with these invertebrated Anglicans sees them labeled as the "rent a province" strategy. Said the source, "We have a saying in my country that goes: for money you can make the monkey dance".

ORTHODOX SEMINARIES FILLING as church empties. There's a job vacancy at Oak Hill Theological College in London. The College is seeking someone to assist with handling increasing numbers of student applications to the College. Interesting too is that both orthodox American Episcopal seminaries, TESM and Nashotah House are also in overflow mode. Perhaps God is preparing the next generation for renewal and revival once the revisionists have self destructed. It's happened before, it can surely happen again. Remember when you get godly well trained orthodox priests, you get solid teaching from the pulpits and the pews hear the truth.

ANGLICANS-AT-PRAYER has started a new website. Visit www.anglicansatprayer.org and make it known to others. There are within American Anglicanism many devout and committed people who have strong convictions about what are really the essentials of the Anglican Way. Strengths often become weaknesses: thus strong convictions can and do lead to separation from others. It is a very regrettable and sad fact that the Anglican Way is now in the USA not one stream but multiple streams, and sometime these compete for the same ground and space! Anglicans apparently cannot agree on doctrine, churchmanship, canon law and other matters but they all do look to the One Father through the One Lord Jesus Christ with the One Holy Spirit. They all say, "Our Father, who art in heaven..."

HAVE THE RELIGIOUS "MAINLINES" BEEN SIDELINED? That's the view of the Rev. Robert Chase, the UCC's communications director, who announced a new blog-focused advocacy campaign to draw attention to ways in which the nation's historic, mainline Christian denominations have been "silenced" by network and cable news programs. www.Accessibleairwaves.org has placed ads on dozens of internet blogs, drawing attention to the UCC's new effort to lift the public voice of the old "mainliners." The announcement came on the same day that another of the UCC's 30-second television ads was unveiled for the media, even though it has been rejected by the broadcast networks as "controversial," therefore "unacceptable." The newest ad, known as "ejector seat," will begin airing April 3 on cable networks only.

The major networks' silencing act is not only affecting the UCC, Chase said, but other mainline churches as well. According to Media Matters, a public-interest research group, you're far more likely to hear from the head of Focus on the Family or the 700 Club, than you are a United Methodist bishop or the stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

"But what do the principal leaders of the United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), American Baptist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Reformed Church in America, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, among others, have in common?" he further asked. "They haven't appeared once." (Notice the absence of the Episcopal Church in this list.). "Increasingly," Chase said, "millions of U.S. Christians have grown weary of having their more-inclusive, more-progressive values silenced." The truth is the more you preach inclusiveness the more the church empties. People want something more to believe in not something less.

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David W. Virtue DD

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