"I urge you, therefore--not I, but Jesus Christ's love--use only Christian food. Keep off foreign fare, by which I mean heresy. For those people mingle Jesus Christ with their teachings just to gain your confidence under false pretenses. It is as if they were giving a deadly poison mixed with honey and wine, with the result that the unsuspecting victim gladly accepts it and drinks down death with fatal pleasure." From The Letter of Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch to the Trallians, Chapter 6 -
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
If there are two words that describe what is currently happening in the Anglican Communion at the present moment, it is clarity and chaos.
In Toronto, 800 faithful orthodox Canadian Anglicans met under the banner of "Open Doors" and declared with absolute clarity what they believed and how they should live their lives in holiness. They stated with simplicity and determination that despite what their national church is doing over affirming same-sex blessings, they are going to stay Anglicans precisely because there is only one Faith, one view about how human beings should behave sexually, and that furthermore they are going to stay till they are thrown out.
To that end they launched a newly formed body called Anglican Essentials Canada to show the Canadian Anglican Church they have no intention of "walking apart" from the global Anglican Communion.
Two other organizations were also launched: the Essentials Federation and the Anglican Network in Canada. Both will come under the umbrella of Anglican Essentials Canada.
The federation was formed to recover the foundational principles of Anglicanism in Canada and to work for their reinstatement in the life of the Anglican Church of Canada.
The Network was formed for those desiring Adequate Episcopal Oversight and to build an ecclesial body (a "lifeboat") to be available in the event the Anglican Church of Canada walks apart from the Global Communion.
It was a heady three days as an archbishop from the Global South and bishops from Canada and the U.S. met, along with hundreds of concerned and embattled priests and laity, to contemplate what it meant to be orthodox in a fundamentally heterodox church.
They were clear that if the Anglican Communion primates declared the Canadian and American churches outside acceptable theological and moral boundaries and were forced to "walk apart" from the global church, they would stay no matter what.
As Cheryl Chang, an Essentials attorney from Vancouver put it, "This new Essentials movement is not a parallel church, but if the primates say the Canadian Church is out of the Communion we have a lifeboat. If global schism takes place in the Anglican Communion we will align with the Network."
I have posted three stories on what took place at this illustrious gathering of orthodox brothers and sisters in Toronto. Clearly Common Cause, now a movement in both the ECUSA and Canada, is drawing all orthodox Anglicans together in one pan-Anglican movement that, if recognized by Canterbury or the Global South Primates, could mark a whole new day for Anglicanism in North America.
The two Network bishops, the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan (ECUSA) and the Rt. Rev. Donald Harvey (Canada), both hold little hope that anything will come out of the ACC conference in Nottingham this week. They may be right.
Even as you receive this digest the Anglican Consultative Council meets in Nottingham, and representatives of the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church in Canada are there "to set out the thinking behind the recent actions of their Provinces." I will be there Tuesday when the ECUSA team makes its report, followed by the Canadians.
BUT EVEN as they gather, there is breaking news out of the DIOCESE OF RECIFE in Brazil that Bishop Robinson Cavilcanti has been deposed by the very liberal primate of Brazil, Orlando S. De Oliveira. A Superior Ecclesiastical Court in a special meeting of the House of Bishops decided to remove the evangelical bishop, and Bishop Cavalcanti has already responded to the primate and court that he is going to appeal in 30 days.
One possibility is that they will ignore the liberal primate's decree and make another appeal to the Instruments of Unity of the Anglican Communion. The diocese and its priests will continue to recognize the authority of Bishop Cavalcanti.
On hearing the news Archbishop Gregory J. Venables of the Southern Cone issued a statement saying he received the news of the deposition of the Rt. Revd. Robinson Cavalcanti, bishop of Recife, with great sadness. "For the Province of Brazil to take such an action at this particular time reflects a profound disregard and disrespect of the call for restraint and patience from the Primates of the Anglican Communion, whose Panel of Reference was specifically set up to address conflicts such as this within dioceses and provinces. This unilateral failure to cooperate with the specific call from the Primates not only demonstrates a sad lack of respect but has seriously exacerbated the crisis in the Communion. I am taking the situation to my House of Bishops at the earliest possible opportunity to take counsel on addressing the situation fully."
There can be little doubt that anger and rage now haunt the Anglican Communion's liberals and revisionists. They no longer have things rolling their way. The Province of Brazil was an ECUSA plant -- hence its pro-gay stance. More and more the orthodox in Brazil, Canada, the U.S., and Australia are starting to stand up to the immorality that is sweeping the church, and they are saying "no" and they will fight you for the soul of the church. This was certainly the case in Toronto this past week.
BUT the big news of the week is that the Rt. Rev. Dr. John Sentamu, 56, bishop of Birmingham, will become the new ARCHBISHOP OF YORK. He is a Ugandan who fled Idi Amin and joins the archbishop of Canterbury. Neither of them is English. Sentamu is the second highest prelate in the Anglican Communion.
A former Ugandan high court judge who fled to Britain to escape Idi Amin's regime, he will become the Church of England's first black archbishop. In his acceptance speech, Dr. Sentamu hailed the example of British missionaries who brought the Christian faith to his homeland. He urged the church to make its voice heard "locally, nationally and internationally."
Dr. Sentamu was appointed by the prime minister from a short list submitted by church leaders and was nominated last week by the archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, for a seat on a panel to help resolve disputes over the church's attitude towards homosexuality. His appointment was met with great exuberance in Uganda, where Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, a staunch opponent of the West's gay agenda, greeted the announcement saying: "We are jubilant at the news of our fellow countryman's appointment ... he was forced to go into exile. Like the biblical patriarch Joseph, what was meant for evil God has now used for good."
But a VirtueOnline theologian in England cautioned against too much exuberance over Dr. Sentamu's election. Is his appointment a sop to the burgeoning African Anglican Evangelical influence in the Communion and an effort to still angry voices at the West's rollover to pansexuality?
Dr. Sentamu was on channel 4 news, said a source, and he was trying to have his cake (orthodox, so needs repentance) and eat it (loving and accepting -- and we all need to repent). "Now that it's been announced that Sentamu is going to York, it is really critical that we don't get carried away by 'black Ugandan evangelical as archbishop, hooray hooray, hooray' nonsense," the source said. We must assume a hermeneutic of suspicion on this: the only acceptable view is if he has fully, recently and publicly refused to endorse the Gene Robinson consecration for the right reasons (i.e., that it was morally wrong), not for political reasons (it was ecclesiologically damaging, untimely, inappropriate, etc., etc.). Clear answers to precise questions must be the way forward: an equivocation or balanced viewpoint must be read as supportive of the liberalizing agenda. It would be deadly to make a charitable assumption that he's OK unless we hear otherwise; given the way bishops are appointed in the UK, and given his complete lack of a lead on these issues, we must assume he's on the wrong side unless it's proved (with primary and current evidence) otherwise."
On another note David Phillips, general secretary of the Church Society in England, blasted the ARCHBISHOP OF WALES, Barry Morgan, in an address Morgan gave to the liberal-dominated World Council of Churches over homosexuality. The archbishop praised a recent gathering of the WCC where they had a forum on human sexuality, and he criticized the Lambeth 1998 Conference.
"He follows precisely the same approach that has been followed by the likes of Archbishop Eames of Ireland," Phillips said of Morgan. "He wants to say that homosexual practice is acceptable, but he doesn't have the courage to come out and say so explicitly. He is an example of why the Church in Wales is in such a poor shape."
Morgan said that "theology has to be open to the possibility of encountering God's revelation of truth in new and novel ways -- that's what the doctrine of the Spirit is about after all, because the church has in the past changed its mind on many topics."
Responded Phillips, "Therefore the archbishop does not believe what the Anglican Churches have held to be foundational, that the Bible is God's written Word 'containing all things necessary to salvation.' It is small wonder that the Church in Wales has been one of the fastest declining churches in the British Isles, having lost more than four out of every 10 members in two decades."
IN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH LAST WEEK five major events occurred that portend further and deeper fragmentation.
A "realignment" document put out by a group of liberals in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, purporting to show detailed plans setting up an alternative Anglican jurisdiction by two primates of the Anglican Communion with the support of American conservatives, may well be a fraud.
"This is not a document that anyone here, including Bishop Duncan, had seen before an article appeared in the Guardian written by pro-gay liberal religion writer Stephen Bates, which he wrote from a press release put out by a group calling themselves Progressive Episcopalians, PEP, a liberal organization of priests and laity trying to unseat the Pittsburgh bishop," Peter Frank, diocesan director of communications, told VirtueOnline.
"There are all sorts of documents written that never see the light of day," said Duncan to VirtueOnline. But an interesting tidbit uncovered by Steve Levin of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said that the unsourced and undated four-page document, named "The Organizing Constitution of the Anglican Global Initiative," has been circulating among some executive members of the Episcopal Church since January, after it was brought to the church's New York headquarters following a meeting of African bishops in Nairobi!!
So Griswold knew about it. Did he release it to the PEP people just prior to the Nottingham meeting in order to get sympathy for himself and his pansexual agenda? Clearly the timing of the revelation of this document cannot be downplayed or overlooked. It might also signify real panic by Griswold that he is losing the theological battle in the pansexual culture wars.
In the DIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES, one of three churches that left the diocese and the ECUSA -- St. James Anglican Church -- sued the Bishop and the Diocese of Los Angeles alleging that the bishop and diocese had breached a written promise made years ago that they would not attempt to claim St. James' property. The cross-complaint alleges that by initiating a lawsuit against St. James Church and its volunteer vestry members in September 2004, Bishop Bruno and the Diocese of Los Angeles breached that promise:
"St. James Church thought that Bishop J. Jon Bruno and the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, as a religious leader and institution, would keep a promise not to assert any claim over property owned by St. James Church. Instead, Bishop Bruno and the Diocese have broken that promise, causing substantial damage and threat of further damage to St. James Church," said a spokesman from their law firm. Oh, by the way, the name of the law firm is "Payne & Fears, LLP." Let's hope they can dish up a lot of that to Bishop J. Jon Bruno -- it's nothing less than he deserves.
And in the DIOCESE OF FLORIDA last week seven orthodox parishes requested alternative episcopal oversight. The seven priests decided the time had come to seek alternative oversight because of the unbiblical teaching and actions of the Episcopal Church's national leadership and because they desire to stand unequivocally with the vast majority of Anglican leaders worldwide who affirm that the actions of the Episcopal Church have placed it outside the bounds of Biblical and traditional Christianity. You can read the full story in today's digest. Clearly this is the tip of the iceberg for this diocese, whose bishop, John Howard, has come down hard against any talk of division and put a noose around the neck of the diocese demanding total obedience to his will or else.
If things don't work out and he offers DEPO, which allows him to retain control, it would not be out of the realm of possibility that the "Magnificent Seven" will leave the Episcopal Church. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the vindictive Howard will reduce each parish to mission status, discharge the vestries of the seven parishes, inhibit and depose the rectors of the seven parishes, install vestries and rectors of his own choosing, and toss the seven priests out of the diocese and the ECUSA. He will then declare all properties to be owned by the Diocese of Florida. We shall see.
In the DIOCESE OF CONNECTICUT, Bishop Andrew D. Smith is ratcheting up the pain on the "Connecticut Six" orthodox parishes and has written a letter to his diocese saying that he has been exploring all the options thoroughly. "The options open to me are few. To take canonical and legal action, or not to take action, each choice has broad and deep consequences for all of us, and I assure you every decision will be made with that awareness."
If I were a betting man I would put my money on Smith's coming down on these godly priests. He has the backing of Griswold and a majority of the HOB, and while he touts diversity and inclusivity he is a canonical fundamentalist.
On a really upbeat note, the DIOCESE OF ALBANY held its diocesan convention recently with more than 1,400 people in attendance and participating. "We ran 77 workshops on all aspects of worship, discipleship, leadership, missions, and parish programs. We ran in tandem a Youth Rally for well over 100 kids, as well as a Vacation Bible School for 80 children. We ordained eleven people -- to the Vocational Diaconate (6) and Transitional Diaconate (5)," said Suffragan Bishop David Bena.
Rochester (Church of England) Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali preached at the ordination service, highlighting the mission of these new clergy leaders to speak the Truth in season and out. He also offered workshops on "Classical Anglicanism" and "Understanding Islam." Hundreds turned out for these workshops, said Bena.
"Bishop Justin Bodi-Arama of Meridi, Sudan, preached the Healing Service, which saw some 800 people come forward for the laying on of hands for healing," Bena reported. "Bishop Justin gave workshops on 'Living for Jesus in Africa.' His words brought new faith to many and a commitment to assist our brothers and sisters in Sudan. Bishop Harold Miller of Down & Dromore (Church of Ireland) brought ten priests and lay people from his diocese. He spoke of the power of the Gospel in the local diocese, and his priests and lay leaders gave workshops centered in the Word of God."
Lady Caroline Cox, member of the House of Lords and international activist for ridding the world of sex trafficking, was the keynote speaker. She touched hearts as she spoke of being with Jesus in so many parts of the world in need of the spoken gospel and the action gospel. She also gave several well-attended workshops concerning the persecuted church and the need for strong mission work.
"Regarding actual convention business, we spent only about an hour on that," Bena said. "Bishop Herzog related that the diocese is holding its own, attendance-wise and in finances, at a time when most dioceses in our part of the country are experiencing unprecedented decline. He attributed that to our strong stand on the Gospel and our desire to hold to the express teachings of scripture without getting into rancorous debates about sexuality. Delegates were quite united around lifting up Jesus. The budget passed without comment."
A resolution by Albany Via Media members to withdraw Albany from the Anglican Communion Network was soundly defeated.
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