"We shall never capture the church for the truth of the gospel unless and until we can re-establish biblical scholarship, hold (and not lose) the best theological minds of every generation, and overthrow the enemies of the gospel by confronting them at their own level of scholarship." John R.W. Stott's strategy for re-capturing the Church of England from the theological liberals
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
"We never thought it would come to this. We had no idea the [Robinson] consecration would shatter the communion. We knew there would be some repercussions and local fallout perhaps, like women's ordination had done, but we had no idea that the [ECUSA] homosexual agenda would cause the communion to come unglued. And the worst is that Griswold doesn't know what to do. All his talk of graceful conversation and the diverse center holding, all his gracious speak language and talk of the 'bonds of affection', and 'listening' are a smokescreen. We are coming unglued and nothing can stop it."
Thus spake a moderately orthodox bishop to a friend of mine this week. The truth is that some 36 or more dioceses are suffering financially; hundreds of churches, possibly 2,000 or more cannot support a full-time rector, and it is only the bishop using trust funds that can enable missions and small parishes even to stay open. A handful of dioceses like South Carolina are prospering because they have a very clear fix on truth, their rectors live, breathe, and preach the gospel, and new parishes are opening.
But the overall picture is not good. And next month a group of bishops will gather for a critical summit to discuss ways that the Episcopal Church's assets can be divided up amongst liberals and conservatives if they are unable to reach a way forward together.
IN LESS THAN TEN DAYS the Anglican Consultative Council convenes in Nottingham. While it will talk about divestment on issues of global concern, with emphasis given to the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals for the alleviation of poverty, the central issue will be the U.S. Episcopal Church's election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire and the Diocese of New Westminster's practice of blessing same-gender unions.
The whole Anglican world will be watching, and while all the indications are that it will be a fudge, with much stress on "listening" -- the favored attitude of revisionists -- the Global South will tick off one more occasion that its concerns have not been sufficiently heard or listened to. The patience of Global South representatives will last only so long, and then we can expect them to lower the boom.
"What I hope will evolve from the ACC is a greater respectfulness, a greater willingness to listen and honor the different ways in which the Gospel is articulated in different places," said the Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold. "It is only through listening -- listening deeply with an undefended heart -- that we can hear the richness of God's truth...In spite of differences, in spite of tensions, the overwhelming reality of the church is people engaged in mission for the sake of the world. It is through listening that I hope we can become better partners across the Communion."
Here we see Frank's "gracious speak" at work. What we don't know is which ready made template in his office he used. Did it begin, "As we seek to prepare ourselves for [insert an appropriate period in the liturgical calendar], or will it start, "I feel truly humbled," or "I have been reflecting on our time together prior to going to (fill in the blank)"?
Griswold will join the six presenters in Nottingham who include Bishop Neil Alexander of Atlanta; Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana; Bishop Suffragan Catherine Roskam of New York; the Rev. Michael Battle, academic vice president of Virginia Theological Seminary; the Rev. Susan Russell, president of Integrity and an assisting priest at All Saints' Church in Pasadena, California; and Jane Tully, founder of CFLAG (Clergy Families of Lesbians and Gays) and a parishioner of St. Bartholomew's Church in New York City.
BUT ANY SIGN that traditionalists in the worldwide Anglican faith might abandon their threat to break away over the issue gay clergy evaporated this past week.
Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria upped the ante, making new demands on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.
Nigeria is the largest body of Anglicans outside of Britain. Akinola, who is also the Chair of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa, has been waging war on the two North American branches of Anglicanism since the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire and a decision by a Canadian diocese to bless same-sex marriages.
This spring the worldwide leader of the faith, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, created a blue-ribbon panel to try to get liberals and conservatives to the same table to try to resolve their differences.
But Akinola threw water on the plan this past week, issuing a new denunciation of American and Canadian church leaders and announcing the formation of his own body to oversee breakaway churches in the New World.
Akinola said that the Convocation of Anglican Nigerian Churches in America will serve as an umbrella for people who are "no longer able to worship in" the Episcopal Church or Anglican Church of Canada because of liberalism. The convocation will have its own bishop, violating U.S. and Canadian church procedures. The archbishop has created a "safe harbor" for the Nigerian faithful –- many of whom now feel unable to attend the Episcopal Church in the U.S.
Akinola tightened the screws, saying with regards to the moratorium that the ECUSA recently agreed with, not to consecrate any new bishops at all until 2006, that he believed the move to be insincere and "disingenuous." He also said that the bishops' "explicit permission" for clergy to continue to bless same-sex partnerships was "duplicitous".
BUT THEN THE BISHOPS OF Alabama, Henry Parsley and Mark Andrus, issued this statement about the upcoming Nottingham meeting and demanded that it be distributed to all clergy of the diocese: "This presentation will not represent the official views of the Episcopal Church or the House of Bishops. It is the work of the ad hoc committee composed primarily of theologians appointed by the Presiding Bishop and his Canon Theologian, who are charged with presenting one viewpoint as requested."
A translator who is tuned to episcobabble translated what this bishopspeak means. Following is the translation.
We, the bishops of this diocese which has recently lost a tremendous number of the orthodox, are very nervous about what the ECUSA representatives are going to say. We can't stand another lost parish or parish split because it means too much lost revenue to the diocese and to our pet projects. So, we want you the clergy to make it sound as if there is some distinction between the voice of ECUSA representatives at the Nottingham meeting and the real voice of ECUSA. So, please, please try and tell everyone that this is not the official view of the church." Now that should confuse the good people of Alabama.
Notice that while the letter from the bishops instructs the clergy to say this is not the official position, it does not tell them what the official position is. So what is it? The bishops don't know. Is anyone awake?"
A STORY in The Living Church magazine saying that the DIOCESE OF EASTERN MICHIGAN companion relationship had changed with the Diocese of Kinkinzi of the Anglican Province of Uganda over the Robinson consecration resulting in the loss of funds for 60 girls receiving scholarships from the Eastern Michigan congregations so they could continue with their education beyond the school year, has a happy ending.
Last month letters were sent to all diocesan clergy, wardens, and supporters of the companion mission project informing them that the Diocese of Kinkinzi was no longer permitted "to receive funds and material support from the Diocese of Eastern Michigan," according to Anglican Connections, the official diocesan newspaper for Eastern Michigan.
According to Alison Barfoot, assistant to Archbishop Orombi for international relations, the 60+ girls who had been receiving scholarships were able to continue school this year. "The first term was covered by The Falls Church, who designated their Easter offering for the girls' education," she told VirtueOnline. "Furthermore, the new Reformed Episcopal church, Holy Trinity in Northern Virginia, has entered into a partnership with Kinkizi Diocese and has made a contribution that will enable the girls to complete the rest of this year," she said.
CLAIMING THE BLESSING, a rip-off slogan from the charismatic movement, is now being claimed by Susan Russell, ECUSA's First Lesbian and Integrity honcho. She says she wants three candles for Nottingham because they represent each "leg" of what has come to be known as the "three-legged stool" of scripture, tradition, and reason, by which Anglicans determine doctrine and theology. Ms. Russell failed to mention that Scripture is the primary leg, without which the other two would never hold up.
Claiming the Blessing is an intentional collaborative ministry of leading Episcopal so-called justice organizations (including Integrity, Oasis, Beyond Inclusion and the Episcopal Women's Caucus) in partnership with the Witness magazine, the Every Voice Network, and other individual leaders in the Episcopal Church. The truth is they are NOT "justice" organizations. They don't know anything about the justice of the Final Judgment.
BURUNDI has a new Archbishop. The Rt. Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi, bishop of Matana, has been appointed the next archbishop of the Province of Burundi. The new archbishop is a member of CAPA. Bishop Ntahoturi was born in 1948, ordained in 1973 at Buye, and consecrated as the bishop of Matana in 1997. He will be enthroned on 17 July 2005. He is orthodox in faith and morals and stands with the majority of African bishops.
THE ANGLICAN PROVINCE OF AMERICA and the Reformed Episcopal Church will meet in Orlando at the Cathedral Church of Saint Alban, the Mother Church of the Diocese of the Eastern United States, June 21-24. It is a significant synod in the life of both denominations as they will inaugurate their first joint unity synod of both churches.
The event will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel at the Orlando International Airport and will mark the first-ever joint gathering of the representative bodies of their sister jurisdictions. It stands as a major step forward in their mutual relationship and a milestone towards the goal of eventual organic union. A joint Synod Eucharist will be celebrated at Saint Alban's Cathedral with guest preacher Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone.
IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBT about the direction the Episcopal Church is going, then heed these words of the Rev. Michael Hopkins, gay Integrity leader and bishop wannabee. He gave them at a sermon he preached at St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene in Rochester, N.Y., recently. "For years I, among many others, have been accused of being among those who have an agenda of the acceptance of the legitimacy of homosexuality. Guilty as charged. I am absolutely guilty of promoting the acceptance of the Christian lifestyle lived among all people, including homosexual ones. I have the agenda of the church approving and blessing same-sex love and commitment. I have the agenda of the church proclaiming that sexual orientation is not a bar to Holy Spirit-inspired ministry."
"'Do you have the agenda of overturning centuries of Christian teaching about homosexuality, what the Bible says about homosexuals?' Pat Buchanan once asked me incredulously in a TV interview. I said something wonderfully nuanced. I should have simply said, 'Absolutely." The Bible ' and the church have both been wrong. The Holy Spirit is teaching this to us. Jesus said she would do things like this, and we shouldn't be surprised when she does.'
At least Hopkins was honest enough to say that acceptance of the sodomite agenda requires you to say "The Bible was (and is) wrong".
And now you know why the Global South primates will not compromise and why the Episcopal Church will never repent and why a split is inevitable. Hopkins knows he has Griswold and a majority of Episcopal bishops behind him, and he is confident that whatever happens at Nottingham the ECUSA will not change course, it will not repent and all the talk of "listening" changes nothing.
THE THREE CHURCHES IN THE DIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES which defected to the Diocese of Luweero in the Province of Uganda have agreed to pay the pensions of the Luweero clergy as well as school fees for their children. Bishop Evans Kisekka, who recently returned from a three-week pastoral visit to the U.S., said the American parishes would also fund a special program to teach religion in Church of Uganda schools in the diocese.
Kisekka told Christians who welcomed him at Luweero guesthouse that under the school evangelization program, the diocese would recruit workers whose salaries would be paid by the Americans. "Our relationship is beginning to bear fruit, as you can see," he said.
The three parishes; St. James, St. David, and All Saints churches in California, broke away from the Diocese of LA, its bishop, J. Jon Bruno, and the ECUSA over the appointment of gay Bishop Gene Robinson. The African bishop said the U.S. churches had changed their names from Episcopal to Anglican and were proud to be part of the Luweero diocese.
And to cap the week, Tom Shaw the Bishop of Massachusetts said he would march in a Gay Pride Parade in Boston. He will be accompanied by a host of gay and pro gay glitterati and politicians including Barney Frank. It was Mr. Frank, a homosexual in a committed relationship, who was caught on camera, in broad daylight grabbing a man's backside. Why are we not surprised that Shaw, a close personal friend of Frank Griswold's should be seen in this parade. If he becomes the next PB he will continue the ECUSA slide into oblivion.
An interesting perspective on the recent defection of Christ Episcopal Church in Overland Park, Kansas has been written by Doug LeBlanc. It appears in the latest issue of Episcopal Life and this is the link to the original article, "The Parting of Friends"
I am posting a number of fine stories in today's digest that I hope you will take the time to read including a few links to stories in the CULTURE WARS section of my website. Two on the situation in Canada are noteworthy.
A story by Auburn Traycik editor of The Christian Challenge gives you an excellent background on the upcoming ACC conference in Nottingham, England. http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=2611
The next time I write to you all it will be from Toronto, Canada where I will be attending the ESSENTIALS conference. This will be the largest gathering of orthodox Canadian Anglicans in modern Canadian history under the leadership of the Rev. Canon Charlie Masters. Masters is the author of "Don't be Afraid. The Gospel still Works."
I hope you will consider a donation to VIRTUEONLINE as I will be traveling to Canada and the UK (Nottingham) to cover events that will change all our lives. Please be generous.
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