The Spirit and the Son. The Spirit's witness. How do people come to acknowledge the divine-human person of Jesus? The apostolic testimony is necessary, but it does not compel assent. It is only by the Spirit of God that anybody ever confesses that Jesus is the Christ come in the flesh (1 Jn. 4:2). --- From "The Letters of John" (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries)
Change from within. There is a sense in which we may say that the teaching ministry of Jesus had proved a failure. Several times he had urged his disciples to humble themselves like a little child, but Simon Peter remained proud and self-confident. Often he had told them to love one another, but even John seems to have deserved his nickname 'son of thunder' to the end. Yet when you read Peter's first letter you cannot fail to notice its references to humility, and John's letters are full of love. What made the difference? The Holy Spirit. Jesus taught them to be humble and loving; but neither quality appeared in their lives until the Holy Spirit entered their personality and began to change them from within. --- From "Basic Christianity" by John R.W. Stott
By David W. Virtue
Sept. 3, 2010
The gathering of 400 bishops in Entebbe, Uganda, this past week was a watershed moment in the life of the Anglican Communion.
What became clear to this writer is that a Rubicon has been crossed and there is no going back. The Anglican Communion is irreconcilably divided over moral behavior, the nature of the gospel and the integrity of Holy Scripture. The Global North and the Global South are divided by waters deeper than Lake Victoria. There is not a bridge long enough or wide enough that can draw them together.
To all intents and purpose the Anglican Communion is over.
Any hope that a revised draft of the Covenant might somehow save the situation is a fiction. The third Ridley/Cambridge draft has failed as far as Global South bishops are concerned. They and we know that Section 4 is a handicap to TEC signing it, or, if it did, disobeying it at the first opportunity just as Frank Griswold did over l'affair Robinson in 2003. Nobody in the Global South believes anything Jefferts Schori says. If anything is to be salvaged from the Anglican wreckage, it will be a conciliar Council called to resolve once and for all what it is Anglicans believe. That may or may not come about.
A number of the archbishops made it clear to me they will never again attend another Primates Council when Rowan Williams does finally call one. They will not be seen in the same room with Katharine Jefferts Schori. It is over. Those Primates who do show up will represent about 20% of the Anglican Communion. We have a de facto schism.
The Church of England's unofficial pansexual organization Changing Attitude leader Colin Coward tried to spin the All African Bishops Conference in Entebbe, but VOL was onto him and we have rebuffed him with a lengthy rebuttal in today's digest.
A final statement by both the CAPA Primates and the Conference bishops is in today's digest.
Charles Bennison, the returning Bishop of Pennsylvania has cost the national church (see "Title IV") a bundle in lawsuit monies. He a worthless piece of ecclesiastical garbage - spiritually, morally, theologically and financially -- that everybody still wants gone. The numbers are in. Through the end of his trial, he has cost the national church over HALF A MILLION DOLLARS. The exact figure is $534,977. Now Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori is constantly talking about the church's mission to the world...to save it for whomever. Think what over half a million green could do in fixing up the Episcopal Diocese in Haiti, or providing salaries for 10 full time evangelists (at $50,000 a year) or building 21 church structures in Global South provinces like Sudan for $25,000 each (and that's an expensive building), or providing clean water in Kenya. To dig a well in Kenya costs $4,500 directly benefiting an average of 500 students and surrounding communities of over 1,000. That's less than $10 per person to supply water for more than 10 years.
Please understand this half-a-million dollar figure does not include what the diocese had to spend on legal fees and paying his salary and benefits for three years (while he did nothing except consult his lawyer) and what Bennison himself had to cough up to his lawyers. At the end he gets his job back with the knowledge that his behavior is still unbecoming a bishop and that he "won" on a technicality.
The "good news" about Bennison's return is that people are leaving Episcopal parishes. It is opening the door for a new ACNA parish to get started and draw off disaffected orthodox Episcopalians who still believe in the gospel. One way or another, the loser will be the diocese, with more closing parishes and diminishing income to keep it afloat. God always gets the last word (and the last laugh). Always.
What should Pennsylvania Episcopalians do now that Bennison has returned? Here are some pointers.
1. When he insists on showing up at your parish, tell everyone not to come and give the organist the day off. Let Bennison stare at an empty church. 2. Withhold all funds to the diocese. He can't depose everybody. 3. Reject any and all offers to see him unless canonically required. Whatever he asks, ignore. 4. Refuse to do anything he asks of you, i.e., sit on various committees, simply refuse. He can't depose everybody. 5. Finally have the cojones to actually follow through and don't let him bully you.
On Thursday, Bonnie Anderson, the House of Deputies President, bewailed Bennison's return in a letter to the church calling on Bennison to step down. Of course he won't. He's a sociopath and has no intention of walking away. She also said the matter was far from over and when the HOB meets later in September the matter will be taken up again. She wrote, "[We] will prayerfully consider this matter and either prevail upon Bishop Bennison to resign, or undertake other measures that lead to Bishop Bennison's removal from office." So the story ain't over and the fat lady has not sung, so Bennison is still on the hook.
If you want to sign a petition asking Bennison to step down you can do so here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/retirebishopcharlesbennison/
The Bishop of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, Andrew Waldo announced that he is lifting the Inhibition against Dean Philip Linder, so the Vestry can go ahead and fire him. This whole saga has been shrouded in so much mystery that it is hard to fathom what Linder really did. We have been told that it is nothing immoral, which leaves either a money scandal or he had designs to take the cathedral out of the diocese and join another Anglican jurisdiction. When and if we ever do find out, we will let you know. Waldo said the inhibition was necessary to prevent division and discord from being spread within the Cathedral community following the Dean's violation of pastoral direction on July 13th. "In my judgment, his violation of that direction risked injury to the health of the Cathedral and your witness to the gospel. It could not be ignored." You can read the full story in today's digest.
And from the Diocese of New Hampshire comes word from the Trinity Cathedral website. The cathedral proudly announces that the Very Rev. Tracy Lind and her partner of ten years, Emily Ingalls were married by a Justice of the Peace in New Hampshire on August 12th.
In the Diocese of Tennessee the Anglo-Catholic parish of St. Andrew's along with its rector Fr. James Guill is under siege from Bishop of Tennessee the Rt. Rev. John C. Bauerschmidt. The Communion Partner bishop has the option of inhibiting him on the grounds that the priest failed to file parochial reports with his bishop. Guill had also not attended any of the Diocese of Tennessee's annual conventions since Bishop Bauerschmidt was elected bishop.
The parish, when it was under Bishop Bertram Herlong, came under the protection and spiritual episcopal oversight of Bishop Keith Ackerman through association with the Diocese of Quincy and the primatial oversight of Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.
The Diocese of Tennessee is now going to court using the Dennis Canon as a quasi-legal club to overturn the provisions of St. Andrew's Warranty Deed. The bishop is also making a move against Fr. Guill, but he is not using the standard "Abandonment of Communion" option regularly used against former Episcopal clergy who realign with another Anglican province.
Apparently, Bauerschmidt does not recognize what took place back then and wants the parish back sans priest. You can read the full story ion today's digest.
The rump Diocese of San Joaquin this week filed a lawsuit against former members of St. John the Evangelist Church, Stockton, seeking return of church property.
St. John's was among 40 congregations whose members disaffiliated from the Episcopal Church in 2007, first realigning with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone and later with the Anglican Church in North America. They refused to relinquish church property.
Similar cases are currently pending against the former members of St. Francis', Turlock; St. Michael's, Ridgecrest; St. John's, Porterville; St. James', Sonora; Redeemer & Hope, Delano; St. Columba's, Fresno; St. Paul's, Visalia; and St. Paul's, Bakersfield, according to a press release from the diocese. This will be a fight to the end with the coffers of the diocese and parishes slowly emptying and the national church coughing up even more millions to defend the dioceses' claim.
In the Diocese of Western Kansas,The Rev. Michael Milliken was elected Saturday as the fifth bishop of the Diocese which spans the western two-thirds of the Sunflower State, a state known more for prairie dogs than Episcopalians. (The latest published TEC figures show that there are 2,113 Episcopalians in the Diocese of Western Kansas of which only eight hundred show up for services on any given Sunday.) The bishop-elect puts membership figure lower at 1800 members. Milliken is the rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Hutchison. There are 28 congregations in the Diocese, down from 34 in 2007.
Queried by VOL writer Mary Ann Mueller about where he stands on the issues of sexuality, he responded, "Well, those [same-gender blessings] have never been allowed in this Diocese. I have never had to deal with it so I guess this is something I am going to have to reflect on for a while. I don't have any idea yet. I'll get to think about that for a while." He said that when it comes to total inclusiveness and the blessing of same-gender relationships, he is going to have to take it to prayer and deep thought. "I think I'm probably pretty much in the middle on the issues," he told Mueller.
INTERPRETATION. This diocese will no longer be a Communion Partner diocese. Milliken will roll over to Jefferts Schori and the HOB. It is the end for this diocese as being openly orthodox as it was under Bishop Jim Adams.
Last May, neighboring Bishop Dean Wolfe, of the Diocese of Kansas, reached out to offer to enter into partnership with the Diocese of Western Kansas to seek to reunite the two dioceses into one, but with the election of Milliken this will not happen. At one time, the Diocese of West Kansas was a part of the Diocese of Kansas.
The Diocese of Springfield had the last of its three walkabouts in Alton, Il last night. According to a source who was present at the event, The Rev. Dan Martins came across solidly orthodox on the besetting issues of not allowing non-celibate gay priests and same-sex rites. He said he would not allow them under his watch if he became bishop. He apparently made the best and clearest presentation and was head and shoulders over the other two candidates. The other two fudged the issues. One should hand it to Martins. He was once upon a time in the Anglo-Catholic Diocese of San Joaquin and he went from there to the liberal diocese of Indiana and has survived. If he gets the nod will he obtain consents from the HOB, which might be relatively easy, but obtaining consents from the Standing Committees is another matter altogether. Stay tuned.
Speaking of litigation, San Joaquin attorney Allan S. Haley has toted up the Church's legal bills. Its provision of legal assistance to dioceses and cost to the Church in 2008 totals $2,954,855. At the beginning of the year, it had revised its budget to establish a total of just $450,000 for those expenses -- or fifteen percent of the amount that was eventually spent. "Obviously," he writes, "the figures would have to be further revised for 2009, given the track record of the Church to date in this area." The real Title IV expenses and Legal Assistance to Dioceses after just two years are as follows: In 2007 it was $1,304,137. In 2008 it was $2,954,855. The 2-yr Total: $ 4,258,992 Now that doesn't include what four dioceses have spent or some 60 plus parishes have spent from their endowment, but clearly a ball park figure of $12,000,000 would not be far off the mark. Now think for a moment, what that would do for the church's mission.
Diocese of New York bishop Mark Sisk apparently supports the building of the 'Ground Zero' Mosque, against the wisdom of a lot of people, including the wives of survivors. "I am writing to tell you that I wholeheartedly join other religious and civic leaders in calling on all parties involved in the dispute over the planned lower Manhattan Islamic community center and mosque to convert a situation that has sadly become ever more divisive into an opportunity for a civil, rational, loving, respectful discussion."
The plan to build this center is, without doubt, an emotional and highly charged issue. But as a nation with tolerance and religious freedom at its very foundation, we must not let our emotions lead us into the error of persecuting or condemning an entire religion for the sins of its most misguided adherents.
Not so, says Archdeacon Julian Dobbs (CANA). He wrote a rebuttal to Sisk saying, "It would be easy for us in the United States to believe that Islam is a religion of peace. By far the majority of Muslims in the US are law-abiding citizens who seek to live out their lives without recourse to violence, but less than a days' aircraft flight from our borders, a classical form of Islam challenges peace and defiantly rejects tolerance of other religions.
"Even within our borders we are witnessing a rise in honor killings and the persecution of converts. The mantra 'Islam is peace' is almost 1,400 years out of date. It was only for about 13 years that Islam was peace and nothing but peace. From 622 onwards it became increasingly aggressive, albeit with periods of peaceful co-existence, particularly in the colonial period, when the theology of war was not dominant."
Sisk proclaimed, "At the Episcopal Diocese of New York we know the leaders of this project, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan. We know that they are loving, gentle people, who epitomize Islamic moderation."
Quoth Dobbs, "The loving, gentle Imam Rauf, in his book 'What's Right With Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and the West' affirms that Muslims interpret the Quran through the Hadith." He explains, "A collection of the Prophets sayings and actions, called the Hadith, is used not only as a guide for Muslims behavior but also for a primary source of Islamic Law after the Koran.
"It is the Hadith that promotes some of the most extreme forms of punishment in Islam, such as stoning, which were enforced in Afghanistan as recently as last week. It hardly seems appropriate to describe someone who interprets his Islamic faith using the Hadith as a man who 'epitomizes Islamic moderation'."
This is yet one more time Episcopal Church leaders don't get it.
Italian Protestant denominations approve same-sex blessings The joint synod of Italy's Waldensian and Methodist Protestant churches has, as the denominations' highest governing body, agreed to authorize the blessing of same-sex couples in church under certain conditions. Synod president Marco Bouchard described the August 26 decision as "a clear and firm step forward that needs to be placed into a context that will be better defined, especially the relationship between churches and homosexual couples". The synod statement said, "The words and practice of Jesus, as seen in the Gospel, call us to welcome each experience and each choice marked by God's love, freely and consciously chosen." Before the synod, a group of Waldensians including a member of the Italian parliament, Lucio Malan, took out a paid advertisement in the Protestant weekly newspaper "Riforma" warning that same-sex blessings risk splitting the churches, and affecting ecumenical relationships. (ENI reports).
The Diocese of Ely in England has a new bishop, the Rt. Rev. Stephen Conway, currently a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Salisbury. He is the worst of the worst, according to reports from the UK. He is an Affirming Catholic, unashamedly pro-gay and more. Ely, which is a TEC outpost in the Church of England, includes the University of Cambridge and two of the biggest seminaries, one of them the orthodox Ridley Hall. A knowledgeable CofE insider told VOL that this is very bad news and augurs badly for orthodoxy in England. Conway is a throwback to the former Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries. Conway signed a statement along with several other bishops condemning homophobia in Nigeria when the Anglican Church of Nigeria was falsely accused of inciting anti-homosexual behavior. The incident turned out to be a hoax.
The Diocese of Recife (Brazil) website is now also in English and Spanish. It can be accessed here: www.dar.org.br It is written in the Portuguese language, but readers can now click in the upper right side of the page and choose either English or Spanish versions. The Diocese of Recife - Anglican Communion is under the primatial authority of the Province of Southern Cone and is a missionary expression of orthodox Anglicanism in Brazil. Its Bishop is Dom Robinson Cavalcanti. www.dar.org.br
Missionaries, Stephen & Peggy Noll have returned from a decade of missionary service in Uganda where he led Uganda Christian University as Vice Chancellor (President). Their ministry at UCU has been blessed by the Lord reaching thousands of young people for Christ with the annual enrollment increasing from 800 to 8,000 and moving UCU to the forefront of institutions of higher learning in Uganda and all of middle eastern Africa. Stephen is a priest in the Diocese of Pittsburgh and was on the faculty of Trinity School for Ministry as professor and Academic Dean prior to accepting this call to Uganda. Uganda Partners invites you to a dessert reception on Sunday, September 19, 2010, at 7pm at St. Stephen's Church (Grace Commons), 405 Frederick Avenue, Sewickley, to give Steve and Peggy a personal greeting. Please RSVP by September 12th to Pam Stephens.
From the Diocese of Nova Scotia comes a church that will bless thy BlackBerry. For those passing through Hatchet Lake (just outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia) this Sunday you might want to check out a service at St. Timothy's Anglican Church. Apparently Rev. Lisa Vaughan is going to bless the BlackBerry and other communication tools. During the service people will be asked to turn on their devices and bring them forward to be blessed. Vaughan is urging people to be kind in their communication as well as productive. "I think they traditionally used to call it Plough Monday, where people used to bring their farming equipment and tools to the church to be blessed. Most of us live with our cell phones and laptops and BlackBerrys and all that kind of stuff. I mean, those are just daily tools for us. We have three laptops and three tabletop computers in our house. I'm about to buy some kind of smartphone. I just haven't decided what it's going to be." Recently a Canadian parish priest announced that he had given communion to a dog. And you thought only TEC was filled with crazies, Clearly, crazy has crossed our northern border.
From the Anglican Samizdat blog comes this word about the Anglican Church of Canada.Having failed to find the money needed to run the Diocese of Quebec (which is almost out of business), the ACoC has decided to tackle something easier:
Subject: Toward a World Free of Nuclear Weapons Moved by: The Rev. Canon Dr. William E. Prentice, Diocese of Ottawa Seconded by: The Rev. Dr. Linda Privitera, Diocese of Ottawa
Be it resolved that this General Synod: Expresses its support for a world free of nuclear weapons, and asks the General Secretary to convey our position to the Government of Canada, requesting:
1. from the Government information about Canadian activities to support nuclear disarmament, and
2. from the Prime Minister a public affirmation of Canada's commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons.
Many are rejoicing as the ACoC does its bit to disarm the West:
ERRATUM: In a piece entitled "From My Ear to Yours", I said that I chatted with a bishop from Burundi who spent time at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut where he undertook Christian/Islamic studies. He told me how he was invited to preach at an Episcopal parish one Sunday, but when he learned there were activist homosexuals and lesbians in the parish, he turned them down. He said he couldn't preach or take communion with people who were deliberately flouting the Moral Law of God on sexual behavior. The bishop was not from Burundi but Nigeria. We apologize and regret the error.
ENTEBBE. A personal reflection. One of the most wonderful things that happened to me was learning how widely read VOL is on the African continent. It is more than I could have dreamed or thought was even possible. One afternoon the entire Sudanese delegation of bishops came to me and thanked me personally for my writings. They said that they print out many of my stories and give them to "thousands" of their parishioners. Most of their people do not have computers or even access to the Internet (it is very expensive and their country is in a state of war), but stories are printed out and floated around. They told me that VOL is their main source for all Anglican news as they don't trust the liberal Episcopal and Anglican church media or even the conservative blogs for trustworthy reporting. I must confess that I felt both honored and moved by their affirmation of this ministry. I got similar affirmations from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and West Africa. These testimonials came totally unsolicited as I did not know most of these bishops personally (by sight or by name, as they do not travel), only their archbishops, most of whom are my personal friends.
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