ABC Says Don't Push Same-Sex Rites..PB Derides Personal Salvation..Full Inclusion of Gays says Bp. Shaw
By David W. Virtue in Anaheim
Dear Brothers and Sisters
The contrast could not be starker.
The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) meeting in London this past week could not have been clearer.
In their call to "Be Faithful", they articulated the gospel of God's grace in a clear, unalloyed fashion.
The Archbishop of the Southern Cone, The Most Rev. Gregory Venables said that these are "crucial moments," in the life of the Anglican Communion and the "church is being lulled into relativism."
The archbishop cautioned about the danger of drifting away from the central tenets of the faith and urged Anglicans to reclaim the gospel of God's redemptive love in Christ. He also stated that the Cross was central to that message.
"The one unspoken word is sin. As bishops and archbishops at Lambeth '98 we were told not to talk about sin. It was like one flew over the cuckoo's nest. The word was taboo. God loves us so much that he doesn't want us to self destruct. Sin will finish you off," said the evangelical prelate.
And so it went. Speaker after speaker affirmed the need to stick to the basics of the gospel even if the culture pulls us in the opposite direction. Bishop Michael Nazir Ali called on the Church of England to refrain from compromise and syncretism.
In forceful, often strident language, three evangelical archbishops, two from the Global South, told 1,700 Anglicans attending the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) meeting that the conference is not schismatic, church dividing or a power play, and suggestions that they are, at best, misunderstandings and, at worst, political posturing.
"The FCA exists to keep Anglicanism united, enabling those whose spiritual existence as Anglicans is threatened to remain Anglicans with integrity. It exists to keep orthodox, biblical Anglicanism inside the fold at the highest level possible; to gather up the fragments, to unite them. It exists so that evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics and mere Anglicans can continue to be Anglicans without compromising Biblical truth," said Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen.
"The launch of the UK FCA is a great moment, a gospel moment. It appeals to all that is best in the Anglican tradition. It summons people from all over Britain and Ireland to join together in a spiritual movement for the sake of Christ and his gospel. It is a moment in which ordinary people can take responsibility for what happens in their church. It is a moment when you can say, enough is enough, we wish our church to express the Anglican faith because it is the biblical and gospel faith. It is a moment when you can say, what has happened in the USA and Canada will not happen here."
You can read all my stories from London in today's digest.
From London, I flew directly to Los Angeles and Anaheim where the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is now underway. It might be a little sweeping to say that one can go from heaven to hell in the course of a day, but the contrast and extremes could not be more noticeable.
One conference affirmed an apostolic gospel and the Great Commission. The other is a road show of resolutions, amendments, talk of full inclusion for people with same sex attractions, MDG's, anti-racism and one that I particularly liked called Liturgy for the Loss of Companion Animal put forth by the Diocese of Montana. Resolved, That The Episcopal Church embrace the opportunity for pastoral care for people who grieve the loss of a companion animal. A rite is being developed for inclusion in the next edition of the Book of Occasional Services. Hardly in the vein of St. Paul. It definitely would not have found its way on the agenda of the Council of Nicaea.
The revisionists and pansexualists are pulling out all the stops. Susan Russell, President of Integrity, is calling for the full inclusion of all baptized persons into all areas of ministries, regardless of sexual orientation. So watch for a transgendered priest coming to a parish near you.
Mass. Bishop Tom Shaw, opining on resolution B012, said TEC should include all God's people. He pulled out all the stops saying marriage equality is now in six states and said B012 is an important piece of legislation that will allow pastoral care for homosexuals and could be used as a tool for evangelism.
Some 30 resolutions are up for consideration on same-sex rites. The House of Deputies spent an an hour talking about Resolution B033. It was all talk and no action, but they did come up with five options or choices among the deputies. They are:
1. This convention may choose not to take any action.
2. This convention could reaffirm the 75th GC thus refraining from consenting to ordaining, blessing and intervention from outside provinces.
3. This convention may specially disavow the actions of 75th General Convention
4. This convention may move beyond the previous action non-discriminatory to title 3 canons
5. This convention may choose to draft a new resolution for all gays to be admitted to all orders of ministries.
All the bets are that No. 5 will win the day despite the fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury called for restraint in his Eucharist speech, yesterday. He asked TEC not to push the boundaries because there just might be consequences. Really.
At a press conference today, I rose and asked a panel of bishops, clergy and laity if The Episcopal Church is prepared to accept the consequences of its actions if it passes any resolution on same-sex rites in light of the fact that GAFCON happened and that a new North American Anglican Province (ACNA) is a done deal.
Bishop Stacy Sauls (Lexington), clearly a little piqued by the question, said, "I think TEC will accept the consequences of its actions, but not for GAFCON'S actions. ACNA is not a (39th) province. They will have to be responsible for their own actions."
Another panelist said we all belong to each other, hoping no doubt that no retribution will occur if TEC jumps off the deep end over same-sex rites.
I have posted a number of stories in today's digest, some from VOL reporters Michael Heidt and Mary Ann Mueller, as well as Todd and Cherie Wetzel who have been covering General Conventions for nearly two decades.
At a press conference attended by Southeast Florida Bishop Leo Frade where this reporter asked him why the bishop did not consult the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Florida over the telegenic Fr. Alberto Cutie's absconding from Rome to TEC and if Anglican Roman Catholic dialogue might not be impaired by his act (failure to consult with the RC prelate), Frade said the archdiocese was not an ecumenical diocese. "I met with the archbishop four years ago. We have not spoken since then. Fr. Cutie fell in love; he is now married and has come over to us. The road to Rome has a lot of traffic going both ways and the traffic needs a traffic light." Frade said he had not heard the Archbishop was "very angry" as VOL said. "The outgoing secretary for ecumenical relations did not know what the Archbishop was talking about. His is not an ecumenical diocese. We are in pain for this hurt. Unfortunately Cutie was the face of the Roman Catholic Church. He has 22 million followers. He was upset. We do believe in seal of confession. He mentioned it to the archbishop who wanted to send him to a funny farm to retrain him. The alternative was to close the doors on him but the Paparazzi got in the middle."
The message Frade offered up is that celebrity trumps truth and 22 million potential followers into TEC. Frade has a resolution on the floor looking for $3.5 million to boost Hispanic membership in TEC
Ed Browning, a former TEC Presiding Bishop, made a cameo appearance in the HOB and said things haven't changed a lot since he retired. He read part of a sermon he once delivered and got a standing ovation when he left.
Frank Griswold also made an appearance and said he was thankful for Katharine for keeping things on course "with all the incredible strains within and without the church." He said general conventions are places where people come with fixed and passionate points of view, but then as things unfold people they become more malleable and points of view shift and change. "The Holy Spirit breaks through and surprises us all." He also said there is an urgency by some in the church to resolve issues quickly, but that bishops could take the long view as they hold their positions longer. He talked about the church being in "creative tension."
Nobody is talking about the elephant in the sacristy, namely the advent of the new North American Anglican Province, the GAFCON gathering last year in Jerusalem and the more recent FCA meeting in London. I suppose if no one talks about it, it will go away. TEC bishops still think they own the playground and interlopers will either be swept away or be absorbed.
Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina recalled that he warned against the consecration of Gene Robinson. "I said it would cause a fracturing in the Anglican Communion, that it would disrupt the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church in profound ways we cannot fully understand. I was proven true. We are in a crisis. Lawrence noted that "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste," because it has brought the Anglican Communion into profound dialogue it has never had before, "trying to catch up with the 21st century. Anglicanism is being challenged in a profound way," he said, "that will ultimately strengthen our common life." He urged against the "fearfulness that wants to push ahead. Impatient fearfulness of some that if they don't' get what they want right now, they won't get it at all." He cautioned wisdom, patience, and prudence.
One doubts that Lawrence's words will be heeded. There is a momentum here for the full inclusion of pansexual sex in all its bizarre forms and nothing, it seems, will stop it. Even if delegates move beyond B033, and that is possible, other resolutions are in the wings ready to swoop down and fill the void.
But a new Reformation has begun. That was the news out of London this past week. It is TEC that must either be reformed or face its own demise within 30 years. The Church of England also faces a 30-year timeline for its own survival, according to one CofE bishop. Young people are not pouring into the church and neither are people with same-sex attractions.
A third of TEC's 7,000 parishes are being served by retired or non-stipendiary priests. The fiscal crisis is taking a toll on parishes and whole dioceses.
Today's digest extensively covers the situation here at GC2009 and we will post new digests every two or three days to keep you informed. You can always go to VOL's website www.virtueonline.org for the latest breaking news. Twitter and RSS feeds also make it possible to receive up to the minute news as it breaks.
From GENEVA, Switzerland, the 500th anniversary of John Calvin's birth, Calvin 500, the international Quincentenary was celebrated recently at St. Pierre Cathedral in the old town of Geneva. Delegates heard over 20 academic lectures, 15 expository sermons, with numerous other associated meetings address 1000 participants. One surprise visitor was Anglican Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of Uganda who spoke on "Reformation and Revival." Executive Director, Dr. David W. Hall summarized: "We could not be more pleased--the speakers were superb, this has been the only conference to date to focus on Calvinistic preaching, our hosts were simply magnanimous, and we could not be more pleased. This has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
There are 146 bishops here at GC2009 out of 161 invited. My colleague Michael Heidt is covering the House of Deputies and Mary Ann Mueller is handling photography and special reports.
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