Dear Brothers and Sisters,
From David Virtue
It is the night before the great unveiling of the Windsor Report. The dome of St. Paul's is lit up, contrasting starkly against a dark skyline. The weather is dreary, overcast with occasional rain showers, perhaps a foreboding of what we might expect in the next few hours.
The players are gathering here from all parts of the globe. The U.S. contingent ranging from reporters to clergy, bishops, and special interest groups are holed up in hotels all around the city...waiting. Both orthodox and revisionist wait uneasily for the day to begin. London's elite broadsheet newspapers, the tabloids, radio and TV are gearing up for the big event.
Those in charge of the event at the Anglican Communion News Service are in overload. Their job is not to be envied. It is tough all the way round, regardless of where you stand. The SPCK has thousands of copies of the report waiting to drop the moment the word is out that it can be released. Virtuosity will post the report at the website moments after it is officially released at www.virtuosityonline.org. If you want to purchase a hard copy, just hit the SPCK link on the front page and it will take you straight to where you can buy it. This is an historic document and well worth every penny of five pounds or $10.00 US. It is a document that will define the Anglican Communion for decades to come.
Your scribe is staying in a vicarage in London courtesy of the Barnabas Fund and the good people of St. Andrew's. I will post comments to the website from all sides as soon as it becomes available. Go regularly and often to www.virtuosityonline.org.
As I talk to the various interest groups, media and others, one senses history is about to be made; colossal history, life-changing history, Anglican Communion breaking history even. This is the end of endless talks about homosexuality behind closed-doors at primatial gatherings, Lambeth talks, international gabfests; the equivalent of Tammany Hall back room politics. In the next 24-hours everything will be out on the table - a 126-page report that, according to Robin Eames who chaired the Windsor Report team of 19 high level thinkers, "has teeth." How sharp, we soon shall know in grim detail.
Based on the information Virtuosity has already received, there is very little wiggle room for The Episcopal Church's pansexualists. Fess up, face the music, repent or your future in the Anglican Communion is limited perhaps even over.
Most of the content of the Windsor Report has been blown, but there may still be some surprises. What does Alternative Episcopal Oversight really look like? How does it differ from Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight already in place in the U.S.? Will it have teeth?
How far will the ECUSA be pushed to repent and mend its ways? How much compromise (read diversity) will Frank Griswold allow, or can live with, that will appease his right and left flanks. Already there are rumblings in the ranks from one bishop, Carolyn Tanner Irish Bishop of Utah that she will not go along with the findings of the Windsor Report if it comes out against the ECUSA with a legislative Covenant demanding ECUSA mend its ways. Irish, a divorced, alcoholic ex-Mormon who was never baptized as a Christian might be typical of all revisionist bishops, but we shall know more in time. Griswold has asked all his bishops to cool their jets and say nothing till he can assemble his bishops to discuss it in detail.
But a number of Diocesan Bishops have said they will issue statements when the report is made public, among them Charles E. Bennison of Pennsylvania, one of the most revisionist bishops in the Episcopal Church. More moderate bishops like John Howard of Florida are also scheduling early statements. Virtuosity will collate and post them when they appear.
Regardless, exclusion of the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion is a real possibility. Two reports say the ECUSA has been asked to apologize but that is unlikely to appease the Global South. They want full repentance and amendment of life. It is unlikely they will get it.
Southern Cone Archbishop Greg Venables was misquoted by the press saying that a split was inevitable. What he said was: "If the thing is not satisfactory, if there’s some kind of fudge, if there’s some kind of way of saying, `Well, you know, you’re going to have to just accept it,’ then we’re going to have to take some very, very, very serious action."
But Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola and ECUSA Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold will face off in St. Paul's after the Report is delivered tomorrow, Virtuosity has learned. If Akinola is not satisfied then it might be him and his CAPA bishops that will decide the fate of the Anglican Communion, not the Archbishop of Canterbury. There is no love lost between these two men. None. Just 10 days ago Akinola visited the U.S. and set up what amounted to a Nigerian Anglican jurisdiction right under Griswold's nose for Nigerian and other African Anglicans who can't stomach ECUSA's bad theology and equally bad morals. Oh to be a fly on the wall on that occasion.
But one thing is for sure, whatever happens the Anglican Communion will never be the same again. Any attempt to legislate for the American Episcopal Church will never work. And any attempt to create a universal canon or common law is unlikely to be respected by the legal beagles in the ECUSA. No one will ever tell the Episcopal Church what it should and should not do and exercise within their jurisdictional boundaries and if that is the case then the ECUSA will exclude itself from the Anglican Communion. It is only a matter of time. You can read my story: IS THE WINDSOR REPORT ALL TIED UP IN KNOTS?
IN OTHER NEWS, THE DIOCESE OF DALLAS joined the Anglican Communion Network at its diocesan convention this week. Delegates approved participation by a two-to-one margin on a standing vote by orders. "This should end talk about us splitting away from the Episcopal Church," Bishop James M. Stanton said. The bishop was one of the founders of the ACN, which offers orthodox Episcopalians a place to stand within the Episcopal Church. Said Stanton: "Now that we have made this decision, it is incumbent that all of us tone down the rhetoric. This issue has been misrepresented too many times. This is simply a continuation of our church's teachings, our position with the Episcopal Church and our communion."
The diocese also voted to allow parishes to designate up to 15 percent of their diocesan assessment to either the Network or ECUSA.
The Anglican Communion Network is an organization of 10 dioceses within the Episcopal Church that object to the ordination of Bishop Gene V. Robinson in New Hampshire and to the inclusion of same-sex blessings in the church's liturgy. The ACN, so far, represents some 190,000 Episcopalians in more than 775 congregations. The ACN was formed after encouragement from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. Seventy-five percent of the world's 60 million Anglicans have offered recognition and pledged the full weight of their ministries to the ACN. Twenty-two of the 38 Anglican Communion provinces have declared their relationship with the Episcopal Church as either "impaired or broken" over Robinson's election. with Anglicans around the world."
And in the DIOCESE OF THE RIO GRANDE, delegates elected Jeffrey Steenson, canon to the ordinary to Bishop Kelshaw, as the next Bishop of the Rio Grande on the third ballot. Martyn Minns was the favored outsider but he could not beat out the local favored son. Steenson is orthodox, but observers tell Virtuosity that he needed the Via Media vote to win and got it. Steenson was a onetime opponent of women's ordination but has since changed his mind. He is apparently against same sex blessings and the ordination of gay priests and bishops. He is probably the only bishop who has read Calvin's Institutes all the way through, said another who knows Steenson well. As he was nominated by a Via Media person it will be interesting to see how things play out in that diocese. Will Steenson be able to hold the line as his predecessor Terence Kelshaw did? We will know more in time. Jeffrey won on the third ballot with overwhelming majorities (about 72%) in both the clerical and lay orders.
And from the DIOCESE OF NORTH CAROLINA comes this word. The official newspaper of the Diocese of NC called The Disciple reports that the Diocesan House in Raleigh has been sold for $3,750,000. Word has it that the diocesan conference center in Brown Summit will also be sold to the state of NC for a similar sum. They have been putting $200,000 a year into the conference as shortfall over the last five years, a source told Virtuosity. While it is always booked on weekends, not much happens during the week. But the director of the conference center resigned because he had heard that they were selling the center to the State of NC saying "we will have absolutely nothing left." The diocese doesn't want to be bothered with it, a source told Virtuosity. They want the $3.5million before the Eames Commission report. They want to convert the property into money for any eventuality. Typical of the decline in the diocese, the source said that the 120 pledging units had plunged to 80 over the last 12 months, "which seems fairly typical across the country."
And in the DIOCESE OF ALASKA at their Diocesan Convention in Fairbanks last weekend they acted on four separate resolutions submitted by the two conservative parishes in the diocese. A Virtuosity subscriber sent this report. "Their first vote was to discharge a resolution, submitted by All Saints Episcopal Church in Anchorage, stating that Robinson failed to be a wholesome example as required for a bishop. Discharge was not technically a rejection, but rather a vote not to consider the issue. The next three votes, however, were solid votes of rejection. By large majorities the delegates rejected proposals to join a conservative alliance of Episcopalians and to repudiate the votes for Robinson of its representatives at the 2003 convention. The fourth resolution asked the Convention to affirm its adherence “to the Scriptures teaching as historically interpreted which rejects all sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage as sinful.” Like the earlier resolutions, this was soundly defeated."
And in the DIOCESE OF BRANDON in Canada, the Diocesan Synod passed a motion resolving that the 42nd Synod of the Diocese of Brandon send a memorial to General Synod expressing its dissatisfaction with the amendment to Motion A134 passed at General Synod 2004 “affirming the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships,” and respectfully requesting that General Synod reconsider this matter.”
The motion passed with an 80% majority. The Bishop responded by withholding his consent. However, at the close of Synod he did give his consent noting that it merely required memorializing General Synod, said a Virtuosity subscriber.
"Originally the motion was much stronger in that emphatically repudiated and rejected the issue. However, the only way the mover and seconder could get it on the floor was by allowing the softer language to be used. A further motion requiring a Diocesan study on the matter of whether or not the same-sex issues are doctrinal or something less with a requirement to utilize materials from Essentials as well as National Church materials and to report the results to the Council of General Synod spent four hours in the Resolutions Committee. By strategic delays on other issues there was no time found for its presentation and debate. However, the Bishop did state prior to saying there was no time left for this that even if it passed he would not give his consent. "You can see we have a generally orthodox diocese with a revisionist liberal Bishop," said the writer.
And in the DIOCESE OF RECIFE, BRAZIL things go from bad to worse. A third round in the battle between the evangelical bishop of Recife, Robinson Cavilcanti and the Primate of Brazil is underway in earnest. Liberals have asked for an ecclesiastical trial for the evangelical bishop. The Recife bishop is a strong defender of Scriptural authority who has fought against the legitimacy of homosexual practice and the ordination of practicing homosexuals now faces an open disciplinary process in the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, under pressure of the liberal lobby.
Virtuosity has received word that the bishop from Sao Paulo, Hiroshi Ito, in Curitiba, Naudal Gomes, plus two clergymen and two laymen signed the petition to Brazil’s Primate Orlando Oliveira, denouncing bishop Cavalcanti for “breaking of his ordination vows”. The bishop of Recife is accused of “intolerance”, “in submission” and “breaking of Collegiality”, and of Canonical violation for performing a Confirmation Rite in Ohio, USA, without the local bishop authorization. Accepting the petition. The Primate of Brazil will appoint an “Investigative Commission”, and, if the case demands to listen to the Provincial Attorney. The majority of the clergy of the Diocese of Recife have expressed solidarity and support with their bishop, whom they see him as a victim of unjust political motivations.
Said Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti: "I am not the first bishop to suffer for defending sound doctrine in Church History”. Bishop Cavalcanti's trial must be understood as part of the continuing struggle that divides orthodox and liberals in the Anglican Communion.
Resolutions passed by the Reform Conference 13 October 2004
The British Evangelical organization REFORM is going to approach the Bishops of the Anglican Communion, including especially the Primates of the Global South, who are able and willing to uphold orthodox Biblical teaching in order to inform them of our position and to seek their counsel and request them to provide adequate alternative episcopal oversight where a need has been established. Clearly English evangelicals have had enough of the moral and theological innovations going on in the Church of England want out.
A recent conference endorsed the need and value of a 'Panel of Reference' and requested the Council to set it up. The conference also committed itself, in partnership with Crosslinks, to assist the Anglican Church in Kenya (ACK) to raise the funds for Theological Education by Extension through Carlisle College, Nairobi, that ACK has forfeited by virtue of their principled stand in declining funds from ECUSA.
And a report out of London says that for the first time, the Church of England is advertising the position of Archbishop of York in church newspapers following the announcement of the retirement of the incumbent, Dr David Hope. Lobbying will begin for a new incumbent at York Minster. The placing of the notice, which invites worshippers to suggest candidates, is part of the Church's efforts to be more open and democratic in the way it chooses bishops, said Jonathan Petre in The Telegraph.
The Church reformed the selection process earlier this year after criticisms that it was too secretive and liable to be influenced by an "old boys' network". It marks the official start of what is expected to be fierce lobbying among the Church's different wings. Among evangelical candidates are the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, and the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones. Another strong evangelical candidate is the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Tom Wright. However, he has only relatively recently been appointed to his new post, a factor that might prove an obstacle. Senior liberals are pressing for the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Rev John Gladwin, though his is also a recent appointment and he is not far from retirement age.
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