"In the beginning, homosexuals were beneficiaries of the Episcopal Church's principle of tolerance, diversity and unity. Despite conservative opposition, the church welcomed homosexuals into its midst and even promoted some of them to leadership positions. Now that they are in power, gay and lesbian clergy, as a group, have abandoned the church's principle of inclusiveness, and have undertaken a campaign of persecution against 'ex-gay ministries' -- homosexuals who want to become straight, and Christians who feel called to help them. Ex-gay ministries may no longer use church property. Their literature is expunged from church libraries. If someone expresses a belief that some gays can change through prayer, she or he is barred from speaking at any Episcopal-sponsored event, even if the subject of the speech has nothing to do with sexuality. The church has exchanged homophobia for a phobia far more irrational, intolerant and bigoted -- the phobia against ex-homosexuals." (Steve Tonchen, a disenfranchised Episcopalian)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
THE ARCHBISHOP of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, said at the conclusion of the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham that most of his hopes for the ACC meeting had been met.
There had been an "underlining" of the primates' recommendation to ECUSA and Canada, and what they had done at Dromantine had been reinforced, he said in an interview with the Church Times.
He reflected: "I think we've held the line on what the primates had recommended. My only regret is that we haven't yet focused on the question of the Covenant for the Churches of the Communion, which, it seems to me, is something we have got to get our heads round if we want to find a constructive solution."
From a strictly Western perspective he is right. The Americans and Canadians made their pitch to be "listened" to one more time, with numerous voices from the Global South making it clear that they would never accept Western pansexual behavior and the twisting of Scripture to make it mean what they (the North) want it to mean.
Furthermore, Global South Primates will not be rolled over by Frank Griswold (ECUSA) or Andrew Hutchison (Canada), and they are fighting back with the spiritual weapons of warfare available to them.
But the question still remains, why did Rowan Williams not say to the Americans and Canadians, "You are not abiding by the express wishes of the primates. I am not going to participate in this meeting any longer until you act in accordance with the express wishes of the Primates"? He is the only one who could have said that. There was plenty of backroom dismay expressed by the Global South, and when the rank and file raise those questions it means the leader is not leading.
By his lack of action Dr. Williams gave the impression that the American and Canadian actions received at least his tacit approval.
Look at the blasts from provinces like South East Asia, http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=2656 or this from a number of other Global South leaders: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=2661
And to cap off Global South anger, within 48 hours of the end of ACC meeting in Nottingham, the Anglican Church of Kenya announced that it was severing all links with the U.S. Episcopal Church and DEMANDED that ECUSA be expelled from the global communion.
The announcement at the end of a three-day meeting in Nairobi was made amidst a revelation that Archbishop Rowan Williams would be visiting Kenya on July 20. What's he going to say to Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, or Nzimbi to him? Oh, to be a fly on the wall at that conversation. One gets the impression that Dr. Williams might be doing a whole lot of "listening" of his own.
Can the Episcopal Church be expelled? Not legally; the archbishop of Canterbury does not have papal authority. However, he does have the power to disinvite both the Canadians and Americans from attending Lambeth 2008. We shall see.
Several observant persons have asked me, "Why didn't they just walk out?" It's a good question. Both the African primates I talked to -- Bernard Malango (Central Africa) and Peter Akinola (Nigeria) silently seethed through the presentations made by the Americans and Canadians, with Archbishop Akinola thrusting two pages of closely typed Scripture references under my nose about why sodomy will never get God's approval.
"WE want to be listened to," said Archbishop Malango. Why is all the "listening" being demanded by the liberals and revisionists? When are people going to listen to what we have to say? The other reason they stayed is that they are unfailingly polite and don't want to ruffle the waters -- at least publicly -- and oppose Rowan Williams publicly. However, VirtueOnline has learned that behind the scenes, the CAPA bishops are growing increasingly more bold in both their private utterances to Williams and publicly in their demands -- the latest being the bold position taken by Kenya.
We are also seeing archbishops like Greg Venables (Southern Cone) becoming more emboldened, drifting from country to country and conference to conference, blasting the "other gospel" of both the Americans and the Canadians, declaring that they have, in effect expelled themselves from the communion. (Out of 38 provinces, as many as 22 are in impaired or broken communion with the ECUSA.)
While schism did not take place in Nottingham, if one carefully read the papers delivered by the Global South one could not help but conclude that the Anglican Communion no longer really exists and what we have is a lot of play acting by the Americans and Canadians who think they are still at the table punching up "conversation" and "listening" when in fact, most of the Anglican Communion think they are blowing a lot of hot air.
Most of the decisions made were nothing more than smoke and mirrors. The Americans and Canadians were asked to withdraw from two ACC committees for three years, but as they were being rotated off it didn't amount to much of anything. Secondly, the decision to change the Constitution of the ACC so as to make primates of provincial churches members ex officio of the council, in addition to the current representation, puts the two provinces right back in the thick of things, effectively nullifying the first decision. It is all an attempt to keep both revisionist provinces at the table so they can go on writing out checks to keep the ACC afloat.
The "listening" resolution made it clear that further discussion must be preceded by an affirmation of both Lambeth 1.10 and the Primates' Communique at Dromantine. Thus we now know why Rowan Williams was so happy at the outcome. But still and all one has to ask the question, did it amount to anything?
A blast at the Korean situation by the ACC totally failed to take into account North Korean human rights abuses, which have seen the slaughter of some 2 million of that country's own people, while the ACC passed a resolution calling for Korean reunification and rebuking the U.S. for "contemplating the use of military force" against North Korea!
In its final business session, the Anglican Consultative Council considered a "Supplementary Resolution of Thanks" to the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) and the Anglican Church of Canada. It was submitted by the Resolutions Committee and expressed "appreciation for the presentations made Tuesday, 21st June..."
This got up the ire of a few folks who said it undermined the "Resolution Concerning the Primates' Statement at Dromantine" and indicated a subtle approval of the U.S. and Canadian presentations. Of course it did. You see, no one wants to see these two very heretical provinces stripped and tipped out of the ACC or made to feel unloved. So the archbishop intervened yet again (as he did over disinvestment), offering language that was accepted by the body.
So there you have it. Nothing much has really changed. Conservative American groups ranted and raved, but the ACC knew exactly what it was doing. As the innkeeper sings in "Les Miserables," "At the end of the day you get nothing for nothing," and that is what we were all handed. Dodge, feint, weave, prevaricate and pronounce on everything while resolving nothing ... it is, of course the Anglican Way.
STILL ON THE INTERNATIONAL FRONT, the bishop of the Diocese of Recife, Robinson Cavalcanti, sent up yet another heartfelt cry to Rowan Williams asking for protection from the marauding archbishop of Brazil and ECUSA sycophant Orlando S. De Oliveira. Will he get it? Will Williams act? This is the second time Cavalcanti has asked the archbishop of Canterbury for help, but with no response. One can only conclude that Williams is betting on the Panel of Reference to come to the rescue.
The Anglican Diocese of Recife, Brazil -- as all of you know -- is composed by faithful people, both clergy and lay, loyal to the Anglican Communion and to the spiritual leadership of the archbishop of Canterbury, but it seems to be getting little support.
And to ratchet up the pain on the godly bishop of Recife, the liberal diocesan bishop of South-Western Diocese / Santa Maria one +D. Jubal Neves, has written a letter accusing the Global South primates of orchestrating power and control of the Anglican Communion, in short wresting it from liberal hegemony. He writes: "All arguments against the ordination of homosexuals (are) based on a literalistic interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and on the resolutions passed at the 1998 Lambeth Conference, in which we participated, and where we witnessed the African and Asian Churches' lobbies, side by side with the Province of the Southern Cone of America and the conservatives and/or fundamentalists of ECUSA and of the Church of England, approve Resolution 1.10, which rejects homosexuality as being incompatible with the Holy Scriptures and which, for this reason, rejects the legitimacy or the blessing of same-sex unions or the ordination of anyone who is part of such unions. But this same Resolution 1.10 recognizes the fact that, among the members of the church, there are homosexually-oriented people, who seek pastoral guidance, who should be listened to and to whom should be shown the love of God, and who, through baptism and the gift of life, are full members of the body of Christ."
And just to complete the picture, the liberal-run Province of Brazil, which started out as an ECUSA plant, wants the Episcopal Church to give it a pot full of money to fund mission work to expand its ministry through the South American country. Now what sort of gospel would that be, certainly not that proclaimed in the Diocese of Recife.
ON THE ORTHODOX FRONT LINE events keeping humming along indicating that inside and outside strategies are slowly converging into Common Cause.
A PAN AMERICAN FELLOWSHIP similar in form to the CAPA (Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa) with its commitment to biblical truth has been formed. The idea of a similar structure in the Western Hemisphere has been proposed, led by Archbishops Drexel Gomez of the West Indies and Greg Venables of the Southern Cone. A meeting has been called in July for the purpose of spending time together "to pray, discuss, discern, and if it seems good to do so, to structure a Pan American Fellowship."
Representatives from FIFNA, the Networks of Canada and the U.S., AAC, AMIA, REC, APA, AU, Recife (Brazil), West Indies, and Southern Cone have been invited to meet together in July.
ON THE DOMESTIC FRONT, the 51st General Council of the Reformed Episcopal Church met in Orlando along with brothers of the Anglican Province of America in a joint effort to promote mission and evangelism. It was high point for both Anglican groups, who are working towards a forging a more perfect union.
The General Council of the Reformed Episcopal Church had three main aspects. The first was outreach to the world, primarily evangelism and missions as well as disaster relief and development aid. Secondly, outreach to other denominations as the Anglican Communion reorganizes itself. This outreach will be directed not only toward the Anglican Province in America (APA) but also to the growing alliance of orthodox Anglicans allying under the umbrella organization Common Cause Partnership (CCP). The third aspect will be the reorganization of the denomination (the Reformed Episcopal Church), as it seeks to become less sectarian or schismatic and more inclusive of historical Anglicanism in all its breadth -- yet without giving up the church's orthodoxy and fundamental traditions.
THE RETIRED archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. George Carey, will spend this fall and all of next year as a resident priest at an Episcopal parish in Chevy Chase, Maryland, while working on a research project at the Library of Congress. Lord Carey will arrive Nov. 15 at All Saints' Episcopal Church and will be a member of the clergy team while researching religion and poverty at the library. The Rev. Alfred Zadig, rector of All Saints', said the 69-year-old archbishop approached him about the arrangement. "He asked us in February, 'Can I be your curate?' Father Zadig said. "It was really unbelievable. I am waiting for the other shoe to drop."
It should be noted that the evangelical Careys are very humble people, and it is not at all surprising to this writer that they should reach out to this godly parish and its rector. It'll be amusing to see what the revisionist bishop of Washington, John Chane, has to say about all this if Carey stirs up some evangelical backlash against the pro-gay bishop and his policies of inclusion. It'll be even more interesting to see if Carey gets any invites from the Washington bishop to address the diocese on public occasions.
THE NEXT archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, has said that he will not be drawn into Anglican rows about sexuality. Dr. Sentamu said in a Church Times interview: "If the African bishops think I am simply going to pursue certain causes, I want to remind everybody that we are not here to pursue issues and agendas . . . we are here to live and celebrate the good news of God and Jesus." He also said that he was "driven to exasperation" by the tenor of the debate: "I'm going to get down on my knees and pray that God will clean out our mouths."
One possibility (when Sentamu gets off his knees) is that York could be the rallying point for all the orthodox folk in the Anglican Communion. and Canterbury could be the rallying point for all the liberals. That way everybody stays in touch with the Mother Church and everyone is happy -- hopefully. This idea was first floated by the Rev. Dr. Peter Moore, formerly president of TESM.
IN THE DIOCESE OF CALIFORNIA, where normalcy of any kind is a rare commodity, the Right Rev. William E. Swing ordained a convicted second-degree murderer and inmate at Solano State Prison to the priesthood. James Tramel was ordained as a priest of the Episcopal Church on June 18th. The service, the first of its kind in a California prison, took place in a small courtyard off the prison's visiting room and was presided over by the Bishop. Tramel, 37, was convicted in 1986, after co-defendant David Kurtzman stabbed a man to death in a Santa Barbara park. Tramel has served 19 years of a 15-to-life sentence and was granted a March 2005 parole date by the California Board of Prison Terms that was later reversed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Tramel began ministry as an Episcopalian while working with dying inmates at a hospice in the California Correctional Medical Facility in Vacaville, Calif. In 1998, Tramel became the first inmate accepted at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, where he earned a Master of Theological Studies degree through a distance-learning program.
IT HAS been more than three weeks since the seven parishes in the DIOCESE OF FLORIDA made their request for another bishop's oversight. They have not heard anything back yet. If they don't get a response back in 30 days they will go to the next step in the process. Perhaps the ruling in Philadelphia this week will help these gentlemen if Bishop Howard decides to play hardball.
The ANGLICAN MISSION IN AMERICA reports that it is opening and planting new congregations to the tune of about one new church every six weeks. Its newsletter reports that in the last month several new congregations have sprung up, bringing the total number of AMiA churches to nearly 80. The Anglican Fellowship of Chattanooga has joined the Anglican Mission at the same time it called its first rector. The Rev. Steve Kelley will depart his staff position at Church of the Holy Spirit in Roanoke, Virginia, to take up the leadership role in Chattanooga. "We're excited by this call and opportunity. We see the Lord's hand in this in every way," said Rev. Kelley, whose house in Roanoke sold in one day. The Kelleys' first official Sunday is July 10th. (Read the story on the Anglican Fellowship of Chattanooga.)
The southwest is heating up, with a new AMiA church in Phoenix. Pastor John Dyson is leading Desert Mission Anglican Church, which is already drawing more than 100 worshipers in its early weeks. Another pastor, the Rev. Dale Slocum, is leading home-based studies to better acquaint new members and inquirers with our rich Anglican heritage. For more information call them at (602) 493-0140.
AND IN THE SPIRIT OF EPISCOPAL GOODWILL, Pittsburgh Bishop Bob Duncan was denied the pulpit to preach in services at St. Andrew's, Vestal in the DIOCESE OF CENTRAL NEW YORK recently because Bishop Gladstone B. "Skip" Adams said he couldn't. Ah the spirit of inclusion, it's running rampant everywhere.
AND THE WINNER of the 2004 Telecom Grants from Trinity Wall Street is The Anglican Consultative Council. It got the largest grant to support Kris Lee's brainchild, "The Anglican Web Portal," which is described as "an official 'Provincial News Releases Site.'" And who will control what goes on this Web site? Why, the ACC staff, of course. They will totally control the posting of news releases on all provincial pages. So don't look for any news to appear favorable to the orthodox. It will be liberal spin all the way. As a test of good faith perhaps they can post the story that the Province of Kenya has cut itself off from the ECUSA and demanded that it be expelled. You'll see that press release go up when hell freezes.
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND continues in spiritual free fall. A story headlined by Ruth Gledhill of the London Times screams "Clergy who don't believe in God." If you think that clergy and laity show signs of schism over homosexuality, miracles, and the Almighty, we now learn that hundreds of Church of England clergy doubt the existence of God, and fewer than two-thirds believe in miracles, a new study says. You can read the full story in today's digest.
TODAY'S LEAD STORY should give hope to thousands of orthodox Episcopal priests in the U.S. A court in Pennsylvania has ruled that Bishop Bennison must answer charges brought by Fr. David Moyer, rector of The Church of the Good Shepherd, over a suit filed by Fr. Moyer alleging fraud and collusion in Bennison's "deposition" of the orthodox priest. The decision says that Bennison is not above the law, and he can't hide behind the First Amendment. This decision could be big trouble, not just for Bennison but for all the revisionist bishops in the ECUSA.
As VirtueOnline has said all along, the only language revisionists understand is legal. All the fine documents and papers, calls for listening and inclusion are puffs of smoke soon to disappear. Taking revisionist bishops to court, putting them under oath, getting their documents -- that is going to frighten them. Watch this space.
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