Dear Brothers and Sisters,
LONG BEACH, CA--They had come, more than 800 faithful, biblically orthodox Episcopalians to worship, pray and affirm what it is historic Anglicans committed to the Great Commission truly believe.
With shouts of "Hallelujah" and "Praise the Lord" the Long Beach Convention Center rang with hope and expectation as believing Episcopalians from 76 churches in California, and churches from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Hawaii, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania came to hear speakers press for renewed evangelistic endeavor, even as The Episcopal Church is coming apart at the seams over the consecration of a homoerotic bishop.
British Anglican evangelical, the Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Green who flew in for the occasion, said the church should not run away from the truth but embrace it and not succumb to political correctness, nor allow it to be run by those more interested in the church's canons and constitutions.
"Pleasing Jesus dominated the ethics of the Acts of the Apostles, it should be ours also," said Green. "It is not what the canons say, the question is, are we being obedient to God."
Speakers including the Rev. Canon Alison L. Barfoot the new Assistant to the Archbishop of Uganda for International Relations urged hearers to a greater commitment to the Great Commission. "Some 8,000 people groups have never heard of Jesus, that's one fifth or 1.1 billion," she told the eager Evangelicals. "Let's get on with it."
The Rev. Ron Jackson, president of the Los Angeles branch of the American Anglican Council and rector of St. Luke's of the Mountains Episcopal Church in La Crescenta, likened the Episcopal Church, known for its liturgy and eloquent cathedrals, to the Queen Mary docked nearby. "It's dry-docked. It can't go anywhere. It's a place for tourists and not sailors...In many ways the Episcopal Church is like the Queen Mary."
"We need to be reminded of who we are. In Uganda sodomy is not on the radar screen of these people. In 1886 a number of youth died in Uganda before they would succumb to the advances of the king."
At the conclusion of the two-day conference, a Plano-West statement was issued which recognized the Anglican Communion Network as a true Anglican province in North America if ECUSA does not repent.
Ironically, as these orthodox Episcopalians were being urged to greater intensity to evangelize the worlds lost, Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno was a no show, confirming that he could not sign off on the Plano-West statement declaring that Jesus was the only way to the Father. Bruno's presence would "create a sense of discomfort" said the Rev. William Thompson an official of the American Anglican Council and rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Long Beach.
Bruno had just blessed the union of the Rev. Canon Malcolm Boyd, 80, the prominent author and his partner of 20 years, Mark Thompson, 51. Five other bishops were also present. The Boyd-Thompson ceremony was held at Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Echo Park, headquarters of the LA diocese.
But Jim Dale, Senior Warden of St. James, Newport Beach said he was strengthened and healed by an earlier Plano event, saying Plano is like Nicea, or Azusa Street a place where God gave a vision.
You can read a number of stories in today's digest.
IN CANADA a last minute change in the same-sex resolution allowed The Anglican Church of Canada to approve a measure Thursday to "affirm the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same sex relationships."
The move stopped short of authorizing dioceses to hold same-sex blessing ceremonies but is still likely to complicate efforts aimed at unifying the 77 million-member Anglican Communion.
But what was really embarrassing was a statement issued from Lambeth Palace by the Archbishop of Canterbury on the Wednesday saying he welcomed the decision by the Canadian General Synod to defer a decision on the question of same sex blessings until 2007. It was premature. The Synod went right ahead and did it on the Thursday. Lambeth has yet to issue a correction or a retraction.
But the Primate of Bahamas, Drexel Gomez and a group of theologians meeting in consultation did issue a statement condemning the actions of the Synod and blasted them roundly saying that the Synod's action in passing an amendment to resolution A-134 was much more serious than even the original form of the motion which did not describe the nature of same-sex unions.
Following the passage of the resolution nine Canadian bishops also condemned the action of Synod.
The manipulation by the acting primate Crawley to allow pro-resolution speakers to be heard first and more often, and the hissing by pro-gay forces at the back of the podium when those who denounced it got up to speak was appalling. Worst of all Native Canadian speakers who readily oppose homosexual behavior were not given nearly the time a single pro-gay aboriginal lady I heard, speak to this issue. These Canadians, who have just gotten through a major crisis on abuse in residential schools suddenly found themselves in the thick of a battle on a subject that does not even register on their theological or cultural radar screen. They urged caution and more study of this issue as it is not part of their culture or heritage, but it was rammed through anyway.
And to complete the outrage, the Synod elected a gay British Columbia priest, Peter Elliott to be the second-in-command for its historic General Synod.
You can read all these stories today.
In the DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA a showdown has begun between Bishop Charles E. Bennison and the Rev. Greg Brewer, the rector of Church of the Good Samaritan. Bennison who is insisting on presiding at all three services today, not just the 9am service as he originally intended. None of the three priests will take communion from him, and most of the congregation turned out last night (Saturday) to hear the word preached and to take Eucharist from the three priests. We await Bennison's reaction.
And as a rebuke to Bennison, Central African Primate Archbishop Bernard Malango will make a visitation to the Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont today where Fr. David Moyer is the priest. Fr. Moyer has come under the African bishop's ecclesiastical authority, having told Bennison to get lost more than two years ago. Legal action has made it virtually impossible for Bennison to get rid of him. He's secure.
When Bennison heard Primate Malango was coming, he told The Philadelphia INQUIRER, "I'm disappointed, it is a breach of protocol."
IN ANOTHER TWIST, Bennison's legal troubles continue to grow. First of all he is facing two lawsuits by Father David Moyer. When the legal bills for the Diocese from those lawsuits began to pile up, he tried to get the insurance company for the Diocese to pay the fees. However, in a letter to Chandler Joyner of the Diocese, the insurance company pointed out that there is no coverage for an "intentional, malicious and fraudulent scheme". Now, the insurance company has sued both Bennison and the Diocese, asking the Montgomery County Court to declare that the company has no obligation to pay legal fees or to indemnify the Diocese or Bennison if the jury awards damages to Father Moyer.
Bennison is really on the hot seat. The only question is why the Diocesan Standing Committee just doesn't fire him? They have the power and excellent precedent in Jo Mo Doss the former Bishop of NJ and Richard Shimpfky the former Bishop of the Diocese of El Camino Real. Both got the heave-ho by their Standing Committees for gross incompetence and more.
And speaking of Shimpfky, you have to wonder about Episcopal Life, the church's national newspaper. They puffed the former bishop in the May issue even as Shimpfky who had seen ecclesiastical charges filed against him, and who, over his tenure saw the diocese shrink under his leadership, from a reported 30,000 when he was consecrated in 1990 to an estimated 12,000 active members now. He also hurt church coffers. He was such a total disaster that even the liberals couldn't stand him anymore. Shimpfky's theology was to the left of Spong...if that is at all possible.
And the Rt. Rev. C. FitzSimons Allison has written yet another letter to Bishop Charles Jenkins, the Presiding Bishop's Council of Advice, reiterating yet again that any meeting between him and Jenkins must be open with non-participating observers, with the REAL issue of faith being openly debated. We await Jenkin's response.
And in the DIOCESE OF COLORADO, the Rev. Don Armstrong, a biblically orthodox rector of one of the largest parish's in the diocese and a leader in the Anglican Communion Institute, an orthodox think tank which includes the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, wrote a note to Bishop Robert O'Neill over the phony same-sex wedding that took place their recently and for which the bishop said he planned to take no action. Here is what Armstrong wrote:
Knowing that you must be reading your e-mails even if you are in Boston, I hope you understand the seriousness of the events unfolding in the Diocese of Colorado, now exacerbated by the tom foolery in Canada.
You are personally understood by many of us to be part of the double speak; smoke and mirrors attempt to bring local option perversion into the church. Frankly, to do such is going to destroy the Communion, undermine the health of our Diocese, and diminish beyond repair our witness as individual congregations as long as we are in anyway under your authority. Why would you want walk down such a demon infested path?
The growing unrest of the clergy and laity in the Diocese of Colorado demand your quick and decisive handling of the current crisis. Waiting patiently to develop another series of excuses and rationalizations under the cover of balanced and fair consideration will not placate our frustration with the total breakdown in discipline and order in the Diocese.
If you delay much longer you might find yourself not returning to a mere mess, but to a diocese in which a good many members have asked for intervention and alternative oversight from the Primates.
Be alert and understand the urgency in this because the devil is having a field day under the cover of mitigation and equivocation.
Don Armstrong (Rev)
Grace & St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
And in the DIOCESE OF VIRGINIA About two dozen Episcopalians, most of them representing two of the largest parishes in the Diocese of Virginia, served notice Wednesday that a proposal to force congregations to finance the cash-strapped diocese could result in a massive walkout. The majority of the 93 Episcopalians who attended a meeting at Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax rejected the 22-page plan, some calling it "disastrous" and "appalling."
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