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Resolution B033 Debate Begins...Backlash Greets Schori's Salvation Statement

The scandal of clericalism. It is only against the backdrop of the equality and unity of the people of God that the real scandal of clericalism may be seen. What clericalism also does, by concentrating power and privilege in the hands of the clergy, is at least to obscure and at worst to annul the essential oneness of the people of God. Extreme forms of clericalism dare to reintroduce the notion of privilege into the only human community in which it has been abolished. Where Christ has made out of two one, the clerical mind makes two again, the one higher and the other lower, the one active and the other passive, the one really important because vital to the life of the church, the other not vital and therefore less important. I do not hesitate to say that to interpret the church in terms of a privileged clerical caste or hierarchical structure is to destroy the New Testament doctrine of the church.--- From "One People" by John R.W. Stott

"...the difficulty is reaching across the chasm that divides us. It will take nothing less than a fundamental change of heart and mind for those on opposite sides of this debate to truly come together. There is a move on to declare that our essential unity is not impaired, even though we are deeply divided on these issues - but that view does not square with the events of the last six years. It is unlikely that either side will eventually come around. I think the best we can do is to try to understand one another's positions." --- -Diocese of Albany deputy at GC2009

"If we are not extremely careful at this convention, we could find ourselves outside the Anglican Communion, and that would be a tragedy for all of us. My fear is that the Episcopal Church destroys itself."---Bishop William Love, Albany, N.Y.

By David W. Virtue in Anaheim
www.virtueonline.org
July 12, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This is not a General Convention for the orthodox faint-hearted. The handful (and it is little more than that) of bishops are not, in the words of one reporter, pursuing a robust legislative strategy. The reason is very simple. The number of orthodox willing to stand against the tide of TEC's agenda is vastly reduced from previous conventions.

During the hearings this week on developing rites for same sex blessings and conforming the marriage canons to civil law, 50 speakers testified in favor and only 6 orthodox could be found to speak against. During the open hearings on whether to move beyond resolution BO33 and permit the consecration of LGBT candidates for bishop (in violation of the Windsor Report moratoria), 25 speakers testified in favor of moving beyond B033, and only five orthodox could be found to speak against.

With such a numerically diminished opposition, TEC leaders have a free hand to draft and pass virtually any legislation they like.

These resolutions - rites for same sex blessings, equal access to ordination for any baptized person (regardless of gender identity and expression), inter-religious dialogue, abolition of torture, peace in the Middle East - are what the Presiding Bishop described as the heartbeat of the Church as mission.

Writes Fr. Phil Ashey of the American Anglican Council, "some of these resolutions are worthy of praise-a just peace in the Middle East, addressing poverty and hunger through the Millennium Development Goals. Others will further tear the Anglican Communion to shreds-such as the development of rites for same sex blessings and the repeal of Resolution B033. In any case, enormous amounts of time, energy and money are being expended to discuss, debate, amend and put to vote the overwhelming number of resolutions that define the mission of the Episcopal Church."

Center Aisle, a daily publication looking for the via media in TEC, noted that there are already cracks developing between the HOB and HOD. Not true, said HOD president Bonnie Anderson. "We are working very well together." Asked if she had noticed any tensions in their relationships, she cited former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold who talked about the "creative tension" between the two houses, which he experienced big time when he was PB. "We have just begun to send legislation over to the HOB," she said. There is a lot of collaboration, she concluded.

In order to maintain relationships with other provinces in the Anglican Communion, a last minute resolution at the 2006 General Convention, B033, prevented the Episcopal Church from electing homosexual theologians and priests to the episcopacy. Since then the House of Bishops has had several opportunities to consider the implications, but the House of Deputies has not met since so an unprecedented special order is allowing time for informal discussion with the whole House. This process has started today and will likely continue for a day or two before resolution.

A majority of bishops, deputies, visitors and others who testified before a World Mission Committee public hearing indicated they hope the Episcopal Church will move beyond resolution B033. As many as a thousand people attended the two-hour hearing which began at 8 p.m. in the Pacific Ballroom of the Hilton Hotel.

A total of 51 people testified; 41 said they hoped the church could move beyond B033, a moratorium on the consecration of bishops whose manner of life presented a challenge to the wider church. Ten others indicated they wanted to retain B033. Following the hearing, Bishop Gene Robinson - who was among those testifying - said his "spirit is buoyed" despite stories of pain.

"I was overjoyed at the hope and reconciliation people have found in our church. Someone mentioned being a beacon of light. That is a ministry we can reclaim." Liberal EDS missiologist, Ian T. Douglas, a committee member, said the committee would discuss the hearing in subsequent meetings and decide whether to combine some thirteen proposed resolutions about B033 into one or more final resolutions to be considered by deputies and bishops. If this happens, TEC will go into a self-destruct mode. There is nothing to stop TEC passing anything at this point in time. Opposition is futile.

*****

Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori's statement deriding individual salvation as "heresy" and "idolatry" has caused quite a backlash.

A poll conducted by OneNewsNow.com Poll got nearly 30,000 responses and found that Jefferts Schori's statement was further evidence of Episcopal leaders moving away from orthodox doctrine. Some 28.59% confirmed that. 4.71% asked how did she get to be the leader of the Episcopal Church? And 24.65% said it was no surprise, considering her church ordained an openly homosexual bishop. But 42.05% said she was a heretic.

If you want to see Canon Julian Dobbs of CANA talk to CBN news about Mrs. Jefferts Schori's statement then click here: http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2009/July/Episcopalians-Weigh-Gay-Initiatives/

*****

The HOB passed a resolution announcing full communion with the Moravian Church. The Moravian bishops will receive a laying on of hands by TEC bishops as a sign of succession. The Moravians are in apostolic succession and in compliance with Lambeth Quadrilateral so their ministries are interchangeable. It has yet to pass the HOD. At a press conference, I rose to ask Ms. Anderson why it is that The Episcopal Church has no difficulty finding common cause with Moravians, but has enormous difficulty in making common cause with fellow Anglicans of the Global South. Her answer was less than reassuring. She did concede that the question was valid, but offered no substantial answers.

*****

In the world of Episcopal nomenclature, a new word has arisen. It is anti-Judaism. A young deputy from the Diocese of Lexington passionately urged the joint Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music Committee to support funding for efforts to address Christian anti-Judaism. Recalling how she eschewed introductory-level courses as a college freshman in favor of a class in Jewish-Christian relations, Allison Asay said she realized by mid-semester the class should have been subtitled "A History of Christian Hatred of the Jews".

But at two press conferences, questions were repeatedly asked by reporters as to what exactly anti-Judaism meant. Is anti-Judaism the same as anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism? The panel of bishops and clergy squirmed uncomfortably in their seats, but offered no answer. They went into linguistic meltdown.

When asked how much money had been spent on lawsuits to date, reporters also got no direct answers.

*****

During his Bible study at a morning Eucharist, Archbishop Rowan Williams heralded a gay man as a great Episcopalian theologian. Williams referred to William Stringfellow, a gay peace activist and human rights lawyer, as "the greatest Episcopalian theologian and perhaps the greatest American theologian of the twentieth century... not the least of the gifts which the Episcopal Church has given the rest of us."

*****

GC2009 has brought out its usual supply of hecklers. A large banner is being held aloft outside Anaheim Convention Center bearing the legend, "Gene Robinson, Minister of Satan." Unsurprisingly, this message doesn't come from an Episcopalian, but from one of several persons picketing the Convention to protest TEC's lesbi-gay project. It's a small but fiery demonstration.

"Robinson is on his way to hell," bellows one. "I am starting to wonder whether there's a gay pride march in Anaheim or whether The Episcopal Church is holding a Convention. I have never seen so many homosexuals in one place, ever before. California, as liberal and socialist as it is, has a better standard than the Episcopal Church." The protestor may have a point, though one wonders if he'll make any converts...You can read a fuller account of this by VOL reporter Mary Ann Mueller in today's digest.

*****

An amended version of Resolution D025, concerning Episcopal elections and the Anglican Communion, is expected to move to the House of Deputies despite a July 11 split committee vote, possibly as early as Monday.

D025 is among more than a dozen B033-related resolutions submitted for consideration during the 76th General Convention July 8-17 in Anaheim. The World Mission Legislative Committee (WMC) received 13 resolutions; a WMC subgroup designed to work on framing a resolution to offer for a convention vote, elected to amend D025 from among the 13 "as a template" from which to address B033, according to The Rev. Ian T. Douglas, a committee member designated to speak with media representatives.

If this passes, it will be a catalyst for outrage by the Global Anglican Communion and one that will only confirm that TEC is determined to go its own way never mind what the Archbishop of Canterbury pleaded in a sermon that TEC should not do. Some recalcitrant children never heed being told when they do wrong. They just go on repeating the same mistakes over and over and then wonder, as adults, why they are ostracized, or sent to jail, or as in the case of TEC, to hell.

*****

IN OTHER WORLD NEWS, Virtueonline got word from York in England this week where the Church of England Synod is being held that a private members motion is asking that the Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the newly established Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). Within 24 hours, 75 clergy and laity signed that they wished it to be debated. In a separate development, Bishop Tom Wright of Durham told the Synod in Question Time that the Canons and Constitution of ACNA had been laid before the Theology Group of the House of Bishops for consideration. This will probably take place in September.

This is not happy news for TEC leaders whose delegates are dodging bullets when asked about the formation of the new North American Anglican province. Nobody really wants to talk about the elephant in the sacristy. TEC will pursue its understanding of mission, which is about social amelioration., ACNA will forge ahead with The Great Commission. After all, Mrs. Jefferts Schori is not interested in personal salvation...it takes a village...

*****

The bishop of the diocese of Niagara in the Anglican Church of Canada, Michael Bird called for a rite for same-sex blessings this week. He said he intends to follow in the footsteps of two other bishops in the Anglican Church of Canada who have informed their synods about their intention to develop a rite that would allow the blessing of same-gender couples who have been civilly married. "As is the case with our brother and sister Anglicans in the dioceses of Montreal and Ottawa, I believe we are among those who have been called by God to speak with a prophetic voice on this subject."

These sorts of communion breaking acts only confirm in the minds of Global South leaders and the newly launched Anglican Province in North America that they are on the right track.

*****

Calling all Evangelicals. A recent conference VOL attended at Virginia Theological Seminary of confessing evangelicals who still wish to remain in TEC now has a website up and running. You can access it here: http://canterburytrail.wordpress.com/

*****

VOL is pulling out all the stops to bring you moment by moment coverage of GC2009. I hope some of you will reciprocate and make a donation to keep three reporters in coffee and donuts. This may well be the last convention for orthodox Episcopalians, but it is likely to be historic and one that must be covered despite reservations many of you have about VOL attending.

History is being made here and it should be recorded both for history and those who will one day write it.

Please consider a tax-deductible donation to VOL and please keep myself, Michael and Mary Ann in your prayers.

Please make a donation to:

VIRTUEONLINE
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Thank you for your support.

In Christ,

David

BREAKING NEWS. House of Deputies passes Resolution D025.

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