Authority in everything. An apostle's authority does not cease when he begins to teach unpopular truths. We cannot be selective in our reading of the apostolic doctrine of the New Testament. We cannot, when we like what an apostle teaches, defer to him as an angel, and when we do not like what he teaches, hate him and reject him as an enemy. No, the apostles of Jesus Christ have authority in everything they teach, whether we happen to like it or not. --From "The Message of Galatians" (The Bible Speaks Today series) by J. R. W. Stott.
Dear Brothers and Sisters
If you are feeling somewhat confused with all the nomenclature pouring forth from the Anglican Communion, especially the Episcopal Church, you are in good company. Tens of thousands of Episcopalians are kept in the dark by their bishops about such things as Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) - the offer by liberal bishops to orthodox parishes who want to get out from under them. Or, conversely, Alternative Episcopal Oversight (AEO) which is what orthodox priests really wanted from liberal bishops but could not get it because those bishops would not cede power to another more orthodox bishop. More recently some eight orthodox dioceses sought Alternative Primatial Oversight (APO) to get out from under The Episcopal Church APO, and now there is a new word "commissary" just dropped into the melting pot of ideas by the Bishop of Dallas, James Stanton.
What he said was that he was not really seeking APO at all, but something called a "commissary" status. A commissary, according to Wikipedia, is someone delegated by a superior to execute a duty or an office; in a formal, legal context, one who has received power from a legitimate superior authority to pass judgment in a certain cause or to take information concerning it.
In a statement issued October 27, Episcopal Diocese of Dallas Bishop James Stanton says that he "quietly" withdrew his diocese's request for a "direct primatial relationship" with the Archbishop of Canterbury in July.
Stanton's statement says that he withdrew the request because he had misgivings about the requests and because the terminology used was causing "confusion and some anxiety" in his diocese.
But how this radically differs from APO is something of a mystery to this writer, and to date none of the other seven dioceses have asked for "commissary" status, so we will just have to wait and see how it all plays out. You can read Bishop Stanton's statement here or in today's digest. http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=4924
One thing we do know is that the PB has no canonical authority to hold bishops accountable, or to intervene in conflicts between dioceses and bishops.
However that did not stop PB-elect Mrs. Schori asking her chancellor David Booth Beers to send out a rather nasty letter to two traditionalist bishops, Bishop Jack Iker and Keith Ackerman this week telling them, in no uncertain terms, to conform the language of their diocesan constitutions to the Canons and Constitutions of The national Episcopal Church. You can read that story today and this on the eve of her becoming the new PB! You can read it here http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=4931
In an interview with Julia Duin of the Washington Times and leaked to VOL, Schori proffered the view that she thinks the upcoming Tanzania meeting in February is going to be a cake walk - that she will just be able to "relate" to these folks and they will all get along. Spiritual blindness is clearly not in her field of vision.
You can also listen to an interview with Mrs. Schori with NPR Boston at this link: http://www.here-now.org/shows/2006/10/20061018_9.asp.
In "A Divided Church" Schori goes head to head with Ft. Worth Bishop Jack Iker over the direction of the church and you can listen to that here: http://www.here-now.org/shows/2006/10/20061031.asp OR http://www.here-now.org/shows/2006/10/20061031_9.asp LAST WEEK the new PB-elect met with the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in a closed-door session at Lambeth Palace to discuss the state of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. She was introduced to Archbishop Williams by Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold. The three met for 90 minutes without aides present in Dr. Williams' office. Bishop Griswold told Anglican Communion News Service afterward that the discussions had been "cordial and collegial." Bishop Jefferts Schori said she welcomed the opportunity to meet with Archbishop Williams and noted the three had shared a "frank conversation about challenges in the Communion."
Lambeth Palace also announced that England's Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt. Rev. John Saxbee, will represent the Archbishop of Canterbury in Washington D.C. at Jefferts Schori's November 4 investiture as the Episcopal Church's 26th Presiding Bishop and Primate. The Anglican Communion's Secretary General, the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, will also attend the liturgy, set for the Washington National Cathedral.
What is interesting in this release is that there is not one single word from Dr. Williams. It is all Griswold and Schori. He may have received them but he said nothing either affirming her role or saying that she would be invited to Lambeth 2008! It speaks volumes that he says nothing at all.
While the official press release from the ACNS had plenty of quotes from Griswold and Schori there was not one single quote from the ABC! Strange indeed. Clearly he is concerned that anything he might say might come back to haunt him when he meets with the other Primates next year. A photo op but nothing more.
OUT THE DOOR but not entirely forgotten, Griswold has accepted a position as Canon for International and Interfaith Ministry at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. This is the perfect resting place for a pluriform truth dispenser. St. John the Divine dispenses all things New Age and shamelessly believes the life changing message of the gospel is irrelevant. It's a perfect fit for Frank Griswold, whose nine-year term as Presiding Bishop ended Oct. 31. He can continue the message of Rumi the Sufi.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori earlier announced that she has asked Bishop Griswold to lead The Episcopal Church deputation to the "Toward Effective Anglican Mission (TEAM)" meeting in South Africa in March. The Province of Southern Africa is the only thoroughly liberal diocese on the African continent and is strongly supported financially by the TEC.
THE BIG DIOCESAN NEWS of the week once again turned to the DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA where Bishop Charles E. Bennison moved another step closer to getting his head handed to him on a plate.
He finally made the front page of the Philadelphia INQUIRER with the story that he covered up his brother John's sexual exploitation of a minor some 25 years ago when Charles was a priest in California and his brother was in seminary. His brother was living with him at the time and carried out his sexual exploits in the rectory, but Charles apparently didn't notice or didn't want to notice. John's ex-wife said Charles must have known or he was just blind, deaf and dumb.
It all came to light recently when his brother, now a priest, got fired from his parish and some letters emerged written by Charles to John's ex-wife telling him that if she started coming round to his parish and talking he could lose his job. VOL obtained these letters and you can read all the stories surrounding this sordid affair in today's digest.
The bottom line is this; Bennison's brother would never have been ordained if Charles had spoken up, and that means there would never have been other victims. John was a seminarian at the time and Charles knew. On this basis alone Bennison should step down as bishop. He has said he won't, arguing that the real problems in the diocese are over money and power. The Standing Committee is trying to get rid of him and has hired feisty Newark attorney Michael Rehill. A group called Concerned Pennsylvania Episcopalians also wants him gone, as do the remaining orthodox priests and a growing number of liberal priests who now see Bennison as power-crazed, sociopath, and untrustworthy and who is presiding over the slow death of the diocese.
A group called SNAP survivors of sexual abuse by priests is holding public meetings in Philadelphia this coming week to further embarrass Bennison and John Bennison's ex-wife will be present to make the case for Bennison to go. VOL will be on hand to report what they say.
But if the Diocesan Standing Committee is really serious about getting rid of the "Visigoth" bishop who says Jesus was a sinner who forgave himself, then they should withhold his salary as the folk did in Atlanta when he was rector at St. Luke's and they wanted to get rid of him then. It worked then. It could work again.
In the DIOCESE OF TENNESSEE they elected the best candidate to be the next bishop of that diocese to succeed the Rt. Rev. Bertram N. Herlong after only four attempts to find his replacement. The Rev. John C. Bauerschmidt was elected on the 12th ballot Oct. 28. This concludes the lengthy process which began with a different slate of candidates last spring. There were 39 votes held on March 18, and again on March 25 and May 6. Tennessee required 51 ballots to find a successor to Herlong who retires as diocesan Oct. 31. When informed of his election by the president of the diocesan standing committee, Fr. Bauerschmidt said he was "humbled and elated." He is a native of Virginia and will not go along with any of the Episcopal Church's gay agenda, he says. No poofs in the pulpit or Jane and Judy at the wedding rail.
From the DIOCESE OF NORTHERN MICHIGAN comes word from a priest ordained there some three decades ago, there were 4,195 baptized members in the diocese, now there are only 2,066 baptized members. Back then, there were 31 churches-10 parishes and 21 missions. Now they have 27 parishes and no missions. Of these "parishes", he writes, one has over 300 people; one has over 200; four have over 200; and 21 have less than 100 people. 25 years ago they had 29 clergy. They now have - not counting the bishop - 86 clergy, 53 of them are women. In 2004 in the whole diocese they were 25 baptisms, 16 confirmations, and 52 funerals. In 2003 the bishop confirmed 5 people and ordained 13! The diocese contains a membership that is a whopping 8/100s of 1% of TEC! The average attendance, diocesan-wide is 838 per Sunday. That's 31 people per church. There is one clergy person per 24 baptized members; one clergy per 18 confirmed members; and one clergy per 9.7 people attending church. "I doubt if more than a dozen or so of the clergy have any seminary training and I know a number of them have no college. Beam me up Scotty-there is definitely no intelligent life left here."
IF YOU EVER WONDERED what happens to abandoned Episcopal churches, well here's a story that should get the blood flowing. A vacant North Buffalo church built in the early 1900s has been transformed into 13 eclectic, loft-style apartments. The $1.175 million project was recently unveiled to the public recently.
Developers retained some of the original craftsmanship of the church, including the exterior, hardwood floors, high ceilings and one stained-glass window that take up most of a wall. "We're just so happy. For 20 years, we've watched the Church of the Transfiguration go downhill," said Cozzarelli, part of the team that purchased the church in 2004 for $65,000. "We're pleased to contribute to the renaissance of Buffalo," said architect Anthony Mussachio. The red brick building had not been used as a church for more than a decade. In recent years, the building was rented to various businesses before being vacated and falling into disrepair. So there you have it. The next time you see a stylish apartment complex it might just have been your friendly out-of-business Episcopal parish complete with stained glass windows overlooking a beautiful loft. Please pass the sherry Winslow.
The DIOCESE OF OLYMPIA finished their local convention recently and on the ballot were some measures on the hiring policies that were written to allow homosexuals to apply to any clergy job they were otherwise qualified for. They also have been advertising for a marriage coordinator for homosexual and heterosexual marriages.
Here is what it said: "St. Marks' Cathedral, Seattle, seeks wedding coordinator. The wedding coordinator serves as a liaison to same-sex and heterosexual couples planning a wedding at St. Mark's Cathedral. A love of weddings is essential as well as strong pastoral, organizational and communication skills. Experience in event planning and familiarity with the Episcopal Church is also helpful. The Wedding Coordinator works under the supervision of the Liturgy and Music Office. For a complete job description and for application information, go to www.saintmarks.org and click on "Employment."
Wrote a VOL reader; "I find it interesting that 'same-sex' was written before heterosexual". Since it isn't included alphabetically, the only reason I can think they would put it before heterosexual, is that this is the focus of that office. This is also in a state where the State Supreme court turned down the appeal to redefine marriage and to uphold DOMA.
Other resolutions overwhelmingly passed included Resolution #5 which affirmed the Canons regarding access to discernment process. It was submitted by the members of Integrity/Puget Sound, which was also endorsed by the Human Sexuality Committee, St. Mark's Cathedral. RESOLVED, That this 96th Convention of the Diocese of Olympia affirms and calls upon the Bishops and Standing Committee of the Diocese to affirm the full inclusion in all areas of the life of the Episcopal Church of our otherwise qualified brother and sister Christians who are single or partnered heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or trans-gendered persons, non-celibate singles, and divorced persons as well as the full inclusion in the Episcopal Church in the full life of the Anglican Communion. It was passed by over 2/3's majority. The diocese is also undergoing the hiring process for finding a new bishop.
In the DIOCESE OF VIRGINIA a number of parishes including St. Luke's is undergoing a 40-Day Season of Prayer, concluding with a Solemn Assembly on Friday Evening December 8th (7 to 9 PM) in order to discern how they should move forward in the diocese in light of the recommendations of the Windsor Report and the division in the Anglican Communion, over the passage of resolution B033 that was passed at GC2006. The statement was drafted by two parishes in the Diocese of Virginia.
From the DIOCESE OF ALABAMA comes word that Christ Church, a parish that broke away from the diocese and is doing just fine, has published its first directory containing over 500 members! Plans are being drawn now for a permanent site in the growing section of East Montgomery, said the Rev. Curtis Nordan. Word on the street is, but not confirmed, that Diocesan Bishop Henry Parsley is closing Christ the Redeemer Parish. The congregation fell from 225 to 25 with only about 8 now attending services. The building shows much the deferred maintenance.
And from the DIOCESE OF KANSAS, Bishop of Kansas The Rt. Rev. Dean E. Wolfe, told his people at their recent diocese convention that "in a time when conversations over theological doctrine have become increasingly shrill, and debates about what constitutes Christian orthodoxy more and more mean-spirited, it may be a little provocative to suggest that the Christian faith is a celebration of the triumph of the multiple hues of complexity over a monochromatic simplicity."
But then Wolfe had this to say about such websites as VOL: "Though mean-spirited web sites and vitriolic e-mails conspire to twist our theology and besmirch the reputation of our beloved denomination, we are still here."
And finally we have this from the bishop: "In this diocese, as long as I am your bishop, there will be a place for conservative Christians (but not Christ Church Overland Park who paid him a ton of money to get out). In this diocese, as long as I am your bishop, there will be a place for liberal Christians. In this diocese, as long as I am your bishop, there will be a place for all of us who find ourselves somewhere in between and haven't the foggiest notion what to call ourselves." Ah clarity at last.
And from the DIOCESE OF ALBANY comes word that the two bishops there, Dan Herzog and Dave Bena both plan to retire in early 2007. "We have both prayerfully considered what God's will is, and believe that this is the right time to pass on the apostolic ministry. We have discussed this with Bishop William Love, the Coadjutor of the Diocese, and he is ready to assume leadership as Ninth Bishop of Albany. By the time we retire on January 31, over ten months will have elapsed since his election," the two said in a statement posted on the diocese's website. (Source: ENS)
And from the DIOCESE OF WESTERN LOUISIANA comes this. The diocese voted in its convention to support Bishop Bruce MacPherson as a Windsor bishop and accept the Windsor report as has been handed down to us in its entirety. Votes were by orders and passed in both orders.
And in the DIOCESE OF FOND DU LAC Bishop Russell E. Jacobus, said the diocese needs to become more fully knowledgeable about the Windsor Report, "so that we can make educated decisions as the future of our Anglican Communion continues to be discussed." Bishop Jacobus made his comments to more than 200 delegates and visitors to the diocese's convention, held Oct. 20-21 at St. John the Baptist, Wausau, Wis.
"I am passionate about keeping the Anglican Communion together and I hope you will begin to share this passion with me," he said. A letter of affirmation that convention sent to Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori stated that the signatories "accept Jesus Christ as the only means to salvation."
New Anglican Church has formed in Thomasville, GA. Trinity Anglican Church held its first service Sunday, October 29. A group of local Episcopalians made the decision to form the new Anglican Church because they believe that the Episcopal Church has chosen to move away from the authority of Holy Scripture and the traditions of the larger Anglican Communion.
"Although one of the most highly publicized issues in recent years was the ordination of a gay bishop, this was not the determining factor for the group's decision to leave the Episcopal Church," says Mac Corbitt, Senior Warden of the Trinity Vestry. In fact, it was the actions of the more recent 2006 General Convention in which the Episcopal church moved even further from classical Anglicanism and the basic tenets of Scripture that caused the group to begin discussing the formation of an Anglican church. After much prayer, the group decided they could no longer remain within the Episcopal Church.
Trinity joins with the growing number of newly formed Anglican churches within the North Florida/South Georgia region who have left the Episcopal Church in recent years. The congregation will be a mission of St. Peter's Anglican Church in Tallahassee. Father Jim Hampson, Associate Rector at St. Peter's, will be the interim priest serving Trinity in its transitional period.
FOUR PRIMATES TO MEET IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA. Four primates from provinces in the Anglican Communion will meet November 13 at a meeting of the trustees of Anglican Relief and Development Fund (ARDF), an organization chartered by the Anglican Communion Network in 2004 to support the Church in the developing world. Canon Nancy Norton, executive director of ARDF, said the fund's trustees will meet from Nov. 13-15 at The Falls Church to approve projects and review the work of the past year. The Most Rev. Peter Akinola, Primate of Nigeria as well as the Most Rev. Drexel Gomez, Primate of the West Indies; the Most Rev. Benjamin Nzimbi, Primate of Kenya; and the Most Rev. Justice Akrofi, Primate of West Africa, will meet with the seven bishops and eight dioceses following the meeting, but the meeting is said to be informal with no specific agenda or plans. All four primates serve as ARDF trustees. The last time they met it was in the DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA. While it is not certain who will meet with whom it is thought that they will also meet with the bishops, chancellors and standing committee presidents of the eight Episcopal dioceses that are seeking APO from Archbishop Rowan Williams. It is a very fluid situation, said a source.
Just as we were going to cyber press, the word came from PB-elect Schori that she wanted to meet with the four primates in Virginia and she has asked them look her up when they come. Will they? The last time a revisionist bishop tried that - Bennison of Pennsylvania - he got the bum's rush. No saying what the four Global South archbishops will do. Stay tuned.
In the DIOCESE OF ATLANTA they are holding an ENNEAGRAM SEMINAR. Virginia DuPre, counselor and art therapist, will present a program titled "The Enneagram: Connecting Spirit and Psyche" The cost is $40, and a nonrefundable $20 deposit, just in case the two don't connect and you want your money back.
And at SEWANEE, UNIVERSITY OF THE SOUTH a coming event includes someone called Slavoj Zizek and the title of his address is: "Why Only Atheists Can Truly Believe," He will give the lecture at the Episcopal university on Monday, November 6, at 4:30 p.m. in Guerry Auditorium, under the "How, Then, Shall We Live?" lecture-discussion series of the University of the South will feature philosopher, psychoanalyst, and cultural critic Slavoj Zizek. Professor Zizek will also lead a follow-up community-wide discussion on Tuesday, November 7, at 4:30 p.m. in Convocation Hall. Zizek, professor at the Institute for Sociology, Ljubljana, Slovenia, has been described as an "academic rock star" and "the Elvis of cultural theory." One wonders if Francis Schaeffer was still alive, and he first used the phrase "How then shall we live", if he would get an invite to Sewanee.
ROWAN WILLIAMS has no answer to questions of life apparently. In an interview on Radio 4 recently, the Archbishop of Canterbury engaged in discussion with atheist John Humphreys.
Humphreys invited Dr. Williams to try and persuade him that God exists. Humphreys said that he used to believe in God but he has seen too much suffering in the world to believe in God now. He set about asking Williams a number of questions about suffering, God's existence, why he can't believe, and life after death etc. To all these questions Williams was completely incapable of delivering a straight forward biblical answer, but instead gave very vague philosophical answers.
To the question 'why don't you try and convert people of other religions,' Williams said 'The Church did not blaze out into the Roman world and say here is the truth you must believe it, but what you say is what we say'.
To the question of 'what happens to me if I don't open the door [to God] will it be too late after death?' Williams responded 'No, we continually have the choice of saying yes or no.'
You can listen to the interview online. - Humphreys in search of God, here: http://tinyurl.com/ybqcr3
or go here: http://www.evangelicals.org/news.asp?id=534
AND just when you think that things could not get any worse for evangelicals in England, The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, has been banned from one of the oldest cathedrals in Britain after accusations that he has become an "instrument of disunity". You can read that story here: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=4934
ON SUNDAY October 29, 15 people were confirmed or received into the Anglican church at All Saints Anglican Church in Attleboro, MA. The service was presided over by a bishop from Connecticut affilliated with the AMIA, the Rt. Rev. Thad Barnum. Additionally, All Saints underwent a cleansing ceremony to rid the church of its past sins and prepare it for the battle ahead, a source told VOL.
FINALLY. William and Mary College in Virginia, a formerly associated with the Anglican Church, had its cross from the altar area of the Wren Chapel removed to ensure that the space is seen as a nondenominational area, Melissa Engimann, assistant director for Historic Campus, said in an e-mail to Wren building employees. "In order to make the Wren Chapel less of a faith-specific space, and to make it more welcoming to students, faculty, staff and visitors of all faiths, the cross has been removed from the altar area," Engimann said. The cross will be returned to the altar for those who wish to use it for events, services or private prayer. Student tour guides have been directed to pass any questions or complaints about the change on to administrators. Wrote one irate VOL reader; "This is ridiculous. Liberal academia continues to assault mainstream Christian values. Who was that cross hurting?"
CORRECTION. In my last digest I reported that Archbishop Peter Akinola (Nigeria) was in China at the same time as Abp Rowan. Not true, said Bishop Martyn Minns. Abp Akinola and Abp. John Chew (Southeast Asia) made their visit to China in July 2006.
In my last VIEWPOINTS, VOL said that a new parish was being started in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Incorrect. It is in the DIOCESE OF EAST CAROLINA.
WE ARE GOING into the final two months of the year with more news breaking in the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church than we could have ever imagined. As the TEC comes unraveled we are documenting it all for later historians. The massive and historic changes are all being documented by VOL as fast as history is being made. To keep them coming seven days a week at the website and in the form of a weekly digest (30,000 words = 97 pages) we do need your support.
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BREAKING NEWS...The Archbishop of Canterbury will meet with leaders from the Global South to flesh out plans for a formal split in the worldwide Church at a confidential meeting later this month. Click here: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=4936
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