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FORWARD IN FAITH LEADERS TO VISIT ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

FORWARD IN FAITH LEADERS TO VISIT ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

Dear members of FIFNA,

The switchboard has been lighting up at our Fort Worth headquarters with
many calls over the past several days. The basic question from the
callers is, "What does FIFNA think about the Network, and are we really
part of it or not?"

Let me first say that what follows is my personal commentary as
President of FIFNA. It is not a Council statement. The Council is
scheduled to meet February 11-13, at which time Bishop Duncan plans to
be with us, as well as representatives from other Anglican
jurisdictions. I would expect that the Council will make a corporate
statement at the end of our meeting about the Network, and upon other
areas of concern and development.

The week following, Fathers Ilgenfritz, Tanghe, and I will travel to
London for a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury along with FIF
leaders from England, Scotland, Wales, and Australia. There will
undoubtedly be a statement for you at the conclusion of that meeting at
Lambeth Palace as well.

It would be an understatement to say that the crisis of Faith and Order
in ECUSA and the Anglican Communion has intensified in recent months.
This greater crisis exists because of the rejection of biblical morality
by ECUSA as a body in a highly symbolic way with the election, approval,
and consecration of Gene Robinson.

You well know that Forward In Faith (and its previous identities as ECM
and ESA) has consistently stated that the "ordination" of women to the
priesthood (and the subsequent "ordination" of women to the episcopate)
was a gross violation of and departure from Biblical teaching, Apostolic
Order, and Catholic Truth. I think that Bishop Kapinga of Tanzania's
words are worthy of serious reflection. He stated, "With the ordination
of women, ECUSA left the Catholic fold of the Church. With the
consecration of Gene Robinson, ECUSA left the Christian religion.

We now have The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes
before us. You can read its Charter on the America Anglican Council's
website. In Article V of the Charter, there is the proposal for a
"non-geographical Convocation...known as the Forward in Faith North
America (FiFNA) Convocation, and may include all congregations which
apply to and are accepted as FiFNA members."

The Network understands itself as "a church within the Church.

You may remember that this is what the Episcopal Synod of America stated
of itself in June of 1989 as its founding Assembly. In July of 1997, our
identity was altered in the Good Shepherd Declaration, that ESA/FIFNA
would continue in its mission to be the Church....We are not leaving
anything or going anywhere&We have said from the beginning that we
intend to be the Church. We will continue to be who we are."

With the passage of time, and with ECUSA's introduction of and
legislation for more theological innovations (along with the selective
interpretation of Canons, and the legislative decisions of many Dioceses
and agenda of their bishops), the concept of being a church within the
Church is deserving of serious reflection.

We now see ECUSA as a Province of the Anglican Communion whose actions
have been rejected by a large number of Provinces which represent
two-thirds of the Communion's membership. Only if the Network interprets
itself as a church sharing a common mind with majority of World-Wide
Anglicans can their focus and identity be grounded in the theological
integrity required.

I had hoped to be present at the Network's organizational meeting in
Plano, but pastoral responsibilities as the Rector of Good Shepherd,
Rosemont, as well as a scheduling conflict, prohibited my attendance.
Father Ilgenfritz (one of FIFNA's Vice-Presidents) was there as our
official representative.

I believe that the creation of the Network (encouraged by the Archbishop
of Canterbury) is a good first step towards the Primates' call for
Adequate Episcopal Oversight. Let us remember that oversight implies
jurisdiction.

I also believe that there will be no fundamental change until diocesan
bishops are willing to cross diocesan boundaries, and orthodox priests
are willing to refuse the sacramental ministry of revisionist bishops. I
would hope that in conscience leaders will increasingly be unable to
accede to the misuse of Canon Law, false teaching, and the tyranny of
revisionist bishops.

It is wise for us to appropriate the declaration of the Council of
Constantinople:

"They who separate themselves from communion with their bishop on
account of any heresy condemned by the Holy Synods of the Fathers, while
he evidently proclaims the heresy publicly, and teaches it with brave
front in Church - such persons, in excluding themselves from communion
with their so-called bishop before Synodical cognizance, not only shall
not be subject to canonical censure, but shall be deemed worthy, by the
Orthodox, of becoming honor; for they condemn as teachers, not bishops
but pseudo-bishops; and they do not cut up the unity of the Church by
schism, but hasten to deliver her from schisms and divisions."

And many centuries later, Richard Hooker wrote, [capitalizations are
Hookers]

"Laws touching Matter of Order are changeable, but the Power of the
Church; Articles concerning Doctrine not so. We read often in the
Writings of Catholic and Holy men touching matters of Doctrine. This we
believe, this we hold, this the Prophets and Evangelists have declared.
This the Apostles have delivered. This the Martyrs have sealed with
their blood, and confessed in their Torments, to this We cleave as to
the Anchor of our Souls; against this, though an Angel from Heaven
should preach unto us, we would not believe. But, did we ever in any of
them read touching Matters of mere Comeliness, Order and Decency,
neither Commanded nor Prohibited by a Prophet, any Evangelist, and
Apostle. Although the church wherein we live do ordain them to be kept,
although they be never so general observed, though all the Churches in
the World Command them, tough Angels from Heaven should require our
Subjection thereunto, I would hold him accursed that doth obey?"

Unsettling and spiritually challenging words from a Church Council and
from the seminal mind of our tradition.

With the Dennis Canon as it relates to parishes and their property, and
with how a Diocese's status could be judged as a binding relationship
with the National church, we may be hostages with no seen avenue of
freedom. And within this situation, one cannot be reckless or cavalier
as stewards of the church. But when we stand before the great judgment
seat of Christ, I don't believe that how diocesan boundaries were
honored will be a criteria for our Lord's favorable judgment.

I pray that this commentary will be received and understood with a
generous spirit. I pray that God will continue to use FIFNA as faithful
people who are characterized by humility, repentance, steadfastness, and
obedience to the Word of God Incarnate and the Word of God written.

You have my assurances that FIFNA remains committed to its mission which
is:

To uphold the historic Faith,
Practice and Order of the
Church Biblical, Apostolic and
Catholic, and to resist all efforts
to deviate from it.

David L. Moyer+
22 January 2004
Feast of St. Vincent, D. & M.

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