Unspinning the Communique

David Virtue DVirtue236 at AOL.COM
Thu May 24 00:46:57 EDT 2001


News Analysis

By David Virtue

The Communique from the May 15 meeting of seven bishops, two lawyers
and the president of Forward in Faith, North America, revealed that the
three areas discussed were Accokeek; the establishment of alternative
episcopal oversight for traditionalists in revisionist dioceses, and
the visit of task forces to three dioceses that oppose women's

The Battle of Accokeek, shortly to reach its denouement was undoubtedly
forefront in the minds of all concerned, as they sat uneasily in Frank
Griswold's office. Would a solution be forthcoming?

There was, according to the official press release, "a candid
expression of views concerning the dispute at Christ Church, Accokeek,
Maryland which the bishops viewed as symbolic of a rapidly deepening
rift between conservative Episcopalians and a perceive majority willing
to resort to exclusionary practices in key dioceses."

In the Episcopal Church symbolism is everything and Frank Griswold can
nuance anything with a linguistic sleight of hand worthy of Ludwig

The "deeper truth" is this. Accokeek is the tip of the proverbial
iceberg. What is going on in ECUSA across the country, in diocese after
diocese, are subtle and not so subtle attempts by revisionist bishops
to sideline, scorn, deride and pour contempt on evangelical and Anglo-
Catholic priests who dare to preach revealed religion, who still
believe that Scripture contains all that is necessary to the 'faith
once delivered,' and who will not conform to the slide into the moral
and theological cesspool that ECUSA seems bent on disappearing into.

For daring to speak the truth they are vilified, called "homophobic,"
"fundamentalist" and in some dioceses, specifically Massachusetts and
Washington, DC they are told that can just "go." Suffragan Bishop
Barbara Harris has openly said, "in God's name go."

These same revisionist bishops are men and women who say that Jesus is
not the only way to the Father, and salvation in Christ alone is not
necessary or sufficient for eternal life. In several instances they
have passed diocesan resolutions to that effect.

Women's ordination, while viewed as the lightning rod issue for
traditionalists in ECUSA is, in fact, only one of several issues that
more realistically come under the umbrella of the church's now
misplaced authority.

Accokeek is, indeed, a microcosm of a much larger struggle for the very
soul of The Episcopal Church. Never have so few, fought against so
many, with so little. But fighting they are, and the battleground is
Accokeek, and  by all accounts no one is ready to raise the flag in

Last week's meeting with the Presiding Bishop revealed yet again, that
the Emperor of 815 has no theological clothes and that pluriformity is
a failed religion. You cannot compromise truth, because truth will not
be compromised.

The primatial gathering of Prelates at Kanuga showed up "deepening
rifts" in the communion despite assurances from Griswold that all was
well in the House of ECUSA. It was not true of course; all was not well
at Kanuga. It might not be too far from the truth to say that Griswold
was lying about what went on behind closed doors at Kanuga. But
spinning the truth is a favorite past time of the Presiding Bishop and
he can use stain-glassed language to pass off anything in the name of
his pluriform religion.

While a number of American bishops think there is a problem in ECUSA,
the truth is, it is not just those bishops affected by the women's
truth squads in the form of the Episcopal Church Women that were
present. Bishop Robert Duncan (Pittsburgh) was also there representing
the evangelical wing of the Episcopal Church as chairman of the
American Anglican Council's Bishops' Advisory Council. Now this group
does not have a problem with women's ordination and, that being the
case, the theological net is cast much wider indicating the Episcopal
Church is indeed severely dysfunctional at many levels.

Another point to note is that both sides brought lawyers. No one does
that unless they suspect a fight is in the wind. David Beers, the
national church's chancellor and Charles Nalls, canon lawyer for
Accokeek are two heavyweights that you don't want to mess with unless
you think you have a prayer of winning. Nalls, for example is not only
an accomplished lawyer he is a theologically trained Anglican. He knows
both sides of the aisle and that should give the other side pause
before drawing up battle lines. Nalls is a street fighter and had his
early training as a civil rights and trial lawyer in his hometown of
Washington, D.C. Both men work with major law firms in DC and both know
how bare-knuckle politics work. God help the church if they are ever
let loose in a courtroom it could be Jane Dixon's worst nightmare.
Frank Griswold might collapse with sheer fright.

Now what did emerge from the meeting was a genuine concern that Dixon
back away from open confrontation with Fr. Edwards because there are
larger issues are at stake; issues that Edwards is being scored over.

The very clear signal from this communiqué is that a growing rift now
exists in ECUSA and no one can hide that fact anymore. It is a sheer
delusion on Griswold's part if he thinks he can paste over these
widening cracks with talk of "diversity" and "inclusivity." Those dogs
won't hunt.

Furthermore the communiqué comes hard on the startling and shattering
news of yet another exodus, the 36th, of St. John's Huntingdon, Valley,
a wealthy parish near Philadelphia to the Anglican Mission in America.
And these along with increasing departures in Colorado, Central Gulf
Coast, East Carolina and Southwestern Virginia.

What is also going on here is the principle of Diocesan sovereignty.
Frank Griswold might think he can call the shots but no one it seems
can rein in Jane Dixon, not even the Archbishop of Canterbury who urged
the two sides to see reason when he dropped into town recently.

But he was in something of a bind himself. He was there to fund-raise
for Compass Rose and Canon John Peterson who had James Rosenthal the
ACNS Press officer in tow. So you don't bite the hand that feeds you.
Dixon, in any event, turned a deaf ear to his pleadings and carried on
like Matilda the Hun.

No one, it seems can stop the battle cruiser Dixon, who it seems, can't
wait till Sunday to assume control of the parish when she makes a
visitation on St. John's parish, Christ Church; the final call by the
American Anglican Council (Washington) for a 60-day moratorium having
fallen on deaf ears.

But she could be in for a very big surprise...


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