Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Southern Cone's Operative in North America

The Southern Cone, lead by Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables, has decided to offer shelter to some of the disgruntled conservatives in North America. The leadership of the dioceses of San Joaquin, Fort Worth and Pittsburgh are anticipated to take them up on this offer. The latest development is that a Canadian renegade bishop has also decided to accept this offer. Bishop Michael Ingham of the diocese of New Westminster is not pleased:

...“This is a full-blown schism now within the Canadian church and it is a direct attack upon the catholicity of the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Ingham. “It is one thing to hold differing opinions as many Anglicans obviously do on matters of sexual ethics. It’s quite another thing to establish alternative ecclesial bodies, which is schism.”

He added: “I believe our church and certainly the diocese of New Westminster has bent over backwards to accommodate mutual respect and tolerance of genuinely held theological convictions. What we cannot tolerate is schism and the setting up of bodies that compete with one another within the same jurisdiction. As Jesus said, a house divided against itself cannot stand”...
So, what do we know about the Southern Cone, the latest player to step upon the stage of the ongoing Anglican drama?

We know that this is not the first time PB Venables has done something like this. He took Robinson Calvacanti, the deposed bishop of Recife, under his wing. Calvacanti is not listed as a bishop on any of the Anglican Communion sites. He did not recieve an invitation to Lambeth.

And we know that the face of the Southern Cone seen here in North America is usually that of Frank Lyons, Bishop of Bolivia.

So, who is Bp. Lyons? Watch the following video from January 2007, made while he was making a visitation to one of "his" churches in San Diego, and see for yourself:

Bp. Lyons speaks of the "active, growing" churches in the Global South. Is he including his own diocese, which appears to consist of four churches? If I recall, it had four churches three years ago. Exactly where is the growth?

Here's what the Bishop of San Diego had to say about Bp. Lyon's method of "growing" churches:

...Last week, in a statement about Lyons' upcoming visit, Mathes said he was “distressed” that the Anglican bishop is not abiding by a centuries-old tradition of honoring the authority of the local bishop.

Mathes also noted the disparity between the number of churches Lyons oversees in Bolivia and the United States. Lyons said yesterday he supervises 35 congregations in the United States and has five churches, including one that will open later this year, in Bolivia.

“Rather than growing the church in his mission field, he has inserted himself in the affairs of another part of the communion and exacerbated the conflict,” Mathes said in his statement. “I suspect his reasons are more driven by economics and ego rather than theology”...
Bp. Lyons makes the same old false accusations about the Episcopal Church that we've heard so many times before; "It is difficult for conservative folks who believe in the authority of scripture, who believe in the uniqueness of Jesus, who believe in the resurrection of Jesus, to get through any kind of process in the US..." I must imagine that he is speaking about the ordination process. So, to get ordained in the Episcopal Church, one must deny scripture, the Incarnation and the resurrection? Give me a break.

Most likely there's more than a little projection going on here. Bp. Lyons entered the ordination process in Washington DC, where he was a member of a parish he describes as "Charismatic." He admits to having problems with the diocesan leadership. Eventually, the diocese decided not to ordain him. Consequently, he now makes the above accusation.

And then in response to those bishops who are perturbed by his trespassing on their turf, he states that he "feels really bad that these bishops don't understand Anglicanism..." And Bp. Lyons does? Is this understanding derived from his time at a "slightly non-Anglican, fuzzy huggy Charismatic" church, or from his residency at the only seminary in the Episcopal Church that will not allow women to perform sacerdotal functions on their property? Misogynist Pentecostals are the model of Anglicanism now? We live in bizarre times.

Bp. Lyons tosses out the comment that "two thirds of the Primates are in impaired communion with the Episciopal Church." Oh really? Love to see that list. Last I heard, there were about half a dozen out of 38, and some of those are questionable.

Bp. Lyons claims to have picked up 35 churches in North America, and is on the prowl for more. Remember his face. If you see him, you will have to make up your own minds as to what is the appropriate response. Personally, I'll be calling 911 to have him arrested for trespassing.


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