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Auschwitz and the Archbishop * Welby calls for Repentance for Reformation * Two Cathedrals invite Muslims in * TEC Leaders Mixed over Trump Inauguration * Four Continuing Anglican Jurisdictions in unity talks * ACNA bishops move closer on WO decision

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. --- Hebrews 2:14-15

The freedoms of the majority are greatly put at risk as we pander to minority group activism. --- Bill Muehlenberg

Given the Lord's sardonic track record in answering prayer, we should at least entertain the possibility that Trump is a cleverly disguised Yes. --- Peter J. Leithart (First Things)

Scrupulous honesty. To steal is to rob a person of anything which belongs to him or is due to him. The theft of money or property is not the only infringement of this commandment. Tax evasion is robbery. So is dodging the customs. So is working short hours. What the world calls 'scrounging' God calls stealing. To overwork and underpay one's staff is to break this commandment. There must be few of us, if any, who have been consistently and scrupulously honest in personal and business affairs. --- John R.W. Stott

An authentic Christian worldview does not ignore evangelism, nor does it push it to the periphery of the Christian life. Instead, evangelism is at the heart of how we see the world. Our world is broken, and people are without Jesus. Not a day goes by when we don't pass people who need Jesus, who need a listening ear or a helping hand. --- Ed Stetzer

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
January 20, 2017

It was a bizarre week in the life of the Church of England and the Scottish Episcopal Church. In fact, I cannot remember a single week in which so much crazy utterances emanated forth from Lambeth Palace.

First we learned that the Archbishop of Canterbury was compelled to make his third trip to Auschwitz, the scene of unspeakable human destruction, where he made an impassioned statement about Nazis and evil in the world.

The Archbishop seems enamored by evil. It's deeply ironic that a 70-year old evil continues to fascinate the leader of 77 million Anglicans, when other more contemporary evils leave him apparently unmoved.

For example, the embrace of sodomy has ripped the Anglican Communion apart; it has shredded The Episcopal Church, bringing about the birth of the Anglican Church in North America. In Canada, the liberal Anglican Church of Canada has given birth to the Anglican Network in Canada and in England, GAFCON UK now has a foothold, as has the Anglican Mission in England. The rejection of marriage as it has been understood for centuries and now scoffed at in parts of the Anglican Communion along with the authority of Scripture, has resulted in GAFCON, forming the biggest single bloc of Anglicans against him and his Western pansexual brethren who hold sub-biblical views on sexuality. This evil has left Welby unfazed and his "reconciliation" attempts lying in the dust. The recent outburst by ACC Secretary General Josiah Idowu-Fearon has pretty well scuttled any attempt at reaching across the divide between liberal and conservative.

Then Welby felt the need to repent for the sins of the Reformation, when thousands were brutally put to death, often burned at the stake for their religious beliefs. Are martyrs of 500 years ago really a burning issue for Welby?

The Archbishop was roundly ridiculed for his remorse. The move was ridiculed by former Conservative Minister Ann Widdecombe, an Anglican who converted to Catholicism. "These gestures are pointless. The Archbishop has not put anyone to death, as far as I know. Modern Christians are not responsible for what happened in the Reformation. You might as well expect the Italians to apologize for Pontius Pilate," she said.

Historical apologies are a largely futile modern obsession, and the longer ago the event, the more worthless the atonement.

Some have already piled on to ridicule the move. Welby and his fellow Lords Spiritual have not immolated any Catholics recently, so what is the point in their contrition five centuries after the fact? Aren't there bigger problems stacking up in Lambeth Palace's in-trays? What about the inroads GAFCON and the AMIE are making into England!

The craziness got another lift when blogger ARCHBISHOP CRANMER ran a headline Archbishops Call On Queen To Repent Of Being Supreme Governor of The Church of England. He bewailed both Archbishops of Canterbury and York and asked are Dr. Welby and Dr. Sentamu asking the Queen to repent of her sacred oath? "They appear to be, for their statement is concerned not merely with the unholy burnings, hangings, drawings and quarterings of the past, but with those who perpetuate division into the present, which the Queen is sworn to do. And she is sworn to do this because the Reformation in England was an act of the State of which she is now Head; a parliamentary transaction sustained by the consent of the people over whom she reigns. How can the Queen repent of her part in perpetuating division without handing over her church to the Bishop of Rome ([who, constitutionally,] hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England [Art. XXXVII])?"

The blogger said that the archbishop's use of the word was 'repent', is distinct from political apology, personal sorrow or corporate contrition.

Finally there is the remarkable silence of Welby into not one but two Muslim intrusions into cathedrals this past week. Welby has been silent on both counts and one wonders why. Certainly he cannot tell the Scottish Episcopal Church what to do, but he could have made noises to the effect that he disapproved of the actions to read the Quran in a cathedral, passages of which openly repudiated the Deity of Christ.

A second example was at Gloucester Cathedral, which provoked controversy by hosting an event featuring the Islamic call to prayer, as well as Buddhist chanting, Rasta drumming, and a Pagan rock band in an event just days after a Scottish cathedral was criticized for hosting Muslim prayers denying the divinity of Jesus Christ.

The 'Faith' exhibition by artist Russell Haine, held inside the Christian monument, features 37 portraits of individuals from different belief systems, including Zoroastrians, Druids, Witches, Pagans, and Baha'i, as well as all the major world religions.

The Islamic call to prayer -- which states that Muhammed is Allah's prophet, a teaching incompatible with Christianity -- was performed at the launch of the exhibition, by local Imam Hassan of Masjid-e-Noor Mosque.

The Rev. Ruth Fitter, vicar of St. Paul and Stephen Church, who helped arrange the event, said the call was "absolutely beautiful" and encouraged Christians to embrace all religions rather than spread the gospel in any way.

"We live in a world that is becoming more and more polarized by people who claim to have the truth. No one has any proof of God -- that's what faith is about," she told Gloucestershire Live.

Again, nothing from Welby about this second outrage.

One wonders if, in doing the Lambeth Waltz, Welby is overdoing Valium for anxiety disorders.

But there was push back. GAFCON-UK has come to the rescue of those orthodox parishes in Scotland, and one of their rectors, the Rev. David McCarthy, one of the remnant parishes in Scotland, said he found hope through GAFCON. He said that if and when the Scottish Episcopal Church's new canon on marriage is adopted, St Thomas' and other like-minded churches in Scotland would remain faithful to the bible's teaching. You can watch a video here: https://vimeo.com/199632542?from=outro-embed

*****

But it's not just the ABC bemoaning the sins of the past, of which those in the present had nothing to do with, the Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will lead a weeklong Episcopal Relief & Development pilgrimage focused on reconciliation to Ghana. He will visit cities and sites critical to understanding the trans-Atlantic slave trade and Episcopal Relief & Development partners and programs working to improve Ghanaians' lives.

"At General Convention in 2015, we promised to address systemic, structural racism as a church. One of the first steps is learning the stories: how our church supported and prospered because of slavery and oppression, how black people have related to one another, how Ghanaian communities bear huge gifts and wisdom into the world today. That's what this pilgrimage is all about," said the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and creation.

Again, we are never told who the racists are that we hear a lot about and what does this have to do with present day Episcopalians, none of whom had anything to do with America's slave trade, except, of course, to make them feel guilty at nothing they ever did and then poke another knife into White Privilege -- people who are paying TEC's bills.

Curry wants us all to pray and reflect on the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the work of reconciliation required of all of us as followers of Jesus. But reconciliation can only be done by those who were actually involved in the slave trade, not people a 100 years later.

*****

The other piece of Episcopal news making the rounds is the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth over our new president, Donald Trump. Episcopal leaders are none too happy about his occupancy of the White House.

There is a delicious irony in that a bevy of liberal episcopal leaders are having to defend themselves over their church's role in the inauguration of a man they loathe and despise and wish with all their hearts he wasn't going to be the next President of the United States.

Donald Trump has stirred up a hornet's nest of disapproval from America's liberal elite, including not only Hollywood glitterati, but those in the Episcopal Church, who don't believe that The Donald is not God's anointed, especially as a number of evangelical leaders laid hands on him and declared him to be born again.

The former Dean of the National Cathedral, Gary Hall, believes the cathedral should ignore Trump's inauguration, even as the cathedral's choir gets ready to sing at his inauguration at the instigation of its current dean, Randolph Hollerith, who said the choir will participate. Social media went ballistic and emails lashed out at Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Diocese of Washington Bishop Mariann Budde and Hollerith, at which they were forced to issue half-hearted support of the president couched in the usual formula of "prayer and understanding." The language of inclusion and diversity was strangely missing from their statements, of course. An ultra-liberal parish in California says it will pray for the president, but not by name. You can read my take on all this in today's digest.

*****

The Rt. Rev. Susan E. Goff, Bishop Suffragan of Virginia, has announced that she plans to participate in the Women's March on Washington, Jan. 21, according to a report in The Living Church.

Bishop Goff discussed the decision during a visit to St. Catherine's School in Richmond and in a post on a diocesan weblog.

"[The] biblical vision of the oneness of men and women is powerful and beautiful, but it is not yet a reality in our country," she said. "Women in the majority of fields still don't earn the same salary as men for the same work. Glass ceilings are still firmly in place. Women and girls still suffer abuse and sexual assault at dramatically higher rates than men do -- and dismissing assault as locker room talk is not acceptable by any standards. Gender inequality remains firmly entrenched and God's intention is not yet realized."

*****

Not to be out done on Muslim inclusion, the parishioners of the Diocese of Huron's St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral have been invited to tour a mosque on Jan 25th, an initiative of Syrian families that the diocese has sponsored.

David of Samizdat writes, "It's interesting to note the contrast with a similar sponsorship in the late 70's by the church I attend. It was a Vietnamese family -- Vietnamese boat people survivors -- whom we helped settle in Canada. The difference is, once here, they attended our church. Now, it seems the expectation is that sponsored migrants are more likely to make converts of their sponsors than vice versa. Such is the march of Anglican progress."

*****

The Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, has been named as the favorite to succeed Richard Chartres as Bishop of London. Cottrell is 3/1 favorite with bookmakers William Hill for the Church of England's third most senior job after Archbishop of Canterbury and York.

Although the formal appointments process has not yet begun, his name is increasingly being spoken of in Church circles as someone with the experience and charisma to lead the Church of England's fastest-growing, most diverse and most complex diocese.

The many duties of the new bishop will include sitting in the House of Lords and acting as Dean of the Chapels Royal, in which role he or she will work closely with the monarch, her heir and the entire Royal family.

Cottrell is much-loved in Chelmsford where he has pioneered "mission units" where small groups of people from different parishes work together to support church plants and other initiatives.

He is originally from the Church's Catholic wing, but has demonstrated gifts that appeal across the spectrum. Like many "missional Catholics", he has embraced mission throughout his ministry. He supports the forward thinking of the current hierarchy, through initiatives such as "Reform and Renewal" introduced under the leadership of Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, an evangelical.

Evangelicals dominate the bookmaker's top 10.

What sort of a diocese is Chartres leaving behind? A couple of clerics who asked not to be named, said it would not be any loss at all. He has been a character from a P.G. Wodehouse novel, playing the role of a pompous Toff in holy orders. It was the existence of Rowan Williams that lost him in the top slot in 2002, which apparently he regrets failing to achieve. He has not only failed to rein in the gay lobby in London, but has significantly increased its influence via the appointments he has made. He does not ordain women, but in every other respect he has promoted them, too. His final appointment was of a heterodox Affirming Catholic as Bishop of Edmonton, which up to that point was solidly Anglo-Catholic and orthodox, if rather over-populated by gays, so as to spite the Catholic clergy remaining in his diocese.

He loved ALPHA because it put bums in the pews in the diocese, and he ordained Sandy Miller to give them oversight. The much-vaunted growth in church attendance in the diocese, other than ALPHA, can be attributed to the massive levels of immigration into London over the past 15 years from Global South countries, bringing in Christians as well as hundreds of thousands of Muslims.

*****

The ACNA House of Bishops met January 9-13, 2017, in Melbourne, Florida. Acknowledging "tensions" inherent in three streams - Evangelical, Anglo-Catholic, and Charismatic -- that make up the Anglican Church in North America, some 47 ACNA bishops from multiple jurisdictions, met together to give thanks for the breadth of Anglicanism, and the unity they had in the Anglican Church in North America.

A Holy Orders Task Force examining the issue of women's ordination concluded Phase 4 of their work and presented it to the college. "The Phase 4 report is being formatted and combined with the previous documents from the task force. This report will be passed on to the GAFCON Primates and to our ecumenical partners for feedback, and released to the whole Church in late February. The bishops will pick up these discussions at their next two meetings, in June and September of this year."

In 2012, the task force was asked to develop resources to help guide the bishops' future discussions on holy orders in general, and the ordination of women in particular. At our meeting this week, the Holy Orders Task Force presented Phase 4 of their work to the college. The College thanked the task force for the hard work that they have done on this topic in just a few short years. Having received the report at this meeting, the conversation then turned to the timeline for addressing these issues. You can read my full report in today's digest.

*****

In the ongoing mergers and acquisitions of the broader Anglican Communion, four Continuing Anglican Church bodies plan a joint Synod in October and pledged to pursue full unity. They are the ACA/ACC/APA and DHC. At the conclusion of the week, it is the intention of the four churches to sign an agreement establishing full communion (communio in sacris) among the four bodies as well as a pledge to pursue in a determined and deliberate fashion increasingly full unity.

The Churches will also discuss common plans for mission and evangelism. Each Church will hold its own mandatory business meetings and Synods, but the four will join together throughout the joint synod for common worship and social occasions.

In other news, The Reformed Episcopal Church's Diocese of the West has merged into the Anglican Church in North America's Missionary Diocese of All Saints (MDAS) under the leadership of the Rt. Rev. William H. Ilgenfritz. The Diocese of the West's synod meet at St John's Church in Boerne and voted to dissolve, and move into the MDAS as the "Convocation of the West".

*****

If you haven't signed up for it, you should. THE PRAYER BOOK SOCIETY will hold a Theological Conference on February 16-18, 2017, in Savannah, Georgia, to mark the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The event will take place in partnership with the Elliott House of Studies at St. John's Church.

Entitled Anglicanism: Catholic and Reformed, this is an opportunity to revisit the Anglican legacy of the Reformation, its distinctive history and future within Catholic Christianity. Among the speakers are Dr. Oliver O'Donovan, Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Edinburgh and previously of Oxford, together with his wife, Dr. Joan O' Donovan, and the Rt. Rev. Geoffrey Rowell, the former Bishop of Europe. The conference is open to all, clergy and lay, and you can register online at http://anglicanism-2017.bpt.me

For further information about the PBS CONFERENCE 2017 16-18th February Anglicanism Catholic and Reformed Revisiting the Reformation Legacy 1517-2017 St John's Church, Savannah GA (with special rates at The DeSoto Hilton and Marriott Courtyard) go to anglicanway.org or pbsusa.org. To register (with an early booking discount) please visit: http://anglicanism-2017.brownpapertickets.com

*****

The Vatican will issue a stamp featuring Martin Luther. If you happen to receive a piece of mail from the Vatican this year, don't be surprised to see the face of Martin Luther.

The Vatican office charged with issuing stamps, known as the Philatelic and Numismatic Office, confirmed Tuesday to LifeSiteNews that Luther, who broke away from the Catholic Church in a schism 500 years ago, will be celebrated with a postage stamp in 2017. The office is in charge of the annual commission of stamps, coins, and other commemorative medals.

The Vatican regularly issues such memorabilia for special events, including papal trips and holy years. Honoring Luther and the Protestant Reformation is an unlikely choice, trumping other significant events in the Catholic Church such as the 100-year anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima and the 300-year anniversary of our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil.

Major events such as Christmas, Easter, the Holy Year of Mercy, and the World Meeting of Families have also merited a commemorative stamp. In the time before a Papal election, when the seat of Peter is vacant, the Philatelic and Numismatic office issues a "Sede Vacante" stamp.

Usually, if individuals are commemorated on stamps, they are saints, such as Teresa of Calcutta, John Paul II, and Pope John XXIII, who most recently were honored with stamps.

While the Vatican has in the past collaborated with other national post offices to create stamps that are not of explicitly religious content, such as Charlie Chaplain or the fall of the Berlin wall, the Luther stamp has an undeniable religious connotation linked with much hostility to the Catholic Church.

*****

Churchgoers were surprised to find a handful of "Save ObamaCare" protesters marching around the Episcopal church in Rock Hill South Carolina, this past Sunday morning. Since Episcopalians represent a minuscule minority in York County, I am not sure what the protesters were expecting to gain by targeting the corner of Caldwell and White streets, writes The Underground Pewster. "Plus, they were preaching to the choir at the Episcopal church, which at its highest levels is likely to be supportive of the protest. As evidence, just look at TEC's history of backing the passage of the "Affordable Care Act" in the first place.

"The Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations and the Episcopal Public Policy Network had lobbied lawmakers to pass the Democrat bill, and sent emails to Episcopalians across the country, urging them to contact their congressmen to back health care reform.

"The Episcopal Church's national office endorsed a Feb 24 letter prepared by the Faithful Reform in Healthcare coalition that urged legislators to 'complete the task at hand on behalf of the millions who are left out and left behind in our current health care system,' and pass the Democrat health care bill.

'We now stand closer than ever before to historic health care reform. Turning back now could mean justice delayed for another generation and an unprecedented opportunity lost,' they argued."

*****

At St Paul's Anglican Cathedral Diocese of Huron London, Ontario, Canada, the Deacon, Pat Henderson, is asking Anglican parishioners to tour the Moslem Mosque on Wed, Jan 25th, at 7 PM for a "get-together'.

"Leaders of the Mosque will be there to offer us a tour and to answer questions in order to help us learn how Moslems truly live and practice their faith. Bring a friend or a neighbor".

This is total nonsense, said a Canadian blogger to VOL. "St Paul's is in a very precarious financial position with very few parishioners and a large building which will require repairs costing about $1 million dollars, dollars which are few and far between.

"Yet Deacon Pat organized and aided the settling of several Moslem families by St Paul's Church.

"Why did Deacon Pat not help the Christian people who needed help in getting to Canada, why was she only concerned about the Moslems? While Deacon Pat is busy taking tours to the Islamic Mosque, Christian citizens and others are being slaughtered in the Middle East, who is helping them?

"Why is Henderson so concerned about touring the Islamic Mosque, why is she not putting in more effort on behalf of the Anglican parishioners of St Paul's Church?"

*****

Nationalism joins Islam as reasons for Christian persecution. Open Door, an organization that monitors Christian persecution, has released its annual report for 2016, which it calls "the worst year yet" for violence against Christians.

The biggest part of the persecution is still committed in the name of Islam. No longer just a matter of the Middle East, Islamic persecution has risen dramatically in Africa.

As nationalism re-emerges worldwide, ethnic nationalism has become an excuse to persecute Christians. This is happening especially in Asia, including India, Bhutan, and Laos.

Approximately 215 million Christians experience high, very high, or extreme persecution.

North Korea remains the most dangerous place to be a Christian (for 14 straight years).

Islamic extremism remains the global dominant driver of persecution, responsible for initiating oppression and conflict in 35 out of the 50 countries on the 2017 list.

Ethnic nationalism is fast becoming a major driver of persecution. "While this took an anti-establishment form in the West, in Asia it took an anti-minorities form, fueled by dramatic religious nationalism and government insecurity. It is common--and easy--for tottering governments to gain quick support by scapegoating Christians."

The total number of persecution incidents in the top 50 most dangerous countries increased, revealing the persecution of Christians worldwide as a rising trend.

The most violent: Pakistan, which rose to No. 4 on the list for a level of violence "exceeding even northern Nigeria."

The killings of Christians were more geographically dispersed than in most time periods studied. "Hitting closer to home, 23 Christian leaders in Mexico and four in Colombia were killed specifically for their faith," said Open Doors of the "rare" event.

Asia is a new center of concern, with persecution rising sharply in Bangladesh, Laos, and Bhutan, and Sri Lanka joining the list for the first time.

*****

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