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Bishop Bruno Awaits Verdict * LGBT window dedicated to gay community * Sydney Apb. Rips Gay Bullying * Church of Wales Rejects Homophobia Charge * Anglican Communion is being Degraded says GAFCON Chairman * Welby’s Strategy: Neutralize GAFCON

The American Republic is in the throes of its gravest crisis since the Civil War, a crisis that threatens both its greatness and its freedom. And as with that earlier time of terrible, self-inflicted judgment, the deepest threat is not the foreign invader but the American insider. The problem is not America against the world, or the world against America, but America against itself, citizen against citizen, state against citizens, and even President against President. --- Os Guinness

Sin is a stain, a weight and a debt. But at least religions offer people a path from self-reflection and confession to atonement and absolution. --- David Brooks

In the Middle East and elsewhere, political protest is taking religious form. We haven’t seen that in the West since Martin Luther. The great rows in the 16th and 17th centuries were religious rows. The cliché is right: Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. The West has forgotten what religious revolution looks like. Religion isn’t something you do just in the home or in a house of worship. You can sometimes take it to the street, and we’ve forgotten how dangerous that can be. --- Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Transgenderism is supremely incoherent not only because it is irrational, but because that irrationality doesn’t diminish its appeal or social standing. Its irrationality is not a defect but its principle feature, its point of pride and perverse strength. Judge Niemeyer wrote in dissent in a transgender case, that, as against transgender policy, “[v]irtually every civilization’s norms on this issue stand in protest.” Well yes; that’s rather the point. For transgender ideology, the unanimous testimony of human civilization not only has no authority, but civilization is precisely the foe it aims to vanquish. Settled categories—of law, logic, or physical creation—are targets for subversion. --- Jeff Shafer in FIRST THINGS

Anti-intellectualism and the fullness of the Spirit are mutually incompatible, because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. --- John R.W. Stott

All I know is that God put us here to be lights in the darkness, and however dark it gets, our mission does not change. Dostoevsky wrote that stars grow brighter as the night grows darker. So the good news is that we have the opportunity to be the brightest stars for Christ that the world has ever seen, because we may well live through its darkest night. --- Matt Walsh, THE BLAZE

Totalitarians and fascists have always sought to demonize their opponents, in part by marking them out from the “normal” majority. They are clearly identified one way or another as recalcitrants, and treated accordingly. Simply consider how Jews fared as the Nazi regime occupied various European countries: being forced to wear a yellow badge in the form of a Star of David. Millions of our young men gave their lives to fight these totalist regimes and to preserve our cherished freedoms. But a new totalitarianism is descending upon the West, and it comes in the form of the militant and totalitarian rainbow activists. --- Bill Muehlenberg

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
April 7, 2017

The trial of Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno is over; now we await the verdict and his possible banishment from The Episcopal Church by his peers. If he is found guilty, he could be suspended or defrocked over a plan he had to sell St. James the Great in Newport Beach, a prime location worth an estimated $15 million.

Bruno faces allegations that he was deceptive and acted in a way unbecoming a clergyman when he tried to sell the St. James the Great site, locked congregants out and then kept the gates, closed even after the sale fell apart.

Testifying in Pasadena before a five-member panel of Episcopal bishops from around the country, he described the diocese as property-rich but cash-poor.

The irony of all this is that this parish was once solidly evangelical and in the hands of the Rev. Richard Crocker. He and the majority of the parish walked away over TEC’s abandonment of the faith and the ordination of an openly homosexual bishop to the episcopacy. The parish was “rescued” by a liberal woman priest, the Rev. Cindy Voorhees, and it was she who got in the face of Bruno. She wanted to keep the parish open. Bruno saw an opportunity to make a ton of money and ordered the parish closed and the locks changed. Voorhees and her small group of Episcopalians refused to take this lying down and went after the bishop. She got support from the lesbian assistant bishop of the diocese, Mary Glasspool, who subsequently got fired for supporting Voorhees, and charges were then filed against Bruno.

So, what are the odds Bruno will take a walk because he is within a year of retirement? And will the parish regain the property? Will these bishops really hang one of their own out to dry?

All but one of his judges are as liberal as Bruno theologically and on moral issues. The one bishop, Michael Smith of North Dakota, a Communion Partner bishop, is the most likely to vote to defrock Bruno. It will be interesting to see what and how the others say and vote.

A little history is important on how revisionist bishops hang one of their own, even if it is by their testicles…the pain is apparently worth it. There’s always the pension to dull the pain.

In the Diocese of Pennsylvania (where I live) we had a power-crazy bishop, Charles E. Bennison of less than blessed memory, who relished seizing parishes and their assets in the civil courts during both the Frank Griswold and Jefferts Schori reign. Bennison was infamous for his sayings about the Faith that would have Arius rolling over in his grave. He once said that “Jesus was a sinner who forgave himself” and "Men wrote the Bible and therefore could rewrite it.” As one poster noted, he performed illegal SSMs in private gardens around Philadelphia, spent diocesan money like there was no tomorrow, and then was finally caught covering up his pedophile brother, who was also a TEC priest. The Presiding Bishop at the time was Frank Griswold, who was living in his Rumi the Sufi world. He called on Bennison to meet him on a plain beyond good and evil, but when that failed (the plain apparently could not be found), he insisted that Bennison step down, as did a number of PA clergy. He refused. Finally inhibited, and tried he was exonerated by his own peers on the shifting sand of the “statute of limitations” which they should have known about before they went to trial. Jefferts Schori managed to lever him out with a new canon she got through the HOB and forced Bennison into retirement with a golden parachute.

So, the question is, do you really think that Bruno will be convicted and deposed?

The Right Rev. Herman Hollerith, the panel chairman and blue-blood bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia, said he doesn’t expect a decision on Bruno to be issued before Easter, April 16. Bruno is no doubt hoping for a resurrection moment.

*****

A small Episcopal congregation in North Dakota made news this week with their own new LGBT window dedicated to the gay community.

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Fargo dedicated a new window on Sunday featuring a rainbow and words from the denomination’s 1979 revision of the Book of Common Prayer: “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being?”

Dubbed “Integrity Window”, the installation also commemorates English writer St. Aelred of Rievaulx. Aelred authored the treatise “On Spiritual Friendship” and is claimed by some in the gay community for his own deep friendships with men. The window also features a quote from Galatians, a pride flag, the logo of Integrity USA (the unofficial LGBT caucus within the Episcopal Church) and a depiction of the parish’s rainbow-flag flying float from a local parade.

“Loving God, loving your neighbor as yourself, that’s really the basis for all Christian ministry as I see it and I think that’s the basis for how we see GLBTQ inclusion,” Parish Priest-in-Charge Jamie Parsley told local news station KVLY. The window is dedicated “in memory of those who died trying to be their authentic selves.”

So, by engaging in anal sex you will discover your “authentic self”. Someone needs to sit down with this parish and read the Book of Romans right through from beginning to end. You can read the full story in today’s digest.

*****

TRINITY WALL STREET…and what they really believe there. An old and dear lady friend of mine recently visited Trinity Wall Street, probably the wealthiest church in the world, and had the following experience and encounter at both worship and later with a clergyperson.

“The Eucharistic Liturgy referred to ‘the woman Mary,’ and ‘Blessed Mary’ -- but at no point was the word "Virgin" mentioned. I asked the celebrant about it, and she replied that it wasn't her decision, but the rector's; he felt that "woman" was more in keeping with the original language, it wasn't "her body" but "her spirit" that was important, etc. (The Rector was absent that day.)

“On a previous visit to Trinity last summer, the Rector -- one Rev. William Lupfer -- made a point of saying that the parish was not "exclusive," and that a meeting would be called to address the concerns of "the LGBTQ community." At the door, I told the Rector that I loved the worship of the church, and asked him if he would be willing to start a chapter of Anglicans for Life. He claimed to be unfamiliar with the group. I told him I knew he "would not want to exclude pro-Lifers." He answered, "[Trinity] has a certain identity. We are not all things to all men." When I pressed him on his pledge not to be "exclusive," he answered, "It is not exclusivity. It's identity." It was all I could do not to look him in the eye and call him a lightweight and a hypocrite. I wish I had!”

*****

It is now apparent to this writer that Archbishop Justin Welby’s Global Anglican strategy is to neutralize GAFCON before the next Lambeth Conference in 2020. His aim is to get as many African Primates on board over the next three years and thus neutralize the growing vibrant Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) which stands as the biggest thorn in the flesh to his ambitions to keep the Anglican Communion together at any cost.

But will it work? That is the $64,000 question. You can read my full analysis in today’s digest or here: http://tinyurl.com/mx9lnt7

*****

The Anglican Communion is being degraded and confused by false teaching and the Communion’s traditional leadership responds by accommodating [to] it, says GAFCON chairman and Nigerian Primate, Nicholas Okoh.

Writing in his April letter to GAFCON followers, the Archbishop of the Anglican Communion’s largest province, said there is no hope in that direction, a reference to Archbishop Justin Welby, leader of the Anglican Communion.

“At the same time, we see a new future unfolding. This is the GAFCON vision and it is being demonstrated very clearly in North America.” You can read the full story in today’s digest.

*****

The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies said that marriage equality campaigners are 'bullying' Australians who don't agree with them. He lashed out, accusing same-sex marriage campaigners of “swamping the public debate” by denying free speech to those that are against it.

Writing a column in The Australian, the Archbishop argued that a plebiscite would reveal that the majority of Australians opposed same-sex marriage.

Dr. Davies remarked that the views of gay marriage advocates have silenced the public from voicing their own opinions.

“People have been sold a lie, their views are shutdown, marginalized, ostracized and pilloried in a bullying fashion,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The Archbishop even commented on how marriage in Aboriginal culture is regarded as being “between a man and a woman”.

This is fascinating because Native American Anglicans in Canada made the same argument and gave Archbishop Fred Hiltz heartburn when the same-sex marriage vote narrowly passed in the Anglican Church of Canada recently.

*****

A day-long conference on Church Growth and Decline in the Anglican Communion, 1980 to the present, was held in late February by the center for Church Growth Research in Durham, England.

Here is what the group of mostly English academics concluded in its global research about the Episcopal Church, USA.

UNITED STATES

The principal Anglican denomination in the United States is the Episcopal Church. It lost almost a quarter of its members from 1986 to 2011, within the context of a rapidly rising population. Although decline was slower in the 1980s and ’90s, it has become much more pronounced since about 2000, albeit with a wide regional variation.

The South grew slightly in this period overall, while the East Coast and Midwest did much worse. That said, all areas have declined in recent years. Average Sunday attendance declined by almost a quarter between 2000 and 2010, and the number of baptisms halved between 2000 and 2014.

The figures for baptism are especially significant, given that Episcopalians tend to join the denomination as infants.

In contrast with other US denominations, the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church (USA) are doing worse than the Episcopal Church, but most denominations are doing better.

Although most Episcopal dioceses are now in decline, those in the interior are most vulnerable (a number of rural dioceses are barely viable), and those in metro­politan centers tend to be more robust.

Figures for the main Anglican alternative in the US, the Anglican Church in North America, are not precise; but, even if added to those of the Episcopal Church, they suggest that a large number of those who were Anglicans in the US in 2000, had ceased to be so by 2010.

As an example, the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy has ceased to exist following schism, with remnant Episcopalians now under the Diocese of Chicago.

*****

The Rt. Rev. Michael P. Milliken, Bishop of Western Kansas since 2011, will assist the Diocese of Kansas as the diocese begins to search for its tenth bishop.

The council is looking for a replacement for the former Bishop, Dean Wolfe, who fled to a wealthy parish in New York City. The diocese floundered under him. Truth be told, Western Kansas is barely holding on and the only real hope is for these two dioceses is to unite. Whether that happens remains to be seen.

The Diocese of Kansas was founded in 1897. The Diocese of Western Kansas began its life in 1903 as the Missionary District of Salina, and became a diocese in 1971.

*****

The Church in Wales has rejected claims of "deeply inappropriate" conduct during the selection process for a new Bishop of Llandaff.

A gay clergyman, the Very Rev. Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans, accused the Church of homophobia after he was rejected for the role. He is understood to have received over half the votes, but not the two thirds required.

One of the complaints came from five members of the Church in Wales' electoral college, the body which discusses and votes on bishop candidates. They had said: "We object to the raising at electoral college of the matter of sexuality or civil partnership status, in direct contravention of the Church in Wales's own policy that sexuality or civil partnership status is not a bar to appointment as a Bishop. We consider that this action was deeply inappropriate, and prejudiced the electoral college proceedings so as to render them invalid."

The church’s legal sub-committee had investigated three complaints in total and said all three were “without merit.” His Honor, Judge Andrew Keyser QC, said: “The proper course is for the bishops to proceed to fill the vacancy in accordance with Regulation 23 and the exercise of their own judgment."

Last month, the Church in Wales said it was satisfied that the Electoral College process had been carried out properly and fairly: “The meeting was confidential and we will not comment on speculation about the nomination and discussion of candidates. However, we strongly deny allegations of homophobia in the process. Neither homosexuality nor participation in a civil partnership are a bar to any candidate being either nominated or elected as a Bishop in the Church in Wales.”

The Provincial Secretary of the Church in Wales, Simon Lloyd, said, “I am very grateful to the legal subcommittee for their thorough and prompt examination of the complaints received about the election and appointment process of the Bishop of Llandaff. I can now confirm that proper procedure has been followed and there are no grounds for the complaints submitted. This means the Bench of Bishops can continue its task of appointing the new bishop without further delay.”

*****

CHURCH OF ENGLAND: In defense of church pews. There is “no theological basis” for the retention of church pews, declared John Gallagher, Chancellor for the Diocese of Rochester, as he dismissed the view of conservationists, who wanted to retain the austere wooden pews in the 14th-century Grade I listed St Margaret’s Church in Rainham, Kent. And so, a Church of England court has decreed that these Victorian pews may be replaced with tubular steel chairs, upholstered in royal blue, which are light and easy to stack, not to mention a little easier on the posterior than hard wood.

History and architectural congruity must give way to the need for “comfortable seating” and the preference for “color and brightness”. The change is apparently “popular among their congregation”, and they believe it “would encourage more people to attend”.

St Mary’s vicar, the Rev. Judy Henning, is supported in this decision by church wardens, Janet Garnons-Williams and Desiree Willis. This is…O, it’s probably best not to comment further.

*****

According to the latest PEW research, Christianity is dying out in Europe, while Islam is expanding. The new Pew Research study showed that deaths among Christians outnumbered births in Europe by almost six million between 2010 and 2015. “In Germany alone, there were an estimated 1.4 million more Christian deaths than births from 2010 to 2015.”

While Christianity dies out in Europe, Islam is rapidly expanding. During that same time period, births among Muslims in Europe outnumbered deaths by more than two million.

Among the religiously unaffiliated, births outpaced deaths by around one million.

*****

A group of 99 religious and denominational organizations are urging Congress to maintain laws that prevent churches and other tax-exempt non-profit groups from endorsing political candidates.

The coalition, which includes the Alabama Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ's Justice and Witness Ministries and the United Methodist Church's General Board of Church and Society, presented a letter this week to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and all members of Congress.

The letter addresses the "Johnson Amendment," the 1954 IRS regulation that prohibits churches and other religious organizations from keeping their tax-exempt status if they endorse candidates, participate in partisan activities, or "directly or indirectly" become involved in a political campaign.

President Trump has vowed to repeal the rule to allow faith leaders to "speak freely and without fear of retribution."

In their letter, the faith leaders said changes to the Johnson Amendment could result in houses of worship becoming partisan political tools.

"Current law serves as a valuable safeguard for the integrity of our charitable sector and campaign finance system," the group said. "The charitable sector, particularly houses of worship, should not become another cog in a political machine or another loophole in campaign finance laws."

"Houses of worship are spaces for members of religious communities to come together, not be divided along political lines; faith out to be a source of connection and community, not division and discord," the letter states.

*****

Lambeth Palace is pleased to announce the appointment of the Rt. Rev. Tim Thornton, the current Bishop of Truro, as the new Bishop at Lambeth. Bishop Tim will take up this post in September, replacing the Rt. Rev. Nigel Stock, who is retiring.

A source told VOL that he is being offered the plush job at Lambeth as a reward for failure. “The diocese
used to be perfectly viable when Bishop Graham Leonard was there. Thornton virtually erased the diocese. At one point in his career, he was David Hope’s chaplain in the Diocese of London. Immaculate robes, no substance.”

*****

Half the states want to restrict the $500 million that flows to Planned Parenthood, in what is described as the next abortion battle. Half the states are now able to defund Planned Parenthood, as Congress has cleared the way for them to do so.

The abortion giant rakes in $1.2 billion a year, with a leftover profit of $127 million — most of it from abortion money. Its CEO, Cecile Richards, made an annual pay of nearly $1 million — causing some to wonder how this outfit continues to call itself a "non-profit."

On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence once again cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate, this time striking down Obama's agency regulation the lame-duck president pushed through just before he left office. The agency rule by Obama disallowed states from blocking federal Title X funding, flowing through them to Planned Parenthood (PP).

*****

A new opportunity for Ph.D. studies for mission leaders, people involved in ministry in the public square, development practitioners, and seminary teachers seeking a multi-cultural international educational experience to engage in research has opened up at The University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, in partnership with the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life UK, directed by Canon Dr. Vinay Samuel and supported by East Mountain, Stellenbosch and Barnabas Fund. They invite applications for their four year degree program, with 4 months residence, beginning with a three week introductory seminar in Stellenbosch, in September, 2017.

For further details download the enclosed brochure and for application forms email the Co-Dean in Oxford, Canon Dr. Chris Sugden on csugden@ocrpl.org.
(Click on link below for brochure)
PhilosophyDegree_Brochure Final

*****

If you were under the impression that the opposition to your religious freedom came from rational people who just have a disagreement with conservatives, wait until you see who's jumping into the movement.

The latest group to declare their allegiance to the anti-Christian cause might surprise and even frighten you a little. They are Satanists.

"If we're asking for religious rights for all, then we need to understand what that means. That means religious rights for Satanists as well," a Satanist declares.

The Satanic Temple tells the outlet Broadly it is looking to mainstream itself and is vying for converts among one of the fastest growing segments of the American spectrum of faith – atheists and so-called free thinkers. But they insist that is just parody to make a point. Satan, they say, is not real; they just need a gimmick to counter the inroads Christianity has made into society.

"We don't believe in a guy with a red poker down in Hell waiting … to torment us for the rest of our life," the spokesperson explains. Really.

*****

Bland statements of optimism

“mutual flourishing”

“good disagreement”

“radical new Christian inclusion”

*****

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