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Bishop Budde's ALPHA Transformation * Bishop Bruno Faces his Accusers * Diocese of Niagara Parish Offers Up Islamic Prayers * Continuing Anglicans Face Watershed Moment * Church of Wales May Reconsider Gay Cleric for Bishop * More Mergers in Canada

If we are true Christians, we must not expect everything smooth in our journey to heaven. We must count it no strange thing, if we have to endure sicknesses, losses, bereavements, and disappointments, just like other people. Free pardon and full forgiveness, grace by the way and glory to the end -- all this our Savior has promised to give. But He has never promised that we shall have no afflictions. He loves us too well to promise that. --- J. C. Ryle

"Christ has no body but yours; no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which His Compassion looks out upon the world. Yours are the feet with which He walks to do Good. Yours are the hands with which he Blesses all the world." --- St. Teresa of Avila

"Although its celebrants often don't realize it, the universe of liberal Protestantism is very small and getting smaller." --- Mark Tooley, IRD President

Full hearts and empty heads. Christianity lays great emphasis on the importance of knowledge, rebukes anti-intellectualism for the negative, paralyzing thing it is, and traces many of our problems to our ignorance. Whenever the heart is full and the head is empty, dangerous fanaticisms arise. --- John R.W. Stott

"Failed and dying liberal Protestantism self-defeatingly is prioritized over vibrant and socially effective orthodoxy." - - Mark Tooley, IRD President

Enough with the politics, Your Eminence, turn to Christ for the good of your own soul and your sheep. Your clock is running out. You've already been here eight years, and there is no turnaround in sight nor have you laid the groundwork for it. You can rail against me and other concerned Catholics all you want -- you should be concerned not about us but Jesus Christ. All the backslapping and buffoonery and loud laughing will avail you nothing at your judgment. The souls that were in your care is what you will be judged on. -- Michael Voris

The church is effectively doing power politics rather than discernment. All the anger and the rejection that the progressive part of the church found themselves expressing was not spiritual discernment, it was political rage. I'm not sure you can educate political rage. I don't think that Philip North, however well-meaning he is, is going to produce levels of education that will to remove people out of the grip of this ideology which is gender equality, which actually has nothing to do with the Gospels or Christianity. -- Rev. Dr. Gavin Ashenden

David W. Virtue, DD
www.virtueonline.org
March 31, 2017

Pick me off the floor. This is right up there with Ripley's Believe it or Not. You will recall that last week I wrote about Washington Bishop Marianne Budde's sermon to the House of Bishops in Kanuga. In that sermon, she said her diocese was slowly slipping away and the Jesus Movement wasn't making much headway there. Only a dozen or so parishes out of 88 would be viable in a few years. She then mentioned the need for more 'born again' members.

I took little notice of this at the time as she could have made it to mean anything she wanted it to mean, but then came word from a reliable source that she is leading an ALPHA course at the National Cathedral with Jamie Haith, curate at Holy Trinity, Brompton in London, the spiritual home of ALHPA and Nicky Gumbel, its founder!

Apparently Budde described a conversion experience she had when she was a teen. Budde's New Age heresies have been plenteously documented by this writer and I doubt I would support Haith because of her New Age heresies, but maybe something is touching her!

What is truly scarier, is if she discovers she has been wrong all these years and repents, it could start a chain reaction, maybe a riot or revival in TEC's HOB! Now that would be something to report on.

*****

The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, the revisionist Bishop of Los Angeles, faced his accusers this week, standing accused of "conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy" and of "conduct involving dishonesty, deceit, or misrepresentation." If found guilty, he could be deposed. Testimony began this week.

The legal fight concerns a church property in Newport Beach, California, valued at over $15 million dollars.

The Rev. Canon Cindy Evans Voorhees and several others testified about how she tried to foster a new congregation, St. James the Great, in the existing building, which was built in the 1940's and extensively renovated in 2002.

This parish was once the home of 1,500 mostly evangelical Episcopalians; it has now been mired in litigation and legal proceedings for more than a decade. Then this parish and three others withdrew from the Episcopal Church and joined the Anglican Church in North America.

The fleeing parishes and the diocese both claimed ownership of the church properties, but the parishes had the keys to the buildings. In 2013, after nine years of litigation, a court ruling found that the diocese owned the buildings.

The St. James the Great complainants allege that Bruno violated church canons because he:

* failed to get the consent of the diocesan standing committee before entering into a contract to sell the property;
* misrepresented his intention for the property to the members, the clergy and the local community at large;
* misrepresented that St. James the Great was not a sustainable congregation;
* misrepresented that the Rev. Canon Cindy Evans Voorhees, St. James' vicar, had resigned;
* misrepresented to some St. James members that he would lease the property back to them for a number of months and that the diocese would financially aid the church; and
* engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy by "misleading and deceiving" the clergy and people of St. James, as well as the local community, about his plans for the property and for taking possession of the property and locking out the congregation.

Bruno says in his response brief to the hearing panel that five of the allegations must be decided in his favor because "undisputed evidence establishes no canonical violation." He says the sixth allegation concerning alleged misrepresentations to Voorhees presents conflicting evidence for the panel to weigh. However, he calls it a "she said (he told me he wouldn't sell the property), he said (I never said I wouldn't sell the property) dichotomy."

At one point she testified that Bishop Bruno offered her a position working on an international mission, at a salary of $111,000, which was far more than she was making at the church. She accepted the position initially, but then handed her first paycheck back to the bishop and said she would stay with St. James the Great.

The Hearing Panel is hearing testimony in a meeting room of the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Pasadena, located about 90 minutes northeast of Newport Beach. Save St. James the Great has organized buses to travel to and from the hearing each day.

*****

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry gave a Q & A to the Salt Lake Tribune and gave some answers that you might want to think about.

QUESTION: On Jan. 14, 2016, the Anglican Communion suspended the Episcopal Church's voting and decision-making roles within the global body for three years, primarily due to the [U.S. church's] clergy officiating at same-sex marriages. Where are you in your relationship today?

CURRY: We are in good and full relationship and communion. ... That never changed. [The Anglican Communion's action] asked that the Episcopal Church not represent the Anglican Communion on ecumenical bodies. ... We were asked not to make decisions on matters of policy, or on how the church is governed for a period of three years. There are differences [between the two bodies], but the Anglican Communion is working together on moving forward . . . in the ministry of Jesus Christ to help and heal a hurting world. The mission we've been given is bigger than any divisions there may be among us.

QUESTION: If the Anglican Communion continues to insist on marriage solely being between a man and a woman, can the Episcopal Church remain affiliated with the body? Indeed, has the church effectively evolved into something different, something more than Anglican?

CURRY: No. The Episcopal Church is a constituent member of the Anglican Communion. We have been and will continue to be [because] that's who we are, and we're committed to that. There's been no discussion otherwise.

QUESTION: Has the same rift shown itself within the U.S. church since the 2003 consecration of Gene Robinson as the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop?

CURRY: [At the time of Robinson's consecration] I was bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina, one of the seven or eight largest dioceses [in the church] and probably fairly representative [of the church as a whole]. I gathered our clergy after consecration of Bishop Robinson. ... We knew that some people had left and I asked them to give me an estimate [of how many]. I'm here to tell you that in the Diocese of North Carolina [it was] 800 out of 49,000 [members], and one congregation out of 120. I think that pattern was fairly typical [for the church].

*****

A Diocese of Niagara parish offered up Islamic Prayers to Allah this week. In the wake of the Quebec mosque shooting, St. Simon's in Oakville, Ontario, decided to support Muslims, by praying to Allah during its monthly labyrinth walk.

We have seen the Episcopal Church's National Cathedral open its doors to Islamic worship. We have seen passages of the Koran publicly read in a cathedral in Scotland, with only minimal pushback. In Germany, Islamic prayers were offered in a Lutheran Church by an Imam, with fierce pushback by a Christian Lutheran woman; who called the act blasphemous. We have seen the Archbishop of Canterbury shake hands publicly with dodgy Islamic leaders who would sooner kill him than love him if circumstances were different.

But what we have never seen before is this.

This was the prayer:

O Allah, unite our hearts and set aright our mutual affairs, guide us in the path of peace.
Liberate us from darkness by Your light, save us from enormities whether open or hidden.
Bless us in our ears, eyes, hearts, spouses, and children.
Turn to us; truly you are Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.
Make us grateful for Your bounty and full of praise for it, so that we may continue to receive it and complete Your blessings upon us.

I'm not sure what "enormities" the congregation of St. Simon's need to be liberated from, but perhaps one is the enormous folly of reciting an Islamic prayer in a Christian church. You can read more about this in today's digest.

*****

Four Continuing Anglican jurisdictions, including the ACC, APA, DHC and ACA plan to meet in joint synods in Atlanta, Georgia, the week of October 2-6, marking a watershed in the history of the 40-years old movement.

Climax of the weeklong gathering will be a plenary session on Oct. 6, at which leaders of the Churches intend to sign an agreement establishing full communion (communion in sacris) among the four bodies, as well as "a pledge to pursue in a determined and deliberate fashion increasingly full unity." Church leaders will also discuss common plans for mission and evangelism.

*****

Five members of the Church in Wales' secretive electoral college that debates and votes for candidates, have spoken of 'deeply inappropriate' references to Dr. Jeffrey John's homosexuality when considering his nomination, Christian Today can reveal. The church will investigate official complaints into homophobia against John.

In a letter to the Church's most senior executive, Simon Lloyd, the electors said the remarks against Dr. John 'prejudiced' the process, making it 'invalid'.

A formal investigation has now been launched into the process and a legal panel chaired by a judge will decide whether to scrap the decision not to take Dr. John's nomination forward.

The electoral body met in Llandaff Cathedral for three days, but failed to elect a candidate, despite Jeffrey John winning more than half the vote and unanimous support from local representatives.

The complaint, signed by five of the 47-strong body, read: '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.'

*****

CANADA NEWS. A merger of five Peterborough-area Anglican and Lutheran congregations into two might begin as early as this September, says a diocesan official overseeing the process.

The amalgamation of St. Barnabas Anglican Church, St. Luke's Anglican Church, St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, All Saints' Anglican Church and Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church was recommended by a commission of lay people from all five churches in a report released last November. The report recommends that the current five parishes be reduced to two, but does not specify which two existing churches will remain open and which will close.

Since the report was released, all five churches have voted to proceed with amalgamation, according to Bishop Patrick White (ret., Bermuda), who was appointed assisting bishop for Trent-Durham after the departure of Bishop Linda Nicholls last year and before the installation of current Bishop Riscylla Walsh Shaw this January, and was asked to continue guiding the process.

The next step, White says, is for another commission, this one consisting of appointees from the Anglican diocese of Toronto and the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), to determine which two of the five churches will remain open. That commission's report is expected to be released in late May, he says. If its recommendations are approved, the diocese would begin implementing the amalgamation in September. It could take a year or more after that to complete the process, especially if the two sites chosen need renovation work, he says.

Giving had increased somewhat over that same period, the report said, but had not kept up with cost increases, and some of the parishes were either already financially unsustainable or soon to become so.

*****

NEW ZEALAND NEWS. ChristChurch Cathedral has been sitting derelict for over six years and many local landowners believe it is holding up regeneration of the city center.

Bishop Victoria Matthews has penned a letter to the Government, saying she is "seriously considering" its offer to help fund restoration of ChristChurch Cathedral, but sources say no decision will be made for at least a week.

Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister, Gerry Brownlee, said he wrote to Anglican Bishop Victoria Matthews on March 8 to reiterate an offer to contribute a $10 million grant and a $15 million loan towards the restoration costs of the cathedral. Brownlee said Matthews wrote back on March 21, stating they were "seriously considering" the offer.

Brownlee said Cabinet approved the $25 million funding offer in December.

*****

NIGERIAN NEWS.Nigerian Archbishop, Nicholas Okoh, says no one can hold the Church to ransom in a diocesan dispute over allegations of financial irregularities. The Primate of the Church of Nigeria said the crisis at the Sapele diocese can only be resolved by true repentance and recognizing that the church is governed by certain rules that must be obeyed for the good conduct of its affairs. The Church of Nigeria "recognizes the worth of its members who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, true members of the Anglican Church, baptized and confirmed, necessarily submit to the structure of the church, first to its clergy, bishops, archbishops, and ultimately to the Primate who administers the church through proper legal instrument. Hence, every clergy who accept to be ordained (must) swear to the oath of canonical obedience and loyalty to their bishop."

He said the protesters had failed to present their case against the bishop and had refused to work within the system of ecclesiastical discipline, leaving him no choice but to conclude the charges brought against Bishop Erifeta were unfounded.

"Anyone who fails and feels unable to bring himself under the governing authority of this church automatically repudiates his membership and has a right to leave or walk away. But no one has a right to hold the church to ransom."

His views are contained in a statement released on the church's website and signed by the General Secretary of the Church of Nigeria, The Ven. Dr. Stephen Ayodeji Fagbemi.

The Primate lamented the embarrassment the crisis had caused the church and noted that the complainants had "crossed the red line."

*****

Christian parents should pull their children out of public schools, now, to protect them from spiritual damage, extreme indoctrination, and other serious problems. Pastors and churches should work to encourage that "exodus," helping and encouraging families to put their kids in homeschools or private Christian schools as quickly as possible. The alternative will be the continued decline of the church in America and an acceleration of the nation's decline. That was the explosive message of an evangelical ministry leader, speaking as a guest this week on one of America's top Christian radio programs.

Dr. James Dobson, one of the nation's most influential Christian leaders and a former public-school teacher, hosted the discussion on his national radio program, focusing on the spiritual danger of allowing children to sit in secular or even anti-God public schools for over a dozen formative years. Dobson's guest on his nationally syndicated show, Family Talk, heard on hundreds of stations across America, was Lt. Col. E. Ray Moore, a retired military chaplain, a homeschooling pioneer, and the nation's leading advocate of a mass exodus of Christian children from the government schools. The explosive interview could have far-reaching ramifications, forcing millions of Christian parents and thousands of pastors across America to re-consider their choices.

Moore said churches and Christian families must launch a fresh effort to "really grow Christian schooling and homeschooling in the evangelical and conservative church community." First of all, he said, there is a "scriptural pattern" that underpins his argument. "The Bible is clear: Scripture assigns the education of children to the family with assistance from the church -- and not government," said Moore, who leads Frontline Ministries and is the director of the Exodus Mandate Project to get children out of government schools. "So we actually do not believe in state-sponsored education in any fashion."

Citing various Bible verses, Moore said parents are commanded to raise their children up in the "culture" of the Lord. Homeschooling and Christian schools help fulfill that, he explained, adding that public schools today are overtly hostile to Christianity and the Bible. Especially in the early years of child development, homeschooling is an excellent choice, with Christian schools available later for those who feel they can't do it themselves. For one, it creates a strong solidarity in the family, Moore said, adding that many homeschooling families are able to avoid the "teenage rebellion" stage altogether. "These kids that are homeschooled, and their peers in Christian schools, are a different breed, it's a different culture," he continued.

Dr. Dobson agreed, saying the sentiment was "absolutely true," and that young children are especially vulnerable to lifelong effects from being bullied or teased in their early years. "Today, public schools don't offer much in the way of values education, and if they do, it's often wrong," said Dobson, who was described as "the nation's most influential evangelical leader" by The New York Times. "Particularly today, so much of what goes on in public schools is really harmful." When Moore and Dobson were children, public schools still began the day with prayer and the Bible. "It was very, very different than it is today," Dobson added.

*****

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We really could really use some financial support. Thank you.

David

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