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Bishop Mark Lawrence, "litigation is not over" * Stacy Sauls' Lawsuit Dismissed * GAFCON invitations going out * Radical New Inclusion will sink Church of England * TSM Appoints New Theology Professor * Canada's Primate Promotes "Good Disagreement"

A God who sends. 'Mission' is an activity of God arising out of the very nature of God. The living God of the Bible is a sending God, which is what 'mission' means. He sent the prophets to Israel. He sent his Son into the world. His Son sent out the apostles, and the seventy, and the church. He also sent the Spirit to the church and sends him into our hearts today. --- John R.W. Stott

Ultimately, what will matter is not the recognition of Canterbury, but the mutual recognition of Anglican Churches where the power of the gospel is manifest, and in that the new Churches of the Sudan and of North America are united; in their very different contexts they both know what it is to suffer for the gospel and to rely on the power of God. --- Charles Raven

Americans are more divided morally, ideologically and politically today than they were during the Civil War, for that reason, just as the Great War came to be known as World War I once there was World War II, the Civil War will become known as the First Civil War when more Americans come to regard the current battle as the Second Civil War." --- Dennis Prager at Townhall

God's grace is not infinite. God is infinite, and God is gracious. We experience the grace of an infinite God, but grace is not infinite. God sets limits to his patience and forbearance. He warns us over and over again that someday the ax will fall and His judgment will be poured out. Since it is our tendency to take grace for granted, my guess is that God found it necessary from time to time to remind Israel that grace must never be assumed. On rare but dramatic occasions, He showed the dreadful power of His justice. He killed Nadab and Abihu. He killed Uzzah. He commanded the slaughter of the Canaanites. It is as if He were saying, "Be careful. While you enjoy the benefits of my grace, don't forget my justice. Don't forget the gravity of sin. Remember that I am holy." --- R.C. Sproul

The Bible is full of warnings about those who would lead God's people astray with lies and false teachings, and drag them into sinful, immoral lifestyles. We should steer clear of such people and have nothing to do with them. Yet sadly we seem to find these apostates regularly doing their worst as they lead so many to perdition. --- Bill Muehlenberg

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
August 25, 2017

THE ECLIPSE was wonderful to watch, but it is not a sign of an immediate apocalypse or End Times. Mercifully, Anglicans don't have such theological views and you should be grateful we don't.

Ed Stetzer, a missiologist much favored by North American Anglicans said, quoting from the Christian Post: "For me personally, I am not attaching any great significance to a solar eclipse. There are many signs that Jesus told us to look for that would alert us to the fact that His coming is near. The fact is, those signs are all around us. Only a fool would ignore the writing on the wall. As far as the solar eclipse goes, I personally don't attach any great significance to that in particular.

"To journalists who seek to highlight Christians who see the eclipse as a sign of the end: it's not honest reporting. It's disingenuous and dishonest. I don't see any of these news sources going around looking for Hindus and Muslims looking for their strange ideas--but they do so for Christians. We have fringe people who ascribe cult-like significance to normal astrological events, but they do not represent mainstream and normative Christianity."

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Bishop Mark Lawrence sent out an update on where things are within the Diocese of South Carolina. He said he has met with the Standing Committee and his lead counsel and they have decided to seek a rehearing from the state court. The filing for rehearing is due on September 1, 2017. Subsequent to this filing, it is assumed The Episcopal Church and its local diocese will then be granted time by the court to respond to our filing. "I want to remind you that this litigation is not over. There are several options for us to pursue and we shall consider them prayerfully and strategically. Earlier in August our lead counsel, Mr. Alan Runyan, and I met with all the clergy of the diocese at a Special Clergy Day at St. Paul's, Summerville; then, this last week Canon Lewis and I met with the active priests in each of our six deaneries for in-depth conversations. Your priests are aware of various possibilities and are key resources for you in understanding where we presently stand."

Lawrence said there were many challenges. "Some of these rectors and vicars (and their spouses and children) live in church housing, as do Allison and I. Many that do not live in rectories are making payments on mortgages. So too, are the lay staff in our congregations and diocese. Some of our congregations are in the midst of capital campaigns or hold debt on their buildings. Frankly, each congregation of the diocese is in a distinct position regarding how this ruling may or may not affect their common life and future. While this is also the case for each rector, vicar or assistant, I have been amazed at the remarkable resilience of our clergy as they face the uncertainty of the future."

Lawrence said the ruling has the potential to disrupt lives and ministry, as well as the ministry and mission of the congregation they serve. "God has not revoked his call nor our vocation to make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age; I believe however, he is calling us to fuller fellowship in the Spirit; a deeper trust in his word; and a more zealous thrust in mission and ministry in the world."

VOL has posted this story from Fits News which argues that Supreme Court Justice Kaye Hearn should have recused herself from this court case owing to her deep involvement in and with the Episcopal Church. Hearn was one of the three Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of the liberal national Episcopal Church (TEC), which sued a conservative diocese that broke away from its ranks five years ago: http://www.virtueonline.org/sc-episcopal-schism-supreme-court-justice-slammed

*****

A district judge in Alabama has dismissed a lawsuit by the Rt. Rev. Stacy Sauls, former chief operating officer of the Episcopal Church, according to a report in The Living Church.

Mobile County 13th Judicial District Judge Ben Brooks said in his Aug. 22 decision that Alabama was not the proper venue for Sauls to file such a suit.

The judge ruled that the actions described in the suit occurred in New York, where Sauls still lives and where the church maintains its denominational office.

"The only potential Alabama witnesses are the lawyers [Sauls] hired," Brooks wrote.

The judge's decision came about two months after he had ordered Sauls and church representatives in June to engage in state-mandated mediation. He took that action after he had heard oral arguments on the church's request that he dismiss the lawsuit.

The judge appointed Michael Upchurch, an Alabama lawyer and mediator, to lead that process. Upchurch was ordered to finish the mediation and report to Brooks by Aug. 18. Upchurch attends St. James Episcopal Church in Fairhope, Alabama, according to his profile on the website of the Mobile law firm Frazer, Greene, Upchurch, and Baker.

The bishop's suit against the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and an unspecified number of unnamed defendants associated with the church claimed that Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's decision to replace him as chief operating officer had damaged his reputation and made it difficult for him to be employed elsewhere in the church.

Sauls filed suit in early February, nearly a year after Curry relieved him of his job. In announcing the lawsuit, the presiding bishop said that, in consultation with legal counsel, he had "tried his best to negotiate a severance with Bishop Sauls." Curry said he made "a good faith and compassionate offer, but that offer was not accepted."

The presiding bishop also said that "as a steward of church resources" he could not go beyond that offer and explain it in good conscience to the church.

Three senior managers have been on administrative leave since Dec. 9, 2015, pending an investigation into formal complaints and allegations by multiple members of the presiding bishop's staff that the three had violated personnel policies.

This is yet another example of the revisionist rats turning on themselves. Having decimated and blown off the orthodox wing of the Church and with it, tens of thousands of parishioners, they are now turning on themselves. First, there was Bishop Douglas Hahn of Lexington, who failed to reveal he had committed adultery, then came Bishop Jon Bruno for his bad behavior over property and now Stacy Sauls, who said he did not get enough green backs to go away when he was the Church's COO. One wonders who's next? We wait with baited breath.

*****

Invitations to the next Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) are going out to people around the Anglican Communion. The first Jerusalem Conference occurred in 2008. The second was in Nairobi in 2013, reports General Secretary Dr. Peter Jensen.

The Primates are summoning representatives from all around the Communion to Jerusalem in June 2018.

There are several striking things about this moment.

First, the name. The 2008 Conference was a totally new initiative. It looked forward -- it is a Future Conference. The Communion of old had changed irrevocably with events in North America which denied both the clear teaching of the word of God and also the value of Christian unity and fellowship. The Future Conference did not abandon the Communion: it looked to the future and saw what the Communion would have to become if it is to survive.

Second, the location. It was no accident that we were summoned to Jerusalem. Here was the scene of the Saviour's death and resurrection. In Jerusalem, the Spirit came on the day of Pentecost and the Gospel was first preached. If we were looking and hoping for renewal and courage, symbolically there could be no better place than this. It took us back to our true roots.

Third, the participants. The key thing here is that not only bishops were invited, but clergy and laity, men and women, young and old. To have a future conference of bishops only would be a vote for the past. This was a new thing, a new day.

Both Nairobi and Jerusalem followed a similar pattern of listening to God's word, worship, prayer, fellowship, learning, decision-making, sharing in common interest groups, growing together. There were some extraordinary plenaries, groups which grappled with the hard issues, moments of exuberance, moments of great solemnity, new friends made and hands reaching out in support and consolation. In each there was determination to preach the Gospel and to seek the renewal of the Church.

*****

Ambridge, PA, based Trinity School for Ministry has appointed The Rev. Dr. Jack Gabig as the new Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program. Trinity's Board of Trustees ratified the call to Dr. Gabig, after a unanimous vote of the faculty in July.

"I am pleased to announce the appointment of The Rev. Dr. Jack Gabig as a full-time member of our residential faculty," said The Very Rev. Dr. Henry L. Thompson III, Dean & President of Trinity. "He brings many years of pastoral wisdom, creative energy, innovative thinking, passion for academic rigor, and an abundance of love centered in the love of Jesus Christ."

Dr. Gabig received his MDiv from Trinity School for Ministry and then served for eight years as Assistant Rector at the Church of the Ascension in Pittsburgh, PA. He then moved to England, where he completed his Ph.D. at King's College in London, during which time he served as a Chaplain at New College, Oxford.

Dr. Gabig currently serves as the Associate Professor of Practical Theology and the Director of Advanced Degree Programs at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, WI.

*****

Two lesbian clergy who celebrated their civil partnership at Southwark Cathedral recently, got blasted by the Rev. Dr. Gavin Ashenden on AnglicanTV.

He said the civil partnership of the Rev. Helen Orchard and the Diocesan director of ordinands and fellow priest, ratified Archbishop Justin Welby's notion of "radical inclusion". This is how it works out in practice, said Ashenden.

"They keep the rules on the surface while practicing the opposite underneath. While there was not a formal wedding they are can now legally cuddle (but no sex please) like Jeffrey John the Dean of St. Albans.

"They went to Southwark Cathedral, had Eucharist, then dinner and then dancing in the cathedral in a radically inclusive way. The trouble with radical inclusion is that it looks a lot like hypocrisy...doing one thing saying another. Jesus calls it hypocrisy. Welby will plead that the CofE is not changing its doctrine but in practice it is doing so."

Ashenden said it will kill the Church of England. "The ABC is lulling people into a sense of false security, with no changes to official doctrine but changes to official practice. This is a false radical inclusion and serious error. It is a microcosm that will ultimately sink the CofE.

"If the church of England doesn't have integrity, it doesn't have very much."

*****

Good disagreement...not. The Anglican Primate of Canada, Fred Hiltz, is reviving the notion of "good disagreement" on same-sex marriage.

But, as David of Samizdat observes, "Does anyone remember Rowan Williams' attempt to solve the same-sex marriage mess in the Anglican Communion using the Covenant? It was still alive and kicking -- well, twitching at least -- as little as five years ago, yet now it's deader than the dandruff falling from Rowan's eyebrows.

"Justin Welby ignored The Covenant and, instead, imposed "consequences" on provinces that defied the ban on same-sex marriages. No one, least of all Welby, took them seriously.

"Having now jettisoned both The Covenant and Consequences, Welby has settled on the idea of "good disagreement", an ecclesiastical version of the cold war with ersatz pieties injected into it for appearances' sake.

"Fred Hiltz has jumped on the good disagreement bandwagon and is applying it to the Anglican Church of Canada. Sorry, he is embracing it.

"The question is, if same-sex marriage were to remain forbidden in the ACoC, would anyone be proposing good disagreement as the solution for calming bruised liberals? Of course not: the battle would continue and all we would hear about would be prophetic voices, inclusion, justice and equality, laced with frequent references to a rubber stamping holy spirit. Good disagreement is just another smoke screen designed to cloud the judgement of conservatives in order to keep them in the fold, so as to continue to collect their offerings.

Said Hiltz: "My own read is that many in our church are coming to accept and declare that we will never agree on this matter. There will always be those who favour same-sex marriage and those who oppose it, each from the ground of their own wrestling with the Scriptures and the long-held teaching of
the church on the nature of marriage. The challenge is, how do we live with such deep-seated differences of conviction? At the heart of this challenge are two things--the acknowledging of our fears and the embracing of good disagreement."

*****

The Diocese of Huron is disappearing faster than a swimmer navigating Niagara Falls. In June and July 2017, Anglican churches were closed in the following towns and cities of Western Ontario. Scotland Ontario; Gorrie; Fordwich; Harriston; Owen Sound and Listowel. On August 28, a Deconsecration Service will take place for St. Thomas the Apostle, Owen Sound. Bishop Linda Nicholls will celebrate. What there is to "celebrate" in any sense of the word is hard to fathom. The bishop recently wrote to her diocese that every parish has to ask itself what sort of future they have if they can't pay their diocesan assessment, support a rector and more. The diocese is dying and by all accounts she will be its last bishop.

*****

Can we get along despite our differences? That is the crucial question asked by social critic Dr. Os Guinness in today's digest of stories. How do we live with our deepest differences? We're in a very solemn moment for humanity, he writes.

"The last century was the most murderous in human history, and today, in this century, we are witnesses to the horror of yet another genocide, which many world leaders are refusing to name. We're seeing the heartbreak of a tidal wave of desperate, and unwanted often, migrants and certainly in the West, we are living in the heated conflict of -- what is now in America -- 50 years of incessant culture warring.

"As we look at this, you can see the West is weakening, American leadership is faltering, the international global order is being called into question, and one of the deepest issues that is coming up again and again -- how do we live with our deepest differences?

"We who are followers of Jesus, enter this discussion in a mixed light. We are, and there is no question, the pioneers of freedom of conscience and religious freedom. From Tertullian (circa 155-240 AD) and Lactantius (circa 250-325 AD) right down through Roger Williams (1603-1683) and William Penn (1644-1718) and many of the greatest heroes of this issue, they were followers of Jesus."

You can read Dr. Guinness's take here: http://www.virtueonline.org/getting-along-despite-differences

*****

Two notable women in the Church died recently. Jan Wantland, the wife of Bishop William Wantland, passed away. She was 76. She is survived by her husband, children and grandchildren. After moving with her husband to Seminole, Oklahoma Jan was a member of the Anglican Church of North America, where she and her husband had a chapel in their home. She was an active clergy wife of the Diocese of Fort Worth. In Seminole, she was a member of Beta Sigma Phi sorority, the Pink Ladies at the hospital, Creative Woman Red Hatters and the Tuesday Afternoon Bible Study. One of her highlights in life was to be presented to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip and to visit with Princess Diana at Buckingham Palace in 1988.

The other notable death was Ruth Fullam, wife of Terry Fullam, a leading figure in the Charismatic renewal movement in The Episcopal Church. "She was a lady of extraordinary Grace and Spiritual fullness and everyone will miss her greatly. She has been blessed to live in a wonderful home with daughter Melanie, Son-in-Law Charles and all the grandkids. She is now with Terry," a close friend, wrote VOL.

*****

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In Christ,

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