Chosen and called: True freedom is freedom to be our true selves, as God made us and meant us to be. --- John R.W. Stott
It is not necessary that traditions and ceremonies be in all places one, and utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversities of countries, times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's Word...Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish, ceremonies or rites of the Church ordained only by man's authority, so that all things be done to edifying. -- Article 34
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
October 8, 2016
There is a spiritual tug of war going on between Archbishop Justin Welby, the GAFCON Primates and emerging Global South leaders, as the Anglican Communion is being pulled in different directions in the hope, by Welby, that some sort of unity can be extracted from a growing fractured body. However, it is abundantly clear that the Communion is, in fact, increasingly becoming polarized with the torn fabric of the communion tearing even further apart.
This week I have been in Cairo, Egypt, covering the 6th Trumpet call of Global South Anglican leaders, that included 16 archbishops from Latin America, Southeast Asia, Australia, multiple African nations, Bangladesh, Canada, the US, Egypt, numerous bishops and a handful of concerned laity.
It was an historic occasion as, once more, the orthodox primates of the Global South stood up and declared that the gospel of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as the sole Savior of the world, forgiver of sins and reconciler with God and man was at God's heart. They also bewailed those Western provinces that had caved into pansexuality and issued, in its communique, the strongest possible condemnation of sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman and said God was not pleased with people redefining sexuality, and that such persons would ultimately face the judgement of God.
From the first GAFCON Communique of 2006, to the Canterbury Primates' Communique in 2016, to the latest Cairo Communique, orthodox primates of the Global South ratcheted up the pain and demands for purity of life and holiness on Welby and the whole Anglican Communion. They said no to homosexual behavior and no to homosexual marriage.
Ironically, even as this group of high level primates was meeting in Cairo, Justin Welby took a team of primates to Rome to talk up unity with the Pontiff of a billion souls.
ENS reported (which VOL first exposed) that Presiding Bishop Michael Curry (and more than half of the Anglican Communion primates) travelled to Rome to celebrate 50 years since Pope Paul VI met with Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey in Rome in 1966.
It appears that the visit to Rome was set for the same time as GS6 in Cairo, after the Global South announced it was meeting in Cairo. Perhaps there was a desire to have a competing agenda to try to make it appear that all is well in the Anglican Communion, when, in fact, it is not. When VOL first enquired if Welby would be attending the GS conference, we were told he had begged off, saying he was going to be in Rome seeing the pope.
The deeper question is why Michael Curry was invited when he had been told back in January in Canterbury that he had been prohibited for a period of three years from attending an ecumenical gathering of any kind because of TEC's stand on human sexuality!
When Nigerian Archbishop Nicholas Okoh heard this, he was furious at Welby's betrayal and told me so. We have made it clear, over and over again that we will not tolerate homosexuality, and this goes against all of us, he said.
Welby, the perfect manager and manipulator managed to "steal" Ian Ernest, Indian Ocean Primate and vice chairman of the Global South, to join him in Rome. In another move aimed at declawing the Global South is his recent appointment of the Rt. Rev. Anthony Poggo, currently bishop of the Diocese of Kajo-Keji in South Sudan, as his new adviser for Anglican Communion affairs. He does this even though Poggo's boss is Sudan Archbishop Deng Bull, a GAFCON primate! Oh, the duplicity.
Clearly, Welby is using all his management skills and techniques to drain off GAFCON and the Global South by placing them in strategic positions based on the old adage of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer.
He is doing everything Rowan Williams could not do and is, by any reckoning, doing a better job than Rowan. The former archbishop was not a manager, but a head banger but that still got him nowhere. He retired eight years before he had too because the pressure was too much and he could reconcile the irreconcilable.
But can Welby ultimately keep it altogether? The answer to that is a resounding no if the trajectory of the Anglican Communion continues along its present path.
Each communique repeats the need for theological integrity, sexual purity, evangelism, discipleship, church planting and much more.
Western provinces don't seem to be listening.
Egyptian Archbishop Mouneer Anis called for new structures through which Global South Provinces could cooperate for undiluted Gospel ministry. This would not require a break from Canterbury, but it would allow for ministry without having Western Liberals dominate the agenda with their "progressive" views and plans.
Bishop Bill Atwood (GAFCON Ambassador) said, "It is likely that the implications from Bishop Mouneer's comments tonight will reverberate for two hundred years. I expect to see great strength going forward with both fellowship and theological agreement uniting practically all of the Global South with all of GAFCON."
The communique's theme was "Found Faithful" and covers the usual ground of evangelism mission and discipleship, clarity in the gospel to be proclaimed, and then they said this, "The Communion exposes the Communion's ecclesial deficit, which was highlighted in the Windsor Continuation Group Report (2008) and concluded by saying this, "The Global South Primates will therefore form a task force to recommend how these needs can be effectively addressed."
Thems are fighting words. This is a direct attack on the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and he has been served notice by these orthodox primates that this is a game changer. These 16 provinces represent the vast majority of the Anglican Communion.
VOL will have more commentary on this communique in the coming days.
I have posted more than a dozen stories from my time here in Cairo and we left no stone unturned in getting you the fullest coverage of this historic event.
South African Anglican Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, said this week that when his time comes, he wants the option of an assisted death.
"Throughout my life, I have been fortunate to have spent my time working for dignity for the living. I have campaigned passionately for people in my country and the world over to have their God-given rights.
"Now, as I turn 85, with my life closer to its end than its beginning, I wish to help give people dignity in dying. Just as I have argued firmly for compassion and fairness in life, I believe that terminally ill people should be treated with the same compassion and fairness when it comes to their deaths. Dying people should have the right to choose how and when they leave Mother Earth. I believe that, alongside the wonderful palliative care that exists, their choices should include a dignified assisted death," he told the Washington Post.
The situation in the Anglican Church of Canada goes from bad to worse. It's hard to imagine any other scenario than its ultimate demise.
Seven bishops 'publicly dissented' from same-sex marriage vote and now say General Synod "erred grievously" in its approval of a resolution allowing same-sex marriages.
The statement, a copy of which was sent to the Anglican Journal, also called on the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, "to seek ways to guarantee our place within the Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Communion."
The statement was signed by Bishop Stephen Andrews, of the diocese of Algoma; Bishop David Parsons, of the diocese of the Arctic, and Suffragan Bishop Darren McCartney, also of the diocese of the Arctic; Bishop Fraser Lawton, of the diocese of Athabasca; Bishop William Anderson, of the diocese of Caledonia; Bishop Michael Hawkins, of the diocese of Saskatchewan; and Bishop Larry Robertson, of the diocese of Yukon.
Twenty-six bishops, or 68.4%, voted in favor of the motion to change the church's marriage canon to allow for same-sex marriages, and 12 voted against.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz finally responded back and pushed back. saying that while he affirmed the bishops' commitment to offer "pastoral care and loving service to all irrespective of sexual orientation," he noted that for many LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) Anglicans, "pastoral care" would include the solemnization of their marriages--which the bishops have expressly said they will not do. "For me, my brothers, the question you ask is really a question for all members of the church. To what extent can we and will we make room for one another? To what extent will we pastorally accommodate one another?" Hiltz said in his letter.
Hiltz's response is dated August 5, but it became public following its distribution to the House of Bishops in advance of its September 22-27 meeting in Winnipeg. The Anglican Journal obtained a copy of the letter after a request was made to the primate's office.
Hiltz also challenged their claim that the resolution, which contains a conscience clause, "does not provide adequate protection for the consciences of dioceses, clergy and congregations." He asked the bishops to explain what such protection would look like, and how it would apply for those in their dioceses who are in favor of same-sex marriage.
He defended the process leading up to the same-sex marriage vote, July 11, which narrowly passed the first of two readings (the second will take place in 2019) and took issue with the bishops' claim that the "entire process" leading up to the vote was "flawed," and had "inflicted terrible hurt and damage on all involved."
The ACoC is following the playbook of TEC in its approach to homosexual marriage, and the same thing will happen to those remaining orthodox dioceses in Canada that happened to TEC's dwindling orthodox dioceses (now down to six). They will slowly be run out of town. As bishops retire, their places will be taken by liberal bishops (think Nthn. Indiana) and the whole church will slowly disintegrate. It is only a matter of time.
Some tidbits from my source in Canada: The number of Anglican churches in London, Ontario, may go down to four. Since the same sex weddings were voted in by one vote in July, 2016, attendance on Sunday mornings has really declined. The vast majority of the parishioners in the pews do not want same sex weddings.
Then there's this from blogger David of Samizdat. The Anglican Church of Canada wants to end poverty (Bishop Jane Alexander is co-chair of the End Poverty Edmonton Task Force), an ambition that we might be tempted to think a trifle arrogant since the Church's founder said it couldn't be done.
No one seriously thinks the ACoC can actually do it, of course; it can't even deliver Biblical sustenance to its own flock. That means it's up to the government. or, to put it more plainly, taxpayers, most of whom don't attend an Anglican church, anyway, so that's a good plan.
And this...Whatever you do, though, don't mention abortion. Sorry, I know I just mentioned it. That is because killing the unborn is the biggest injustice that will be visited on the defenseless, but the ACoC hasn't the guts to stand up for murdered unborn babies. So I won't mention abortion. Oops, there I go again.
And there's David's reflection on Archbishop Fred Hiltz, with this headline, Roman Catholics and Anglicans continue their ecumenical dance. Justin Welby met with Pope Francis for more ecumenical dialogue recently. The conclusion was that the denominations are still divided.
A great deal of expense and carbon emissions could have been avoided by a close inspection of the invitation list. It included Fred Hiltz from Canada who, not only has no influence over healing divisions between Catholics and Anglicans, but has spent most of the time during his tenure in his own denomination promoting division in it. Justin Welby, seemingly eager to learn from the colonies, is about to follow suit.
What a waste of time, energy and resources.
Here is what came out of the Rome lovefest with the Pope; "While the decision by some provinces in the Anglican Communion to accept the ordination of women and same-sex marriage have posed new obstacles to formal unity between Anglicans and Roman Catholics, a common declaration issued by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis October 5 reaffirmed their commitment to ecumenical work.
"While...we ourselves do not see solutions to the obstacles before us, we are undeterred," the declaration says. "We are confident that dialogue and engagement with one another will deepen our understanding and help us to discern the mind of Christ for his church."
Nonsense, nothing will change. TEC and the ACoC will continue on their Gadarene slide into oblivion and nobody will care.
The Diocese of Niagara's, Rev. Wayne Fraser, wants to ditch the Nicene Creed because it promotes "old science" and says the world is flat, writes David of Samizdat.
"The Creeds, of course, make no scientific claims at all. What probably disturbs Rev. Wayne's sensibilities is the Creed's insistence on the miraculous, such as the Virgin Birth and Resurrection.
"Miracles are only a problem for materialists who believe the universe is a closed system; for those of us who think God is free to act as an agent in his own creation -- that may well not include the Rev. Wayne - miracles are no less scientific than the free act of any human agent.
"Rev. Wayne also thinks the Creed engages in modern dance with scientific knowledge, so I don't think we should pay much attention to anything he says.
"Here is the word from the diocese: There's so much old science reflected in the Creed that does not jive [he means "jibe"] with what we know today about the universe. The ancient concept of a three-tiered world, to begin with. And a flat earth.
"The Nicene Creed teaches us to believe in "one holy, catholic and apostolic Church." Is that in the Bible? No. What good does it do? It does not make much difference to most people's lives. If we are still considering the role of the Nicene Creed in the Christian church after 1,700 years, still fretting about ideologies, we have missed the point."
And then there's David's take on Fred Hiltz and the recent same sex marriage vote.
"Archbishop Hiltz responds to dissenting bishops. Once the vote to change the marriage canon to permit same-sex marriage passed at General Synod, a number of bishops released a statement expressing their disagreement with both the process and the outcome. They also reaffirmed their commitment to stick with the Anglican Church of Canada come what may, a resolve that does little to fortify any influence they may think they have.
"Now Hiltz has responded to the statement. He makes his support for same-sex marriage quite clear and, reading between the lines, in spite of protestations to the contrary, I can't believe there will be much tolerance for dissent.
"While he affirmed the bishops' commitment to offer "pastoral care and loving service to all irrespective of sexual orientation," he noted that for many LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) Anglicans, "pastoral care" would include the solemnization of their marriages--which the bishops have expressly said they will not do. "For me, my brothers, the question you ask is really a question for all members of the church. To what extent can we and will we make room for one another? To what extent will we pastorally accommodate one another?" Hiltz said in his letter.
"The bishops are, rightly, worried about the conscience clause:
"Hiltz also challenged their claim that the resolution, which contains a conscience clause, "does not provide adequate protection for the consciences of dioceses, clergy and congregations." He asked the bishops to explain what such protection would look like, and how it would apply for those in their dioceses who are in favor of same-sex marriage.
"One answer to Hiltz might be this: when a bishop or clergyman refusing to marry a same-sex couple is either hauled before the Human Rights Commission or is civilly sued, the ACoC must pay for his legal defense. Of course, that won't stop liberal bishops refusing to hire orthodox clergy or making their lives so disagreeable that they quit for a saner environment - but some things are too much to hope for."
What comes around goes around. The Jesus with breasts stature is back in the news again and only in The Episcopal Church would it allow such blasphemy to exist.
The nude female "Christa", Back at New York's Episcopal Cathedral, writes Jeff Walton of IRD. A controversial sculpture depicting a nude female Christ on the cross is displayed on a chapel altar.
"Christa", the bronze sculpture by artist Edwina Sandys, will appear alongside the work of 21 other contemporary artists, according to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine web site: "all exploring the language, symbolism, art, and ritual associated with the historic concept of the Christ image and the divine as manifested in every person--across all genders, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and abilities."
Sandys' work was previously exhibited in the cathedral in 1984. as part of an exhibition on the feminine divine, but was removed after significant backlash. Then-Suffragan Bishop of New York, Walter Dennis, criticized the sculpture as "theologically and historically indefensible", leading to its removal from the 124-year-old gothic revival church in Manhattan's Morningside Heights neighborhood.
The current dean of the cathedral, the Very Rev. James A. Kowalski, saw the return of the statue as "an opportunity to reframe the conversation and, frankly, do a better job than the first time."
The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, Andrew M. L. Dietsche, wrote an article for the cathedral's booklet -- an approving article. "In an evolving, growing, learning church," he wrote, "we may be ready to see 'Christa' not only as a work of art but as an object of devotion, over our altar, with all of the challenges that may come with that for many visitors to the cathedral, or indeed, perhaps for all of us."
So once again, it is important for The Episcopal Church to go with the flow of the culture; God forbid that it should stand up and say NO. Won't happen.
Looking back, Dean Kowalski noted that the statue's first appearance at the cathedral was long before national debates over such topics as transgender people's right to use the bathroom of their choice, which TEC also endorses.
Readers of this blog may recall Kowalski as the previous chair of the Board of Trustees for Episcopal Divinity School, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based progressive Episcopal Church seminary which recently voted to cease issuing academic degrees. The school sold much of its property in the past decade and is burning through six million dollars a year from its endowment, an unsustainable level of spending.
Episcopalians in New York State have been hard-hit by membership and attendance decline, with the Diocese of New York reporting significant losses in the past decade, writes Walton.
Between 2005 and 2015, the Episcopal Diocese of New York declined from 64,027 members to 53,353 members, a loss of 10,674 members (-17%). During the same time period, average Sunday attendance dropped from 21,723 in 2005 to 16,878 in 2015, a loss of 4,845 attendees (-22%). Baptisms in the diocese declined from 1,612 in 2005 to 904 in 2015 (-56%) and marriages performed decreased from 579 in 2005 to 290 in 2015 (-50%).
The exhibit will run from October 6 to March 12.
So not only is this going with the flow of the culture just plain idiocy, it won't make churches grow. It should be pointed out that this diocese also has a lesbian assistant bishop, which might tell you enough about this diocese's future.
Then there's this choice morsel from a bishop who shall go unnamed. He told me that people in a certain cathedral did not want to have Bible studies for fear that the Episcopal Church might become fundamentalist if they studied the Bible. I kid you not. Needless to say, the parish has deep-sixed on same sex marriage, so you know where such ignorance is going.
We really must have a working budget. The cost of going to Egypt, raising support for myself and to help others attend has depleted our resources. Please consider a tax deductible donation at this time.
It helps us believe that what we do is all worthwhile.
You can send a donation to VOL via PAYPAL at the link here: http://www.virtueonline.org/support-vol/
Or you can send a snail mail check to:
570 Twin Lakes Rd
P.O. Box 111
Shohola, PA 18458
Thank you for your support.
On the Mainline
Worship with us:
Sundays at 4:00pm.
210 S. Wayne Ave, Wayne, PA