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Continuers Congress Nixes Rome Pushes Tradition*Ft. Worth Fight Continues*More

The source of salvation. Although 'grace' and 'peace' are common monosyllables, they are pregnant with theological substance. In fact, they summarize Paul's gospel of salvation. The nature of salvation is peace, or reconciliation -- peace with God, peace with men, peace within. The source of salvation is grace, God's free favour, irrespective of any human merit or works, his loving-kindness to the undeserving. And this grace and peace flow from the Father and the Son together. --- From "The Message of Galatians" by John R.W. Stott

We mustn't despair when we struggle and continuously see nothing but the slightest progress. We all do nearly nothing, some a little more, some a little less. When Christ sees our little effort He gives us an analogous token, and so our nearly nothing becomes valuable and we can see a little progress. For this reason we mustn't despair, but hope in God. --- Elder Paisios the Athonite

The Idea of Christ vs the Person of Christ. Cease to regard the Gospel as a mere collection of dry doctrines. Look at it rather as the revelation of a mighty living Being in whose sight you are daily to live. Cease to regard it as a mere set of abstract propositions and abstruse principles and rules. Look at it as the introduction to a glorious personal Friend. This is the kind of Gospel that the apostles preached. They did not go about the world telling men of love and mercy and pardon in the abstract. The leading subject of all their sermons was the loving heart of an actual living Christ. This is the kind of Gospel which is most calculated to promote sanctification and fitness for glory. Nothing, surely, is so likely to prepare us for that heaven where Christ's personal presence will be all, and that glory where we shall meet Christ face to face, as to realize communion with Christ, as an actual living Person here on earth. There is all the difference in the world between an idea and a person. --- J.C. Ryle

God's unfolding purpose. In 2 Timothy 1:9-10 we seem to detect five stages by which God's saving purpose unfolds. The first is the eternal gift to us in Christ of his grace. The second is the historical appearing of Christ to abolish death by his death and resurrection. The third is the personal call of God to sinners through the preaching of the gospel. The fourth is the moral sanctification of believers by the Holy Spirit. And the fifth is the final heavenly perfection in which the holy calling is consummated. --- From "The Message of 2 Timothy" by John R. W. Stott

The Wrath of the Lamb. Let no person deceive us with vain words upon this dreadful subject. People have arisen in these latter days, who profess to deny the eternity of future punishment, and repeat the devil's old argument, that we "shall not surely die" (Gen. 3:4). Let none of their reasonings move us, however plausible they may sound. Let us stand fast in the old paths. The God of love and mercy is also a God of justice. He will surely requite. The flood in Noah's day, and the burning of Sodom, were meant to show us what He will one day do. No lips have ever spoken so clearly about hell as those of Christ Himself. Hardened sinners will find out, to their cost, that there is such a thing as the "wrath of the Lamb" (Rev. 6:16-17). --- Bishop J.C. Ryle

Clinging to the Resurrection. There is a resurrection after death. Let this never be forgotten. The life that we live here in the flesh is not all. The visible world around us is not the only world with which we have to do. All is not over when the last breath is drawn, and men and women are carried to their long home in the grave. The trumpet shall one day sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible. All that are in the graves shall hear Christ's voice and come forth–those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of damnation. This is one of the great foundation truths of the Christian religion. Let us cling to it firmly, and never let it go. --- Bishop J.C. Ryle

Dear Brothers and Sisters
www.virtueonline.org
June 4, 2011

This week Continuing Anglicans took center stage. For the most part, they are a marginalized group of Anglo-Catholics from throughout North America that is fractious, and often contentious. In Victoria, BC, for a Congress of Traditional Anglicans, this writer saw a somewhat different, more mature face of the Continuing Anglican Church movement.

It is coming of age; it is growing up. A new generation of leaders has emerged - Archbishop Mark Haverland of the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC), The Most Rev. Eugene Provence of the Anglican Province of Christ the King (APCK), Brian Marsh, Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Church in America (ACA)and Presiding Bishop Peter D. Robinson of the United Episcopal Church of North America (UECNA) are the lead players.

They are men who are tired of the infighting, sheep stealing, as well as the latest insult to their collective intelligence and integrity - an ordinariate offer by the Pope. That offer would fleece them of their flocks because an Anglo-Catholic archbishop in Australia, a former Roman Catholic priest, wants to take their flocks to Rome.

At this Congress, they expressed their deep displeasure at Rome's offer, believing they are the keepers of authentic catholicity and the Anglo-Catholic flame. The have no intention of accepting Rome's offer and want to be left alone to grow their churches and invite people to experience and sign onto the historic Christian Faith as they know and understand it.

In the final wrap up of the three-day conference, a layman stood up to ask, "Where are we going...?" The answer came back, "We are doing everything we can to get dissident Anglicans together; no more schismatic groups. How are we doing? This gathering is a good indication of where we are going," said Archbishop Provence. "We recognize there are distinctions but we hold a common faith and a common heritage. We are also being selective in who we unite with to protect the people in the pews."

Responded Haverland, "To say those who do not want us to succeed and who believe we will continue endlessly to splinter, we say this is false. The last five year history has seen a gradual coalescing of the Continuing churches, some have full communion others are working in that direction. We are making good progress. We don't have to rush tomorrow under the same set of letters. We are in full communion with each other. We have good communication, these are the things that are happening, these things are getting progressively better. Don't listen to caricature or to talk of endless splinter. The progress is reversing. Those who engage in entrepreneurial Anglicanism should surrender." I have written some six stories about this Congress. I have allowed the Congress leaders to speak for themselves.

*****

The Archbishop of Canterbury lost his serenity recently over who should be the next Bishop of Southwark, vacated late last year by retired Bishop Tom Butler. Rowan's personal friend, Dean Jeffrey John was on the short list. John is openly homosexual, living an allegedly celibate relationship with his long-term married partner and, therefore, not deemed eligible by Williams. (Are they still on speaking terms?)

According to a leaked memo from the now deceased Dean of Southwark, Colin Slee, a first class row broke open. A verbal donnybrook ensued between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu on one side, and the crown nomination committee on the other. It was downright ugly and nasty, according to the memo leaked to the Guardian newspaper.

Slee described Williams as shouting and losing his temper, which left several members of the crown nomination committee, responsible for the selection of bishops, in tears. What all this says is that Williams cannot find a third way or Hegelian synthesis to resolve the issue of human sexuality. The harder he tries, the more frustrated he becomes. This does not happen in the Global South where there is no argument about how human beings should behave.

Is it any wonder that the Archbishop of Canterbury now finds two ecclesiastical tanks parked on Lambeth Palace lawns? The first, of course, is the ordinariate offer by the Pope to Anglo-Catholics. The second is the GAFCON/FCA tank of the evangelicals. You can read the full story in today's digest.

*****

It is unofficial of course. No one is supposed to know it is going on. It is certainly not approved by the canons of The Episcopal Church - but it is happening around the country. Communion is being offered to people who are not baptized. It is known as Communion Without Baptism (CWOB).

The most blatant case occurred at a House of Bishops meeting in 2001 presided over by then Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold. In Arrowhead, in March of that year, bishops were forced to sit through lectures by a Jewish faculty member from Griswold's alma mater in Massachusetts on how to lead the Christian church. The man was truly offensive, according to a bishop who wrote to VOL at that time. Later, following the lecture, then Bishop of Vermont, Adelia MacLeod, dragged the speaker to the altar rail for communion.

The bishop wrote, "Others, the sicker kind, had a sick need to make up with this offensive person and actually forced him to receive Holy Communion, one dragging him on either side, managing to violate his integrity and the integrity of his religion and ours. The perpetrators were women who did not care that he was clearly not in love and charity with his neighbor and who see the sacrament as nothing more than 'hospitality'." There was no apology for his behavior, no apology for the violation of the sacrament.

Now it is back in full force. You can read an updated version of CWOB. Of course this is what happens when you have no gospel to proclaim. You lower the standards in the hopes you will attract more followers. It never happens. If you become indistinguishable from the culture, the culture will eat you up.

*****

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori named Diocese of Lexington Bishop Stacy F. Sauls as chief operating officer for the Episcopal Church this week.

"Bishop Sauls brings a unique set of gifts to the next chapter of this ministry, particularly his distinguished service as a diocesan bishop. I am deeply grateful that he will join us in facilitating this work," she indicated. As chief operating officer, Sauls will oversee the staff of the Episcopal Church Center in New York, as well as offices located in Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles, California; Seattle, Washington; Puerto Rico and elsewhere, according to the release. Sauls will coordinate the work of the church's mission program, communication, finance and administration duties while assisting the presiding bishop in her role as the president and chief executive officer of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, the church's corporate legal entity.

According to the release, Sauls will also be an ex-officio member of the Executive Council and an active member of the board of Episcopal Relief & Development. "This is the most interesting and rewarding time I can imagine to serve the Episcopal Church," Sauls wrote in the release. Sauls was elected as the sixth bishop of Lexington in 2000. He is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, the District of Columbia Bar and the Ecclesiastical Law Society (United Kingdom).

Sauls' appointment will precipitate a bishop election in the Diocese of Lexington where there is no doubt that its liberal tradition and focus will continue in a new bishop. However, research on the diocese under Sauls revealed a somewhat fuzzy record. Between 2002 and 2009, membership dropped by 12.3%, ASA went down 23.1 percent, and Plate & Pledge, adjusted for inflation, dropped by 17.4%. The diocese is rated 63 of 95. In short, two of three dioceses performed better and one in three worse. In 2009, 22 of its 35 churches had ASA of 66 or less and Plate & Pledge of less than 0K. Marriages were also down 25.6 percent. Said the source, "I don't see him bringing a record of vitality to 815."

*****

If the rump Diocese of Ft. Worth and The Episcopal Church should win the battle of the church properties, it will be the biggest transfer of properties ever in the history of the United States.

This past week, attorneys for the true Diocese of Ft. Worth under Bishop Jack Iker initiated a direct appeal to the Texas State Supreme Court, arguing that the high court should review the trial court's Feb. 8 judgment in favor of local Episcopal Church (TEC) parties without the delay of an intermediate appeal. The Statement of Jurisdiction asks for the Supreme Court's immediate attention to what it describes as "the largest church property dispute in Texas history," involving "60 churches and over $100 million in property."

The Statement shows that the case meets all the statutory requirements for a direct appeal. Foremost among these is the requirement that the lower court's decision challenges "the constitutionality of a state statute." It explains that the trial court order, if allowed to stand, would overturn trust law in the state and set a precedent against the use of neutral principles to decide church property cases.

*****

Two important events took place this week in Canada. While Parishes and clergy are still free to opt out of blessing same-sex unions, the blessing of civil marriages between same-sex couples can now take place in the Anglican Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

A resolution giving priests and parishes the option to bless same-sex unions was approved, by a majority vote, at the 143rd synod of the diocese on May 27 in Halifax.

The second event that occurred was at Huron University College at the University of Western Ontario, an Anglican institution that is caught in the crossfire of a decision to accept money from Muslim groups -- one local, one international -- to help fund a new chair in Islamic studies. Critics say the offer contains a link to violent jihad and that the $2 million could influence school courses and choice of chair. Huron College insists neither is true. You can read the full story in today's digest.

*****

The pew leaflets at the formerly orthodox Anglo-Catholic Church of the Ascension in the Diocese of Chicago contain a notice that the Bishop of Chicago has authorized the blessing of same-sex unions from June, and invited interested members to make arrangements for such a blessing. The parish has a large proportion of homosexual men, some in relationships. The church used to be a flagship city shrine parish known for its orthodox catholic practices. TAC Bishop David Moyer, now at Good Shepherd in Rosemont, PA, became an Anglo Catholic there while at Seabury Western. Now the church has gone into ritualistic heterodoxy in the way of St. Mary the Virgin in New York City.

*****

Overheard at a dinner part recently, former Newark, NJ, bishop John Shelby Spong told friends that today he feels most comfortable in the Unity Church. No surprise there. He will still die an Episcopal Bishop, as no one will bring him up on heresy charges for denying the faith; there is no stomach for the fight. Of course, there will be plenty of fight available from PB Jefferts Schori when she comes to consider her options in dealing with Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina as soon as her new metropolitan powers kick in on July 1.

*****

The question of how many people are lesbian, gay, or bisexual is complicated and not entirely answerable. A new Gallup poll suggests that the general public thinks the number is higher than anyone estimates it actually is. In fact, people think there are now more LGB people than they thought there were nine years ago, with over half the population believing that at least 20 percent of Americans are homosexuals or lesbian.

Compare this to the recent study from the Williams Institute showing that about 3.5 percent of adults (about 9 million Americans) identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Neither number resembles the 10 percent estimate offered by the Kinsey Reports that many refer to. The increase in perceived LGB populations likely reflects increases in cultural visibility in the media, as well as more people coming out. A 2009 Gallup poll showed that people who know someone who is homosexual are more likely to support LGBT equality. Recent polling shows that support for marriage equality, as an example, is higher than ever.

It's important to remember that the 3.5 percent represents people who openly identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. The National Survey of Family Growth (2006-2008) showed that as many as 11 percent of Americans admit acknowledging at least some same-sex attraction. It could very well be that the increase in visibility is also shifting the zeitgeist to be more open-minded about sexuality so that individuals are more willing to explore - or at least acknowledge - that their own sexual orientation is more complex than they would previously have admitted.

*****

The Rev. Scott Gunn has been chosen to lead Forward Movement Publications in its mission to "reinvigorate the life of the church." The board of directors chose Gunn, a priest in the Diocese of Rhode Island. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will serve as the organization's executive director.

Forward Movement, the publisher of Forward Day by Day meditations as well as books and pamphlets about spirituality and the Episcopal Church, celebrated its 75th anniversary last year.

"Our church is at a critical and thrilling point as we seek to find our way forward in the 21st century," said Gunn. "Forward Movement is positioned well to be a leader in proclaiming the gospel that is at our core."

It's hard to know what is thrilling about a church in decline over pansexuality with fewer and fewer people reading their Prayer Books (except on Sunday.)

*****

Ugandan Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi assumed the leadership of the Uganda joint Christian Council (UJCC) replacing the Orthodox Church head Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga this past week. The hand over of the seat was done at the closure of the UJCC General Assembly of 2011 at Pope Paul hall in Lubaga.

Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga pledged to work closely with Archbishop Orombi in the execution of his mandate as a leader of UJCC. Archbishop Orombi commended the outgoing chairperson of UJCC Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga for his wise leadership during his term of office in UJCC.

He urged religious leaders to be examples of the community and politicians in handing over power peacefully to others. He also appealed to church leaders to double their effort towards fighting corruption which is eating up the society.

He warned the public against destroying the environment, urging them to abandon the habit of littering the rubbish all over the roads while are traveling in the vehicles.

*****

There is a new Bishop in the Diocese of Durham after Dr. N. T. Wright stepped down recently. The Very Rev. Justin Welby (currently Dean of Liverpool since 2007) is the new Bishop Designate of Durham. However, British commentator Julian Mann does not give him a high rating. Welby calls himself an evangelical although he appears to be willing to compromise with homosexuals and homosexuality. You can read Mann's piece in today's digest.

*****

The BBC is anti-Christian and ageist - according to a survey it carried out. Viewers feel that minority groups are over-represented by the Corporation. They expressed concerns over 'tokenism' and 'box-ticking' and warned the broadcaster against trying to 'manipulate' an equal society instead of reflecting reality. The survey was conducted as part of the BBC's 'Diversity Strategy' and involved 4,500 people, including some BBC staff.

Some viewers still believe the broadcaster has a Left-wing or 'liberal bias', the consultation found. Others said 'positive discrimination' was still a 'notable' problem with the BBC's recruitment process. According to viewers, Christians are badly treated with 'derogatory stereotypes' which portray them as 'weak' or 'bigoted'.

It was suggested that there is a bias against Christianity and that other religions are better represented. Some felt older women were being 'marginalized'.

The consultation concluded, 'In terms of religion, there were many who perceived the BBC to be anti-Christian and as such misrepresenting Christianity.'

It added, 'Christians are specifically mentioned as being badly treated, with a suggestion that more minority religions are better represented despite Christianity being the most widely observed religion within Britain.'

*****

The persecution of Christians is on the rise in the Islamic countries. The persecution of Christians in Middle East over the centuries has caused the Christian Church in many lands to disappear. It is happening again. I have posted a story from Voice of the Martyrs about the latest news on this. They have asked for your prayers and support for Christian minorities that are terrorized and oppressed in Islamic countries.

The antagonism felt by minority Christian communities in several Middle Eastern and North African countries appears to have reached Algeria. A Christian convicted of proselytizing has been jailed, and an order has been issued for the closure of a number of churches. Algerian Christians report that, over the past few months, they have noticed a significant tightening of restrictions. A court in Oran province in the north-west of the country last week sentenced Siagh Krimo to five years in prison for talking to his Muslim neighbor about Christianity and giving him a Christian CD. He is also said to have defamed Islam. The Algerian Protestant community is estimated at 10-12,000 - out of a total population of around 33 million.

*****

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David W. Virtue DD

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