God's self-consistency -- . Scripture has several ways of drawing attention to God's self-consistency, and in particular of emphasizing that when he is obliged to judge sinners, he does it because he must, if he is to remain true to himself.-. -- From "The Cross of Christ" Excerpted from "Authentic Christianity" by John R. W. Stott
"What is clear is that many provinces have seen enough evidence of the US Episcopal Church's defiance, and they are not anticipating anything further from TEC except deception and further movement forward on the revisionist agenda." --- Canon David Anderson, President and CEO of the American Anglican Council.
"If researchers focus strictly on Europe and North America, they may conclude that secularism and liberalized forms of faith are on the rise. But if they look at the global numbers they will see a completely different picture of the future. You don't have to be a genius to conclude that it is going to be more religious and less secular. There is not a European country, for instance, that is anywhere close to a replacement birth rate. Not even close. All of their populations are declining. So on that basis alone, you can predict that the whole religion question is going to become even more important, in terms of global affairs." ---Terry Mattingly, Scripps Howard columnist
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Sept. 7, 2007
If there were any doubts about the determination of orthodox Anglicanism to survive and flourish in North America, consider what Pittsburgh Bishop Bob Duncan recently said in Nairobi at the consecrations of two new bishops. He reportedly told Boston Globe reporter Michael Paulson that he expects to see a new Anglican province in North America that will replace the Episcopal Church. "We are realigning," said Duncan, who added he would attempt to pull his entire diocese out of the Episcopal Church, a move that would raise an unprecedented set of legal and financial questions about the ownership of parish buildings and diocesan property.
The fat is firmly in the fire. There is no turning back. Orthodox Episcopalians are out the door. How many conservative parishes and dioceses will be left in the Episcopal Church before the year is out?
There are rumblings from all over - from Long Island to Ohio, from the mid-West to the Far West - of mass exoduses of orthodox parishes after Sept. 30. Will all fight for their properties? Not necessarily. The real crunch will come when a diocese decides to leave. We will know for sure should the Diocese of San Joaquin votes to leave, how the legal battle will be fought later in December. Bishop John-David Schofield is no pushover. He has survived presentment charges and will not allow his diocese to be decimated by TEC lawyers working for Mrs. Schori in New York.
Late Thursday, an announcement came from the DIOCESE OF PITTSBURGH with a headline reading "Sober Leadership Retreat Considers Future of Diocese". A Diocesan Convention on Nov. 2-3 will set the future course of the diocese. Them's' fightin' words. Members of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh's Standing Committee, Board of Trustees and Diocesan Council discussed the future path of the diocese at Antiochian Village back in May. Speaking at the beginning of that retreat, Bishop Robert Duncan told diocesan leaders that "we're here together...to discuss our way forward in light of our failure to obtain Alternative Primatial Oversight." You can read the full story in today's digest or here: http://tinyurl.com/yudn92
From the DIOCESE OF FORT WORTH came word from Bishop Jack Iker that we will see further fraction and division in the Communion during the months ahead. "We will then have to choose in favor of the Anglican Communion majority at the expense of our historic relationship with the General Convention Church." You can read the full statement in today's digest or here: http://tinyurl.com/2ndycr
First came San Joaquin, then Pittsburgh and Ft. Worth. Can Quincy and Springfield be far behind?
KEEPING the pressure on, The PROVINCE OF RWANDA announced this week that they will ordain three new bishops for the Anglican Mission in America AmiA).
Half of the Church of Rwanda's bishops are former priests of the Episcopal Church. This will bring the size of the Rwanda House of Bishops to 16: seven missionary American bishops and nine Rwandan diocesan bishops.
In a press release from the AMiA headquarters in Pawleys Island, SC the House of Bishops of the Province of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda (PEER) elected the Rev. Terrell Glenn, the Rev. Philip Jones and the Rev. John Miller III as missionary bishops to the United States under the jurisdiction of Rwandan Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini.
The election of the three comes as a result of the "the significant growth of the missionary outreach initiated" by the Rwandan church in the United States according to a statement released by the Church's provincial secretary. The three former Episcopal priests will be consecrated on January 26 in Dallas, TX, during the AMiA's annual winter conference. VOL will be there to cover this event for you.
One report said that the Rev. John Miller, III was rector of St John's Episcopal Church in Melbourne, before seceding with a portion of his congregation to form Prince of Peace Anglican Church in 2004. He was also a former member of the standing committee of the Diocese of Central Florida.
The Rev. Terrell L. Glenn, Jr., a one-time deputy to General Convention from South Carolina and former rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Mt. Pleasant, has served as rector of the AMiA's flagship congregation, All Saints, Pawleys Island, since 2005.
The Rev. Philip Jones has served as rector of St Andrew's Anglican Church in Little Rock since 2005 after serving seven years as Dean of St Clement's Episcopal pro-cathedral Church in El Paso, Texas.
REALIGNMENT is gearing up in earnest. No amount of smooth talking by TEC officials that all is well, will change that. The Episcopal Church is coming unglued. It is not 45 parishes but some 300 that have left and formally aligned with an overseas jurisdiction. The numbers of those leaving TEC has risen from 700 a week to nearly 800! If the hemorrhaging continues, TEC losses, now at more than 35,000 people a year (these are active Sunday attendees), average Sunday attendance will be in the neighborhood of 300,000 by 2020 (when the TEC was supposed to have doubled in size)!
By my estimate the average Sunday attendance by 2010 could actually be as small as 500,000 to maybe 550,000. There is really no practical way for TEC to grow. The best these liberals can do is take property and money in the short term, and close a lot of small churches to economize.
The latest count to date reveals that there are now 14 American Bishops from other jurisdictions giving oversight to faithful Anglicans in the United States. They include:
Bishops Chuck Murphy, John Rodgers, Thad Barnum, Sandy Greene, and T.J. Johnston (AMiA- Rwanda) Bishops Martyn Minns and David Bena, (CANA - Nigeria) Bishops Bill Atwood and Bill Murdoch (Kenya) Bishop John Guernsey and Bishop Les Fairfield (Uganda)
The Anglican Communion Network website breaks out those congregations under Uganda, Southern Cone and Kenya as follows:
Uganda - 28
Southern Cone - 38
Kenya - 13
CANA - 40 (Fifteen more are in the pipeline)
LITIGATION COSTS. Last week five retired bishops sent a letter to the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church asking where is all the money is coming from to fund the massive nationwide lawsuits against orthodox priests. I phoned Bishop Ben Benitez (Texas ret.) one of the signers and asked if he had heard anything from Mrs. Schori. He said that George Werner, former president of the House of Deputies, told him that no money was coming from the Church Pension Fund to pay the cost of litigation. A presentation on the budget at the March meeting of the Executive Council noted that the cost of legal assistance to dioceses and disciplinary activities in 2006 had exceeded the amount budgeted by roughly $900,000! So where is additional money coming from? Inquiring minds want to know.
The five bishops asked four questions: How much money has the Episcopal Church spent on litigation against congregations and individuals who have chosen to depart TEC since 2003? What are the sources of those funds? In what budget(s) are those expenditures accounted for? Has any income from trust funds been used to support these litigations? If so, how much and from which funds? How much compensation has the law firm of the Episcopal Church's chancellor, David Beers, received for servicing this litigation? If you haven't seen their letter you can read it here: http://tinyurl.com/26pxev
ATLANTA: Thousands Sign TEC Legal Transparency Petition. Over 5,000 people signed a petition demanding The Episcopal Church (TEC) reveal how much money it has "spent since 2004 on litigation against individuals and parishes." and 1,747 Non-Episcopal Anglican 3,583 Episcopalians and 1,747 Non-Episcopal Anglicans signed the online petition, sponsored by the American Anglican Council (AAC). The Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, President and CEO of the AAC said," this petition represents a cry from thousands of current and former members of the Episcopal Church." For the rest of the story click here: http://tinyurl.com/yrul5q
On Sept. 20 Dr. Rowan Williams will meet with the bishops of the Episcopal Church in a last ditch effort to avoid a schism that could see half the denomination's church's leave the Anglican Communion. The ABC will attend the Episcopal House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans just ten days before a deadline imposed by conservative Anglican factions in Tanzania earlier this year.
Growing differences between right and left in the Church have marked Dr. William's tenure. He will have to make up his mind which side of the fence he is on as obfuscation and muddling through will no longer be acceptable.
I have looked at this in depth in an article entitled COUNTDOWN FOR THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH'S HOUSE OF BISHOPS. I have analyzed what could happen following his meeting at some length. The Episcopal Church must state clearly and unequivocally that it will no longer bless same-sex unions nor will it ordain non-celibate homosexual priests to the episcopacy thus easing the nearly broken strain on the bonds of affection. For detail click here: http://tinyurl.com/2wkmgz
The clock is running out as the Episcopal Church faces its denouement with history.
You should note the following key dates and timetable of events in September/October.
The Episcopal Church House of Bishops meets September 20-25 including a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council in New Orleans. VirtueOnline will be there.
A meeting of Common Cause Bishops in the USA will meet September 25-28 in Pittsburgh. Presuming this is open to the media, VOL will also be there.
Deadline set by the Primates' Tanzanian Communique for the response from TEC September 30.
For those still interested in anything BISHOP SPONG has to say about Christianity or the Anglican Communion, you can read a very critical letter he has written to Dr. Williams at VOL's website. The last time Williams responded to anything Spong had to say about science and faith was to tell the aberrant bishop that his questions were those of a sixth former (12th grader)!
And this from Spong in an interview he gave recently: "I disagree with the Pope. But that's not what's important to me. What's important to me is that, if there are two polarities within the Christian world, the debate has to continue between these to polarities in order to get us closer to what I think is the realistic world we must enter as Christians in the twenty-first century."
"Now, I know my church too well. I know that Gene Robinson is not the only gay bishop in the Episcopal Church right now. I won't name the others, but I will say that among these gay bishops are some of the most homophobic voices that are raised within that church. I sit back and look at these people with bewilderment. I could name the gay bishops in the Anglican Communion in England without any trouble. I know them! So it's not that we have this new thing called a gay bishop."
THE RECENT CONSECRATIONS in Kenya and Uganda, while making big news in the U.S., did not make a ripple in the European and British press, according to the vice-president of Oak Hill Theological College in London. The BBC did carry an item on their flagship 'Today' program, but that apparently was it. Either the Church of England doesn't get 'it' or they think this is an American aberration. Either way, sticking your head in the sand will not avoid the inevitable schism that is surely coming to the Anglican Communion. Some 10,000 turned out to witness the consecration of the Rt. Rev. John Guernsey in Kampala, Uganda. By contrast the Robinson consecration in New Hampshire saw 2,500 to 3,000 in attendance.
REFORM IRELAND, a group of gospel driven evangelical Irish clergy have ripped the Archbishop of Ireland's distortion of the Gospel of Christ and his failure to give a clear biblical and moral lead. They blasted the Irish Archbishop Alan Harper, the Archbishop of Armagh and John Neill, Archbishop of Dublin for having given much cause for concern among faithful Christians within the Church of Ireland. At the very heart of their statements lies a failure to give a clear biblical and moral lead both to members of the Church of Ireland and to an on-looking world, wondering what Christianity has to say in a changing Irish culture.
In the case of the interview with the Archbishop of Dublin in an August edition of "Hot Press" magazine, the perceived official spokesman of Anglicanism in the Republic of Ireland not only failed to sound a clear Gospel note,but also even appeared to undermine the teaching of the Bible and of the church in a number of key areas.
Concerning pre-marital sex, Dr. Neill stated that such activity wasn't necessarily wrong, so long as there wasn't promiscuity and it was within the context of a loving relationship. He quite openly admitted that his view was contrary to traditional church teaching. From a leader in the Christian church, such comments are quite shocking. You can read the full story in today's digest or here:. http://tinyurl.com/ywyo3h
From COLORADO SPRINGS comes word that the parish of Grace & St. Stephens (CANA) saw a capacity crowd on a recent Sunday when the Rt. Rev. David Bena, Suffragan Bishop of CANA, consecrated the Rev. Allan Crippen (Executive Director of the John Jay Institute) into the CANA Diaconate. Family and friends from around the nation were present for the inspiring ceremony. In addition, a large group of congregants were either confirmed or re-affirmed in the faith by the bishop. As frosting on the spiritual cake, the new student arrivals at the John Jay Institute were introduced to the congregation. The students will undergo an intensive semester of training in Christian leadership and stewardship in their respective communities. Bishop Bena gave the sermon which centered on the theological foundation of CANA and Anglican Christianity in general. It was an inspiring message and represented a watershed event for CANA in Colorado, according to a VOL observer.
The Rev. Gilbert Wilkes rector of Christ and the Epiphany Episcopal Church in East Haven, Ct in the DIOCESE OF CONNECTICUT told VOL that he will resign as an Episcopal priest and take his congregation elsewhere as of the end of September. "I told Bishop Drew Smith that I was retiring from TEC." Wilkes, 69, is not walking away from the ordained ministry. He expects to take about 70 percent of the congregation with him to form a new congregation under CANA. It will be called Christ Church Anglican. They will meet in a middle school in East Haven. The church has 300 on the rolls. Wilkes told VOL that he expects the bishop to depose him. He has been accepted by Bishop Martyn Minns. Trinity in Bristol has also come under CANA. They are in a lawsuit to keep their parish.
In the DIOCESE OF LONG ISLAND the ongoing sexual sleaze just gets worse. A source told VOL that Episcopalians are very embarrassed at the behavior of Archdeacon Howard Williams over the suicide of his former lover and appalled that Bishop Orris Walker has not asked him for his resignation. "Bishop Walker although out of rehab remains impaired. Williams continues conducting his work as if nothing has happened and preparing for the annual 'revival' to be held at his parish of St. Augustine's in another week. Many have expressed that they will never support such an evil cleric again. Going around in his 'Prada' pointed toe shoes, Louis Vuitton brief case driving his Cadillac it would appear that he never did a course in Moral Theology."
In Syracuse in the DIOCESE OF CENTRAL NEW YORK comes word that the rector and parish of the Free Church of St. Andrew's in the Valley near Syracuse have agreed to leave their parish property to the Diocese of Central New York and find new quarters.
The parish voted to break away in February 2006. The Bishop of Central New York, the Rt. Rev. Skip Adams, sued St. Andrews in July. After negotiations broke off, because of the lawsuit (against the priest and the vestry) an agreement was struck whereby the former Episcopal parish could continue worshiping at its present location without cost to the congregation, while the parish leadership sought to find another worship location.
The courts allowed the parish to extend the lease on a month-to-month basis while they sought a new location according to Father Hackendorf. State Supreme Court Justice James Murphy said the congregation of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church will be dissolved once a new location is obtained.
VOL first published this story as an "exclusive" at the website: AMIA Parish Will Relocate and Bid Farewell to Episcopal Diocese.
However VOL received reports from orthodox sources saying that my story did not reflect the full picture of what was going on in this congregation. The criticisms did not come from liberals or revisionists. VOL felt that it was in the best interest of all parties to remove the story. We regret any harm that might have been caused by the inadequate reporting of this parish's departure.
The ZACCHEUS FELLOWSHIP in Canada has put out "A Pastoral Response to Homosexuality" which it has submitted to the Anglican Communion Office Listening Process. Here is what they said: "The move to affirm those living in committed same-sex relationships has championed itself as a matter of compassion, justice, and human rights, but does so by ignoring the primacy of the authority of Scripture, tradition, and reason. We, the members of the Zacchaeus Fellowship, have accepted the authority of Scripture in the face of same-sex attraction and have chosen the path it prescribes. Some have undergone transformation through their encounters with Jesus and are now living heterosexually, while others who accept the Biblical admonitions against homosexual acts are living in celibacy." For the full report click here: http://www.zacchaeus.ca/resources/ACO_listening.html
NIGERIA. Anglican, African churches to unite. A century after separation, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and the African Church are holding talks aimed at uniting both. An official source from the Anglican Church in Nigeria told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja that the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, initiated the reunification talks. The African Church pulled out of the Anglican Church in 1901 because of differences in doctrine and culture. Already, eight delegates from each church met formally on August 29 in Ibadan, Oyo State, to dialogue on issues relating to the reunification, the source said. The source added that the delegates comprised bishops, clergyman and representatives of the laity from both churches. "They considered a document entitled 'Anglican-African Conversations', which was jointly agreed to by leaders of both churches," the source said.
And from the National Cathedral Church in Washington DC comes word that they will hold a benefit concert for the Dali Lama! The cathedral announced that Graham Nash, David Crosby and Jackson Browne will headline "Pray for Peace," a prayer ceremony and benefit concert on Oct. 16. The concert is timed not only with the cathedral's centennial celebrations, but also with the visit by the Dalai Lama, who will receive the Congressional Gold Medal the following day. Bag Jesus, go Dalai! A group of illustrious religious illuminati will grace the cathedral with their presence to add to this ecumenical occasion. This includes an Imam a Rabbi et al. The concert bills itself as a "desire for peace in song and spiritual wisdom from diverse traditions." They will not close with the Hallelujah Chorus.
FROM DOWN UNDER. The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen plans to place a free Bible in the hands of every family in Sydney under an ambitious plan by the Anglican Church to revive a 19th-century tradition of door-to-door distribution of the word of God. In an increasingly secular society, it can no longer be assumed that most people have read the Bible, or have one in their home, the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, said. You can read the full story in today's digest.
IN OTHER NEWS, 30% of Australian Christians see attending church as optional. The Rev. Dr. Phillip Hughes, Senior Research Officer at the Christian Research Association, told "Christian Today Australia" that over 30 percent of Australian Christians do not see it as necessary to go to church every Sunday even though they identify themselves as Christian. Responding to the 2006 Census, there is a wide gulf between those who stated they are Christian in the Census compared to those who actually attend church on a regular basis, Dr. Hughes commented that even though they hold onto Christian values, they do not see going to church as vital. "A lot of people say we hold onto Christian value but we don't see any necessity of going to church."
Dr. Brian Edgar, Professor of Theological Studies at the U.S. Asbury Theological Seminary as well as being the former Director of Theology and Public Policy at the Australian Evangelical Alliance, was critical in his response to those who identified themselves as Christians, saying that a vast majority of Christians "actually have no idea what it means to be a Christian" from a biblical standpoint.
He berated those who identified themselves as Christians just because at some point in time either their parents or grandparents were associated with a denomination, saying it demonstrated how far society has drifted away from an intelligent understanding of the Christian faith.
The Rev. Dr. David Parker, the Executive Director for the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), said that for many of those who indicated they were Christian in the Census was based on a traditional link, such as being baptized or attending Sunday church school.
"... However, for many of them, it is simply a traditional link - those in Catholic, Anglican and Uniting contexts would say they belong because they were baptized as infants - or they went to a church school or something of that kind," he said.
Dr. Parker said the real figure people should be looking at is the percentage of those who claim to be church members, rather than the Census figure which only shows "nominal Christians" who make no personal profession of faith or are either active or committed Christians.
Christian leaders look to EUROPEAN assembly to boost church unity. Representatives of Europe's main churches say they hope a six-day ecumenical assembly in the Romanian city of Sibiu will give a new impetus to the movement for Christian unity. "We don't do a tenth of what we could do together," the Rev. Jean-Arnold de Clermont, a French Protestant who is president of the Conference of European Churches, told journalists at the opening day of the Third European Ecumenical Assembly. "We don't pray sufficiently together. We don't read the Bible sufficiently together. We don't act sufficiently together," de Clermont said. Source. Ecumenical News Service
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM in the World 2007. According to Hudson Institute fellow Paul Marshall, a new study on religious freedom reveals comparatively little improvement and even deterioration in some areas over the past eight years. But there is improvement in Latin America and Eastern Europe. There are relatively religiously free countries everywhere in the world. Places like Botswana or Senegal have higher scores on the survey than France or Greece.
How does a country's religious background affect its religious freedom? Christian-background countries in general score high. Many of Muslim background score low. Catholic-background countries score more or less the same as Protestant-background countries. That would not have been the case 30 years ago. The Orthodox tends to score lower. Some of this is Communist holdover. But the Orthodox traditionally has had a close relationship with the state. So the idea of new religious groups operating in their territory is still very difficult. Of the worst 30 countries in terms of economic freedom, every one scored low with religious freedom. The top 30 countries all scored high.
CENTRAL AFRICA. Unconfirmed reports out of the Province of Central Africa say that, on the eve of his retirement, Archbishop Bernard Malango has fired liberal Botswana Bishop Trevor Mwamba. According to a blog called "Anglican Information" (though there is no actual website) Archbishop Malango who is due to retire on September 8th after his final Provincial Synod has effectively sacked the new Dean of the Province. You can read the full story in today's digest or here: http://tinyurl.com/3y9sra
NIGERIAN CLERIC CONDEMNS HOMOSEXUALS, LESBIANS. The Anglican Bishop of Uyo, Rt. Rev. Isaac Orama, has condemned the activities of homosexuals and lesbians, and described those engaged in them as "insane people. It is scary that any one should be involved in a thing like that and I want to say that they will not escape the wrath of God." Orama told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Uyo, that the practice, which has worsened over the years, is "unbiblical and against God's purpose for creating man. Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God's purpose for man," the Bishop said.
He noted that the Anglican Church in Nigeria had continued to lead the fight against the practice especially in the US where it led the opposition to same sex marriages. "The aim of such fight is to provide a safe place for those who want to remain faithful Anglicans and Biblical Christians," he explained. The full text can be viewed here: http://www.upi.com/AfricaMonitoring/view.php?StoryID=20070902-831713-6007-r
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams denounced as unchristian the statement demonizing gays and lesbians by the African bishop. In a statement released by the Anglican Consultative Council's press office, the archbishop expressed "deep shock" at the remarks made by Bishop Orama.
The Nigerian bishop has denied making the remarks attributed to him. A spokesman for the Church of Nigeria, Archdeacon Akintunde Popoola, said the quote attributed to the bishop was false.
The News Agency of Nigeria reporter has "apologized for the misrepresentation and promised a retraction," Archdeacon Popoola told the "Living Church".
VirtueOnline would like to reiterate, that it is homosexual BEHAVIOR that Scripture condemns, not persons per se. Persons who practice this behavior stand self-condemned. The focus must always be on the way we act. We are all sinners standing in need of God's grace and no particular group should be singled out for special opprobrium.
CENTRAL AFRICA. On the eve of his retirement, Archbishop Bernard Malango has fired liberal Botswana Bishop Trevor Mwamba, according to a blog called "Anglican Information". Archbishop Malango is due to retire on September 8th after his final Provincial Synod. Unconfirmed reports say he has effectively sacked the new Dean of the Province. With the apparent agreement of a number of his bishops of the Central African Province, a Zambian bishop has been appointed Dean in Mwamba's place to oversee the Province in the interim period before new elections for an Archbishop. VOL feels particularly vindicated by this news. We have exposed Bishop Mwamba and his complicity with Nickie Henderson the pro-gay London cleric who has been angling for the job of Bishop of Lake Malawi. You can read the full story here: http://tinyurl.com/3y9sra
VIRTUEONLINE is pleased to announce that it has an African correspondent, Mr. Mugabe Grace, who will cover the expanding Anglican news from the Global South. Mr. Grace is an Anglican based in Kilgali, Rwanda. He has considerable journalistic experience writing for a number of African publications as well as stringing for the New York Times.
In an effort to continue providing our readers with weekly news directly to your Inbox, VOL has upgraded our digest mail service to a new hosting provider. Information regarding subscriptions and other details can be found on our website: : http://www.virtueonline.org/subscribe.html
There are a number of very fine columns in today's digest that I hope you will take a few moments to read. Many are not in this digest but can be found at the AS EYE SEE IT section of the website: www.virtueonline.org
We have made a significant change with a new host LISTSERV provider that sends out the digest. Today's digest reflects that. There will no longer be three or four day delays in sending out the digest. Please be patient with us as we make the change over.
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