America's problems are moral. Period. They stem from a denial of faith... God ... the Divinity of Jesus Christ. Even among Catholics. Especially among Catholics. Right now ... we are living a lie. The Church in America is living a lie. Of the roughly 75 million baptized Catholics in the US ... most likely no more than 10 percent are fully believing ... totally committed and faithful. --- Michael Voris from The Church Militant
"Proclaim the truth and do not be silent through fear. Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire." --- St. Catherine of Sienna
The Reality of Evil. A dark kingdom. We need to rid our minds of the medieval caricature of Satan. Dispensing with the horns, the hooves and the tail, we are left with the biblical portrait of a spiritual being, highly intelligent, immensely powerful and utterly unscrupulous. Jesus himself not only believed in his existence, but warned us of his power. He called him 'the prince of this world', much as Paul called him 'the ruler of the kingdom of the air'. He has therefore a throne and a kingdom, and under his command is an army of malignant spirits who are described in Scripture as 'the powers of this dark world', and 'the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms' (Jn. 12:31; Eph. 6:12). --- Rev. John R. W. Stott
Satanic opposition. The world's opposition is strong and subtle. And behind these things stands the devil, bent on 'taking men alive' and keeping them prisoner. For the devil hates the gospel and uses all his strength and cunning to obstruct its progress, now by perverting it in the mouths of those who preach it, now by frightening them into silence through persecution or ridicule, now by persuading them to advanced beyond it into some fancy novelty, now by making them so busy with defending the gospel that they have no time to proclaim it. --- Rev. John R. W. Stott
Our present circumstances may appear dire. The world around us may threaten us. The economic forecasts may be gloomy. We may be pursued by threatening circumstances as we struggle to survive and reach safety. Our bodies may be protesting and breaking down. Our resources may be shrinking. The future is scary. Yet we must believe in the plan and provision of God for us. He has triumphed over all troubles and difficulties, and secures deliverance for those who follow the Lamb --- The Rev. Ted Schroder
Dear Brothers and Sisters
November 16, 2012
The great British publisher, playwright, literary social critic and poet T.S Eliot once remarked In his Notes towards the Definition of Culture, that there are moments when the only choice is between heresy and non-belief - i.e., when the only way to keep a religion alive is to perform a sectarian split from its corpse.
Such is going on in The Episcopal Church today. As one orthodox diocese after another moves away from the rotting corpse of TEC to start afresh, it is doing so with much pain and angst, casting bishops, priests and laity into what seems an endless cycle of turmoil and fear with broken relationships and much more.
So it is with the Diocese of South Carolina. Once more, a diocese is in schism having left the fleshpots of the New York headquartered denomination. South Carolina has launched out on an uncertain voyage (no one knows exactly where it will find a safe harbor). It now faces retributive justice at the heavy hand of TEC's Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for its stand.
The scenario is pretty much the same as was found by other dioceses that have run afoul of TEC. Ft. Worth, Pittsburgh, San Joaquin and Quincy still remain in litigation. The Diocese of South Carolina holds its own properties under its bishop Mark Lawrence who offered a "quit claim" to all his parishes. He now faces deposition with a new faux diocese on his doorstep complete with its own bishop, one Charles vonRosenberg, a resident retired bishop in the diocese.
One the eve of a special convention, Lawrence wrote in a letter to his diocese, this week, "...you need to know that the national leadership of TEC is taking steps to undermine this diocese. What we are faced with is an intentional effort by the ill-advised TEC organization to assume our identity, one that we have had since 1785. Pastorally it is hard to imagine what would drive former parishioners to such lengths except an agenda put forward by TEC's national litigation strategy team which has been used in other locations in similar ways when faithful dioceses and parishes have left TEC."
Canon lawyer Allan Haley put it more bluntly when he wrote, "Bandit Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, known far and wide in ECUSA for her lawlessness and contempt of the canons, has organized a new gang of outlaws in South Carolina. Together they are riding roughshod over the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, violating South Carolina law, and laying plans to steal the good name and corporate seal of the Diocese of South Carolina." That's stating it succinctly.
Late Thursday afternoon PB Jefferts Schori weighed in on the diocese's decision and wrote this: "he disciplinary processes of this Church carefully considered the matters with which Bishop Lawrence was charged, and the Disciplinary Board found that he had indeed repudiated the polity of this Church. It then became my canonical responsibility and obligation to limit ("restrict") his formal ability to function as bishop until the entire House of Bishops can consider these charges. Bishop Lawrence has an extended period (60 days) in which he can repudiate those charges, and I stand ready to respond positively to any sign that he has done so."
The other matter concerns nine bishops of The Episcopal Church who have participated in court filings that deny the hierarchical nature of this Church. Charges have been made by some Standing Committees and other bishops against those nine, and the parties involved are being asked to agree to seek conciliation under the disciplinary canons. That means that those involved are trying to find a resolution that will end the disciplinary process. I believe all involved see that as a positive endeavor.
I have posted a number of stories concerning South Carolina including my own take on matters relating to the diocese. Whatever the future holds, it will be a much-diminished diocese in terms of numbers. They have already lost two large parishes, All Saints, Pawleys Island, and St. Andrew's, Mt Pleasant, because of a disagreement with TEC, not the diocese. There will be more flight when the faux diocese is set up under vonRosenberg. Will the diocese under Lawrence stay independent or will it seek oversight overseas? VOL was told that the Southern Cone would not take any more US dioceses under its ecclesiastical wing, which pretty much leaves Egypt. One might hope that the ACNA would be an option as it is recognized by GAFCON archbishops. We shall see.
The new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby may well be the Alpha male to save the Church of England. One can but hope. On the surface he looks like a solidly Christian version of the geeky Sheldon in the Big Bang Theory television sitcom.
Will the evangelical Justin Welby provide the tough love that has been so sadly lacking in the Anglican Communion? Newspaper reports out of England say the new Archbishop of Canterbury has the qualities to hold together the disparate worldwide Anglican Communion
Justin Welby is an Old Etonian. If people have an image of Etonians, it is usually a worldly one - the easy, well-mannered gentleman, or the smug, arrogant bastard, according to taste. Etonians are not often thought of as holy. Welby stands in a strong, but never fashionable tradition of public-school Christian seriousness - an unadorned, personal faith in Jesus as his Savior, and a lifelong sense of obligation to do His work in the world.
At Trinity College, Cambridge, where Justin Welby went, this type of Christianity was even more marked. The Cambridge Intercollegiate Christian Union (CICU, always pronounced "kick you") is still the largest student society in the university. It is Protestant, Biblical, and evangelical. A good many Etonians were pillars of it. So, in a quiet way, is Welby.
They felt that Jesus was changing their lives, and they wanted to spread His good news. They did it honestly, conscientiously and kindly. They took seriously Jesus's famous "Great Commission" - "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." They helped many, even cynical young me.
Move forward to today. One of those hospitable Nickys, the Rev Nicky Gumbel, is the vicar of Holy Trinity, Brompton - "HTB", the most famous evangelical church in Britain. In 1990, he took over a modest course of Christian instruction called Alpha and changed it. Instead of it being for existing believers, he and his colleagues aimed it at people outside the Church. Today, the Alpha course has been taken by 19.6 million people, in 66,000 churches, taught in 112 languages, and followed in virtually every country in the world. It is present in 85 per cent of British prisons as well as in Yale and Harvard.
Alpha involves no obligation - no money, no follow-up courses, no membership, no assent. Its only worldly inducement is free food eaten together (those buns again). It gives orthodox Christian answers to questions such as "Who is Jesus?" "Why did he die?" and "What is faith?"
The new Archbishop of Canterbury was a lay pastor at Holy Trinity, Brompton, and trained as a priest at the same time that Alpha was going global. He was what the satirists call "HTB-positive". His worldly, ecclesiastical or intellectual career has not been narrow. He has been an oilman, Francophile (he was France's honorary consul in Liverpool when he was Dean there), peacemaker in Nigeria, and admirer of the Benedictine order, but he has never worn the straitjacket of a sect. When he was at Liverpool, his slogan was that the cathedral was "a safe place to do risky things in Christ's service". Faith as risk, rather than as bogus certainty, would seem the right idiom for the modern Church of England.
Church people who actively dislike evangelicals are expressing complete trust in Dr. Welby's openness. No one expects a war between High and Low, Anglo-Catholics and Bible-bashers. They expect an archbishop who will speak bravely to England, and the wider world, in clear English, about the claims that Jesus makes on the life of society and on each human being.
This will be a wonderful change from the compromising, unclear, Hegelian world of Rowan Williams.
The real questions are what will Welby say and do about the revisionist Anglican West - Jefferts Schori and Fred Hiltz - and what sort of dance will he dance with the Global South as he embraces an ungovernable situation. This is not about squabbles, as one UK newspaper put it, it is about heresy at a very deep level. Welby is not the Pope, but he can say and do things nonetheless like withholding invitations to certain events. We shall see. It is most encouraging to hear that one of Dr. Welby's greatest skills is handling people who disagree; he will encounter little else.
Despite what liberals say about evangelicals of Dr. Welby's kind, we are not narrow or bigoted. Evangelicals are less concerned for the institution of the church than the proclamation of the gospel. The parish structure in the UK is a fine structure, but unless a clear and apostolic word is heard from all its pulpits, not much is going to change. John Stott was right to place the emphasis on apostolic preaching. A hundred J.I. Packer's and Michael Greens with the fervor of Charles Wesley could turn Britain around. One can but hope. What the Church of England needs now is a dose of tough love. The Church of England needs to stop ranting on about homophobia and get on with preaching the gospel - a gospel that will change the lives of activist homosexuals, calling on them to repent, as well need to of our various sins.
One liberal archbishop, Fred Hiltz of Canada, had faint praise for Dr. Welby. He described him as having a deep commitment to God's mission in the world. (This is the language of Jefferts Schori, not Welby). Hiltz also noted that Dr. Welby is a gifted communicator, respected for his passion for ecumenical relations and inter faith dialogue, both of which are key to religious leadership in these times. Well, not exactly.
Hiltz made no mention of the new ABC's evangelical commitment; he completely dodged it. He also didn't talk about Welby's deep Nigerian (evangelical) connections and HTB (evangelical) connections. So called "deep spirituality" could just as easily apply to the Dalai Lama...this is spin.
By contrast, the Primates of Global South of the Anglican Communion congratulated the new Archbishop saying they would pray that the Lord will give him wisdom and the grace. "At this difficult time in the life of the Communion, we pray that the Lord will use you to bring about healing to our beloved Anglican Communion."
Pray for the new Archbishop. I have posted a number of stories about this new archbishop in today's digest including a fine commentary piece by the Rev. Dr. Peter Moore.
Some 200 lay delegates and clergy representing more than sixty churches and missions of PEARUSA gathered at Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in Denver, Colorado, to hold their Inaugural Assembly that also saw the consecration of their first bishop.
PEARUSA is the House of Bishops under the Anglican Province of Rwanda recognized and united to the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). They met October 29 -31.
In attendance were nine of eleven Rwandan bishops attending including Rwandan Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje. "We come as brothers to stand with those we have been in relationship with for many years. We also come in celebration to consecrate the Rev. Steve Breedlove of Chapel Hill, North Carolina as a bishop and leader of the PEARUSA mission." He was former rector of all Saints in Chapel Hill. He will be the Presider bishop nationwide of PEARUSA.
All Saints, Pawleys Island, SC, is going through the fallout of change after their recent vote to leave the AMIA for the ACNA. The Vestry announced the resignations of Martha Lachicotte, Sr. Warden, and Vestry members Angie Bunn, Russ Campbell and Keith Kephart. According to the By-laws, the Vestry will appoint new members to fill the unexpired terms of these former members. It was also announced that the Rev. Doug Harvey, who served as one of their Deacons, has also stepped down.
Several people wrote to me to ask how the voting went. Here are the figures. There were 551 votes cast: 322 in favor of proposal #1 to join ACNA and 229 in favor of proposal #2 to join the Anglican Mission in the Americas Society for Mission and Apostolic Works.
Here is a statement from All Saints Church:
It's a new chapter in the long history of All Saints Church, Waccamaw. The work before us, as we see it, is that we all need to look to the Lord. He is in control, and He has a plan that is far beyond what we can imagine. Right now, of course, there are all sorts of emotions and feelings among the people of All Saints. That's why we need, each and every one, to turn to the Lord and follow His guidance in healing broken relationships. For those who feel truly called to serve God through the Anglican Mission, and who cannot do so as part of the Anglican Church in North America, we pray that they are able to continue in the important Kingdom work to which the Lord has called them, and where there is a parting, let us part in peace. Martha Lachicotte, Sr. Warden The Rev. Rob Grafe, Rector
Bishop Kenneth Cragg died this week at his home in the College of St Barnabas. His 100th birthday would have been in February 1913. He was Bishop of Jerusalem from 1970 to 1973.
The Rev. Ray Skinner of Mordern wrote, "I am sure many will want to give thanks to God for his great love for and understanding of the world of Islam, and for his encouragement to so many of us in introducing Muslim friends to our crucified and risen Lord Jesus."
Bishop Michael Nazir wrote, "Kenneth Cragg was one of the most distinguished Christian scholars of Islam in the hundred years that have spanned his life. Whilst being clear about the nature of the gospel, he sought to be as sympathetic to the classical basis of Islam as it was possible for him as a Christian to be. In due course he developed a way of commending Christian faith according to the logic of Islam. Many have admired him for such an undertaking even if they have known that such a project would not in the end succeed. Towards the end, whilst retaining his sympathy and depth of scholarship, he saw more clearly the fundamental differences between the two faiths, not least in their attitude to power. He was better known and respected in the Middle East and the Islamic world both among Christians and Muslims than he was in his own native land. His passing creates a gap in scholarship which needs to be filled by those committed to a rigorous study of languages, sources and the history of the world of Islam and of Muslim-Christian Encounter. The Call of the Minaret was his first book, but equally important was the Mind of the Quran and the Dome of the Rock."
A statement from Bishop Mouneer Anis on the passing of Kenneth Cragg noted, "Bishop Kenneth Cragg was very well-known here in the Arab World for his scholarly writings on Islam. He lived for many years here in the Middle East and developed friendships with many Muslims whom he sincerely loved. Many Muslim scholars loved and respected him too. He wrote and spoke about the major differences between Christianity and Islam, but the love that filled his heart towards Muslims embraced these differences. He also made a great contribution in revealing the common grounds between Islam and Christianity. I had the privilege of joining him in several seminars about Islam and Christianity in Cairo and the UK. His contribution to our Diocese and the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East will never be forgotten. We remember with great affection his time as an Assistant Bishop for the Diocese."
A retired Church of England bishop, Peter Ball, 80, was arrested by police on suspicion of sex offenses against eight boys and young men in the late Eighties and Nineties. The former bishop of Lewes and Gloucester has connections with Prince Charles whom he has described in the past as a "loyal friend". The offenses are alleged to have taken place in East Sussex and elsewhere within the diocese of Chichester. He is thought to be the highest member of the clergy to be arrested in connection with a sex abuse investigation.
Police also arrested a second clergyman on suspicion of separate sex offenses. An unnamed 67-year-old retired priest was also detained at his home this morning near Haywards Heath, West Sussex, on suspicion of separate sex offenses against two teenage boys in East Sussex between 1981 and 1983, Sussex Police said.
The arrests follow a review and subsequent inquiry over the past six months by a team of Sussex Police detectives.
IN CANADA, the Diocese of Niagara will disestablish St. Hilda's in Oakville and the Church of the Good Shepherd in St. Catharine's, Burlington, ON.
All three parishes, including St. George's (Burlington), were part of the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC). All reached a negotiated settlement with the Anglican Church of Canada's (ACoC) Diocese of Niagara. In the end, the diocese could not keep the parishes open, an all too familiar story here in both the US and Canada.
They resolved a five-year legal dispute initiated by the Diocese of Niagara against the three parishes - and even against individual leaders of the parishes - for control of parish properties. All three congregations turned over the keys to their long-time properties to the ACoC diocese with guarantees that neither party will initiate legal action against the other party.
Now they are up for sale. St. Hilda's Rectory is asking for a price not lower than $600,000. The Secretary of Synod has been authorized to conduct an electronic poll. Wrote a blogger, "This does not come as a great surprise and only shows what this is all about. Not about ministry, or mission, or supporting 'growing' congregations. But about the money to prop up budgets another year or two.
"It's funny how parishes hold church property in trust for the diocese, when only a few years ago the diocese held church properties in trust for the parishes. If hypocrisy was not in the order of the day, I guess the real churches of St. Hilda's and Good Shepherd could claim that trust money back from the Diocese of Niagara. I'm sure that would work."
St. Philip-by-the-Lake, Grimsby located at 377 Park Road North, Grimsby went on the chopping block at $225,000. It was sold to Grimsby Bible Church for $253,000.
In other news, The Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) synod elected the Rt. Rev. Charles Masters as Co-adjutor Diocesan Bishop to succeed Diocesan Bishop and Moderator the Rt. Rev Donald Harvey when he retires in 2014. The election took place at St Peter and St Paul Anglican Church in Ottawa on November 14 with the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America, the Most Rev Robert Duncan, presiding. The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America, of which ANiC is a diocese, must approve the election.
Bishop Jason Epps of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC) has been appointed Dean of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Sharpsburg, Georgia. In the Anglican Communion, a dean of a cathedral usually serves as the rector, or senior pastor, of the cathedral. In the Charismatic Episcopal Church, however, the bishop of the diocese serves as the cathedral rector while the dean serves as the rector during the absences or illnesses of the bishop. A dean therefore serves, in essence, as the senior associate pastor while the bishop is present. Should the bishop become incapacitated or is otherwise unable to perform his duties, the Dean assumes the pastorate until a new rector is appointed.
In 2011, Epps was ordained to the priesthood by his father, The Most Rev'd David Epps, Bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South. Also in 2011, he graduated from St. Michael's Seminary with the degree of master of ministry. He is a member of the rector's council at Christ the King and is also a diocesan investigator in the event allegations are lodged against clergy of the diocese. He is also president of the Warriors Motorcycle Club, a ministry of Christ the King. He is the chair of the cathedral council.
Catholic Bishops Continue to Fight Gay Marriage. A subdued U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops acknowledged Monday that voters rejected the stands they took against gay marriage and birth control, but gave no sign they would change their strategy ahead.
Same-sex marriage supporters made a four-state sweep of ballot measures last week, despite intensive advocacy by Roman Catholic bishops in favor of traditional marriage. Bishops also spoke out sharply against President Barack Obama's mandate that most employers provide health insurance that covers artificial contraception. Critics accused the bishops of going so far that they appeared to be backing Republican Mitt Romney.
The bishops insist their complaints were not partisan. Still, they now must face four more years with an administration many bishops have characterized as a threat to the church.
"We've always maintained our openness to dialogue, and that will continue," said Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, who leads the bishops' committee on religious liberty. "As this evolves, as rule-making gets a little more clear, then our range of options will be clearer."
None of the bishops who spoke Monday directly mentioned Obama. Lori only noted that "the political landscape is the same." The bishops instead reviewed plans they developed well before Election Day to expand outreach to Latino Catholics on traditional marriage and organize events on the importance of religious freedom.
Obama won the overall Catholic vote, 50 percent to 48 percent, but Catholics split on ethnic lines. White Catholics supported Romney, 59 percent to 40 percent. However, Latino Catholics went for Obama, 75 percent to 21 percent.
Archbishop Tikhon of Philadelphia has been elected Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church of America. They met at Holy Trinity Church in Parma, Ohio, where 593 delegates elected the 46 year old convert from the Episcopal Church on the third ballot. Tikhon succeeds Metropolitan Jonah of Washington - also a convert from the Episcopal Church - as leader of the church.
"Kids Without God": Atheist Activists Launch Shocking Web Site to Convert Kids & Teens Into Non-Believers. The atheist activist community in America has taken an increasingly-active role in trying to convince citizens with doubts about their faith to fully evolve into non-believers and to "come out," publicly proclaiming their anti-theism. Think of it as a form of secular evangelism. Already, non-believers have attempted to reach clergy who are in doubt through The Clergy Project. Additionally, there's a humanist church service each week in Tulsa, Oklahoma (and these are only two examples). Now, in addition to reaching adults, atheist activists have their eyes set on converting kids and teens.
The American Humanist Association (AHA), a group that seeks to create "a progressive society where being good without gods" is widely accepted, has launched a new outreach web site called KidsWithoutGod.com. According to a press release put out by the organization, the project's key intention is to attract "humanist, atheist and other non-traditionally religious kids" so that they can find information that is not colored by "supernaturalism."
Finally. Is the Petraeus Scandal a Religious Affair? Some see echoes of King David. Daniel Burke of the Religion News Service reports that it's tempting to view the sex scandal surrounding retired Army Gen. David Petraeus through a religious lens. After all, most faiths forbid adultery. Even before his fall from grace, some Pentagon colleagues compared Petraeus to the biblical King David-another proud and powerful warrior.
The comparison seemed even more apt after the former four-star general's resignation from the CIA on Friday. "More than one officer cited the biblical adultery of King David and Bathsheba," wrote The New York Times.
The Bible says that David acted righteously and kept God's commandments-except in the case of Uriah the Hittite, Bathsheba's husband.
"Will history remember David Petraeus with the same caveat?" asked Jim Denison, a Southern Baptist scholar in Dallas.
Even liberals saw the scandal in religious terms, albeit from an opposite pole. "Don't understand why 'adultery' is quasi-illegal in a nation in which church & state are separate," tweeted the renowned novelist Joyce Carol Oates. "The ugly word 'bastard' has been phased out of usage & next should come 'adultery' with its Biblical rectitude & cruelty."
But the military's anti-adultery rules are not based on religion, biblical or otherwise, noted Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a Pentagon spokesman.
"To be clear, it has nothing to do with a religious version of what morality is and everything to do with maintaining good order and discipline," he said.
Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice criminalizes adultery when three elements are met: two people had sex, one of them was married, and their conduct compromised military discipline and order or brought "discredit upon the armed forces."
In the end it might simply be David BeTrayedUs.
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