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GAFCON expects 2000 in Jerusalem * TECSC Petitions Court to Return Properties * Curry to give address at Harry-Markle Marriage * CofE could split if TEC removes 'man and woman' in marriage vow. CofE pro-gays pushback * Episcopal Church Leaders Hate Israel

The mediator of God. Instinctively we know that we cannot box God up in any conceptual framework of our own devising, and that if we think we have succeeded in doing so, then what we have in our box is not God. Our little minds cannot conceive him, let alone contain him. '"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways" declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts"' (Is. 55:8-9). Even the fleeting glimpses we catch of him as he passes by in moments of ecstasy or pain, of beauty or wonder, of goodness or love, leave us tantalized by the fullness of the Reality beyond. Yet these glimpses are themselves a form of 'mediation'. For they are declarations of God through the glories of heaven and earth, through the intricate mechanisms of nature, through the complexities of the human situation in its combination of nobility and degradation, and through the whole range of our responses to it. --- John R.W. Stott

If you fear God's judgment, you are either unsaved or you don't understand that Jesus took the judgement that was due us. If you have trusted in Christ, you have no more reason to fear. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and it is the fulfillment of wisdom, but that's a healthy fear, not one of being struck down by God or fearing His judgment. To fear God means to reverence the Word of God and God Himself. --- Jack Wellman

Anyone under 35 years of age has no living memory of the world before the politically correct new morality crowd took over. They think abortion is just normal, as is pornography, violence, homosexuality and the whole pot of filth that destroys civilizations. --- Michael Voris

"Hell is truth known too late." --- Bishop J.C. Ryle

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
May 11, 2018

Loneliness and fatherless are fast becoming the issues of contemporary society. It is no surprise then that there is a rise in opioid addiction, gun violence and suicide. The end result is lawlessness and death.

I was recently told that a prominent American sociologist and Protestant theologian told a friend of mine that he was lonely as he faced death. His wife had died several years earlier. He had no family and friends who came a calling. He was alone. He died alone.

With the prolonging of age by Millennials to marry (or not to marry at all) whole generations of people will be left with people unable or unwilling to care for them. If you are wealthy of course, you can afford 24/7 nursing and if you were smart enough to get into a continuing care facility before you were diagnosed with dementia, you will get good care if you have a home to sell and can come up with $5,000 a month to look after you as you head from Independent living to continuing care to skilled nursing and finally dementia, or the four seasons as it is called.

Even if you have children, there is no guarantee that they will look after you. We are a nation obsessed with money, increasingly selfish, greedy, materialistic pursuing personal satisfaction at almost any cost.

It came to a head this week when a 104-year-old Australian scientist took his own life in a suicide clinic in Switzerland and billed as a "triumph of self-affirmation." One commentator called it the dangerous ideology of 'rational suicide'; It was simply euthanasia by any other name.

Dr. David Goodall declared that "Everyone over middle age should have the right unquestioned to end their lives as and when they choose." The next day he was dead.

Dr Goodall, a distinguished ecologist, was not terminally ill. He was just tired of living. He was frail and his hearing and sight were poor, but he was lucid and not in any pain.

So, as a long-time member of Philip Nitschke's Exit International organization, Dr Goodall was turned into a poster boy for legalizing suicide on demand--so-called "rational suicide" -- in Australia and elsewhere. A GoFundMe campaign organized by Dr Nitschke raised enough money to finance a business class flight to Basel. There he died with the help of the bizarrely named Life Circle/Eternal SPIRIT Foundation, a splinter group from the better-known organization Dignitas.

This is a dangerous philosophy. The day after Goodall passed away, a murder-suicide of seven people, including four autistic children, occurred in Western Australia, his state. It was the biggest mass murder in Australia since 1996. Someone decided that his (or her) life and the lives of the four children were not worth living, either.

While all this continues, the mainline Protestant churches are more concerned with brokering in the sterile relationships of sodomy and gay marriage -- relationships that have no future except the personal gratification of the couple. They will only accelerate the culture of death.

It is quite a different question when your attorney asks how long you want to be on life support when making out your will and the end is clearly in sight. Using technology to prolong life is not the same thing as euthanasia or 'rational suicide.' Distinctions must be made.

So, what does all this have to say for Christians who are supposed to exemplify what Jesus taught about loving our neighbor as ourselves, of going the second mile, of being the Good Samaritan, of caring for the sick, poor and lonely. In today's narcissistic society, obsessed and absorbed with the glorification of the self and what is now called 'moralistic therapeutic deism', we are a nation heading down hill, killing ourselves off better than the communists, ISIS or Al Qaeda could have ever achieved.

Here are some facts that should jolt you into reality.

Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day. On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.

Opioid addiction will kill 65,000 persons this year with one forecast revealing that Opioids could kill nearly 500,000 in the U.S. in the next decade.

Suicide will claim nearly 50,000 lives this year and it will include several prominent figures like the now departed Robin Williams. His wealth could not save him from deep depression.

Sadly, the church stands by helpless, despite all the talk of the transforming love of Jesus Christ. We are not seeing much "transformation", but we do talk, talk, talk with little action to back it up. Most of the churches cannot articulate a gospel of new life in Christ, because they don't believe it. It is easy to get bogged down in form over substance, of style over true worship. We hope for revivals to break out to bring in new converts, but I see little of that happening. Perhaps we need some good old-fashioned repentance for our own personal sinful ways that include greed, materialism and just plain selfishness.

*****

Just weeks before GAFCON gets under way in Jerusalem, with more than 2,000 orthodox Anglicans in attendance -- an event that will be a game changer for global Anglicanism, -- the Archbishop of Canterbury told a regional primates meeting of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) in Kenya, that the Church on the continent is a gift to the world and that it has the ability to shape the globe -- but it must move forward.

In a wide-ranging address, Archbishop Justin urged CAPA leaders to learn from the mistakes of the Global North -- to be wary of individualism and not to be complacent about the numbers of young people currently in churches across the continent.

Of course, the biggest mistake the Global North has made is the abandonment of the gospel in favor of pluriform views, diversity and sexual inclusivity, all of which is sinking the Western churches faster than the Titanic. The three provinces of the CofE, TEC and the ACoC can barely muster an ASA the equivalent of two large Anglican dioceses in Nigeria!

"Individualism" is code for don't go it alone, listen to your western brothers and sisters who have been so effective in evangelism and discipleship their churches are heading over the proverbial brink. On "moving forward", GAFCON is an example of "moving forward" even while western Anglicanism is falling backwards, and why would Nigerian Archbishop Nicholas Okoh listen to anything Welby has to say when the Church of England is on the verge of capitulating to sodomy and gay marriage, as have the US and Canadian branches of Anglicanism! As far as learning from the mistakes of the Global North, the Africans have done just that, and that is why GAFCON exists as a major thorn in Welby's side.

Of course, Welby's tripe would not be complete without a swing at media (like VOL). "The Archbishop expressed concern about the negative impact of modern, faster communication. He said there had been a very rapid rise in comment but it was not always accurate -- words were spread and reinterpreted in different cultures. And social media, although it had the power to spread the gospel and encourage prayer, was being used to slander, attack and bring disorder."

This is code for 'don't listen to orthodox news services and blogs that constantly expose his failings' because if you do, you will get an alternative reality that does not comport well with Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Consultative Council, ENS and the ACNS who are all responsible for the liberal spin in the Anglican Communion.

Against this backdrop, Welby said the Church had to change the way it was living if it was going to affect the world. There was now a lack of confidence in the gospel which meant the Church was becoming inward-looking rather than going out. He explained that the thinking behind the theme of the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops in 2020 -- God's Church for God's World -- was that the Church had to be more outward focused.

Really! Then why isn't it working in Britain, but is working in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda to name just a few Anglican African provinces. "We cannot wait until we are all together, or we all agree, or we are all holy -- because the world is perishing," he said. "We must move forwards to serve the world, even when we disagree."

Not if theological heresy and apostasy continues to abound in Western Anglicanism. This is why GAFCON is an alternative to the Lambeth Conference of 2020 and why most of the evangelical Anglican provinces will be no shows at the 2020 event.

Western Anglicanism has drunk from the poisoned wells of the cultural revolution and is paying the ultimate price in its own extinction.

You can read Andrew Symes brilliant analysis on why the Church of England needs the GAFCON vision here: https://tinyurl.com/y77oq92o

*****

The announcement that the Church of England could split over a US plan to remove 'husband and wife' from the marriage service, met with pushback from some 300 Church of England members, including Alan Wilson, the bishop of Buckingham. A letter written by the Church of England's Secretary General, William Nye, saying it could, aroused fury both in the U.S. and UK with pro-gay UK leaders saying he only spoke for himself not the CofE.

The US Episcopal Church asked other members of the worldwide Anglican Communion to respond to the new liturgy, prompting Mr. Nye's letter on the basis that thou shalt not offend sodomites who wish not to curtail their behavior and believe the Lord nods and winks at what they do.

The Church of England is split over US plans to remove "husband and wife" from the marriage service and plans by The Episcopal Church to change its marriage service to a gay-friendly version, which also removes mention of the word "procreation" were also criticized by Nye.

It's a forgone conclusion that TEC will change the language and it will be canon law this summer when General Convention meets in Austin, Texas.

The new service removes the phrase "the union of husband and wife" and replaces it with "the union of two people" and replaces the section which talks about part of God's intention for marriage being "for the procreation of children" with the phrase "for the gift of children" to make it more relevant for same-sex couples who may wish to adopt.

Now you know why GAFCON exists and why their leaders believe that the CofE is following TEC into an ecclesiastical grave. You can read the full story here: https://tinyurl.com/ydy5fvt5

In other GAFCON news, Bishop Andy Lines of GAFCON-UK offered to support the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) in New Zealand after same sex blessings. He said he was deeply saddened and concerned by the decision of the General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa to accept Motion 29 and so pave the way for the blessing of same sex relationships.

"We note that only those in civil marriages or lawfully recognized partnerships will be eligible for these blessings." This shows that while a short time ago many church leaders around the world were arguing for such blessings but drew the line at same-sex marriage (as in the Church of England's Pilling Report), now that line appears to have been removed. With this decision, another Anglican Province follows TEC, Canada and Scotland in believing it has the authority to redefine marriage and offer the Church's blessing to relationships which the Bible and centuries of Christian tradition clearly teach that God warns against and cannot bless. You can read the full story here: https://tinyurl.com/yct2f6le

However, the Pacific arm of the Anglican Church opted not to support this move by passing a resolution that they would not vote on the issue, a move that could lead to the church officially recognizing same-sex marriage. Church leaders have been meeting in New Zealand for their biennial synod where various motions were debated and where a majority group of members supported a motion to allow bishops to authorize blessings of same-sex relationships.

The Diocese of Polynesia released a statement saying the "constitutions and cultures" of its nations were reflected in its position on the issue.

The statement said the diocese honored the church's work and understood the decision to allow same-sex marriages was "located in the Maori and Pakeha context, within the laws and cultures of New Zealand".

And just to make the point clearer to Archbishop Welby, the Archbishop of Kenya, Ole Sapit, said he won't allow same-sex marriage OR polygamous marriages in his Church. Is Welby listening, or does he think he can parse this in the name of "good disagreement"? You can read what the Kenyan Primate had to say here: https://tinyurl.com/yam4fuc6

Now it used to be that liberal TEC bishops like John Chane of Washington (DC) would berate the Africans for allowing polygamous marriage because it justified sodomite marriage in TEC. Well, this statement blows that right out the window.

*****

That the Episcopal Church is decidedly pro-Palestinian should come as no surprise as the whole Anglican enterprise in Israel is not only pro-Arab, but decidedly anti-Israel as well. But this past week the anti-Israel anger reached a new level of public hatred when an anti-Semitic film series, Voices from the Holy Land (VFHL), was heavily featured at an Episcopal Church, St. John's Norwood, in Washington, DC, with one woman in the audience declaring that Zionism is like cancer and an "obscenity of Judaism and the Christian religion."

Writing for Jihadwatch, Andrew Harrod said the female outburst typified the sentiments of this year's film "Voices", "an annual series bringing together rabid Israel-haters in the Washington, DC, area."

The Episcopal congregation is pastored by a Fr. Sari Ateek, son of the Palestinian Anglican priest, Naim Ateek, a leader of the anti-Israel Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center. Ateek Senior was notable for his anti-Semitic rhetoric against Israel, as manifested in his drafting of the 2009 Kairos Palestine declaration; his son, correspondingly, belongs to Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA).

The woman who made the outburst later declared that "we must recognize Zionism as an enemy, and then we love this enemy" as Jesus loved his enemies, wrote Harrod. You can read the full story here: https://tinyurl.com/yctzruxf

*****

If consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, then no one will accuse the Church of England of small mindedness, though it demonstrates total inconsistency on sexual behavior. A recent Biblical Studies Seminar hosted by internationally renowned theologian, Dr. N.T. Wright, also featured convicted child porn, theology Professor, Robert Hayward, of Durham University.

Professor Robert Hayward's lecture was titled, Praise and prayer on earth and in heaven.

The 68-year-old bachelor was arrested after police visited and raided his home in Neville's Cross, Durham, last January and discovered 165 images of underage children. Hayward was later invited back to lecture at Durham University's School of Theology.

A theologian familiar with the story wrote VOL to say that while Bishop George Bell's name can be dragged through the mud, N.T. Wright hosts a convicted sex offender for a seminar. "I think it says much about the current state of the Church of England." You can read the full story here: https://tinyurl.com/yad6gbkn

*****

In the ongoing scandal of the sexual assault on boys by staff and clergy at various Episcopal Boys schools and academies around the country, two students who attended St. Paul's School in Concord, N.H., in the 1960s and 1970s, sued the elite prep school for negligence, accusing several teachers, including the late Massachusetts congressman, Gerry Studds, of abuse and denouncing the school as "a haven for sexual predators."

Keith Mithoefer, who attended the school from 1966 to 1970, alleged that Studds and two other faculty members inappropriately touched him at different times, the lawsuit stated. He accused a fourth faculty member of making unwanted sexual remarks. You can read the full story here: http://www.virtueonline.org/concord-nh-suit-calls-st-pauls-haven-predators-updated

*****

The Episcopal Church and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) have petitioned the 1st Circuit Court of Common Pleas to execute the state Supreme Court's decision and return church properties to the Episcopal Church.

The petition, filed Monday in Dorchester County, also asks the court to appoint a Special Master to oversee an "orderly and expeditious resolution" of the issues.

In August 2017, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that property currently being controlled by Bishop Mark Lawrence actually is held in trust for The Episcopal Church and its local diocese, TECSC. The decision affects all diocesan property of the Diocese of South Carolina, including Camp St. Christopher, as well as the property of 28 parishes.

In a separate, but related case, TECSC also filed in the U.S. District Court in Charleston asking the court to resolve trademark and false-advertising issues involving the identity of the diocese.

TECSC's ultimate goal in both courts is to bring a final resolution to five years of legal disputes over church property and identity.

*****

The Bishop of the Anglican Church of Tasmania will keep three quarters of the proceeds from its property sales, in an effort to "keep the people of God doing their ministry" in Tasmanian communities.

The church has plans to sell about 80 churches across the state, as well as halls, land and residential properties. All up, the 120 properties earmarked for sale make up half the church's assets in the state.
The Rt. Rev. Richard Condie said the move was to fund redress for survivors of child sexual abuse, which he estimates will cost $8 million. But only one quarter of the proceeds of the sales will go to redress, with three quarters going back into parishes, he said.

*****

The new Bishop for Gippsland, Australia, says the church should "Rejoice" at Same-Sex Marriage. The Rev. Dr Richard Treloar, Vicar of Christ Church South Yarra, was elected as the thirteenth Bishop of Gippsland! He began his ordained ministry in rural and regional Victoria and will take up his new appointment later in the year.

*****

An ultra-liberal Episcopal parish in Washington, DC has been blocked by a court more than a year after construction began. St. Thomas Episcopal Parish at 1772 Church St. NW on the Dupont Circle would have included 56 residential units. The D.C. Court of Appeals vacated the Board of Zoning Adjustments' approval of the project, sending the proposal back to the board, Washington City Paper reports.

St. Thomas' Episcopal Parish is leading the efforts to redevelop its property, in consultation with CAS Riegler and Hickok Cole, into a seven-story building with 56 residential units and a place of worship. It celebrated a groundbreaking on the project in February 2017.

The development received approval in January, 2016 from the Board of Zoning Adjustments. Projects in front of the BZA have only minor requests to depart from a site's zoning and are typically smaller than the Zoning Commission-considered planned-unit developments, which have been the focus of an unprecedented series of appeals in recent years.

The church and its partners went in front of the BZA to request a variance from the requirement that the building not occupy more than 80% of the lot, while their proposal surpassed that by roughly 6.7%. The BZA granted that exception, but then the Dupont Circle Citizens Association appealed it in September, 2016.

The appeal was before the D.C. Court of Appeals for over 18 months before the court vacated the approval in a decision filed Thursday, concluding the parish did not adequately demonstrate it had an exceptional condition worthy of the flexibility.

The decision follows two instances in recent history when the court has vacated the approvals for major PUD projects. It blocked the $720 million McMillan development in December 2016, and that project was just appealed again last week. The court also blocked Menkiti Group's 901 Monroe project in Brookland three separate times.

Those decisions set off a rapid string of appeals that have delayed over a dozen projects and thousands of housing units across the District.

*****

What Religion Is Meghan Markle, bride to be of Prince Harry? A report from Good Housekeeping confirms that she was raised as an Episcopalian. The report further noted that Markle attended a Roman Catholic High School, and then married Trevor Engelson who was of the Jewish faith. While many rumors swirled that she had converted to Judaism, the report confirmed that she had not.

Although she has not publicly identified her religious affiliation, the Daily Express noted that her father, Thomas Markle Senior, was a member of the Episcopal Church of the United States and of the Anglican Communion. Her mother, Doria Ragland, is an indeterminate Protestant. Her parents divorced when she was 6 years old, but both are expected to attend their daughter's upcoming wedding.

Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle have asked that PB Michael Curry to give the address at their wedding. He will join The Dean of Windsor, The Rt. Revd. David Conner, who will conduct the Service. Archbishop Justin Welby will officiate as the couple make their marriage vows.

Curry said: "The love that has brought and will bind Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle together has its source and origin in God and is the key to life and happiness. And so we celebrate and pray for them today."

*****

Protestant affiliation has dropped sharply in the US over the past 15 years, with only 36 per cent of Americans identifying themselves as Protestant last year compared to 50 per cent in 2003, according to a new analysis for ABC News.

The decline among what remains the nation's prevalent religious group includes an eight-point drop in the number of evangelical white Protestants, the study of ABC News and Washington Post polls by Langer Research Associates shows.

Meanwhile, the share of Christians overall has declined from 83 per cent of the adult population in 2003, to 72 per cent on average last year. Over the same period, the number of Americans who say they have no religion has nearly doubled, to 21 per cent.

Catholic self-identification has held steady during this time, at 22 per cent. The share of adults who identify with another form of Christianity -- including Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons and Greek or Russian Orthodox -- has risen modestly, from 11 to 14 percent.

This analysis is based on a large dataset -- 174,485 random-sample telephone interviews in ABC News and ABC News/Washington Post polls conducted from 2003 to 2017.

Among all Protestants, 56 per cent currently say they are evangelical or born-again; that has also held steady since 2003, with virtually equal declines in the number who say they are either evangelical or non-evangelical Protestants, down seven and six points respectively.

*****

The Episcopal Bishop of Missouri, Wayne Smith, is retiring after 16 years. He has no idea what his future holds, but we can tell you how he did as bishop and it wasn't much. When he came into office, the diocese had 14,546 baptized souls. As he exits, it has less than 10,300, a loss of 30%. Average Sunday Attendance in 2002 was 5,018. In 2016, it had about 3,300 for a loss of over 33%. In 2016, the diocese had 134 confirmations, received 25, and held 40 weddings. It had 155 burials. Between 2009 and 2016, the diocese closed three parishes.

The average age of all its priests is 57. The percentage aged 65+ is 24%. The percentage of priests aged between 55-64 is 41%. The number of priests under the age of 44 is a mere 17%. The number of full time priests of one congregation is 47%; Part time priests of one congregation number 24%; Priests in yoked churches or parish clusters number 16% with Non-stipendiary priests numbering 14%. The next bishop will probably be its last based on these statistics. Smith will leave with a good pension.

TWO EPISCOPAL DIOCESES announced they would collaborate this week. This is fancy talk for, 'we will be going out of business and be forced to amalgamate and juncture if we don't do something soon.' An ENS report called it an "innovative arrangement." What it means is that on the retirement of Bishop William Franklin of Western New York in April 2019, Bishop Sean W. Rowe of Northwestern Pennsylvania will take over and share his staff with that diocese and run it. It will morph into a long-term relationship. The plan must be approved by the annual conventions of both dioceses which will meet jointly in Niagara Falls in October.

Here are the figures for these two dioceses. In Western New York, the diocese had 17,558 in 2000; by 2016, the diocese had lost 52.2% to below 8,000. Its ASA in 2000 was 6,239; by 2016, it was barely 3,000, a drop of 51%. Confirmations were 77, some 18 were received into communion; weddings totaled 64, but burials were a whopping 234! The average age of its priests was 64, with 52% aged 65+ and 34% aged 55-64. A mere 7% were under the age of 44. It has 57 mostly small rural congregations. The number of full time priests of one congregation is a mere 31%. The rest were either part time, yoked or non-stipendiary.

The Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania had 5,715 baptized members in 2000; by 2016, it had dropped to below 3,400, a drop of 40%. ASA in 2000 was 2,350; in 2016, it was down to 1,405, a drop of 40%. The diocese has 31 congregations; they received 24 new members, had 21 weddings and buried 86! The average age of its priests is 58.

The diocese can only claim 22% full time priests (about six rectors) for 31 congregations. These are the only financially viable parishes. The number of part-time priests of one congregation totals 17%; priests in yoked churches or parish clusters number 17%, while non-stipendiary priests number 43%, twice as many full-time priests.

One could say of The Episcopal Church, in fact most of western Anglicanism, that in the quest for accommodation it seems to encourage moderns to divide their sense of what Anglicanism represents in two -- into an Old Church that's frightening and fascinating in equal measure and a New Church that's a little more liked, but much more easily ignored.

*****

In six weeks, I and my team will head out the door to Jerusalem to cover GAFCON III, the greatest Anglican moment of this year, perhaps in the last five years. But we do need your support and help to get us there.

If you can make a tax-deductible donation of any amount we would be truly grateful.

You can make a donation here:

PAYPAL:
Donate link
https://tinyurl.com/ydekvvrr

A physical check can be sent here:

VIRTUEONLINE
570 Twin Lakes Road
PO Box 111
Shohola, PA 18458

Thank you for your support,

David

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