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Hurricane Harvey News * TEC Sues SC Diocese Over "False Advertising" * Mainline Seminaries Face Closure * Seychelles Elects new Archbishop * Western Australia Elects Woman Archbishop * BCP Could Expand to Include SS Marriage Rites

The Spirit's witness. In the Upper Room Jesus emphasized that the distinctive work of the Spirit whom the Father was going to send would be in relation to himself, the Son; that the Spirit would delight above all else to glorify or manifest the Son (Jn. 16:14); and that therefore in the spread of the gospel the Holy Spirit would be the chief witness. 'He will bear witness to me.' Only after saying this did Jesus add to his apostles, 'and you also are witnesses' (Jn. 15:26-27). Once we have grasped the significance of this order, we shall have no difficulty in agreeing that *without his witness ours is futile*. --- John R.W. Stott

"We should no more tolerate false doctrine that we would tolerate sin." --- J.C. Ryle

"Who me, deny the Lord?" you might be saying right now. Yes you. It is time to get real here. How many Christians are in fact denying their Lord in all sorts of ways, maybe even on a daily basis? How many because of cowardice, because of being men-pleasers, because of wanting to be accepted, will refuse to stand for Christ, especially at crunch times? --- Bill Muehlenberg

"Inability to distinguish doctrine is spreading far and wide, and so long as the preacher is "clever" and "earnest," hundreds seem to think it must be all right, and call you dreadfully "narrow and uncharitable" if you hint that he is unsound!" --- J.C. Ryle

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
Sept. 1, 2017

HURRICANE HARVEY swept into Houston and Louisiana with a 1 in 1000-year vengeance, devastating thousands of lives and homes on an unprecedented scale. FEMA officials says it will take up to two years to fix. That might be a conservative timeline.

Anglican Archbishop Foley Beach is calling on Anglicans to help with donations and is asking folk to send donations to Anglican Relief and Development Fund (ARDF). You can make your donation here: https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E92060&id=93

VOL correspondent Mary Ann Mueller obtained an exclusive story on a group of 30 Cursillo participants trapped and flooded out at Camp Allen, Texas. It threw a monkey wrench into the Diocese of Texas' Cursillo-252 over the weekend. You can read it here or in today's digest. http://www.virtueonline.org/episcopal-camp-allen-flooded-30-people-trapped-three-days-food

The Episcopal Bishop of Texas, Andrew Doyle, issued a cautionary press release saying he did not have the full facts so he could not (or would not) say how bad things are for Episcopal parishes. That didn't stop Presiding Bishop Michael Curry saying people should not send food, clothing or other items, but Episcopalians could make a donation.

One wonders if the Episcopal Church had not spent tens of millions of dollars on lawsuits trying to reclaim church properties, that the national church could now write out a check for $10 million to Bishop Doyle, instead of begging for money from already distressed Episcopalians! But TEC never could get its priorities right. After all, if you think strangling the Episcopal Church with the umbilical cord of homoerotic sex is worth dying for, why bother with a handful of parishes in Texas!

Of course, incidents like this might just have the salutary effect of re-ordering peoples' lives around gospel truth, dispensing with pluriform notions of truth, especially if you might be looking death in the face. Bishop Doyle might yet learn that Jesus saves not General Convention resolutions.

*****

Continuing its 'litigate till you capitulate' philosophy, the Episcopal Church announced that it would join the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, supporting a federal lawsuit against the breakaway diocese over false advertising and related claims. A federal judge granted The Episcopal Church's motion to intervene in the lawsuit because of Bishop Lawrence's "misuse of marks owned by the Church."

The federal case, known as vonRosenberg v. Lawrence, has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel, and currently is scheduled to proceed to trial in March 2018.

Bishop vonRosenberg retired in 2016, and his successor, Bishop Skip Adams, was added as a plaintiff in the case earlier this year.

IN OTHER NEWS, VOL learned from Episcopal sources that it will not cut any slack to Bishop Lawrence and his fellow Anglicans. They believe that a rehearing asked for by the Standing Committee will not change anything and they plan to wave the Episcopal flag in Charleston and outlying areas where they say they now own 29 parishes. They believe the recusal issue of Judge Kaye Hearn is DOA. They believe in the 3-3-3 policy -- that is, one third will stay in the parishes, one third will go with Mark Lawrence and one third will drift off to other churches and possibly return in time to their Episcopal roots. After all there is the graveyard to consider and who doesn't want to be buried next to General What's His Name who might just have a Confederate flag lining his coffin.

One thing you are not hearing is any talk from TEC about reconciliation, that much vaunted and over used word bandied about by liberals when it comes to sexuality issues, but not apparently to property issues. God, forbid! The policy of TEC on property issues is, and has always been, 'we will crush you into the ground', but if we have to sell the property, we will never, never, never sell it to an Anglican group. We will sell it to Muslims, other evangelical churches, but not to anything Anglican. Just ask Mrs. Jefferts Schori, who told a court that she would sooner sell such parishes for saloons. And to think Archbishop Justin Welby wants to keep making nice with TEC and just wishes that Archbishop Foley Beach would go away and stop mucking up the Anglican works by being a GAFCON interloper.

You see the real hatred is not from evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics towards homosexual and transgendered folk, most of whom will never meet a Trannie. No, the hatred comes from the left...from those whose revisionist agenda will not tolerate orthodox folk who dare to say 'thus saith the Lord'. That is anathema to them. They want their agenda promoted, praised and brokered into the church and nothing will stop them, nothing. Scripture be damned.

One is forced to ask what will bishops like Bill Love (Albany); Greg Brewer (Central Florida); Dan Martins (Springfield): and George R. Sumner (Dallas) do when at TEC's next general convention they pass a resolution calling for the full inclusion of trannies to all levels of ministry in the Church. Will they hold their noses or throw up in an "inclusive" bathroom when no one is looking? "Affirming the dignity of all of God's people," is not a license to becoming a bishop.

*****

A PROPOSAL to amend the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) of the Episcopal Church in the United States to change the marriage rite and catechism may be brought to the General Convention next year, according to a report in Church Times.

Although alternative "gender-neutral" rites are available on a trial basis, after a decision by the 2015 General Convention, the US Prayer Book catechism continues to state that marriage is between a man and a woman. Members of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage which was commissioned by the 2015 Convention to study "the impact of same-sex marriage and rites of blessing on our Church" are concerned that the current arrangement is unstable.

"When we expanded the marriage canon, we gave expression to the Church's teaching about marriage in the Declaration of Intention," the minutes from a meeting of the Task Force in March state. "We have embraced a core teaching of our understanding of marriage. This could be the basis of whatever catechetical teaching is written for the BCP revision."

The 2015 Act of Convention (News, 10 July 2015) authorized two new marriage rites with language that could be used by both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. The resolution said that bishops "will make provision for all couples asking to be married in this Church to have access to these liturgies", but also that "trial use is only to be available under the discretion and with the permission of the diocesan bishop." In addition, priests retain the canonical right to refuse to officiate at any wedding.

As a result, the availability of the new same-sex rites has been patchy. Some bishops will not grant priests permission to use the rites. There are also reports that priests are officiating at weddings in these dioceses, having travelled from dioceses where bishops do grant permission.

Minutes from the March meeting refer to anxiety about the basis on which the trial rites are available: "There is concern about the stability of this arrangement," they state. "There are conflicting directions in which this might head. A progressive priest has noted the goal should be that every same-sex couple should have the right to be married in their home parish. Some conservatives have wondered if their view will be allowed to flourish in some pocket in the Church."

They go on: "If BCP is our principal theological document, these liturgies say something that some aren't ready to say."

For the handful of conservatives who will vote against this, their vote will be largely symbolic and meaningless. It is a done deal and TEC will slither further down the moral drain.

*****

A Canadian Anglican blogger recently sent this note to VOL. "The majority of Anglican Churches of Canada are now 'sharing sacred space' (fancy inclusive words from the diocese) with a myriad of other users.

"For example, one church has five other users including an elementary school. Almost every church has an ethnic church meeting there, usually Chinese, Korean, or Spanish speaking.

"There are day care centers, yoga, Taoist tai chi classes and even an art gallery in Leamington, Ontario, where the town Islamic mosque is in the Anglican Church, with the two Anglican ministers taking part in recent Islamic "prayers". This is in addition to the myriad self-help groups who meet at the churches, including AA, AlAnon, Cocaine A, Overeaters A, Narcotics A, and now even euchre games are held where admission is paid to attend. At one church, people can hardly wait for the euchre games to start.

"Money is getting tight and so anyone and everybody can "share sacred space" as long as there is money coming in with new groups in order to keep the Anglican Church in Canada afloat," noted the blogger.

The Diocese of Algoma in Canada is representative of most dioceses across the county, so you might be interested in these figures:

The diocese is divided into five deaneries. Here are just three.

Algoma has 16 churches and one chapel, is served by 7 clergy and 2 lay pastors, and encompasses some 11 communities. The Deanery of Muskoka has 31 churches and two chapels, is served by 9 clergy, and encompasses 31 communities; The Deanery of Sudbury-Manitoulin has 18 churches and one chapel, is served by 8 clergy and 1 lay pastor. Hardly hopeful stats for the future. Meanwhile, Archbishop Fred Hiltz will go on pressing for the full (homo)sexual inclusion onto the Global South Primates who can be persuaded that they are behind the times.

*****

Say it ain't so. Episcopal churches from Maine to Maryland cook thousands of lobsters at the annual community supper. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, (PETA) is asking them to consider vegan bake sales instead.

To animal rights activists, that's a problem.

The prominent advocacy group, has honed its focus on one beloved tradition in Episcopal churches across the country, the lobster boil. The animal-rights group sent a letter to TEC's Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, asking him to end the practice of lobster dinners in favor of something more vegetarian.

"Most of us grew up believing that killing lobsters and other animals for food is what must be done, but if we contemplate it, all killing requires conquering, violence, and separating ourselves from the rest of creation," PETA wrote to the bishop. "God designed humans to be caretakers, not killers."

The letter cited both the Old and New Testaments and the writer David Foster Wallace, who examined the practice of boiling lobsters alive for consumption in his well-known essay "Consider the Lobster." PETA described the practice as "cruelty that I know doesn't reflect the tenets of the Episcopal Church."

Ben Williamson, a spokesman for PETA, said he didn't know if there was any particular link between Episcopalians and lobsters, and several Episcopal church leaders whom The Washington Post asked about the connection didn't have an answer either. But PETA staff noticed a pattern of lobster dinners as church fundraisers, and decided to look into it. They identified 28 Episcopal congregations advertising lobster fundraisers in more than 10 different states.

VOL believes that any Episcopalian caught eating lobsters should immediately be boiled in the hottest water imaginable, their limbs pulled, and all parts fed to orthodox Anglicans as payback for the millions of dollars lost in lawsuits over properties taken from them. It may not be full compensation, but it would be a good start.

*****

Mainline Protestant seminaries are facing an existential crisis after a decade of mounting red ink, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Enrollment has fallen by nearly 25% over the past decade, according to the Association of Theological Schools, an accrediting agency.

The entire faculty at Episcopal Divinity School has been laid off this summer. The remaining students are transferring to other seminaries, most notably Union Theological Seminary in New York, snubbing its NYC Episcopal neighbor, General Theological Seminary.

Episcopal Divinity School pushed the Episcopal Church to ordain women and accept gay and lesbian members, said its school's faculty and students aren't invited to join. The seminary was led by a partnered lesbian. The 19th Century stone chapel is up for sale and closing its doors. Columnist Rod Dreher said the seminary should be given to Nigerian Anglicans after an exorcism, of course.

"We're going to see a bunch of seminaries close in the next 50 years," said Gary Hall, the chair of EDS's board of trustees. "The church is shrinking. The need for clergy is shrinking. And the institutional support is shrinking."

Mainline churches, where membership has been falling for decades, can support fewer full-time pastors than in the past. Denominations are pulling back their financial support for seminaries, while the cost of educating students is still going up.

Truth is, there are really only three viable Episcopal seminaries left: Trinity School for Ministry, Nashotah House and Virginia Theological Seminary. The rest will close in the next five years.

*****

A leader of some of Britain's pagans is demanding the 'return' of two church buildings as compensation for property they claim was stolen from them during the conversion of England 1,300 years ago.

The Odinist Fellowship, representing more than 1,000 pagans, has written to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, also demanding that the pagans be given a public apology.

The letter, seen by the Sunday Telegraph, says: 'With a view to re-establishing better relations between the Odinist Fellowship and the Christian churches in England, and persuaded that a restitution of past wrongs is the best way to lay the foundations of improved relations, we wish you to be aware that the great majority of Odinists believe that honour requires the English church to issue a public apology for its former crimes against the Odinists.'

Ralph Harrison, director of the Fellowship, told the newspaper 'Two bishops have sent responses, which have been polite, but nothing substantial.

'The objective is just to get the Church to acknowledge that it has got a history of persecution when it comes to the Odinist religion and it has to take stock of that and not just write it out of history.

'Within the Odinist community there is a strong sense of antagonism towards the institutional Church.

The group wants a church from both the northern and southern provinces of York and Canterbury to compensate for temple grounds it claims were stolen from them by Christian missionaries such as St Augustine.

Harrison described this as 'spiritual genocide' and said the Church of England was in possession of 'a vast quantity of stolen property'.

*****

The Anglican Church of Australia elected Kay Goldsworthy, Bishop of Perth, as its first female archbishop. She will be the archbishop-elect of the Anglican Diocese of Perth in Western Australia.

Goldsworthy will replace Roger Herft, who stepped down a year ahead of schedule after admitting he had let down survivors at the royal commission into child sex abuse.

Bishop Goldsworthy stressed that the Perth diocese had put in place a raft of policies and legislation to ensure protection for its most vulnerable members.

She said she hoped to rebuild and regain the trust of the community, but her first concern was for survivors of abuse.

Goldsworthy will not officially begin her new role until February 10, 2018, when she will be installed as the eighth Archbishop of Perth at St George's Cathedral.

*****

The earliest Latin commentary on the Gospels, lost for more than 1,500 years, has been rediscovered and made available in English for the first time. The extraordinary find, a work written by a bishop in northern Italy, Fortunatianus of Aquileia, dates back to the middle of the fourth century, reports the Religion News Service.

The biblical text of the manuscript is of particular significance, as it predates the standard Latin version known as the Vulgate and provides new evidence about the earliest form of the Gospels in Latin.

Despite references to this commentary in other ancient works, no copy was known to survive until Lukas Dorfbauer, a researcher from the University of Salzburg, identified Fortunatianus' text in an anonymous manuscript copied around the year 800 and held in Cologne Cathedral Library. The manuscripts of Cologne Cathedral Library were made available online in 2002.

*****

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, appealed to Nigerians to avoid hate speech, this week.‎ Okoh made the call in Kano when he led some members of his church to visit Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje at the Government House.

The clergyman, who described the trend in recent times as alarming,‎ urged Nigerians to work assiduously to control hate speech.‎ "Hate speech has serious consequences on our country as it promotes violence, extremism and conflicts. "Most of the adherents of these two religions (Christianity and Islam) don't have the real understanding of the teaching‎s of their religions; that is why we are having problems with hate speeches," he said.

Okoh called on Nigerians to preach love, tolerance and understanding in order to move the country forward.‎ He said that religious bodies in the country had critical roles to play in nation building.

*****

The hierarchy of the Anglican Church in Barbados came in for a severe tongue lashing from a fellow man of the cloth, the Rev. Charles Morris, who accused the church of losing its voice amid an atmosphere of fear due to rising crime.

In an especially scathing criticism of his own denomination, he complained that despite the growing national fears over gun violence, the Anglican Church had yet to meet to devise a plan to help bring calm to the society.

"The leadership of the Anglican Church for the past 17 years has been so silent on social issues that it is almost deafening. We have not heard anything coming from the leadership of the Anglican Church in the wake of this year's upsurge in gun violence," Morris told Barbados TODAY.

"Right now, the Anglican Church has its strategic plan and all it is pointing to is events. We spent an hour-and-a-half talking about a bazaar, which I must say I found quite bizarre. The strategic plan does not address any of the social issue surrounding the worrisome things going on in Barbados. As a matter of fact, the church no longer has a prophetic voice, the voice of warning is not there," he continued.

Making reference to the 23 murders committed so far this year -- one more than all of last year, and 19 of which are gun related -- the outspoken priest told Barbados TODAY that the Church had given up its social mandate in pursuit of riches.

In April of this year, he also tore into the local Church over the controversial issue of sex education, charging its opposition to comprehensive sexuality education was hypocrisy.

He also told Barbados TODAY at the time, that the churches had a knack for utterances which ran contrary to church doctrine, had a "warped view" of sex in today's world and were engaging in "Christians' preach" that was not based on reality.

"We have to move away from this warped view that everyone must accept that sex is reserved for marriage. That is the view Christians' preach but in reality, it is not what the Christians live by," the provocative church leader argued.

*****

Bishop James Wong of the Seychelles has been elected as the new Archbishop and Primate of the Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean. He succeeds Archbishop Ian Ernest, who served for 11 years. The election took place on Saturday at the Provincial Synod in Mauritius. Archbishop James has committed himself to the fostering of links within the Communion.

Archbishop James is a native of the island of Rodrigues and was granted Seychellois citizenship in 2015. He was ordained priest in 1983 and served in three parishes in the diocese of Mauritius, before he was appointed Archdeacon of Mauritius. In April 2009, he was elected as the fourth Bishop of the Seychelles.

Before his episcopal election, he was active in ecumenical affairs, serving as General Secretary of the Fellowship of Christian Churches of Mauritius and Chairman of Scripture Union Mauritius. Archbishop James is married to Doreen and has a daughter and a son.

*****

DIED. Michael Cromartie, a Washington networker who helped rebrand America's image of Christian political engagement, has died of cancer at age 67. The news of his death was reported on Twitter and confirmed by colleagues at the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), the DC-based conservative think tank where he served for more than 30 years.

Cromartie brought Christian thought leaders and secular journalists under the same roof at the Faith Angle Forum, held every year since 1999. Through his work as EPPC vice president, he evoked theologians and philosophers as he advocated for thoughtful engagement in public policy and civil discourse. He will be sorely missed.

In a political arena often dominated by competition, power grabs, and culture war debates, Cromartie stuck out by offering a friendlier, humbler approach. It's this attitude that his colleagues remember most and cite as his greatest legacy.

*****

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In Christ,

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