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Glorifying Christ. Christian experience is experience of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There really is no such thing as 'an experience of the Holy Spirit' from which the Father and the Son are excluded. In any case, the Holy Spirit is a reticent Spirit. He does not willingly draw attention to himself. Rather he prompts us to pray 'Abba. Father.' and thus witnesses to our filial relationship to God. And above all he glorifies Christ. He turns the bright beams of his searchlight upon the face of Jesus Christ. He is never more satisfied than when the believer is engrossed in Jesus Christ. --- John R. W. Stott

If chaplains and other personnel are censored from offering the full solace of the gospel, there is no religious freedom in the military. --- Lt. Gen. (ret.) William Boykin

The last vestiges of "repressive Christian morality" are being swept away by a tsunami of "progressive" dogma, its doctrines flowing from an absolute certainty that there are no absolutes - that all notions of truth and morality are purely subjective and, therefore, equally valid. The inevitable result is that all behaviors considered to be unnatural, perverse or otherwise corrupting vices for the past 2,000 years will be eventually redefined as moral. --- Timothy Philen

The Spirit and the Son. Change from within. There is a sense in which we may say that the teaching ministry of Jesus had proved a failure. Several times he had urged his disciples to humble themselves like a little child, but Simon Peter remained proud and self-confident. Often he had told them to love one another, but even John seems to have deserved his nickname 'son of thunder' to the end. Yet when you read Peter's first letter you cannot fail to notice its references to humility, and John's letters are full of love. What made the difference? The Holy Spirit. Jesus taught them to be humble and loving; but neither quality appeared in their lives until the Holy Spirit entered their personality and began to change them from within. --- John R.W. Stott

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org
May 3, 2013

It was a week of mayhem around the Anglican Communion.

First off there was the Irish priest The Ven. Leslie Stevenson who wanted to become a bishop until it was discovered that he had an earlier affair with a woman who later became a priest. He withdrew his nomination. Now what is truly sad is that three bishops, including Ireland's archbishop, knew about this priest's sexual indiscretion and still allowed him to stand as a candidate for Bishop of Meath & Kildare.

Since Stevenson made his statement "declining the appointment" on Sunday, the silence from the bishops has been deafening - not even a consolatory statement along the lines of "tough situation, did the right thing, wish him well for the future".

His diocesan synod issued a statement - on the Meath and Kildare website - which was fair enough though it had a swipe at "adverse publicity", as if it were all the media's fault (reflex of the mediocre...).

Nor has there been a proper admission of sinful behavior, or failing to uphold Church teaching, etc. The language in the statements issued on Stevenson's behalf was deliberately obfuscatory - less than helpful.

The evangelicals are so frightened of lawsuits that they say nothing lest they face the wrath of their bishops. Instead they let the media do the work and why not, that is what we are here for.

When I first wrote this story, I got legally challenged by Church of Ireland heavies, so I rewrote the story talking out the "A" word - adultery - and putting in the other "A" word - affair - in its place. Is it any wonder the church in Ireland is spiritually powerless? You can read the full story in today's digest.

*****

There was very good news in the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, now under the leadership of Bishop Eric Menees. Last Thursday, the Fresno Superior Court (Jeffrey Hamilton, J.) filed his decision adopting his tentative ruling of March 6 as his final ruling with respect to the Motion for Summary Judgment / Summary Adjudication filed by the plaintiff rump diocese and its bishop, Bishop Talton, and joined in by ECUSA itself.

The ruling denies ECUSA and its totem plaintiffs any summary judgment, because it finds that there are disputed issues of fact still to be resolved in connection with the Diocese's right to withdraw from ECUSA, as it voted to do in December 2007. In so doing, it adopts the "neutral principles of law" approach prescribed by the Court of Appeals, and it correctly applies that approach to find that the plaintiffs failed to show, as a matter of law, that anything in ECUSA's Constitution or canons, or anything in its long history with the Diocese, restricts the right of a Diocese to disaffiliate, writes Allan Haley of Curmudgeon blog. We'll keep you posted as more erupts here. [Source: Anglican Curmudgeon]

*****

Then there was some equally good news out of the Church in the Province of the West Indies, The House of Bishops and Standing Committee of the Church in the Province of the West Indies, meeting at Bamford House in Barbados, urged their governments to reject US-British pressure over gay rights. A Provincial Statement on Same-Sex Unions said, "We have taken note of trends within countries of the developing world and international forums, and in which these countries exercise a controlling interest, in which matters related to human sexuality have been elevated to the level of human rights and are being promulgated as positions which must be accepted globally. Frequently, failure to conform by developing nations like our own, results in the threat of various sanctions, including the withholding of economic aid. [Think TEC and Jefferts Schori]

"More specifically, there is a re-definition of gender to accommodate gay, lesbian and transgendered people, and the creation of a plurality of definitions which leaves the issue of gender to self-definition, thereby dismissing traditional definition of male and female. Additionally, there is the passage of legislation among a number of metropolitan nations whereby marriage is defined as a human right in which any two persons may be joined, inclusive of persons of the same sex. The 'marriage' of persons of the same sex is justified as a human right on the basis of marital equality with heterosexual unions.

"We urge our leaders of government and of civil society, as well as the people of our nations, to resist any attempt to compromise our cultural and religious principles regarding these matters. The dangling of a carrot of economic assistance to faltering economies should be seen for what it is worth and should be resisted by people and government alike."

*****

Guidelines have been established for same-gender blessing ceremonies to be performed in Oklahoma Episcopal churches, a state leader with the denomination has said.

The Rt. Rev. Ed Konieczny, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, said three parishes already have expressed interest in starting the process so they can conduct such ceremonies, although he does not believe "there are large numbers of people out there waiting for this." He declined to name the interested parishes, as they have yet to request formal approval.

"I don't expect that this is going to be a floodgate of things. We will make it available and people will take advantage of it according to who they are," he said.

Konieczny said the guidelines were developed with help from a committee of lay leaders and clergy, and then fine-tuned after several public meetings at Episcopal parishes across the state.

*****

The Diocese of North Carolina has a new bishop. Bishop-Elect Anne Hodges-Copple has received the required majority of consents in the canonical consent process. She was one of four women candidates wanting the job. Only one man made the short list. The feminization of the church continues apace. One day, in the not too distant future, candidates for the episcopacy will include a gay, a lesbian, a transgendered person, a bisexual, with no straight white males at all.

*****

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said this week that he is prepared to "ruffle feathers" in his new role, days after saying the U.K. was in a depression and calling for the break-up of at least one large bank.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4's "The Week in Westminster," Welby said that while he hadn't had any complaints from the government about his April 23 comments, "they probably would have preferred it not said.

"Do I mind ruffling feathers?" he added. "I think I do mind ruffling feathers, I don't like ruffling feathers. But sometimes feathers get ruffled. I mean, that's life."

Even as data was published on April 25 indicating U.K. economic activity had risen more than expected in the first quarter, Welby said "we are still significantly below where we were in 2007."

Question. Will he be just as bold in dealing with revisionist primates like Jefferts Schori and Fred Hiltz when they start pushing their pansexual agenda at primatial gatherings? Will he "ruffle feathers" and wield a big theological stick, or will he back down in the face of intransigent Western pan-Anglican calls for inclusivity and diversity?

*****

Just to make that point, Episcopal Sodomist Supremo V. Gene Robinson the world's first openly self-promoting gay bishop will visit Melbourne, Australia to peddle support for the marriage equality campaign. He will be at the Toorak Uniting Church and speak at Federation Square during his stay, but not apparently at an Anglican parish. I wonder if their bishop told him he was not welcome in the Melbourne diocese.

But that didn't stop Robinson from selling sodomy on Comedy Central recently. There is no shame he won't deny; no blame he won't attribute to those who disagree with him...You can see it here: http://www.towleroad.com/2013/04/colbertrobinson.html

He can't be reined in, he's retired, but Welby sure can say and do something about Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori. Will he?

*****

The Church Times had an article by Linda Woodhead about a survey that "suggests that non-churchgoing Anglicans may be much more important to the Church and its future than the dismissive word 'nominals' implies."

British Religion in Numbers (BRIN) has a summary in Profile of Anglicans and Other News. The survey shows that self-identifying Anglicans divide into four categories.

God-fearing Churchgoers (5% of Anglicans) Mainstream Churchgoers (12% of Anglicans) Non-Churchgoing Believers (50% of Anglicans) Non-Churchgoing Doubters (33% of Anglicans)

*****

Are Christians an Endangered Species in the U.S. Military? The anti-religious climate currently afoot among military brass is not really anti-religious so much as it is anti-Christian.

A U.S. Army Equal Opportunity Instructor giving a presentation on "extremism" during an Army Reserve training brief in Philadelphia categorized Evangelical Christianity and Roman Catholicism as on par with Hamas, al-Qaeda, and the Nation of Islam.

The instructor also compared Christianity and Roman Catholicism with Sunni Muslims and the Ku Klux Klan.

In fact, among the bullet points contained in the brief's PowerPoint presentation, the first example of extremism listed was Evangelical Christianity. That was at the top of the list. The Muslim Brotherhood, "Ultra-Orthodox" Jews, and "Christian Identity" followed it.

Christian Identity appears to cover Christians who don't fall under the category of Evangelical -- so it's your everyday, run-of-the-mill, Golden Rule kind of believers.

Then came al-Qaeda, Hamas, and the Ku Klux Klan, among others. Roman Catholics were listed 10th on the list.

When news of these bullet points on "extremism" leaked out, the Army was quick to distance itself from the presentation by pointing out that it "was not produced by the Army and certainly does not reflect [Army] policy or doctrine."

The Army said the slide presentation "was produced by an individual without anyone in the chain of command's knowledge or permission."

The problem is this type of presentation is indicative of where the Army and others have been heading as regards Christianity and other traditionally American faiths. And the pressures that have been brought to bear on chaplains since the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell have only exacerbated this.

In a climate of true religious liberty, the kind of presentation that listed Christianity as akin to terrorist groups would never have been made or, if made, would never have been allowed to be presented.

One fears that the anti-religious climate currently afoot among military brass is not really anti-religious so much as it is anti-Christian. Unless it is reversed, Christians in the military will be regularly inundated with what others see as the negative aspects of the faith.

*****

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina's website may have been compromised late last week. As a result, the website is temporarily offline while the Diocese digs down to the bottom of the problem.

Computer technicians and Internet experts are delving into the incident to see exactly how deep the problem goes and what the ramifications might be.

"We had some incidents at the end of last week on our website that we're still trying to sort through," Canon to the Ordinary Jim Lewis explained. "Hacking is probably one possible explanation of it, but we're trying to figure it out right now as we are trying to get to the bottom of it. You know these things are hard to sort out when it is all said and done."

Canon Jim Lewis assured VOL that no sensitive material has been compromised. As a protective measure, the Diocese has inactivated their website while the investigation continues and answers are sought.

"We are still assessing trying to make sure that nothing been done to sensitive data and that is why we took the website down," the Canon said.

*****

The World's Worst Places To Be A Christian (Or Another Religious Minority). A new list of religious freedom violators has familiar names, but contrasts with other lists. Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, and North Korea are among the world's worst violators of religious freedom, according to the annual U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report released recently.

Although USCIRF does not rank countries in any particular order, this year's report recommends that 15 countries receive State Department designation as Tier 1 "countries of particular concern" (CPCs), where "governments ... have engaged in or tolerated 'particularly severe' violations of religious freedom" that are "systematic, ongoing, and egregious."

The U.S. currently designates Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan as CPCs. USCIRF wants Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam added to the list.

Another eight countries comprise the second tier of CPCs, where religious freedom conditions could worsen: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos and Russia. However, USCIRF takes a more optimistic approach to these countries, stating that U.S. policymakers have "an opportunity to engage early and [increase] the likelihood of preventing or diminishing the violations."

*****

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Rev Canon Dianna Gwilliams to be appointed as the new Dean of Guildford. Dianna is currently vicar of St Barnabas, Dulwich, acting Archdeacon of Southwark, and foundation chaplain of Alleyn's College of God's Gift, Dulwich.

With her appointment, Dianna will become one of the most senior female priests in the Church of England, joining four other women who have already been appointed to the post.

Dianna was born in Colorado and grew up in California. She studied physics and chemistry in college. She came to the UK to work as a sound engineer for just six months. Now she is an "inclusive minded dean" appealing to the marginalized and those with funny hairdos.

*****

The Consecration of the Very Reverend Owen Rhys Williams as Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of the Northeast in the Anglican Church of America took place on the Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist, at Trinity Anglican Church Pro-Cathedral, Rochester, New Hampshire.

Fr. Williams is in the center kneeling before the Most Reverend Brian R. Marsh, Chief Consecrator and Presiding Bishop, Anglican Church in America. Standing in the foreground (left to right) are the Right Reverend George D. Langberg, Retired Bishop Ordinary, Diocese of the Northeast, ACA and the Right Reverend Juan Garcia, Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, ACA. In the background (left to right) the Very Reverend Samuel Logan, Rector, Saint Paul's Church, Portland, Maine; the Right Reverend Shane B. Janzen, Metropolitan and Bishop Ordinary, Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, Victoria, British Columbia, Deacon Ian Dunn, Saint Thomas Church, Ellsworth, Maine; the Right Reverend Michael Gill, Bishop Ordinary, Diocese of Pretoria, Anglican Church of Southern Africa; the Right Reverend John Vaughan, Bishop Ordinary, Diocese of the Eastern United States, ACA (hidden behind Bishop Marsh); the Right Reverend Stephen D. Strawn, Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of the Missouri Valley, ACA; the Most Reverend Walter H. Grundorf, Presiding Bishop of Anglican Province of America and Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of the Eastern United States, APA; and the Right Reverend Craig Botterill, Suffragan Bishop and Chancellor, Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

*****

Once again (following a similar situation regarding the Bishop of Salisbury), the "Statement of Needs" put out by a diocese seeking a new bishop has violated the code on appointments regarding views about the ordination and consecration of women.

Section 6 of the Statement of Need for the Diocese of Manchester states the bishop, "... will be open to the ministry of women at all levels of the church's life whilst respecting and seeking to hold together those of differing views."

The first section of the 1993 Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod states, however, quite plainly: "There will be no discrimination against candidates either for ordination or for appointment to senior office in the Church of England on the grounds of their views about the ordination of women to the priesthood."

Of course "the times they are a 'changing". Everyone knows that. But they have not changed yet. And the language of the statement of needs is plainly incompatible with the present situation regarding senior appointments in the Church of England.

The question I find myself asking is why it is OK to ignore the rules in this case? What makes this so special? And where else does this allow rules to be broken?

And did anyone on the panel drawing this statement of needs not realize what they were doing? If they didn't, they should have. And if they did, well, shame on them. [From the Ugley Vicar blog]

*****

Religious liberty groups have grave concerns after they learned the Pentagon is vetting its guide on religious tolerance with a group that compared Christian evangelism to "rape" and advocated that military personnel who proselytize should be court martialed.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is calling on the Air Force to enforce a regulation they believe calls for the court martial of any service member caught proselytizing.

President Mikey Weinstein and others from his organization met privately with Pentagon officials on April 23. He said U.S. troops who proselytize are guilty of sedition and treason and should be punished - by the hundreds if necessary - to stave off what he called a "tidal wave of fundamentalists."

At one point, Southern Baptists, evangelicals and Roman Catholics were labeled as purveyors of hate but this was later withdrawn.

*****

The Diocese of Botswana in the Church of the Province of Central Africa has elected Fr. Metlhayotlhe Rawlings Belemi, a priest working in South Africa, as the bishop-elect of the diocese.

Provincial Secretary and Bishop of Eastern Zambia, the Rt Rev William Mchombo made the announcement after the Elective Assembly meeting held at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Botswana capital Gaborone on Saturday.

The whole program began with a solemn mass which was presided over by Archbishop of Central Africa Albert Chama. The election follows the resignation and relocation of Bishop Trevor Mwamba to the UK in February this year. The bishop-elect has since accepted the election.

Fr. Belemi is married with three children and currently based in the town of Klerksdorp in the Diocese of Matlosane in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa where he is serving as an archdeacon.

The elections were presided over by the Archbishop of the Church of Central Africa, the Most Rev Albert Chama and superintended over by the Provincial Registrar, Dr Fanuel Sumaili.

This Central African province has been in turmoil since the departure of the Most Rev. Bernard Malango and was nearly taken over by liberals in the person of Mwamba. He was shuffled off to the UK. It is one of the few remaining Anglo-Catholic provinces in the Anglican Communion.

*****

Milwaukee businessman Ab Nicholas and his wife, Nancy, are donating $10 million to create a community center for the Episcopal Church in downtown Chicago. To be called The Nicholas Center, the facility will hold overnight retreats and programs to develop leaders in the Episcopal Church and foster vitality in congregations.

The facility is expected to open in 2014 at the St. James Commons in downtown Chicago and will also serve as the headquarters for Living Compass, now based in Glendale. That organization provides training and resources to support church leaders and members.

Ab Nicholas is the founder of Nicholas Company Inc., a Milwaukee-based investment advisory firm that manages the Nicholas's mutual funds. The $10 million gift is the largest ever received by the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago.

*****

Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster have issued a statement about ongoing violence in Syria.

"Since the very first days of the Syrian conflict in March 2011, we have prayed as we watched in horror and sorrow the escalating violence that has rent this country apart. We have grieved with all Syrians - with the families of each and every human life lost and with all communities whose neighborhoods and livelihoods have suffered from escalating and pervasive violence.

"Today, our prayers also go with the ancient communities of our Christian brothers and sisters in Syria. The kidnapping this week of two Metropolitan bishops of Aleppo, Mar Gregorios Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, and the killing of their driver while they were carrying out a humanitarian mission, is another telling sign of the terrible circumstances that continue to engulf all Syrians.

"We unreservedly support these Christian communities, rooted in and attached to the biblical lands, despite the many hardships. We respond to the call from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, and the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, urging churches worldwide to remain steadfast in the face of challenging realities and to bear witness to their faith in the power of love in this world.

"We both continue to pray for a political solution to this tragic conflict that would stem the terrible violence and also empower all Syrians with their fundamental and inalienable freedoms. We also call for urgent humanitarian aid to reach all who are suffering. We pray that Syria can recapture its tradition of tolerance, rooted in faith and respect for faiths living side by side."

+ Justin Welby
+ Vincent Nichols

*****

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