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TEC runs $4.5 Million Deficit; 40% goes to Administration * Nigerian Primate Takes Swipe at Welby * ACO Secretary General Pushes back on Okoh, supports ABC * Primate of Rwanda to Retire * Road Rage Episcopal Priest gets Probation * Bishop Bell exonerated

The Church of England "is very confident in its faith." --- Archbishop Justin Welby

Biological sex is not assigned. Sex is determined at conception by our DNA and is stamped into every cell of our bodies. Human sexuality is binary. You either have a normal Y chromosome, and develop into a male, or you don't, and you will develop into a female. There are at least 6,500 genetic differences between men and women. Hormones and surgery cannot change this. --- Dr. Michelle Cretella

While certain campaign groups and ideologues wish to portray the Christian business provider as small-minded and hateful - and historically we know that such propaganda, particularly in the 20th century, has been used with much success in marginalizing minorities for the purposes of taking away their rights - ultimately such false argumentation is merely trying to manipulate the wider population by appealing to our inner sense of justice while at the same time blinding us to the real facts at play. Before we pass judgment or impute motive into any person's reasons for refusing a service, it would be wise to look into ourselves and think how we would feel if the state was asking us to act against what we believed to be true in our heart of hearts. --- Christian Concern

Christian civil disobedience. Discipleship sometimes calls for disobedience. Indeed, civil disobedience is a biblical doctrine, for there are four or five notable examples of it in Scripture. It arises naturally from the affirmation that Jesus is Lord. The principle is clear, even though its application may involve believers in agonies of conscience. It is this. We are to submit to the state, because its authority is derived from God and its officials are God's ministers, right up to the point where obedience to the state would involve us in disobedience to God. At that point our Christian duty is to disobey the state in order to obey God. For if the state misuses its God-given authority, and presumes either to command what God forbids or to forbid what God commands, we have to say 'no' to the state in order to say 'yes' to Christ. As Peter put it, 'we must obey God rather than men!' Or in Calvin's words, 'obedience to man must not become disobedience to God'. --- John R.W. Stott

"Given the percentage of evangelicals in Alabama, it's inconceivable that a candidate supported by them could lose. They would not and could not vote for a pro-abortion candidate, and they would not and could not vote for Roy Moore. There are limits of conservative tolerance on questions of character." --- Albert Mohler, president, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Dear Brothers and Sisters
www.virtueonline.org
December 15, 2017

An examination of the Episcopal Church's budget reveals a dollar deficit of $4.5 million with 40% going to administration and legal fees.

The Rev. George Clifford, a resident in the Diocese of North Carolina and an ethicist who served as a Navy chaplain for 24 years, revealed this eye opener news online and called for a rethinking of TEC's budget for 2018. He's probably not the only one.

While playing up Bishop Michael Curry's call to "forgive like Jesus; love like Jesus and serve like Jesus" it hasn't stopped the lawsuits against the dioceses of Ft. Worth and South Carolina, upon which millions have been spent trying to recover properties, that will, if TEC wins, lie fallow.

Clifford writes; "More broadly, Bishop Curry's influence is evident across our denominational structures, organization, and programs. Illustratively, his influence is apparent in the new budget format that Executive Council member Tess Judge, who chairs the Finance for Mission Committee, recently announced: "In the current and prior triennia, the budgets were built to reflect the Five Marks of Mission. The 2019-2021 budget is based on The Jesus Movement with Evangelism, Racial Reconciliation & Justice, and Environmental Stewardship as priorities." She also observed that the new format better aligns the budget with the staff's current departmental organization, another indication of Bishop Curry's influence. (Margaret Wessel Walker, "Invitation to comment on preliminary draft budget, November 13, 2017)."

"First, the budget proposes a deficit of $4,491,411...TEC needs to revitalize and energize its connections with its chief constituents, that is, its dioceses and congregations."

TEC's anticipated income from dioceses over the 2019-2021 triennium is $87.2 million, or about $17 per Episcopalian per annum. Of course, not all 1.72 million nominal Episcopalians contribute to their local congregation, much less are active. However, those numbers do highlight that we Episcopalians are a long way from truly becoming Jesus People, writes Clifford.

"In general, we have not aligned our individual values and priorities with those consonant with Bishop Curry's vision of the Jesus Movement. Endowment and other non-offering income keeps TEC, like many of its dioceses and congregations, financially afloat, e.g., in 2016, plate and pledge income only slightly exceeded 58% of total income.

"Second, the draft budget underscores TEC's (and Christianity's) marginalization. Christendom, if it ever existed, is dead. The US economy in 2016 had a Gross Domestic Product of $18.57 trillion. Compared to total US economic output, TEC's annual budget of less than $45 million is a relative pittance. The US currently has 540 billionaires, the poorest of whom could singlehandedly fund TEC's budget for 22 years without any additional income or assets."

They won't of course, unless they feel as blue-blood old school Episcopalians that the institution matters more than the Lord of the Institution.

Clifford notes that the draft budget recommends only $14.4 million for the three categories of the Jesus Movement, namely Evangelism, Racial Reconciliation & Justice, and Creation Care, about 10% of the triennium budget, arguably too little to maximize TEC's impact.

"No longer can we try to be all things to all people, to undertake every ministry and mission that is part of ushering in the fullness of God's kingdom. Reshaping TEC will inevitably require hard choices between competing ministry/mission options."

He notes that TEC's Federal Ministries are declining in numbers of Episcopalians, and the budget for Creation Care does not [even] fund a staff position.

"Third, TEC spends far too much on governance and connectivity. The budget includes five additional categories in addition to the three that correspond to the marks of the Jesus Movement. Those five are: Ministry of the Presiding Bishop to Church and World, Mission Within the Episcopal Church, Mission Beyond the Episcopal Church, Mission Governance, and Mission Finance, Legal & Operations. The last two categories represent almost 49% of the draft budget!"

Clifford notes that Mission Governance costs of $19 million were spent on meetings, including General Convention, Executive Council, and other internal bodies. "Electronic communication and social media will enable us to replace many structures that worked well in the early nineteenth century."

Clifford makes the astonishing confession that a large majority of Episcopalians are disinterested in TEC's governance and its national structure, either ignorant of what TEC does or believing that TEC provides little or no support to their local congregation. Connectivity, both within TEC and with other Churches, is increasingly the exclusive domain of an elite few rather than an essential component of the average Episcopalian's spiritual journey.

He notes this: "Mission Finance, Legal & Operations costs of $40 million are primarily overhead, i.e., fundraising, financial management and accounting, legal, facilities, human resources, etc. At 30% of total projected expenses, this means that TEC spends something in the range of 70% of its total income on ministry and mission."

"If TEC were a secular charity, I would hesitate to contribute because of these high administrative costs. Administrative costs seem disproportionately high and are symptomatic of an arteriosclerotic organization that would benefit from creative disruption."

So, there you have it. Of course, what Clifford doesn't say is that the Church as a whole is dying with aging priests and equally aging congregations now in their mid-Sixties, and will, within a generation be retired or dead with no Millennials to fill their places. TEC may well die the richest Church on earth.

*****

The chairman of GAFCON and Anglican Primate of Nigeria took a swipe at Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and said it recognizes the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) as "fully part of the Anglican Communion".

In his December (monthly) letter, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, referred to the ordination of nine men to serve AMiE as an "historic event".

He praised AMiE's Bishop Andy Lines (a GAFCON-UK bishop) and criticized the Church of England, saying that while many faithful Anglicans remained within it, "there is a danger that their work will be compromised or made more difficult if the Bible is no longer upheld as the rule of faith. How can a Church be effective in mission when it has muddled the truth of the gospel? Mission and fidelity cannot be separated."

He said that a "spiritual crisis" in the Anglican Communion was now affecting the "Mother Church".

Okoh said the Anglican Communion was not determined "simply by relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury."

The evangelical archbishop also praised the Anglican Church in North America, which rose as a counter Anglican movement to the Episcopal Church over the authority of Scripture and sexuality issues, saying: "By the grace of God we make the sacrifices that are necessary to proclaim Christ in season and out of season, even when that means leaving the comfort of established institutions."

There are a number of growing Anglican movements in England that are setting off alarm bells in Lambeth Palace. GAFCON'S further attack on the Church of England for its liberalism on sexuality, and GAFCON's explicit rejection of the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury, brought an anguished response from the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Dr. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, who ranted that the only true Anglicans are those who recognize the Archbishop of Canterbury and are part of the Anglican Communion. He said that the relationship with Canterbury is the only test of communion.

VOL believes that the realignment in the Communion is underway and won't be stopped. It is a fiction to think otherwise. Communion with the See of Canterbury and with Justin Welby in particular, is now up for grabs. I took Fearon's statement apart and you can read my take on his comments here:
http://www.virtueonline.org/ties-bind-our-anglican-communion-family-are-slowly-coming-untied

*****

Road Rage Episcopal Priest, William Adams, Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in Fletcher, NC has entered into a plea deal in a road rage incident in Florida and has been given a year of probation. He was charged with pointing a semi-automatic pistol from his red 2014 Corvette at a woman and her adult son near Palm City, FL.

The Palm Beach Post reported that in three hours of dashboard camera video, Adams adamantly denied waving a firearm. He insisted the gun, which he owned legally and for which he had a concealed-weapon permit, never came out from under his seat. Adams initially was charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

In Martin County court, he is set to instead plead "no contest" to a charge of improper exhibition of a firearm, a first-degree misdemeanor, assistant state attorney Richard Bodek said Tuesday.

"Given the high stakes involved with respect to these accusations, Mr. Adams will be entering into a no-contest plea to a misdemeanor. This means that Mr. Adams maintains his innocence, but is entering into the plea because it is in his best interest," Adams' attorney, Brian H. Mallonee of Fort Pierce, said via email Tuesday.

Adams still is listed as rector at Calvary Episcopal Church in Fletcher, a small town about 20 miles south of Asheville. Adams "is on leave for a few weeks allowing him to focus on his family," the church's July 15 newsletter said. "We ask that you refrain from gossip or judgment and to hold him and his family in prayer."

*****

The Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda meeting recently at St. Etienne Cathedral Hall on Nov. 24 and announced that the Archbishop of Rwanda and Bishop of Gasabo Diocese, the Most Rev. Dr. Onesphore Rwaje will retire in June 2018. A new archbishop will be elected in January 2918 and installed in June.

*****

The Church of England says its sorry for its response to child abuse allegations made against Bishop George Bell, according to an ACNS news report.

An independent review has been carried out into the way the Church of England handled allegations that the former Bishop of Chichester, George Bell, sexually abused a young girl in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In October 2015, the Church of England issued a statement in which it announced that the complainant had received compensation and an apology. The statement also said that Sussex Police had confirmed "that the information obtained from their enquiries would have justified, had he still been alive, Bishop Bell's arrest and interview, on suspicion of serious sexual offences." The Church asked senior human rights lawyer Lord Carlisle to undertake a review of their handling of the case, after supporters of Bishop Bell accused it of unfairly deciding Bell's guilt.

*****

Two former Anglican ministers are to be ordained as priests after joining the Roman Catholic Church when Scottish Anglicans voted to embrace homosexual marriage. They will join the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, set up in 2011 by Pope Benedict to provide a home for disaffected former members of the Episcopalian and Anglican clergy within the Catholic Church.

The Rev Simon Beveridge, who lives in Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway and Rev Cameron Macdonald, who lives in Nairn, were made deacons in June just days after the Scottish Episcopal Church voted overwhelmingly to allow same sex couples to marry in church.

They joined the Rev. Beveridge, who was ordained a priest in Whithorn by Bishop William Nolan, while the Rev. Macdonald will be ordained a priest on Saturday by Archbishop Leo Cushley in St Columba's, Edinburgh.
This might be a signal that the Scottish Episcopal Church is slowly coming unraveled as several evangelical priests have now said they will join GAFCON-UK over the same issue.

*****

Fijian Bishop-Elect Henry Bull was not consecrated in a cathedral but opted to be consecrated in a temporary shelter in a schoolyard in Labasa, Fiji. It was a sign of his commitment to his see as well as a reminder that the church is made of living stones, followers of Christ and not grand edifices, noted a report in Anglican Taonga.

About 800 people gathered to support the newly anointed bishop of Vanua Levu and Taveuni. They gathered, not in the splendid neo-Gothic cathedral -- but in a shelter pitched in the playground of St Mary's Primary School, Labasa town, under a large corrugated tin roof, propped up by scaffolding, open on all four sides to the elements, in keeping with the poverty of most Anglicans in the region.

*****

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Archbishop Philip Freier, has thanked members of the country's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, for helping the Church to "confront its failings" when it comes to protecting children and responding appropriately to reports of abuse. He said that the Commission's case studies involving branches of the Anglican Church -- which included the Diocese of Newcastle -- "have been shocking and distressing." He said that the diligent work of the commissioners and their staff "must have been distressing" for them and for survivors. "Once again, I apologize on behalf of the Church to survivors, their families, and others harmed by our failures and by the shameful way we sometimes actively worked against and discouraged those who came to us and reported abuse," he said in a statement issues as the final report of the Commission was presented to the Federal Parliament.

*****

The number of Christians and religious "nones" who believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ has decreased significantly since 2014, according to a survey released by the Pew Research Center.

The survey found that most U.S. adults do not believe the full history of the biblical nativity. The analysis report was based on telephone interviews with 1,503 adults, 18 years of age or older from all across the nation, conducted between Nov. 29 and Dec. 4.

"Most Americans believe Jesus was born to a virgin, that he was visited by three wise men from the east, that his birth was announced to shepherds by an angel of the Lord, and that the baby Jesus was laid in a manger as an infant. But the share of Americans who believe that each of these four elements of the Christmas story reflects actual historical events is lower today than in 2014," Pew Research Center said.

Overall, 66 percent of Americans believe Jesus was born to a virgin, down from 73 percent in 2014. While some might expect nonbelievers to wrestle with doubts about the Christmas story as relayed in the Bible, the new research says there are actually signs of growing doubts from Christian groups as well.

The percentage of white mainline Protestants who believe in the virgin birth has declined from 83 percent to 71 percent.

Among religious "nones" (those who identify religiously as atheist, agnostic or "nothing in particular"), the belief in a supernatural virgin birth has declined from 30 percent in 2014 to 17 percent today.

*****

A unique one of a kind healing center was officially opened in Kingston, New Hampshire led by Canon Mark Pearson. It is called the New Creation Healing Center which brings his vision for a whole-person healing center combining family practice medicine, counseling, massage, patient and community education, and prayer, in a local clinical setting.

"New Creation combines current and growing scientific knowledge with the wisdom and personal care many of us remember from our doctor visits decades ago. They desired to bring healing with both wisdom and compassion. They wanted to show how medicine could, once ago, be practiced.

"At New Creation, sufficient time is spent with each patient, even if that extra time is not reimbursed by insurance companies. Patients with genuine financial need are given assistance with their costs," writes Pearson.

You can read more about New Creation at www.newcreationhc.org or you can call them at 603 642-6700

*****

Sadly, we note the passing this week of R.C. Sproul, teacher, professor, pastor, author, husband, father, grandfather, friend, servant of God and His people. Dr. Robert Charles Sproul, better known to many simply as R.C., finished his race on earth at the age of 76.

After his conversion during his freshman year in college, R.C. served Christ for more than sixty years. Never one to stand down when the gospel itself was at stake, R.C. tirelessly labored to defend the sufficiency of God's grace alone for our salvation as well as the trustworthiness of the Word of God. Yet in all this, he remained the consummate happy warrior, his infectious humor and generous spirit on full display. His bold stand for the truth evidenced the confidence he had in the sovereignty of the Lord.

R.C. was a uniquely gifted communicator, and his ability to make complex topics easy to understand was evident throughout his teaching. God in His grace used him to awaken men and women around the world to the holiness of God, and his legacy is evident not only in the vast body of work he leaves behind but in the countless people whose understanding of God's majestic character was deepened because they sat under his teaching. Many Anglicans tuned into his broadcasts and writings with deep satisfaction for his ministry.

*****

I NEED READERS HELP. Many of you have been reading VOL for years and I am looking for a story, a satirical essay, that I wrote several years ago about then Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold going to Russia, and meeting the Patriarch and having a long talk about homoiousia (it's the homo that keeps coming back). If you have a copy of this essay I would love for you to send it to me to complete a book of satirical essays I am completing for publication. If anyone has it and can send it to me I will send them a free copy of my book when it comes out. You can send it to me here: david@virtueonline.org Thank you for your help in this.

*****

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The Challenge

Over the last twenty years in the trenches, VirtueOnline has seen it all, and you've been there right alongside with us. With the Anglican Realignment becoming a magnificent reality, the Gospel once more has a chance of being safe; yet the forces marshaled against it are gathering and they are very mighty. It is clear that we need to do much more, do it better, and do it faster. The faithful are called to do their utmost like never before. There is much that we at VOL must be better at:
• We don't live on social media -- at all. With e-mail we reach thousands of people every week, yet we might as well not exist on much more relevant and vital platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Medium.
• We write a lot, but how much of it has an impact? Some sections of VOL no longer serve a purpose, or could be done much better.
• The VOL platform is not helping us understand what you read, what you choose not to read, and how we can be more helpful to you.
• The website is outdated and a refresh is long overdue, and many of you have told me that!
In short, to make a lot more impact for global orthodox Anglicanism, VirtueOnline needs to do better, and do more.

Please help us get the word out. You can contribute here:

https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/help-build-virtueonline-2-0-thank-david-virtue

In Christ,

David

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