Our imperative to fulfill Christian leadership in the digital world is not technological. We should not use this technology simply because it is there. Our driving motivation must be a Gospel imperative - to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the full wealth of Christian conviction, and the comprehensive reach of the Christian worldview set before a sinful world. In other words, the Christian imperative in the digital domain comes down to this - sharing the light in a world of darkness. --- Albert J. Mohler, President Southern Baptist Convention
The world's anger. What is there about the cross of Christ which angers the world and stirs them up to persecute those who preach it? Just this: Christ died on the cross for us sinners, becoming a curse for us (Gal. 3:13). So the cross tells us some very unpalatable truths about ourselves, namely that we are sinners under the righteous curse of God's law and we cannot save ourselves. Christ bore our sin and curse precisely because we could gain release from them in no other way. If we could have been forgiven by our own good works, by being circumcised and keeping the law, we may be quite sure that there would have been no cross. Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, 'I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.' Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross that we shrink to our true size. And of course men do not like it. They resent the humiliation of seeing themselves as God sees them and as they really are. They prefer their comfortable illusions. So they steer clear of the cross. They construct a Christianity without the cross, which relies for salvation on their works and not on Jesus Christ's. They do not object to Christianity so long as it is not the faith of Christ crucified. But Christ crucified they detest. And if preachers preach Christ crucified, they are opposed, ridiculed, persecuted. Why? Because of the wounds which they inflict on men's pride. --- John R.W. Stott
Dear Brothers and sisters
March 8, 2013
A second Federal lawsuit was filed in Charleston, SC this past week in the dispute that split Episcopalians in eastern South Carolina.
Parishes that left the church last year in disputes over ordaining homosexuals and other issues earlier went to state court arguing they have the right to the name of the Diocese of South Carolina. Also at issue is about a half billion dollars in property owned by the parishes that left the national church. The federal suit was filed Tuesday in Charleston by the new bishop of parishes staying with the national Episcopal Church.
So the Battle of South Carolina has now begun in earnest. IF, and that is a big if, the rump Episcopal diocese should win the name game, it would be a short jump to winning back the half billion dollars in properties both sides claim. You can read VOL correspondent Mary Ann Mueller's full account of this new development in today's digest.
In Wheaton, Illinois this past week, more than 600 church planters affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America met at the Church of the Resurrection to strategize on how to reach North America's millions for Christ. The goal set out by ACNA Archbishop Robert Duncan is for 1,000 new church plants over the next five years. There are almost 750 now.
In addition to great plenary speakers and workshop leaders we heard about the "1-2-3 Challenge," a call to every church in the Anglican Church in North America to plant one church in the next two years through one of three methods: through the Diocese, through a mother church, or through pioneering work. Church planting doesn't always mean sending parishioners out to start another church elsewhere. Sometimes it's reaching out to plant a new worshiping community among those you are not presently reaching, thereby drawing more people into the congregation.
The Church of the Resurrection is an enormous success drawing more than 1,000 mostly young Anglicans from around the area. The building is a former factory they bought for $40,000. They spent $6 million fixing up. It is ironic that there is not one Episcopal parish in Wisconsin or Illinois that could muster 1,000 on any given Sunday which might indicate what a hunger there is out there for the gospel if faithfully preached and adhered to. This one church is a sign of the new thing God is doing.
There is a renewal of orthodox Christian faith in America taking many denominational and non-denominational forms. It is slowly emerging and it will not be stopped even as the old wine of TEC and the mainline denominations is being poured out and destroyed. New wine is being made from fresh grapes on strong branches. You can read more in today's digest.
While the Episcopal Bishop of Virginia Shannon Johnston was making nice with Truro ACNA priest Tory Baucam talking up "reconciliation" in Coventry Cathedral (in front of Archbishop Justin Welby) recently, he forget to mention that he had ordained an avowed Lesbian, Jo Belser, in his diocese at the former evangelical Falls Church, VA parish once held by the Rev. John Yates.
It was a true in your face act against the former priest who built the congregation to over 2,500 before a liberal TEC bishop threw him and his congregation out of their parish.
Apparently Baucam's position is to try and win over the bishop while not compromising the gospel. Word is he already has a Roman Catholic parish that he and his congregation are ready to move into when the lease runs out with the diocese. Baucam hopes he can win Johnston over by staying in the reconciliation game.
Belser is the lesbian daughter of a fundamentalist preacher who lives in Alexandria, VA, She said that she joined the Episcopal Church because "it's the only one that lets gay people grow spiritually without requiring that they stop being gay."
The Falls Church in Falls Church VA today lies fallow. Today only the chapel is open for business. Yates and his Anglicans believe that the consecration of gay Bishop Gene Robinson, same sex marriage and Rites for same are a bridge too far for him and his fellow believers.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said that the Church should not fear conflict. Welby made this statement at the Faith in Conflict Conference which took place at Coventry Cathedral last week. The conference offered ways to address disagreement in the local church and, more widely, without one party seeking to eliminate the other: to prevent disagreement becoming destructive.
The Archbishop told delegates that conflict is normal but should not be definitive. This differs somewhat from earlier complaints that the roof was falling in on the Anglican Communion. "Our fear of it [conflict], our sense of it being wasted time and effort, is wrong. So often we seek like-mindedness so that we can get on with the job of worship, of making disciples, of serving other human beings."
Perhaps, but VOL has been told that African Primates attending his enthronement won't be hanging around after it is over. They will not be schmoozed. They will head home and prepare for GAFCON II which is upcoming in Nairobi later this year.
In the Diocese of San Joaquin, the Episcopal Church lost (tentatively) it's Summary Judgment in San Joaquin, writes canon lawyer Allan S. Haley of The Anglican Curmudgeon.
The tentative ruling was to deny the motion -- meaning that the case will have to go to trial before it can be finally decided. In short, the court held that the plaintiffs failed to meet their burden on summary judgment: they failed to show, in effect, that a Diocese of the Church is prohibited from leaving it as a matter of law.
ECUSA has tried all of its usual "hierarchical" arguments, but the Court indicated it is not inclined to buy them.
"The question presented here is who owns the Church property of a formerly subordinate branch of a hierarchical church when the branch breaks off from the general church in exercise of its first amendment rights? The answer, according to California case law, depends on the interpretation of the governing documents of the branch and Church. Plaintiffs have failed to submit these necessary documents and have thus failed to meet their evidentiary burden on summary judgment/adjudication. Thus, the motion must be denied."
VOL will keep you posted as more comes to light.
The Rt. Rev. Eric Menees, Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin gave an overview of his vision for the diocese recently and announced five new ordinations that include Fr. Jonathan Kanary, Fr. Randy Messick, Fr. John Rim, Fr. John Roberts and Dcn. Kris Rudell. Menees follows in the footsteps of his predecessor Bishop John-David Schofield.
He also said he was casting a big vision that plants dioceses, deaneries that plant deaneries and churches that plant churches. He said the fruit of seeds that were planted under the direction of the Bishop Schofield are coming to fruition.
He noted the following:
1. Christ Church Cambria - launched under the direction of Fr. Don Cleave. 2. Disciples Church Orange County - launched under the direction of Fr. Michael Jun and Fr. John Rim. 3. San Martin, Fresno - a Spanish Language congregation - - launched under the direction of Mr. Edwin Peraza & Fr. Antonio Castaneda. 4. And seeds of another launch in Madera still unnamed also under the direction of Fr. Antonio Castaneda.
The bishop also placed a high priority on developing youth ministries.
He also added that his diocese hosted the Provincial Hispanic Ministries Conference known as Caminemos Juntos. St. James Cathedral and Our Lady of Guadalupe hosted over 200 participants including Archbishop Robert Duncan and Archbishop Titot Zavala of the Province of the Southern Cone from Chile. Others included Bishop Morales of the Diocese of Quincy and Bishop Mott of the REC Diocese of the West participated.
The bishop also met with Fr. Martin Bunsy in Laos. "Over the years the ministry has been blessed with the conversion of many people to Christianity and the birth of several congregations. I was pleased to meet with six house church leaders from the north of Laos - dedicated men and women who are pouring their hearts and souls into the ministry. I am proud to stand with our brothers and sisters in Laos and pray that we will increase our efforts in partnership with them."
The bishop said he also forged relationships with the Diocese of Singapore in the Anglican Province of South East Asia. Laos is a missionary district of the Diocese of Singapore. He and Fr. Carlos Raines attended the instillation of Bishop Rennis Ponniah, the new bishop of Singapore, and met with the Very Reverend Phillip Sinden who oversees the missionary efforts in Laos.
An Episcopal Church executive oversight group has unanimously recommended against re-locating the denomination's headquarters from New York City, citing "justice concerns" among the chief reasons to remain at the church's pricey Manhattan mid-rise.
A substantial push to move the church headquarters was one of the unexpected developments from the 2012 General Convention in Indianapolis. A House of Deputies resolution (D016) called for the denomination to sell the Episcopal Church Center in Manhattan. The original resolution stated "it is the will of this Convention to move the Church Center headquarters away from the Church Center building at 815 2nd Avenue, New York City, as soon as it is economically feasible."
Spurred on by high costs associated with maintaining the Episcopal Church Center (estimated at $11 million over the coming three years), the group of Episcopal clergy and laypersons was informed by the experience of other churches, such as the Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which have all decamped from New York in favor of Midwestern cities. Most recently, the New York-based National Council of Churches announced that it is consolidating into a single Washington, D.C. office.
Senior church officials immediately circled their wagons following the House of Deputies resolution, convincing the House of Bishops to water down the legislation into merely investigating relocating from the mid-rise building on Second Avenue, saying that "it is the will of this Convention to move the Church Center headquarters away from the Church Center building at 815 2nd Avenue, New York City."
Long-time champion of protection for women and children, Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury paid tribute to the work of the Anglican Communion to end violence against women and girls.
At a UNCSW1 side event hosted by the Anglican Communion Office at the UN (ACOUN) at the Chapel of Christ the Lord in New York, Ambassador Chowdhury gave a speech entitled "End of Violence is not the End - Ensure Women's Equality".
Introduced by ACOUN founding member Marnie Dawson Carr as a man of "effective action", Ambassador Chowdhury-a tireless spokesperson for peace, women, children, and the poorest segment of humanity-began by paying tribute to those across the Anglican Communion working to end violence against women around the world.
"I was very happy to learn about what the Anglican Communion does with regard to the issues before the United Nations, particularly on issues which effect women's participation in society. Trafficking is a major area of interest for the Anglican Communion and I am very happy that it has been so because that's an area that has not received our attention...Congratulations to all of you for that."
The Ambassador, a Bangladeshi, went on to give an impassioned plea for women to be treated equally in all areas of life saying, "There is no time to lose. We need to continue our struggle even with greater vigour...We should never forget when women are marginalised there is little chance for the world to get sustainable peace and development in the real sense."
He said that to achieve "optimal wellness" for the planet, the nations of the world have to value both men and women equally and ensure women's participation at the highest levels of decision-making, particularly in conflict reconciliation.
More than 350 people are expected to attend the 222nd Annual Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina at the Francis Marion Performing Arts Center in Florence, March 8-9. The last time the Convention was held in Florence was 1976.
This year the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, 14th Bishop of South Carolina, is focusing on the future. "We cannot afford to focus on the backward glance," said Lawrence "Christ calls us to look forward and carry out the Great Commission to make disciples and to proclaim the Gospel to a hurting world."
This year's convention workshops are designed to equip the Diocese's lay members and clergy for the work of ministry. Bishop Lawrence promised that such workshops would be key parts of future annual Diocesan Conventions.
Did the Archbishop of Canterbury have a secret life? Maybe he can kill with his bare hands, writes Simon Edge in the London Express.
This week Lambeth Palace put out a statement emphatically denying that the new Archbishop of Canterbury works for MI6, has never done any work for nor has ever had any connection with Britain's external spy service. Unless the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion is prepared to break the eighth commandment and tell porky pies, we are obliged to believe that statement, writes Edge.
The fact that his office felt the need to issue it at all is a sign there may be much more to Dr. Welby than meets the eye.
His staff was responding to the publication of a grainy photograph showing the new Archbishop, at the time the humble director of the International Centre for Reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral, on a visit to Baghdad in 2003. Pictured in the same group, although not immediately next to him, is Sir John Sawers, who was the UK Special Representative in Iraq at the time and went on to become head of MI6, the job he still holds. They were also observed shaking hands and conversing for five minutes.
You can read the full story in today's digest.
It seems they lied to us, said Fr. Fred Tomlinson of Tunbridge Wells, England. "Prime Minister David Cameron has repeatedly reassured voters, many of whom he has lost, that legislating for gay marriage will in no way curtail freedom of belief. With bizarre language of 'quadruple locks of protection' the government insists traditional Christian views will be tolerated and that nobody will be forced to accept that which does not chime with their beliefs. This despite numerous recent cases in which Christians have found themselves suffering at the hands of the law simply because they want to display their faith in the workplace."
Funny then that only weeks after the vote to accept a redefinition of marriage, a police chaplain was sacked for defending the conventional and historic definition of marriage on his personal blog... It seems the government were either misinformed or else deliberately lying. I am increasingly thinking it might be more honest if the three main parties united under the title "The Secular People's Party of Great Britain" and announced that diversity of thought and freedom of belief are to be crimes for citizens of this emerging secular State.
Do they seriously expect Christian voters to believe the promises of protection?
The Government of the Republic of Zambia has praised the Anglican Church in Zambia for having proactive leaders in the fight against gender-based violence and has especially applauded women for choosing to speak out.
A director from the Ministry of Gender and Child Development, John Zulu, made the announcement during the International Women's Day Sensitization Service held at the Holy Cross Cathedral in Lusaka, Zambia, on March 5.
Mr. Zulu was speaking on behalf of the Minister of Gender and Child Development, Inonge Wina. He said, "The Government values and recognises the participation of all stakeholders in the fight against gender-based Violence and the [Anglican] Church, being a beacon of peace, has played a very vital role."
He said the Zambian Government is committed to providing a conducive policy environment where the "scourge" of gender-based violence would be effectively dealt with.
The Vatican has been accused of censorship after a group of cardinals were told to stop talking to the media about the process of electing a new Pope.
In the past week, American cardinals have given several briefings to journalists in Rome to discuss the challenges facing the Roman Catholic Church and how the next pontiff might tackle them in a refreshing break from the Vatican's rather staid press conferences.
In recent days, the Americans have called for the reform of the Roman Curia, the governing body of the Church, which has earned a reputation as a hotbed of professional jealousy, turf wars, nepotism and corruption.
The briefings were scrapped and the Americans gagged after cardinals from other countries expressed fears of negative publicity and indiscretions relating to the conclave, the highly secretive election in the Sistine Chapel by which a new pontiff will be chosen.
The American cardinals, through the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that concern had been expressed "about leaks of confidential proceedings reported in Italian newspapers." The ban on interviews came after the Italian press reported that there were arguments between American and German cardinals on one side and Italians on the other during the pre-conclave talks that are going on this week.
To celebrate the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn marking its 150th Birthday, Bishop Stuart Robinson will embark on a 6-week long walk carrying a 2-metre cross starting in Eden and arriving in Canberra on Easter Saturday.
The Anglican Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn is taking the "Goulburn" part of his title literally by preparing to reopen the long-dormant bishop's office in Australia's first inland city.
Bishop Stuart Robinson plans to spend half of each year working and living in Goulburn, which is home to St Saviour's Cathedral.
He will be the first Anglican bishop to be based in Goulburn since Ernest Burgmann moved to Canberra in 1962.
Bishop Robinson said while Canberra was celebrating its centenary this year, Goulburn is marking its 150th anniversary, which was a good reason for him to start spending more time there.
"Given the fact that the city is a city by virtue of the cathedral being there because of the promulgation that took place on March 14 150 years ago, it is in appropriate thing for me to be there during that 150th year, the sesquicentenary year," he said.
"Please use your cell phone," say leaders of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Pearland, in the Diocese of Texas. Upon entering a church, we are all accustomed to the signs asking us to turn our cell phones off or put them on vibrate, but one church turned that conventional wisdom on its head. On Sunday, leaders at St. Andrew's, asked congregants to "Please use your cell phone." For weeks leading up to the event, dubbed "Bring Your Cell Phone to Church Sunday," St. Andrew's leaders encouraged everyone to bring their cell phones and take photos of the service. Their e-mail newsletter read, "Take at least one photo of our worship and post it on Twitter and/or Facebook and/or your Pinterest account."
"We are just trying to find ways where people are comfortable inviting friends, and so we thought this would be a good way of doing it," said rector, the Rev. Jim Liberatore.
Liberatore encouraged the congregation to post photos or status updates that referred back to the church's Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest account. Liberatore said it was hard to tell exactly how many people mentioned St. Andrew's in social media on Sunday, but the parishioners were excited, including those who attend the more traditional 8 a.m. service.
The movement is part of a larger re-branding effort from St. Andrew's. Earlier this year, the church unveiled a new logo featuring a pumpkin, which references their wildly successful pumpkin patch, which earned them the nickname "pumpkin church" within the community. Underneath the church name is the slogan "people ... in progress."
Gay marriage will destabilize family life, warns sociologist. Dr. Patricia Morgan told the House of Commons that there is no evidence for the Government Coalition's claim that gay marriage "would bolster the institution." She said that same-sex marriage reinforces the idea that marriage is irrelevant to parenthood. This was the principalle factor, she said, that has caused the collapse in marriage rates between heterosexuals in countries where gay marriage had been introduced - as well as a sharp rise in cohabitation and the numbers of children born out of wedlock. She made her claims in a 22-page paper submitted at the Committee Stage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. It contained a detailed analysis of marriage trends in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Spain, Belgium, Canada and some U.S. states where gay marriage has been legalized. "From what we know about demographic trends, it is preposterous to argue that people suddenly somehow embrace marriage and slow or reverse its decline because homosexuals can have it," Dr. Morgan said.
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