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Property Lawsuits heat up in Va, SC, California*Ugandan ABC lashes TEC & ACoC

Quote of the Day: "Get Up. Get Out. Get Lost." Katherine Jefferts Schori, PB of The Episcopal Church, quoting the words of a retired New York Bishop as he dismissed the people at the end of The Eucharist.

Contemporary heretics. What should the contemporary church do with heretics? Is that a harsh word? I think not. A humble and reverent probing into the mystery of the incarnation is the essence of true Christological scholarship. But attempted reconstructions that effectively destroy that which is supposed to be being reconstructed is Christological heresy. Let me defend my question further. It is based on three convictions: there is such a thing as heresy, that is, a deviation from fundamental, revealed truth; heresy 'troubles' the church, while truth edifies it, and therefore if we love the truth and the church we cannot fold our arms and do nothing. The purity of the church (ethical and doctrinal) is as much a proper Christian quest as its unity. Indeed we should be seeking its unity and purity simultaneously I do not myself think a heresy trial is the right way to approach this. Heretics are slippery creatures. They tend to use orthodox language to clothe their heterodox views. Besides, in our age of easy tolerance, the arraigned heretic becomes in the public mind first the innocent victim of bigoted persecutors, then a martyr, and then a hero or saint. But there are other ways to proceed. The New Testament authors are concerned not so much about false brethren as about false teachers, who act like wolves and scatter or destroy Christ's flock ... Is it too much to hope and pray that some bishop sometime will have the courage to withdraw his licence from a presbyter who denies the incarnation? This would not be an infringement of civil or academic liberty. A man may believe, say, and write what he pleases in the country and the university. But in the church it is reasonable and right to expect all accredited teachers to teach the faith that the church in its official formularies confesses and that (incidentally) they have themselves promised to uphold. --- John R.W. Stott

According to opinion polls, people's overall belief in God hasn't declined. What's declined is people's participation in religion. With so little spiritual nourishment to offer, it's no wonder the liberal churches have collapsed --- Margaret Wente in the Toronto Globe and Mail

"It is another thing when what is said about us is the truth, as has happened in many of the accusations of pedophilia. Then we must humble ourselves before God and men, and seek to uproot the evil at all costs, as did, to his great regret, Benedict XVI. And only in this way can we regain credibility before the world and give an example of sincerity. Today many people do not arrive at believing in Christ because His face is obscured or hidden behind an institution that lacks transparency. But if recently we have wept over many unpleasant events that have befallen clergy and laity, even in the pontifical household, we must consider that these evils, as great as they may be, if compared with certain evils in the history of the Church are nothing but a cold. And just as these have been overcome with God's help, so also the present crisis will be overcome. Even a cold needs to be taken care of well to keep it from turning into pneumonia." --- Spoken by Prosper Grech in the last meditation heard before the conclave of Cardinal Electors to elect Pope Francis.

Dear Brothers and Sisters
August 16, 2013

Here is how things stand on same sex marriage in various denominations and religious groups.

Among the denominations in which gay and lesbian marriage is not sanctioned as a rite are: Roman Catholic, Mormon, Southern Baptist, the National Association of Evangelical Churches, Orthodox Judaism and the United Methodist Church.

Among the religious bodies that bless same-sex unions and, congregation by congregation, marriages are: Reform Judaism, Conservative Jewish movement, The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ.

Included among churches that marry same-sex couples are: Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations and the Independent Catholic Church

Islamic law forbids homosexuality and prohibits same-sex marriage.

Buddhism takes no official position on same-sex marriage.


There were major developments this week in the dioceses of Los Angeles, South Carolina and Virginia over property lawsuits.

A California court ruled that the rector and parishioners of St James Newport Beach must leave their $20 million property after nine years of wrangling and hand it back to the Diocese of Los Angeles.

The Rev. Richard Crocker said the court imposed a $1 million bond and gave the church 45 days to clear the property if they cannot come up with the money. They will leave, however they will also appeal that decision, he told VOL. You can read the full story in today's digest.


In the Diocese of Virginia, the former Episcopal parish of Falls Church Virginia, now Falls Church Anglican is appealing its case to the Supreme Court. The leaders of the largest formerly Episcopal parish in Virginia that broke away from the Episcopal Church over its departure from the historic faith said the $110,000 needed came from individuals and not from the church's general fund.

When asked what possible advantage is there to TFCA, leaders replied, "Win or lose, we will have held to our beliefs in a faithful effort to please God. If we lose in this phase, we have not lost much that was not already lost. If we win in this phase, we will have honored the leadership role God has placed on our church in setting a precedent that may be useful to other churches wanting to separate from an apostate denomination but less able to take the stand we've taken."

The Falls Church (Anglican) CANA congregation with some 2000 members and 7 church plants is led by the Rev. John Yates. An earlier appeal by the CANA group to the Supreme Court of Virginia for reconsideration of its unanimous decision was denied in June. You can read the full story in today's digest.


In South Carolina this week U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck heard oral arguments over the Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg's effort to halt the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence's usage of the title. Bishop Lawrence presently heads the theologically conservative South Carolina Diocese, which broke away from The Episcopal Church over TEC's abandonment of the Faith.

VonRosenberg presently heads the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the name given to those Episcopalians in the Diocese who wanted to remain with the national church. He has sued Lawrence over usage of the title of bishop, arguing that Lawrence renounced this title when he opted to leave The Episcopal Church in January.

After hearing about an hour of arguments, Houck stated that he should have a decision as to the fate of the suit sometime in the next seven to ten days.

Joy Hunter, director of Communications for the Diocese of South Carolina, told The Christian Post that Lawrence argued for the suit to be dismissed. "In his Motion, Bishop Lawrence asked that Judge Houck either dismiss the federal lawsuit, or stay it until the pending state court litigation is resolved."


The Episcopal Church Welcomes YOU... Or does it? Revisionist Episcopalians moved the church one step closer to the Episcopal Gulag Archipelago in San Joaquin this week when St. Paul's Bakersfield was returned to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin making sure that orthodox Anglicans never own that property again.

And they don't even have a congregation to take over the building -- yet the Leninists in the Episcopal Gulag Archipelago cannot not allow the people to ever retain ownership. I called it the GREAT EPISCOPAL DIVIDE. You can read the full story of how this parish was formed, who formed it, how they left TEC over bad doctrine, kept the parish for a while, and then were forced out by the Dennis Canon.

Here's the truth. Liberals cannot start or build a church. Liberalism is incapable of doing that. No gospel, no church. Inclusion and diversity do not build or grow churches. So what they do is steal healthy evangelical and Anglo-Catholic parishes and fill the pulpits with liberal and revisionist priests which, over time, empties them, the properties are then sold to start-up Evangelical churches, mosques, saloons etc. You can read the full story here or in today's digest. http://tinyurl.com/luxh23v


The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America elected the first woman to its top office this week when Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of Cleveland soared to a surprise defeat of Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, a 12-year incumbent who had been widely expected to win a third term.

Bishop Eaton won, 600-287, on the fifth ballot. She will take office Nov. 1. However the denomination has lost 500,000 members and 647 of 10,000 congregations to schism since it gave permission four years ago to ordain and install partnered gay pastors.

Bishop Eaton, 58, is considered a centrist, while other finalists were viewed as more theologically liberal.

BUT what VOL learned -- that has not been widely reported -- is that she is married to an Episcopal priest, The Rev. Conrad Selnick, who has been rector at St. Christopher's-by-the-River in Gates Mills, OH since 2003. He was deaconed and priested by VII Bishop of Southern Ohio William Black in 1893.

"I give thanks as well for the election of Elizabeth Eaton as the next Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, and look forward to working with her as we grow in our Call to Common Mission," said PB Katharine Jefferts Schori.

IN OTHER NEWS, Lutherans elected their first openly gay bishop. For more than two decades, the Rev. R. Guy Erwin couldn't officially be a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. On Friday, he was elected a bishop.

Erwin's election signals a shift not only for the ELCA - the nation's seventh largest church - but also for American Christianity. Only one other mainline Protestant denomination, the Episcopal Church, has elected openly gay and lesbian bishops.


EGYPT is on the brink of civil war. Anglican Christians are under attack says Archbishop Mouneer Anis. He wrote an urgent prayerful request telling that St. Saviour's Anglican Church was on fire from Mursi Supporters. "They are throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the church and have destroyed the car of Rev. Ehab Ayoub, the priest-in-charge of St. Saviour's Church. There are also attacks on other Orthodox churches in Menyia and Suhag in Upper Egypt as well as a Catholic church in Suez. The archbishop has sent out an urgent appeal for PRAYER.

Some police stations are also under attack in different parts of Egypt. Please pray and ask others to pray for this inflammable situation in Egypt. Early this morning, the police supported by the army, encouraged protestors in two different locations in Cairo, to leave safely and go home.


Dartmouth College in New Hampshire recently appointed Bishop James Tengatenga, bishop of Southern Malawi and chair of the Anglican Consultative Council to run the foundation, Suddenly his name withdrawn by the new Dartmouth College President Dr. Philip Hanlon. Apparently Tengatenga wasn't inclusive enough on gay sex and gay marriage AND gay bishops and had been critical of TEC's consecration of Gene Robinson.

In the past, he has claimed that it was his duty to hold the Church together even as a split over same-sex marriages became more and more problematic within the Church.

The problem with Tengatenga is that two years ago he pushed for the excommunication of any bishops who vocally support same-sex marriage, and angrily claimed betrayal at the ordination of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire back in 2003. Today, he claims that "The dignity of all should be honored and respected. As is the case with many people, my ideas about homosexuality have evolved over time." Not enough apparently, he's been dumped from the foundation.


The Church in Wales will decide in September whether or not to allow women priests to be ordained as bishops.

A bill, proposed by the six diocesan bishops of the Church in Wales, will be voted on by the 144 members of the church's legislative arm, the Governing Body, at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, at Lampeter, on Thursday, Sept. 12.

The bill will need a two-thirds majority in each of the three sections of the Governing Body - the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity - in order to be passed. However, if it is passed, it will not come into effect until a second bill, outlining a scheme of provision for those who cannot accept women bishops, is written and passed.


British Gay activist Peter Tatchell, writing for the Guardian this week, talks of "how the Gay Liberation Front Manifesto helped to shape me." You may not have heard of this document before, but you should read it because it sets out - in no uncertain terms - the path our society has taken over the last few decades, and gives a clear picture of where the path is heading. The document says: "We must aim at the abolition of the family".

The manifesto was published in 1971 and then revised in 1978. As Peter says himself, it was written by "anarchists, hippies, leftwingers, feminists, liberals and counter-culturalists". I doubt that David Cameron has ever read it, but whether he knows it or not, he has allowed himself to be influenced by its central agenda. In an attempt to suck up to his liberal metropolitan chums, he has bought into it.

The document, comrades, lists the cruel institutions of oppression. Top of the list is the family, "The very form of the family [dad, mum, kids] works against homosexuality." Next, schools which reinforce the idea that boys and girls are different, using sinister instruments of repression like "competitive sports". Then it's the church and Judeo-Christian values which advance "irrational teachings" about "the family and marriage". The media is next in line, owned by rich men peddling "society's image of 'normal' man and woman". Then comes people's vocabulary, followed by employment and the law.

All of this was published in the 1970s, and you have to say they have been remarkably successful in tackling these barriers to the sexual revolution. Education, the church, the media, vocabulary, employment, and law have all been key battle grounds for the advancement of gay rights.


On the international front, the Archbishop of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali lit into The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada over its abandonment of the true faith and added that GAFCON II meeting in Nairobi in October would address the issue. Will he [finally] say that the Global South has had enough and go their own way, free from Canterbury and Archbishop Justin Welby?

Here, in part, is what he said:

"...we are at the ten-year anniversary mark of this crisis, and I want to ask, 'Where are we?' We have a new Archbishop of Canterbury who is born again and has a testimony. I have personally met him and I like him very much. But, the problems in the Communion are still there, and they don't change just because there is a new global leader.

"In fact, ten years later, the crisis has deepened. It is worse, and shows no signs of improving. This is why the Archbishop of Nigeria, the other Archbishops of East Africa, and I have come together and decided to organize a second Global Anglican Future Conference or GAFCON.

"This second GAFCON conference is also very important at this time in the life of our church. We are holding it in Nairobi this time because it is closer to the majority of the Christians who make up GAFCON."


A Bible with an inscription from Albert Einstein has sold for $68,500 at an auction in New York City. The Bible was part of a fine books and manuscripts auction at Bonhams. The German-born physicist and his wife signed it in 1932 and gifted it to an American friend named Harriett Hamilton. The auction house says Einstein writes in the German inscription the Bible "is a great source of wisdom and consolation and should be read frequently." Einstein formulated the theory of relativity and won a Nobel Prize in physics. He died in 1955.


It's official. The Very Hip Rev. Gary Hall calls himself the "non-theistic" new dean of Washington's National Cathedral.

Mark Tooley of IRD writes, "Liberal Episcopal Church elites often seem determined to fulfill caricatures of themselves. The Very Rev. Gary Hall, new dean of Washington's prominent National Cathedral, does so fulsomely, gregariously, wonderfully in a recent Washington Post profile by Sally Quinn.

"Hall has made a splash in town by focusing on gun control and same sex marriage. He hosted a press conference soon after last year's tragic school shootings in Connecticut. And he's opened the cathedral for homosexual nuptials. Liberal Episcopalianism strongly emphasizes sexual liberation, and for Hall that liberation includes heterosexuals, too."

"We have this cartoon in America where you grow up, get married and stay the same person," Hall told Quinn. "For the church to say, 'No sex before marriage,' is not realistic," claiming he has wed over 500 couples, only about five of whom were not already cohabiting, statistics exponentially beyond the national average. He wants the church to model "how to live a life of faithfulness and integrity" while evidently embracing the new permissiveness. It's all about moving with the times, he said.

"I describe myself as a non-theistic Christian," Hall confided to Quinn, echoing infamous retired Episcopal John Shelby Spong, who once routinely regaled an approving Phil Donahue and other talk shows with his provocative disbelief of Christian orthodoxy. "Jesus doesn't use the word God very much," Hall insisted. "He talks about his Father." Say what.

Hall asked: "Where I am now, how do I understand Jesus as a son of God that's not magical? I'm trying to figure out Jesus as a son of God and a fully human being, if he has both fully human and a fully divine set of chromosomes.... He's not some kind of superman coming down. God is present in all human beings. Jesus was an extraordinary human being. Jesus didn't try to convert. He just had people at his table."

So does this "non-theistic" Cathedral Dean believe in a personal deity who uniquely reveals Himself in Jesus Christ, as Christianity traditionally teaches? Not really. And you wonder why TEC is going down the proverbial bung hole.


From Norway comes word that the (Catholic) Church in Scandinavia is on a slow but steady ascendant. It is telling (of both the rise and fall of many) that there are now more seminarians studying for the priesthood in the Nordic countries than there are in all of Ireland.


Boys, aged as young as three, should dress as butterflies so that they won't grow up to hit women, a taxpayer-funded guide tells childcare workers. It's part of a guide produced by the Zero Tolerance scheme, funded by the Scottish Government, which aims to end men's violence against women.

The guide warns against telling a girl that her hair looks nice, and says boys should be encouraged to dress as a nurse or play with dolls. The group believes that gender stereotyping, such as distinguishing between boys' toys and girls' toys, may contribute to domestic violence later in life.

But education spokeswoman for the Scottish Tories, Elizabeth Smith, said: "Surely a bit of common sense should be applied. Boys will be boys and girls will be girls - and you shouldn't try to force children to behave in a way that's not natural to them."


The Archbishop of Canterbury engaged in a week-long trip to locations in three Anglican provinces this week. Justin Welby visited Anglicans in Barbados, Guatemala and Mexico. Reconciliation is our "gift to the world" he said in a sermon in Guatemala. Interesting in that Mexico has been one of the most corrupt provinces in the Anglican Communion and the other two are standard liberal provinces though Barbados has a good sprinkling of Anglo-Catholics.

Funny thing is Welby didn't cross the border while in Mexico to visit Mrs. Jefferts Schori or a Texas Episcopal parish. Reconciliation. What is he talking about? The Anglican Communion is so unreconciled. He should read what Uganda Archbishop Stanley Ntagali had to say this week and realize just how broken or torn the fabric is of the communion is. Talking up reconciliation isn't going to do it unless you address the reasons why reconciliation is impossible and while fundamental issues of doctrine and morality are not addressed.


To make that point, Bishop James Cowan performed the first same-sex blessing in the Diocese of BC on June 1. The distinction between marrying and blessing that dioceses who perform same-sex blessings were so keen to make has, for all practical purposes, already vanished, an observer told VOL.

"I notice that 'Draw the circle wide, Draw it wider still' has made a comeback - a step in drawing wider a circle of welcoming inclusiveness which needs to be drawn wider still. Or to put it another way: you can't hide; no matter how fast you run, we are coming for you and, when we find you, you will be included."


Manhattan now sees many same sex couples married, but one wedding was different, not only because it was two men being married in a Christian church, or because they were joined by 80 supportive family members, or even because it was a fully legal marriage of a same-sex couple, but because two thinly handcrafted silver metal hoops, seven inches in diameter, with decorative scrollwork on the side and a long ribbon tying them together, made an appearance during the ceremony. The stefana, or crowns, as they are commonly called, are symbols of royalty, martyrdom and unity and are used in the wedding ceremonies of the Eastern or Greek Orthodox Church.

They are symbols of royalty because the marriage ceremony itself, in the Byzantine tradition, follows the form of a coronation, creating a small "kingdom" or family, as we would call it. The crowns remind Orthodox Christians of the holy martyrs because of the church's ancient belief of martyrdom being linked to the concept of God's crowning glory. Lastly, the crowns symbolize unity with their unending circular design and the ribbon tying them together. The two men were married in the Byzantine rites of the Eastern Orthodox Church. On Twitter, Storrs called the ceremony the "historic first Greek Orthodox gay wedding".

Storrs, formerly an Orthodox subdeacon and convert to Orthodoxy, had been headed into the priesthood of the Episcopal Church USA but decided instead to pursue ordination in the Open Episcopal Church, because ECUSA didn't crack down hard enough on their conservative clergy. (The OEC mainly exists on the Internet and does not require the usual theological education for ordination that most denominations do.)


Two weeks from now, the United Church of Canada will assemble in Ottawa for its 41st General Council, where it will debate church policy and elect a new moderator. The top item on its agenda is a resolution calling for a boycott of products from Israeli settlements. Fortunately, nobody cares what the United Church thinks about Israeli settlements, or anything else for that matter, because the United Church doesn't matter anymore.

For many years, the United Church was a pillar of Canadian society. Its leaders were respected public figures. It was - and remains - the biggest Protestant denomination in a country that, outside Quebec, has been largely shaped by centuries of Protestant tradition.

But today, the church is literally dying. The average age of its members is 65. They believe in many things, but they do not necessarily believe in God. Some congregations proudly describe themselves as "post-theistic," which is a good thing because, as one church elder said, it shows the church is not "stuck in the past." Besides, who needs God when you've got Israel to kick around?

The United Church is not alone. All the secular liberal churches are collapsing. In the United States, the Episcopalians - facing many issues similar to those of the United Church - have lost a quarter of their membership in the past decade. They're at their lowest point since the 1930s. Not coincidentally, they spent their recent general meeting affirming the right of the transgendered to become priests. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But it doesn't top most people's lists of pressing spiritual or even social issues.


A new voice is emerging in the evangelical community that is turning away from the church's vocal opposition to homosexuality in favor of a more tolerant attitude.

Researchers at Baylor University found that 24 percent of evangelicals were "ambivalent," meaning they support civil unions or legal recognition of gay relationships, despite harboring a moral opposition to homosexuality.

"What you have is this increase in people coming out publicly and saying, 'I don't want to be a part of this anti-gay rights movement as an evangelical,'" said Lydia Bean, assistant professor of sociology at Baylor and co-author of the study.

The study, "How the Messy Middle Finds a Voice: Evangelicals and Structured Ambivalence towards Gays and Lesbians," analyzed national data from the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey, conducted by Gallup.

Researchers presented their study at the annual American Sociological Association meeting in New York on Monday (Aug. 12).

Also called the "Messy Middle," this group mirrors the 41 percent of evangelicals labeled "Gay Rights Opponents" when it comes to biblical literalism and religious practice, though they are not as politically conservative.

Compared to the 35 percent of evangelicals who are "Cultural Progressives," Ambivalents are more likely to be married, have lower levels of education, attend church more frequently, identify as born-again Christians and read their Bible more often. Both groups reported similar frequency of prayer.

One must now admit that evangelicalism in America is falling apart. Evangelicals are thinly educated, no longer strongly biblical in faith and morals, or as some would say, three thousand miles wide and one inch deep. This is a sad indictment of a once proud movement.


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