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St. James the Great Newport Beach to be Sold * TEC Clergy Figures Reveal Terrifying Decline * Church in Wales Seeks Archbishop * Australian Bishops Nix Euthanasia talk * Jesus not relied on by Americans to Overcome Sin says study

Both the Catholic and the Liberal traditions have tended to exalt human intelligence and goodness and therefore to expect human beings to contribute something towards their enlightenment and their salvation. Evangelicals, on the other hand, while strongly affirming the divine image which our humanity bears, have tended to emphasize our human finitude and fallenness and therefore to insist that without revelation we cannot know God and without redemption we cannot reach him. That is why evangelical essentials focus on the Bible and the cross, and on their indispensability, since it is through these that God's word to us has been spoken and God's work for us has been done. Indeed, his grace bears a trinitarian shape. First, in both spheres the Father took the initiative, teaching us what we could not otherwise know, and giving us what we could not otherwise have. Secondly, in both the Son has played a unique role as the one mediator through whom the Father's initiative was taken. He is the Word made flesh, through whom the Father's glory was manifested. He is the sinless one made sin for us that the Father might reconcile us to himself. Moreover, the word God spoke through Christ and the work God did through Christ were both hapax, completed once and for all. Nothing can be added to either without derogating from the perfection of God's word and work through Christ. Then thirdly, in both revelation and redemption the ministry of the Holy Spirit is essential. It is he who illumines our minds to understand what God has revealed in Christ, and he who moves our hearts to receive what God has achieved through Christ. Thus, in both spheres the Father has acted through the Son and acts through the Spirit. --- John R. W. Stott

The Church of England isn't, really, one Church at all. It's an Erastian umbrella organization holding together, by virtue of the Crown, and a huge range of competing theologies --- Catholic Herald UK

We want more boldness among the friends of truth. There is far too much tendency to sit still and wait for committees and number our adherents. We want more men who are not afraid to stand alone. --- Bishop J.C. Ryle

First, Christians should look at the energized and emboldened white nationalism movement, and at its fascist slogans, and condemn it--full stop. No, "But on the other hand." The main way most people are responding across the political spectrum is by saying, "See? This is what I have been saying all along! This just proves my point." The conservatives are using the events to prove that liberal identity politics is wrong, and liberals are using it to prove that conservatism is inherently racist. We should not do that.
Second, this is a time to present the Bible's strong and clear teachings about the sin of racism and of the idolatry of blood and country--again, full stop. --- Tim Keller

Americans have had a new rule written into their mental operating systems: Do you own thing, find your own reality, it's all relative. ---Kurt Andersen in How America Lost its Mind (Atlantic magazine)

"...the Church is for the gospel and against all false gospels, including the false gospel of white supremacy." --- Esau McCaulley in TLC

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
August 18, 2017

Once again, the leadership of The Episcopal Church showed itself it to be duplicitous and lying about the truth when it comes to property ownership.

Having determined that a Hearing Panel said the Diocese of Los Angeles should prayerfully consider re-opening the parish of St. James the Great as a "mission" parish, the new bishop, one John Taylor, nixed that idea and said the property will now have to be sold because it was already under contract by the outgoing bishop, Jon Bruno, and to prevent more litigation (read legal fees), the diocese has decided to go ahead and sell it. No price tag was announced, but it is thought to be about $15 million large. That's not chump change and who really cares about a handful of leftover Episcopalians and a woman priest; they can scatter to the four winds.

The distinguished canon lawyer, Allan Haley, had this to say; "Today, those clinging to the dying remnant that was the once-renowned Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America ("PECUSA" -- or, after they dropped the first adjective, "ECUSA") finally learned that there is no soul left in that scabrous body. Long ago, it sold itself out to Mammon. Now, those who blinded themselves to that fact are sadly learning the reality."

This whole imbroglio can be summed up in one word...greed.

But is this just about one bad bishop? No, says Canon Phil Ashey, COO of the American Anglican Council. He says the lesson of St James is about TEC as a whole, not just one bad bishop.

Here is what he wrote: "Well...actually it DOES have to do with more than one bad Bishop in TEC, as the AAC researched and published directly from the TEC Hearing Order in "Bruno Verdict raises questions about corruption of a diocese" three week ago. It's not just about one bishop -- it's about a pattern of corruption in the Diocese. And it's about a pattern of TEC judges not recusing themselves in the State Supreme Courts -- first in Virginia, then in Georgia and now in South Carolina. And it's about a predictable pattern of litigation by TEC, a pattern of litigating with motions designed to inflict the maximum possible financial damage upon departing Anglicans -- and now even a TEC congregation that dared to challenge its bishop.

"It's about a TEC Title IV disciplinary system that has exchanged foundations of due process and justice for administrative processes grounded in @the welfare if the Church"-- as Runyon and McColl have so ably demonstrated in their analysis. No wonder, when push comes to shove, the financial welfare of the Church triumphs over justice for a church in Newport Beach."

Ashey should know. St. James was his home church, where his father served as Rector from 1967-1985. "This outcome is tragic-- but utterly predictable based on the commitments and practices of TEC that we have observed and documented for years. Thank God, the St James Anglicans have moved on."

The last reference was to the Rev's Richard Crocker and David Anderson, who both served there and who took 80% of the congregation when they got the push by Bruno.

Wrote Anderson; "We are reminded that they want to scrape the sand clean and erase our historical presence from the landscape. I find no joy in (the Rev.) Cindy Voorhees and her congregation being treated as badly as we were...and they have nowhere to go...they are stuck in the TEC that betrayed them because they can't join us without repenting from deviant theology, and so they are stuck in the hell that cut them off at the knees."

"The church is a beautiful building but for the diocese it is a reminder of us, not Cindy Voorhees,
Now the church building that we loved, and that they too loved will be smashed and carted away. It's a tragedy in so many directions," he wrote.

You can read my take here: http://www.virtueonline.org/st-james-newport-beach-pious-language-greed
You can read Allan Haley's piece here: http://www.virtueonline.org/bruno-schmuno-diocese-la-sells-out-its-parish-money

*****

The numbers keep coming in about the true state of The Episcopal Church. Over the years VOL has published (and continues to publish) the decline in the Episcopal Church mainly at the parish level but only occasionally at the clergy level.

So, what is the truth about TEC's recent clergy figures?

Cameron Nations, writing for The Living Church, reveals an impending leadership and experience vacuum that bodes ill for the future.

In the Church Pension Group's 2015 Church Compensation Report: A National, Provincial, and Diocesan Analysis of Clergy Compensation, we find a rather fascinating breakdown of the Church's full-time clergy that reflects decades of inadequate development of young leaders, he writes.

According to the report, there are about 5,000 full-time parochial and non-parochial clergy in TEC, (there are many more clergy if you count those who are "active," but not necessarily full-time stipendiary clergy). Of this number, 3,163 (or 63.1%) are male and only 1,850 (or 36.9%) are female.

Of all full-time clergy in TEC, 55.4 percent are older than 55, and almost 80 percent of all full-time clergy in TEC are older than 45. Particularly noteworthy are the figures for Millennial clergy, which, depending on where you want to place the cutoff in your definition of Millennial, comprise roughly 6 percent of all full-time clergy in TEC.

Only 20 percent of full-time clergy younger than 45 equals 100 percent of a problem for a denomination struggling to grow and thrive in the decades to come.

Of the 5009, full-time clergy, some 2,023 are aged between 55-64; 1,180 are aged between 45-54. Only 287 are aged between 18-34 and 768 are aged between 35-44. Some 751 are over 65.

This means that some 40 percent of all Episcopal clergy will retire in the next six to eight years, 20 percent (1,180) more will retire in ten to 15 years, with no discernible clergy to fill their empty pulpits. There are just over 1,000 (1,055) clergy to fill those pulpits. This leaves more than 2,000 churches without any full time, paid clergy. Pulpits will be filled by part-time and non-stipendiary priests who will be there just to keep the doors open. There will be no evangelism or discipleship programs. Nothing.

On the female clergy side of things, the picture is just as bleak. There are some 1,849 women priests in TEC. Of that number, 1,100 are 55 and over. Only 354 are aged between 18 and 44 and another 395 are aged between 45-54.

On the male clergy ledger, there are 3,160 full-time clergy. Of that number, 1,670 are 55 and over -- almost half of all the male clergy in TEC. A paltry 700 are aged between 18 and 44. There are 785 aged between 45-54.

"Only 20 percent of full-time clergy younger than 45 equals 100 percent of a problem for a denomination struggling to grow and thrive in the decades to come," wrote Nations.

The fiction that the church would double by 2020 or that TREC or the Jesus Movement, much bally-hoed by PB Michael Curry is clearly not working and will not work. The writing is on the wall -- tekel, tekel mine upharson --- the Church has been weighed in the balance and found wanting.

When I asked the now retired South Carolina Bishop C. Fitzsimons Allison about TEC's future, he said this; "Bishop Curry could not turn the Episcopal Church away from its accommodation to the culture if he wanted to and he's given no sign that he would want to." If you haven't read my interview with Dr. Allison, you can read it here: http://www.virtueonline.org/i-have-been-ashamed-episcopal-leadership-denying-christian-faith

If you allow for the fact that parishioners are aging just as fast if not faster than the clergy, then within 15 years, The Episcopal Church will be OOB with only a small handful of viable dioceses left open, mostly in the south and west.

The remedy, according to Mr. Cameron, is that churches need to face demographic realities. If, for example, a city's or town's ethnic make-up shifts, wise dioceses and congregations will adapt, not pretend everything is the same.

"Also worth noting is that because of the way that the CPG defines full time, one can safely assume the average age of active clergy overall skews even older than this."

Facing demographic realities is only half the remedy. The real remedy is having a message to proclaim and TEC doesn't have one. Pushing inclusivity, diversity, anti-racism, sodomy and "gay" marriage and now transgenderism are not remedies for growth, just certain death.

By contrast, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is growing and thriving and could well outpace TEC in that period of time if the denomination continues to grow with aggressive evangelism and discipleship outreach.

*****

A Church of England bishop has launched a scathing attack on the 'narcissistic amorality' of 'lying' Donald Trump, along with the American 'Christian Right' for failing to recognize the president's traits before he was elected last November.

Nicholas Baines, the liberal-leaning Bishop of Leeds, launched his comprehensive assault on 'shameless' Trump and his evangelical backers in a blog post written in the wake of the violence carried out by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, which Trump initially failed specifically to condemn.

But the blog, entitled, 'We won't get fooled again: Trump, Charlottesville and the American Dream' goes broader than the clashes over the weekend, to chart Trump's 'consistent' positions on domestic areas and international ones including North Korea, Russia and NATO.

Bishop Baines issues blame on what he calls the 'Christian Right' for failing to see the disastrous presidency coming.

"It appears that many Americans regret having voted for Donald Trump. Apparently, they believed his promises of magic restoration of greatness without asking questions of his empty rhetoric," Baines writes.

"His misogyny, amorality, financial track record, sexual behavior, narcissism and nepotism (to name but a few of the obvious challenges) would have ruled out the candidacy of any other semi-reputable politician for the Presidency of the United States of America. His subsequent lying, shamelessness, vindictiveness and inhabiting of some "alternative reality" (in which things that happened didn't happen and things that didn't happen did happen; in which things, he said he didn't say and things he didn't say he did say) cannot have come as a disappointing revelation to anyone with half a brain or ears to hear."

*****

The Church in Wales is looking for a new archbishop following the retirement of the Most. Rev. Barry Morgan, who held the office for 14 years. A parish church in a Victorian spa town in the heart of Wales will host the election.

For three days beginning Sept. 5, the Electoral College will meet inside to choose the 13th Archbishop of the Church in Wales. Apparently, the mid-Wales town has been the location for the election of all the Archbishops of Wales since the first in 1920, because of its central location.

His successor will be chosen from among the six serving Welsh diocesan bishops:

The Rt. Rev. Gregory Cameron, Bishop of St. Asaph
The Rt. Rev. John Davies, Bishop of Swansea and Brecon
The Rt. Rev. Andrew John, Bishop of Bangor
The Rt. Rev. June Osborne, Bishop of Llandaff
The Rt. Rev. Richard Pain, Bishop of Monmouth
The Rt. Rev. Joanna Penberthy, Bishop of St. Davids

VOL's money is on Cameron. He is a close personal friend of Rowan Williams, who was previously the Bishop of Monmouth and Archbishop of Wales. Cameron worked in the Anglican Communion Office in London before taking up this post in Asaph. Whoever is chosen will be liberal in faith and morals, so don't expect any change of direction in the church there.

*****

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has given his backing to a charity set up to support women involved in the "sex industry". Charis Tiwala works to "give people in the sex industry the opportunity for choice again; a choice to exit if they wish, and a choice to rebuild a new life as they would choose to live it," the Archbishop's office said in a statement.

The charity's workers build relationships with the women through baking courses, Bible studies, Pilates classes and assistance with sexual health. Staff and volunteers visit establishments such as saunas to offer chaplaincy and befriending services and to "engage at whatever the point of need is with the utmost care and respect for each person."

The charity began its work in 2008 and became a registered charity in 2014. The following year, Archbishop Justin made his first visit to the organization and has become a keen advocate. He has now agreed to become patron of the charity.

*****

Australian Church leaders united to speak out on euthanasia this week. The Archbishop of Melbourne, Philip Freier, joined six other Christian leaders from the region in calling on the state premier to reconsider plans to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia. In a letter to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, the Anglican, Lutheran, Catholic and Orthodox church leaders say that "human dignity is honored in living life, not in taking it." The church leaders published their letter as an advertisement in the daily Herald-Sun newspaper.

"Even though an act of euthanasia or assisted suicide may be motivated by a sense of compassion, true compassion motivates us to remain with those who are dying, understanding and supporting them through their time of need, rather than simply acceding to a request to be killed. It is right to seek to eliminate pain, but never right to eliminate people. Euthanasia and assisted suicide represent the abandonment of those who are in greatest need of our care and support."

The open letter comes as Victoria's parliament prepares to consider a bill that would allow Australian citizens or permanent residents, older than 18 and living in Victoria, to request assisted suicide if they have an advanced and incurable illness, disease or medical condition. If the parliament approves the measure, it would take effect in 2019.

*****

The Synod of the Diocese of Christchurch will consider donating its earthquake-ravaged cathedral to the country's government as a gift to the people of New Zealand. This new option will go alongside two existing options -- to reinstate the existing cathedral or to demolish and replace it with a modern building -- when the Synod meets to decide the building's future on the last day of its three-day meeting next month (7-9 September).

Just over six years ago, a major earthquake struck Christchurch, NZ, causing extensive damage throughout the city. One of the casualties was the Anglican cathedral in the city center, which was damaged beyond repair. Originally, the diocese planned to demolish the remnants and build a new contemporary cathedral in its place. However, that plan met fierce resistance from many residents and local leaders who insisted upon rebuilding the old cathedral as it was.

*****

Thousands of people are turning out to hear free choral music around Britain, many for the first time, according to a Christian Today report.

The ancient church music has been around for centuries -- but is getting a new audience due to a new website set up to enable people to find choral evensong services at cathedrals, colleges and churches anywhere in Britain and Ireland.

The website is now receiving about 8,500 unique visitors a month, and 11,500 visits a month and that number is rising. There are now 481 churches, chapels and cathedrals with their own pages on the website and the number keeps growing.

And the effect on congregations is staggering.

One poorly-attended church in London found attendance shot up from 10 people to nearly 200 at one evensong alone.

Apparently, Choral evensong is proving popular with atheists and believers alike.

*****

A LifeWay Research study has found that while the majority, or two-thirds of Americans admit that they are sinners, only a minority, or 28 percent, said that they depend on Jesus Christ to overcome sin.

The study, conducted Sept. 27--Oct. 1, 2016 of 1,000 Americans, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level, noted that more people rely on themselves than on Jesus to overcome sin.

Thirty-four percent said that they are sinners who "work on being less of one," the study found, while 10 percent insisted that sin does not exist. Another eight percent argued that they are not sinners, while five percent said they are "fine" with being a sinner.

Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, said that he was struck by how few Americans say they rely on Jesus to overcome sin, which he said is a "core Christian belief."

*****

The vast majority of Americans pray. But how do they do it and what do they pray for? New research has shed light on the intercessory habits of Americans.

A comprehensive study by Barna, published this week, suggests that for most Americans prayer is solitary and silent.

The June survey of 1,015 US adults, found that most (82 per cent) said they most often prayed silently and alone, while only 13 per cent prayed audibly and alone. Just two per cent said they most often prayed 'collectively with a church' or 'audibly with another person or group'.

The most common content of prayers is 'gratitude and thanksgiving' (62 per cent), and 'the needs of my family and community'. Personal guidance in crises takes precedence (49 per cent), while there seemed to be less of an imperative for praying for the requests of others (34 per cent), concerns about the government (24 per cent), global injustice (20 per cent) or reciting Scripture or liturgies (Eight per cent).

*****

An abuse inquiry in Australia has recommended an end to the Seal of the Confessional. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse -- the official independent inquiry in Australia, has recommended that the failure to report child sexual abuse in institutions should be made a criminal offence. And it said that there should be "no exemption, excuse, protection or privilege from the offence granted to clergy for failing to report information disclosed in connection with a religious confession."

The recommendations are amongst a sweep of 85 legislative and policy changes proposed in a report Criminal Justice, released by the Commission today (Monday), "aimed at reforming the Australian criminal justice system in order to provide a fairer response to victims of institutional child sexual abuse."

"Child sexual abuse is a crime and it should be reported to police. There should be no doubt that police are the correct agency to which child sexual abuse should be reported."

"Submissions to the Royal Commission by the Roman Catholic church argued that any intrusion by the civil law on the practice of religious confession would undermine the principle of freedom of religion. In a civil society, it is fundamentally important that the right of a person to freely practice their religion in accordance with their beliefs is upheld.

*****

FACTOID: POLL: Most Americans Don't Want Confederate Statues Torn Down

A new poll shows most Americans, including a plurality of African-Americans, oppose efforts to tear down statues honoring Confederate soldiers, according to the Federalist.

In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville last weekend, many politicians and activists have called for statues honoring Confederate soldiers to be torn down. A new poll, however, shows that most Americans, including a plurality of African-Americans, don't agree with efforts to tear down Confederate statues. According to a new poll conducted by Marist for NPR/PBS News Hour, 62 percent of Americans want the statues to stay where they are.

Is fatherlessness the key to the recent neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville, VA? Why are its foot-soldiers so vulnerable to radicalization, writes Michael Cook of Mercatornet.

Who were the foot-soldiers at Charlottesville? Despite the forest-levelling media coverage of the riot at a university town in Virginia, it's hard to capture who participated.

The driver of the car who drove his car into a crowd of protesters, killing one of them, was the most recognizable face: a 20-year-old from Ohio, James Alex Fields Jr. He has been charged with second-degree murder and malicious wounding. He was raised without a father.

Many of the perpetrators of mass killing in the United States come from troubled, fatherless homes.

* Wade Page was a white supremacist who shot six Sikhs dead in Milwaukee before being killed by a police officer earlier in August 2012. His parents were divorced.
* In December 2012, Adam Lanza, 20, killed his mother, six staff at a Connecticut primary school, and 20 school children before shooting himself. His parents were divorced.
* John Zawahiri, 23, killed five people in Santa Monica in 2013 near and on the campus of a state college. His parents had been separated for years.
* Dylan Roof was a 21-year-old white supremacist who killed nine black people in a church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. His parents were divorced.

Fatherlessness and family breakdown have also been fingered as a possible cause of ISIS-inspired terrorism. According to The Guardian "some reports indicate that foreigners fighting with Isis often come from families where fathers were abusive or absent." You can read the full story here or in today's digest. http://www.virtueonline.org/fatherlessness-key-neo-nazi-violence

*****

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In Christ,

David

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