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Two TEC Dioceses to Share One Bishop * Robert E. Lee scrubbed from Windows & City Squares * Ft. Worth Standing Ctte. Ratifies ACNA WO Statement * Welby expresses "excitement" at upcoming Primates' Meeting * Jesus Movement Critiqued

Fact, doctrine and gospel. It is not enough to 'proclaim Jesus'. For there are many different Jesuses being presented today. According to the New Testament gospel, however, he is *historical* (he really lived, died, rose and ascended in the arena of history), *theological* (his life, death, resurrection and ascension all have saving significance) and *contemporary* (he lives and reigns to bestow salvation on those who respond to him). Thus, the apostles told the same story of Jesus at three levels -- as historical event (witnessed by their own eyes), as having theological significance (interpreted by the Scriptures), and as contemporary message (confronting men and women with the necessity of decision). We have the same responsibility today to tell the story of Jesus as fact, doctrine and gospel. --- John R. W. Stott

Let God be God. Our greatest need in evangelism today is the humility to let God be God. Far from impoverishing our evangelism, nothing else is so much calculated to enrich, deepen and empower it.
Our motive must be concern for the glory of God, not the glory of the church or our own glory. Our message must be the gospel of God, as given by Christ and his apostles, not the traditions of men or our own opinions. Our manpower must be the church of God, and every member of it, not a privileged few who want to retain evangelism as their own prerogative. Our dynamic must be the Spirit of God, not the power of human personality, organization or eloquence. Without these priorities, we shall be silent when we ought to be vocal --- John R. W. Stott

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
Sept. 22, 2017

FORTY-SIX PERCENT OF AMERICANS believe religion is part of the problem in our society. Yet faith is the motivation for many of the critical social services and programs that benefit the most vulnerable populations. Congregations, faith-based businesses, and charities lift people up in times of need in ways that few other institutions or government programs can.

"The Socio-economic Contribution of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis," put out by the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion, is the first-of-its-kind study analyzing the economic impact of 344,000 religious congregations around the country, in addition to quantifying the economic impact of religious institutions and religion-related businesses.

Through this study, the total economic contribution of religion in America was found to be nearly $1.2 trillion, equal to the world's 15th largest economy.

Think about that. No other country on earth does as much good as America does to its own people by its people. So, if America loses its Christian base, think about the impact that will have on the poor and needy in this country. The gaps and inequalities will not be filled by atheists, agnostics, pansexualists of one stripe or another, politicians, Nones, Millennials or anybody else. It is ordinary Americans who give out of their abundance and not so abundant lives, to help those less fortunate than themselves.

So, if America loses its Christian heritage, and it seems to be going that way, then the real losers will be the poor and disadvantaged. Now that is worth thinking about.

*****

U.S. If you are still wondering about the state of TEC dioceses, then I have a story for you. This week two Episcopal dioceses said they will now share one bishop. The bishop of the Diocese of Western New York, R. William Franklin, announced he is retiring and the diocese is proposing to elect the Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe, Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania, as provisional bishop, at Western New York's diocesan convention in 2018.

VOL dug deep into diocesan statistics to reveal the appalling state of both dioceses. Neither diocese has enough full-time priests to support the diocese or bishop. Recent figures reveal the Diocese of WNY had a total of 231 combined baptisms and confirmations, while burials totaled 276. ASA has dropped from 5143 to 2994, a loss of over 52% from 2005 to 2015!... and sinking. The average age of TEC and ELCA pastors is 64 and they make up 52% of the diocese! Only 14% are under 54 years of age. Bishop Rowe's diocese has six full time priests. You can read the full story in today's digest.

The Diocese of Eastern Michigan announced this week that it was getting a Bishop Provisional in the person of Bishop Catherine Waynick, former bishop of Indianapolis. PB Michael Curry named Bishop Todd Ousley of Eastern Michigan as bishop for the Office of Pastoral Development, a member of the Presiding Bishop's staff, thus leaving the diocese without a bishop.

It looks as though Ousley was leaving another sinking diocese. The ASA in Eastern Michigan has gone from a high of 3,124 in 2005 to 1,991 in 2015, a loss of over 41 percent. In 2015, baptisms and confirmations totaled 97; deaths and burials totaled 154.

The average age of all priests (TEC and ELCA) is 66! The number of full time priests of one congregation is a mere 25%. Part-time priests of one congregation number 43%, with the number of full-time women priests even less at 15%.

A blurb about the move said this, "A diocese like a congregation engages a bishop to engage the entire diocese in this 'exciting conversation' to discover where God is leading us in our life and ministry as the Episcopal Church in Eastern Michigan." One wonders just how "exciting" it will all be in five years when most of the priests are forced to retire and there are no replacements to be found and the columbarium's, are filling up monthly.

If you want to know just how the Jesus Movement is doing in TEC, then you might like to read my story on Bishop Curry and his attempts to promote anti-racism, while charging whites with guilt and white privilege, in this story here: http://tinyurl.com/ybopysqs

*****

Robert E. Lee, an Episcopalian, is making big news in TEC as his name and statue is being scrubbed from windows and city squares. He was General-in-Chief of the Confederate States Army during the War Between the States (1861-1865). He surrendered at Appomattox, bringing an end to four years of bloodshed. He seemed to be a reluctant slave owner and, until Sept. 18, he had an Episcopal church named for him in Lexington, Virginia -- R.E. Lee Memorial Church. Now the church is being renamed in the wake of political correctness.

In fact, the entire stormy debate over the removal of confederate statuary -- including his -- seems to fall on Lee's bronze, marble or stone shoulders all around the country in: New Orleans ... Charlottesville ... Antietam ... Dallas ... Richmond ... Austin ... Durham ... Seattle ... Baltimore ... Gettysburg ... Washington, DC ...

Following the Civil War, all officers and soldiers returned home and tried to pick up their lives. Now all Civil War veterans -- Union and Confederate -- have died and some are buried in Episcopal churchyards and seminary graveyards or in military cemeteries.

VOL correspondent Mary Ann Mueller has written two fine pieces on the Lee controversy following the removal of two windows in the Washington National Cathedral. She says it is nothing more than the Episcopal Church's knee-jerk reaction to Confederate names.

*****

The Ft. Worth Standing Committee responded to the ACNA Ordination of Women Statement this week. In essence, what they said was that while they recognized the Statement, (unanimously agreed upon) by the College of Bishops, they received it as a statement of fact, representing a specific point in time in the life of the ACNA, but not a statement of ideal. "We are thankful for the clarity the Statement provides in articulating that the practice is both an "innovation" and lacks sufficient "scriptural warrant" to make it "standard practice" in the Province. We also acknowledge that a change in the status quo would require a change in the Constitutions and Canons. Accordingly, we commend to you the Forward in Faith North America Council Statement of September 18, 2017, and, in particular, we would draw your attention to Paragraph 6. We find the FIFNA Statement consonant with our thoughts, hopes and concerns in the Diocese of Fort Worth.

*****

The Diocese of South Carolina is locked in a high-stakes legal fight with the Episcopal Church that implicates the constitutional rights of religious organizations throughout the country.

The diocese, one of the oldest in the U.S., awaits the reply of the South Carolina Supreme Court to its petitions for a rehearing and a judge's recusal in its case against the Episcopal Church. The state Supreme Court ruled in August that the diocese must return 29 historic parish churches, valued at $500 million, to the Episcopal Church after the diocese disassociated from the church.

However, representatives of the diocese allege that the state Supreme Court breached due process and that Justice Kaye G. Hearn, one of five judges who ruled in this case, had a major conflict of interest. The court's ruling, according to the diocese, threatens freedom of religion, freedom of association, and due process of law. You can read the full story in today's digest.

ENGLAND: Archbishop Justin Welby has joined 17 other global leaders and experts on a new United Nations High Level Advisory Board on Mediation. The board was established by António Guterres, nine months into his tenure as UN secretary-general. It is part of a "surge in diplomacy for peace" that Guterres has called for. The new board "brings together an unparalleled range of experience, skills, knowledge and contacts," the UN said, and "will provide the secretary-general with advice on mediation initiatives and back specific mediation efforts around the world."

You will forgive me if I tell you that Nigerian Anglicans are laughing heartily at this new appointment of the ABC.

Welby can't unite the Anglican Communion, for heavens' sake. The fabric of the communion is torn from top to bottom and he thinks (or hopes) that next month he can make the irresolvable differences go away when the Primates meet in Canterbury. It is not going to happen. For openers, at least three primates will not be attending -- Nigeria, Uganda and South America -- and there will be others, and these primates own the communion in raw numbers.

The delusional world where he, Fearon, Curry, Hiltz and other hopeful reconcilers think they can hold the communion together, grows more illusory and pathetic with each passing day. The gig is long up and nobody really believes that it can all hold together much longer, bearing in mind that the Church of England is now totally irrelevant to the British people, where less than one percent darken the doors of Anglican parishes on any given week. It's a Church in England not the Church of England, writes Jules Gomes in a brilliant commentary piece you can read in today's digest.

Why should the Global South and GAFCON primates take their orders from a washed-up Church of England than can barely muster a million souls on any given Sunday? That is barely one diocese in Nigeria!

IN other news, Welby discussed his high hopes for the Primates' Meeting in Canterbury next month. The archbishop has invited primates and moderators from around the Anglican Communion to meet at Canterbury on Oct. 2-6.

"I am greatly looking forward to the Primates' Meeting," the archbishop told ACNS. "It's an extraordinary feeling to have the leaders of all the provinces gathering together to pray, to encourage one another, to weep with one another, to celebrate with one another."

The final agenda will be agreed by the primates themselves at the beginning of the meeting. But it is expected to include sessions on sexuality and differences across provinces; mission and evangelism; reconciliation and peace-building; climate change and the environment; and migration and human trafficking.

Sixteen new primates have taken office since the last meeting. Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo will represent the newly created Province of Sudan.

This is the first time that the primates have met since their meeting and gathering in January 2016.

The key thing that had emerged, Welby said, was the unanimous vote from those present to "walk together", even though that might be at a slight distance. A task group, set up after the last primates' gathering to examine a range of issues including the restoration of relationships and the rebuilding of trust within the Communion, will present a preliminary report to next month's meeting. (Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is part of the eight-member group.)

It's hard to know just how delusional Welby is. Just how "excited" can he be when you bear in mind the primate of the largest province - Nigeria - with 25 million souls will not be present, nor will the primates of Uganda and South America, to name just a few!

First of all, all the clap trap talk about the environment, migration and human trafficking is nothing Welby can do anything about except to make a lot of white noise. The "weeping" will be about those who won't be attending because the hot button issue of homosexual practice, and homosexual marriages is on the front burner of African provinces and Welby will not allow those issues to be addressed. In fact, ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach tells me that he has not been invited this time around, presumably not to embarrass TEC PB Michael Curry with his presence! God forbid that Welby should invite the elephant into the cathedral. You can be sure that whatever the "agenda" is, it won't include the very reason that the representatives of the vast majority of Anglicans from Africa will not be present.

Welby opined that a small number of primates have indicated that they won't be attending, for a variety of reasons. Really! That small number represents nearly 50% of the entire Anglican Communion, perhaps more! We shall know more when they assemble in Canterbury.

"Walk together at a slight distance!" OMG. GAFCON primates are walking apart, not at a slight distance. The fabric of the communion has been torn and Welby cannot fix it because he has already rolled over on pansexuality, even if the C of E has not officially done so.

Perhaps when the Primates are in Canterbury, they can pop up to London and drop into St. Andrews, Holborn, and see the Satanic Fashion Show inside the church, where they can observe Turkish designer Dilara Findikoglu's presenting her Spring/Summer 2018 collection. It is nothing less than a satanic Black Mass. Indeed, the event took place at the altar of St. Andrew Church and incorporated heavy occult and satanic symbolism. In short, the event summed up everything the fashion world is truly about. You can read the full story in today's digest.

*****

SUDAN In a recent edition of Africa Renewal magazine, The Most Rev. Moses Deng Bol says in a sermon that the solution to South Sudan's conflicts lies with committed Christians. He says peace will come when Christians live by the teachings of Jesus.

"According to Jesus, my neighbor is anyone who is near me at any time, regardless of their tribe, race or color, gender, age, height or size," he said. "In Mathew 7:12, Jesus gave the answer to the question of how do I love my neighbor as myself in what is now known as the Golden Rule: 'So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.'"

"Many of us are Christians by name and by going to church on Sundays, but we have not been taught to understand and obey Jesus teachings as he stated in the Great Commission in Mathew 28:16."

The archbishop recalled a sermon he preached to village elders near the border of Nuer and Dinka land: "I asked the elders whether any of them would like the Nuer to come to his village and kill him, his wife and children, take his cows, and burn his house. They all responded with a big no.

"He said he believed that if the Nuer Bishop was preaching the same message to the Nuer as I was doing to the Dinkas, it would take less than two years for the conflict between the Nuer and the Dinka communities to stop without any intervention of the police or army."

*****

VOL invites its readers to buy your next coffee beans from Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee a Rwandan Anglican project to bring life-changing work to communities in Rwanda. It's great coffee reasonably priced. It helps our brothers and sisters in a positive way by giving them a helping hand not a hand out. Please click this link and buy your coffee here: http://www.landofathousandhills.com/

*****

For a book on missions that will inspire you, buy and read The Year of Paul's Reversal; recovery of the call to the nations by Tad de Bordenave, founder of Anglican Frontier Missions, a mission movement concentrating on the least evangelized nations of the world. Resident in the U.S. he is a priest of the Anglican Diocese of Makurdi in Nigeria where he serves as a canon of the cathedral.

This 140-page booklet captures the great need of bringing the gospel to the world's four billion persons, many of whom have never heard the name of Jesus Christ. "The picture that emerges shows that out of the world's population of seven billion people, almost precisely thirty percent, or slightly over two billion people are Christian. Of the remaining seventy percent, many have heard and rejected the gospel. But a staggering number of this figure have never heard the gospel."

If you have a heart for global missions you will want to buy this book. It can purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/Year-Pauls-Reversal-Tad-Bordenave/dp/1517287928/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1506015689&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Year+of+Paul%27s+Reversal

All blessings,

David

BREAKING NEWS...The Episcopal Church released it latest 2016 membership figures Thursday afternoon. The counting of the people in the pews show that TEC is continuing its downward slide in membership, ASA figures as well as plate and pledge income. A total of 1,905,349 claim to be Episcopalians around the world, an overall drop of 11,833 baptized members. This includes 1,745,156 Episcopalians in the United States showing a dip of 34,179 from the previous year. The foreign dioceses show an increase of 22,346 in membership to help balance out the greater loss of members in the United States yet leaving the church with a net membership loss of 11,833.

Average Sunday Attendance figures also show a decline. Worldwide 601,246 Episcopalians come to church on Sunday showing a loss of 12,995 people in the pews. The ASA figure for the 99 domestic dioceses is 570,453 showing a loss of 9,327 on a Sunday.

The domestic plate and pledge figures have dropped, too. In 2016 $1,312,430,692 was dropped into the collection plate a drop of $1,288,475 over 2015.

VOL will have complete figures as they are analyzed.

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