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Church of England and Episcopal Church see Decline in Church Attendance * Nigerian Primate Blasts Welby * TEC has spent $60 million on Property Lawsuits * Schism comes to New Zealand * Albany Clergy Meet with Bishop over B012 * Ft. Worth Bp. Faces Surgery

The Remnant People of God are assailed on two fronts; first, from the rebels within our ranks, and second from the most persuasive voices of insurrection against the King of heaven to be found within society - individuals who are among our lawmakers, angry academics, media maestros, and dissolute celebrities. The world has taken up arms against God and his people, and now we must earnestly call upon the arm of the Lord. --- Roger Salter

St. Paul says: If Christ be not risen, your faith is worthless. Thankfully, that miracle did happen. Christ is risen and our faith is priceless. We can clearly see that in the many micro-miracles that witness the love of the risen Christ in our lives today. In Christ, our grudges and resentments miraculously become forgiveness. In Christ, the crushing burden of anger is miraculously lifted from our hearts. In Christ, our smug pride is miraculously banished and replaced by serenity. In Christ, our fears and depression blossom into hope and joy...our faltering faith becomes an unassailable refuge in times of trouble...all these miracles and more. --- David F. Sellery

The McCarrick case has, for many, become the key to larger mysteries since his work helped shape today's American (Catholic) church. Now, accusations against him combine three major themes in this crisis -- the sexual abuse of children, conspiracies to hide that abuse and reports of an influential "gay lobby" in seminaries and church bureaucracies. --- Terry Mattingly

At the heart of the crisis is another issue: Whether many Catholic leaders are following, in real life, the doctrines they have promised to defend and teach. Once you are dealing with infidelity and broken vows -- among priests and bishops and cardinals -- then that throws up a stone wall around everything. It's hard to move forward, when there are so many secrets. --- Kathryn Lopez, of the National Review Institute.

Self-Control. It is a serious mistake to suppose that to be filled with the Spirit of Jesus Christ is a kind of spiritual inebriation in which we lose control of ourselves. On the contrary, 'self-control' (enkrateia) is the final quality named as 'the fruit of the Spirit' in Galatians 5:22-23. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit we do not lose control; we gain it. --- John R.W. Stott

God will use the government as a scourge to reform the Church -- Fr. Joseph Illo

Most Catholics left the Church years ago. We are seeing the end of the episcopacy and the Catholic Church as we have known it. In 5 to 10 years this property will have to be sold...people will be worshipping in homes. --- Fr. Joseph Illo

"On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of the conditions. . . . It is madness to wear ladies' straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews." -- Annie Dillard

In 2002 the problems were mostly related to the priests who abused; in 2018 the problems are more focused on the responsibility or lack thereof of the bishops and on their failures of moral leadership. The Body of Christ has been lacerated and bishops did not care for the wounded. --- Daniel Cardinal DiNardo

Dear Brothers and Sisters
www.virtueonline.org
Sept. 14, 2018

There is an 'unrelenting decline' in Church of England and Church of Scotland numbers, particularly among young people, according to the latest figures from the British Social Attitudes survey.

Results released this week show that the number of Brits who identify as Church of England has more than halved in the last 15 years, from 31 per cent to 14 per cent. The sharpest decline is among 45 to 54-year-olds, from 35 per cent in 2002 to 11 per cent in 2017.

Other traditions have remained stable, with Roman Catholics and 'non-Christian faiths' each on eight per cent and 'other Christian affiliations' on 10 per cent.

Ditto for the Episcopal Church. The decline is in every diocese and continues at a rising pace year over year.

Evangelistic language and exhortations to embrace the "Jesus Movement" by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry have not yet resulted in a decrease in Episcopal Church decline, according to statistics recently released by the Office of the General Convention.

Episcopalians continue a multi-year decline in both membership and attendance in 2017, writes Jeff Walton of IRD.

A loss of 13,709 attendees to a total of 556,744 resulted in a 2.4% decline in average Sunday attendance (ASA), despite occurring in a year when Christmas Eve occurred on a Sunday, which typically boosts attendance figures. The church's 10-year decline in attendance currently stands at 24%. The mean ASA is 55 persons, down from 57 in 2016.

Membership experienced a more gradual drop, down 32,593 (1.9%) to 1,712,563 baptized members in U.S. domestic dioceses. Membership, attendance and plate-and-pledge income are among three objective data points tracked year-over-year by the denomination.

You can read both stories here: https://www.virtueonline.org/episcopal-church-continues-downward-slide-sheds-additional-members-2017

And here: https://www.virtueonline.org/bishop-currys-love-language-doesnt-halt-episcopal-decline

*****

The Primate of Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh, launched a broadside at Archbishop Justin Welby this week. He highlighted four areas of deep concern. He said the Anglican Communion is "broken and scattered." He then ripped the Episcopal Church for spending $60 million on aggressive litigation and said the realignment would continue. He then took a swipe at Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, saying that the ACNA is recognized by a majority of Anglican Communion. In his parting shot, he told Welby that 'good disagreement' only accommodated false teaching and that GAFCON would have no part of it. You can read the full story here:

https://www.virtueonline.org/gafcon-chairman-blasts-welby-says-communion-broken-and-scattered

*****

Schism has finally hit down under in New Zealand. A number of Anglican church leaders have resigned over their church's decision to allow same-sex blessings.

At St. Christopher's Anglican Church in Blenheim, the Rev. Sam Anderson and his assistant pastors, Hamish Toose and Stephanie Toose, are leaving the church over the denomination's decision to allow same-sex blessings of same-sex married couples.

Anderson said he intended to leave the Anglican Church of New Zealand altogether, saying he did not think the Bible endorsed same-sex relationships.

"It's not easy to be a Christian in today's society, so if you're actually going to be a Christian you may as well hold onto what you believe rather than running with the crowd," Anderson said.

In May, the Anglican Church of New Zealand approved Motion 29 which allowed same-sex blessings, but only if it was authorized by the local bishop. The ruling meant same-sex couples could not marry in Anglican churches but could get a post-wedding blessing.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Glenn Davies, who is also GAFCON'S Deputy General Secretary for Asia and Oceania, met recently with leading bishops of ACANZP and put forward the idea of 'Distinctive Co-existence' based on the overlapping jurisdictions of TEC and the Church of England which already exist in continental Europe with their own quite separate canons and constitutions.

"This is a proposal for structural separation which acknowledges the reality of irreconcilable differences about the nature of the bible and the gospel but calls for it to be done peacefully. This is biblical and in line with what the Apostle Paul teaches about the true nature of our warfare, that 'though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war accord to the flesh' (2 Corinthians 10:3). Those whose first resort is to litigation betray a love of power and money."

GAFCON chairman Nicholas Okoh said it is up to ACANZP as an autonomous province to decide if it will accept this proposal, but in practice much will depend on the attitude of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

You can read the full story here:
https://www.virtueonline.org/new-zealand-anglican-church-leaders-resign-over-anglican-decision-same-sex-blessings

*****

The Clergy in the Diocese of Albany met this week with their bishop Bill Love to decide what they should do following the passage of B012 at the last Episcopal General Convention. The issue was given a wide hearing at a clergy retreat but nothing conclusive came of it. The bishop says he will make a decision on how he will proceed on December 2, 2018, when it all becomes official.

"Whatever decision I and or the rest of the Church make regarding B012, there will be consequences. There is no escaping that. My ultimate desire as your Bishop, is to be faithful and obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ, discerning not my will, but His will in knowing how best to lead the Diocese of Albany in such a way that He will be glorified and His Church and people be blessed."

You can read the full story here: https://www.virtueonline.org/albany-resolution-b012-given-wide-hearing-clergy-retreat

*****

Bishop Jack Iker of the Diocese of Ft. Worth announced this week that he needed surgery and called for prayers.

"For the past two weeks, I have been undergoing medical tests to determine the cause of severe pain attacks I have experienced from time to time over the summer in my lower back and right shoulder. A soft tissue mass has been identified in my right chest wall, that needs to be removed. It is a rare type of sarcoma, thought to be malignant, that is large and aggressive and doesn't respond well to chemotherapy.

"After consultation with a specialist in this field at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Dr. Alexandra Callan, it has been determined that following a PET scan at the Moncrief Cancer Center here in Fort Worth, I will begin a series of radiation treatments in October. It will be done five days a week for about five weeks in an attempt to reduce the size of the tumor. After about five weeks to recover, I will have surgery in December or January to remove what remains of the growth. A recovery time of about six weeks is anticipated. During the radiation weeks, it is not anticipated that my regular pastoral duties or Sunday visitations will be affected, though I will need some time off after the surgery." The bishop, who is in the midst of a major struggle to retain his diocese says he sees no reason why he should not be able to continue his episcopal ministry until his planned retirement on Dec. 31, 2019.

*****

Patriarchs in conflict: Could Ukraine's divisions cause a schism in the Orthodox Church? Russia's annexation of the Crimea in 2014 and its deployment of the 'little green men' -- incognito military who backed separatist rebels -- to take over the east of Ukraine, caused a global strategic and diplomatic crisis that is not over yet, reports Christian Today.

In the context of a shooting war that has left thousands dead and brought lasting poverty and instability in its wake, the struggle for control of Ukraine's churches might seem trivial. But it's being bitterly fought and is inseparable from the wider conflict.

At its roots are questions of nationalism. Ukraine has three Orthodox groupings, the Moscow Patriarchate loyal to Russia, the Kiev Patriarchate loyal to Ukraine and the much smaller Ukrainian Autocephalous Church. In Orthodox understanding, this is completely irregular, as there should be just one church per country. The division between Moscow and Kiev goes back to the early days after the breakup of the Soviet Union, when Kiev's Metropolitan Filaret formed the breakaway Kiev Patriarchate in the early 1990s after a campaign against him orchestrated by Moscow.

You can read the full story here: https://www.christiantoday.com/article/patriarchs-in-conflict-could-ukraines-divisions-cause-a-schism-in-the-orthodox-church/130420.htm

*****

Some 35 New Testament scholars will descend on Lambeth Palace to lay the biblical foundations for the Lambeth Conference in 2020. They will come from different denominations around the world and gather for the St Augustine Seminar at Lambeth Palace. They will explore 1 Peter and be led by Professor Jennifer Strawbridge, Associate Professor in New Testament Studies at Mansfield College in the University of Oxford. After the initial meeting in November, a smaller group will convene at Lambeth Palace again in May 2019 to draw together resources.

Now it is deeply ironic that no mention was made of the elephant in the room, namely the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1:10 which still stands as the benchmark statement on human sexuality. Here is what it said: "In view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage; recognizes that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. While rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialization and commercialization of sex."

Of course, The Episcopal Church blew this resolution off and promptly ordained Gene Robinson, an activist homosexual to be a bishop.

It is doubly ironic that 1 Peter 1:14-16 contains these words, "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

This hardly comports with sodomy and homosexual marriage, but perhaps these learned theologians can explain it all to us and declare "good disagreement" or "generous orthodoxy" at the end of the day. Don't count on any reversal of 1:10, just fuhgeddaboudit. Apparently Archbishop Justin Welby doesn't think it warrants a nod or a mention.

Around 800 bishops from around the Anglican Communion will gather at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, in the summer of 2020 for the once in a decade Lambeth Conference. However, don't look for any GAFCON archbishops and bishops to show. Most of the attending bishops will be from the fastest dying provinces in the Anglican Communion.

*****

A bitter power struggle in the Diocese of Haiti has spread into the rest of the Episcopal Church in the wake of a church court's finding that a June 2 episcopal election was "deeply flawed" writes G. Jeffrey MacDonald for The Living Church

The Office of Pastoral Development is preparing for the rare possibility in which election results are not ratified by a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and a majority of diocesan standing committees. A leadership vacuum in Haiti would then need to be filled quickly before March 2019, when Haiti Bishop Zache Duracin reaches the mandatory retirement age of 72.

"This is uncharted territory," said Bishop Todd Ousley of the Office of Pastoral Development. "We would certainly counsel them to seriously consider and accept the idea of a bishop provisional" who would serve during the vacancy.

Ousley said he would not select a bishop provisional for Haiti but would instead identify a set of candidates for Haiti's standing committee to consider presenting to an electing convention. But Duracin, who tried to stack the electorate ahead of the June 2 vote, according to an Aug. 16 report from the Province II Court of Review, is warning that Haitians will not accept a bishop from another country or one who is imposed on them.

"If Haiti is denied the opportunity to have a Haitian bishop of its own choosing, I believe it will cause significant problems for the diocese and for its ministry in Haiti," Duracin told TLC via email.

*****

The question now being asked is, could Anglo-Catholics benefit by the sex scandals in the Roman Catholic Church? Blogger Wannabee Anglican thinks so. With the current crisis in the Roman Catholic Church, Anglo-Catholics are now that much more important, he writes.

Anglo-Catholic parishes and jurisdictions have long been havens for those who love traditional catholic worship and orthodox teaching but who, for various reasons cannot conscientiously join the Roman Catholic Church. I count myself among these.

Without rehashing the sordid details, matters have gotten so awful in the Roman Church, that those of a traditional catholic mindset who can no longer abide the Church of Rome will surely increase -- and surely are increasing now. And where will they go except to Anglo-Catholic parishes? Jurisdictions outside of both the Church of Rome and Anglicanism that have traditional catholic worship with which Anglicans and Roman Catholics are familiar are few and far between. Without desiring it to be so and in spite of their ecumenical mindset, Anglo-Catholics have close to a monopoly on non-Roman traditional catholic worship.

So, traditional Anglo-Catholics who hold to the orthodox catholic faith should know that they are that much more important now. They should not attempt to poach from the Romans, but they should be that much more committed to letting people know they are there and being a welcoming haven to those who thirst for catholic faith and worship.

*****

The homosexual agenda which keeps extending its reach, unofficially of course, into the Church of England, plays out with new revelations almost weekly...and with no pushback from Church officials. Wells cathedral 'Rainbow Church' is a new grouping being established in Bath and Wells diocese, with a view to promoting greater inclusion for gay people. 'Rainbow Church' will launch their new initiative with a Eucharist at Wells Cathedral on Saturday, 22nd September at 11 am. The Bishop of Taunton will preside and the speaker is Jayne Ozanne, a well-known author and activist.

A Eucharist to celebrate LGBT Pride took place in the Diocese of Oxford with the full backing of the local suffragan Bishop and Archdeacon. After the service on 30th August, well known LGBT activist and lay member of General Synod, Jayne Ozanne, tweeted a photo of the service in Reading Minster (Oxford Diocese), where the Communion table is covered in the rainbow flag.

Recently, the Rev. Dr. Mandy Ford, a lesbian in a civil partnership, was appointed to lead the Church of England's Ministry Division, according to an official press release from Church House. Her title will be Interim Director of Ministry. It is the first such appointment of a same-sex partnered person to this position.

The Church of England's current position is that marriage is between a man and a woman, however it has also maintained the position that it supports celibate same-sex relationships including civil partnership.

During July and August, a number of Cathedrals publicly indicated support for LGBT 'Pride' festivals by flying the rainbow flag from tower flagpoles. Some theologians, bloggers and conservative church network leaders condemned the practice, pointing out that the rainbow flag is a symbol of an ideology and agenda which is profoundly hostile to historic Christian faith. Southwark Cathedral was one such cathedral.

All this brought a response from one orthodox CofE layman who said this; "Another click in the ratchet by which Welby and his colleagues are debauching the Church of England. As usual, there's no debate, no transparency, no explanation. It's the simplest of ratchets and it works through an equally simple bit of arithmetic.

You achieve your goal purely by selection of whom you appoint to positions of power and influence, and of course arithmetic does the rest -- your newly appointed people go on in turn to appoint others in their own likeness. The result is an exponential grab of influence towards a rapidly approaching endpoint where every point of decision making within the church has an overwhelming majority of liberals. You can even afford to appoint a few orthodox people here and there to make that wing of the church think things aren't so bad after all. Of course, it makes not the slightest difference to the overall position, but it helps keep evangelicals quiet!"

So, there's no grand debate, no big bust-up, no major crossing of red lines which might cause a mass walk-out. We huff and puff about rainbow flags here and outrageous comments there, but nothing actually changes. That gentle little ratchet quietly clicks away, scarcely noticed by most people, never to be reversed -- until one day it stops, there's silence, and the Church of England has died.

*****

The Bishops of the Church in Wales (CiW) will explore formal provision for same-sex couples in church after a debate yesterday in the Province's Governing Body. Members of the Governing Body -- the Church in Wales' synod -- agreed that "it is pastorally unsustainable for the Church to make no formal provision for those in same-gender relationships." Following the vote, a CiW spokeswoman said that bishops will now consider "new approaches which could be brought back to the Governing Body for approval at a later date."

In June 2017, the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) changed its canon law to remove the definition that marriage is between a man and a woman; paving the way for same-sex marriage in Scottish Anglican churches. In October last year, the Primus of the SEC, Bishop Mark Strange, told fellow Anglican Primates' that he recognised the Church would now face the same consequences that were placed on the US-based Episcopal Church the previous January.

"The bishops are united in the belief that it is pastorally unsustainable and unjust for the Church to continue to make no formal provision for those in committed same-sex relationships," the Primate of the Church in Wales, Archbishop John Davies, said. "Although today's outcome does not change the present doctrine or practice of the Church in Wales on marriage, I am pleased that it provides an important steer to the bishops in exercising our ministry of pastoral care and spiritual leadership."

*****

The Church of Scotland has said it will continue to focus on being a force for good in communities after last week's Social Attitudes survey revealed the scale of the challenge on its hands. The survey found a sharp downturn in the number of people saying they belong to the Church of Scotland, from 32% in 2002 to 18% in 2017.

At the same time, the percentage of people in Scotland saying they have no religion grew to 56% in 2017.

Worryingly, the survey found that only four per cent of 18-34-year-olds identified with the Church of Scotland, down 10 per cent from 2002. Nearly three-quarters of 18-34-year olds (73%) said they had no religion.

*****

From a VOL reader in Canada. "Evidently almost every Anglican church in the Diocese of Huron is one step away from closing, meanwhile some parishes openly promote gay pride parade days; homosexual clergy can be seen embracing one another; and churches and cathedrals proudly run up the gay flag. When the diocese finally closes who will they blame? Themselves? Or will they still proclaim that the diocese was destroyed by those dreadful orthodox folk for being homophobic!

*****

China Banned Zion, Beijing's biggest house church this week. It was shut down after Sunday services. The influential congregation had refused orders to install government surveillance cameras, according to World Watch Monitor.

Beijing authorities threatened to close Zion Church last month after the 1,500-member congregation, one of the Chinese capital's largest house churches, refused to install surveillance cameras in its sanctuary.

After services on Sunday, officials delivered on their threat to the unofficial Protestant congregation, which meets in a renovated hall in northern Beijing. Zion is now banned and its materials confiscated, reports Reuters.

Despite the ongoing persecution by communist officials, the Church in China is estimated at 130 million. They are not to be confused with the Three Self churches which number 60,000 churches that belong to the Chinese Communist Party-controlled by the Three Self Patriotic Movement. The three 'Self's are self-governance, self-support, self-propagation and reject foreigners' influence on church leadership. The Episcopal Church recognizes the Three-Self movement.

*****

Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires: Some More Unanswered Questions. For a devastating critique of Pope Francis when he was the cardinal of Buenos Aires, read these two accounts:
https://onepeterfive.com/cardinal-bergoglio-questions/
https://tinyurl.com/y79ys5be

All blessings,

David

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