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GC79 Multi-Million Dollar Gabfest Pushes TEC’s Pansexual Agenda * Same-Sex Marriage Rites available in all Dioceses * No new Prayer Book * South Carolina TEC Bishop Pushes to Reclaim Parishes. Bishop Mark Lawrence pushes back * ACOC Bishop Defects to ANiC

Victory endorsed. We are not to regard the cross as defeat and the resurrection as victory. Rather, the cross was the victory won, and the resurrection the victory endorsed, proclaimed and demonstrated. --- John R.W. Stott

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world. --- Matthew Arnold

“Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who has a heaven for everybody, but a hell for none; a God who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and broad in eternity. Such a God is an idol of your own, as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible there is no God at all.” ― J.C. Ryle

“[Jesus] matters because of what he brought and what he still brings to ordinary human beings, living their ordinary lives and coping daily with their surroundings. He promises wholeness for their lives. In sharing our weaknesses he gives us strength and imparts through his companionship a life that has the quality of eternity." (Dallas Willard in Ruthless Trust - Brennan Manning)” ― Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God

Dear Brothers and Sisters
www.virtueonline.org
July 20, 2018

SEX, specifically homoerotic sex, has been on the agenda of so many general conventions of The Episcopal Church that I have simply lost count. It was more of the same at GC79 in Austin, Texas this past week.

These triennial gabfests produce countless resolutions which are quickly forgotten, except for the small handful where culture seriously interacts with the church and scripture and to which the Episcopal Church quickly caves into the cultural imperative. Some 489 resolutions were filed at this General Convention, (GC79) broken down into 72 topics, but only those relating to sex really interested anybody.

You can read Mary Ann Mueller’s fine article on The Politicization of General Convention here: http://www.virtueonline.org/austin-tx-politicization-general-convention

And once again, the Episcopal Church was right on time and on target to push the final frontier of homoeroticism – rites for same sex marriage. And so, in Austin, Texas, the inevitable happened with a few twists and turns. The final (sexual) frontier came complete with liberal choruses of rejoicing and hope.

The Episcopal Church, in its profound wisdom, and believing that God was smiling down on them, passed B012 (B does not stand for bum) and said it was a done deal. SSM would now be available in all dioceses. Same-sex marriage is the law of the land. Same-sex weddings will now be the law of the Episcopal Church.

In its wake, Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) bit the dust and the Communion Partner bishops, who worked so hard to provide a way for conservative accommodation, were duped.

General Convention accomplished what it set out to do -- to roll over the consciences and authority of orthodox bishops and force same-sex Episcopal weddings ceremonies on every American diocese.

The final House of Deputies’ overwhelmingly and lopsidedly total vote (200-6-8) came just hours before the final gavel was sounded ending the 79th time that Episcopalians gathered in General Convention.

There was a minor concession to the eight or so Communion Partner bishops. B012 also provided a structure that, in the face of profound differences in teaching over marriage, preserves the role
of bishops as chief teachers, pastors and liturgical officers by allowing bishops to call upon the ministry of other bishops of the Episcopal Church, in exercising supplemental episcopal pastoral care in those
congregations of dioceses that desire to use these liturgies and seek this form of oversight.

How this will play out with the CP bishops is still uncertain. Several have already announced that they will accept the arrangement, but at least one diocese – Albany - under the leadership of Bishop Bill Love may not go along with it. We will know by Advent he told VOL. TEC might just as well be called The Erotic Church in keeping with its desire to completely capitulate to the culture on sexuality.

The final draft of Resolution B012 simply states: "That this Church continue to honor theological diversity in regard to matters of human sexuality." No mention of coercion, no mention of penalties, no mention of canonical disabilities, no mention of theological objections.

William Murchison, a retired Dallas newspaper columnist, didn’t mince his words: “all this is cloudy talk of love. You don’t achieve love with a hammer, you don’t achieve love with a club. You achieve it with open arms and open heart and open minds. Assuming no one else is right and that it’s ‘my way or the highway’ is ‘not Christian, it’s not even Episcopalian.’”

From sodomy to same sex marriage, from talk of revival to racism, from extolling the Jesus Movement, to revival language of love and living by a black presiding bishop, the contradictions were all too apparent to anybody who had eyes to see and ears to hear.

The Episcopal Church’s Gadarene slide will continue unabated despite all the high rhetoric of revival talk that changes no one and nothing. Listening to PB Michael Curry preach about “love” and “living” is a bit like listening to a possibility preacher hawking hope to a patient dying of stage 4 stomach cancer.

Within a decade, The Episcopal Church will be an empty shell, while still spending millions of dollars on resolutions that go nowhere. At this convention they earmarked $134 million for projects ranging from the presiding bishop’s priorities of evangelism, racial reconciliation and justice and creation care. The priorities have been referred to as the “three pillars” of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.

On the subject of racism, convention had its very own racial moment when friction developed between the Province IX bishops and delegations from Latin America, who accused GC organizers of racism because they were frequently left without translators and at least one delegate’s translator refused to translate her testimony before the Marriage Task Force Committee because he disagreed with what she had to say. Bishop John Allen of Honduras then interrupted the House of Bishops’ discussion on giving a salary to the House of Deputies President to formally complain that he and those with him had been made to feel unwelcome and they were tired of being treated like second-class citizens. PB Curry agreed to meet personally with Bp. Allen so that the Bishops could resume their business.

Now you should know that evangelism as defined by Curry is not the Billy Graham type of evangelism that we all understand; it is Curry’s own brand of “love” and “living” mixed with talk of racism (though we are never told who the racists are in TEC). Nearly $10.4 million has been earmarked for racial reconciliation work. What that looks like once the money has been spent is anyone’s guess. Spending millions on a bunch of old white folk who are heading into columbariums within a decade, convincing them that racism is wrong, is a bit like asking Stormy Daniels to do a strip dance at a Continuing Care Center in the hope that she can revive folk in wheel chairs that there is sex amid the bed pans. Church planting gets $3 million, but if you don’t have a message except inclusion and diversity, who is going to come, let alone listen? Furthermore, planting new churches when there are so many closing or about to close, with many now lying fallow in liberal dioceses is a bit precious. Brokering sodomy into the church never saw a spurt of homosexuals or same-sex couples eager to crash red doors to hear the latest word from the Lord, or someone approximating his message. Some $1 million will be spent on care of creation, though who listens to what TEC has to say about the environment, when what really passes for creation care will be who mows the lawns and clears graveyards around empty churches. If TEC bishops cared so much about creation, perhaps they could lower their carbon footprints by not going on junkets to Alaska and Taiwan.

A proposal to authorize a complete overhaul and revision of the BCP to accommodate more expansive language for both God and humans and make it more reflective of what Episcopalians actually believe, came to naught. Resolution A068 originally called for the start of a process that would lead to a fully revised prayer book in 2030. The bishops instead adopted a plan for “liturgical and prayer book revision for the future of God’s mission through the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement.”

The bishops’ amended resolution calling for bishops to engage worshipping communities in their dioceses in experimentation and creation of alternative liturgical texts that they will submit to a new Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision to be appointed by the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies.

But the bishops demurred on a new prayer book because it would cost $2 million just for starters, which got the bishop of Atlanta Rob Wright to ask whether a carefully revised book will represent misplaced resources if it lands ultimately “in pews that are empty.” Even a liberal gets “it” occasionally. The light bulb flickered briefly in Atlanta.

In the end, the resolution called on the Committee for Program, Budget, and Finance to appropriate $200,000 for the initiative. That’s a fraction of the $1.9 million that the House of Deputies sought for wholesale prayer book revision in the 2019-21 triennium. Even $200,000 might be a tall ask. Before bishops voted, they received a PB&F update saying that no funds had been earmarked for prayer book revision in the next triennium. Had such a vote gone through, the total cost of a new Prayer Book would be $8 million and even the dumbest bishop knows that it was a stretch for many to accept the ’79 Prayer Book when so many still pine for the ’28 BCP.

There were lots of other minor resolutions like should the Church pay a salary to the president of the House of Deputies and admitting Cuba back into the Episcopal Church.

No one knows the exact cost of putting on this triennial soiree, but estimates run into the millions of dollars as more than 10,000 Episcopalians showed up to help support delegates. Some stayed a few days, some stayed longer. Some were reimbursed, others were not. The real beneficiary was the state of Texas, which saw millions pour into its coffers with hotels, meals and transportation all running in their favor. In Salt Lake City, where the last General Convention was held, young Mormons were seconded to help conventioneers navigate their way around. There were no reports of Southern Baptists coming to help out The Episcopal Church in Austin, but then again, they have a few problems of their own these days.

Still and all, one has to ask why people continue to pour millions of dollars into a dying denomination with no discernible gospel message. It’s like pouring money into a defunct company like Enron in the vain hope it can be resuscitated. It will never happen.

A sampling of the best stories coming out of GC79 can be found here at www.virtueonline.org :

 GC79: It's a done deal: SSM spreads to all dioceses
 GC79: Bishop Love passionately defends consecration vows in matrimony...
 GC79: Cuba rejoins TEC as long-lost spiritual daughter
 GC79: Bishops Kill BCP Revision
 GC79: Step 2: HOD passes B012 now sent to HO
 GC79: Communion Partners: Austin Statement
 Episcopalians, Anti-Israel Divestment and a Battle of Perceptions
 The tragic betrayal of Central Florida Bishop Greg Brewer
 AUSTIN, TX: The politicization of General Convention
 The Faustian Bargain of the Communion Partner Episcopal Bishops
 HOW TO SPEND $8 MILLION (EPISCOPAL) DOLLARS
 DALLAS: Evangelical Episcopal Bishop believes compromise can bring TEC...

*****

In the Diocese of South Carolina, TEC Bishop “Skip” Adams has declared victory and believes he can now take back some 28 parishes he says are his and TEC’s.

He held three Open Conversations: July 16 in Conway, July 17 in Charleston and July 18 in Bluffton, in preparation for the grand takeback. “I have had the blessing of listening to many folks who are affected by the court ruling and wish to be a part of The Episcopal Church. Their stories are holy, and it is my hope that these Open Conversations will offer me the privilege of hearing from even more who wish for a respectful setting and the opportunity to ask questions about our reconciliation efforts.”

What reconciliation? There is no reconciliation; it’s really a blatant parish grab.

In response to an article posted by Episcopal Cafe which asserted “The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECinSC) has begun working toward welcoming parishes back into the diocese and accounting for property following the Supreme Court’s declining to address the ongoing lawsuit between TECinSC and a “breakaway” group of conservative Anglicans. TECinSC is offering the open conversations to provide information and answer questions for people whose churches are affected by recent court decisions giving control of the property of the Diocese of South Carolina and 28 parishes to The Episcopal Church and its recognized diocese, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. TECinSC has also asked a judge to order a full accounting of all assets held by the breakaway group.”

Not so fast says the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis of The Diocese of South Carolina; “TEC reports of our demise are exceedingly premature. These meetings are being held as described. Very few here are buying it, and even fewer of our people have attended the first two meetings. The legal questions are far from settled in his case. No congregations are planning to return to TEC or relinquish their property. God may yet send us all out on mission without our current places of worship, but we aren’t there yet. For TEC to suggest it is so is naïve at best and disingenuous and deceptive at worst.”

I have posted two very excellent commentary articles by the Very Rev. Dr. Peter Moore, former TESM president in Ambridge, PA and now resident in South Carolina.

He accuses the Rev. Bob Donehue, a TEC priest who wants everyone to stay put. He writes; “You may have come to believe that the Episcopal Church has abandoned the Christian faith. But this is simply not true. We believe in one God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus is still Lord, and we hope by his cross and passion to be brought to the glory of his resurrections. Reread you Book of Common Prayer. You will find that the negative rhetoric does not stand up to scrutiny. Our common prayer is all the evidence needed. I hope that you will consider the reality that the church buildings you call home are still very much your home.”

Back came Dr. Peter Moore saying, “Unfortunately, it's not the Book of Common Prayer that's the problem. It's the denials in practice. As one who has been an ordained an Episcopalian for over 50 years, and helped found and lead one of its seminaries, I've seen the message change. Take a few denials:

“TEC has denied that the Scriptures should be the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct and voted several times to reject that historic proposition. It has denied -- by neither objecting to nor correcting its bishops, particularly its chief representative, the Presiding Bishop -- that Christ is our only Savior. It has denied that marriage should be a life-long commitment between a man and a woman and will soon make same-sex marriages a required norm. It has denied that the first response to those with unwanted same-sex attractions should be pastoral -- assisting in the healing of disturbed or broken relationships. It has denied that a diocesan bishop should be the true governor of their diocese, and that without their expressed desire no other bishop should be welcomed therein. It has denied that "God made them male and female" and that a person's gender is determined by their biology. Instead it has enshrined in canon law a person's right to choose or change their own gender. It has denied the right of churches or dioceses to leave their parent body when serious doctrinal divisions emerge, as they have here.

“These are not matters of indifference. They are cause for separation, and I, for one, am proud of the willingness of Anglicans who love their historic church buildings to leave them if necessary for the sake of a Gospel that speaks to the real issues that people struggle with in their everyday life.”

In a later letter to VOL, Moore excoriated Bishop Adams’ “reconciliation” notions saying of his offer that he could not forget that this same bishop broke trust with the Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, New York, while he was bishop there. After having agreed to sell it to the departing congregation for $150,000, he then sold it to the Muslims for 1/3 of that price.

“I cannot forget that there are many "Jesuses" out there, and despite the Bishop's claim that the Episcopal Church is part of the Jesus movement, the leaders of many provinces throughout the Anglican Communion don't recognize its Jesus as the same as theirs. Nor will a vast number of them even have Communion with the Episcopal Church because there is serious doubt in their minds that the Jesus they claim to follow is the same as theirs. For example, one Episcopal bishop who claimed that Jesus had to forgive himself and that the Church can re-write the Bible, was never disciplined for these statements, but later for "action unbecoming a member of the clergy."

“I cannot forget that Bishop Adams has consented to the most egregious actions against our highly respected Bishop Mark Lawrence and sued him for "abandonment of the Communion" and for a great amount of money in secular courts, all the while speaking of "reconciliation". Meanwhile Bishop Lawrence was recently honored by 2,000 Anglican delegates at a conference in Jerusalem where bishops and clergy gathered representing the great majority of confessing Anglicans worldwide.

The growth of nearly all mainline Protestant churches in the past couple of decades has been disappointing. A good portion of this is due to internal struggles over doctrine and ethics. Therefore, it is hard to believe Bishop Adams when he speaks of the Episcopal Church growing in "numbers, joy and sense of mission" when the statistics show an almost precipitous decline in the Episcopal Church in at least two of those factors: numbers and mission.”

You can read both articles here: https://tinyurl.com/ydyrfqp8 and here: https://tinyurl.com/y73ssjm8

*****

On a brighter note, there has been a changing of the guard at The Falls Church Anglican in Falls Church, VA. The Rev. Dr. John W. Yates, II is stepping down after 40 years leading the church and the church has appointed as his successor, the Rev. Sam Ferguson, to be the parish’s next rector. Sam is completing his doctorate.

This is an excellent choice. I know Sam and his father (who is also an Anglican priest). He will take over after a protracted legal dispute which saw the 2,000-member church lose their original $20 million property in a legal battle with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia over the hot button issues of the authority of Scripture and homosexuality.

Undaunted, the parish spawned some six parishes from the mother church, which has seen it thrive over the years since it left The Episcopal Church. In a twist of irony, it is now Bishop Shannon Johnston, 59, who is stepping down prematurely from the Episcopal diocese for undisclosed reasons. He cited serious questions have been brought forward by members of the diocesan staff having to do with the leadership and the culture among diocesan staff. “ As Bishop I must take full responsibility for this situation.” He will step aside as soon as a successor is found.

*****

IN CANADA, the announcement was made this week that Bishop Terry Buckle, former metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon, who also served as chaplain to the Zacchaeus Fellowship, a group of Christian believers who have struggled with same-sex attraction, has resigned from the Anglican Church of Canada and joined the Anglican Network in Canada (ANIC). He will now come under the authority of ANiC bishop Charlie Masters, who welcomed Bishop Buckle and his wife Blanche into the orthodox Anglican Network.

Bishop Buckle follows in the footsteps of Bishop William Anderson who left the ACoC for ANiC in November last year. The ANiC is a diocese of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

In 2003, Bishop Terry offered alternative episcopal oversight to New Westminster parishes unwilling to continue under Bishop Michael Ingham, after he approved same-sex blessings. They will continue to reside in Whitehorse, Yukon and minister there under the ANiC.

*****

On a very sad note of personal betrayal, the charismatic evangelical Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. Greg Brewer, a Communion Partner bishop, (one of eight left in TEC) announced he would go along with the proposed changes to allow same sex couples to marry in his diocese and allow another bishop to come into his diocese to provide oversight for such marriages, even though he himself would not personally participate in them.

Brewer had already announced that he and his diocese would now accommodate practicing homosexuals in "covenanted" relationships, he would allow legally married, same sex parishioners to come forward for a blessing at their anniversary. He did say he felt no need to change his stance opposing same-sex marriages and planned to uphold the teaching on Holy Matrimony that is reflected both in the Scriptures and in the Book of Common Prayer. But in sliding a wedge under the door, he was blindsided by two gay men who wanted their son baptized. After the issue erupted at his Orlando cathedral and its two leading priests resigned, the two men failed to show up with the child. Brewer’s credibility with evangelical Episcopalians across the country dropped like a stone.

Brewer argued that there are also pastoral considerations yet unanswered. “I give only one example: should legally married same sex parishioners come forward for a blessing at their anniversary when it is the parish's custom to publicly offer these blessings? My answer would be to welcome them and pray for them -- so long as the prayers used do not come from the BCP marriage service.”

This was a bridge too far for his old Alma Mater. He was called in by the leadership of Trinity School for Ministry, on which he was a board member and told he was gone if he did not recant his views. Brewer stormed out.

Brewer later signed a statement as a member of Province IV bishops, condemning Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina for ‘abandoning the communion of the church’. Lawrence took his diocese out of TEC over the prevailing hot button issues and later joined the ACNA.

A sociologist-theologian friend I put all this to, wrote and said, Brewer is the latest example of what George Orwell called "clubbable," the seductive group think of the House of Bishops to which Evangelicals have again and again proved to be such suckers. Brewer, he said, will come to regret this folly with bitter, bitter tears.

The full story on Brewer can be read here: http://www.virtueonline.org/tragic-betrayal-central-florida-bishop-greg-brewer

*****

What happens when Archbishop Justin Welby hosts a Muslim leader who says homosexuality is a 'disease'? Well you can read what they both had to say here. https://tinyurl.com/y7e9kopg

On a brighter note, former Archbishop of Canterbury George Careywas invited back to Oxford to preach this past week. He is allowed to preach again just weeks before a child sex inquiry looks into allegations that he 'covered up' and colluded with Bishop Peter Ball over the sexual abuse of vulnerable young men and boys. Ball was convicted in 2015 of sexually abusing vulnerable young men and boys. You can read more here: https://tinyurl.com/y7r2rgfl

*****

Please take a moment to support Anglican coffee growers in Rwanda. You can make a difference to the lives of small business entrepreneurs on this continent by ordering your coffee beans here: https://landofathousandhills.com/ Drink coffee, do good.

All blessings,

David

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