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Adultery No, Homosexuality Yes * Election Heartbreak * Sentamu must explain Bellringer Scandal * Russian Patriarch attacks Welby over Sexuality Issues * St. Paul's Darien gets New Priest * Anglicans, Methodists and Baptists unite over Faith

The bondage of the old life. Our former life was one of bondage to sin, self, fear and guilt, and to the unseen powers of evil which, because of our estrangement from God, had enslaved us. Did we not sometimes sigh in those days: 'if only I could be liberated from my guilt, from the judgment of God upon my sins, and from the powers of evil which have control over me?' I did. Then I learned that the only way to be set free from sin was for its just penalty to be borne, and that God had done this himself in and through Jesus Christ who died for our sins on the cross. Next I learned that if we become personally united to Jesus Christ by faith, we die with him, his death becomes our death, so that the penalty is paid, the debt is settled, and we are set free from the bondage of the old life. --- John R.W. Stott

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
October 28, 2016

Thou shalt not commit adultery, runs the seventh commandment. But the bishop of the Diocese of Lexington did just that, and for his sins he has been given the heave-ho and told he is not wanted back...ever.

Bishop Douglas Hahn (VII Lexington) was caught in a lie, and, in March, Episcopal Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, removed him from active ministry as a bishop for one calendar year until March 9, 2017. This action also severed Bishop Hahn from a diocesan pay check.

Now, with five months to go, the Diocese of Lexington Standing Committee has decided it doesn't want the bishop to return. He can stay away ... permanently.

The lie that toppled him is that he had confessed to being sexually involved with a former parishioner, and then lied, in 2012, to the Diocese of Lexington Standing Committee in the vetting process for the election of the VII Bishop of Lexington. The bishop's moral failure came to light earlier this year, at which time the Lexington bishop had to own up to his faults and failing, not only to Presiding Bishop Curry and his wife, Kaye, but also to the people of the Diocese of Lexington, which turned to him for spiritual and moral leadership.

He was inhibited and now, apparently, he will be deposed. He admitted his sin, confessed it; his wife apparently accepts his repentance, but he is toast.

In most churches, this is pretty straight forward stuff. Adultery is serious business and it can cost you your job. But in the case of the Episcopal Church, this is sheer hypocrisy, bearing in mind that the Church has, through various and sundry resolutions, allowed bishops to marry, divorce their spouses, then "marry" someone of the same sex, get divorced and, in the case of V. Gene Robinson, you can throw in alcoholism as a bonus.

Hahn is not the first bishop to have committed adultery, and probably won't be the last. But at least one bishop, Richard Grein, did the same thing when he was Bishop of New York and Frank Griswold, then Presiding Bishop, gave him a pass.

There have been other bishops with far more colorful sexual pasts, like Paul Moore, Horace W. Donegan, James Pike, Heather Cook, to name but a few whose sexual behavior should have cost them their jobs but did not. Only Heather Cook, who is serving 7 years in the slammer for killing a cyclist while drunk, is paying the price.

But Hahn's sin is so egregious that he is gone. You can read my full take on all this in today's digest.

*****

The upcoming national election is causing much heartbreak across the country, tearing apart friendships, alienating families from one another and causing more anxiety than some aging uncle who has just died of Alzheimer's.

One serious authority who is being challenged on how Christians should vote is Princeton jurisprudence scholar and ardent Roman Catholic, Robert P. George, who made his own convictions clear.

Writing for Get Religion, journalist Terry Mattingly, says George's Facebook has been packed with cries for help.

Is picking the "lesser of two evils" still evil? Was it morally wrong to refuse to choose?

Here is what George said: "If you truth bomb Trump but go silent on Clinton, shame on you. If you truth bomb Clinton but go silent on Trump, shame on you. Whole truth!" In another salvo he added: "A ghastly choice for Catholics & others: One will taint and bring disgrace on our moral values. The other will wage unrelenting war on them."

With Election Day drawing near, George finally republished a note from June, pleading for charity in these arguments.

"Friends, we are in a terrible fix here. And it is putting some of us at each other's throats. It must not be permitted to do that. Donald Trump is dreadful. Hillary Clinton is horrible. One called for the killing of the innocent family members of terrorists. The other promises to protect the killing of unborn babies up to the point of birth," he wrote.

"For some of us, it just isn't obvious which of these two scoundrels would do greater harm in the long run," he argued. Whatever happens, those "who believe in limited government, constitutional fidelity and the Rule of law, flourishing institutions of civil society, traditional principles of morality, and the like are going to have profoundly important work to do. And we will need to do it together."

Yes, Republicans face what many are predicting will be a "civil war" between Trump insurgents and the party establishment, said George, to Mattingly. It's also hard to know what will happen to the religious right after some of its elders backed the New York billionaire to the bitter end, no matter how lurid the evidence of his wild past.

What really matters is what happens to people in traditional faiths, including activists who never fit into old organizations led, in most cases, by evangelical Protestants, he said. Do the math. It will be hard for the Washington, D.C., establishment to completely ignore conservative Catholics, Orthodox Jews, Southern Baptists, Eastern Orthodox Christians, traditional Muslims, Pentecostal Christians and others if they form coalitions on key issues.

According to George, it's not too late to make a "serious effort to combine religious groups into some kind of effort to defend religious liberty." The faithful in these faiths are "not going to flee to monasteries and abandon public life. ... If the Republican Party falls apart, then they will look for some other vehicle in the future, perhaps another political party that emerges out of the wreckage of this election. It has happened before."

*****

The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, has been called on to explain the mass dismissal of 30 volunteer bellringers. He has been challenged by a lawyer for David Potter, banned from ringing for life, who says the move is 'breach of natural justice'.

Sentamu, has been challenged to explain the dismissal of the bellringers from York Minster, amid claims the controversial move followed a long-running feud with the lead campanologist.

The lawyer for David Potter, who has been banned for life from ringing the famous bells, claimed the move by church officials amounted to a "breach of natural justice" and called on Sentamu to explain his claim that there was an ongoing inquiry into "safeguarding" issues at the cathedral.

Colin Byrne, of the law firm Howard & Byrne, said Sentamu's assertion contradicted a letter he received in September from a minster canon saying: "The matter is closed." The row comes after Potter and his 30-strong bellringing team were dismissed at short notice over safeguarding concerns, causing an outcry in York, where the bells will be silent until the New Year.

The mass dismissal has brought to the surface a 17-year-old saga that centers on Potter, a leading figure in the bellringing team, who was the subject of two police investigations following allegations made in 1999 and 2015. On neither occasion were charges brought. You can stories about this in today's digest.

*****

The head of the Russian Orthodox Churchattacked the Church of England's "liberalization" at a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury recently.

Patriarch Kirill raised "serious concerns" with Justin Welby over the Anglican Church's decision to ordain women and its increasingly modernist stance on sexuality and family values.

In a report after the meeting, Patriarch Kirill's press service said: "The patriarch drew the Archbishop of Canterbury's attention to the fact the Russian Orthodox Church is seriously concerned by the liberalization of the Church of England's teachings, particularly on the ordination of women as priests and bishops and on morals and family issues."

"His Holiness Kirill expressed hope that the Church of England will oppose challenges of the modern world and seek to preserve the Gospel's teaching," it added.

The Church of England did not mention the patriarch's comments in its own report of the meeting, although it did say the two men discussed "the challenge of proclaiming the Gospel of Christ in a secular culture". VOL has posted the official spin from Lambeth Palace in today's digest.

*****

The coming winter and changing attitudes on the part of some Dakota Access Pipeline project opponents and law enforcement officials near the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, are changing the US-based Episcopal Church's ministry in that part of North Dakota, writes Mary Frances Schjonberg.

Episcopalians have been driving church vans around the state, picking up protestors who had been arrested over the weekend. A planned camp move will put a winter protest camp close to an Episcopal church that will be able to bring even more services to campers.

Last weekend was a heated one near the proposed pipeline route. The Morton County Sheriff Department said that 126 people were arrested two days earlier for "illegal protest activities" during a day of often-violent encounters with those protesting the pipeline that will run under the Standing Rock Sioux' water supply, over its treaty lands and through some of its burial places. One person was arrested on Sunday, the department said, bringing the total number of arrests to 269 since the protest started on 10 August.

****

St. Paul's Church in Darien, Connecticut, a well-known charismatic Episcopal Church that once was the spiritual home of the late Terry Fullam, has a new rector following the retirement of the Rev. Christopher P. Leighton who was rector there from 1998.

He is The Rev. Canon Professor George Iype Kovoor, who started his term on October 1, 2016. He is an Indian missionary, pastor-teacher, a college president of two British universities at Birmingham and Bristol. He is an academic fellow of Berkeley College at Yale University. He is Chaplain to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Kovoor comes from the ancient orthodox church, established by the apostle Thomas 52 AD in India. He is from a distinguished family of Christian priests, educationalists, medical doctors and serving officers in the military. He is the son of an air force fighter pilot. He studied Politics, Philosophy and economics at the University of Delhi. He later studied theology and was ordained in Delhi as a minister of the Church of North India.

*****

Anglicans, Methodists and Baptists, Oh My! The American Anglican Council has taken and continues to take bold steps to "to build up and defend Great Commission Anglicans," writes Phil Ashey of the AAC. "The majority of our work is done with Anglicans. However, we occasionally branch out to work with brothers and sisters from other denominations," he writes

"In Washington DC, I met with leaders of the Common Ground Christian Network. The AAC helped launch this coalition of biblically faithful Anglicans, Methodists, Lutherans and Presbyterians several years ago both to stand together in the face of increasing secularism in North America, and to partner in Great Commission ministries. You can find our original theological manifesto, "Jesus Christ: Our Common Ground" here.

"In a few weeks the Common Ground Christian Network will send a "Pastoral Letter" to all of its members--including Anglicans--telling about a recent report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The report claims that faith groups are using religious freedom as a pretext for "discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any other form of intolerance." Translated: if the government decides Christians are not being "politically correct" in their public speech and actions, our sincerely and freely held Biblically based beliefs can be deemed mere discrimination and punished accordingly. This represents a dangerous step in the aggressive secularization of North America. The goal of the CGCN's letter will be to make our constituents more aware of growing threats to religious freedom and to encourage them to stand up for religious freedom for all. Know that the American Anglican Council, through its work in the Common Ground Christian Network, is leading this group and please pray for our efforts."

*****

AT SEWANEE, The University's School of Theology recently welcomed former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, as a speaker for the annual DuBose Lecture Series. Williams's discussions focused on the topic of Bonhoeffer Revisited: From Christology to Politics. He gave three talks: Modern Christology and the Reformation Legacy, Bonhoeffer's Christology--Christ for Me, and Bonhoeffer's Ethics: Representing Humanity in Christ. Later, Williams received an honorary Doctor of Divinity (D.D.) and he signed copies of his books.

How ironic. Williams gives lectures on Bonhoeffer, who, virtually alone, stood up to Hitler and for his defense of the faith was brutally murdered by the Nazi leader. By contrast, Williams showed zero courage in standing up for the faith against its homosexual despizers when he was the Anglican Communion's leader, instead retired eight years early to go into academia and got ripped for the way he ran the communion by the Archbishop of Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh, who accused him of running the Communion into the ground.

*****

Rwanda elects new bishop. The Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda (PEAR) has elected the Rev. Samuel Mugisha Mugiraneza as Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Shyira. His consecration will take place on March 5, 2017, at St John's Cathedral of Shyira in the Diocese in Musanze.

Mugiraneza, 45, was ordained a Deacon on 30th April 2000, and priest on 23rd December 2001. He served in the St Etienne Cathedral as Subdean until 2014; he is currently Pastor in-charge of Development in Shyira Diocese. He holds an M.A in Management from Maastricht School of Management in Netherlands, he also holds a Diploma in Theology from Uganda Christian University. He is currently a Doctor of Ministry Candidate (D.Min Candidate) in the Beeson Divinity School, Samford University. He is married to Jackie Mugisha and they have three children.

*****

Australia's faith communities should be allowed to help settle and provide care for those asylum seekers still being held in offshore detention centers on Nauru and Manus Island, the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) has said.

The Bishop of Oodthenong in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, Philip Huggins, is the president of the NCCA. In a joint statement with NCCA general secretary, Sister Elizabeth Delaney, he said this week: "Hospitality and compassion are shared core values of the major world religions, notwithstanding our many mistakes and failures.

"We are writing to the Prime Minister and Minister of Immigration and Border Protection, asking that they meet us so we can clarify how together we can co- operate to settle and care for these people."

*****

Pope Francis will travel to Lund, Sweden, next week to assist in the launch of a yearlong commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's nailing of his 95 theses to the door of the castle church of Wittenberg, on October 31, 1517, reports John-Henry Weston of Lifesite News.

In a lead-up event at the Vatican on October 13, the Pope received a group of 1,000 Lutherans and Catholics from Germany in the Vatican's Paul VI hall and addressed them from the stage, where a statue of Luther was erected. The sight came as a shock to many Catholics because Luther was excommunicated, and his theses rejected by Pope Leo X in 1520. The split he caused in Christianity remains as one of the most damaging in the Church's 2,000-year history.

At the meeting, Francis reinforced his admonition from earlier this month against converting people. Weeks after saying it is a "very grave sin against ecumenism" for Catholics to try to convert Orthodox Christians, Pope Francis told the pilgrims "it is not licit" to "convince [non-Christians] of your faith." In that meeting, the pope also offered a novel definition of "lukewarm," which, according to Pope Francis, is when Christians "are keen to defend Christianity in the West on the one hand but on the other are averse to refugees and other religions."

The word 'lukewarm' has significant meaning to Christians because of the words of Christ revealed in St. John's Revelation (3:15-16): "I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. But because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth." The common interpretation of the verses was to condemn the practice of picking and choosing among the Christ's teachings, rather than holding to all of them. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says, "Half-hearted commitment to the faith is nauseating to Christ."

***

Along with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, met the Pope recently to discuss unity between Anglicans and Catholics.

It's odd, writes Canadian orthodox blogger Samizdat, that Hiltz felt he needed to travel 7000kms to talk about a "united witness to the gospel" when he could have taken the GO train 30kms to talk about the same thing with Anglican Network in Canada leaders.

From the Anglican Journal, the official voice of the ACoC we learn this:

But there is a growing desire in both churches to see unity as more than an end in itself, said Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, reflecting on his recent trip to Rome.

"The unity of the church is not for the church itself, and if it is, we might as well stop talking," Hiltz said in an interview. "The unity of the church has to be in the interest of a common and faithful and united witness to the gospel, and the gospel is clearly for the world."

For further confirmation that the whole exercise was little more than a posturing sham, we need look no further than the fact that the latest divisive antics of the ACoC were not even discussed:

For example, the Anglican Church of Canada's move toward solemnizing the marriages of same-sex couples puts it at odds with Roman Catholic teachings on marriage. However, Hiltz said it was not an issue that came up for him or for any of the leaders of provinces that have made similar decisions.

"There was no kind of public calling into question the integrity of the Canadian church, or The Episcopal Church, or the Scottish Episcopal Church," he said. "The focus was elsewhere."

*****

On another note, The Anglican Church of Canada has produced a report on The Theology of Money, in which it denounces capitalism, a system that, apparently, is mired in "structural sin". In its place, the report seems to be proposing Marxism branded with the stamp of ecclesiastical imprimatur.

"This would all be a little less risible if the senior ACoC clergy eager to impose economic strictures on the rest of us, earned less than six figures annually themselves. But, then, as a group of literary pigs have noted: all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others," writes David of Samizdat.

"I remember a number of years ago attending a meeting where Fred Hiltz, speaking in his usual soporific monotone, became almost animated when announcing some wonderful news: not that revival had visited the ACoC, but that a major donation was on the horizon, a bequest from a dead -- even more dead than usual -- Anglican, as I recall.

"Of course, Western civilization is obsessed with money and its acquisition but it's not the system that's at fault, it's the people living in the system: us. That includes (I do like to be inclusive) clergy and a church that is forever begging for financial support."

*****

The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, has launched a social media campaign promoting self-esteem for young people.

Pupils from All Saint's Academy in Cheltenham helped to launch the #liedentity campaign.

As part of the campaign, students were asked if there was anything they did not like about their bodies, and those body parts were digitally removed from photographs.

However, Lora Park, Ph.D., a self-esteem researcher and associate professor of psychology at the University of Buffalo. says the more concerned we are with raising our self-esteem, the greater the risk that we may become consumed by securing proof of our lovability, attractiveness, professional or academic prowess, or any other quality upon which we might base our status. That's all fine and good, so long as we're getting positive feedback in these arenas. "But when you base your self-worth on external things, you'll likely perceive 'failure' in those things as an indictment of your value as a person," she says.

*****

A Church of England disciplinary tribunal has strongly criticized the behavior of a Manx Anglican priest. The hearing in Douglas has concluded Dr. Jules Gomes had an over-inflated view of his self-importance, lost his temper and displayed anger - even with those who supported him.

The tribunal, held over three days in the Island last week, found that Dr. Gomes had caused serious harm to people, making them leave their offices or his church.

Of course Gomes, does not accept the church's jurisdiction over him since resigning earlier this year, and wasn't present for the short announcement at St. Ninian's Church, where a summary of the tribunal's findings was read out by its chairman, Geoffrey Tattersall QC.

So, no sex outside of marriage, (straight or gay); no money scandal, no "safeguarding" (sex with a minor), no violation of any canon, no doctrinal violation! Dr. Gomes resigns and leaves his parish and takes 90% of the parish with him to form a new independent Anglican church and leaves behind 15 old people with an average age of 70! Makes you wonder what the CofE is coming too. For the record I hardly know a priest who doesn't have an "over-inflated view of themselves."

*****

A church in Israel built where Christians believe the transfiguration of Jesus took place, has been vandalized, with chalices stolen, icons damaged and a donation box robbed, an official said.

Church officials believe the motive for Monday's incident was robbery and not Jewish extremism, which has been blamed for previous vandalism at Christian sites in Israel, said Wadie Abunassar, a spokesman for bishops in the Holy Land.

Abunassar could not say how many chalices were stolen from the Basilica of the Transfiguration or how much money from the donation box had been taken. Communion bread had also been thrown on the ground.

No graffiti was painted on the church as usually occurs with vandalism by extremists, Abunassar said. A report has been made with police.

The church is located on Mount Tabor in the Galilee region of northern Israel, where Christians believe Jesus became radiant and spoke with Moses and Elijah.

*****

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