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Archbishop Welby Calls for Meeting of Anglican Primates*Obama Invites Gay Episcopal Bishop to White House Papal Visit*Holy Trinity Anglican opens with 500 in Raleigh, NC*Nigerian Anglican Primate Okoh visits CANA churches in U.S.

Anglicanism: the final frontier. These are the prophetic voyages of Justin Welby. His continuing mission: to explore strange new reconciliations; to seek out new wine and new creations; to boldly go where no archbishop has gone before...at least since the Reformation. --- Archbishop Cranmer Blog

I left Islam because I studied Muhammad's life. I accepted the Gospel because I studied Jesus' life. --- Nabeel Qureshi

In my opinion, it is time to separate the two aspects of marriage. To fulfill the legal aspects, the parties should get a state-issued marriage license, and be joined by a justice of the peace, or other official. To fulfill the sacramental aspects, the couple should consult with their priest or minister, go through instruction, and receive the blessing of the Church in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. This, I believe, would provide the opportunity to emphasize that the State contract and the Church's sacrament are not the same. --- Anonymous

I thought the initial news report [from Archbishop Welby] was surreal. It's almost Twilight Zoneish. The answer, of course, is Biblical orthodoxy, but the ABC isn't interested in that answer, so they're looking for another but it can't be found. The Communion is guaranteed to break and the ABC just set the timetable. --- Rev. Michael Fry

The mediator of God. Instinctively we know that we cannot box God up in any conceptual framework of our own devising, and that if we think we have succeeded in doing so, then what we have in our box is not God. Our little minds cannot conceive him, let alone contain him. '"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways" declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts"' (Is. 55:8-9). Even the fleeting glimpses we catch of him as he passes by in moments of ecstasy or pain, of beauty or wonder, of goodness or love, leave us tantalized by the fullness of the Reality beyond. Yet these glimpses are themselves a form of 'mediation'. For they are declarations of God through the glories of heaven and earth, through the intricate mechanisms of nature, through the complexities of the human situation in its combination of nobility and degradation, and through the whole range of our responses to it. These 'mediations' leave us dissatisfied, however. They point to heights we cannot scale, to depths we cannot fathom. We need a mediation that is at once more concrete, more personal, more genuinely human. In a word, we need Jesus Christ. For however rich the reality we have ever seen or felt or thought or suspected, apart from Jesus Christ, God remains the Infinitely Beyond. Only once has this Beyond come personally into our midst, when the Eternal Word of God actually became a human being and lived among us. Only then did human eyes behold true 'glory' in human form, the radiance of ultimate personal reality, 'the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father' (Jn. 1:14). --- John R.W. Stott

Dear Brothers and sisters
www.virtueonline.org
September 18, 2015

He dropped it like a bombshell on the Anglican Communion on Wednesday. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby proposed a way forward for the Communion to effectively dissolve the fractious and bitterly divided worldwide Anglican Communion and replace it with a much looser grouping.

Welby has summoned all of the 38 leaders of the national churches of the Anglican Communion to a meeting in Canterbury, next January, where he will propose that the communion be reorganized as a group of churches that are all linked to Canterbury, but not necessarily to each other.

He believes that the communion -- notionally the third largest Christian body in the world with 80 million members, after the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox - has become impossible to hold together due to arguments over power and sexuality and has, for the last 20 years, been completely dysfunctional.

A Lambeth Palace source said on Wednesday the Archbishop felt he could not leave his eventual successor in the same position of "spending vast amounts of time trying to keep people in the boat and never actually rowing it anywhere."

Welby believes that his proposal would allow him to maintain relations both with the liberal churches of North America, which recognize and encourage gay marriage, and the African churches, led by Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria, who eschew sodomy as biblically and culturally unacceptable in their countries.

One of the most contentious aspects of the meeting is the decision to invite the Rt. Rev. Foley Beach, head of the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA), for part of the time. He said he would go if the GAFCON archbishops attend.

Both will be able to call themselves "Anglican," but there will no longer be any pretense that this involves a common discipline or doctrine.

Asked whether this represented, if not a divorce, a legal separation, a Lambeth source replied, "It's more like sleeping in separate bedrooms." I have commented on this in today's digest.

You can read several stories on this momentous announcement in today's digest.

*****

President Obama will apparently test just how far Pope Francis' notorious tolerance will go by inviting a rogue's gallery of people opposed to Catholic teaching to greet the pontiff at the White House during his visit next week.

In a stunning show of political indecorum, Obama has invited a series of individuals who publicly flout Catholic teaching, including a pro-abortion religious sister, a transgender woman, and the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, along with at least two Catholic gay activists.

The White House was illuminated in gay pride colors on June 26, 2015, after the Supreme Court legalized gay same-sex marriage.

One of the invitees, retired Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, made history by becoming the first openly gay episcopal bishop in 2003 and subsequently the first to divorce his gay partner in 2014, after having previously separated from his wife of 14 years. He has attended a number of religious events with the Obama administration, offering a prayer at President Obama's inauguration in 2009 and taking part in the 2014 National Prayer Breakfast.

Mateo Williamson, a cross-dressing woman and former co-chairman of the Transgender Caucus for Dignity USA, has also received an invitation to the White House for Pope Francis' visit. Williamson says that even though she now thinks of herself as a man, she continues to be attracted to males. "Today I identify as a gay man and before that was difficult to understand because I thought that in order to be transgender, in order to be a transgender male that I had to be attracted to females but I never have throughout my entire life."

You can read several stories and a commentary on this issue in today's digest.

*****

The Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh, Archbishop, Metropolitan and primate of All Nigeria, visited the United States in August spending time with CANA bishops and participating in the life of three congregations in the Missionary Diocese of CANA East. All CANA bishops are affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America.

Despite the fact that the Anglican Province of Nigeria and the Episcopal Church USA are both provinces of the Anglican Communion, Okoh did not pay courtesy calls on either Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori or Virginia Episcopal Bishop Shannon Johnston, nor did he visit the Bishop of Central Florida, Greg Brewer, an evangelical, when he went to Orlando! He also did not visit the Episcopal Bishop of Chicago Jeffrey Lee when he visited there!

All this speaks volumes.

The Primate worshiped at St. Augustine of Canterbury Church in Leesburg, Virginia, where he shared his powerful testimony of conversion to Christ. (Does Shannon Johnston have such a conversion to tell us?) The primate also visited Glory of God Anglican Church, Cocoa, FL, where he met with members of the congregation and witnessed the weekly distribution of food to the community. While in Florida, Redeemer Anglican Church in Orlando hosted a reception for the Primate and his entourage where the Primate addressed the challenges faced by Christians in Nigeria and spoke about the current circumstances within the Anglican Communion. In Chicago, The Primate also met with The Ven. Patrick Malone from Holy Cross, Wisconsin, and members of his team.

All this says that we have a de facto split in the Communion even if it is not de jure. Archbishop Okoh's actions signify that he will have no truck with an heretical church that embraces gay marriage, and snubs its nose at Lambeth resolution 1:10 while insisting on going its way, tearing the fabric of the communion with even deeper gashes.

IN OTHER NEWS, CANA/ACNA Bishop Julian Dobbs is raising funds for church planting in the diocese by running the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. on Sunday October 25, 2015. You can sponsor Bishop Julian by clicking on this link to support church planting in The Missionary Diocese of CANA East. www.RunBishopRun.com

*****

More than 500 people flocked to worship Sunday at Holy Trinity Anglican the first new church campus to open in downtown Raleigh, NC, in more than half a century. Holy Trinity is a member of the Anglican Church in North America.

The crowds arrived early; the building buzzed as members took the opportunity to explore every inch of the new facility. That energy soon filled the sanctuary where the voice of Rev. John Yates III boomed out over a powerful speaker system.

"The first thing I want to say this morning is: 'Welcome home,'" he announced, before asking those gathered to address God individually in prayer.

At that point, the church fell silent for a few moments as heads bowed and hands clasped in prayer. Then, suddenly and stunningly, the orchestra replaced the quiet with music and bid everyone to rise for the first hymn: "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty."

That sense of exuberance ran throughout service, and most of the Bible verses and hymns conveyed feelings of gratitude toward God. In his sermon, Yates preached the Gospel and made clear what they had really come to celebrate.

"We're here to worship Jesus, who chose to become one of us -- not to prove something to us or demand something of us -- but in order to rescue us," he said.

You can read the full story in today's digest.

*****

I thought I had heard it all, but no there are always new surprises. This one is from Church of the Ascension in Glen Ellyn, IL. In addition to having Alcoholics anonymous, AARP, TAIZÉ Service, and Barney's Book Babes, the church now sponsors something called Emotions Anonymous. I kid you not. The congregation has an attendance that has averaged 100 to 140 over the last 10-years. About 70 percent of the church is over 55, while 30 percent are younger. Clearly the church needs more young people with emotional problems.

*****

Americans are leaving religion. Why are we still subsidizing it? David Niose of the WASHINGTON POST says arguments for taxing churches have been around for many years, but there is reason to believe that America's changing religious demographics will soon give them more traction. As more Americans abandon organized religion, many of the newly secular are unsympathetic to subsidizing religion via the tax code.

Recent polling shows that almost one in four Americans, and more than one-third of those aged 18 to 33, now claim no religious affiliation. Back when virtually everyone subscribed to a religious faith (the unaffiliated number has polled in the single digits for most of the 20th century) an across-the-board tax break for all religions was arguably fair -- or at least inoffensive. But times have changed, and so have attitudes about the extraordinary perks that churches enjoy.

Perhaps the most egregious example of religious privilege under the tax code is the so-called parsonage exemption. Under current tax law, "ministers of the gospel" may deduct virtually all costs associated with housing from their income. At its worst, the exemption subsidizes the unseemly: televangelists enjoying multimillion-dollar estates on the taxpayer dime. But even in a more ordinary context, the allowance represents an indefensible benefit running to organized religion, subsidized by taxpayers.

Another gratuity to churches is the real estate tax exemption, which denies cash-strapped municipalities revenue that could be used for public safety, road repairs, and other services. Like everyone else in town, churches benefit from services provided by municipal governments, but in most areas are exempt from property taxation simply because they are churches.

Some will defend this extraordinary handout by arguing that churches do much good through charity work. Even if this were true -- and it certainly isn't the case for every church -- it hardly justifies tax exemption. Many individuals and corporations "do good" as well but still pay their property taxes.

*****

There are six street names that will be changed if New Orleans' Historical Monuments are removed.

Pretty soon, even locals in New Orleans will not know how to get around the city. With the prospects of any and all historical monuments related to the Confederacy being removed, the purge of history will not stop there.

If the monuments do come down, famous New Orleans street names will be the next to go. In fact, Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans will probably not be happy until all traces of the Civil War are removed from the city.

Here's a prominent one for Episcopalians: Polk Street.

Polk St. is near the 17th Street Canal. It is already being targeted for renaming by some city officials. Gen. Leonidas Polk was a general in the Confederate army and served as the Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana.

*****

The kidnappers of a Nigerian Anglican bishop, abducted near the capital Abuja, have asked for a ₦40 million Nigerian Naira (£130,259-UK; $200,788-US; €177,610-Euro) ransom for his safe release.

It is believed that Rt. Rev Moses Bukpe-Tabwayen, Bishop of Gwagwalada, was abducted in Edo state as he was travelling from Abuja to Onitsha, Anambra state on September 3. His car was found just outside Abuja.

A source in the US has said no ransom had been paid.

*****

Professor killed in Mississippi shooting was a parishioner at Calvary Episcopal in Cleveland It has been confirmed that the professor killed in the shooting at Delta State University is Dr. Ethan Schmidt, a parishioner at Calvary Church in Cleveland. Please keep Calvary's rector, The Rev. Sylvia Czarnetzky, the congregation, the community, and Dr. Schmidt's family in your prayers.

The suspected shooter, Shannon Lamb, also an instructor at Delta State, is dead after an apparent suicide. It is believed he also shot and killed Amy Prentiss, with whom he had been living.

*****

Falls Church Episcopal is trying to revive its fortunes since they got the parish back from Rev. John Yates and the ACNA. The new rector is John Ohmer.

You can read what he has to say here.

"How can a small congregation support such a large facility?

"We got the property back in 2012, but the court case wasn't settled until 2014, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case. So, not only was the property tied up during that time, but when the split first happened, the financial resources of all those departing congregations were frozen as well.

"One of the consequences of the court case being settled was that the financial resources that the church had at the time of the split were now returned to the church. So that's been helping us get through these years where our size is not yet to the size it needs to be to pay for the facilities."

Note that he dodges the question if anyone who left the church has come back. Instead he says, "The vast majority of our growth has been people who have discovered us, new people."

You can read the full story here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/rector-of-episcopal-church-reflects-on-rebuilding/2015/09/15/ce3c1e26-5bb9-11e5-9757-e49273f05f65_story.html

*****

The unravelling of Michael Coren's ball of wool. Canadian blogger Samizdat writes this about a prominent Roman Catholic writer and author who departed for the Anglican Church of Canada:

"Having departed the Roman Catholic Church for the Anglican Church of Canada, Michael Coren, once the darling of the right, has consummated his liberal metamorphosis by writing an article for the Anglican Journal.

"Not wishing the favor to be reciprocated, I will refrain from attempting a Coren psychoanalysis, something that others have been unable to resist, speculating that he is suffering from mental problems - a contention that may yet be fulfilled as he intends to become a priest in the ACoC.

"I hesitated to write this article since I think Coren is a decent, kind and generous man; and that may be part of why he has taken a diametrically opposite view of so many things he once claimed to believe, starting with same-sex marriage or, to use the cliche he used to deride, equal marriage. He has offered no new arguments to support his newly enlighten state, preferring instead, to rehash the transparently nonsensical gibberish that the liberal churches have been churning out for decades.

"I suspect his kindness towards his gay friends has resulted in a foggy sentimentality that has overwhelmed his capacity to think clearly. That and, perhaps, rebellion resulting from an innate perversity that causes a person to eventually turn against any organisation to which he belongs once he finds himself surrounded by people who agree with him.

"Coren was a strong supporter of my church and the other parishes that left the ACoC over the blessing of same-sex marriages, a stand that he would now categorise as homophobic. During a debate on his old CTS TV program between Diocese of Niagara and ANiC clergy, one of the Diocesan clergy wanted to bring up the issue of homophobia; Coren would not allow it (the request occurred in a break) because, he said, it would shut down discussion. Coren himself now uses the word to produce that result.

"Ironically, he once suggested that I consider the Roman Catholic Church, an idea I turned down even in the unlikely event that they would have me. It wouldn't have been a total loss, I suppose: I could have started a new blog - RC Samizdat. I asked him some time ago - before he became a Catholic - why he didn't become an Anglican; "because I get tired of arguing with atheists in the pulpit" was his reply. He must feel more comfortable with that now.

"Michael Coren now declares that he is an Anglo Catholic; I doubt that he will feel at home as such for more than a decade or so. I'm quite sure this doesn't apply to Coren, but I keep thinking about the comment in Brideshead Revisited, made to Charles by his cousin Jasper on beginning university: 'Beware of the Anglo-Catholics--they're all sodomites with unpleasant accents.'"

*****

Today, Anglicans are rebuilding a faithful, Christ-centered denomination in theAnglican Church in North America, but the challenges are many, writes Archbishop Foley Beach.

"In the past year, the American Anglican Council has held eight Church revitalization workshops in the dioceses of Cascadia, Quincy, Ft. Worth, and the Diocese of the Southwest, as well as hired a Director of Church Revitalization. They have worked directly with 75 clergy, teaching them at their Clergy Leadership Training Institute. The AAC also held Lay Leadership Institutes in the Diocese of San Joaquin, training 115 lay leaders.

"I'm writing to you not only as the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, but also as a Trustee of the American Anglican Council. I'm privileged to have first-hand knowledge of the AAC's ministry and work. Like Nehemiah, the American Anglican Council, with God's help, seeks to gather, equip and deploy leaders to rebuild and strengthen the foundations of the church."

*****

Optimism descends upon the Diocese of Niagara, not, needless to say, because they are bringing more people to Christ but because they have more money, writes Samizdat.

The diocese opined, "The past decade has not been an easy one for the diocese of Niagara. Beset by financial woes, theological divisions over the place of gays and lesbians in the church and a series of lawsuits from parishes that left the diocese to join the breakaway Anglican Network in Canada, diocesan leadership has faced challenging times.

"But these days, its leaders are cautiously optimistic about the diocese's future. For one, a settlement with the Anglican Network reached in 2012 has ended crippling lawsuits and left parish buildings from three breakaway churches in the hands of the diocese."

To clarify one point: "a series of lawsuits from parishes that left the diocese" should read "a series of lawsuits initiated by the diocese against parishes that left the diocese."

*****

Anglican Bishop of Tasmania John Harrower is retiring from his position at St John's Anglican Church, Devonport this month after 15 years as the 11th Anglican Bishop of Tasmania. The outgoing bishop commented, "It's reading the book of your context today and it's reading the Bible. You've got to read the context you're in and you've got to read Christ. I often say to people when they say 'Christians should be reading the Bible', 'well, Christians should be reading the newspaper.'"

Bishop Harrower said marrying the two texts has been most difficult on the issue of asylum seekers.

The bishop has also been forward on addressing the issue of sexual abuse within the church. Two years into his appointment in 2002, Bishop Harrower called for a royal commission.

"When I came here it was just becoming obvious that some things had gone wrong so in part one of the first things I did in my first five years was clean out some dirty cupboards and I think people have responded to that; in fact the Anglican Church in Tasmania led Australia in many ways."

Bishop Harrower also provided counsel during a splintering of the Devonport parish in 2009.

Some members of the parish formed a breakaway congregation at Don after attempts by an incoming priest to attract younger members discomfited some of the flock. However, the group is not officially recognized as a parish by the Anglican Church.

*****

A female Church of England vicar has won Funeral Celebrant of the Year at the Good funeral Awards. The Rev. Juliet Stephenson was awarded Funeral Celebrant of the Year - the only Church of England vicar among 11 nominees in the category.

"Being a vicar, a huge amount of my time is spent with families coming to terms with the loss of a loved one. I do just what every other Church of England vicar does; I get alongside, I listen, I help them celebrate and I help them cry. All of this is done whilst holding their story within the greater story of God and the hope of salvation."

The Church of England hosted a pop-up GraveTalk event at the show - a national resource to help churches get people talking about death and dying - in a yurt. I kid you not. It's hard to satirize this stuff. Impossible to replicate.

*****

More than 240 Iranians were baptized last week in two large celebrations in the Iran region. A further 16 were baptized in a smaller service, and about 200 more will soon be baptized at a fourth celebration. We praise God for every Iranian who has been baptized recently.

Seven friends, who were there to support those being baptized, responded to a call to submit their lives to Christ for the first time at one of last week's celebrations. These large baptism services are joyful day-long gatherings, with sessions of worship, preaching, prayer for the nation of Iran, Holy Communion and shared meals.

One of the baptisms followed a conference which the entire church attended; the theme of unity threaded through all the teaching, and encouraged the church greatly. Source: Elam Ministries

*****

Office Depot's CEO apologized to Maria Goldstein after an Office Depot in Schaumburg, Illinois, refused to make copies of her pro-life flier.

The CEO of Office Depot has apologized for a store's refusal to print a pro-life flier. The office supply store received complaints of religious discrimination from customers after its rejection of the flier.

Maria Goldstein, a Roman Catholic, ordered 500 copies of a pro-life flier to be handed out at her parish from an Office Depot in Schaumburg, Illinois.

The flier included statistics about Planned Parenthood's services and taxpayer funding, and a prayer titled "Prayer for the Conversion of Planned Parenthood," by Fr. Frank Pavone, the national director of Priests for Life and the author of "Abolishing Abortion."

According to the Thomas More Society, an organization providing legal assistance to Goldstein, she was told by an Office Depot employee that the store was unable to print her order due to "corporate policy" and that her order would not be filled. The employee added that Goldstein could use the self-service copy machines in the store to print her flier.

Goldstein said that she felt Office Depot had discriminated against her based on her religious beliefs. The Thomas More Society sent a letter to the company on her behalf.

On Friday, the CEO issued an apology to Goldstein.

*****

Next week I will be involved in the Pope's visit to Philadelphia. Your prayers are sought. I am used to crowds, but milling around with 2 million people in a confined space can be a bit claustrophobic. I look forward to meeting old friends like Rick Warren at the Family Synod occasion. He will be delivering a paper on What Must we Do? an evangelical perspective. Some ACNA folk will be present and I look forward to meeting them.

*****

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In Christ,

David

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