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Bishop Bruno Suspended * Episcopal Church Continues to Decline * Church of England Synod crosses line * Schism inevitable says Synod Layman * Union not Panacea says Continuing ACA Archbishop * ACANZP Report on Same-Sex Marriage Flawed

Jesus and the young. The young, with their strong loathing for the unauthentic, quickly detect any dichotomy between the church and its founder. Jesus has never ceased to attract them. They see him as the radical he was, impatient with the traditions of the elders and the conventions of society, a merciless critic of the religious Establishment. They like that. But the church? Somehow it seems to them to have lost the 'smell' of Christ. So many vote -- with their feet. They get out. --- John R.W. Stott

We need to be faithful to our first and true calling. We don't need reform. We need renewal. --- Fr. Dwight Longenecker

"I do not think there are many among Bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish." --- St. John Chrysostom, Extract from St. John Chrysostom, Homily III on Acts 1:12.

ON TEC: Having abandoned anything to do with orthodox Christianity, we find that we have made ourselves completely irrelevant. If we spin our theological and financial bankruptcy as a sign of our virtue, maybe we won't look so bad. --- Rod Dreher

"Sin is not a characteristic of a particular group of people. Sin is the same for all of us. And the challenge to take onto ourselves the obligation to be yoked with Christ, to bear the load he gives us, is the same for all of us." --- Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu

Dear Brothers and Sisters
www.virtueonline.org
July 25, 2017

Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno got his, this week, when the long-time bully received a scathing 91-page order of a Hearing Panel of bishops that voted to suspend him. The blistering report highlighted a career of venality and behavior that just stopped short of seeing him tossed out of the Episcopal Church forever. He will not be deposed, (that's only reserved for adulterers apparently). He did get support from the conservative bishop of North Dakota, the Rt. Rev. Michael G. Smith, who said (property issues) like this should not go to secular courts, but be resolved internally as the Apostle Paul said they should be.

He is right. But Bruno's sins are way deeper than a property dispute. He's a pig, a bully, a hater of orthodoxy that saw him toss out the godly evangelical, Rev. Richard Crocker (and 80% of his congregation) from St. James the Great, long before Canon Cindy Voorhees got her hands on the property. Furthermore, getting a suspension for three years from a job that he was already slated to leave by the end of the year is disingenuous at best.

One magazine said the order "painted a sustained, meticulous, and devastating picture of the sixth bishop of Los Angeles." Indeed, it does. Bruno got a three-year 'get lost' card. The truth is, we will not hear from him again. If he thinks he can get any kind of job after three years, he should ask Bishop Stacy Sauls, former TEC COO on how he is doing finding a job. He can't even find a small parish. You'll recall he got fired by PB Michael Curry in a shake-up at 815 and is suing the Church for more money and, presumably, his tattered reputation.

Even if Bruno appeals, it is irrelevant. His successor as Bishop of Los Angeles, the Rt. Rev. John Harvey Taylor, was consecrated as the diocese's bishop coadjutor on July 8 and is already up and running.

Bishop Bruno's opportunity to appeal will begin after the Hearing Panel issues the final order. Bruno's three-year suspension will not begin until sentence is pronounced by the president of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, the Rt. Rev. Catherine M. Waynick, retired Bishop of Indianapolis. The canons (IV.17.6) specify that sentence must be pronounced not less than 40 and not more than 60 days after the order is issued, but that clock will stop if Bruno appeals.

Any way you cut it, it is over for the bully of LA...and all the millions he lost in lawsuits.

A very reliable "inside" source told VOL that the L.A. diocese is in financial crisis and faces total collapse within 12 months and that is why Bruno desperately tried to close the property deal.

The good news, if there is any, is that Voorhees will probably get her church back, but not the original congregation who left years ago for greener spiritual pastures.

*****

The decisions taken in the February and July 2017 sessions of the Church of England General Synod crossed a line never before reached, writes Dr. Chik Kaw Tan a member of General Synod. "Its failure to take note of the definition of marriage as that between 'one man and one woman in lifelong commitment, its embrace of key LGBT agenda (banning so-called 'conversion therapy' for unwanted same-sex attraction, liturgy to mark a person's gender transition) has caused serious consternation, anger and anxiety in the Church of England, and beyond."

It was the scale of defeat of orthodoxy in the July sessions that is most shocking, he writes.

He thinks that within the next 3-7 years, three tumultuous and tragic events will occur:

1.There will be a major split in the Church of England over sexuality issues. Even the Archbishop of Canterbury is, apparently, willing and ready to accept that.

2. There will be deep division between the orthodox who choose to remain in the Church of England and those who choose to leave (whilst remaining Anglican within the Anglican Communion or leaving the denomination entirely)

3. There will be a more formalized split in the global Anglican Communion, along with the continuing re-alignment between the orthodox across all Christian denominations.

As if to reinforce the possibility of a split, was the emergence of some 20 strong evangelical voices including bishops, clergy and laity, which argued that the recent actions in the General Synod was little more than a pursuit of a culture which denies biblical ethics, as they have been practiced and understood 'at all places and in all times' and has caused many Anglicans great concern.

"There are times, particularly in the face of social disintegration, when it is the duty of the Church to be counter-cultural. The failure of the House of Bishops to uphold the teaching of the Bible and of the Universal Church in this area is very disappointing, if not surprising.

"The booing of traditionalists and the levels of personal abuse aimed at them during the General Synod has only deepened mistrust between the different sides.

"There are now effectively, at least, two opposed expressions of Anglicanism in this country. One which has capitulated to secular values, and one that continues to hold the faith 'once delivered to the saints'."

There you have it. If this is not the loudest and clearest voices hammering at Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu, they have to be the blindest, deafest and dumbest leaders on God's green earth.

Of course, all this is grist for the GAFCON mill. They are watching all this playing out in the CofE and you can be sure that GAFCON chairman and Nigerian primate, Nicholas Okoh, will have something to say about all this in his August letter.

The twenty signers concluded this; "We and others stand with the majority of faithful Anglican across the globe, in prioritizing Scripture and the unanimous teaching of the universal Church over secular fashion. We note the results of this same conflict in North America, even as we look for and pray for a similar renewal of orthodox Anglicanism and of Anglican structures in these islands."

If the CofE continues to appear to be shaped more by its surrounding culture than theology and particularly if its bishops fail to clearly teach the sexual ethic supported by the wider Communion...then it may be that the ACNA Synod will come to be seen as representing an even more seismic shift than that which some hope and others fear occurred at General Synod, concluded one blogger.

One hopes that someone in Lambeth Palace is reading all this and slipping a note to Justin Welby with his morning coffee.

*****

The steady drip, drip, drip of sodomite inclusion in the Church of England continues apace. Rochester Cathedral is exploring establishing an LGBTI+ friendly Eucharist and social/pastoral support group for some members of the congregation, and as a wider offering to the diocese of Rochester as a whole.

A provisional date has been arranged for Wednesday 18 October at 6pm. Organized by Joel Love -- had to look him up: He's vicar of St Peter's Rochester -- the parish in which the cathedral sits. Presumably he's also organizing it with the consent / support of the Dean and Chapter.

Anybody who thinks that it is all not going to come apart are deluding themselves. The CofE is going down the same pathway as TEC and the ACoC and only a fool would say otherwise.

*****

The Episcopal Church continues to slide into irrelevancy with figures showing further decline of the dying denomination.

The Episcopal Church lost almost a quarter of its members from 1986 to 2010, within the context of a rapidly rising population. Between 2010 and 2015, TEC's baptized membership dropped further by 172,000 to 1,779,335, meaning the overall drop in membership from 1980 to 2015 was on the order of 30%.

This and other findings were made by Dr. Jeremy Bonner, a Durham-based researcher, and reported by David Goodhew for Covenant, the weblog of The Living Church in a no holds barred look at the decline of The Episcopal Church.

During the 1990s, average Sunday attendance was relatively stable, but from around 2000, serious decline set in. This has continued and TEC's average Sunday attendance dropped by nearly one third between 2000 and 2015, from 857,000 in 2000 to 579,780 by 2015. While there is some regional variation, substantial decline has been happening across the country.

The rate of baptism has been cut almost in half over a thirty-year period. But the rate of decline has steepened. Child baptisms increased slightly in the early 1980s, then declined dramatically from around 1990. That decline has continued since 2010. In 2000, TEC baptized 46,603 children, but new numbers show that in 2015, TEC baptized 24,069 children, nearly half the number baptized in 2000.

Adult baptism's decline was even more striking. In 2015, 3,305 adults were baptized by TEC, less than half the number of adults TEC baptized in 2000: 7,231.

TEC has started only 12 churches in recent years, compared to the ACNA which starts, on average, one new church plant every week. You can read more about this in today's digest. 2016 figures are due out in September. Whatever the numbers show, one thing is certain, TEC is rapidly descending to 500,000 Average Sunday Attendance.

*****

AS TEC prepares for General Convention in 2018, the following was sent out to all attendees from the Office of Public Affairs: The House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church has issued a press release seeking input from church leaders on the work of the Church Pension Fund and the work of individual congregations in areas of social justice.

"The State of the Church committee is canonically mandated to prepare a report on the state of the Episcopal Church for the House of Deputies, which we send to the House of Bishops after we have approved it," says the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies. "Based on the concerns I've heard raised in my conversations with deputies and other leaders at General Convention and as I travel around the church, in 2015 I asked the group to focus on the state of the church in three specific areas: multicultural ministries, justice and advocacy ministries, and the Church Pension Fund."

There is a distinct omission of any mention of the gospel that promises to change peoples' lives. Of course, there is concern for "multicultural ministries" that they hope will rope in Hispanics and other disparate groups, but what's the Church selling these folks? Many will be divorced Catholics who still want to have holy communion. "Justice and Advocacy" groups of which there are an endless number will be largely ignored by a government that is to the right of Attila the Hun, and the Church Pension Fund, which has a cool $13 billion, faces several thousand retiring clergy in the next 3 years, could be a wee bit overwhelmed.

*****

Columnist Rod Dreher has written a brilliant piece on why TEC is failing. The Mass. based Episcopal Divinity School announced it was closing its doors and you might ask why. With courses like Liberating Bible Interpretations, Antiracist, and White Identity: Approaches to Reading Scripture; Feminist Theories and Theologizing and Challenging the Liturgical Traditions, Postcolonial, and Queer Perspectives, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure why the seminary collapsed. The seminary was briefly led by a lesbian priest who championed abortion, which tells you even more.

Dreher had this to say; "If I were a billionaire, I would buy the EDS buildings in Cambridge, Mass., and turn them over to the Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria. After an exorcism, naturellement."
You can read his Spin of the Year story here: http://www.virtueonline.org/spin-year

*****

"Union is not a panacea", writes Archbishop Mark Haverland, Metropolitan of the Anglican Catholic Church. Writing in the latest issue of The Trinitarian, he said that while efforts in the matter of the Continuing Church unification are "very hopeful and in and of themselves worth undertaking", such efforts, however, do not relieve us of the duty to grow our own parishes and improve the pastoral and organizational skills of our clergy. The progress we are making should help. It will not solve all problems." A reunified Continuing Church movement is not a panacea, he said.

*****

A CofE evangelical theologian, Martin Davie, has identified "serious problems" with The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (ACANZP) report on same-sex church blessings.

A review of the Interim Report of the Motion 29 Working Group is seriously flawed says the theologian.

"The Motion 29 Working group was a group of six people set up by the Anglican Church in Aotearoea, New Zealand and Polynesia (ACANZP) following the failure of its 2016 meeting of the General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui (GSTHW) to find a common view on whether it would be right to permit the blessing in church of same-sex couples who had previously entered into a civil marriage...as the report goes on to say, the Working Group's mandate was neither to consider the differing theological positions on the blessing of same-sex couples, nor to look at the teaching of Scripture in relation to this issue. Instead the Group was asked to consider... what arrangements and safeguards could be put in place to hold us together within the same ecclesial family so that no one was forced to compromise sincerely held beliefs. We were asked to find structural solutions which would hold our Church together in that unity which Christ expressed, and which He has gifted to us.' [...]

Davie critiqued the idea of holding differing convictions over the blessings of same sex couples advocated by one liberal priest as "a beautiful Anglican accommodation" to be largely fictional.

He cites seven serious problems with this report which mean that it would unwise for ACANZP to accept its recommendations or for those in the Church of England to see it as a model to imitate. You can read his full report here: http://www.ceec.info/

*****

The Anglican Bishop of Jamaica, Howard Gregory, has called for the legalization of sodomy and has broken ranks with many fellow Christian leaders in the region. He has urged the removal of the offence of sodomy from the law. He has also recommended a widening of the definition of rape and the recognition of marital rape.

In a written submission to the committee examining the Sexual Offences Act and related laws in which he emphasized that his views were personal, Gregory likened his position to that of the executed German Christian leader Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who had argued that the aim of the Church is not 'that the authorities make Christian policies, Christian laws and so on, but that they be proper authorities in the sense of their special commission'.

The Jamaica Gleaner reported that Gregory believes that the State should not waste time with a referendum on the sodomy law, and instead should simply strike it from the books.

Gregory cautioned that he was not advocating the legalization of same-sex marriage, and said "sexual activity engaged in public spaces is illegal and should continue to be so, whether of a heterosexual or homosexual nature. Beyond that, what happens in privacy between consenting adults should be beyond the purview of the Government."

*****

Two out of five self-identified white evangelicals own a gun, higher than any other religious group, according to a recent study from the Pew Research Center. Four out of five have fired one.

But only a quarter of white evangelical gun owners are members of the National Rifle Association (NRA), and more white evangelicals actually want US gun laws to be stricter than less strict. (A plurality is satisfied with the status quo.)

The 41 percent of white evangelicals that own a gun surpasses the 33 percent of white mainliners, the 32 percent of the religiously unaffiliated (or "nones"), the 29 percent of black Protestants (two-thirds of whom identify as evangelical, according to Pew), and the 24 percent of Catholics who own one also. (By comparison, 30 percent of all American adults report they own a gun.)

However, the most faithful aren't packing the most heat.

Americans who attend religious services weekly were less likely to own a gun than those who attend less frequently (27% vs. 31%). And Americans with a high level of religious commitment were less likely to own a gun than those whose commitment is low (26% vs. 33%).

But the major reason cited most often--by majorities of all religious groups--was protection. More than half of white evangelicals (57%) say protection is the single most important reason they own a gun, compared to hunting (21%) or sport shooting (10%) or for their job (1%).

GUN deaths include the following: 11,208 homicides, 21,175 suicides, 505 deaths due to accidental or negligent discharge of a firearm, and 281 deaths due to firearms use with "undetermined intent". ... In 2012, 64% of all gun-related deaths in the U.S. were suicides.

Having a gun in your home significantly increases your risk of death -- and that of your spouse and children. And it doesn't matter how the guns are stored or what type or how many guns you own.

If you have a gun, everybody in your home is more likely than your non-gun-owning neighbors and their families to die in a gun-related accident, suicide or homicide.

Furthermore, there is no credible evidence that having a gun in your house reduces your risk of being a victim of a crime. Nor does it reduce your risk of being injured during a home break-in.

*****

White evangelicals worry more about personal health than terrorism and mass shootings, according to a report in Christian Today. Health is the main worry among white evangelicals, with 75 per cent worrying about a personal health crisis.

That is compared to 66 per cent who worry about being the victim of a terrorist attack and just 38 per cent who worry about being the victim of a mass shooting.

According to a new Pew Research survey, 26 per cent worry "a lot" about their health, while only 15 percent worry a lot about terrorism and just 5 percent worry a lot about mass shootings.

*****

The 1928 Prayer Book Alliance has changed its name. It was formerly Episcopalians for Traditional Faith, founded in 2002 in New York City.

*****

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Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution through PAYPAL at the link here: http://www.virtueonline.org/support-vol/

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In Christ,

David

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