Confessing Christ Boldly To Others. The wickedness of being ashamed of Christ is very great. It is a proof of unbelief. It shows that we care more for the praise of men whom we can see, than that of God whom we cannot see. It is a proof of ingratitude. It shows that we fear confessing Him before man who was not ashamed to die for us upon the cross. Wretched indeed are they who give way to this sin. Here, in this world, they are always miserable. A bad conscience robs them of peace. In the world to come they can look for no comfort. In the day of judgment they must expect to be disowned by Christ to all eternity, if they will not confess Christ for a few years upon earth. Let us resolve never to be ashamed of Christ. Of sin and worldliness we may well be ashamed. Of Christ and His cause we have no right to be ashamed at all. Boldness in Christ's service always brings its own reward. The boldest Christian is always the happiest person. --- Bishop J.C. Ryle
Deliver Us From Pantheism. I feel it a duty to bear my solemn testimony against the spirit of the day we live in, to warn men against its infection. It is not Atheism I fear so much, in the present times, as Pantheism. It is not the system which says nothing is true, so much as the system which says everything is true. It is not the system which says there is no Savior, so much as the system which says there are many saviors, and many ways to peace. It is the system which is so liberal, that it dares not say anything is false. It is the system which is so charitable, that it will allow everything to be true. It is the system which seems ready to honor others as well as our Lord Jesus Christ, to class them all together, and to think well of all. It is the system which is so careful about the feelings of others that we are never to say they are wrong. It is the system which is so liberal that it calls a man a bigot, if he dares to say, "I know my views are right." This is the system, this is the tone of feeling which I fear in this day, and this is the system which I desire emphatically to testify against and denounce. From the liberality which says everybody is right, from the charity which forbids us to say anybody is wrong, from the peace which is bought at the expense of truth - may the good Lord deliver us. –-- Bishop J.C. Ryle
Human Worth and Dignity. Humans and animals. In the unfolding narrative of Genesis 1 it is clear that the divine image or likeness is what distinguishes humans (the climax of creation) from animals (whose creation is recorded earlier). A continuity between humans and animals is implied. For example, they share 'the breath of life' and the responsibility to reproduce. But there was also a radical discontinuity between them, in that only human beings are said to be 'like God'. This emphasis on the unique distinction between humans and animals keeps recurring throughout Scripture. The argument takes two forms. We should be ashamed both when human beings behave like animals, descending to their level, and when animals behave like human beings, doing better by instinct than we do by choice. As an example of the former, men and women are not to be 'senseless and ignorant' and behave like 'a brute beast', or 'like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding'. As an example of the latter, we are rebuked that oxen and donkeys are better at recognizing their master than we are, that migratory birds are better at returning home after going away, and that ants are more industrious and more provident. --- From "The Contemporary Christian" by John R.W. Stott
Dear Brothers and Sisters
February 4, 2011
The Dublin Primates' Meeting represented "comfort-zone Anglicanism", the Bishop of Argentina and chairman of the conservative GAFCON network, the Rt. Rev. Greg Venables, said this week.
Speaking on behalf of the GAFCON Primates of Uganda, Rwanda, West Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, and the Southern Cone - none of whom went to Dublin - Bishop Venables said that the meeting "had ignored the difficult issues that divide us.
"There was a denial of the seriousness of the crisis facing the Communion which led to the absence of Primates representing two-thirds of the Anglican Communion, and there remains a complete lack of trust, which every day is getting worse.
"The Dublin meeting has just made things worse, as they did not deal with the reasons why people stayed away, or the causes of the divisions in the Anglican Church."
Commenting on the new definition of the standing committee of the Primates' Meeting, Bishop Venables said that the creation of a new "centralized" body reminded him of Animal Farm: "It seems all Primates are equal but some are more equal than others."
There you have it. Possibly the best summary of what took place in Dublin this past week. I have written numerous stories including a wrap up article on what happened there and what I see is the way forward. HINT: Think GAFCON and the Jerusalem Declaration.
Things might be coming to a head in the Anglican Communion. Dr. Rowan Williams is desperate for a win. He has lost a large portion of his Anglo-Catholics to Rome, more than a third of his primates failed to show up in Dublin (they represent 75% of the communion) and he is about to take off on a world tour to see if he can curry favor from African and Asian archbishops in an effort to bring them back to the primatial table. He shouldn't hold his breath. There is so much going on behind the scenes (I wish I could tell you, but I can't. It will all be revealed in time).
The question is if the Anglo-Catholics can find a place of refuge in Rome, can the Church of England's evangelicals find solace in an ordinariate of their own? Or what about the possibility of a new See in Alexandria (after the rioting is over) for orthodox Anglicans?
Apart from the fact that none of the BIG issues (sodomy, same-sex, consecration and rites) were discussed in Ireland, at least according to the ABC, one thing he did get moved about was the murder of a gay Anglican activist in Uganda. That got him mightily exercised about "sexual minorities", "homophobia" (he would not say directly that Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda was homophobic but you get the idea).
When it was announced that Kato had been killed, Irish TV were summoned to the Emmaus Center where Dr. Williams gave a statement. We of the Internet, newspaper and magazine biz were not invited. We later picked off his statement from the Internet. His quick flurry into David Kato's death was a huge mistake. Williams and, later, the US Presiding Bishop, gay and pro-gay TEC bishops and gay organizations all got into the act. Then it turned out that Kato was murdered by a houseguest he bought sex from and then refused to pay him. The man picked up a hammer and beat him to death. Then he went back to his girl friend. The media who fawned all over Kato's death, including the ABC, Jefferts Schori, Gene Robinson among others and, regrettably, Andrew Carey in the Church of England newspaper, have mud all over their faces. Jumping to the conclusion that Kato was a victim of homophobic hatred was wrong and a continuation of the BIG LIE. All it does is make the Global South bishops shrug their collective shoulders and say who wants or needs Rowan Williams as a leader. Indeed.
The news wasn't much better back home.
In Pittsburgh this past week, The Commonwealth Court of appeals affirmed the lower court ruling awarding diocesan property to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. By Friday afternoon the Bishop and Standing Committee of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh decided to petition the Commonwealth Court for a rehearing of the ongoing litigation with the local Episcopal Church diocese.
They also reaffirmed their commitment to work tirelessly to arrive at a reasonable negotiated settlement with the Episcopal Church diocese.
At stake for the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh are the title deeds of 24 parishes which are held in trust by the Board of Trustees of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and more than $20 million in endowment assets.
VOL was told that if, in the end, they lose, the Roman Catholic diocese is ready to move in and give Bishop Bob Duncan access to all their empty churches he may want, as well as a place to worship in their churches, if one is not available. There is always a silver lining. The Roman Catholic Bishop David A. Zubik and Archbishop Duncan are good friends.
This may not be necessary. The present action of the court does not include properties, as yet, but if and when it does, Bishop Kenneth L. Price is going to have to figure out what to do with 24 empty parishes. He could try for a buyout as he did with St. Phillips, but any stipulation that they do not belong to the Anglican Diocese won't fly. He'll have a dickens of a time selling empty parishes in the Rust Belt. I suppose he can always sell them to wannabe saloonkeepers in accordance with instructions from Katharine Jefferts Schori.
On a slightly better note, the rump Diocese of Pittsburgh and St. Philip's in Moon Townshipagreed to drop all legal action when the parish signed a property settlement with the diocese. The deal was this. In exchange for $1 million they could keep their property with the promise that the breakaway church had to agree to cut all ties with the newly formed Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh for at least five years.
The settlement ends that litigation for St. Philip. Bishop Robert Duncan says the settlement unfairly makes the church cut ties with the new diocese he heads. A spokesman for the Episcopal diocese defended the settlement.
While I understand the financial settlement, what right does a denomination have to tell another church who it may or might not join with? It strikes this writer as a violation of the parish's sovereign right to be under whomever they please.
St. Philip's is a mega church and a huge loss to both the rump and Anglican diocese. It has 980 members, 1041 communicants, and an average Sunday Attendance of 371 (Easter 788) in 2009. There were 230 children in their Sunday School. Only one Pittsburgh parish in the ACNA diocese has more members. St. Philip's represented 9.7% of the ACNA diocesan membership. Stay tuned for more.
The Most Rev. Douglas Woodall resigned as Archbishop of United States Armed Service and Federal Chaplaincy of the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Churches (ICEEC).
Archbishop Woodall stated as his reason for leaving the ICCEC was to join the Missionary Diocese of All Saints under the Anglican Church of North America. The Patriarch, who also serves as the Primate of North America, regretfully accepted Archbishop Woodall's resignation.
However, a source inside the Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC) told VOL that Woodall has not been received by the ACNA. VOL has confirmed that the ACNA has not received him nor has the Missionary Diocese of All Saints (FiF) under Bishop William Ilgenfritz. Bishop Derek Jones, Suffragan bishop for chaplaincies for the ACNA told VOL, "We are working with the CEC to straighten out the confusion that has been created as a result of Archbishop Woodall's departure."
CANA, on behalf of the ACNA and the Deanery for the chaplaincy that Bishop Jones leads for CANA, is working directly with individual chaplains who are seeking reception into the ACNA.
The CEC is not affiliated with the Anglican Communion, nor does it consider itself a Continuing Anglican Church body. They are an Anglican denomination begun in the early 90's.
The Anglican Church in the West Indies has become the third province to formally adopt the Anglican Covenant. The announcement -- which was made in a statement released on Jan. 30 the final day of the Primates Meeting in Dublin, Ireland -- also noted that the Church of the Province of Myanmar has also adopted the covenant. The Anglican Church of Mexico, meeting in General Synod in June 2010, became the first province to formally adopt the covenant. The Anglican Church of Southern Africa in October 2010 voted in favor of adopting the covenant, a decision that will need to be ratified by its next meeting of Provincial Synod in 2013.
In The Episcopal Church, congregations are being urged to study and discuss the covenant in preparation for General Convention in 2012.
The covenant first was proposed in 2004 as a way for the Anglican Communion to maintain unity amid differing viewpoints. The covenant is a set of principles intended to bind the Anglican Communion's 38 provinces in light of differences, such as those concerning biblical interpretation and human sexuality issues.
Baroness Ashton is under fire after the EU failed to agree on a statement condemning attacks on religious minorities in the Islamic world because it is not politically correct to use the word "Christian". Italy accused Lady Ashton, the EU's foreign minister, of "excessive" political correctness. A meeting of EU foreign ministers failed to agree on a condemnation of sectarian attacks over the Christmas period that targeted Christians in Egypt and Iraq.
Franco Frattini, the Italian foreign minister, demanded an EU response on the persecution of Christians after a New Year's suicide bombing at a Coptic church in northern Egypt where 23 people were killed.
The Egyptian bombing followed attacks in Baghdad and fears, expressed by the Vatican, of persecution leading to a Christian exodus from the Middle East.
Mr. Frattini, backed by France, said it is pointless to issue statements defending religious tolerance without any references to the specific minority, Christians, that was under attack
"This position is an excess of secularism, which is damaging the credibility of Europe," he said on Monday night. "The final text didn't include any mention of Christians, as if we were talking of something else, so I asked the text to be withdrawn."
Diplomats have accused Lady Ashton of appeasing Muslim sensibilities to avoid a "clash of civilisations" after Egypt reacted furiously to a request from Pope Benedict XVI for better protection for the country's Christian minority.
Australian Anglicans plan for their ordinariate. Australian Anglicans who are interested in entering the Catholic Church will gather at Coomera this week for a 3-day conference to plan for the establishment of a new ordinariate in Australia.
The Traditional Anglican Communion, which has taken a lead role in efforts to find a place for Anglicans in the Catholic Church, will discuss practical details of establishing an ordinariate, including the delicate question of ownership of parish properties. In a related development, an Anglican group has identified 74 different groups of Anglicans who have indicated a desire to join a Catholic ordinariate. Of those groups, 32 are in the US, 29 in Canada, and 13 in Great Britain. The survey did not include Australian groups, so the ultimate number of Anglican communities interested in entering the Catholic Church could be substantially larger.
Church foreclosures a growing problem? A recent Wall Street Journal article http://tinyurl.com/4qoxlx5 claims that more churches are defaulting on loans. While one expert recognizes that the economic crisis may expand its reach into the religious realm, he believes the findings that led to that conclusion are overstated.
Since 2008, some 200 U.S. churches have faced foreclosure. According to a survey from the CoStar Group, the properties of only eight churches were seized in the two previous years.
Ziegler Investment Banking's Scott Rolfs, who specializes in the religion and education financial market for the Wisconsin-based organization, is not surprised by the survey's findings.
"There was a great deal of credit that was extended out in society between about 2004 to 2008, and the credit actually was almost unprecedented to the bubble of credit that was created," he explains. "With that much in the way of credit out there, there were bound to be some issues of borrowers having a hard time paying it back -- especially when the economy really came to a screeching halt there in the fall of 2008."
Civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. recently said, "Churches are the next wave in this economic crisis." But considering the fact that more than 300,000 churches exist in the U.S., Rolfs decides the survey's conclusions are grossly exaggerated.
"What we're talking about is still a very, very small...segment of the church market," he explains. "Another point is the churches that generally are having some of the difficulties are smaller churches that may be very dependent upon one or two families for financial support."
The survey concludes that many of the churches facing foreclosure are located in California, Florida, Georgia and Michigan. These states have some of the highest home foreclosure rates in the nation.
In his final swan song as Dean of Gethesmane cathedral in North Dakota, The Very Rev. Steve Sellers had this to say:
Dear Standing Committee -- As you are all aware, I will be moving to Houston in the middle of March to join my wife Dixie in our continuing journey of faith. (The older I get, the more interesting the journey gets.) Bishop Michael has stepped in at the Cathedral, a move that allows me to take unused vacation time to prepare for our move. As a result, I will not be present at the Standing Committee meeting in March. I have enjoyed immensely serving with all of you these last three years, during these challenging and exciting days in the Christian faith, but I must submit my resignation as president of the Standing Committee at this time. Once my vacation time is concluded and I move to Houston, I will also be resigning my orders in the Episcopal Church. Please know that I leave with no anger, bitterness, or animosity. Dixie and I are simply following a calling that has tugged at our hearts for quite some time. Please know that you will all be in our prayers. Blessings to you, Steve+
Church of England attendance falls. The Guardian reported this week that turnout in the CofE tumbled in 2009, as did the number of baptisms, funerals and marriages. The Church of England held fewer marriages, funerals and baptisms in 2009, according to official figures, which also show a general fall in attendance. The Church of England said "continued challenges" have led to a dip in attendance.
Average Sunday attendance in 2009 fell to 944,000 from 960,000 in 2008, while average monthly attendance fell to 1.651 million from 1.667 million.
Reverend Lynda Barley, head of research and statistics at the Church of England, said the figures gave "an important but inevitably partial snapshot" that painted a "mixed picture" for 2009.
"Alongside some encouraging signs, such as the number of under-16s in church holding steady and growth in church attendance in 16 out of 44 dioceses, there are continued challenges, with further small declines in traditional attendance measures," she continued.
The number of babies baptized fell to 83,800 in 2009 from 86,500. Marriages in parish churches fell to 52,700 from 53,100. The number of Church of England funerals also fell - to 176,700 from 188,100.
The Bishop of Central Florida John W. Howe announced his retirement this week. At their annual diocesan convention delegates also voted to challenge the new Title IV canons. The convention met Jan. 28-29 at La Hacienda Center in The Villages.
Central Florida joins three other dioceses - Dallas, South Carolina and Western Louisiana - in expressing concerns about the new canons on discipline, which become effective July 1.
The diocese asks General Convention "to modify New Title IV, as it applies to the Diocese of Central Florida, so as to comply with the Constitution." The resolution expresses two concerns about the new Title IV: that it "empowers the Presiding Bishop to take certain actions within the Diocese of Central Florida in violation of Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution," and "creates a charging and trial system applicable to Presbyters and Deacons in violation of Article IX of the Constitution which provides that presbyters and deacons shall be tried by a court instituted by the convention of the Diocese."
Bishop Howe endorsed the resolution. "I will tell you plainly: I do not want to have this enhanced authority given to me in my dealings with our clergy," the bishop commented in his annual address. "Nor do I welcome this intrusion into the life of our sovereign diocese of the unprecedented authority of the Presiding Bishop. And I have told her so. It is a radical revision of the polity of the Episcopal Church from its inception."
The convention approved the revised Title IV, while also stressing that the approval is subject to Title IV "being in compliance with the Constitution of the Episcopal Church."
Howe has served as the diocese's third bishop since 1989. He was among the bishops who founded the American Anglican Council and the Anglican Communion Network, but he has resisted efforts to separate from the Episcopal Church.
When several congregations left the diocese in 2008, Howe retained all the properties without resorting to any lawsuits.
Howe asked the convention to elect a bishop coadjutor in November, saying he expects to remain bishop until April 2012. Howe announced his retirement plans at the beginning of his annual address, and spoke in greater personal detail at the end of the address. [TLC contributed to this report]
The Anglican Church of Canada seems bent on following TEC down the slippery slope of pansexuality. Recently the bishop of the Diocese of Montreal's Christ Church Cathedral installed a new Dean.
He is the Very Rev. Paul Kennington who comes complete with his partner Jonathan Bailey. They both were at St. Mary's Battersea which proclaims, "Open Church, Open Heart, Open Mind" - one of the lesser known sayings of Jesus. Bishop Barry Clarke and Rev. Canon Alan Perry officiated. Perry has served as the bishop's chaplain
The diocese had to go all the way to the UK to find a Dean who is in a same-sex civil partnership. The Very Rev. Paul Kennington wrote back to their former church, "You will note Paul's cassock, with scarlet piping courtesy of Stephen Miles (thanks.) and 39 scarlet buttons sewn on lovingly by Tim, Marie-Ca and Philippa. All had a fabulous time in Montreal, It was wonderful for Paul to have them with him at this big change in his life. It was also lovely for the children to see where Daddy will be working and living."
If you want to know just how interfering Katharine Jefferts Schori can be in the life of one single priest and overturn what a diocesan bishop has done, read this. Fr. Jerry Kramer was a priest in the Diocese of Louisiana when he left his parish soon after Katrina, but not before he completely rebuilt his parish. Bishop Charles Jenkins transferred him to All Saints Cathedral Diocese, Anglican Church of Kenya, just prior to his retirement. However, Ms. Jefferts Schori found out about this and "nullified" the transfer, claiming that clergy cannot be transferred out of TEC to another Province in the Communion.
The truth is that this is a completely fabricated "rule" she made up on her own. It never existed anywhere in the world prior to her tenure. What it proves is that TEC is not really part of the Global Communion and is intent on doing its own thing as it pleases without regards to others.
Said Kramer; "My transfer was indeed received in Kenya however, my Orders are fine. I am serving as priest in the Anglican Communion, licensed under Bishop Bill Atwood here in the International Diocese of the Anglican Church of North America. There was, fortunately, a pre-existing relationship with Bishop John Guernsey and one of the founding parishioners there so it all worked out fine."
This is the same Presiding Bishop who wants the missing Global South orthodox archbishops to sit down with her in blessed "conversation" over sexuality issues. Some fantasies die hard. It won't happen. They will never sit with her, again.
David W. Virtue DD
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