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Episcopal seminaries in Crisis * Collapsing Cathedrals * More Church Closures in Canada * Curry fails to address Black Rage * Transgender Bathrooms: Target backs down. California lawmaker backs down * Anglican Church of Southern Africa Nods to LGBTI

They once were in church each Sunday, perhaps helped with coffee hour, helped feed the poor, washed the altar linens, sang in the choir, gave their pledge and worshiped quietly. Now, driven out by conflicting revisionists, left and right, they have left the House of Battle. They won't be included in our broad tent or remembered in Washington on Sunday. They are the Xs and no good shepherd seeks to find them and bring them home rejoicing. --- Tony Clavier

Instant acceptance. Justification is a legal pronouncement which is instantaneous. As soon as any sinner turns from his sin and commits himself in absolute trust to Jesus Christ who died for him and rose again, God pronounces him righteous. He is 'accepted in the Beloved' (Eph. 1:6), or 'justified in Christ' (Gal. 2:17). --- John R. W. Stott

The secular left pretends it is the voice of the people, but the truth is, it can't stand the people. It does not want them to have a voice at all. They think their "superior" views are the only legitimate views out there. As Bill Buckley said long ago, "Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views." --- Bill Muehlenberg

Legally righteous. When God justifies sinners, he is not declaring bad people to be good, or saying that they are not sinners after all; he is pronouncing them legally righteous, free from any liability to the broken law, because he himself in his Son has borne the penalty of their law-breaking. -- John R.W. Stott

The Left does not want to win the debate, it wants to shut down the debate. And we find this happening time and time again. Consider the issue of homosexuality and homosexual marriage. The left does not want these matters discussed and debated -- they want them force fed on a hapless population whether they like it or not. And their preferred means of "debate" is to simply attack you, call you names, and smear your reputation if you dare to disagree with them. Dare to appeal to facts, to history, to the wellbeing of children, or what have you, and you will be met with all the usual responses: "You are a bigot." "You're homophobic". "You are hateful." --- Mark Steyn

Dear Brothers and Sisters
www.virtueonline.org
August 19, 2016

As evangelical and Anglo-Catholic parishes flee the Episcopal Church over its abundant heresies, liberal dioceses are being forced into the embarrassing position of having to sell now empty churches to groups that stand in deep contrast to what they once fervently believed.

As you may recall, former PB Jefferts Schori testified in court that she would rather sell empty churches for saloons, but that would not appear to be prime buyers.

One group that steadily buys up empty parishes are independent evangelical churches or Baptist groups that believe and proclaim the gospel, and the other group are Imams who buy them, strip them of all Christian images and then turn them into mosques.

If you feel outraged that a former Christian place of worship is now a mosque, don't blame Muslims, they have every right to buy what they can for pennies on the dollar or not at all. Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas with the Executive Council's support, gave Christ Church, Avon Ct. now an empty parish, to a Muslim group at no cost, but sold Bishop Seabury church, that once housed over 700 Episcopalians, to a fundamentalist Baptist group.

The free exercise of religion means precisely that. If Episcopalians were preaching a clear, unadulterated gospel, their churches would not be emptying and dying, they would be full to overflowing. Proclaiming sodomy over salvation has not proven a winning strategy. As the Muslim population grows and they see an opportunity to buy something that is cheaper than buying land and building a mosque, why not! One can scream and holler at Christian churches being bought up by a religion that is basically foreign to American ears, but perhaps the screamin' and hollerin' is misdirected, perhaps it should be aimed at Episcopal bishops and clergy who no longer believe the gospel, (if they ever did). The call to repentance and faith should not only be aimed at Muslims, but to tens of thousands of Episcopalians who have never heard a clear presentation of the gospel and believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father!

*****

It comes as no real surprise that in the wake of declining attendance in churches that the 11 Episcopal seminaries in the US are struggling to survive. VOL's special correspondent, Mary Ann Mueller, has written a sterling piece on the state of these seminaries and has revealed that at least seventy percent of TEC seminaries have fewer than 100 students. A dying church draws no new converts and, as its pulpits empty and parishes close, the need for new priests grows less and less. Small parishes can get by with retired, filler priests who come at very minimal costs.

The seminary decline follows the bell curve of The Episcopal Church as it experiences loss in members, parish closings and an inability to attract a younger generation of Americans. Many believe that issues like the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopacy, the embrace of pansexuality and homosexual marriage now enshrined in canon law, reflect a Church that lacks a distinctive message separate from the prevailing culture. You can read her article here, or in today's digest. http://www.virtueonline.org/episcopal-seminaries-struggle-survive

*****

The Anglican Church of Canada is in free fall. Across the country they are closing parishes in one diocese after another. The Diocese of Algoma is set to close 16 churches in Muskoka out of a total of 35, leaving just 19 open.

According to news reports following years of declining membership and ongoing disagreement among its clergy about how best to adjust to shifting patterns of religious affiliation and church attendance, the bishop and the diocesan executive committee have approved a set of recommendations for reorganization that, if adopted, will lead to the shuttering of 16 of the deanery's 35 churches.

"We have too many churches," former Bishop Stephen Andrews, who left the diocese at the end of July to take up the position of principal of Wycliffe College in Toronto, said in an interview with the Anglican Journal. "Everybody agrees that there have to be fewer churches, but nobody agrees on which churches need to be rationalized--and they are pretty sure that it should be somebody else's church." Muskoka, one of Algoma's five deaneries, has the largest share of church buildings--35 of the diocese's 100 churches and chapels.
The recommendation, released in June, calls for a sweeping reorganization of the diocese into four regions, each of which will have one or two full-time clergy operating out of a handful of parishes.

There are more closures across the country.

*****

MADNESS IN MILWAUKEE. Crowds of "Black Lives Matter" rioters chanted "black power" as they targeted white individuals for violence in Milwaukee late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, according to a video posted online in the aftermath of a police shooting. A video posted by Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars shows rioters asking, "Is they white?" as cars drive slowly by. The nighttime footage appears to show cars being attacked by the mob, even to the point of trying to drag out the drivers.

So a black cop kills a gun-waving black man and Waukesha, Wisconsin, explodes in black rage with rioters attacking whites! Figure that out.

So the question is this; why is the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, totally silent on all this. He rages on about racism and white privilege in the Episcopal Church, but will not identify who the racists are. Perhaps he can't find any because two thirds of TEC are white women over 60 and can't be accused of racism.

Then why is he so silent about black on black violence, which is endemic in our major cities, especially Chicago? Why is he silent on the fact that 70 percent of young black men are growing up without fathers! I didn't make this up. The Police Chief of Dallas (a black man) said it was so. The young man who took down five cops had a bedroom looking like an arsenal. He had no father. Had the father been present, he would have walked into the boy's bedroom and said, "What the hell is this"? If Michael Curry doesn't wake up to the realities of black America and insists on endlessly blaming 'white privilege', then he will fast become irrelevant, if he isn't already.

*****

COLLAPSING CATHEDRALS. Heavy rains caused part of the roof to collapse at Cape Town's Cathedral of St George the Martyr before planned repairs to the structure could be completed, it was reported this week.

Experts are assessing damage to the metropolitical church of the Province of Southern Africa after part of the roof collapsed. Officials at the Cathedral of St. George the Martyr in Cape Town had been concerned about the condition of the roof for some time and had launched an appeal to replace the roof and its 40,000 tiles. But after heavy rains last week, part of the roof gave way.

The collapse was caused by rain water, which had worked its way through broken tiles and softened the ceiling's cement. Nobody was injured in the collapse.

St Paul's Cathedral in London, Ontario cannot face another winter with very little money, very few parishioners and a decaying building. Parishioners are selling jam, Anglican marmalade and pictorial calendars to raise one million dollars to make the repairs, a reader told VOL.

For 170 years, the gothic tower of St. Paul's Cathedral, episcopal seat of the diocese of Huron, has overlooked downtown London, Ont. But an unstable roof and sagging walls now threaten the building's structural integrity, and unless money can be raised in time to repair it before winter sets in, the building could become unsafe, says senior churchwarden Melissa Broadfoot.

"We cannot go through another winter," she told the Anglican Journal. "The danger is that it will become unsafe...so we're really trying to save the building."

The fault, Broadfoot explained, lies with the wooden trusses that hold up the roof. After decades of water damage, the ends of the trusses have rotted away, putting more pressure on the walls and leading to water damage to the brick. The rot, wrote one reader, is also theological and moral. The diocese has embraced pansexuality, which should tell you all you need to know.

In Christchurch, New Zealand, they are still wrangling over whether to replace or rebuild the cathedral after a force 9 earthquake demolished most of the building. Another deadline for progress on the cathedral within central Christchurch was recently missed, with both the government and the Anglican Church saying there is no news on what will happen with the Cathedral.

The Washington National Cathedral is still recovering from an earthquake that hit the East Coast of the US several years ago, and many are asking why this building was worse hit than other Washington structures. The cathedral needs millions of dollars to recover and they recently hired a full time rector/fundraiser with old school ties to boost the cathedral's fortunes.

It should be pointed out that none of the cathedrals are engaged in gospel proclamation; the Washington Cathedral, for example, opens its doors for Muslims to worship in the name of interfaithery.

*****

The Anglican Church in Southern Africa is to consider blessing same-sex civil unions when its provincial synod meets next month. But the motion, proposed by the Diocese of Saldanha Bay, would not permit clergy to solemnize same-sex marriages. The motion says that clergy should be "especially prepared for a ministry of pastoral care for those identifying as LGBTI" but that "any cleric unwilling to engage in such envisioned pastoral care shall not be obliged to do so." This will be pastoral "accommodation" NOT pastoral care. Pastoral care helps the sinner to live a holy lifestyle - pastoral accommodation is in effect an accommodation of a sinful lifestyle. In the terms stated here, it is neither biblical nor truly Anglican. You can read the full story in today's digest

*****

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is a deeply conflicted man and leader, and this is making for the dis-ease many of us feel, especially Global South Anglicans. On the one hand, he seems to have a genuine concern and commitment to "re-evangelize" England. He wants to keep all of the benefits of an "established" Church, which has a unique public platform for such evangelism of the nation. He has to win back a hostile secular culture in which the majority of a younger generation believes in same-sex marriage and finds the traditional Biblical view of marriage immoral.

On the other hand, writes Phil Ashey of the American Anglican Council, Welby seems willing to write off those people in the Church of England who believe that the Scriptures speak with both clarity and authority to issues of human sexuality--including homosexuality and the blessing of same sex unions. His Executive Officer has admitted their willingness to "write off" 20% of its membership that cannot agree with the projected results of the "Shared conversations" currently taking place in the Church of England--results that will almost certainly include some "pastoral accommodation" of the blessing of civil, same-sex partnerships, in keeping with the recommendations of the Pilling Report. No doubt this is driving the failure of the "Shared Conversations" to engage the Scriptures seriously and with integrity, as we also noted here.

In effect, the Archbishop of Canterbury will be posting a "no trespassing" sign on these matters of human sexuality when it comes to the Bible. For the sake of reaching the nation, he appears willing to "write off" those Scriptures that speak with clarity and authority to matters of human sexuality--Scriptures which are the foundation of Lambeth 1998 Resolution I.10's prohibition of any Anglican blessing of same-sex unions, says Ashey.

"Here's the problem: Once you post a "No-trespassing" sign on one part of human life, and say that God's word is not welcome there, where do you stop? Once you write off one part of God's word, the Scriptures, despite its clarity and authority, where do you stop? If same-sex unions are off limits, why not open-marriage, or polygamy (men with multiple women) or polyandry (women with multiple men), or incest or pedophilia? We may say that "we will draw the line here and go no further," but logically, once you have abandoned the clarity and authority of Scripture one place, you have no grounds to draw the line anywhere, except where the cultural consensus says we should."

*****

Gunmen attacked a bishop's house in Juba this week, as the violence in the Sudan continues unabated. Last month, thousands of people sought sanctuary in All Saints' Cathedral in Juba, as fighting erupted in and around the city. Now the violence has reached the home of the assistant bishop of the diocese, Fraser Yugu, as it came under attack by gunmen.

A group of men fired bullets into the house of the assistant bishop of Juba in South Sudan in the early hours of Sunday, as they tried to force their way into the building. They fled when Bishop Fraser Yugu's pet dog began barking and raised the alarm.

Nobody was injured in the incident. But, as they left, the gunmen shot the dog and destroyed the rear windscreen of the bishop's car that was parked at his compound in Juba's Hai Kuwait residential area.

The motive of the attackers remains unknown. Christians in the Diocese of Juba have questioned why gunmen would want to storm the house of a clergyman who has maintained a neutral position in the recent political unrest. They have appealed to security forces to "take all necessary measures to protect civilians."

Juba is the capital of South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011. There has been an upsurge of violence in the region in recent weeks, coinciding with the fifth anniversary of independence.

*****

Leaked ISIS documents have shown that 70 per cent of recruits have hardly any knowledge of Islam and that some even had to read 'The Koran for Dummies' to learn about the religion.

An analysis of recruitment forms from the terror group has revealed that many of its militants do not even have a basic knowledge of the Koran or hadith - the sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad.

The documents were acquired by the Syrian opposition site. Zaman al-Wasl, and shared with the Associated Press.

Out of 3,000 recruits, they showed that only 24 per cent of recruits had an 'intermediate knowledge' of Islam, with just five per cent considered 'advanced students' of the religion.

Only five recruits overall were listed as having memorized the Koran.

*****

An ecumenical group of churches, including an Anglican archbishop, has renewed its call for Australia's refugee detention center on Nauru to close, after revelations of sustained abuse -- including the alleged cover-up of a rape. The Guardian newspaper last week published a swathe of official documents that detail years of abuse at the centre. The Archbishop of Melbourne, Philip Freier, described the revelations as "shocking" and "saddening".

Now, the country's Churches' Refugee Taskforce has accused the government of completely ignoring the allegations. "They were a horrific red flag to the scale of abuse and the Government did nothing," the taskforce's executive director, Misha Coleman, said.

The Nauru Files, as the documents published by the Guardian have been called, corroborate previous allegations submitted to the Government as far back as 2014, she said. "The Government knew. It then did nothing to prevent the ongoing daily acts of abuse committed on children and women especially.

"The letters detailed a range of abuse cases including a rape and an alleged cover-up of that rape -- it's clear from the files . . . that the situation has sunk to unholy depths."

The Dean of St John's Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane, the Very Rev. Dr. Peter Catt, chairs the taskforce. He said: "We had called for a Royal Commission into the offshore camps after some of the key issues raised in the report were referred back to the Nauruan police, in which we have no confidence whatsoever.

*****

There is no immediate fix to Nigeria's woes, says Anglican Primate Nicholas Okoh, who is touring the U.S., observing and preaching at his four Nigerian dioceses, all of whom are members of the Anglican Church in North America.

He is optimistic that Nigerians would soon begin to leave a normal life again. To this end, the cleric appealed to Federal Government to pay serious attention to the dwindling economy situation in the country.

Okoh, who was speaking in an interview at the Conference of Registrars, Chancellors and Legal Officers of the church, in Abuja, called on judiciary to refuse to be used by disgruntled politicians to scatter the country.

The Primate noted that although Nigeria is in a process of being revived, itneeded more patience and sacrifice to bounce back. "We have been assured by the Present administration, it will take quiet sometime to fixed Nigeria. There is no immediate fixed to Nigeria problem, to fix Nigeria of today requires a lot of patient and sacrifice."

*****

Teachers in Charlotte, North Carolina, have been advised to stop calling the children "boys and girls," according to a training presentation on transgender issues. Instead, the progressives who control Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, want teachers to identify the youngsters as either "students" or "scholars." So what if a teacher has a student who is dumb as a rock? Would the child still be called a scholar? The transgender guidelines, which will go into effect this month, range from the absurd to downright outrageous.

*****

A California lawmaker dropped a controversial proposal to regulate religious colleges in California this week. SB 1146 won't be the religious liberty threat many Christians feared. A day after religious leaders released an open letter calling on California to protect religious liberty in higher education, the lawmaker behind a controversial bill dropped the proposal in question, allowing religious schools to keep exemptions to anti-discrimination laws related to sexuality.

Under state Senator Ricardo Lara's amended bill, schools must "disclose if they have an exemption and report to the state when students are expelled for violating morality codes," the Los Angeles Times reported.

"Sighs of relief and prayers of gratitude that California #SB1146 bill (restricting religious liberty of colleges) has been dropped," tweeted National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) president Leith Anderson.

Earlier versions of Senate Bill 1146 would have prevented colleges that received state funds from enforcing codes of student conduct reflecting a college's religious beliefs about sexual identity, including teaching that marriage is between a man and woman and limiting bathrooms to biological gender. Traditionally, California's religious schools have received a religious exemption from non-discrimination laws. This bill would have limited it to students who were preparing for a religious career, such as ministry.

*****

It pays to protest. This week Target stores caved to a transgender bathroom backlash after the retail giant lost more than $10 billion in stock value.

Target is backtracking on its commitment to transgender bathroom "rights" with a sweeping move to install private bathrooms in stores nationwide.

The $20 million project, which over the next year is expected to install single-stall restrooms in each of its stores, comes after months of financial repercussions owing to the retail giant's decision to allow transgender individuals to use the restroom of their choosing. "Inclusivity is a core belief at Target," the April post reads. "[W]e welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity."

The announcement, and subsequent doubling down, from Target resulted in 1.5 million signing their names to a boycott sponsored by the American Family Association (AFA) and billions lost in stock value, with the retail giant revealing Wednesday its second-quarter earnings fell nearly 10 percent. The corporation blamed "a difficult retail environment" for its financial struggles. Way to go, America.

*****

Meantime, the Obama administration is spreading transgender bathroom regulations to most federally operated facilities. Online news and entertainment website Buzzfeed, is claiming to have obtained a draft notice of the new regulation ahead of its scheduled publication in the Federal Register later this week.

So-called transgender people will be able to access the bathroom conforming to their "gender identity" in over 9,200 federal buildings operated by the General Services Administration (GSA). The GSA manages day-to-day operations in federal buildings across the United States, including courthouses, the Social Security building, post offices,= and prisons.

Regulations, however, don't extend to the White House, the Capitol Building or national parks because they are not under GSA management. In April 2015, it was announced the White House would have under-neutral bathrooms. White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett commented that Obama "hired more openly LGBT Americans to serve in his administration than any other in history."

*****

What, no Episcopalians? According to LifeWay Research, same-sex couples are more likely to ask Presbyterian pastors to marry them. More than 120,000 same-sex couples have tied the knot since the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide last year. (The number of American weddings in 2014, by comparison, was more than 2.1 million.)

For preachers, requests to officiate at a same-sex wedding remain rare. Just 11 percent of the 1,000 Protestant senior pastors surveyed by LifeWay Research have been asked to perform a same-sex wedding.

Baptist pastors (1%) are the least likely to say they were asked to perform a same-sex wedding. Presbyterian/Reformed pastors (26%) are most likely. Lutherans (19%), Methodists (9%), Christian/Church of Christ (7%), and Pentecostals (6%) fall in between. No mention of Episcopalians in the Lifeway Research!

Overall, pastors who identify as mainline were three times more likely to have been asked than evangelical pastors (18% vs. 6%). Pastors aged 55 and older (14%) are twice as likely to have been asked than those 54 years and younger (7%).

Pastors of majority-African American churches are less likely than those of other majority ethnicities to be asked (4%).

"Most couples, if they want a church wedding, will ask a pastor they know or who they think will support them," said LifeWay executive director Scott McConnell. "For same-sex couples, this appears to be an older Presbyterian pastor."

A previous LifeWay study found most Protestant pastors believe same-sex marriage is morally wrong. So it's no surprise few are asked to perform such ceremonies, McConnell said.

About a third of senior pastors (34%) said that LGBT people are not allowed to serve in any capacity. Thirty percent say they can serve "anywhere." Fifteen percent say LGBT people can serve in at least one role. Twenty-one percent aren't sure or haven't discussed the issue.

*****

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