Stretched in service. Every honourable work, whether manual or mental or both, whether waged or voluntary, however humble or menial, needs to be seen by Christians as some kind of cooperation with God, in which we share with him in the transformation of the world which he has made and committed to our care. This applies alike to industry and commerce, to public services and the professions, and to full-time home-making and motherhood. As for the particular form which our partnership with God will take (i.e., in more mundane terms, what career we will follow, what job we will take), this will depend more than anything else on our temperament and talents, education and training. We should want to be stretched in the service of God, so that everything we are and have is fulfilled, not frustrated. --- John R. W. Stott
Choose your enemies carefully...for you will become like them -- Ancient Proverb
Post-modern progressives, contrary to popular belief, are not irreligious. They worship at the altar of government power, lifting the chalice of "diversity" and eating the bread of "tolerance." --- Robert Knight
The goal of the left is to make pornography public and religion private. --- C. S. Lewis
Why is gender open to self-definition while race and ethnicity are not? --- PMC Abstract
Dear Brothers and Sisters
March 3, 2017
The Episcopal Church announced the merger of an Episcopal seminary with a liberal Protestant seminary this week, both are progressive and long ago departed from the faith once for all delivered to the saints.
The Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, announced it would pursue an affiliation with Union Theological Seminary. According to an announcement from EDS, such a merger would create an EDS entity to provide Episcopal theological education at Union's New York City campus.
The two progressive seminaries are merging following a financial shortfall and dropping enrollment at the historic Boston-area institution affiliated with the Episcopal Church, writes Jeff Walton of The Institute for Religion and Democracy.
Of course, this is just the beginning of more coming mergers of TEC's 11 Episcopal seminaries that have outlasted their usefulness. A progressive curriculum no different from the New York Times, wrapped up in progressive liturgies that announce a different god from that of Biblical faith is a sure way to die. What is going on is little more than spiritual suicide dressed up in fancy robes.
Few students want to pay for an education that will not guarantee them a job that will pay them a living wage from a congregation that isn't big enough to support them and pay back seminary education at the same time. Nearly 50% of all TEC's parishes have part-time, retired or second career priests. The average age of an ordinand is now 46 years old and that tells you something.
Looking for a good seminary, try Trinity School for Ministry or Nashotah House. Among other things, they are both solvent and offer fine theological educations.
Archbishop Justin Welby recently toured Africa, meeting with recently enthroned primates from Burundi, Congo, Rwanda and Kenya, updating them on various developments in the Anglican Communion.
Sources tell VOL that the trip was first of all designed to woo these younger and more vulnerable primates away from GAFCON. He did not visit Nigeria, the largest province in the Anglican communion and the most solidly evangelical. Had he gone there, he would undoubtedly have gotten an earful from Archbishop Nicholas Okoh about the recent synod vote on homosexuality in the Church of England. Welby spared himself that conversation or chastisement.
The tour was billed "to hear about and see the work of the Church in each Province; to discuss future opportunities for the Anglican Communion in the world; and to pray together," and to make sure that they are onboard when he calls for another meeting of the Primates in October (2 - 6) of this year, again in Canterbury Cathedral, following the lackluster meeting of the same primates last January, in Canterbury.
But VOL has been told that it is most unlikely that the GAFCON Primates will be attending this meeting, leaving it to moderates and liberals to hear what the ABC has to say. "The general mood is no," a Primate told VOL.
But Welby needs to be sure that these new primates will show up, and to do that he made this trip in an effort to shore up his position as primus inter pares. You can read the full story in today's digest.
Vice-President Mike Pence attended Falls Church Anglican last week. You can read the story in today's digest. He is not the only Anglican in politics. John Kasick a presidential wannabee also attended an ACNA parish in Ohio.
ASHES TO GO is a blasphemy. The receiving of ashes on Ash Wednesday, is not simply a single act performed by the priest. It is the conclusion of a time of prayer and contemplation and a physical sign that one has undertaken such self-examination - "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return". To receive ashes outside of this context of self-examination, such as in "ashes on the go", is to receive a sign that signifies nothing. To call "ashes on the go" a form of evangelism, is to confuse the public display of a rite of the Church with the actual sharing of the redemptive message of Christ.
Episcopal clergy who perform "ashes to go" are just showing off in a public setting and looking for a photo op.
The Bishop of Albany, Bill Love, has appointed the Rev. Dr. Leander Harding to be the Dean of All Saints Cathedral, Albany. Harding was formerly professor at Trinity School for Ministry and is presently at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Catskill, NY.
Harding is in his fourth decade as a priest of the Episcopal Church. This is a smart move by the bishop, as his predecessor left to join the ACNA because he did not want to get into a battle over homosexuality in the cathedral.
Harding is a good choice to heal the wounds and perhaps move the cathedral in a solidly evangelical direction.
A story I wrote about a Long Island priest caught trading child porn and more caught the eye of a local priest when I wrote that the diocese was basically kept alive by Anglo-Catholics from the Caribbean. That's partially true, he wrote.
"Actually, what really keeps the diocese afloat is all of the money it rakes in from selling off dead churches. If you were to go to the cathedral or Mercer School, you would see immaculate grounds, smiling progressive clergy everywhere, and assume all was well. Really, they're just living off the fat of their spoils. Without real estate sales, they would be financially (in addition to morally) bankrupt."
There is no serious evangelism being done on the Island which spells death over time. The Bishop, one Lawrence Provenzano is a former Roman Catholic and understands little about evangelism, if anything. Today, he would be best described as an Affirming Catholic. Of course, he has jumped on the bandwagon of the PB's call for a Jesus Movement moment, but probably hasn't got a clue what to do with it.
The Episcopal Church got another woman bishop this week in the person of Jennifer Brooke-Davidson. She was elected bishop suffragan of the Diocese of West Texas.
At 56, she is the first woman to be elected bishop in the Diocese of West Texas. She is currently the vicar of St. Elizabeth Episcopal Church in Buda, Texas, and was one of seven nominees. Now, as the sixth bishop suffragan of the diocese, she will serve alongside diocesan Bishop, David M. Reed.
She will be yet another politically correct woman bishop, but there is little evidence that she will be able to make the diocese grow. Has any woman Episcopal bishop brought about church growth? Most can be seen riding on the backs of convertibles during gay pride parade days, waving flags of inclusion. Politically correct her election might be, but it won't make for a growing, vibrant stronger diocese or church. But, of course, the pension is worth the job.
The Diocese of Huron has financial problems, its cathedral is starting to fall down and its churches are being closed and sold.
An example from an annual vestry report from St. James, Westminster, serves to illustrate the aura of doom and pessimism that has settled over the diocese, writes David of Samizdat, an orthodox Canadian Anglican blogger.
The rector of the parish at the time of the report was Rev. Dr. Gary Nicolosi. In 2011, Nicolosi prepared a document called "Twelve Steps to Church Growth"; in his 2016 vestry report, he bemoaned the "state of the church in these times emphasizing decreased attendance" and that that the ACoC "will probably have to decrease the number of dioceses in the future". So much for the twelve steps to church growth -- perhaps its readers failed to recognize the existence of a Higher Power.
A vestry report for St. Paul's, the diocesan cathedral, is equally somber. The diocese is failing to meet existing financial commitments, still owes $5 Million in court costs and the cathedral can't find the money to fix the roof and doesn't have enough toilets. The one bright note in all this is that a "gender neutral washroom" is on the horizon; at least that may attract some peeping toms and boost the numbers.
To counter the falling away of parishioners, the financial problems and the wavering faith of the few remaining faithful, the cathedral's Rev. Deacon Pat Henderson recently led an expedition to a local Mosque to learn about the five pillars of Islam. If that doesn't reverse the tide, nothing will. Come to think of it, perhaps Henderson is looking to the future when the cathedral finally falls down and the last parishioners still managing to cheat death need to find somewhere compatible to worship.
IN OTHER NEWS, a new report recommends the closure of three long-established churches in Peterborough, Ontario.
A commission made up of members of the city's four Anglican Churches and one Lutheran Church has made the recommendation.
The commission's report - posted on the website of St. John's Anglican Church - states that attendance at the five churches combined has dropped since 2001 from 1,000 people to 500 every Sunday.
The commission recommends a reduction to two churches instead of five.
It doesn't say which three churches should close: Church members are expected to discuss the recommendation, and if they accept it they'll have to decide.
The churches in question are St. John's, St. Barnabas, All Saints', St. Luke's and Christ Lutheran.
The Anglican Church has backed itself into a corner with these Gender Neutral washrooms; for example, could there be two individuals in the washroom at the same time, and might there be "hanky panky" going on?
The United, Anglican, Presbyterian and Evangelical Lutherans in Canada churches are on death watch, with more casualties to come. These churches all went down the liberal road and with liberalism, there is no growth as parishioners leave.
On an Allied note the Presbyterian Record magazine has gone out of business, but one recent issue that I saw at the library was all about the LGBTQ2A etc.. No wonder the magazine is no more, who in their right mind would support it?
If Philip North can't be Bishop of Sheffield, the Church of England ceases to be catholic.
The Dean of Christ Church, Professor Martyn Percy, issued an ultimatum in which he said that either the Rt. Rev. Philip North, currently Bishop of Burnley, who opposes women priests and bishops, must renounce his membership of The Society, whose mission is to "promote and maintain catholic teaching and practice within the Church of England"; or he must withdraw himself from nomination to the See of Sheffield, which Professor Percy describes as a "go-ahead, vibrant, progressive city."
He did not ask for Bishop Philip to withdraw, but "rather, I invite him to reflect on his position, and work through his theological convictions with honesty and sincerity; in other words, act with integrity" (the inference being that for him to be consecrated Bishop of Sheffield, where apparently a third of clergy are women, would be dishonest, insincere, and devoid of integrity).
The logic is impeccable: Philip North does not believe that women, or men ordained by women bishops, are sacramentally valid priests, so how can he possibly affirm their vocations, ministries and identities? What credible words of affirmation can he give to women priests under his episcopal authority when they know, deep down, that he does not believe they actually exist; that their holy orders are absolutely null and utterly void? And even if he acknowledges their existence as church leaders and ministers of the Word.
Martyn Percy probes deeper and says this; "But the crucial question is, what does Bishop Philip think is happening at the altar, when a woman is presiding at the Eucharist. I don't know. And so far, Bishop Philip has tended to be ambiguous in his statements on this matter. But this issue cannot now be fudged. Any answer that sidesteps the question as to whether such a sacramental offering is valid or efficacious would be pastorally and personally undermining of women clergy. And to repeat, the position of The Society is that 'we can't receive [this] ministry'.
There is no room here for a formulaic Anglican fudge: there is simply no place for sexism in the Church of England, for, as Professor Percy states, "tolerating intolerance is not virtuous practice". It is a missional imperative: "We can't speak with authenticity publicly, when we still sanction and sacralize sexism: CofE is just made to look like an odd reactionary sect," he tweeted.
And yet in his impeccable logic is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of Anglicanism: it is almost as if the great Professor Martyn Percy is trying to play pope, which would be a very un-Anglican thing indeed.
Forward in Faith pushed back with the Bishop of Wakefield, Tony Robinson issuing the following statement on behalf of the Council of Bishops of The Society.
"We are confident that the ministry of Bishop Philip North as Bishop of Sheffield will make a very significant contribution to the life and mission of the Church. We have been delighted by the welcome that his nomination has received from representatives of a wide range of traditions in the Diocese of Sheffield and in the Church of England more widely. The support expressed by many female clergy who have experience of his ministry and gifts is especially encouraging. Their response gives grounds for hope that the Five Guiding Principles and the spirit of mutual flourishing that they embody have begun to permeate through the Church of England.
"In our 2015 statement 'A Catholic Life in the Church of England' we said: 'We reject any so-called "theology of taint" whereby a bishop who ordains women to the episcopate or the priesthood thereby invalidates his own orders and renders invalid the orders of those whom he subsequently ordains.' We made it clear that priests ordained by such bishops are welcomed as Priests of The Society. We are disappointed that our beliefs continue to be misrepresented."
As Church of England parishes close for lack of interest in the gospel, something new is emerging. It is called Champing - the simple concept of camping in ancient churches and it is taking the world by storm and sweeping England. But what is it like to actually spend a night in the silence of these buildings? You can read more here: www.champing.co.uk
The challenge with the transgender debate is that Christians must say two very different things at the same time.
To those pushing an agenda that says your bathroom is my bathroom and your gender is whatever you want it to be, we want to say: This is absurd. Patently absurd. There is no scientific reason, no justice reason, no internally consistent reason to think we can be boys or girls just by declaring it so. In our saner moments we know this to be true. No one would allow me to "become" Asian or African American, even if I thought that's who I was deep down. There are facts about my biology that cannot be denied. Why is gender open to self-definition, while race and ethnicity are not?
As many others have pointed out, the logic of our transgender moment simply does not hold together. Are male and female distinct categories so that we should we be pushing "equal work for equal pay" and celebrating every "first woman to do X" achievement? Or are the categories completely malleable so that even if the talk of binary gender norms is offensive? Two nights ago I watched a few minutes of the Oscars and then flipped to watch some of the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships on ESPN. It struck me that many of the people attending the Oscars and many of the universities represented on the track, would fully applaud the transgender agenda. And yet, here they are with their antiquated categories of Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress and their old-fashioned ideas of men and women running the mile in totally separate races.
Three Reasons Contemporary Worship IS Declining, and What We Can Do to Help the Church Move On.
Author Jonathan Aigner, in an article, says contemporary worship is declining.
Some months ago, T. David Gordon wrote a post entitled "The Imminent Decline of Contemporary Worship Music: Eight Reasons" that continues to be widely read and shared. While I don't agree with Gordon on every point, what he says gives us hope for the future of the worshiping church. Alongside his reasons, here are the three main reasons I see for the decline (if not demise) of the contemporary worship movement.
Baby boomers are losing their influence. Or, as Gordon more bluntly puts it, "my own generation is beginning to die." Your parents, not your kids, are the biggest proponents of contemporary worship. I've seen this in my own ministry. The most committed (and often the most obstinate) defenders of contemporary worship is rapidly becoming the older generation. While their influence remains in many places, it is waning. Within a few short years, contemporary worship will have lost its original impetus and driving force.
Millennials are seeking old ways of doing things. This (thankfully) doesn't mean a return to the church of the 1950's, but it (thankfully) means an increasing rejection of the church of the 1990's and 2000's. More emphasis is being placed on liturgy and community, and less on using corporate worship chiefly as a contrived evangelistic tool. Also, as I've cited before, most millennials (and I'm one of them, by the way) grew up not knowing anything other than contemporary worship, and we're leaving the church faster than any generation before us. Even by its own standards (i.e., number of butts in the seats) contemporary worship is a failed experiment.
Contemporary worship is an unstable and non-theological movement. To be thoroughly contemporary necessitates a slavish allegiance to the new, the current, the hip, the cool, and the commercial. It requires a thorough rejection of what is old, passe, not current, not cool and what doesn't make money. The bright shiny objects that get butts in the seats must continue becoming brighter and shinier. This holy bait-and-switch tactic is wearing thin. This constant need to reinvent yourself is a pretty tough row to hoe for any church, and few besides the largest and wealthiest are able to keep butts in the seats with any continued success.
Yes, this is good news, but for those of us who have long been resigned to the wars, there is much work to be done. Here are a few ways we can shake off our weak resignation to the movement and push toward a more profound alleluia.
Resist the temptation to "contemporize" old or new songs. The commercial idiom is thoroughly focused on recorded, individual performance. It deemphasizes the human voice, and emphasizes soloistic interpretation, affected vocal production, and contrived performance. This certainly doesn't mean we can't do new music (we should), but that we must choose music that can be sung well by a congregation and without conformity to commercial forms.
Look beyond the false worship dichotomy. We've done ourselves and the church a disservice by insisting that there are two kinds of worshipers, traditional and contemporary, and that everyone belongs to one or the other in accordance with their personality or preferences or however they happen to feel when they wake up on Sunday morning. Our musical tastes don't dictate how we worship, our theology does. Both of these extremes are toxic. All worship is historic because it recalls the creative and redemptive acts of God. All worship is contemporary, because we're doing it now. All worship is future, because it foretells the coming resurrection. So let's move away from the false dichotomy toward a generous tradition. This frees us to be creative and diverse in our music-making, without being bound to arbitrary constructs in pursuit of a target audience.
This report, however, is good news for Anglicans who still believe in having an authentic liturgy, traditional prayers and hymns that make theological sense. "I come to the garden alone" could be a love song by Beyonce.
If I hear one more time; "Jesus you are like totally, totally awesome," I will raise my vomit card in protest.
SOUTH SUDAN. "We had had another conflict in Southern part of Wau town recently. Over four thousand people have been displaced and are now camping in our Cathedral compound. I am borrowing food items from businessmen in Wau market because people are starving at the door of my house especially elderly people, pregnant mothers, women who have just delivered and children who have been separated from their parents. These people have not been given any relief food since they arrived at our Cathedral compound, writes The Rt. Revd. Moses Deng Bol, Bishop of Wau, South Sudan.
There is a devastating famine occurring in South Sudan, a country where a violent civil war has already created Africa's biggest refugee crisis. ARDF is partnering with the Bishop of Wau on the ground to deliver life-saving food and supplies to the South Sudanese suffering from this famine. Currently, the bishop has had to borrow money to buy food to save the lives of vulnerable IDPs (internally displaced people, i.e. refugees in their own country). But both time and money are running out and the situation is only growing more dire. ARDF is blessed to have contacts on the ground who can get aid to those who need it most.
VOL calls on it readers to donate to fight hunger. ARDF prayerfully asks you to fast one day a week during Lent to remember our brothers and sisters who are starving in South Sudan. You can donate here:
There is also a Barnabas Aid link at VOL's website to support the famine in East Africa. Click here:
The Anglican Way Institute will hold a Summer Conference, exploring 500 Years of Reformation 1517-2017. It is billed as "Biblical, Theological, and Ecumenical Reflections on a Movement that Changed the World"
Featured Keynote Speakers include The Most Rev. Ray R. Sutton, The Rev. Dr. Carl Braaten and The Rev. Dr. Peter Leithart. It will be held in Dallas, Texas, July 5-9, 2017.
CORRECTION. It is not two Episcopal seminaries but one Episcopal seminary merging with a liberal Protestant seminary. My apologies for the error.
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