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GAFCON to Plant Bishop in UK * "Regrettable" says Scottish Episcopal Primus * Anglican Church of Canada Continues to Disintegrate * Eight Gay Marriages in ACoC so far * Anglican Church in Brazil Thrives *Church in Ireland to vote on Same-Sex relationships

There will be no religious left in the long term because the religious left, as it is currently constituted, doesn't even believe in its own religion. --- Rod Dreher

The whole agender, transgender, and LGBT agenda is about accepting as normal what is patently disordered. That is all it is. It promotes a kind of rebellion in the very young teens as a way to annoy their parents and make it culturally acceptable. This forever tendency has been through such things as smoking, drug experimentation, tattoos, piercings, weird hair styles, weird clothes, etc. etc. Now they are doing it with gender experimentation. Why? Because they can. It gives them a sense of power by offending the older generation who are their authority figures. -- Dr. Bruce Atkinson

The real secret of expository preaching is not mastering certain techniques, but being mastered by certain convictions. --- John R.W. Stott

"Be careful, be very careful. What has happened here will come to you." -- An elderly priest in Iraq, to Fr. Benedict Kiely.

"Shouldn't the issue of Middle Eastern Christians wake up European civilization to its core identity? Shouldn't we in Europe and the West be telling ourselves that these attacks are also aimed at us?" -- Mathieu Bock-Côte, in Le Figaro.

In the Middle East, Christianity is over in Iraq due to Islamic extremism; in Europe, Christianity is committing suicide. --- Giulio Meotti

Dear Brothers and sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
May 5, 2017

The news dropped like a bombshell on the Anglican Communion. Archbishop Justin Welby got hit with an ecclesiastical MOAB. All his talk of "radical new Christian inclusion," "mutual flourishing", "good disagreement" and other bland statements of optimism got bombed to smithereens.

The Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) of Primates said they will appoint a "missionary bishop" for orthodox Anglicans in England and Europe, bypassing Anglican Churches in England and Scotland.

The move came in the form of a communique this week from Lagos where some 24 leaders including archbishops, bishops and leading clergy were led by Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria. They came from nine Anglican provinces and five provincial "branches". GAFCON represents the majority of world Anglicans.

The authority of Scripture, the failure to preach a clear gospel message and the acceptance of pansexuality in a number of Western provinces brought on this crisis, with the Global South adamantly refusing to compromise the teaching of Scripture on homosexual behavior.

In their communique they said, "During our meeting, we considered how best to respond to the voice of faithful Anglicans in some parts of the Global North who are in need of biblically faithful episcopal leadership.

"Of immediate concern is the reality that on 8th June 2017 the Scottish Episcopal Church is likely to formalize their rejection of Jesus' teaching on marriage. If this were to happen, faithful Anglicans in Scotland will need appropriate pastoral care.

With reference to churches planted in England but outside the CofE by the orthodox Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), they said, "These churches are growing, and are in need of episcopal leadership. Therefore, we have decided to consecrate a missionary bishop who will be tasked with providing episcopal leadership for those who are outside the structures of any Anglican province, especially in Europe."

The AMiE said in a statement that they were "delighted" by the move; "We thank God that the number of AMiE churches is growing and that an increasing number of individuals are exploring ordination with us. As a result, we have an urgent need for more episcopal leadership." They said the consecration of a missionary bishop will help it "achieve our gospel ambition of planting 25 healthy Anglican churches by 2025 and 250 by 2050".

The GAFCON communique did try to reassure orthodox members of the Church of England, and said this; "We are aware that some Christians within these provinces who are contending for the faith may at first perceive the news of a missionary bishop as a threat to their hopes for reform from within."

By contrast, The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. David Chillingworth, said the actions of the GAFCON primates was "regrettable" and said the action lacked respect for the territorial integrity of each province. "This move is a breach of that understanding." You can read full reports on all this in today's digest.

*****

The Anglican Church in Ireland's ruling general synod will meet for its annual meeting in Limerick this week, and it is set to vote on a same-sex relationship motion calling on bishops to approve thanksgiving prayers for gay couples.

A private member's motion by Dr. Leo Kilroy stops short of calling for a change in Church teaching, but it asks the synod to acknowledge "the injury felt by members of the Church who enter into loving, committed and legally-recognized, same-sex relationships, due to the absence of provision for them to mark that key moment in their lives publicly and prayerfully in Church".

If approved the motion asks bishops to present their suggestions to the next annual synod meeting in 2018 but any proposals would not actually be approved until 2019 at the earliest.

It comes as GAFCON, a group of orthodox Anglican primates within the worldwide Anglican Communion, vowed to appoint a "missionary bishop" for conservative Christians in the wake of what it sees as a liberalizing trend in Anglican Churches.

The move bypasses traditional authorities such as the Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop David Chillingworth, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which is set to approve a change in teaching on gay marriage next month.

*****

The Anglican Church of Canada continues to spin its slow disintegration. David of Samizdat writes, "What is a bishop to do when his diocese no longer has the money to pay for clergy salaries or building maintenance, when members of his parishes are either fleeing or dying? Other than donning a rainbow miter and, with an increasingly embarrassing air of desperation, be so inclusive the main requirement for membership is to believe in anything, the only thing left is to spin the truth so brazenly that there is, as Joseph Goebbels noted, "a certain force of credibility" to the underpinning lie.

Thus, when the Diocese of British Columbia has to sell buildings just to stay afloat and maintain pension funds, the church's mission, according to Matthew 28:19 using the Standard New Amplified Revised Liberal (SNARL) translation, becomes:

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, and build socially, affordable housing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

Here is what a diocesan press release announced:

"The Anglican church building in Ladysmith, formerly St. John the Evangelist, will become a seniors' housing complex."

The Left Rev. Logan McMenamie, Bishop of the Diocese of British Columbia, said the move to sell the church to the Ladysmith Resources Centre Association for social housing, was made in the spirit of fulfilling the Christian mission of the church.

"The ministry of the Anglican church will not end," said McMenamie. "Socially, affordable housing is a big priority for the diocese as we move ahead."

The Ladysmith Resources Centre Association plans on redeveloping the site to create 30-40 units of affordable housing dedicated to seniors, people with developmental disabilities and others who have trouble with the rental market. You can read the full story here:
http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/old-anglican-church-to-become-seniors-housing-in-ladysmith-1.17914923

*****

Since the first reading at General Synod 2016 of a resolution to allow for the solemnization of same-sex marriages, eight couples have been married in three Anglican Church of Canada dioceses--with more planning on walking down the aisle in the coming year.

Four weddings of same-sex couples have taken place in the diocese of Niagara, three in the diocese of Toronto and one in the diocese of Ottawa, according to the offices of the respective diocesan bishops. Toronto and Ottawa also noted that several other same-sex couples in their dioceses are in the process of preparation for marriage.

Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson, of the diocese of Montreal, said she is currently going through a discernment process with four same-sex couples considering marriage.

Bishop Logan McMenamie, of the diocese of British Columbia, announced at a diocesan synod in autumn 2016 that he will "move forward with the marriage of same-sex couples in the diocese" on a case-by-case basis. When the Anglican Journal contacted his office in March 2017, no same-sex couples had yet approached the diocese about the possibility of marriage.

Following the first reading of the motion to change the marriage canon (church law) of the Anglican Church of Canada to allow for the marriage of same-sex couples--which was initially, but incorrectly, declared as being defeated in a vote--several bishops publicly announced they would nonetheless marry same-sex couples.

Niagara Bishop Michael Bird, Ottawa Bishop John Chapman, Toronto Archbishop Colin Johnson, then Huron Bishop Bob Bennett and then Coadjutor (now diocesan) Bishop Linda Nicholls all stated that they would marry same-sex couples as a pastoral measure, citing an opinion by General Synod Chancellor David Jones, that the marriage canon as it stands does not actually bar same-sex marriage.

Following discovery of a voting error, which showed that the motion had actually passed its first reading, Bird, Chapman and Johnson said they would still go ahead with same-sex marriage. However, Bennett and Nicholls issued another statement, clarifying that their diocese was "committed to ongoing consultations" as required by the same-sex motion. At press time, no changes to diocesan policy regarding the marriage of same-sex couples had been made.

This is all happening before the vote in 2019 to finalize approval of same-sex marriage in the Anglican Church of Canada, writes David of Samizdat. "If it seems chaotic, it is because it is: Fred Hiltz says he has no authority to prevent it, Michael Bird and other bishops have cheerfully declared they can proceed because no one can find anything in the canons that says they can't and, even though synod has pronounced same-sex marriage a matter of theology, Bird et al. have effectively said, no it isn't it's pastoral.

"Considering the energy, time and passion invested in this, and the ensuing mayhem, it would be reasonable for an outsider to assume that there are thousands or, at the very least, hundreds of same-sex couples clamoring to be joined in unholy matrimony in an Anglican church. But no: there have been eight so far.

"Eight! That's 0.000044% of the population; on the positive side, it a beautiful illustration of how effective the ACoC's efforts to be relevant are to average Canadians."

*****

GAFCON is playing a strategic role in the renewal of the Anglican Church in Brazil, reports the Rev. Charles Raven.

"Most Christians in the UK probably have only the haziest idea of what Anglicanism looks like in South America. The Edinburgh Missionary Conference of 1910 inhibited Protestant and Anglican missionary work in the continent at a time when the English language was (and still is) marginal. This is unlike most other areas of the Anglican Communion where the British influence was much stronger.

"And yet, out of the continuing crisis in the world wide Anglican Communion, and in spite of official persecution in the area, a reinvigorated and missionary church is emerging in South America. In fact, the pattern of North America is being repeated -- just as a new GAFCON recognized Province, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), arose out of the aggressive and assertive revisionism of the American Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada, so in South America a new orthodox Province is coming into being as the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB) and various TEC satellite provinces in central and northern South America follow the lead of their North American counterparts.

"This new emerging Province is based on the Anglican Diocese of Recife, an area of northern Brazil bordering the Atlantic Ocean which constitutes the eastern tip of the South American continent. Until recently it was part of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, having been planted as a missionary diocese in 1974 under the visionary leadership of Bishop Edmund Knox Sherrill, a convinced evangelical. The diocese prospered, while the rest of the IEAB declined as it fell under the financial influence of The Episcopal Church of the United States."

The is remarkable missionary work is being led by a dear friend of mine, Bishop Miguel Uchoa. You can read the full report in today's digest.

*****

Once upon a time the Church Army (UK) was an army of salvation. Its mission statement read, "We are a mission community of people who are transforming lives and neighborhoods throughout the British Isles and Ireland. We are committed to bringing people to a living faith in Jesus Christ by sharing our Christian faith in words and action and enabling the wider church to do so."

Not anymore. Canon Mark Russell, Chief Executive of the Church Army is decidedly pro-gay and has come out in favor of something called Diverse Church. He commends it as an excellent resource for the wider church. "I have been encouraged by the way Diverse Church fosters deep commitment to Jesus Christ as found in Scripture and the joy and hope that is found in His Gospel. Since being asked to be part of their pastoral facilitation team I have seen first-hand how transformative this community has been for many of its members in helping them to flourish in their local churches. Diverse Church shows how loving Christian community can bring young people back to life in God."

Diverse maybe, but biblical and faithful to Scripture, no more.

*****

A landmark new report conveys the findings of the "world's first systematic global investigation into the responses of Christian communities to persecution."

The Background: The global persecution of Christians has been frequently documented and reported on over the past decade. But Under Caesar's Sword: Christian Response to Persecution reveals for the first time how Christians around the world respond to persecution. The project is a partnership of the University of Notre Dame's Center for Ethics and Culture, the Religious Freedom Institute, and Georgetown University's Religious Freedom Research Project.

According to the report, a team of 17 leading scholars of global Christianity carried out the project through qualitative field research, including interviews with persecuted Christians, conducted between October 2014 and November 2015. The purpose of the investigation was to "achieve a better understanding of these responses in order to assist persecuted Christians and those who wish to act in solidarity with them."

The report defines religious persecution as "any unjust action of varying levels of hostility directed to religious believers through systematic oppression or through irregular harassment or discrimination resulting in various levels of harm as it is considered from the victim's perspective, each action having religion as its primary motivator."

The modes of persecution, the study notes, include arbitrary detention, coercive and unjust interrogation, forced labor, imprisonment, beating, torture, disappearance, forced flight from homes, enslavement, rape, murder, unjust execution, attacks on and destruction of churches, and credible threats to carry out such actions.

The Findings: The investigation found that Christian responses to persecution tend to fall into three types, ranging from reactive to proactive: survival, association, and confrontation.

The report defines and explains each of the three types of response and how often they are used. Responses of survival (used 43 percent of the time) are strategies whereby Christians aim to preserve the life and the most characteristic activities of their communities, including worship, education, community life, and sometimes evangelization. Strategies of association (38 percent) are more proactive include engaging in interreligious dialogue, cooperating with other Christian communities, and forging coalitions and partnerships inside countries. Strategies of confrontation (19 percent) are those in which Christians openly challenge the persecuting government or non-state actors. This can include acceptance of imprisonment or martyrdom as a mode of witness or, more rarely, taking up arms against a government or rival social groups

Evangelicals and Pentecostal Christians are more likely to be persecuted than mainline Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, or other Christians associated with ancient churches, the report notes. In response to such persecution, evangelical and Pentecostal Christians are more likely to engage in strategies of survival or, on rare occasions, confrontation. They are less likely, however, to engage in strategies of association. Mainline Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox Christians, on the other hand, are more likely to respond through strategies of association.

*****

Roman Catholic and Coptic churches have agreed to recognize each other's baptisms. The decision was disclosed in a common declaration signed on April 28 by Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Francis was on a solidarity visit to Egypt in the wake of the Palm Sunday bombings that left 47 Coptic Christians dead and many injured.

Under the agreement, the churches undertake not to repeat baptisms done by the other church. This long-standing practice followed the split between the two churches dating from the Council of Chalcedon (451).

The statement commits the churches to work together for a shared formulation of the Lord's Prayer and a common date for celebrating Easter. While in Egypt, Pope Francis addressed a peace conference hosted by the Grand Imam of al-Azhar. [Source The Living Church]

*****

The Archbishop of Canterbury was in Jordan this week and reflected on meeting Iraqi Christians on the first day of his visit to Jordan, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

He visited St. Paul's Anglican Church in Amman, Jordan and heard the stories of persecuted Christians.
"It was their stories which I found especially moving. The intense suffering of Iraqi Christians does not end when they leave Iraq. As I listened, there was this awful sense of lives torn apart. People are divided from their children and families and have no idea what will happen. One woman has children in both Germany and the Netherlands, but has been refused entry to both so she doesn't know when or if they will ever be reunited. One man told me he has no hope at all. He said he is caught between Islamic State, the government and NGOs who further discriminate against him because he is a Christian.

One woman told the ABC that she can endure persecution as a Christian because the Bible teaches that that is to be expected. What she did not expect was that the worldwide church would ignore their plight.

The ABC prayed for God's protection over their community. He also prayed that the Western Church would be stirred up to do something. "We are human beings with our persecuted brothers and sisters. We must embrace them. We must also find ways of improving things in this region. We do not want a Middle East without Christians. Christians have a long history in the Middle East, they are still here, and they surely must be part of its future."

*****

New research has found fewer than one in three Britons believe faith matters.

Ipsos Mori found 30 per cent of people said religion is important to them, a figure significantly lower than the global average of 53 per cent.

The statistics place Britain among the least religious countries in the world, with only Sweden, Belgium and Japan ranked lower.

The survey, which polled 18,000 people across 23 countries, also found four in five Britons believe the country has become more hostile towards immigration.

It concluded fewer than one in ten people believe healthcare will improve in future.

According to the 2011 census, 14.1 million - around one in four - people in England and Wales reported that they had no religion.

While the proportion of the population who identify as Christian declined from 72 per cent in 2001 to 59 per cent in 2011, all other main religious groups - including Islam - grew.

*****

The Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows was ordained and consecrated the eleventh Episcopal bishop of Indianapolis April 29, making her the first black woman to lead a diocese in the history of the Episcopal Church and the first woman to succeed another woman as diocesan bishop.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry led the service as chief consecrator and was joined by more than 40 bishops from across the church. Nearly 1,400 participated in the service at Clowes Hall on the campus of Butler University. Diocese of Chicago Jeffrey D. Lee preached. From 2012 until her election as bishop, Baskerville-Burrows served on Lee's staff as director of networking in the Diocese of Chicago.

*****

Nashotah House will play host to Living Sacrifices: Repentance, Reconciliation, and Renewal" will focus on the history of Anglicanism and the future of the Anglican Communion. June 6 - 9

Scheduled plenary speakers include:

The Most Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion
The Rev. Paul Avis, visiting professor at the University of Exeter's Department of Theology and Religion and editor in chief of Ecclesiology
The Rt. Rev. Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop of Basingstoke from 1994 to 2001 and Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe from 2001 to 2013
The Rev. Ephraim Radner, professor of historical theology at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto
The Rt. Rev. George Sumner, seventh Bishop of Dallas
Dr. Garwood Anderson, professor of New Testament and Greek at Nashotah House Theological Seminary
The Rev. Michael Cover, assistant professor of theology at Marquette University and a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation in the United States
Dr. Wesley Hill, assistant professor of biblical studies at Trinity School for Ministry
The Rev. Michael Poon, former director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia at Trinity Theological College, Singapore
Dr. Christopher Wells, executive director of the Living Church Foundation
Dr. Susan K. Wood, SCL, professor of systematic theology in the Department of Theology at Marquette University

For more information or to register:
Visit www.nashotah.edu/conference

*****

Just when you thought that North American Christianity couldn't get any more bizarre along comes this. At Denver's newest church, the aim is to have a mind-altering experience.

The International Church of Cannabis opened its doors on Thursday after a number of legal roadblocks and considerable media buzz. Painted with vibrant, rainbow-colored murals by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel and American artist Kenny Scharf, the church is apparently a vision to behold.

"When one takes the sacrament and meditates on the meaning of the murals, one may have what feels like a transcendental experience," states the church's website. "In those moments, one receives the meaning one requires at that time."

Members of the church are known as Elevationists. Their faith holds that "an individual's spiritual journey, and search for meaning, is one of self-discovery that can be accelerated and deepened with ritual cannabis use."

As Elevationist Lee Molloy told The Huffington Post: "When we ritually take cannabis our mind is elevated and we become a better version of self." The only question is, why didn't TEC think of this when it was running after pansexuality. There is a natural link between potty theology and pot.

*****

Things just get better-n-better for the ACNA. More than 70 were confirmed on Sunday by Bishop John Guernsey at Falls Church, Virginia, an ACNA parish led by the Rev. John Yates. When did you last hear of an Episcopal parish confirming a number like that in ANY parish in the U.S.?

*****

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