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Nigerian Primate Nixes Welby's Summit * Ugandan Primate Blasts Welby * C of E Irrelevant to Most Brits * Wales Elects New Archbishop * ACNA & Holy Orders * ACNA not Anglican says ACC Sec-Gen * National Cathedral to Remove Civil War Windows

I have come to the conclusion that God fully intends to let the Episcopal church dig its own grave, and now Presiding Bishop Curry has his hands on the shovel. --- The Underground Pewster

The study on religious affiliation by the National Centre for Social Research found that the proportion of people in the UK who now describe themselves as having no religion has reached more than half, 53 per cent, of the public. --- Daily Mail Report

"A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent." --- John Calvin

The trouble with the Nashville Statement is that it's like poking an angry bear in the eye with a stick. Going up to the violent and angry mob and expressing disagreement goes against a deep-rooted inclination to self-preservation. --- Anne Kennedy

U.S., Baptists are the largest denominational family. Roughly one-third (32%) of all Protestants identify with some Baptist denomination, at least three times the number who identify with the next largest denominational families--Methodist (10%), Pentecostal (10%), and Lutheran (8%). One in twenty identify with the Church of Christ or Disciples of Christ (5%) denominations or with the Presbyterian denomination (5%). Only three percent of Protestants belong to an Episcopalian or Anglican denomination. Notably, nearly one in five (17%) Protestants belong to independent Christian churches that are not affiliated with any Protestant denomination. --- PRRI Report (2117)

The problem with identity politics is that it diminishes who we are as individuals and turns us into little more than members of this or that group. Then it pits us against each other in a battle to be the group which was the most oppressed or did the most oppressing. It demands that we continuously look back and focus on the wrongs committed in the past. It blinds us to life in the here and now and the hard-won individual rights we all have as members of Western liberal democracies. --- Andrew Devine

What IS the point of Justin Welby? He is fiddling as Christian England burns. Why is the Church of England leader giving his views on the economy rather than filling emptying pews? --- Quentin Letts

We can put people on statues only if we remember that we shouldn't really put anyone on a statue. --- Nick Spencer

Dear Brothers and Sisters
www.virtueonline.org
Sept. 8, 2017
Nigerian Archbishop Nicholas Okoh will be a no show at Justin Welby's Anglican summit next month (Oct. 2-6). He is primate of the largest province in the Anglican communion (nearly 25 million souls), so what he says and does matters.

The powerful GAFCON chairman has rejected an invitation to the gabfest, as has the Uganda Primate Ngatali, whose province voted not to allow its primate to be in the same room with a TEC presiding bishop.

Nicholas Okoh rebuked Justin Welby in a letter explaining his refusal to attend, saying he had overseen a "repeated failure to preserve" conservative teaching on sexuality.

Okoh heads the orthodox Evangelical network GAFCON, which represents the majority of Anglicans globally. Welby wanted a second meeting (in two years) next month in an attempt to resolve deep differences around sexuality.

Okoh's snub comes as a challenge to Justin Welby's authority as the head of 85 million Anglicans around the world and could fuel a de facto separation between orthodox churches in Africa, South America and South-East Asia (the Global South) and the liberal revisionist provinces of the US and the West.

"Everything else is the same or worse," Okoh wrote, comparing Welby's tenure to that of his predecessor, Rowan Williams. "There is endless debate, the will of the orthodox Primates is frustrated and misrepresented, false teaching is not being corrected, and nothing is being done to halt orthodox Anglicans in North America (and maybe soon elsewhere) being stripped of the churches that have helped form their spiritual lives.

"In these circumstances, I have concluded that attendance at Canterbury would be to give credibility to a pattern of behaviour which is allowing great damage to be done to global Anglican witness and unity."

Pointing to deep divides over sexuality, Okoh said 'we are living in the midst of the next great Reformation' in a reference to the great split between Protestants and Catholics in the 16th century.

You can read my full report in today's digest.

*****

Leaders at Washington National Cathedral, the closest thing in the country's capital to an official church, have decided after two years of study and debate, to remove two stained-glass windows honoring Confederate figures, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

Saying the stories told in the two 4-by-6-foot windows were painful, distracting and one-sided, a majority of the Cathedral's governing body voted to remove the windows Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning, stone masons were at work putting up scaffolding to begin taking out the art that was installed 64 years ago.

"This isn't simply a conversation about the history of the windows, but a very real conversation in the wider culture about how the Confederate flag and the Old South narrative have been lively symbols today for white supremacists. We'd be made of stone ourselves if we weren't paying attention to that," said Episcopal Washington Bishop, Mariann Edgar Budde.

The cathedral is the official seat of the Episcopal Church, a small Protestant denomination that historically has counted many of America's elite as members, including presidents from George Washington and James Madison to George H.W. Bush. It is the second largest church building in the country and is typically host to official events like presidential funerals and official interfaith ceremonies on presidential swearing-in days, including that of President Trump.

*****

The ACNA College of Bishops is gathering this week (September 5-7) in conclave to discuss the report they had received from the Task Force on Holy Orders earlier this year, specifically women's orders. This is the beginning of our formal discussion as bishops, and I sincerely doubt it will be the end of our prayerful deliberation on this important issue. We are seeking to hear God's will for us as Biblically orthodox, and faithful North American Anglicans, who are part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, wrote Archbishop Foley Beach to ACNA followers.

"As Anglicans, we are a conciliar Church in which decision-making and authority are shared amongst the clergy and laity. If the College of Bishops were to be united in discerning that it is God's will to move in a different direction than that which is established in our Constitution (see Article VIII, Section 2), it would need to be brought to the full leadership of the Church for discernment (i.e. Provincial Council and Provincial Assembly, see Article XV)."

This will be a make or break time on the thorny issue of women's ordination. Traditionally, Anglo-Catholics have rejected it as have some evangelicals including Archbishop Beach and CANA East Bishop Julian Dobbs. But not all evangelicals are persuaded against the ordination of women to the priesthood, including Mark Lawrence, Anglican Bishop of South Carolina. His diocese currently includes seven women among its ordained clergy.

In 2012, the task force was asked to develop resources to help guide the bishops' future discussions on holy orders in general, and the ordination of women in particular, Now it is crunch time.

*****

Is the Church of England relevant to the British people anymore? If not, then why is it relevant to the wider Anglican Communion?

A new survey found that 15 percent of people in Britain consider themselves to be Anglican, compared to about 30 percent in 2000. The proportion of people who say they are Catholic has remained consistent, however, at about 10 percent for the past three decades. About 6 percent belong to non-Christian religions, an increase of 2 percent since 1983. Seventy-one percent of people ages 18-24 said they had no religion, up from 62 percent in 2015.

More than half of the people in Britain say they no longer belong to a religion, according to data released September 5 by NatCen Social Research.

That figure, covering 2016, is up from 48 percent in 2015. The center said in a statement that the data reveals the proportion of people in Britain who describe themselves as having no religion is at its "highest-ever level."

The proportion of nonbelievers has increased gradually since the survey began in 1983, when 31 percent of those surveyed said they had no religion.

Most of the decline in religious affiliation has been among people who previously belonged to the Church of England.

It was an unfortunate coincidence that on the day the British Social Attitudes survey was released which announced that more than half (53%) of the British public now describe themselves as having "no religion" (and the share of the population who say they are CofE has fallen to just 15%), Justin Welby was preaching from the Financial Times pulpit about Britain's economy being "broken and unequal", reports blogger Archbishop Cranmer.

And so we had a series of regrettable juxtapositions: the Telegraph's 'British capitalism is 'broken' because it leaves young people behind, says Archbishop of Canterbury' set against 'Britain has more non-believers than ever before as Church of England Christians make up lowest-ever share'; and the Guardian's 'UK's economic model is broken, says Archbishop of Canterbury' set against 'More than half UK population has no religion, finds survey'; and the BBC's 'Archbishop of Canterbury calls for radical economic reform' set against 'More than half in UK are non-religious, suggests survey'; and the Daily Mail's 'Fury as Welby says economy is 'broken and unequal' set against 'Britain loses its religion: Number of people who describe themselves as atheists is at its highest EVER level'.

All of which conspired to permit deputy church warden and Daily Mail columnist Quentin Letts to ask: 'What IS the point of Justin Welby?', whom he accuses of "fiddling as Christian England burns". He wants to know "why the Church of England leader is giving his views on the economy rather than filling emptying pews?"

Why indeed.

*****

The Diocese of the Rio Grande is seeking a new 10th Bishop. It has been in the hands of a liberal The Rt. Rev. Michael L. Vono, but before him it was in the hands of a godly evangelical in the person of Bishop Terry Kelshaw. There is little to suggest it will go back to someone of his caliber. The diocese did churn out Daniel G. P. Gutierrez, Vono's Canon to the Ordinary, who later became the Bishop of Pennsylvania. Kelshaw made him do his liturgics at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, where he was briefly exposed to an evangelical Anglican mindset. It did not take, however, but word on the street is that he is open to evangelicals and recently he put the Rev. Geoff Morin, an evangelical, into the parish of St. Anne's Episcopal Church of Abington, following the sudden death of The Rev. K. Brewster Hastings, an Evangelical Catholic who died suddenly following complications from heart surgery. The diocese will announce nominees on March 19, and an electing convention is scheduled for May 5, 2018.

*****

Australian Anglican Appellate Tribunal to Consider ACNA Consecration Participation. In a move that will clearly exacerbate tensions in the Anglican Church of Australia, the Primate (Archbishop Philip Freier) has referred to the Appellate Tribunal a number of questions concerning the recent attendance by Archbishop Glenn Davies of Sydney and Bishop Richard Condie of Tasmania at the recent ACNA consecration. Bishop Gary Nelson, of North West Australia, is not named in the questions. You can read the full story in today's digest.

*****

Anglican priests across Australia will be required to follow strict new rules to protect children from abuse after legislation was passed by its governing body.

Clergy and church workers will now be required to abide by a code of conduct which they had previously only needed to treat as recommendations.

"It covers things like transport, no corporal punishment, issues of touch and photographs," Royal Commission Working Group chair Garth Blake said.

Stricter screening of sex offenders in parishes will also apply and could even result in some being turned away. Blake said core standards like not abusing children had been in place since 2004, but now all of the guidelines would be mandatory unless there was "a good reason" for not following them.

"This will mean the same standards apply throughout the church and which I hope will mean wherever a child is in Australia ... there will be the same level of safety," he said.

The Church also agreed to be independently audited for its compliance with the new rules, with the results to be made public.

*****

The new Anglican Archbishop of Perth, Kay Goldsworthy, supports marriage equality, but will not challenge the stated position of the church. Goldsworthy says every Anglican, from clergy to parishioners, would have to examine their own beliefs on marriage equality. Goldsworthy says though 'the Anglican church's position is that in Australia marriage is between a man and a woman', she has an 'inclusive' approach.

Goldsworthy was among the first group of women ordained to the Anglican priesthood in Australia in 1992, became the first female bishop in 2008, and this week became the first woman elected to the position of Archbishop.

She told Guardian Australia she knew what it was like to be at the center of a debate about the traditions of the church and said that experience could make people "a little more open" to others trapped by those same traditions.

*****

The Church in Wales elected the Rt. Rev. John Davies as Archbishop of Wales. John Davies has served as the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon for the past nine years. He will be the 13th Archbishop of Wales.

He succeeds the ultra-liberal Dr. Barry Morgan, who retired in January after 14 years as the leader of the Church in Wales. His election is also historic, as this is the first time a Bishop of the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon has been elected as Archbishop of Wales.

Archbishop John was elected, having secured a two-thirds majority vote from members of the Electoral College on the second day of its meeting at Holy Trinity Church, Llandrindod Wells.

A source told VOL that he was the only candidate with any orthodox credentials and he regarded his election as a "miracle."

*****

The American religious landscape is undergoing a dramatic transformation. White Christians, once the dominant religious group in the U.S., now account for fewer than half of all adults living in the country. Today, fewer than half of all states are majority white Christian. As recently as 2007, 39 states had majority white Christian populations. These are two of the major findings from this report, which is based on findings from PRRI's 2016 American Values Atlas, the single largest survey of American religious and denominational identity ever conducted. This landmark report is based on a sample of more than 101,000 Americans from all 50 states and includes detailed information about their religious affiliation, denominational ties, political affiliation, and other important demographic attributes. The full PRRI report can be viewed here: https://www.prri.org/research/american-religious-landscape-christian-religiously-unaffiliated/

*****

The 2016 Episcopal parish reports are out and we will have more on that next week. Meantime, one tidbit is that St. Thomas in Washington DC, where Gene Robinson is bishop-in-residence, lost half its attendance and 60 percent of members since 2011. That's a steep drop in just five years. It's a gay parish in the Adams Morgan neighborhood that has been engaged with a redevelopment campaign for its property. They recently brought in a new priest-in-charge in 2016 who is in a same-sex marriage.

*****

The next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-17) will take place in Hong Kong following a decision to move it from Sao Paulo in Brazil because of the thorny issue of human sexuality and marriage which is enveloping the Anglican Communion like a black cloud.

A press release from the ACNS shrouded it in episcospeak, saying it thought that the leadership of the Church would need time to deal with pastoral issues arising from the discussions. Sodomy has not gone down well in this predominantly Catholic country and the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil is on the wrong side of history. They faced a huge revolt several years ago when the Diocese of Recife left and took most of its adherents. The province has never fully recovered.

The Primate of Brazil, Archbishop Francisco de Assis da Silva, expressed disappointment at the decision not to go to Sao Paulo, but said he recognized why it had been taken. Hong Kong emerged as a possible replacement during committee discussions. It was felt the territory had the resources to step in and also the experience, having hosted ACC-12 in 2002.

*****

It is with deep regret and sadness that I report that the Rev. Dr. Wayne Buchanan, former priest at Maine and St. Brendan's Anglican Mission, pled guilty this week to "one count of possessing sexually explicit material of a minor under the age of 12" and will serve a one-year suspended prison term sentence and two years' probation.

The 63-year old priest was found guilty of a Class C felony level crime that includes no unsupervised contact with children under the age of 12. He also is required to register with the Maine Sex Offender Registry.

Justice Patrick Larson noted that the sentence was the result of a negotiated plea between the defendant and prosecutors. The prosecuting attorney, Assistant District Attorney Toff Toffolon, told the court that there is no evidence that Buchanan disseminated child pornography or that he had any sexual contact with minors. Since being charged, Buchanan has "engaged in extraordinary rehabilitation efforts," Toffolon said.

Buchanan's attorney, Richard Hartley, told the court that "a lot of work" went into the case.
"What sets this apart is what my client has done since," Hartley said. "It really is exceptional."
According to Hartley, Buchanan sought counseling to deal with "what has been a long-recognized condition" and has gone as far as to start "a sex offenders anonymous program here in Ellsworth."

Buchanan resigned as pastor of the Tremont Congregational Church and St. Brendan's Anglican Mission on Jan. 7, 2016, the day after state police executed the search warrant. He was deposed from holy orders by his Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Julian Dobbs.

I have a personal stake in this case, as I have known the defendant for more than 25 years and regarded him as a close personal friend when we both lived near each other in West Chester, PA. This betrayal runs deep. I ask prayers for his wife Nola and their two grown children.

*****

I had lunch this week with a young Millennial Anglican Evangelical Christian by the name of James Syrow. He's a hi-tech kid with big ambitions for orthodox Anglicans in the 21st century. He understands Generation Z, the next group the church must evangelize or face going out of business.

An interview I did with him includes much material church planters will need for the future.

Here are a few observations:

They are aged 15 -- 25.
They are conservative, unlike liberal Millennials raised by Sixties' liberal parents.
They are not particularly Democrat or Republican. They are reactionaries.
They like Donald Trump! Why?
They like his tweets. It's how they communicate.
When Trump tweeted covfefe to a bewildered nation and many thought he was showing early signs of dementia, Generation Z loved it. "Have you had your covfefe today," they tweeted.
They don't like drugs or gay marriage, and they HATE tattoos.
My friend says 'Generation Z' is the most conservative since WW2!
Computer games and internet use meant they had 'less time and opportunity to participate in traditional risky behaviors'. That's gotta be a plus for sure.

So, the BIG question is, how and who reaches them for Jesus Christ? When I get an answer to that question I'll let you know.

One thing is for sure, Generation Z has more in common with Baby Boomers than any other group, which means that going forward might just mean going back. Stay tuned. Read the full story in today's digest.

*****

I could not end these VIEWPOINTS on a higher note than this video. A Hezbolla Islamic terrorist is converted by the Risen Christ in prison. You can see it here:

https://ashenden.org/2017/09/05/hezbolla-islamic-terrorist-is-converted-by-the-risen-christ-in-prison/amp/

All Blessings,

David W. Virtue DD
VIRTUEONLINE

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