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Rival Anglican Structure set up in UK * Heather Cook Denied Parole * Church of Ireland Votes No on Gay marriage with No Apology * CANA East Bishop Nixes Women's Ordination * Truro Anglican Church faces critical Moment * New Sudanese Archbishop

The church's twofold task. The vocation of the church is to be occupied with God and with the world. God has constituted his church to be a worshipping and witnessing community. --- John R. W Stott

One hallmark of a free and democratic nation is genuine diversity, pluralism and the celebration of differences. A sure sign of a totalitarian dictatorship is stifling uniformity, even coerced conformity. Everyone must act and think the same way in the totalist state. The ironic thing in all this is the ones who are the most anti-democratic and anti-freedom today in the West are those who shout the most about diversity. They in fact hate diversity and are working overtime to smash all differences, especially when it comes to male and female. --- Bill Muehlenberg

"The Religious Liberty Executive Order Is Meaningless. No Substantive Protections for Conscience. A Betrayal. Ivanka And Jared Won. We Lost." His reference to Trump's daughter, and son-in-law Jared Kushner, followed news reports that they worked inside the White House to protect LGBTQ cause. --- Robert P. George of Princeton University a vocal Catholic and professor of jurisprudence

The prepared heart. There is no greater need for the preacher than that he should know God. I care not about his lack of eloquence and artistry, about his ill-constructed discourse or his poorly-enunciated message, if only it is evident that God is a reality to him and that he has learned to abide in Christ. The preparation of the heart is of far greater importance than the preparation of the sermon. The preacher's words, however clear and forceful, will not ring true unless he speaks from conviction born of experience. --- John R.W. Stott

Dear Brothers and Sisters
www.virtueonline.org
May 12, 2017

RECONCILIATION talk by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other leftist Anglican provinces took another body blow this week when a news story hit cyber space that a blueprint for schism seen by Christian Today revealed extensive plans by conservative evangelicals to form a rival Anglican structure to the Church of England in the UK.

The proposals, born out of concerns about liberal teachings on homosexuality, include suggestions for a new synod, new liturgy, an appointments system for new bishops, new church canons and new statements of belief.

First mooted at ReNew, a conference of traditionalist church leaders last autumn, the 15-page discussion document outlines how the new faction could take shape and establish credibility as an alternative Anglican church.

'Widespread credible bishops serving conservative evangelicals here in England today seems an unlikely dream,' the document notes before going on to outline how traditionalists concerned about a liberal drift on issues like sexuality, could appoint their own bishops.

Entitled Credible Bishops, the document defends the role of bishops to ordain 'biblically faithful' church leaders and says this is not always possible within the CofE.

It goes on to outline plans 'to consider irregular ordination' and 'irregular options for oversight' outside the CofE for conservative churches.

This comes in the wake of the Rev Jonathan Pryke, senior minister of Jesmond Parish Church, who was consecrated by bishops from the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa (REACH-SA) at a service in Newcastle earlier this month. This was done without the authority of the Church of England.

Pryke, 57, was ordained as a 'bishop in the Church of God', a statement from his church confirmed, and will now oversee the ordination and planting of new Anglican churches who hold to a Biblical view of homosexual behavior.

Pryke will spend 80 per cent of his time working in the Jesmond parish and 20 per cent 'helping establish new churches', the church said in a statement.

Despite insisting Jesmond does not want to see bishops 'parachuted in' to form a new 'orthodox church' or 'province', the move will be seen as forming a parallel Church of England -- an official one overseen by the Archbishop of Canterbury and another unofficial one, overseen by conservative bishops.

The statement said Pryke sees his role as 'helping English people have the courage to take responsibility for reforming the Church of England to be in line with' traditional Anglican teaching, as well as to evangelize and to see growth'.

The consecration seemed to take GAFCON-UK and AMiE by surprise.

The AMiE issued a statement celebrating the decision of GAFCON to plant bishops of their own on English soil. The AMiE Executive Committee recently requested that the GAFCON Primates support the consecration of a Missionary Bishop. They were overjoyed when they agreed to do this for the sake of gospel growth.

"We can confirm that the consecration of the Revd Jonathan Pryke was a gospel decision taken independently of AMiE. His consecration was never discussed at our Executive meetings," said an AMiE leader.

Now what all this says is that Archbishop Justin Welby's attempts at global reconciliation are falling flat and that he cannot even contain ecclesial forces on his own home turf from imploding. One wonders what conversations are going on between Welby, Canon Porter, Bishop Graham Kings, and Bishop Fearon of the AAC. Perhaps a lot of sound and fury signifying they are helpless to stop the orthodox train coming down the tracks that will roll right over them. You can read a number of stories about all this in today's digest.

*****

Heather Cook, the former Bishop of Maryland, was denied parole this week. A spokesman for the parole board said, in rejecting her appeal, that Cook lacked remorse, showed no contrition and did not take responsibility for her actions. The rationale from two commissioners was that this was the second alcohol related case (and Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori knew about Cook's drinking and said nothing, no doubt because she was a woman, and her boss was black) and God forbid that we should allow anybody with real skills to get the position

The commissioners said she went back to drinking and driving, and after hitting and killing the cyclist, she left the scene of the accident with the cyclist's helmet jammed into her windshield. Furthermore, she did not call 911, but made two calls to her boyfriend (a relationship that was never questioned by the search committee) and that she lacked remorse and failed to apologize to the victim. She was definitely not worthy of discretionary early release. Their decision is unanimous and not appealable. She will do the full seven years till 2020 and then be on probation after that.

Cook, once the second-highest-ranking Episcopal leader in Maryland, struck and killed 41-year-old cyclist Tom Palermo on Dec. 27, 2014. She left the scene for 30 minutes before returning, and her blood alcohol level was 0.22 -- far higher than Maryland's legal limit of 0.08.

You have to ask yourself how it is that TEC is not just picking from the bottom of the barrel, but actually scraping it for bishops like Cook. And what of her relationship with the former Connecticut TEC priest who got dumped, briefly joined the ACNA, then somehow got back into a TEC parish in the Diocese of Easton! Can we now assume that both fornication, and homosexuality are thoroughly acceptable, but adultery is now the only remaining sexual sin?

*****

The Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop has been conducting his Jesus Movement evangelistic crusades, and he has held two to date -- one in Pittsburgh the other in Western Missouri. There were no recorded conversion statistics, but we will bring them to you if they ever emerge.

Michael Curry announced his Jesus Movement agenda at his first press conference at the last General Convention in Utah, with much fanfare and he has been pushing his understanding of evangelism ever since.

But this is not the evangelism of Billy Graham, Jonathan Edwards or well-known Anglican evangelist Michael Green. You can read my full take on this in today's digest.

*****

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware has announced a slate of five nominees to stand for election as the 11th bishop of the diocese. One of them will succeed the Rt. Rev. Wayne Wright, who retired in February.

The five nominees are:
The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens, bishop suffragan, Diocese of Connecticut;
The Very Rev. Michael Battle, Herbert Thompson Professorial Chair of Church and Society and director of the Desmond Tutu Center at The General Theological Seminary, New York, New York;
The Rev. Kevin S. Brown, rector, Episcopal Church of the Holy Comforter, Charlotte, North Carolina;
The Rev. Patricia S. Downing, rector, Trinity and Old Swedes Parish, Wilmington, Delaware; and
The Rev. Scott A. Gunn, executive director, Forward Movement, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Some of these candidates are old and tired Episcopal war horses from liberal dioceses, looking for a final fling at a miter before retiring into anonymity with a good pension.

The winner will face a diocese in steep decline. In 2005, the diocese had 11,981 baptized members; by 2015, that number had dropped to about 9,000 a total loss of 25.4%. In 2005, the ASA was 4,200; by 2015, it had dropped to bellows 3,422, a drop of 28%. While plate and pledge had held steady at about $6.4 million, the diocese was still forced to close and sell the cathedral under Bishop Wayne P. Wright's tenure.

There are only 33 congregations in the diocese which had 101 confirmations last year, received 50, but had 194 burials.

The real kicker is the age of active priests. It is 65 with nearly 60% over the age of 65. Some 28 of the priests includes interim, full‐and part‐time and non‐stipendiary priests serving as rectors, deans, vicars, curates, assistants, associates or pastors and does not include supply priests or retired assisting priests or emeritus priests. The diocese has 17 women priests, but most are not full time.

What this says is that within five years, there will be massive retirements with no replacements because the seminaries are not churning out enough parish priests, and most parishes cannot afford a full-time priest who may still have seminary debts. This may not be such a glorious appointment.

*****

Irish Anglicans still have cojones apparently. A recent Church of Ireland General Synod voted not to apologize and give public prayer for gay couples, who didn't receive support when celebrating their marriage. And, as you can imagine, the push back was fierce with charges of homophobia and hate floating all over the Internet.

A motion at its recent meeting asked 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."

The second part of the motion requested "the House of Bishops to investigate a means to develop sensitive, local pastoral arrangements for public prayer and thanksgiving with same-sex couples at these key moments in their lives, and to present their ideas to General Synod 2018, with a view to making proposals at General Synod 2019."

When Dr. Leo Kilroy proposed the motion, he spoke of the chance to bring unity to the church. "Advances in civic society in recent years have seen LGBT people achieve many rights and legal protections, including, frameworks for legal union. But many lesbian and gay people continue feel gravely hurt by the Church," he said.

"They have been injured by the lack of compassion shown by some, who cling to a small number of disparate and disputed verses that exist in pockets of the Bible, and claim a divine rejection of gay people.

"This motion is not asking for marriage in the Church. I understand that many of you hold the Church's definition of marriage dearly.

"This motion is careful to protect Canon 31. It is simply calling for permission to develop ways to publicly and pastorally support and celebrate lesbian and gay people at important times in their lives."

Those who opposed the motion described it as impossible because it would bring division in the church and would discriminate against those who experience same-sex attraction, but don't act on it.

They also said the motion was against Canon 31, which upholds traditional teachings on marriage in the Church of Ireland.

You can read Dr. Alan McCann's analysis here, or in today's digest. http://tinyurl.com/jwqaaq4

Here is a sample: "The Church of Ireland is in for a very turbulent time and there is no sign that the storm will abate any time soon. In fact, the very opposite is true. The liberal revisionists are emboldened by the closeness of the vote. Orthodox Anglicans within the Church of Ireland cannot rest at all as the vote showed there is no 'middle ground' on this issue in the Church of Ireland. General Synod 2017 will, I fear, come to be seen as a watershed, especially when compared to the overwhelming vote in 2012 which restated, and which is still our official position, that marriage is between one man and one women. The orthodox can no longer remain silent and we desperately need a clearer lead from the orthodox bishops or we need to start to look elsewhere, and I suggest GAFCON, for that leadership."

*****

A compromise attempt by ACNA priest, Tory Baucum of Truro Anglican Church, VA, and TEC Virginia Bishop, Shannon Johnston, to reach an agreement through something called Peace and Reconciliation with Mid-Atlantic Anglican Bishop John Guernsey, is nothing more than a dagger pointed at the heart of the ACNA.

If it should succeed, it will make a mockery of the very existence of the ACNA, which fought a long and bitter spiritual and property battle involving millions of dollars, tens of thousands of former Episcopalians, hundreds of priests and dozens of bishops. It will say to the Anglican world that breaking away from TEC was wrong and it can all now be patched up with a new-fangled peace and reconciliation agreement.

As part of the P & R, it stipulates that from now on, while Bishop John Guernsey has access to the congregation, ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach must obtain permission of TEC Virginia Bishop, Shannon Johnston, to officiate at Truro Anglican Church. That is not going to happen Beach told VOL. But Guernsey must act and act quickly to discipline Baucum, or it will all explode in the ACNA's face. There can be no compromise or third way here. Too much water has flowed under the bridge; too many lives and ministries wrecked, millions spent on lawsuits, too many priests inhibited and deposed and pensions shortchanged. The lack of church discipline lies at the heart of the issue. We await with anticipation what Bishop Guernsey will do.

*****

In Binghamton, New York, this past week, the Bishop of the Missionary Diocese of CANA East told some 250 delegates to his Synod 2017 that he will never ordain a woman to the priesthood, based on his complementarian views regarding ordination.

"I believe that the concept of male-female complementarity can be seen from Genesis through Revelation, and describes someone who ascribes to the historic, biblical position that male and female are equal but different," said Bishop Julian Dobbs.

He said the bishops of the Anglican Church in North America are still wrestling with Scripture regarding Holy Orders and women in the presbyterate, but his diocese, which is also linked jurisdictionally with the Anglican Province of Nigeria, will only recognize women as vocational deacons.

"Let me tell you what complementarianism does not mean:
It does not mean that women are inferior to men
It does not mean that women are prohibited from ministry in the local church
It does not mean that women must never teach the Bible
It does not mean that men are to bark orders at women like a sergeant on a parade ground."

"Complementarianism does mean that the extraordinary gifts and ministry of women must be called forth, commissioned and valued in this diocese and in each of our 36 congregations, but not as ordained presbyters. I believe complementarianism is the most accurate and simple reading of the Bible surrounding this issue," he said.

Dobbs noted that the Reformers went to the flames for their faithfulness to the gospel, and today many Christians are being slaughtered in countries like Nigeria. "More people have been killed by the Islamic terrorist terror regime Boko Haran than died in the entire Ebola epidemic."

He said the Anglican Diocese of Kafanchan in Nigeria has been subjected to numerous horrific outbreaks of religious violence and acts of terrorism. "Many hundreds of Christians have been killed, numerous churches, associated buildings and Christian businesses have been destroyed."

Featured guest speaker, ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach, told the assembled delegates that the Anglican Church in North America is thriving, while The Episcopal Church can no longer be considered "true Anglicanism."

Archbishop Beach said the ACNA was adding one new parish every week in North America. The ACNA now has over 1,000 churches, 1,700 clergy, over 110,000 members, 30 dioceses and 51 bishops, he said. The recent addition of the Diocese of South Carolina, now the largest diocese in ACNA, gave the province a tremendous moral and psychological boost.

On his outlook for the future of the ACNA, Beach said he was witnessing "creative ministries reaching invisible peoples. I have seen a healing clinic outside a prison as well as the planting of a parish outside a college campus."

The ACNA is clearly on an upswing with well over 100,00 active members. By contrast, the Episcopal Church can boast only 600,411 average Sunday attendance (ASA). The two churches are going in exactly opposite directions.

Beach said that while the Archbishop of Canterbury did not recognize the ACNA, its orders are recognized by the Church of England and therefore historically valid. "We are in the midst of a reformation and it is going to be messy for a while," he said.

*****

Beeson Divinity School announces new Anglican Intensives program. Beginning in September 2017, the Institute of Anglican Studies at Beeson Divinity School will offer a new program, "Anglican Intensives." This program is designed for those who have already completed a master of divinity or equivalent in a non-Anglican denomination and who now desire to study Anglican theology and ministry.

"After we announced that Beeson's Institute for Anglican Studies was accepted officially by the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) as a place for training of future Anglican ministers within ACNA, we received requests from people around the country who wanted to pursue various levels of ordination within the Anglican Communion," said Gerald McDermott, Anglican chair of divinity and director of the Anglican institute. "They wanted to know where they could get their Anglican training post-M.Div. So this is why we have started the Anglican Intensives program: to teach Anglican theology and ministry to those who are wanting to become Anglican priests and deacons."

Anglican Intensives is a two-year, noncredit program that will be comprised of a directed study and two week-long on-campus residencies, the first in May 2018. Those who complete the program will receive a certificate. Cost for the program is $1,200/year plus travel, lodging, and book expenses.

To request an application form or for other questions, contact Gerald McDermott at gmcdermo@samford.edu. Applications for the 2017-18 academic year are due July 1, 2017.
For more information, please contact Kristen Padilla, Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Beeson Divinity School, at kpadilla@samford.edu or 205-726-2398.

Beeson Divinity School of Samford University is an evangelical, interdenominational, theological school, whose mission is to train ministers of the gospel. For more information about Beeson Divinity, visit www.beesondivinity.com.

*****

Islamic groups in Nigeria are copying Pentecostal worship style to stop Muslims going to church and converting, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.

This appears to be the new battle cry by Muslim groups in Nigeria to try and arrest the decline of their membership due to the success of evangelical leaders in drawing people--even Muslims--to Christian churches.

There used to be more Muslims than Christians in Nigeria. According to the Pew Research Center, in 1953, 45.3 percent of Nigeria's population was Muslim and only 21.4 percent Christian, with 33.3 percent belonging to other religions.

But as of 2010, Nigeria has a population of 80.5 million Christians and 75.7 million Muslims, according to Pew data.

Nigeria now has the largest Christian population in Africa, which includes nearly 60 million Protestants, about 20 million Catholics and more than 750,000 other Christians.

Pew noted that all major Christian groups have grown in Nigeria since the 1970s, with the biggest growth witnessed in Pentecostal churches.

Vibrant worship in churches is said to be one of the major reasons for the massive success of Pentecostal Christianity in Nigeria.

*****

Conservative groups have mixed feelings about President Trump's religious liberty executive order. Some claim socially liberal "Ivanka and Jared won" because it's weaker than the original leaked draft, and others have praised the order as a historic step in the right direction.

The left-wing American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says the order doesn't contain much they need to worry about. The "executive order signing was an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome," ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said in a statement.

"The directive to federal agencies to explore religious-based exceptions to healthcare does cue up a potential future battle, but as of now, the status quo has not changed," said Romero. "What President Trump did ... was merely provide a faux sop to religious conservatives and kick the can down the road on religious exemptions on reproductive healthcare services."

The executive order, which is on "Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty," grants churches more freedom to speak about political issues and elections. It also tells federal agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services to "consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate" that requires religious employers like the Little Sisters of the Poor, to participate in the provision of contraceptives.

Some Little Sisters of the Poor were present at the signing of the executive order, as was Washington Cardinal, Donald Wuerl. The Little Sisters of the Poor expressed hope that this may be the beginning of the end of the government persecution they began to face under President Obama.

"Today's action by the government confirms that the government never needed to create this false conflict between women and religion," Sister Loraine Marie Claire Maguire, Mother Provincial of the Little Sisters of the Poor, said Thursday. "The government never needed the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide these services. We are grateful for this positive step. We Little Sisters look forward to the government finally ending its unnecessary conflict so we can return our full attention to serving the neediest in our society."

*****

New Sudanese Archbishop. The Archbishop of the Internal Province of Sudan and Bishop of Khartoum, the Most Rev. Ezekiel Kumir Kondo, has been appointed as the Primate of the newly created separate Province of Sudan. The Anglican Communion announced the creation of the new Province earlier this year and the Archbishop of Canterbury will travel to the region for the inauguration at the end of July.

Speaking when the new Province was confirmed, Archbishop Kondo expressed joy at the news: "I would like to say that the Christians and the entire people of Sudan. The New Province of Sudan, will be the 39th province in the Communion, which represents 39 Articles of faith of the Anglican Church and the 39 books of the OT! It is my prayer and hope that the occasion will strengthen the church in Sudan for God's glory and extension of His Kingdom."

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, which left the Primate of Sudan and South Sudan, Archbishop Daniel Deng, with the challenge of overseeing two countries. The four and a half million members of the Episcopal Church are based mainly in South Sudan. In 2016, a formal application was made by the Primate to the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), for the internal province of Sudan to be granted autonomy; in July 2016, a team led by the Secretary General, visited the country on a fact-finding trip. Subjects that were reviewed included staff numbers, financial viability and mission focus, as well as the numbers of lay workers.

*****

There's an important new pro-family resource available on the health hazards of homosexuality.

For the last twenty years, there's been a fatal gap in the "culture wars" battles. Virtually nobody in the pro-family movement has been willing (or able) to confront the medical and psychological health problems surrounding LGBT behavior. In years of battles over "gay" clubs in schools, draconian anti-discrimination mandates, the "gay marriage" crusade, and now with the transgender agenda, the obvious truth has simply been ignored -- and countless people have needlessly suffered.

Topics include:
*Why homosexuality is a public health issue, and not just a private issue
* The politicized medical and mental health establishments
* The "born gay" myth: homosexuality is not innate
* How many identify as "gay", lesbian, or bisexual
* The mental health issues: depression, anxiety, suicidality, substance use, partner abuse, and BDSM (bondage/sexual sadomasochism)
* The self-harming lifestyles and sexual practices of homosexual men and lesbians
* The disproportionate disease incidence among "gays", lesbians, and bisexuals
* Why homosexuals have shortened lifespans, chronic conditions, lower quality of life
* How HIV/AIDS is re-emerging as an epidemic among homosexual men
* The "safer sex" lie and other mixed messages from the medical establishment
* How the CDC is spreading false optimism on HIV drug treatments
* Bisexuals have the highest incidence of pathologies
* How lesbians and heterosexuals are imitating unsafe homosexual male practices
* The psychological and medical issues of transgenderism
* Child abuse: interventions supporting "transgender" identities in youth

This was the reason for compiling this new book:
The Health Hazards of Homosexuality: What the Medical and Psychological Research Reveals
http://www.healthhazardsofhomosexuality.info/

*****

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Become a supporter. Please make a contribution. It is tax-deductible. You can send your donation to VOL via PAYPAL at the link here: http://www.virtueonline.org/support-vol/

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We really could really use some financial support. Thank you.

David

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