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35 Global South Archbishops to meet in Cairo * Canada Elects first Homosexual Bishop * TEC HOB Pressures for more Women and Black bishops * TEC Continues to Decline -- Latest figures

'What by grace we are ...' The overwhelming emphasis of the New Testament letters is not to urge upon Christian readers some entirely new and distinct blessing, but to remind us of what by grace we are, to recall us to it, and to urge us to live by it. --- John R.W. Stott

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
Sept. 23, 2016

On October 3, some 35 archbishops and bishops of the Anglican Communion will gather in Cairo, Egypt, to attend the 6th Trumpet of the Global South.

This meeting will be an historical and strategic one. The Church meets at a time when the Anglican Communion is at a crossroads.

"We are all aware that we are facing challenges from within and without the church. The Theme for the Bible studies is 'The Church and the challenges she is facing'," writes the Most Rev. Mouneer Anis, Archbishop of Egypt, convener and chairman of the Global South Primates.

They will hear lectures from renowned scholars from the Anglican Communion about the richness of the African Church.

When I asked if the Archbishop of Canterbury had been invited, I was told he had declined because he will be in Rome that week with the Pope. A full week! One doubts the pope gives anybody that kind of time with his busy schedule, and what would it hurt if Justin Welby jumped on a plane in Rome and four hours later arrived in Cairo to meet with his people, leaders of the largest, most vibrant provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion!

Among the speakers is Ian Ernest, Primate of the Indian Ocean and General Secretary of the Global South Primates Steering Committee, Dr. Ashley Null, Dr. Michael Glerup, Archbishop Tito Savala, Bishop Rennis Pooniah, Bishop John Chew, Michael Nazir-Ali and Archbishop Stanley to name but a few.

I will be there to cover this major global event for VOL's readers.

*****

In the spin surrounding the appointment of the homosexual Bishop, Nicholas Chamberlain as the Bishop of Grantham, one statement stood out that requires further enumeration. As I wrote earlier, this appointment was done while "shared conversations" were bring pushed as "good disagreement" to move the Church of England forward towards what CofE Evangelicals believe is a push ultimately for the full acceptance of homosexuality, inviting a backlash that could spell schism.

The bishop claimed to live in a celibate relationship with his partner, which apparently was enough for Justin Welby to give him the green light.

The Archbishop of Canterbury later clashed with two GAFCON archbishops and a theologian over his appointment.

The statement Welby made about Chamberlain was this; "In fact, his lifestyle would make him acceptable to serve the church at any time in its history."

VOL believes this is patently false.

Why? Because the only qualification Scripture reveals to us about a bishop is found in 1 Timothy 3: 1-7 and it reads thusly: "Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap." (NIV)

What is clear first of all, is that a bishop should be married to a woman, which Chamberlain clearly is not. Chamberlain's appointment meets no NT standard. It is false to say otherwise. If single, he should live alone or perhaps in the company of priests, but any hint of his sexual preferences should not even be raised. You cannot claim to be "in Christ" and a "new creation" and espouse the notion that you are a homosexual living with a man he clearly "loves" whatever that means, and then tell us nothing sexual is going on. My brother-in-law who died of AIDS at the age of 42, said celibacy was totally impossible. It is not surprising then that the Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, recently endorsed homosexual marriages and said that homosexuals should not have to live celibately, a clear invitation for Chamberlain to act out.

*****

The Episcopal Church's House of Bishops met in Detroit this week and they spent a lot of time talking about tightening their grip on who and who should not be made a bishop.

It should come as no surprise that women and people of color should get top billing and white males should, well, go away or not apply.

Of course there is no evidence that they will make churches grow or inspire revival or renewal. The bishops also said that the national church should get in on the act, causing one female bishop to bemoan about continuing "white male leadership."

The idea rattled the ecclesiastical miter of theologically conservative Episcopal bishop, Bill Love, of Albany, who saw it as an intrusion into how bishops are elected locally and viewed it as the heavy hand of the national church interfering in local elections in the name of diversity and inclusion.

Here is what he said: "I am somewhat nervous about the wider church trying to become more involved in the elections within dioceses. No doubt there a lot of folks that would like to see Albany move in a different direction," Love said, urging caution about whether theological diversity also becomes an issue in elections.

He should be worried. If and when he retires, the national church will do its best to make sure that no orthodox bishop in faith and morals will follow in his footsteps, regardless of what local parish priests and parishioners think...or vote.

Big Episcopal brother will be watching...and, if need be, interfering.

*****

The Episcopal Church continued its uninterrupted decline with new figures revealing that, short of a miracle, and they seem to be in short supply, TEC will continue in free fall.

Jeff Walton of IRD revealed that declines in Episcopal Church membership continue a downward spiral that began in the early 2000s.

Updated statistics made available this week by the Episcopal Church Office of Research show a denomination continuing a gradual, uninterrupted decline in 2015. The U.S.-based denomination shed 37,669 members in 2015, a decline of -2.1 percent, while attendance declined -20,631, down -3.4 percent. A net 43 parishes closed, bringing the denominational total to 6,510 congregations.

The pattern is consistent with past years, in which dioceses in New England, the Rust Belt and predominantly rural areas post sharp declines, while dioceses in the South either retain their numbers or decline at a more gradual rate.

Episcopal Church officials, including former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori -- who completed a nine-year term in office in late 2015 -- have predicted that decline would level off after years of internal dispute and the departure of dioceses, congregations and individual members. While there were no major congregational departures in 2015, the denomination still exceeded its baseline rate of decline of approximately 28,000 members a year by a substantial margin. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has struck an optimistic tone, encouraging the church to embrace its role in "the Jesus Movement", even as he seeks to address a workplace culture marked by "fear, mistrust and resentment" at the church's national headquarters.

Curry's own Diocese of North Carolina, which had mostly escaped membership decline in the past 15 years, aided by a booming state population, experienced a -0.9 percent drop in membership and a -4.8 percent drop in attendance in 2015. The diocese has seen its average attendance drop -14.7 percent since 2005.

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

*****

Los Angeles Episcopal Bishop Jon Bruno remains on the hot seat as he awaits ecclesiastical trial, and got another round fired at him this week. He has found a formidable foe in Episcopal Church Attorney, Raymond "Jerry" Coughlan, who is joining the Save St. James the Great (SSJG) petition to allow the displaced Episcopal congregation to use St. James the Great's church edifice until the Title IV case against the Los Angeles bishop is decided.

The Episcopal Church attorney joins the parish in its bid to reopen St. James the Great, even as the Newport Beach church sits empty and unused.

The St. James the Great's pleading continues to explain that after Bishop Bruno locked the growing Episcopal congregation out on June 29, 2015, the church has remained shuttered. Since then, church doors have been opened for use only twice, once for a funeral and once for a wedding. There is no reason for the continued lockout.

Goughlan fully agrees. "The continued lockout of over 100 loyal parishioners and clergy of the St. James Church building makes no sense," he writes in his joiner.

"There is a vibrant Episcopal congregation in exile because Bishop Bruno has locked them out of their Episcopal church," the SSJG motion explains.

VOL Special Correspondent Mary Ann Mueller has documented this in two stories you can find in today's digest.

*****

Christians are now the most persecuted group world-wide. But they are not alone. It often appears there is more legal protection for sexual orientation than for moral conscious and religious beliefs. The situation is worsening, says the peripatetic retired Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali.

In an address, Freedom of Belief and the Persecution of Christians and Others, each of the world's major religions, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, has a history of freedom and tolerance, but this is now all but abandoned. The Roman Empire in 313AD, issued the Edict of Milan, which granted tolerance and religious freedom to Christians. The Constitution of Medina in 622AD, guaranteed that non-Muslims living in Islamic communities would be afforded the same rights and protections as Muslims.

A native of Pakistan, Bishop Nazir-Ali, who is the director of OXTRAD (Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue), told a standing room only crowd in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, this week that this abandonment had emerged due to three reasons. First, there is tyranny; the cruelty and oppression of government. Secondly, are the ideological clashes as exemplified in China and Vietnam where governments are concerned over Roman Catholics being influenced by the authority of the Pope. Thirdly, Islam has been resurgent over the last fifty years in its attempt to engage the modern world. It is doing so by looking back to the 7th Century as the model for its political and economic system. It is hostile to the West in general, and Israel and Christianity in particular. Christians are not just persecuted, but regularly tortured, and even burned alive. You can read the full story by Ladson F. Mills III in today's digest.

*****

In Canada, in the Diocese of Toronto, three new suffragan bishops were elected, one of whom is the Rev. Canon Kevin Robertson, "the first openly gay, partnered bishop-elect in the diocese and perhaps in the Canadian church", said a diocesan press release.

Robertson was elected on the fourth ballot of the second election. He is 45 and the incumbent of Christ Church, Deer Park, in Toronto. After earning his Master of Divinity from Trinity College in 1997, he was ordained deacon the same year and priest in 1998. He and his partner Mohan have two children.

"I realize this is an historic day in the life of our church. It's no secret that I'm the first openly gay, partnered bishop-elect in the diocese and perhaps in the Canadian church as well, and I know that for some people that's a real challenge and for others it's the fulfillment of what they've been hoping and praying for a very long time."

Robertson said his election is a turning point for the church in accepting and supporting LGBTQ people. "I think General Synod (in July) was a turning point for the national church and my election today is a turning point for our diocese, and I'm honored to be a part of that. I'm really encouraged by the developments over the past couple of months -- both General Synod and today bode really well for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life of our church."

Before the first election began, the Rev. Dr. Catherine Sider Hamilton issued an official protest against the inclusion of "one candidate whose lifestyle is, to the best of my knowledge, irregular according to the teaching of the church regarding chastity and marriage. It is a teaching that still stands formally, and I believe that the inclusion of this candidate by the nominations committee is premature." Archbishop Johnson replied that all the nominees were clergy under license in the diocese and in good standing. Synod proceeded with all the nominees on the ballot.

Considering the state of the Anglican Church of Canada, it was inevitable, as it is not really a Christian denomination any more. What it will do is add more fuel to the fire for Global South Primates to contemplate when they meet in Cairo next month. It will also be another historic moment Welby will have to deal with as he sinks beneath the pansexual tsunami overwhelming the Western Church.

*****

The Church of England is seeking to increase the number of candidates selected for ordained ministry from around 500 each year to 750. And they are targeting a "substantial increase" in the number of both young, and black and minority ethnic (Bame) ordinands. They say that the increase is both "necessary and achievable."

The Province's General Synod called on the Church to work towards a 50 per cent increase in candidates for ordination by 2020 at its meeting in February, 2015. The C of E says that the increase "is needed to stabilize and increase the numbers ministering in parishes, chaplaincies and new forms of church."

"The aspiration to increase the number of new clergy by 50 per cent is part of a wider vision to release and develop the gifts of the whole people of God," the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt. Rev. Andrew Watson, chair of the C of E's Ordained Vocations Working Group, said. "It's encouraging to see most of the dioceses really rising to this challenge, as they reshape their vocations teams and put new and more proactive vocations strategies in place.

"We are picking up a fresh commitment to 'pray to the Lord of the Harvest', along with early reports of an increase in the number of enquiries from potential candidates."

The same cannot be said for the Episcopal Church, which released barely 200 ordinands into a Church that is losing some 460 priests a year to retirement.

*****

Participation in abortion or attempted suicide is a bar to ordination as a Catholic priest, even if the act was done when the person was not yet a Catholic, according to a new Vatican ruling.

On Sept. 15, the Vatican published a statement saying Pope Francis had approved the interpretation of a church law during a meeting in May with the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. Canon 1041 of the Code of Canon Law states that a person who has voluntarily committed homicide or attempted suicide falls under the definition of "irregular for receiving (holy) orders, Crux magazine relays.

When asked if the same law applies to non-Catholics who later became a Catholic and sought ordination as a priest, the council answered, "Affirmative."

Although the sin can be forgiven if a person repents, there is still a "warning sign" that remains, the council's secretary, Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, told the press. He also said a bishop's intervention is needed before the ordination can go through.

Arrieta explained that the process is meant to "protect the dignity of the sacrament" of holy orders and the Christian community that the priest would later serve. The bishop admitted that these cases are not common but are on the rise, especially among former Anglican priests in English countries.

In July, Pope Francis reiterated the sanctity of human life during his five-day visit to Poland. The pontiff said "life must always be welcomed and protected," and that the two things should always go hand-in-hand starting from conception up to natural death, Zenit reported.

*****

At the request of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Albert Chama has written to the UN Secretary General ahead of the UN summit on refugees and migrants today.

The Anglican Archbishop of Central Africa, the Most Rev. Albert Chama, has written to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon ahead of the Global Summit Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants, being held this week at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Writing on the request of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Albert -- who is Chair of the Anglican Alliance -- said the "global tragedy" of the forced displacement of millions of people "is now a crisis that calls us to work together in new and creative ways in response to such suffering and disruption."

The trauma experienced by the world's 60 million refugees - fleeing conflict and violence, as well as the effects of poverty and climate change - demands a much more intentional and robust collective response, he said, adding that churches and other faith communities "are more than ready to take their place."

"In today's world hospitality, reconciliation and love are our most formidable weapons against hatred and extremism," he added.

Archbishop Albert said the Anglican Communion is consistently at the forefront of humanitarian response, conflict prevention -- above all currently in the Great Lakes of Africa and in South Sudan -- and in rebuilding communities and lives.

In his letter he expressed the Anglican Alliance's warm appreciation for colleagues at the UNHCR and other UN partners. He also commended to Ban Ki-moon the Anglican Communion representatives attending the summit, the Right Rev. David Hamid and Canon Andrew Khoo, who, he said "will bring to the Summit the experience and the witness of the churches responding to the crisis in Europe and in South East Asia."

*****

It is with sadness that VOL notes the passing of businessman, ardent conservationist, political activist, philanthropist, and Anglo-Catholic supporter of VOL, Mr. Terry Kohler, 82, who died at his home this week. He was a VOL board member for many years. He and his wife Mary were deeply involved in the life and work of Nashotah House and he was active in his parish Grace Episcopal Church, 1011 No. 7th Street, Sheboygan, WI 53081. The wake will be Monday, Sept. 26, 3 to 7 PM. Funeral will be 11:00, Tuesday, Sept. 27. Terry was also active at the Episcopal Church in Rice Lake, WI, where they had a summer home and at St. Luke's Episcopal in Ft. Myers, Florida. He will be missed by many, especially his wife Mary, three daughters from his first marriage, Leslie, Michelle and Danielle Kohler; four step-children, Charlie, Doug and Chris Ferrell, and Joseph Simpson; 12 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

*****

The craziness about who can use what toilet just gets crazier. A VOL reader sent this. "I went to use the men's washroom on the second floor of the Hilton DoubleTree Hotel downtown, but there was a sign saying that the washroom had been changed to a Gender Neutral washroom. On the sign was 6 categories of individuals who could use the washroom, including men, women, children, LGBT, transgendered etc. I did not know what to do when I saw the sign, but I did go in. Thank God no one else was in there at the time."

*****

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