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40 million Americans have left Church * Push-Back over Welby's Climate Change * Wannabee Florida Bishop Denied * Canadian Church sees Sharp Decline * Episcopal Seminaries in Trouble * 2nd Anglican Parish Heads to TEC * Integrity Org. Fails

40 million Americans have left Church * Push-Back over Welby's Climate Change * Wannabee Florida Bishop Denied * Canadian Church sees Sharp Decline * Episcopal Seminaries in Trouble * 2nd Anglican Parish Heads to TEC * Integrity Org. Fails

A trinitarian Bible. The Christian understanding of the Bible is essentially a trinitarian understanding. The Bible comes from God, centres on Christ and is inspired by the Holy Spirit. So the best definition of the Bible is also trinitarian: 'the Bible is the witness of the Father to the Son through the Holy Spirit'. --- John R.W. Stott

The United States had long been a holdout among Western democracies, uniquely and perhaps even suspiciously devout. From 1937 to 1998, church membership remained relatively constant, hovering at about 70 percent. Then something happened. Over the past two decades, that number has dropped to less than 50 percent, the sharpest recorded decline in American history. Meanwhile, the "nones"--atheists, agnostics, and those claiming no religion--have grown rapidly and today represent a quarter of the population. -- The Atlantic

Forty million Americans have stopped attending church in the past 25 years. That's something like 12 percent of the population, and it represents the largest concentrated change in church attendance in American history. -- Jake Meador

"There are some that don't want to recognize the important distinction of biological womanhood. We're taking a stand against this out-of-control gender ideology. Today, we take another step to preserve women's spaces and opportunities." -- Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt

God's self-consistency. Scripture has several ways of drawing attention to God's self-consistency, and in particular of emphasizing that when He is obliged to judge sinners, he does it because he must, if he is to remain true to himself. --- John R.W. Stott

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
August 4, 2023

THE BIG REVELATION of the last two weeks is that forty million Americans have stopped attending church in the past 25 years. That's something like 12 percent of the population, and it represents the largest concentrated change in church attendance in American history.

Many husbands and wives with faith are asking whether the institutions and communities that have helped them preserve their own faith, still exist for their children.

A new book, "The Great Dechurching: Who's Leaving, Why Are They Going, and What Will It Take to Bring Them Back?" written by Jim Davis, a pastor at an evangelical church in Orlando, and Michael Graham, a writer with the Gospel Coalition, draws on surveys of more than 7,000 Americans by the political scientists Ryan Burge and Paul Djupe, attempting to explain why people have left churches--or "dechurched," in the book's lingo--and what, if anything, can be done to get some people to come back.

The book raises an intriguing possibility: What if the problem isn't that churches are asking too much of their members, but that they aren't asking nearly enough?

The Great Dechurching finds that religious abuse and more general moral corruption in churches have driven people away. This is, of course, an indictment of the failures of many leaders who did not address abuse in their church. But Davis and Graham also find that a much larger share of those who have left church have done so for more banal reasons.

The book suggests that the defining problem driving out most people who leave is ... just how American life works in the 21st century.

Contemporary America simply isn't set up to promote mutuality, care, or common life. Rather, it is designed to maximize individual accomplishment as defined by professional and financial success. Such a system leaves precious little time or energy for forms of community that don't contribute to one's own professional life or, as one ages, the professional prospects of one's children. Workism reigns in America, and because of it, community in America, religious community included, is a math problem that doesn't add up.

The theologian Stanley Hauerwas captured the problem well when he said that "pastoral care has become obsessed with the personal wounds of people in advanced industrial societies who have discovered that their lives lack meaning." The difficulty is that many of the wounds and aches provoked by our current order aren't of a sort that can be managed or life-hacked away. They are resolved only by changing one's life, by becoming a radically different sort of person belonging to a radically different sort of community.

You can read more Here: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/07/christian-church-communitiy-participation-drop/674843/


When Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury called the last Lambeth Conference, he made climate change the central focus of his office.

He challenged 749 bishops that climate change was a central part of conversations about the survival of the human race; and this demanded the bishops' attention. The need for gospel proclamation to millions who had never heard the good news of God's salvation in Christ, was not considered urgent enough to save them from the hell fires of today's global warming while neglecting their eternity in a place without Christ.

Many believed he did it to divert attention from the hot button issue of homosexuality and resolution 1:10 that hangs like a Damoclean sword over the whole communion, dividing many of the bishops, resulting in a number refusing to take Holy Communion with more stating they were now out of communion with the ABC, with several calling for his resignation.

More recently Welby said in a speech given in Rome, that over the past 100 years humanity had "declared war" on creation and must repent by not only building a green economy but by bringing justice to the Global South. "I have run out of time," he said at the end of his speech. Heaven forfend. "The world has just enough time to get this right."

But belief in climate change is not nearly as universally held, with pushback coming from surprisingly educated quarters. Welby's climate change is being questioned by a leading British columnist, Melanie Phillips. The "climate emergency" has become a quasi-religious belief. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/welbys-climate-change-questioned-leading-british-columnist


THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND roils from one crisis to the next with no end in sight on how they can resolve their problems. The Church Times has seen a letter from the Dioceses Commission, considering changes to the number of dioceses and bishops, saying there will be no centrally led national approach to restructuring at this time. This is a change of direction after a paper to the bishops in 2022 suggested amalgamating dioceses faced with budget deficits and rising costs.

The Commission letter says a nationally led program would be a distraction and burden. Instead, it recommends local initiatives such as collaboration between dioceses, on issues such as net zero, racial justice, ministry training and education.

The Mother Church: Turning God Trans. Current rumblings about the introduction of deaconesses into the Catholic faith as a potential prelude to the ordination of female priests are as nothing compared to the latest gender-crazy news from the Church of England. https://crisismagazine.com/opinion/the-mother-church-turning-god-trans

The Church of England has an image crisis. Imagine there was an organisation that existed to provide people in every part of the country with the help they needed, regardless of who they were and of their ability to pay. Would that not be an organisation that deserved universal support and appreciation?

At this point you may think that I am writing about the National Health Service, given that this is a well-known organisation which fits the description that I have just given. However, the organisation I was actually writing about was the Church of England. Just like the NHS, the Church of England exists to provide people across the length and breadth of England with the help they need, regardless of who they are and of their ability to pay. You can read Martin Davie's piece here: https://virtueonline.org/church-englands-image-crisis

The former Archbishop of York has been stripped of his preaching powers by a bishop after refusing to apologize for excusing failures to report abuse. In May Lord Sentamu, who was the Archbishop of York from 2005 to 2020, was forced to step back from ministry after he failed to act on a disclosure of child sexual abuse and claimed that "safeguarding is very important, but it does not trump Church Law". His comments prompted uproar from survivors of church-related abuse as well as clergy. The Bishop of Birkenhead, the Rt Rev Julie Conalty, who is the deputy lead bishop for safeguarding within the Church of England, responded saying: "I am so ashamed and angered by this response. Church law and our complex structures are no excuse for failing to do the right thing." You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/lord-sentamu-banned-preaching-his-local-diocese-over-refusal-apologise-abuse-failures


It was to be expected of course. The evangelically driven Charlie Holt was denied the opportunity to be the next Bishop of Florida.

He failed to obtain consents from the Standing Committees and the HOB, but no one is telling how they voted. The Florida Standing Committee, in its statement on the result, acknowledged that Holt's election was now "null and void." The standing committee will assume ecclesiastical authority in the diocese when John Howard steps down later this year after reaching 72.

He was allegedly denied consent over "procedural concerns" and Holt's "past statements on racial and LGBTQ+ issues." That is a flat out lie.

The local Black Ministerium approved of his appointment and Holt let it be known he would not violate B012 (homosexual marriage) even though he personally disagrees with it. But tolerance is not tolerated in TEC especially on such hot button issues as LGBTQI sexualities. Anyone who holds views contrary to the new received teaching is sooner or later cancelled -- gone - in the name of inclusion and diversity. You can read the full story here: https://virtueonline.org/diocese-florida-sorry-charlie-youre-history
The outgoing Bishop Howard had something to say about all this that you can read here: https://virtueonline.org/florida-bishop-john-howard-responds-rejection-charlie-holt-next-bishop

"The reactionary rejection of Father Holt's election troubles me. Our diverse Diocese has established, maintained, and promoted a big-tent culture in Florida open to all followers of Jesus Christ and those who seek to know Him. Deep divisions beset the Episcopal Church, but the Diocese of Florida has labored intently for twenty years to prevent another schism which would in any way resemble what we saw in 2004-2005. My vision of our Church is of one that is spacious enough to accommodate inquirers and worshipers of every ideology, age, race, ethnicity, origin, and orientation -- one that does not superimpose a litmus test of secular politics on the sacred life of our Church or its mission."

ENS reports that the Western Oregon's diocesan headquarters was sold for $4.5 million. For the record there is no Diocese of Western Oregon, just the Diocese of Oregon. No matter. The real news is the growing number of dioceses that are selling expensive headquarters to raise money to keep their failing dioceses going as people die off. Their statistics speaks volumes. They had 69 baptisms, 11 confirmations and 24 weddings. Funerals came in at 148! This is the real statistic in most dioceses now. More deaths than all other combined statistics. Watch for more mergers and deaths in future diocesan reports.

If you want to read a truly scathing report on the state of the church read Anglican Watch's report here: "Zombie churches and decline: AW predictions about the coming parochial report results." www.anglicanwatch.com

To top it off is this report that the Church of England might be ungovernable. The Church of England's "parliament", the general synod, meeting in July 2023 has been described as its most fractious ever. Irreconcilable differences over same-sex marriage, the sudden sacking of two members of the Independent Safeguarding Board throwing the whole process into chaos, and continuing anxiety over falling membership and income, was a difficult enough backdrop. But coupled with accusations that the agenda was being manipulated leaving synod members with no voice, created a level of distrust, frustration, loss of confidence and eventually mutiny which exploded like a pressure cooker. As one commentator put it: "something gave", the bishops were openly challenged and things may not be the same again. In this Religion Media Centre briefing, synod members and watchers tried to understand what they had witnessed, how it got to this, and how the church can move forward. You can read more here:

Just to complete the chaos this week came word that Anglo-Catholics who oppose the ordination of women priests to be bishop might have no future in the CofE.. MPs press the Church of England to rid itself of priests who oppose the ordination of women bishops. Andrew Selous was in an exchange in the House of Commons with other MPs. The Hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked if the Church of England will make an assessment of the potential merits of refusing to ordain clergy who do not personally recognize the ordination of women as diocesan bishops. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/mps-press-church-england-rid-itself-priests-who-oppose-ordination-women-bishops


The Anglican Church of Canada is dropping like a stone into a bottomless future. Data for 2021 confirm that attendance in the Anglican Church of Canada declined by about 10 per cent that year, after a similar drop in 2020, the church's statistics officer says. Preliminary findings from 2022 suggest it continued in a steep decline into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Statistics officer Canon Neil Elliot released a report that described a downward trend of 2.5 per cent per year--a rate that would see the church's membership depleted entirely by 2040. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/anglican-church-canada-attendance-dropping-10-year
You can read more here: https://anglicanjournal.com/church-attendance-dropped-faster-during-the-pandemic-but-parishes-are-adapting-statistician/


The former Bishop of Arizona, Kirk Smith let the cat out of the bag when he revealed the true state of four Episcopal seminaries he has taught at since he retired.

In an article in The Living Church, "How Working in Four Episcopal Seminaries Changed My Understanding of Theological Education" the bishop revealed the true sad state of the four seminaries which included General, Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, Virginia Theological Seminary, and the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. You can read it here: https://covenant.livingchurch.org/2023/07/24/a-bishop-goes-to-seminary/

"My time at these institutions quickly dispelled my idyllic fantasies! about theological education within the Episcopal Church."

"Being a bishop also allowed me to witness firsthand how the knowledge acquired by seminarians might or might not serve them in the field after graduation," he wrote.

While acknowledging his confidence in the future of the church and the dedication of students from increasingly diverse backgrounds showing immense dedication, he approved faculty members, for "moving away from the academic mentality that prioritizes publication over teaching, focusing instead on equipping their students with practical skills for priestly and chaplaincy roles."

The bishop described several "troubling trends." You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/former-arizona-bishop-reveals-sad-truth-about-episcopal-seminary-education


A report of the so-called UN International Commission of Jurists referred to as the March 8 Principles, includes a section decriminalizing sex with minors.

The most odious of the March 8 Principles is Principle 16, which states that minor children should be deemed capable of consent to sexual relations as a defense to any criminal prosecution of the adult [P. 22; emphasis supplied]. Here is how it reads:

Moreover, sexual conduct involving persons below the domestically prescribed minimum age of consent to sex may be consensual in fact, if not in law. In this context, the enforcement of criminal law should reflect the rights and capacity of persons under 18 years of age to make decisions about engaging in consensual sexual conduct and their right to be heard in matters concerning them. Pursuant to their evolving capacities and progressive autonomy, persons under 18 years of age should participate in decisions affecting them, with due regard to their age, maturity and best interests, and with specific attention to non-discrimination guarantees. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/un-commission-proposes-decriminalizing-sex-minors


Many of you will recall a group called Integritya pro-homosexual advocacy advanced by the late Louie Crew. Founded in 1974, Integrity USA was the LGBTQ+ advocacy group within the Episcopal Church. It has no become famously dysfunctional. In 2013 the group brought in Vivian Taylor, a transgender activist, to straighten out the mess within the organization. But when Taylor arrived at Integrity, it quickly became evident that issues at the organization were worse than dysfunctional. Large alcohol bills by board members, missed payrolls, confused roles and responsibilities within the organization, and a failure to file form 990 tax returns spelled disaster for the organization. We also note that some of the conversation included in the emails might be construed as efforts by the board to whitewash the failure to file tax returns. As for payroll, there is never an excuse for missing payroll. Full stop. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/vivian-taylor-reveals-corruption-within-episcopal-lgbtq-advocacy-group-integrity


A second Anglican parish has headed for the Episcopal Church. An Anglican Church in North America parish announced this week that it is departing the theologically conservative denomination to pursue affiliation with the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, with its priest saying "This journey has brought us immense clarity and conviction."

Resurrection Anglican Church South Austin is the third parish in two years to depart the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others (C4SO), following St. Mary of Bethany Parish Nashville and The Table Indianapolis. The latter also pursued affiliation with the Episcopal Church, while the former remains unaffiliated as "an Ecumenical Eucharistic Community."

The Table Indianapolis was the first parish to depart for the Episcopal Church from the ACNA denomination that is largely composed of congregations that themselves either departed the Episcopal Church or were planted in cooperation with those who did so. You can read more in Jeff Walton's take on all this: https://virtueonline.org/second-anglican-parish-heads-episcopal-church


In Uganda, the Anglican archbishop found himself dragged into court over the nullification of a bishop-elect. A section of Christians in Luwero Diocese took Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu into High Court challenging the nullification of the election of Bishop-elect, Canon Kasana Ssemakula.

According to Uganda Radio network, on 28th June the House of Bishops sitting at Kabalega Resort Hotel in Hoima resolved to nullify the elections of Rev. Canon Kasana Ssemakula as the fourth bishop of Luwero Diocese.

In a statement released by Rev. Canon William Ongeng the Provincial Secretary of the Church of Uganda, the extraordinary decision was taken after getting credible information that the bishop-elect's integrity was misrepresented during the nomination and election process. The House of Bishops, therefore nullified Kasana's nomination and election. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/uganda-anglican-church-archbishop-dragged-court


If you don't think China has an agenda for the West that is purely economic and political then you are deceived. They have a spiritual agenda as well. Consider this. China's reported plan to export a Communist-Christian hybrid around the world has been met with concerns and warnings from Release International, a UK-based organization that supports persecuted Christians globally.
In a recent broadcast training meeting for key pastors in China's Jilin province, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is reported to have urged church leaders to resist foreign church influences and so-called illegal religion.

They also reportedly advocated for "Christianity with a Communist core to be exported around the world" and to "change the face of world Christianity", according to Release.

Now you should know that there are an estimated 100 million Christians in China, perhaps more if those belonging to "underground" or "house churches" are included. Of these, about 60 to 80 million are Protestant and 12 million Catholic. Now there are an estimated 90 to 100 million evangelical Christians in the US.

Think about that. We have unbound freedoms in this country and we are messing it up badly by all accounts. The rise of Nones and Nons signals a decline in Christian practice in the US. China has no such freedoms, no constitutional guarantees of free speech and yet Christianity is thriving against all odds. Persecution has a way of galvanizing us apparently. Our apathetic selfist lifestyles yield laziness and "me-to-ism," focusing on self-fulfillment, ambition, and money. Is it any wonder that the late Chinese Christian leader Watchman Nee, who wrote 19 books, had such a powerful gospel impact in China. He died in prison for his faith.

You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/china-seeking-export-communist-style-christianity-around-globe-warns-religious-freedom-charity

The Chinese Communist Party is now busily at work rewriting the world's best-selling book. If they succeed in their venture, we'll go from "the greatest story ever told" to "the greatest story ever distorted." A powerful story of forgiveness is found in John 8, involving Jesus and the woman caught in adultery, wherein He famously said, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." Her accusers quietly leave, one after another. But now, if the Chinese Communists have their way, the whole story of Jesus and the adulterous woman will be completely turned on its head. In their version, Jesus Himself stones her to death! You can read more here: https://www.christianpost.com/voices/the-greatest-story-ever-distorted-china-trying-to-rewrite-bible.html


CULTURE WARS. The following stories have been selected by VOL as representative of where we are at in today's culture.

AFTER THE NONES, THERE'S NO BIGGER RELIGION-BEAT STORY THESE DAYS THAN ALL... https://virtueonline.org/after-nones-theres-no-bigger-religion-beat-story-these-days-all-those-nons

How Many People Leave Their Childhood Religion? https://virtueonline.org/how-many-people-leave-their-childhood-religion

NOT EVERYONE WANTS TO CELEBRATE PRIDE MONTH https://virtueonline.org/not-everyone-wants-celebrate-pride-month

Top Psychiatrist Says 'Go Back to Church' as Loneliness Now a Major US... https://virtueonline.org/top-psychiatrist-says-go-back-church-loneliness-now-major-us-health-threat
What Does the Bible Say About Transgenderism https://virtueonline.org/what-does-bible-say-about-transgenderism


The rise of non-denominationalism in America. Christianity Today's finding that "there are six times more nondenominational churches than there are Episcopal congregations, and five times more than Presbyterian Church (USA). If nondenominational were a denomination, it would even be larger than the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest denomination in the US." You can read more here: https://juicyecumenism.com/2023/08/04/non-denominational-church-and-state/


While VOL takes no political stance, an opinion piece by the Rev. Dr. Russell Levenson, rector of St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Houston, the largest parish in the Episcopal Church with some 9,000 persons makes for interesting reading.

Levenson describes himself as a life long Republican. His church hosted the Bush family, George H. W. and Barbara for many years and he wrote a book about them. He wrote saying; GOP LEADERS BACKING TRUMP ARE IN A MORAL ABYSS!

"I can't help but see among key leaders of the GOP, who seem -- either by design or default -- intent on steering their adherents to certain ruin, without regard for the moral implications of their actions.

"How unlike Bush is the severely morally challenged GOP of today, with failings that eclipse even those of former President Richard Nixon. We are where we are largely because of former President Donald Trump, with his history of sex abuse, shady corporate business deals, abuse of presidential office to attack his perceived enemies -- and other transgressions too numerous to name. Yet, for some reason -- either by design or default -- the GOP is failing to hold him to account."

You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/gop-leaders-backing-trump-are-moral-abyss


Former, deceased AMiA bishop Chuck Murphy remains something of an enigmatic figure. He was instrumental in making the break from The Episcopal Church and was ordained in Singapore. He later crossed swords with ACNA Archbishop Bob Duncan, a wound that was never healed before he died. The AMiA withdrew from the ACNA but the story has never been fully told. We have only snippets from both sides. Someone needs to write the book.


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