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78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church Launched*TEC in sync with SCOTUS over Gay Marriage*Uganda Primate Rips TEC Gay Advocacy Interference in Africa*Candidates for PB Affirm Resurrection*CofE Evangelicals call for Bishop of Buckingham to Resign

What happens in the U.S. happens all over the world. It is our entertainment media, our language, our philosophy, our news, our culture, our cultural suicide that has been transplanted all over the globe. --- Michael Voris

"...we are witnessing the emergence of a New Episcopal Church, which conforms neither to the historical TEC nor even the confused one set forth in the Primer." --- Anglican Communion Institute

GC2015 EUCHARIST: Communion bread sourced through Farm to Altar Table, made w/ stone-milled wheat organically farmed in Utah. ---- Jeff Walton IRD

Anyone, who has followed the drumbeat of inclusion-versus-exclusion since the 1970's in The Episcopal Church, learned early on that the words themselves have no inherent meaning except as blunt instruments to wear down a political adversary. --- Canon Gary L'Hommedieu

Open to God. If we take Scripture as our guide, we will avoid opposite extremes. We will neither describe miracles as 'never happening', nor as 'everyday occurrences', neither as 'impossible' nor as 'normal'. Instead, we will be entirely open to the God who works both through nature and through miracle. And when a healing miracle is claimed, we will expect it to resemble those in the Gospels and the Acts and so to be the instantaneous and complete cure of an organic condition, without the use of medical or surgical means, inviting investigation and persuading even unbelievers. --- John R.W. Stott

According to TEC's most recent statistics, the Church's Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) has dropped significantly. In 2003, the year that Gene Robinson was consecrated as the world's first openly gay, partnered bishop, the Episcopal Church's ASA stood at 858,598 persons. 10 years later, in 2013, this figure had dropped to 657,102 persons, a decline of nearly 200,000 church goers. --- Rev. Michael Heidt

The church must ask itself if, indeed, the father-mother-child elements are interchangeable in human and social value with -- mean the same thing as -- man-man and woman-woman and man-man-child and woman-woman-child forms of human coming-to-be. It is not enough to say that there have always been "exceptions" to the forms of human marriage: alternative arrangements here and there, childlessness, elderly couplings. None of these adjusted exceptions have ever sought to redefine marriage, optionalize it and thus effectively to dismantle it. --- Ephraim Radner

The percent that believe that their church or denomination should preserve its traditional beliefs and practices is 43.5% in the Church of England but only 27.3% in The Episcopal Church. ---- Pew Foundation

Dear Brothers and Sisters
June 26, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY. "Its show time," said Canon Michael Barlowe, Executive Officer for this Triennial 2015 General Convention. Some 200 bishops and their spouses, 839 lay delegates, 420, clergy, 419 lay alternates, volunteers, guests, and walk-ins bring the numbers up to 4,500, according to Barlowe.

First rounds have been fired over hot button issues about the Church's own survival and future, as well as sexuality, and who will be the Episcopal Church's next Presiding Bishop.

It is serious business. In her opening remarks to the press and Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori used the language of Star Trek to warp it up, imagining the future of the Church inviting assembled delegates to this 78th General Convention to travel to a new galaxy of "interdependence" after the Episcopal Church's recent history marked by "warring, chaos," and "collateral damage."

After referring to the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church (TREC), Jefferts Schori told her listeners to "warp up and get moving." The Presiding Bishop continued to borrow language from the hit T.V. series, Star Trek, to describe the mission of the denomination.

"We're bound for the galaxy called Galilee," said Jefferts Schori, "And the edges of the known world, because that's where Jesus sent us and that's where he promises to meet us. The journey is likely to be a long one, in spite of the glimpses of heaven around us. We will measure this journey in light-years, and expect those years to be filled with growing awareness of the light of the world."

However, while acknowledging that the galactic journey was not for the "fainthearted," the Presiding Bishop reassured the Convention that church members aren't alone in their trek into space.

"We don't make this trek alone," said Jefferts Schori, "And we can't go alone even if we'd prefer a solo journey. We're tied to one another through the bonds of affection called the love of God. We will never live that interrelated life perfectly, but interdependence is our vocation and our destiny -- and we know it as the Reign of God."

For the Presiding Bishop, reaching this destiny meant "leaving behind the fortresses of the past, the bastions of privilege," and engaging the "dying and rising so essential to Christian life all around us." She described this way of life as "holographic," and "similar at different magnifications," an "integrity," or "congruence," in which "each part of the body is interdependent."

All fine sounding language, but what does it really amount to in face of the church's clear decline?

VOL correspondent Michael Heidt crunched the numbers and revealed that congregations are in fact aging and most are in numerical decline. Several Resolutions reflect this downward trend, aiming to reimagine the structure and work of a shrinking Church.

According to TEC's most recent statistics, the Church's Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) has dropped significantly. In 2003, the year that Gene Robinson was consecrated as the world's first openly gay, partnered bishop, the Episcopal Church's ASA stood at 858,598 persons. 10 years later, in 2013, this figure had dropped to 657,102 persons, a decline of nearly 200,000 church goers.

During the same time frame, all 9 Provinces of the Episcopal Church reported a drop in Sunday attendance. Province 9, which is comprised of dioceses from South America, was especially hit, reporting a 22.6% decrease in attendance, with the Diocese of the Honduras shrinking by an alarming 43%. Congregations are also becoming smaller and older; 69% of churches reporting had an ASA of 100 or less, which is down 5% from 2009, and across the board, the average age of congregants is 61.

As dioceses and congregations have shrunk, the average age of clergy has risen to 58. 2013 statistics show that 33.2% of congregations have either part time or non-stipendiary clergy, and 12.3% are without clergy. This means that as of 2013, over 45% of TEC's 6,622 Parishes and Missions are unable to deploy a full time minister, and if they are, he or she will be fast approaching their senior years.


General Convention's walkabout for the next presiding-bishop also took place this week. Humor, earnestness, and frequent tweeting marked the occasion, according to a TLC story blogger.

Nominees were asked to prepare short video presentations, self-produced on a mobile phone or iPad. These videos appeared first, before nominees were welcomed on to the main stage. Each then had time for an opening statement. A long period of Q&A followed, in which the candidates answered a single round of questions written by the nominating committee and five rounds of questions submitted by Episcopalians. Finally, each made a short closing statement.

There was almost palpable excitement each time Bishop Michael Curry addressed the joint session of the two houses. As the Rev. Tim Schenck of Lent Madness put it on Twitter, "For PB we need an Inspirer in Chief who speaks boldly & passionately about the transforming power of Jesus."

Curry showed that he is not unaware of the dazzling effect of his speaking, despite some remaining questions about his abilities as a bishop. In response, he cited a variety of measurable accomplishments from his diocese. "Can a preacher be an administrator? Can an orator be an organizer? Ask the Diocese of North Carolina."

It is this writer's prediction that Curry will win. At one point, he almost broke out with "What a friend we have in Jesus" but constrained himself, but he knew how to work the crowd. He'll be hard to beat. Being Black won't hurt his cause either. The other candidates gave the standard fare of Episcobabble and ecclesiospeak with Bishop Thomas E. Breidenthal of Southern Ohio letting everyone know how well educated he is and who his theological friends are. He is no lover of orthodoxy and has made that clear on other occasions. Curry is pro gay but won't force any priest against their consciences to unite same sex persons in holy dreadlock.

A recurring theme was how each nominee has managed theological diversity on same-sex marriage and how he might do so as presiding bishop. The repeated questions on the topic drew critical response on Twitter. The Rev. Scott Gunn of Forward Movement tweeted, "Maybe we could hear questions about another topic? These answers were good, but there's other stuff to talk about!"

The Bishop of Vermont, Thomas Ely, felt moved to name a few of those: "Racism? Gun Violence? Province IX? Small Churches? Global Conflicts? Persecution of Christians? Women? Youth?"

The reason is simple. Sex, specifically homosex is the lightening rod issue that profoundly affects all our lives and has been the issue for the whole Anglican Communion. The other issues have not. If Province IX ultimately dies, no one will really care and people don't care enough about persecuted Christians, gun violence, and why the church is not drawing youth, insofar as the Church needs the next generation to pay the bills.

Each of the nominees signaled their commitment to work through theological diversity in the Episcopal Church, especially on same-sex marriage. In a similar vein, when asked about what is distinctive about Anglican faith, Bishop Ian Douglas of Connecticut emphasized three main factors: Trinitarian faith, a sense of Anglican provisionality, and a commitment to comprehensiveness. "I need those who are so different from me."

He failed to mention that the fabric of the Communion has been torn and the vast Global South has been out of communion for more than a dozen repairs. He did not talk about repairing the breach.

Laughter broke out whenever a nominee took a softball question. Bishop Dabney Smith was palpably relieved and said "Thank God!" when asked about his faith in the resurrection.


Bicameral or unicameral? As the Episcopal Church shrinks there is much talk about bringing the House of Bishops and Deputies together and voting as one body and debate by order. We shall see.


Anticipating the arrival and fight over Resolution A051 as part of TEC's social justice advocacy policy that aims to build relationships with LGBTQ African Anglican scholars and advocacy activists working to advance "generous understandings" of the Bible while opposing laws that criminalize homosexuality, I got the jump and sent it off to the Primate of Uganda, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali. He responded by sending VOL a personal note blasting the proposed legislation supporting LGBT African advocacy. He asserted that should "TEC try to come in and influence our Bible scholars away from the clear and plain sense meaning of Scripture, we shall consider them a wolf who has invaded our flock in order to pick off individuals with the intent to steal, kill, and destroy the Church of Uganda.

"The Church of Uganda broke communion with TEC twelve years ago in 2003 because of their unilateral decision to change the Church's teaching on marriage, sexuality, and ordination, which they had no right to do. Though it makes us sad, this resolution in 2015 does not surprise us. It is merely an extension of TEC's arrogance and imperialism toward the rest of the world and the churches of the Anglican Communion.

"The Church of Uganda is united in our commitment to the Jerusalem Declaration of GAFCON, to the plain sense meaning of the Bible's teaching on marriage as a lifelong relationship between one man and one woman, and the marriage relationship as the only place for sexual intimacy.

"Should TEC try to come in and influence our Bible scholars away from the clear and plain sense meaning of Scripture, we shall consider them a wolf who has invaded our flock in order to pick off individuals with the intent to steal, kill, and destroy the Church of Uganda.

"We consider TEC's draft resolution to be in line with the Anglican Communion's "Bible in the Life of the Church" project and Continuing Indaba (or Facilitated Conversations) -- they are all Trojan Horses intent on violating Anglicanism's historic understanding of the authority of Scripture and we are not participating. We have better things to do with our time and limited resources. TEC's proposed resolution simply gives it an official mandate to do what they've already been doing unofficially, namely bringing down the rest of the Anglican Communion in the same way they have led to their own decline. We will resist these efforts, and God will judge all of us."

An Anti-Homosexuality Act was signed into law in Uganda in February of 2014. It was, however, overturned by Uganda's Supreme Court in July 2014. So, there is no Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda today. Since the AHA did not remove existing laws, they are still in place.

If you believe in ecclesiastical whack-a-mole, then the archbishop whacked the lot of them. I had the opportunity of reading this letter into a legislative committee hearing Wednesday evening and got hissed from some quarters. Most people looked at me like I was from another planet; one bishop was left open mouthed, presumably in shock at what he heard.

The truth is these people do not know how much damage they have done to the unity of the Anglican Communion and the damage they have caused to brothers and sisters in the Global South, mainly because they have no theology that can or is able to stop the pansexual roller-coaster in TEC. The price has been high and is getting higher. The loser is western pan Anglicanism; the winners are our brothers in the rest of the communion who have adhered, believed in and refused to depart from "the faith once for all delivered to the saints."

General Convention got its first look at what direction deputies and bishops may wish to take on the issue of marriage equality during a hearing June 24 by the Special Legislative Committee on Marriage.

The committee, made up of deputies and bishops, heard testimony on four resolutions assigned to it, but most of the comments related to two of them -- C007 and C009, identical resolutions proposed by the Diocese of Rochester and the Diocese of Los Angeles, respectively. They call for the 78th General Convention to "take any and all steps necessary to make the Rite of Holy Matrimony available to same-sex couples throughout The Episcopal Church immediately."

Almost all those testifying spoke in favor of the resolutions, calling equal access to marriage for all couples important, for a variety of reasons. No surprise there. It is a forgone conclusion how all this will play with only moderate

You can read a number of reports from GC2015 posted in today's digest written not only by myself but also Michael Heidt and Gary L'Hmmedieu.


IN OTHER NEWS Four prominent Anglo-Catholic clergy in the Buckinghamshire region of Oxford Diocese have joined their evangelical colleagues in speaking out against Bishop Alan Wilson. They object to the Bishop trying to redefine church marriage.

"The definition of Marriage within the Canon Law of the Church of England is in accord with that of the whole Church for almost 2000 years. It is a matter of serious concern that a Bishop of the Church of England, who is one of those 'ordained to be shepherds of Christ's flock and guardians of the faith of the apostles' (Common Worship Ordinal) should describe that definition as 'lousy.'" --- The Rev'd Canon, Fr Victor Bullock, Vicar of Fenny Stratford The Rev. Canon, Fr Gary Ecclestone, Vicar of Hanslope & Castlethorpe The Rev. Fr Andrew Montgomerie, Rector of Iver Heath (and trustee of Prayer Book Society) The Rev. Fr Ross Northing, Rector of Stony Stratford with Calverton

This very public move by key Anglo-Catholics appears to utterly undermine Wilson's claim during a number of radio interview this past Sunday that opposition to his public statements was limited to a small number of objectors. On the contrary, I understand that a letter is circulating which has a growing number of signatories. This isn't going away, in fact quite the opposite. Wilson's attempts to dampen the fire have failed. Conservatives I'm speaking to are outraged by his radio interviews.

According to one prominent figure in the ongoing discussions,"[Bishop Wilson's letter] has made things worth as it has displayed a total lack of understanding of what it is that people are unhappy about. I am delighted that more and more people are being encouraged to speak out to show him that we are not a 'potty' fringe group". It's fair to say that the Oxford Diocese has reached a crisis moment."


The Bishop of Central Florida, Gregory O. Brewer has resigned from the Board of Trustees of the Trinity School for Ministry (TSM) following a controversy over the baptism of an infant presented by a same-sex couple at the Cathedral Church of St Luke in Orlando.

VOL has learned that the couple in question, Rich and Eric McCaffrey, have gone AWOL -- an example of a drive by I suppose or a story that failed to materialize.

Brewer met with the Dean of TSM, the Very Rev. Justyn Terry to discuss concerns raised by the board's executive committee. At the close of the meeting, Bishop Brewer, who was the sole serving Episcopal bishop on the seminary's board, wrote to the board tendering his resignation.

Bishop Brewer, who served on the faculty of TSM twenty years ago and continues to have close ties to the school, won't talk about it. The school's spokesman, the Rev. Christopher Klukas asked Brewer to take a leave of absence. Brewer chose to resign from Trinity's Board.


A jury has ruled that a New Jersey nonprofit that offers reparative therapy for gays violated the state's consumer fraud act. The jury found Thursday that Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing and group co-founder Arthur Goldberg made false promises that it could turn gay men straight.

Three men and two parents were awarded $72,000 in the civil judgment. The judge will rule later on their request to revoke the company's license. Four young men sued the group in 2012 under New Jersey's consumer fraud laws. One man dropped out, but his mother remained.

The plaintiffs say the group lied about its success rate and used methods that had no scientific basis.

The group says it didn't make guarantees and should be allowed to help people struggling with their sexuality.

"Seeking counseling is a very private and personal decision people make. Coercive tactics that attempt to shut down choice are antithetical to a country founded in religious tolerance," said Maggie Gallagher, Chairman of the Board of Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund.

I have seen reparative therapy work and no one, but no one is forced into reparative therapy. If a person does not seek help voluntarily, it will never work. This is yet another case of religious freedom being stomped on in favor of sexual freedom. America will pay a huge price for this over the coming years. This verdict in New Jersey Superior Court will have a chilling effect on religious liberty.


Statement from The Diocese Of South Carolina on SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that "all states must license marriage between two people of the same sex" and "recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed "out-of-state." Despite this change, the Diocese of South Carolina continues to affirm the historic position of the Christian Church: that God has ordained two states of life for His people, singleness or Holy Matrimony -- the joining together of one man and one woman into a holy union. By affirming this position, we stand firmly under the authority of Holy Scripture, in continuity with the two thousand year history of the church, and in accord with the vast majority of Christians around the world. Therefore, it is clear that while the Supreme Court may be changing the civil definition of marriage, it has no authority over Holy Matrimony and the Church's blessing of the union between husband and wife.

The Bible envisions Holy Matrimony as the life long, exclusive union of one man and one woman. While Christians, like others, experience failure in realizing this vision, it is nevertheless the standard we profess and toward which we strive. We believe that marriage, like all areas of life, can be redeemed, and that by God's grace all married people can be enabled to live into its unique calling.

The full consequences of the Supreme Court's cultural and legal innovation have yet to be seen, and will be tested over time. It is our strong belief that this same Constitution, to which they have appealed, must protect the rights of all people to the free exercise of religion. In the light of this conviction, the Diocese of South Carolina will faithfully conduct its ministry in accordance with our beliefs, trusting that this freedom will be upheld.



Dear Bishop Smith,

I have learned that on June 13, the rector of St. Wilfrid's Episcopal Church in Sarasota, the Rev. Virginia Herring held a blessing service for two men who were married.

Did you know about this? It is my understanding that you have not approved of such actions (you are still discerning) and have made that a cornerstone of your stand running for the office of Presiding Bishop.

I look forward to your response.

David W. Virtue DD

As of going to cyber press, Bishop Smith had not responded to this e-mail despite several requests to do so.


Like the phoenix rising from the ashes, St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, Maryland, has risen from the brink of death to find new life. The historic congregation received a double whammy in 2012 when the church was placed into imperilment -- a form of direct diocesan control where the clergy were released and the vestry was dissolved -- by Bishop Eugene Sutton (XIV Maryland) -- followed by one of their priests, the Rev. Mary-Marguerite Kohn, and the church administrator being brutally killed in the church office by a homeless man.

Through it all -- the tunnel of turmoil, trauma, and tension -- the 173-year-old church has survived, is strengthened, and now surges forward into the future, according to newspaper reports.

On June 17, Bishop Sutton gathered with his Ellicott City flock and celebrated its new lease on life with his release from imperilment, and a new rector, -- the Rev. Henry Slawson -- as the church was pronounced ready to continue in ministry as a thriving and on-going Episcopal church in Howard County, Maryland.


The Falls Church Anglican, the large congregation of defectors from the Episcopal Church who were forced by the courts to vacate the historic Falls Church site on S. Washington St., has bought a new five-acre location at 6565 Arlington Blvd., within a mile of its former site in Fairfax County.

The Rev. John Yates, who led the congregants en masse out of the Episcopal Church in 2006, but occupied the F.C. church property for over six years, announced to his flock that the closing on the new property had been completed. Now the hurdles associated with permits and licensing from the county will be pursued.

The property, on Route 50 at the intersection of S. Cherry Street, is currently home to a four-story commercial office building and a two-story parking deck. Preliminary plans are to demolish the parking deck, build a new one on the other end of the property, and construct a new sanctuary building.

In a glossy 20-page brochure shared with the congregation, which was also urged to keep the plans silent even after the sale was completed, it is stated, "It is true that this new church home will cost us a lot of money," citing a "third party appraiser" who set its value at $33,600,000, with an estimated purchase price of $29 million and an additional $23 million for new construction. Going to closing, the brochure stipulated, would require "pledges and cash totaling at least $10 million: of that $5 million is needed up front for the down payment." The brochure predicts that new worship space could be constructed by 2017 or 2018.


Responding to news of attacks today in Tunisia, France, and Kuwait, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, commented, "All of us must be full of grief at the attacks in Tunisia, France and Kuwait. They are intended not only to destroy but to divide, not only to terrify but to take from us our own commitment to each other in our societies. Let us together mourn for the victims, weep with the bereaved, support the injured and pray for them all to the God who in Jesus Christ went to the Cross and died rather than bearing a sword. Facing such a global and long term menace, we are called to reaffirm our solidarity with each other and affirm the great treasures of freedom, in religion and so many other ways. Our strength is in the God who conquered evil when Jesus rose from the dead, and on His death and victory we find the basis for our future. "


Myrna Thompson, 59, wife of ACNA vicar Fr. Anthony Thompson vicar at Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church in Charleston who died last week as a part of the Emanuel Nine shootings in Charleston will hold a viewing on Sunday, June 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Palmetto Mortuary in downtown Charleston, with a visitation to be held at Mother Emanuel AME from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The funeral service will be held Monday, June 29 at 11 a.m. at Mother Emanuel AME Church, according to The Palmetto Mortuary.

We are working 10 to 12 hour days here in Salt Lake City to bring you the news of this 78th General Convention. We are pulling out all the stops working from morning till night. While many of you reading this don't approve of The Episcopal Church and the direction it has taken and have left it, we are writing for the history books AND to keep the Global South informed about what is going on in the U.S. Church. We believe that is the right thing to do.

VOL has a number of very dedicated supporters and for that we are eternally grateful. If you can chip in with a donation to help with hotel, food and other costs we would be grateful. We really do appreciate your support. You can send a tax-deductible check to:

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Thank you for your support.

In Christ,


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