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African-American Episcopal Church Closes * Transgender Issue puts CofE in Quandary * GAFCON UK discusses plans for Future Growth * Diocese of South Carolina News * TEC lifts Statute of Limitations for clergy sexual misconduct * Indian Moderator Jailed

The evil of error. The devil disturbs the church as much by error as by evil. When he cannot entice Christian people into sin, he deceives them with false doctrine --- John R. W. Stott

There's no hurt like church hurt -- Rob Wilkins

Despite our lavish Cathedrals in the suburbs (`Charismatic or not) with their pastel hues and comfortable pews, their projector screens and $30,000 sound systems, I want to put it to you that we have utterly lost Christianity. We left it behind somewhere when we shifted our churches from the inner city into the "comfortable" suburbs. We left it behind when we stopped welcoming the bums off the street into our meetings and started welcoming only the "respectable" people. We left it behind when we stopped preaching "take up your cross" and turned the gospel into a success formula - `Seven Steps to your
Best Life Now.´ --- Andrew Strom

"Not everyone who says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I say unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity." --- Mt. 7:21-23.

"Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing in God's judgment, hating what He hates, loving what He loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word." ― J.C. Ryle, Holiness

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
December 14, 2018

The slow death of The Episcopal Church is picking up apace. Episcopalians are closing more African-American parishes than at any time in its history and there is no reason to think that trend will change or stop.

The latest casualty this week was in Warrenton, NC. All Saints' Episcopal Church, an African-American congregation with a proud history, was formally closed 100 years and one week after its sanctuary opened.

North Carolina Episcopal Bishop Samuel Rodman presided over the Eucharistic service in an elementary school a block away from the church, where weekly services ended more than three years ago. This closure is deeply ironic, as it took place in a diocese once led by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the Episcopal Church's first black leader.

All Saints is hardly alone among mainline Protestant and Catholic congregations. Faced with dwindling members, crumbling infrastructure and costly maintenance, some 6,000 to 10,000 churches shutter each year, according to one estimate. More closures may be in the offing as surveys point to a decline in church attendance across the country, according to an RNS report.

But All Saints is an example of an even sharper decline. Historically African-American churches across the South are fast disappearing.

What do the numbers look like? The story notes that the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina "once boasted 60 such churches. Today, a mere dozen is left and, of those, only three have full-time clergy." This long, deep, story has few, if any, signs of hope for the future.

Note that this feature is focusing on trends in "mainline Protestant and Catholic" churches. "Mainline," of course, is news code for the "Seven Sisters" of liberal Protestantism, including the highly symbolic Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Jemonde Taylor, rector of St. Ambrose Episcopal Church in Raleigh, another historically black church, worries about what the decline of churches like All Saints might mean for recruiting black clergy.

"More than 75 percent of black priests come out of historically black congregations," said Taylor. "Those black churches lift people up for ministry. So, if we don't have black churches, will we no longer have black priests?"

The Episcopal Church does not keep records on race, but a Pew Research survey found that about 4 percent of Episcopal Church members identify as black.

*****

The Church of England seems determined to follow The Episcopal Church in offering advice on transgender issues for clergy.

The CofE hit a new bottom this week when it encouraged its clergy to create baptism-style ceremonies for transgender people to welcome them into the Anglican Church.

New pastoral guidance, published on Tuesday, advises clergy to refer to transgender people by their new name, though it stops short of being a baptism.

The guidance, which was approved by the House of Bishops, also details how elements, including water and oil, can be incorporated into the service.

It also advises that as part of a special service, the people can be presented with gifts such as a Bible inscribed with their chosen name, or a certificate.

The guidance notes: "For a trans person to be addressed liturgically by the minister for the first time by their chosen name may be a powerful moment in the service."

"Seriously, for traditionalist Anglicans, how can you read this stuff and stand for it? Is there anything that would make you leave? If not, then seriously, what specific practices (if any) do you embrace to allow you to endure this kind of breakdown in the institution? What is the argument for remaining (or remaining in communion with Canterbury as it descends into madness)," asked renowned columnist Rod Dreher.

It is understood that traditionalists in the Church blocked a change in the liturgy and stopped this from becoming a new blessing.

Instead, the guidance shows how existing liturgy can be used to accept transgender people into the Church and welcome them with their new name. The existing right to an affirmation of baptism is in this case used to mark their change in identity.

The Bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson, chair of the House of Bishops delegation committee, which oversaw the guidance said: "We are absolutely clear that everyone is made in the image of God and that all should find a welcome in their parish church.

This is insanity.

Homosexual priests in civil unions are not permitted to have sex if they want to stay priests, but trannies can presumably do so.

You can read two fine articles on this from British theologians Gavin Ashenden, Jules Gomes and will Jones, here:
https://www.virtueonline.org/church-england-crosses-red-line-it-blesses-genital-mutilation
https://www.virtueonline.org/baptism-and-transgendered-c-e
https://www.virtueonline.org/transgender-services-church-england-steps-rabbit-hole

Is it any surprise then that the number of people who identify as belonging to the Church of England has dropped to a record low in an "unrelenting decline" that could threaten the denomination's future? Research suggests this may be so.

CofE affiliation has fallen to just 2 per cent among adults aged 18 to 24, while a majority of every age group now has no religion, the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey found.

The number of Britons who describe themselves as part of the church has more than halved since 2002, from 31 per cent to 14 per cent. The number of Britons who attend sermons is far lower.

At this rate, by 2030, the CofE will be ordaining sexbots to preach to empty cathedrals.

*****

The Rt. Rev. Andy Lines, GAFCON Missionary Bishop to Europe, met with leaders of AMiE (Anglican Mission in England) and GAFCON UK to discuss plans for future growth and global partnership. They issued a statement on the CofE's "Pastoral Guidance for use in conjunction with the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith in the context of gender transition," and said the sacrament of baptism is designed to signify the new identity that is given to us in union with Jesus Christ through His death and resurrection, so we were dismayed that this guidance commends using the same service to "recognize liturgically a person's gender transition."

"In doing this, the House of Bishops has denied the teaching of Jesus Christ, not least by rejecting his words, "He who created them from the beginning made them male and female," (Matt 19: 4) in favor of celebrating a self-created identity. The baptismal liturgy should never be used in a way which invites confusion between the glorious salvation found in Jesus Christ and humanly devised rites of passage. It is because our hearts go out to all those who struggle with their gender identity that we cannot commend this false gospel or walk with those who promote it."

*****

The Most Rev. Bishop G. Dyvasirvadom, former Moderator of the Church of South India has been arrested and jailed on multiple criminal charges. A court in the city Vijayawada ordered Dyva to be placed in judicial remand for two weeks. Dyva filed a bail application last Friday in the court and the court postponed its hearing to 19 December, according to Dr. Joseph Muthuraj, VOL's Indian correspondent.

The former Moderator of the CSI held two other top positions in the Church of South India, both as its General Secretary and the Deputy Moderator as well as being the bishop of the Krishna-Godawari diocese for sixteen years.

Dyva was a great manipulator and had mastered the art of having his say in committees. "He was a great schemer and won elections for himself and his followers through conspiracy and illegal designs. He was a bishop of six dioceses including the three richest dioceses in the cosmopolitan cities of Bangalore, Madras and Hyderabad during his tenure as Moderator. He was the chairman of many committees and boards that managed schools and colleges and controlled the transfer, dismissal and appointment of employees of those institutions. For two decades he ruled the CSI by placing his loyalists and family members in key positions in the church and kept away those who challenged or threatened him. He amended the constitution of the church, despite opposition and he claimed to have secured approval from two-thirds of the dioceses in order to pass them."

*****

The Diocese of South Carolina (Diocese) continues along its long road to freedom from The Episcopal Church (TEC), filing new motions for summary judgement in the now nearly six-year-old federal suit brought by its former denomination.

Motions by the Diocese and its fifty-four parish defendants asked the Court to acknowledge, as a matter of law, they have neither infringed on TEC trademarks, diminished the value of those marks or harmed the denomination by continued use of names which have been in use before the denomination existed.

The current federal litigation was initiated by TEC in 2013, after the Diocese made the decision to disassociate from the national denomination it helped charter in 1789, five years after its own founding. The decision to leave was made in the fall of 2012 after denominational leadership attempted to wrongly remove its duly elected bishop. Over 80% of the congregations and their members affirmed that decision at a special Diocesan Convention in November 2012. TEC has
never accepted that decision by 23,000 parishioners of the Diocese, continuing to litigate all such efforts by congregations and dioceses across the country wishing to free themselves from its control. You can read the full story here: https://www.virtueonline.org/south-carolina-long-road-freedom-diocese-and-parishes-file-38

*****

The Episcopal Church has agreed to lift the Statute of Limitations for clergy sexual misconduct. This begins January 1, 2019. In a letter to the Church, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and House of Deputies president Gay Clark Jennings said Resolution D034 suspends for three years the canon (church law) that places a time limit on initiating proceedings in cases of clergy sexual misconduct against adults.

There is now no time limit on reporting clergy sexual misconduct against children and youth under age 21. From January 1, 2019 until December 31, 2021, those who wish to bring a case of sexual misconduct against a member of the clergy will be able to do so, regardless of how long ago the alleged misconduct occurred. Allegations of misconduct can be made to the intake officer in the diocese where the alleged misconduct occurred, or, if the allegation is against a bishop, to the Office of Pastoral Development.

Curry and Jennings hope that this temporary suspension of the statute of limitations will be one way for the church to come to terms with cases of sexual misconduct in our collective past. Between now and General Convention in 2021, laypeople, clergy and bishops appointed to several task forces created by the 2018 General Convention will be working on other ways of addressing these issues, including a process to help the church engage in truth-telling, confession and reconciliation regarding our history of gender-based discrimination, harassment and violence.

*****

St. Paul's, Darien, CT, is back in the news again. A Hearing on the Complaint against Bishop Ian Douglas; The ECCT and George Kovoor for illegally seizing St. Paul's property and assets is set for Monday, Dec. 17 at 9:30 AM before Judge Kevin Tierney in the Connecticut State Superior Court in Stamford, CT.

A second Hearing is scheduled for December 18th and is scheduled to start at 10:00 AM at the Courthouse and will likely be heard by Judge Tierney, (but his participation is not certain). This Hearing will be on two Motions: the first Motion on behalf of the Bishop and George Kovoor regarding the Court's jurisdictional issues -- (can a secular judge rule on a religious contract in the State of Connecticut?) Legal Briefs have already been submitted on this issue from both sides. Also, this Hearing will include the Vestry's Motion for an Emergency Injunction (originally filed in early October) against George Kovoor and the Bishop to return control of the church buildings and property back to the Vestry on behalf of the parish.

*****

Archbishop Justin Welby joined with other Christian and Jewish leaders to speak out against the rise of anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom and the persecution of Christians in many parts of the world.

The leaders signed a letter to The Times on Dec. 13, which read; "Anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic discourse is noticeably growing in public life and within social media in the UK."

"As leaders of the Jewish and Christian communities in the UK we are concerned where this situation may lead. Anti-Semitism has no place in our society and those in positions of power and influence must listen to these concerns. Similarly we continue to speak out on anti-Christian sentiment and persecution of Christians in many parts of the world."

"We call on people of faith to act together with us to promote religious and cultural understanding and advance the elimination of religious and racial prejudice, with particular reference to antisemitism, through education, dialogue, and social action."

*****

Jesus is disappearing from Christmas as Santa takes over. Four in 10 Brits do not know that Jesus is a part of the Christmas story, a new poll has found.

The survey of 2,000 British adults found that many are clueless when it comes to other major figures from the birth of Jesus as well, with 37 per cent saying they did not know that Mary and Joseph were a part of the story. Half (49 per cent) had no idea about the angel Gabriel's involvement, yet six per cent thought Santa would make an appearance, according to the research for Hotels.com by OnePoll.

Asked what they thought the nativity story would look like if it were to happen today, one in 10 said they thought a unicorn would replace the donkey, 15 per cent said the three queens would replace the three kings - or Magi - and 10 per cent said Gabriel would appear to Mary via Instagram.

*****

The Boy Scouts of America are considering filing for bankruptcy, according to a report released Wednesday.

The Wall Street Journal states leadership of the youth organization, mired in sexual misconduct litigation, hired the law firm Sidley Austin LLP to explore a wide range of options, including petitioning for relief under Chapter 11.

On Wednesday, Boy Scouts CEO Michael B. Surbaugh released a statement in response to the Journal's report, saying, "We are working with experts to explore all options available to ensure that the local and national programming of the Boy Scout of America continues uninterrupted."

"As you all know, we have always taken care of victims we believe them, we believe in fairly compensating them and we have paid for unlimited counseling, by a provider of their choice, regardless of the amount of time that has passed since an instance of abuse," Surbaugh added.

Legal experts note filing for bankruptcy would "stave off" at least 140 lawsuits filed against the organization alleging misconduct by scoutmasters.

The deeper truth is the Boy Scouts rolled over to the culture on sexuality issues and is paying the price for it.

*****

PERSECUTION NEWS. President Donald Trump signed a law on Tuesday combatting genocide of Christians in the Middle East, legislation supported by the Knights of Columbus and a broad array of faith-based organizations.

Christians are being systematically wiped out in Syria and Iraq, along with other religious minorities in parts of the Middle East. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and former Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) spearheaded the passage of H.R. 390, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018, which the president signed in an Oval Office ceremony. Both congressmen stood with the president as he signed the bill.

"The future of endangered religious and ethnic minorities targeted by IS for genocide, and pluralism in the Middle East, will depend on help from the United States," said Smith. [Breitbart News]

In other news, Amnesty International has accused the Nigerian government of refusing to bring those involved in the Boko Haram Islamic terrorist insurgency to justice. The Human rights organization, in Abuja requested the International Criminal Court (ICC) to begin a comprehensive investigation into atrocities committed, both by the Boko Haram terrorists as well as the Nigerian military forces.

Boko Haram Jihadists have killed more than 200,000 people, predominantly Christians, in middle and Northeastern Nigeria as of 2015. Boko Haram has destroyed over 13000 churches and displaced over two million Christians in its decade long campaign to establish Sharia law in the country and force all Christians to convert to Islam. NOTE. Many of those slaughtered have been Anglicans. Whole dioceses have been wiped out, with thousands killed.

In its campaign against the radical Islamic sect, the Nigerian Security forces have been accused of committing human rights abuses both in camps of the Internally Displaced Persons, where thousands of displaced Christians have been living for over eight years and in villages and communities in the north east.

*****

CANADA NEWS. I am indebted to David of Samizdat for the following news items. No one documents the inanities and insanities taking place in the Anglican Church of Canada more than he does.

The Diocese of Niagara recites Litany of Reconciliation. Every Friday at noon, the diocese recites a Litany of Reconciliation in the Cathedral forecourt. It pulls in about four persons. The Litany of Reconciliation is prayed at Coventry Cathedral in England and the Diocese of Niagara has followed suit.

Since the diocese shows no intention of reconciling with those it has most recently injured and actually hates, ANiC churches which left the diocese, the whole charade of reciting this litany is no more than an obscenely hypocritical public display of dishonest, fraudulent virtue, revolting enough to make a rodent vomit.

In the Diocese of Huron, Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church, an inclusive church was deconsecrated and a Transgender Remembrance service was held late October. "Bishop Cronyn Memorial's core values speak to inclusivity. The church treats all as made in God's image, regardless of race, gender, orientation, age, ability, nationality or economic class. It is so inclusive that on November 7th it is being deconsecrated due to a lack of attendees. Shortly after that, on November 19th a Transgender Day of Remembrance will be held in the building. I don't suppose the two are connected."

"The church was named after Benjamin Cronyn, London's first resident Anglican clergyman and the first bishop in the Huron Diocese. Cronyn had an eventful and colourful life but I don't suppose that even his most fevered nightmares could have conjured up the antics that would be embraced by a church that was to bear his name."

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Most Rev. Fred Hiltz has called for an apology for the 'spiritual abuse' of Indigenous people, he told Council of General Synod (CoGS) recently.

An apology for spiritual abuse, he said, would likely also include an expression of gratitude to Indigenous elders for keeping traditional spirituality alive, despite the risk to themselves from European and Canadian authorities.

"The elders need to be thanked...notwithstanding a position they often had to take, to say: 'We don't talk about that,' or 'We can't talk about it,' they have still carried the spirituality," he said. "It's not dead, not extinct--it's still very much alive in their hearts."

The apology would likely include some way of encouraging young Indigenous people to learn more about their traditional spirituality, he said.

Here is a description of Cree spirituality:

Cree people believe in Spirits visions and dreams. These visions are mediums through which we attempt to enlighten our understanding of the world in which we exist. Each of the Creator's gifts, particularly animals and humans, possess a Spirit. Because the Spirit is eternal we know that when we die, it is only a physical death and our journey continues on. Traditional Cree spirituality also strongly reinforces the principle of a circle of life, the essence of which is found in Spirit. Spirits have the power to manifest themselves to the human eye and mind as well as to communicate with us. For example Cree people believe that the Northern Lights occur when the Spirits are dancing. Various Spirits such as the Old Woman, the bear or the buffalo often enter the Sweat Lodge during prayer. At other times, depending upon our need, particular Spirits are called upon to provide us with assistance. A variety of Spirits also come to us during dreams or in visions.

Writes Samizdat: "As you can see, the basis of Indigenous spirituality is Animism, a form of idolatry which is not only more primitive and less plausible than Christianity, but one that is expressly forbidden in the ten commandments.

"If Christianity is true, Animism is false. If our Anglican Primate thinks imparting this information to anyone, including Indigenous people, is an act worthy of apology, then it's tempting to conclude that he does not believe that Christianity is true."

Dear friends, you can't make this stuff up. And you wonder why the ACoC is sinking into the sunset even faster than the Episcopal Church!

*****

There will be a changing of the guard at GAFCON at the end of the month. Dr Peter Jensen, who served for 10 years at the helm as General Secretary, will hand over the reins to Archbishop Ben Kwashi of Jos Nigeria. At the same time, the chairmanship of GAFCON, currently held by the Primate of Nigeria, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, will hand the gavel to the Archbishop of the Anglican church in North America (ACNA), the Most. Rev. Foley Beach.

*****

VOL urges its readers to hit the link on this original album of songs by Sonbranch music: https://www.sonbranchmusic.com/listen-order

We also urge readers to buy coffee from Rwandan Anglicans at this Land of a Thousand Hills website. By doing so you give this small thriving business find a sustainable future. Click here: https://landofathousandhills.com/

*****

THE EPISCOTAPE LETTERS. My new book, The Episcotape Letters, modeled on that of C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, has been published. For a donation of $100.00 or more, I will send you an autographed copy. This is a volume of my best satirical essays compiled over the years. It catalogues the unravelling of the Episcopal Church, its apostasies and heresies. Such pathology cries out for correction and there is no better way to do so than by humor and satire. In my book I expose the foibles and self-destruct machinations of the Episcopal Church's apostasies.

You can make a $100.00 donation at this link. I will send you an autographed copy. https://tinyurl.com/yabemo37

Many of you who have sent a tax-deductible donation will be receiving your books this coming week.

Thank you for your support.

*****

VOL wishes all its readers a blessed Advent season, and to remind ourselves that it is about Him, not us.

All blessings,

David

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