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C of E Liberal Bishops Face Evangelical Wrath...D-Day approaches Va. More News

Sadly, there are many churches today who are completely orthodox in their beliefs but are still unfaithful to Christ because they refuse to change programs, methods, style of worship, buildings, or even locations in order to reach a lost world for Christ. Vance Havner used to say, "A church can be straight as a gun barrel doctrinally and just as empty spiritually." We must be willing to say, with unreserved commitment to our Lord and Savior, "We'll do whatever it takes to reach people for Christ." --- The Purpose Driven Church (Growth without Compromising your Message and Mission) by Rick Warren.

A contradiction of identity. Insofar as the church is conformed to the world, and the two communities appear to the onlooker to be merely two versions of the same thing, the church is contradicting its true identity. No comment could be more hurtful to the Christian than the words, 'But you are no different from anybody else.' --From "The Message of the Sermon on the Mount" by John R.W. Stott.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It was another week in which turmoil roiled both the Church of England and the US American Episcopal Church, with threats by Evangelicals in the CofE that they will break with liberal bishops who do not proclaim a clear unequivocal gospel and they will train a new generation of ministers and clerics committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A broad coalition of Church of England Evangelicals sat down with Dr. Rowan Williams and gave him the bad news. The evangelicals said they will support only mission minded people through prayer, money and personnel, and they will have no hesitation in going around official structures even if official permission is withheld by the local liberal bishop. They produced a Covenant and gave it to the APB. VOL broke this story first which prompted a flurry of activity on both sides of the Atlantic. You can read the full story and COVENANT here or in today's digest. http://tinyurl.com/y5qgzm. An article in The Telegraph newspaper revealed that many of these are large and thriving parishes, and, according to some estimates they account for almost a third of its active membership and up to 40 per cent of its money, a significant weapon given the parlous state of Church finances.

One can only imagine the pressure Dr. Rowan Williams is under. First the CofE's Anglo-Catholics say they want a Third Province because they refuse to accept women bishops in the church and now the church's Evangelicals are up in arms over liberal theology, sodomy and much more. On top of all that the culture wars are running hot over the right of Christian groups on UK campuses who oppose homosexuality. This got the attention of Dr. Williams this week and he wrote a blistering letter saying that the ban on Christian Unions showed a fear of debate and the Christian belief that some behavior (homosexual) is sinful does not amount to an expression of hate. And then the ongoing plight of a British Airways flight attendant who has been told she cannot wear a small cross is still not resolved.

Then there was the nasty little fracas in Sheffield when the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola was told he could not preach at a parish in his diocese. Was it an administrative cock up (a Britishism) or something more? Andrew Carey (George Carey's son) said it was a deliberate attempt to shut out the orthodox African prelate, while the local CofE bishop Jack Nicholls said that that was plain rubbish and Akinola and his retinue had simply not gone through the correct protocols to get permission to preach.

But the zinger story, and one that indicates that theological liberalism and its bankrupt morality is indeed on the rails, was the news that the Bishop of Southwark the Rt. Rev. Tom Butler might lose his office after he suffered a head injury last week and told a congregation he was probably mugged. It turned out that he was as drunk as a skunk after a Christmas party, and while staggering home from a function at the Irish embassy, climbed into the back of a stranger's Mercedes, and started throwing infant's toys out of the vehicle.

It would all be hysterically funny except for the fact that the ultra-liberal bishop has gone on a rampage of his own about besotted priests with a zero-tolerance policy and has fired several caught with their heads in the sauce, but now he faces having to resign himself! VOL posted a cartoon on its front page. You can read the full story here or in today's digest. http://tinyurl.com/vyls7. The British press is having a field day with this one. Ruth Gledhill of the Times headlined a story: "Clergy call on their 'drunk' bishop to show penitence", Archbishop may be asked to step in. Bishop 'had been ruthless with others'. You can read Ruth Gledhill's blog on the 'boozy bishop' here: http://tinyurl.com/y2zq36 The bishop, however goes on repeating that he doesn't remember a thing and that he was mugged! Nobody is buying his story though.

Old Muggeridge was absolutely right. We could never invent for these churchmen scenarios funnier or more ridiculous than they create for themselves.

To cap the week Gledhill posted a story saying that evil-minded parishioners are making life hell for clergy with congregations cowed by bullies and vicars are being stressed by the need to be nice. "Churches in Britain are a "toxic cocktail" of bullying and terror, as parish priests struggle to lead congregations dominated by neurotic worshippers who spread havoc with gossip and manipulation. The "dark side" of parish life is detailed in a report published by the Church of England, which describes how peace and love are in desperately short supply in the pews of churches this Christmas." You can read her story here: http://tinyurl.com/uvw3o

THE BIG NEWS here in the US is the ongoing struggle of two of America's most prestigious Episcopal churches located in the DIOCESE OF VIRGINIA who want to leave the Episcopal Church. These are among the nation's largest and most historic Episcopal parishes - in which George Washington was a director, and vestryman - The Falls Church, for which an entire suburban Virginia city is named - along with Truro Church in Fairfax, Va. They will vote this week on whether or not to leave the U.S. denomination and affiliate instead with Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola, leader of nearly 20 million. They began voting this week and it looks as though they will up stakes and leave by the end of this week. There is little indication to think otherwise. In the meantime at least seven other parishes are in various stages of voting to go and the number could exceed 20 by early next year. You can read a number of commentaries about this in today's digest including Les Kinsolving and Mike McManus. Both men live in the Washington area and have been watching events unfold there. Your scribe has written a piece on the machinations of David Booth Beers, Mrs. Schori's attorney in all this. You can read that here or in today's digest: http://tinyurl.com/uf5mg

One parish in the diocese, All Saints Episcopal Church in Dale City voted 402-6 on Sunday to leave the Episcopal Church, has become the first Northern Virginia church to flee the denomination.

In the DIOCESE OF SOUTHERN VIRGINIA in Chesapeake, the Church of the Messiah told their bishop they were out the door and planned to fight for their property. Interim Bishop John C. Buchanan, the diocese's interim bishop, disagreed and told Rob Bruner, a senior parish leader that the status of Messiah's land and church at 816 Kempsville Road belongs to him. Not so say the members and they plan to fight. The usual reasons for leaving are those "irreconcilable" theological differences with the denomination.

Now if you add up the week's losses around the country, the figure is well over a 1,000 fleeing Episcopalians, continuing a trend that seems in no danger of declining. If and when the two northern Virginia parishes go that figure will be well over 4,000 not including the seven other parishes. When all 20 announce they are leaving, they may have to fire a couple of the suffragan bishops there won't be enough work for them...or money. This has to be Bishop Peter Lee's worst nightmare. He is on the verge of retirement and he wants to see the Jamestown 400th year milestone for the Episcopal Church. But his excitement will be muted indeed. Every time he turns around he finds another parish on his desk telling him that they want out of the diocese and TEC.

FEW STORIES have provoked as much fire and brimstone response as my story on the ecclesiastical charges laid on Fr. Andrew Mead of St. Thomas's Episcopal Church in New York City. The VOL web counter shows that more than 8,000 have already the story at the website in barely a week, and it will run several thousand more before it is archived. The outrage over these charges has been enormous. The private e-mails I have received are running very strongly and favorably for Fr. Mead with most web posters maintaining that it is a hit job by episcopal gays who want him gone. They might be right.

But someone who placed a call to Fr. Mead spoke with the priest and got this response. "I am not discussing the situation regarding the allegations posted on Virtue Online with ANY member of the press, and will not do so while the matter is in the hands of his Bishop and Standing Committee." He said, "My conscience is clear", and asked that we pray that the matter will be settled fairly. "Tell Mr. Virtue that while the matter is "going through channels", Fr. Mead has "no comment", online or elsewhere.

IN ATTLEBORO, Massachusetts, revisionist Bishop Tom Shaw sent a strongly-worded letter to the Rev. Lance Giuffrida and parishioners of All Saints on North Main Street telling them that they face the possibility they may have to leave their parish property if they continue to operate as a separated Anglican congregation.

In a letter sent to Giuffrida and mailed to individual parishioners, Shaw said Giuffrida had violated his ordination vows and parishioners have violated their covenant with the diocese by recently voting to align with the Anglican Mission in America and the Province of Rwanda, which in effect separated them from the diocese and the national Episcopal Church. You can read that story here or in today's digest. http://tinyurl.com/y5reva

In the DIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES in Santa Ana three breakaway Episcopal congregations were told by a judge that they could keep their properties, despite repeated attempts by Bishop J. Jon Bruno to take them back.

Orange County Superior Court Judge David Velasquez dismissed suits by the Protestant Episcopal Church USA against St. James Church in Newport Beach, All Saints in Long Beach and St. David's in North Hollywood. They have placed themselves under the protection of an orthodox Ugandan bishop. In his rulings, Velasquez said that neither the local diocese nor the national church has a rightful claim on land, buildings or items such as hymnals and prayer books used in worship by the congregations of the three churches. St. James attorney Eric Sohlgren said this was a milestone ruling. "Today was really the last gasp of this court case that was first filed in 2004," Sohlgren said. "Of course we're very pleased with the results, and as before, All Saints, St. James and St. David's can get on with the work of the church." You can read the full story here: http://tinyurl.com/y7ajvk

In the DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA Bishop Charles E. Bennison told a group of his Deans that he would like to throw out the new godly Australian rector of St. Mark's in Philadelphia but he doesn't have the money for a lawsuit. The rector's sin: he was the interim rector and Bennison would like to put in a sodomite to reflect the city's gay subculture in the area.

But Bennison faces bigger problems. A source told VOL that Mrs. Schori would like to get rid of the venal bishop on the sex stuff surrounding his brother's statutory rape of a 14-year old and Charles' cover up of same. As a back up, she has all the financial mismanagement charges she can dump at his feet. One way or another Bennison is going. It is only a matter of time and whatever settlement, if any he can get.

In the DIOCESE OF OLYMPIA in Seattle, a covenant agreement between the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia and three congregations will allow St. Stephen's Anglican Church in Oak Harbor, Wash. and St. Charles' Anglican Church in Poulsbo, Wash. to maintain their ongoing ministries in their current, respective locations. In addition, St. Stephen's Episcopal Church ministry will return to the Oak Harbor facility in a mutually agreed-upon relationship with the Anglican congregation. You can read that story here or today's digest: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5171

IN SMYRNA, Tennessee, remnant members of what is now a small All Saints Church were led in service Sunday by Bishop Bertram Herlong of the Diocese of Tennessee just as members of the newly formed St. Patrick's Anglican Church met there early and then packed a room at Bob Parks Realty deliberating over a new place to worship. The two congregations, once one but now divided over theology, had to pass each other between services as they shared the 10-year-old church on Lee Victory Parkway for the first and last time.

"There was no authority or power given to anybody other than the Diocese of Tennessee to close All Saints," said Herlong to a group of about 35 after the service. "All Saints has not been closed. Only the diocese can do that."

A month previous, the Rev. Ray Kasch, current minister of St. Patrick's and the former minister to All Saints, issued a statement that he was closing All Saints because of the liberal direction Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori was taking the national church in allowing gay bishops. Kasch announced his church would now be St. Patrick's, no longer an Episcopal Church, but would operate under the auspices of the Worldwide Anglican Communion, after which confusion ensued as to who held rights to the church. Herlong said he wished St. Patrick's well but urged the remaining members of Kasch's former congregation to tell their friends and neighbors to attend All Saints. Herlong said he would perform duties when or if needed. To read the full story click here: http://www.dnj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2006612110312

RATCHETING UP THE PAIN on the international front came word from the House of Bishops of the ANGLICAN CHURCH OF TANZANIA (ACT) who issued a statement this week declaring they were in 'severely impaired communion' with Episcopal Church. No surprise there, but you should bear in mind that it will be in Dar es Salaam when the Primates next meet, and this is clearly a shot across Mrs. Schori's bows. Watch for sparks to fly when the Supreme Club of Purple meet.

IN OTHER GLOBAL SOUTH news Uganda Abp Henry Orombi had this to say this week: "Many of us in the global south want this whole sexuality thing to be thrown out, to be finished. It is exhausting and debilitating. It is also painful. If your brother decides he is not going to move, you are sad and pained and you are walking away. Not because you love it. You are walking away painfully, bleeding."

And this from Southern Cone Abp Greg Venables: "Please don't think I'm talking to you from a great distance and sitting comfortably. If you weep, I weep too. If your heart is broken, my heart is broken. If you struggle, I struggle. And that's why we're doing this together. Because we are all out of the same fragile, sinful mold, and we are all walking our way towards the wonderful future that God has for us." More here: http://tinyurl.com/sjuxb You can also follow the discussion and debate between Dr Michael Poon And Dr Ephraim Radner on Communion issues at http://tinyurl.com/y33ug3

AND FROM THE DIOCESE OF RECIFE in Brazil comes this: "Heterophobic Agenda Threatens Religious Freedom, Denounces Orthodox Anglicans"

With the above title comes a manifesto from the evangelical orthodox Brazilian group "Anglican Movement for a Common Cause" (AMCC), formed by the Diocese of Recife (under the Primatial Authority of the Southern Cone and some jurisdictions of the continuum. They expressed dismay and concern at a new government legislation parallel in some respects to the SORs in the UK. The proposed Bill (5003/01) has been approved at one level - The Lower House - but is subject to deliberation and possible amendment in Brazil's Federal Senate. If there are no obstructions in the Senate and no presidential veto, a law will be passed which according to the AMCC manifesto will "criminalize all citizens who, while respecting human rights and the dignity of the human person, dare to disagree with the homosexual agenda."

Defending traditional Christian teaching on sexuality and family values, the AMCC Manifesto states: "...Religious Freedom in this country is under a concrete threat from a heterophobic agenda increasingly adopted by sectors of the Media and government authorities." Referring to the decision taken in Canada's Supreme Court of Justice to protect the historical position of the Church, the Manifesto calls for Brazilian authorities to make a similarly clear pronouncement so as to safeguard Christian institutions and people from threats or criminalization. The Manifesto, composed in Recife at the close of November, concluded: "We appeal to Civil Society and Political Society that good sense and the Law prevail, and that Religious Freedom be safeguarded from attack. As Christians, responsible citizens and tax payers, we insist that our rights be fully secured, and that the true concept of a Republic - not to be confused with secularist ideology, with the "politically correct" or with the gay agenda - be maintained and affirmed."

IT IS OFTEN CHARGED by Western Liberal bishops that Global South bishops are not politically active or astute. One such bishop who has criticized African bishops is John Chane Bishop of Washington. He recently took on Archbishop Peter Akinola for political ineptitude. It's not true of course. Archbishop Akinola has been extremely critical of corrupt government officials, and this week Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya roundly condemned the recent increment of President Mwai Kibaki's salary and the proposed perks for MPs terming them selfish and asked Kenyans to use their ballot power to make their anger known come 2007. Nzimbi called on MPs to lower their salaries by a quarter and consider increasing salaries of the poorly paid. On corruption and governance, Nzimbi said he would not like to see the government lapse to the ways of the last regime and that resources should be used for what they are meant for.

THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH'S new Presiding Bishop Mrs. Schori will visit Cuba in January in company with Canadian Archbishop Andrew Hutchison. She follows Frank Griswold who also made a trip to see the Cigared One before he stepped down from office. The Diocese of Cuba has some 10,000 members spread over 46 parishes. It ceased to be part of The Episcopal Church amid worsening Cold War tensions in the 1960s. Her visit follows on Griswold's promise that he would encourage his successor to "participate in the life of the Cuban church." Perhaps she will give him Eucharist as part of the need to proclaim MDG's for all.

ON A BRIGHTER note Leander Harding lecturer in Pastoral Theology at Trinity School for Ministry has a new book of Christmas sermons. The title is Flying Saucers and Christmas. The title sermon won an award from the Episcopal Evangelism Foundation. The book consists of 12 sermons and a prayer for blessing the Creche. Price is $9.95. Leander told VOL that his vision for the book was that it would be the kind of thing that could be given to a friend or relative as an intriguing Christmas gift that might get people thinking about attending Christmas services. It can be purchased online from Barnes and Noble, Iuniverse.com, or Amazon at VOL's website: www.virtueonline.org. Dr. Harding is also Head of Chapel at Trinity School for Ministry. Or here: http://tinyurl.com/yymgqm

MORE STATISTICS: Two million ethnic Muslims converted to Christianity and were baptized in Russia this year while only 2.5 thousand Russians converted to Islam.

"Christianization happens not so much as a result of some purposeful missionary activity (in which only Protestants are engaged) as under the influence of Russian culture which has express Christian roots", Islamic researcher Silantyev said in an interview published this week by the Itogi weekly. "The assimilation of ethnic and religious minorities is an inevitable process in any society. In Russia it is accelerated due to extremist activities', he said. Source Interfax.

ANGLICAN RELIEF AND DEVELOPMENT FUND (ARDF) which operates as a division of the Anglican Communion Network reported that it had improved the lives of some 355,000 persons in the Global South with over $2.2 million in donations. ARDF has funded 56 relief and development projects in 28 different countries since the Fund's inception in September 2004. The recently-released 2006 Fund Report was applauded by the ARDF Trustees who met in Falls Church, Virginia, for their annual meeting November 13–15, 2006. Newly-appointed fund chairman, the Rev. Michael W. Murphy, officiated at the meeting attended by five Global South Trustees - Archbishops Peter Akinola, Benjamin Nzimbi, Justice Akrofi, John Chew, and Drexel Gomez - and eight North American Trustees. The trustees approved nine new projects for funding in Burundi, Uganda, Congo, Kenya, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Argentina, and Malawi.

ARDF funds projects in the Global South that produce high-impact results and provide permanent life-changes. ARDF works directly with local Anglican churches, dioceses, and provinces. Roughly, 64% of the projects funded have been in Africa, 34% in Asia and 2% in South America. ARDF projects encompass a variety of categories including evangelism and discipleship, health, economic empowerment, human liberty, education and disaster recovery.

The full report will be available shortly on the ARDF website. For more information or to donate to an ARDF project, go to www.anglicanaid.net.

LAMBETH 2008 will be less legislative than 1998 says conference manager Sue Parks. She told this to a group of Canadian bishops and national staff recently. "This conference will be modeled on a South African concept called indaba, which means a discussion and listening group, she said. Bishops will meet in groups of 40 or 50 to help give voice to those who aren't comfortable with parliamentary procedure." About 800 bishops are expected to attend. Ms. Parks, who has visited seven countries to ask bishops what they would like out of Lambeth, said her consultations have demonstrated that bishops do not want a legislative-style meeting.

INTERPRETATION: Southern Africa is the only truly liberal province on the African continent. She didn't ask Peter Akinola what he thought. So if we can keep the bishops from legislating about pansexuality we can keep the lid on Lambeth 2008. Get everybody in small groups (a favorite Griswold tactic) and let everyone talk about their feelings and not discuss theology and all will be well. Gee, maybe Gene and Bob will come to understand each other's differences and give each other big bear hugs and make up!

IN JERUSALEM the chief pastor of the Anglican community in Israel, Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal, is facing mushrooming allegations of nepotism and graft which have clouded the end of his tenure in office, church officials said. The corruption charges, the subject of a four-month internal church committee investigation, have prompted long-time opponents of the bishop to call for his immediate resignation. For the rest of the story go here: http://tinyurl.com/y8a9p3

Q: What is the difference between the ECUSA and the YAKUZA?

A: One is a ruthless gang of thugs, famous for demanding protection money, unity, and institutional loyalty to the detriment of telling the truth (especially when its leaders fear that courts of law might become involved) -- and the other is the Japanese Mafia.

WEB READERS AND POSTERS: May I ask those of you who post comments to the web site that when you post a long URL or link it messes up the pagination. May I ask you to go to http://tinyurl.com/ which will reduce the size of the link. Thank you

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Advent Blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

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