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Christianity Declines in West; Grows in Africa and China * GAFCON thrived in 2019 * GAFCON Chairman Says Enemy of Souls is Within Communion * Anglican Church in Brazil Grows * Truro Anglican Rector Resigns...Heads to Rome * New Diocese of Angola

Christianity Declines in West; Grows in Africa and China * GAFCON thrived in 2019 * GAFCON Chairman Says Enemy of Souls is Within Communion * Anglican Church in Brazil Grows * Truro Anglican Rector Resigns...Heads to Rome * American Bible Society takes hit from Episcopal Priest * New Diocese of Angola

Truth and love. Love is the first mark of a true and living church and truth is the second, because the Scriptures hold love and truth together in balance. Some Christians are so resolved to make love paramount, that they forget the sacredness of revealed truth. 'Let us drown our doctrinal differences', they urge, 'in the ocean of brotherly love!' Others are equally mistaken in their pursuit of truth at the expense of love. So dogged is their zeal for God's Word that they become harsh, bitter and unloving. Love becomes sentimental if it is not strengthened by truth, and truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love. We need to preserve the balance of the Bible which tells us to hold the truth in love, to love others in the truth, and to grow not only in love but in discernment. --- John R. W. Stott

A school that surrenders its commitment to historic biblical Christianity on the issues of sexual morality, gender, and identity, will eventually surrender the gospel and its very existence. Accepting the terms of the sexual revolution will lead to a slow death for any Christian institution. -- Albert Mohler

ON ADVENT. The low-key but ever-compelling story we reflect on at this time is not like a Christmas pantomime. The main characters are not obvious human heroes or villains but a lonely prophet, a peasant girl and her carpenter fiance, a baby who grows into a preacher with a healing ministry. In a sense we are still in the story -- the happy ending has not happened yet. --- Andrew Symes

At current rates, an estimated one-fourth of American women will have an abortion by the age of 45. Of all the pregnancies ending in abortion, only 1.5 percent were the result of rape or incest. According to a 2015 report from the U.S Centers for Disease Control (CDC), of all the women in the U.S. who have had an abortion; 44% of women in the U.S. who have an abortion, had at least one prior abortion; 41% of abortions are among women and teens 24 years old and younger. It is estimated that in 2015, approximately 826,199 abortions occurred in the United States. --- Guttmacher Institute

If Christian institutions want to endure, they cannot surrender or capitulate. Indeed, it is not enough to read the Scriptures rightly--we must read the Scriptures obediently. --- Albert Mohler

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
December 13, 2019

THE UNITED STATES is at a tipping point, finely balanced between truth and lies, hope and hate, civility and nastiness. Many vital aspects of American public life are in play -- the Supreme Court, abortion rights, climate policy, wealth inequality, Big Tech and much more. The stakes could hardly be higher.

So it is with the churches in North America. It is estimated that by 2040 all the mainline Protestant denominations will be out of business, a combination of demographics, aging populations and no replacement by millennials or Generations X, Y or Z. But most of all, they will be out of business because of bad morals and the failure to proclaim a clear unalloyed gospel message that calls people to faith and repentance.

Michael Voris of Church Militant, a conservative Roman Catholic blogger says that if you look deep into the numbers, a tsunami can be detected picking up huge force. Young Catholics are jumping ship at a frightening rate, with a huge percentage deciding to leave between the ages of 10 and 18. Older Catholics -- mostly those born before Vatican II -- are the most likely to have stayed, but they are dying off, and within 10 years, there will not be many left.

Even the future of Catholicism in the U.S. looks bleak.

The truth is, the future of the Christian Faith lies outside the U.S. It is in Africa and China. The latest report out of China is that there are now 60 million confirmed Christians, with 9 million being Roman Catholic, and this despite both churches have state-owned branches officially recognized by the state. While churches are being torched and burned, crosses are being torn off buildings and Christians imprisoned for their faith, millions of Chinese are finding Christ. None of this has much to do with the hierarchy of the churches, it is all about lay people evangelizing and discipling next generation Christians.

In Africa there are already more Christians than any other continent, and that's not going to change soon. Africa is set to be the global center of Christianity for the next 50 years. By 2018, Africa had the most Christians: 599 million, vs. 597 million in Latin America and 550 million in Europe. At the same time, Christianity continues to decline in the Middle East, falling from 13.6 percent of the population in 1900 to less than 4 percent today. The big difference is that African Christians actually go to church, whereas in the West it is mostly baptism figures that have little relevance to actual church attendance, faith or discipleship.

By 2060, six of the countries with the top ten largest Christian populations will be in Africa, up from three in 2015, according to a new Pew Research Center report. The projections are in line with the gradual shift that has increasingly seen Christian populations live outside the historical cultural centers of the religion.

The size of the Christian population in Nigeria alone--already the largest on the continent--is projected to double by 2060. In addition, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya are projected to join the list of countries with the top ten largest Christian populations, replacing Russia, Germany and China.

Is it any wonder that the Anglican Province of Nigeria is the largest province in the communion!

In total, the Christian population in the six African countries on the list alone will account for just under a quarter of the projected global Christian population of three billion people.

The upsurge in the African Christian population matches general population growth projections; while around 2.2 billion people could be added to the global population by 2050, more than half of that growth will occur in Africa.

Meanwhile, the decline of Christian populations in Europe is especially notable in Britain where, last year, a survey showed "an unrelenting decline in Church of England and Church of Scotland" numbers. Only 14% of Britons identified as members of the Church of England--a record low. Similarly, Church of Scotland numbers dropped to 18% from 31% in 2002.

The rise of Christianity in Africa is also captured outside the continent. In a reversal from nearly five centuries ago when Christian missionaries first brought the Christian Faith to African communities, African preachers, led by "reverse missionaries," are increasingly taking charge of the gospel in England, as Quartz Africa has reported.

In comparison, while there were three African countries (Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria) among countries with top ten largest Muslim populations in 2015, that number will be reduced to two (Nigeria and Egypt) by 2060.

Nigeria's religious fault lines are also highlighted in the report as, by 2060, it will be home to the third largest Muslim and Christian populations globally and will be the only country on the list on top ten largest populations for both religions.

Christianity will still be the No. 1 religion in the world, but in the West, it is increasingly irrelevant to most people and rapidly dying. Is it any wonder that African Anglicans despise the Archbishop of Canterbury and his wobbly views on homosexuality and a whole host of issues ranging from women bishops to Brexit! He can't get his message straight and so they have moved away from him as their leader and have established GAFCON as the exit strategy from the Lambeth Conference.

*****

By all accounts GAFCON had a good year. During 2019, the world of GAFCON continued to expand and to equip Anglicans around the world to proclaim Christ globally. For example, two new GAFCON branches were formed, in Tanzania and Ghana; two Bishops Training Institute Conferences were held, one in Kenya and one in Brazil, and in New Zealand a new diocese was recognized by GAFCON, the Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa/New Zealand (CCAANZ) which will be vital for the future of faithful Anglican witness in that region. New church plants have risen up in Brazil and in the ACNA.

*****

In allied news, GAFCON chairman Foley Beach said recently that the theological and moral turmoil in the Anglican Communion is coming mainly from within, not just from external sources.

In his Advent Letter to GAFCON readers, Beach opined that the suffering in the communion is coming from within the organized church itself as many in the Anglican Church in North America, the Anglican Church of Brazil, the Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa, New Zealand, and the Scottish Anglican Network know very well.

"We are now seeing growing hostility to orthodox faith in many other places as well. Bishops, clergy, and lay persons in various provinces are being ostracized, condemned, and alienated because they cannot and will not go along with attempts to change basic Christian teaching and morality which contradicts the Bible." You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/gafcon-chairman-says-turmoil-anglican-communion-coming-within

*****

More evidence of the growth of GAFCON can be found in the Anglican Church in Brazil which is seeing remarkable growth. Around five years ago, the Holy Spirit Anglican Church in Recife started a church plant initiative program through cell groups. The city of Cabo, 30km south from Recife, was the first to be included in the program. The cell group was growing to the point that it was decided that a church should be planted.

For a number of years, continuing growth meant that some people had to stand outside the building to worship. There was a need to move on again, so on November 24th, a parade of worshippers from the former building of City Anglican Church in Cabo de Santo Agostinho carried their chairs, banged drums, and sang worship songs through the streets on route to their new building.

Their Archbishop, Miguel Uchoa, preached a special message and the rector, The Rev. Ricardo Melo, recently welcomed new worshippers.

This group broke free from the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil in 2005 when the Diocese of Recife, led by Robinson Cavalcanti, left the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, because it rejected the official Anglican stance on homosexuality, expressed at the Lambeth Conference. The group has been steadily growing under Uchoa ever since.

*****

Domestically, the priest of Truro Anglican parish in northern Virginia resigned amidst allegations of mistreatment of Truro staff and congregants. The Rev. Tory Baucum will exit the church and head to Rome. None of the allegations are sexual or financial in nature, VOL was told.

Baucum had been rector of the Anglican Church since 2007. Baucom's parish will remain Anglican though the property still belongs to the Diocese of Virginia. The priest followed the Rev. Martyn Minns who built the congregation. Baucum had something of a checkered ecclesiastical journey starting out in Kentucky, journeying through Albany and London and finally alighting on Truro. He and Bishop Shannon Johnston became the darling of the Archbishop of Canterbury ,Justin Welby. For his reconciliation efforts with the liberal Episcopal bishop, Baucum was appointed to the position of preacher at Canterbury Cathedral. Now he is off to Rome. You can read the full story here: https://virtueonline.org/truro-va-anglican-rector-resigns-amidst-allegations-flees-rome

*****

In Philadelphia, the stately American Bible Society got whacked by a progressive Episcopal priest over its stand for upholding traditional views on marriage.

In January of this year, ABS created the Affirmation of Biblical Community, an employee policy that bars individuals in homosexual or unwed heterosexual relationships, among others, from employment at the organization.

"The actions they took in defining marriage indicate they're not able to go in a direction that matches the diversity of all the congregations in the Old City district," said the Rev. Tim Safford, rector of Christ Church. "I believe they think they are doing their best work in not being sectarian, but ultimately their world view will affect what they do."

Not true of course. It is the Episcopal Church that is declining even as it affirms a sectarian world view on homosexuality. The Bible and ABS will long outlast this parish priest, his dying church and people will still be reading the Bible long after TEC has disappeared.

*****

St. Thomas, Fifth Avenue news. This week it was announced in a letter sent to parents of Choir School students that the Reverend Charles Wallace has chosen to resign his post as Headmaster of the Choir School effective January 6, 2020.

The Saint Thomas Choir School has thrived for one hundred years and will continue to do so, said a press blurb. The school has the full support of the Rector, Wardens, Vestry and the Director of Music. An interim Head of School will be named in the coming days.

However, a VOL reader sent in this note; "The demise of this once great and thriving parish is a heartbreaking story. Since Fr. Carl F. Turner's arrival, STC has lost (in chronological order) John Scott, Victor Austin, Michael Spurlock, Joel Daniels, Dan Hyde, and now Charles Wallace... not to mention half the congregation."

*****

Angola became a new Anglican diocese this week. The ACNS reported that Angola was officially inaugurated as a new Anglican Diocese following 16 years as a missionary diocese and after more than 40 years of war.

The Primate of Southern Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba led the special service of inauguration and also installed Bishop Andre Soares as the Bishop of Angola.

Supporters from partner dioceses and organizations joined in the ceremony, which included a blessing of the church land in Luanda, where the new Anglican Cathedral will be built. The Archbishop blessed the boundary, laid the foundation stone and named the Cathedral St Andrew the Apostle on St Andrew's day. Soil from the site will be taken back to Angola's partner Diocese of London.

*****

As we reported last week, Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier's resigned as Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia after almost six years in the role. This shocked the Anglican community. Dr Freier will remain Archbishop of Melbourne, a post he took up in December 2006. The "shock announcement" comes before his term was due to expire. He will not seek re-election. He would have been eligible to seek a three-year extension as Primate.

No reason was offered for Archbishop Freier's decision.

Dr. Freier wrote to all Australian Anglican bishops on November 25 to say he would not accept a further term, and that he would conclude on 31 March to allow his successor to prepare for the next General Synod (national parliament) of the Church in Maroochydore, Queensland, from May 31 to June 5 next year.

One wonders if the ongoing pressure from Australia's homosexual Anglican community played a part in his premature departure. http://tma.melbourneanglican.org.au/news/freier-to-resign-primacy-251119

*****

An unusual paper stock and "an extremely distinctive, disjointed hand" helped a literature scholar to identify Queen Elizabeth I's handwriting in a 16th century manuscript housed in the Lambeth Palace Library. According to The Guardian, John-Mark Philo of the University of East Anglia reported his discovery of an English translation of Tacitus' Annals in an article published November 29 in the Review of English Studies.

Philo noticed distinctive watermarks in the writing paper, and knew from a contemporary of the queen's, John Clapham, that she took "pleasure in reading of the best and wisest histories, and some part of Tacitus' Annals she herself turned into English for her private exercise." He estimates that the famous Roman history was translated in the 1590's. Several pages survive, and were copied out in the fine hand of a court scribe. But the queen annotated and corrected them herself.

Elizabeth's translation includes an account of an encouraging speech given to a wary Roman army by Agrippina, the wife of the famous general Germanicus. "She a woman of great courage playde the Captaine for that tyme," it reads, "and bestowed on the soldiors as euery man needed or was wounded, bread and clothes ... she stoode at the bridges end to give lawde and praise to the returning legions." Philo suggests that the heroine might have especially appealed to Elizabeth, who had famously addressed her troops at Tilbury in 1588 on the eve of their great battle against the Spanish Armada. [The Living Church]

*****

The Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma will elect a new bishop tomorrow and it has just two candidates in the running. They are two white males, married to two women in heterosexual marriages. Scrape me off the floor. Wot, no women! No daughters of lesbos or a sodomite or two candidate?

The 6th Bishop will either be the Rev. Canon Scott Alan Gunn or the Rev. Poulson C. Reed. Both promise to continue the downward trend of the church, but only one will end up with a pension.

Under Bishop Edward Konieczny (V Oklahoma) who retires in 2021, baptized membership dropped by nearly 1000 between 2007 and 2018 from 16,436 to 15,490.

Average Sunday Attendance in 2007 was 5,937; by 2018, it was 5,065 a drop of nearly 15%.

Overall this diocese is not nearly as bad as some dioceses that have seen drops of over 30% in most areas. However, baptisms in 2007 were 307. By 2018, they had dropped 186, a drop of nearly 40%. In those same years the diocese lost two parishes from 72 to 70.

*****

Catholics and Anglicans in Canada have been working on their relationship ever since Gen. James Wolfe surprised Gen. Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham in the fall of 1759.

By 1763, King Louis XV had no choice but to cede France's North American possessions entirely to England's King George III. The practicalities of a Protestant king and his Protestant army trying to impose their religion on a majority Catholic population were such that the English made allowances for the Catholic Church while they granted land and paid clergy salaries for the Anglicans.

More than 250 years later, the dialogue between Catholics and Anglicans in Canada carries on, unhindered by royalty and without much reference to the Seven Years' War. The latest round ended Nov. 18 in Toronto after three days with a presentation to theology students at Trinity College of the Toronto School of Theology at the University of Toronto.

At this stage, 54 years after the Second Vatican Council declared a special relationship between Catholics and Anglicans, the two sides have come up with broad agreements on the Eucharist, the place of Mary in the Church, the exercise of authority and defining the Church as communion. But still Catholic and Anglican parishes live separate lives, however much the theologians may agree.

Catholic co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue in Canada, Bishop Brian Dunn, blames the pressure on Catholic parishes to put out all the fires in their own communities. "It's like we've got too many issues to be concerned with the others," Dunn said.

Until the central issue of Justification by Faith, that Luther rediscovered then, Catholics and Anglicans will still be talking to each other 500 years from now.

*****

Watch social critic and Anglican culture warrior Dr. Os Guinness talking about The Christian Faith and the Coming Century - YLG2016 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnuJgjj16dA Timely stuff.

*****

My new book, THE SEDUCTION OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH is out and if you would like a copy, I would be happy to send you an autographed copy for a donation of $100.00. The money will not line my pockets but will allow me to send copies to Global South bishops who would not otherwise be able to obtain a copy. My hope is to put this book in the hands of every bishop in the Anglican Communion so they will never again be fooled by anything a sitting Presiding Bishop says about The Episcopal Church. This book represents nearly three decades of reporting. I hope you will buy it.

You can send a check to:
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Please don't forget to add your return address.

All blessings,

David

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