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Church vs State * Russian Orthodox Church Caught in Crosshairs Over War in Ukraine * Christian Leaders Denounce War * Lesbian Leader Calls on CofE Bishops to Out Themselves * National Poll Reveals Increasing Ignorance about Who Jesus Is * More

Church vs State * Russian Orthodox Church Caught in Crosshairs Over War in Ukraine * Christian Leaders Denounce War * Lesbian Leader Calls on CofE Bishops to Out Themselves * National Poll Reveals Increasing Ignorance about Who Jesus Is * Jewish Theologian Wants TEC to Dump Lectionary Reading over "Anti-Semitism" charge * Anglican Church of Canada prepares gender-themed liturgies for Trial Use * Perth Diocese Could Split over Irregular Ordinations

"When you go to church this Sunday and you feel that old temptation to point out what's wrong with the place: the coffee's lukewarm, the lights are too bright, the temperature is wrong, the music is too loud and, of course, you don't know the songs. Remember at that moment, there's a Ukrainian church gathering in subway tunnels to worship while bombs blast overhead. No coffee, no instrumentalist, no worship leader forcing them to worship, they're down there in real time and then real life worshiping the King above kings as their world is crumbling down." --- First Lutheran Church in Prentice, Wisconsin

Somebody once said to a pastor, "Your church is full of sinners and hypocrites." And the pastor replied, "Yes, and there's room for one more." -- Unknown

"Many of us are praying for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people right now. This is as it should be. But I fear that the situation in Ukraine will not get better anytime soon. The news about Ukraine will disappear from the front pages of the New York Times and other outlets of the mainstream media. Will people still be praying for Ukraine then? Or will the prayers stop when Ukraine is no longer 'news'?" ---Randall Smith, The Catholic Thing

Faith, hope and love. Every Christian without exception is a believer, a lover and a hoper (not necessarily an optimist, since 'optimism' is a matter of temperament, 'hope' of theology). Faith, hope and love are thus sure evidences of regeneration by the Holy Spirit. Together they completely reorientate our lives, as we find ourselves being drawn up towards God in faith, out towards others in love and on towards the parousia in hope. The new birth means little or nothing if it does not pull us out of our fallen introversion and redirect us towards God, Christ and our fellow human beings. --- John R.W. Stott

Anyone who pays close attention to American Protestantism cannot have missed the chasm that has opened up between liberal-leaning and conservative-leaning Protestants in America. And the emptying of the middle between the two sides. --- Roger E. Olson

God leaves us alone--or seemingly leaves us alone--because he wants us to grow up. Yes, to depend on him, but also to depend on ourselves, on our abilities and on the wisdom we've gained over the years. --- Mark Galli

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
March 11, 2022

COUNTRIES with state churches are caught between a rock and a hard place. Are they going to be loyal to Scripture and the Gospel or to the state?

That is the question Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill is facing as he threads the needle between loyalty to Vladimir Putin and Mother Russia or loyalty to the Gospel.

He is watching Russia destroy another country (the Ukraine) which also has an Orthodox Church, but not of his brand. By all accounts, he is selling out faithful orthodox Ukrainian brothers and sisters; watching them being slaughtered even as his minions sprinkle holy water over bombs that will rein down on innocent Ukrainian civilians.

George Weigel, a distinguished Catholic writer, says it should be no surprise that Patriarch Kirill has attempted to provide cover for Putin's unprovoked and brutal aggression against Ukraine, which Kirill has long insisted is part of the Russkiy mir, the "Russian world." The war in Ukraine, he said on the fourth day of the Russian invasion of its neighbor, had been caused by "dark and hostile external powers," the "forces of evil," and "the attacks of the evil one."

For Kirill to act as an instrument of Russian state power is nothing new. He has been doing that for decades. His February 27 statement set a new low, however, deliberately invoking Christian imagery to falsify what was going on in Ukraine. The technical word for such willful, aberrant use of the things of God is blasphemy. Kirill's profane agitprop also undercut his own Church in Ukraine, whose leader, Metropolitan Onufry, condemned the Russian invasion. You can read articles by Weigel here: https://virtueonline.org/needed-ecumenical-reset and here: https://virtueonline.org/religious-roots-ukrainian-resistance-george-weigel

Weigel called on a reset by the Roman Catholic Church with Kirill and the Russian Orthodox Church over Kirill's blatant heresies.

Ironically, an appeal from the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church calls for reconciliation and an end to the war. Calling themselves Russian Priests for Peace, they appealed to everyone on whom the cessation of the fratricidal war in Ukraine depends, with a call for reconciliation and an immediate ceasefire.

"We are sending this appeal after the Sunday of the Last Judgment and on the eve of Forgiveness Sunday." You can see the list and read more here: https://virtueonline.org/appeal-clergy-russian-orthodox-church-calling-reconciliation-and-end-war

Even the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams waded in with a letter to The Times blasting the Russian Orthodox Church over the Ukraine Invasion.

'Sir, Last weekend Orthodox Christians in many countries celebrated 'Forgiveness Sunday', the day before Great Lent begins. Many will have hoped to hear from the Orthodox Church in Russia some acknowledgement of the shocking - not to say blasphemous - absurdity of Orthodox Christians engaging, at this season of all seasons, in indiscriminate killing of the innocent, insanely reckless attacks on nuclear facilities (endangering their own homeland as well as the wider environment), the unashamed breach of ceasefire agreements, and an attack on one of the most significant Holocaust memorials in Europe."

This must be particularly grating on Williams as he has had a lifelong love for Russian religion and culture, and a longstanding bromance with the ROC. A poet and theologian, Williams is unflaggingly interested in diverse cultures and ideas and says the Russian Orthodox tradition has been crucial to his spiritual life. Perhaps not any more.

The Anglican Bishop in Europe, Robert Innes, also condemned the "completely unjustified and aggressive war" in Ukraine, following the invasion by Russia last week, and has urged Christians to unite in prayers for peace. "Our hearts cry out for justice and peace" he said in a statement.

John P. Burgess, writing in First Things on the role of religion in Russia's war on Ukraine had this to say, "The current conflict in Ukraine is not merely about politics; it is also a battle over religious ideals and symbols. The Orthodox Church plays a powerful role in Russia and Ukraine, even if few people in this part of the world regularly attend the Divine Liturgy. In his aggrieved address the evening before Russia invaded Ukraine, President Putin asserted that Russians and Ukrainians share one Orthodox culture. According to him, Russian military action will restore the unity that the West and Ukrainian nationalists (in his words, "fascists" and "Nazis") have violated." You can read more of his excellent take here: https://virtueonline.org/role-religion-russias-war-ukraine

A Church of England priest denounced Putin's false 'Christian Orthodox' Faith. Russian President Vladimir Putin's military offensive against Ukraine has resulted in horrendous amounts of destruction and loss of life. When such astounding carnage takes place between two supposedly Christian nations, it is important that Christian leaders have a powerful and decisive message to deliver, one that does more than just condemn unnecessary violence and death, as the officials of some denominations have offered in the preceding weeks.

Church of England officials have delivered strong statements regarding the invasion of Ukraine. At the outset of the war, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell released a joint statement condemning Putin, calling his attack "an act of great evil."

Among the strongest denunciations of Putin's actions was a sermon delivered by Fr. Marcus Walker on February 27 at St. Bartholomew the Great, the oldest parish church in London and the site of several sermons delivered by John Wesley. Walker, the Rector of Great St. Bart's and a leading Church of England clergyman, made clear that the Russian forces were the unjust aggressors, remarking that "Vladimir Putin resolved to unleash hell on his neighbor." You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/church-england-priest-denounces-putins-false-christian-orthodox-faith

A podcast about what journalists can and cannot know about Vladimir Putin and orthodoxy can be heard here:

Finally, you can go ahead and pray for Putin's demise, says ACNA Anglican priest Tish Harrison Warren. The imprecatory psalms give us permission to push boldly against evil, she says in an article in Christianity Today. You can read it here: https://virtueonline.org/go-ahead-pray-putins-demise


THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND is caught in much the same bind, but over homosexuality. Same-sex marriage is legal in all parts of the United Kingdom. As marriage is a devolved legislative matter, different parts of the UK legalized it at different times; it has been recognized and performed in England and Wales since March 2014. The Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in 2014.

At the moment, the Church of England does not allow same-sex marriage, and does not officially bless same-sex civil marriages. Homosexual clergy are permitted to be in relationships so long as they are celibate.

But how long will that last? LGBTQ+ right's activists say that sometime this year
the Church of England could make a historic change to traditional teaching on sexuality, a decision that has riven the church for decades.

One church activist who has been particularly vocal is lesbian lay leader Jayne Ozanne, who doesn't care if her beliefs send her to hell. She wants to take the Church of England with her. She might just be successful with a copy of Living in Love and Faith panegyric under her arm replacing the Book of Common Prayer. Cranmer would not be amused.

Ozanne is a General Synod member in the Church of England and she is on a crusade.

She wants all the bishops who are homosexuals to out themselves so the Church of England won't be accused of hypocrisy. It is every journalist's dream.

In an article titled, Bishops: Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are! Ozanne argues that silence is a killer.

Taking the "I don't want to rock the boat, so I won't say anything" approach to life only ever emboldens perpetrators and leaves victims undefended and open to abuse, she says.

"Which is why we need our leaders to have the moral courage and backbone to say what they think, no matter who they offend or disappoint, or how many friends they might lose in the process."

TRANSLATION: I don't give a damn how this affects orthodox Global South Anglicans who grow their churches with vigorous evangelism, talking up sin and salvation. Her sexual identity is everything and she will stop at nothing to realize her dream that the Church fully embraces all +LBGTQ sexualities, even if it means the ultimate death of the CofE. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/jayne-ozanne-wants-go-hell-and-take-church-england-her

It seems almost inevitable that the Church will follow the state, with the blessing of Archbishop Justin Welby.

HOMOSEXUAL VIOLENCE. A study by the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago - a review of data from four earlier studies, involving 30,000 participants revealed that rates of domestic violence among same-sex couples is consistently higher than for opposite sex couples. You can read a story about a UK vicar involved in such domestic violence here: https://virtueonline.org/uk-lesbian-vicar-punched-and-bit-her-female-partner-drunken-lovers-spat-after-necking-glass-wine


While most of the mainline churches have capitulated to the zeitgeist on homosexuality, commensurate with that is the steady decline in the US over who Jesus is and much more.

C.S. Lewis once said that Jesus is either who he said he was or a madman, but the one thing you were not permitted to say is that he was a great moral teacher.

A national poll conducted by Ipsos for the Episcopal Church reveals that while the majority of Americans polled believe Jesus was an important spiritual figure and want equality in society, it also showed Christians are not necessarily practicing what Jesus taught. It showed that Americans feel judged when talking about their beliefs.

The study also found that the global pandemic has negatively impacted participation in organized religion -- or religious activity -- and more people are finding spiritual fulfillment in nature. In addition, while the church has been a place of community and non-judgment, some Americans feel that churches that discuss racism and slavery are acting with the wrong intentions.

Research data showed:
• The majority of Americans (84%) believe Jesus is an important spiritual figure and want their children to grow up in a world where everyone is treated equally (86%).
• Christians describe themselves as being forgiving (57%), compassionate (56%), loving (55%), respectful (50%) and friendly (49%), while non-Christians associate Christians with characteristics like hypocrisy (50%), being judgmental (49%), self-righteousness (46%), and arrogance (32%).
• The COVID-19 pandemic has decreased participation in organized religion or religious activities for about 3 in 10 Americans (31%).
• Younger Americans are more likely to say they are not religious (Gen Z 24% and Millennials 28%) than their older counterparts (Gen X 18% and Baby Boomers 12%).

Overall, the picture is not good. Nones, (people with no religion) are still in the ascendency and rising even as Evangelicals and Catholics continue to decline. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/research-reveals-sin-sick-america

I wrote a piece on how both the left and right are destroying churches in America. It's not all about Trump, the woke left can be just as destructive. These two true stories reveal how the very spiritual foundations that have kept churches and this nation on an even keel for three centuries are fast disappearing. You can read my take here: https://virtueonline.org/how-left-and-right-are-destroying-churches-america


Just when you think TEC, (which would love to rewrite the bible eliminating all those nasty bits about homosexuality), a Jewish theologian has come out berating the Episcopal Church demanding that the Church change the Lectionary reading in John's gospel to eliminate her charges of antisemitism. But should TEC change Good Friday liturgy to satisfy Jewish sensibilities?

Professor Amy-Jill Levine, a well-known New Testament and Jewish scholar, testified before the Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music on Resolution C014. The resolution would "direct the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to recommend revisions to the Church's appointed Lectionary readings for Holy Week to remedy passages that use language that has been interpreted as anti-Semitic."

She is demanding the Church change the lectionary reading. "The parish Worship Committee has questioned the lack of sensitivity toward the Jewish people in continuing the practice of reading John's Passion narrative on Good Friday, asking that John's Passion be eliminated, and another Passion narrative be read in its place. Rather than address the difficult verses in a parish newsletter--when the damage is either already done or about to be done, and recognizing that not everyone reads the newsletters--change the lectionary."

So, will the committee present this to the wider Episcopal body at the next General Convention and cave in to one more interest group? Based on past history, the answer is probably yes. You can read more: https://virtueonline.org/change-lectionary-eliminate-antisemitism-says-jewish-scholar


CANADA. The Anglican Church of Canada has prepared a set of gender-themed liturgies for trial use, including a blessing on gender transition. The church's director of Faith, Worship and Ministry says these liturgies could be the first of their kind for a national church in the Anglican Communion if they are eventually authorized.

The Council of General Synod (CoGS) voted to commend Pastoral Liturgies for Journeys of Gender Transition and Affirmation for study, trial use, evaluation and feedback for a one-year period, where permitted by bishops. The liturgies, a supplement to the Book of Alternative Services, include a blessing on the gender transition process, an affirmation of gender identity, additional prayers and pastoral prayer resources, suggested Bible readings and an appropriate hymnody.

The Diocese of Toronto misgenders the Holy Spirit, writes David of Samizdat. "The diocese has taken a sad step backwards from full inclusion. In a recent tweet, the diocese - and I'm sorry if this triggers someone, those of a sensitive disposition should avert their gaze now - rashly assumed that the Holy Spirit's preferred pronoun is "her". For all we know, it could be "zir".

Antediluvian diehards like me who have always thought of the Holy Spirit as "He" had no idea that the third person of the Trinity had undergone a gender transition. A tweet, Trending in Canada, which had over 9,000 hits said; "The Holy Spirit doing her thing."

The lunacy never ends in the ACoC. It is one more reason it will be OOB by 2040 or sooner.
Canada's lady Anglican Archbishop Linda Nicholls has finally spoken out, but not for her countrymen. Two weeks ago, I asked; "Why hasn't the Anglican Church of Canada's Archbishop said anything either for or against the truckers and -- for the most part -- their peaceful convoy?" as Canadian truckers were being silenced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's harsh crackdown on them.

She remained mute. Not a sound was uttered from her lips. Not a word was put to paper. Finally, she has been heard from, but not about a Canadian issue. She has responded to the Russo-Ukrainian War, an event unfolding more than five thousand miles away from her. Mary Ann Mueller, VOL Special Correspondent has written in depth about this, which you can read here: https://virtueonline.org/canada-lady-anglican-archbishop-has-finally-spoken

A new book, The Anglican Network in Canada: Protest, Providence, and Promise in Global Anglican Realignment will shortly hit the book shelves. Jointly written and edited by George Egerton, Kyle MacKenney, David Short, Trevor Walters, Eds, it is published by Anglican House Publishers. When a copy reaches my hands, I will review it for VOL's readers.


AUSTRALIA. The Archbishop of Perth, Kay Goldsworthy is set to proceed with an ordination that will "split the diocese", according to sources in Australia. The archbishop presided over the ordination at St George's Cathedral where four candidates were made deacons. There were two male and two female candidates. The two male candidates are both figures of some significant controversy. The first had been living in a de facto relationship with a woman for a number of years. The couple has children. The second candidate is a man who has been in a registered civil union with another man for a number of years. You can read the full story here: https://virtueonline.org/archbishop-perth-set-proceed-ordination-will-split-diocese

ON THE GOOD NEWS FRONT: Matthew 25: The Gift of Lent focuses on justice, mercy and contending for the faith. Anglicans are being asked to join up for the 40 days of Anglican-informed, inspiring, beautiful, and theologically-robust engagement pieces -- in the vein of the church's traditional disciplines of lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. You can get it all here: https://www.anglicanjusticeandmercy.org/

The Rev. David Roseberry leads a ministry called LeaderWorks. David is a writer and speaker whose books include Giving Up, The Rector and the Vestry, When the Lord is my Shepherd and The Psalm on the Cross and The Ordinary Ways of God.

David is a Certified Life Coach from an ICF accredited school. He is ready to help you overcome personal and professional challenges and obstacles. As a church consultant, David can help Rectors and Vestries lead and serve their congregations. David and his wife Fran, lead LIFE-CHANGING TRIPS TO ISRAEL and other amazing places that will renew your faith and enrich your life. You can see more about his ministry here: https://leaderworks.org/consulting

Canon Phil Ashey heads up the American Anglican Council, and offers RESOURCES FOR YOU & YOUR CHURCH. One resource is a New Anglican Perspective. Ashey interviews the Rev. Geoff Chapman on the importance of Clergy Care as the church faces a deficit of character in leadership. Going further up towards God and further in towards self-awareness and examination leads to Spirit-led growth in Christian formation. You can read more here: https://anglicanperspective.buzzsprout.com/1651606/10214547-going-further-up-and-further-in


VOL is a unique one-of-a-kind ministry. We write the stories no one else dares to write or touch. We expose the soft underbelly of TEC and the rise of Global South Anglicanism. We expose sin, we tell the stories of how the communion is being undermined from within. We show how the pansexual agenda of the West is trying to infiltrate the Global South and undermine it. This has never happened before in history. We are committed to telling you the truth even when it hurts.

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