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CofE to Allow Women Bishops* SC Property Fight Continues in High Court Drama*VA Diocese Parish Sublets to Evangelicals

Nothing wasted, everything used. It seems to me fully compatible with our Christian doctrines of creation and redemption that we should talk to ourselves somewhat as follows: 'I am a unique person. (That is not conceit. It is a fact. If every snowflake and every blade of grass is unique, how much more is every human being?) My uniqueness is due to my genetic endowment, my inherited personality and temperament, my parentage, upbringing and education, my talents, inclinations and interests, my new birth and spiritual gifts. By the grace of God I am who I am. How then can I, as the unique person God had made me, be *stretched* in the service of Christ and of people, so that nothing he has given me is wasted, and everything he has given me is used?' --- John R.W. Stott

In very simple terms our problem now is not so much a lack of finances as a lack of people in the pews…On any given regular Sunday there are about 1000 Anglicans in Church --- Bishop Dennis P. Drainville, Anglican Diocese of Quebec

At its deepest level, libertarianism is "a mentality, a mood, a presumption… a prejudice" in favor of the liberation of the autonomous individual from all constraints originating from received habits, traditions, authorities, or institutions. Libertarianism in this sense fuels the American right's anti-government furies, but it also animates the left's push for same-sex marriage — and has prepared the way for its stunningly rapid acceptance — in countries throughout the West. --- Damon Linker, The Week

We can't solve all the world's problems, but we can surely make them worse with misguided compassion. --- Robert Knight, The Washington Times

The choice of Matthias. It is instructive to note the cluster of factors which contributed to the discovery of God's will in this matter. First came the general leading of Scripture that a replacement should be made (Acts 1:16-21). Next, they used their common sense that if Judas' substitute was to have the same apostolic ministry he must also have the same qualifications, including an eye-witness experience of Jesus and a personal appointment by him. This sound deductive reasoning led to the nomination of Joseph and Matthias. Thirdly, they prayed. For though Jesus had gone, he was still accessible to them by prayer and was acknowledged as having a knowledge of hearts which they lacked. Finally, they drew lots, by which they trusted Jesus to make his choice known. Leaving aside this fourth factor, because the spirit has not been given us, the remaining three (Scripture, common sense and prayer) constitute a wholesome combination through which God may be trusted to guide us today. --- John R.W. Stott

Dear Brothers and Sisters
July 18, 2014

Women may become bishops in the Church of England because of an historic vote by General Synod July 14.

Following a day of debate at the General Synod meeting in York on the issue of women in the episcopate, at least two thirds majority of each house — laity, clergy, and bishops — approved the measure:

            For  |  Against  | Abstain
Bishops     37   |     2     |    1
Clergy     162   |    25     |    4
Laity      152   |    45     |    5

The first woman bishop could be appointed by the end of the year. The Church of England now joins 20 other provinces or extra-provincial dioceses that allow for women bishops.

Before the vote, the Most. Rev. John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, asked synod members to greet the result “with restraint and sensitivity,” but a flurry of cheers arose nonetheless.

The vote comes 18 months after the proposal was last voted upon in November 2012, when the proposal failed to achieve the required two-thirds majority in the House of Laity.

The Most Rev. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, commented, “Today is the completion of what was begun over 20 years with the ordination of women as priests. I am delighted with today’s result. Today marks the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases, disagreeing.

“The challenge for us will be for the church to model good disagreement and to continue to demonstrate love for those who disagree on theological grounds. Very few institutions achieve this, but if we manage this we will be living our more fully the call of Jesus Christ to love one another. As delighted as I am for the outcome of this vote, I am also mindful of those within the Church for whom the result will be difficult and a cause of sorrow.

“My aim, and I believe the aim of the whole church, should be to be able to offer a place of welcome and growth for all. Today is a time of blessing and gift from God and thus of generosity. It is not winner take all, but in love a time for the family to move on together.

“The legislation includes a House of Bishops declaration, underpinned by five guiding principles and a disputes resolution procedure. Following the vote on the measure that enables women to become bishops, the synod voted on enabling legislation (canon) and rescinded existing legislation (act of synod) as part of a package of measures being proposed.”

The measure now moves to the Legislative Committee of General Synod and then to the Ecclesiastical Committee of the Houses of Parliament where the legislation will be considered. Subject to Parliamentary approval, the measure will return to the General Synod in November, when it will come into force after its promulgation (legal formal announcement).

Following the Church of England’s decision to allow women bishops, the head of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham invited those who are “considering their future” to learn more about the Ordinariate.

The Church of England’s decision makes “harder the position of those within the Church of England who still long for corporate unity with the Catholic and Orthodox Churches,” said Msgr. Keith Newton. “Pope Benedict XVl’s decision to set up the ordinariates– allowing former Anglicans to enter the full communion of the Catholic Church, bringing with them much of the Anglican heritage and tradition– was made in response to repeated requests from Anglicans who longed for unity with the Catholic Church.

“On 6 September the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is holding a Called To Be One exploration day, which is aimed at making the Ordinariate more widely known and understood and reaching those whom God may be calling to join it,” he continued. “All who are interested– whether because they are considering their future or just because they would like to see more of what we are and what we do– are warmly invited to attend.”

Almost immediately The Anglican Province of Uganda weighed in saying they would allow women bishops if the right person came along. To date that has not happened. The Anglican Diocese of Sydney added that The Church of England's decision to allow women bishops may represent a historical shift in attitudes in its General Synod, but to the dismay of supporters of the ordination of women, the move may hold little sway for Sydney's Anglican community.

The Bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth, said that while he expected the result of Monday's momentous vote, he doubts it will have ''much of an impact at all'' on the diocese of Sydney, which does not support the ordination of women as priests or bishops, despite the consecration of women bishops in Australia since 2008.

''As much as we respect the Church of England, it is no longer the center of our world,'' Bishop Forsyth noted. ''It's not our Rome, it's a partner church in the worldwide community of Anglicans. From the point of view of our diocese, I doubt this will have much of an impact at all.”

I have posted a number of stories on this historic event with some serious analysis pieces, one by Mary Ann Mueller, VOL’s Texas-based correspondent, and another by a non-Anglican, the Rev. Dr. Albert Mohler.


The other big news story is the ongoing legal battle in South Carolina where Bishop Mark Lawrence is in a pitched battle for the soul of his diocese. As I write, we are in day seven of the trial with Canon lawyer Allan Haley making the claim that there has been a huge setback for ECUSA with their expert conceding the case.

The defendants (TEC) have been saying that the Diocese and its parishes all forfeited their property when the Diocese voted to amend its governing documents so as to make it no longer a constituent member of ECUSA.

According to the official line promulgated by ECUSA, "people may leave, but dioceses may not." ECUSA claims to be made up of 110 dioceses (actually, now 109 following the merger of Quincy into the Diocese of Chicago), but four of them are not true dioceses. They are rump groups set up by 815 to act as plaintiffs (or, in some cases, when they cannot organize fast enough, as defendants and counterclaimants) in the lawsuits brought to recover the bank accounts and real properties that belonged to the dioceses and their member parishes that voted to withdraw. Those rump groups, although each newly organized, have never formally been admitted as proper "dioceses" into union with General Convention, as required by ECUSA's own Constitution.

One sees right away why: if ECUSA were to go through the formalities necessary to admit them as new dioceses, it would give away its argument that "dioceses cannot leave." Instead it has the rump groups pretend to be the ongoing original dioceses, and then will have General Convention recognize them as such and seat their deputies.

Thus far, only two trial courts -- one in Pittsburgh, and the other in Fresno, California -- have been taken in by this ruse. Judges in Texas and in Illinois, meanwhile, have not. (A ruling is expected any day now from the Illinois Court of Appeals which will affirm a lower court's judgment that the [now Anglican] Diocese of Quincy properly amended its own governing documents so as to remove itself from ECUSA.)

ECUSA may have shot itself in the foot in South Carolina, as well. Let's have the Press Office of the Episcopal Diocese tell us what happened on Day 7 of the trial, with ECUSA and ECSC putting on their portion of the case.

We will post more on our website www.virtueonline.org as news breaks and becomes available. VOL’s correspondent Ladson F. Mills III is in the court room covering the trial.

Day 7 could prove to have been the decisive day of this trial. Stay tuned for more as the trial progresses. Since this is a bench trial, will Judge Goodstein render her ruling immediately or will she take it under advisement and give her ruling at a later date?


The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia and two Anglican churches that left The Episcopal Church in 2004 have reached an amicable settlement that returns all property to the Diocese while making it possible for all parties to continue with their ministries.

St. Charles Church, Poulsbo, and Grace by the Sea, Oak Harbor, disassociated from The Episcopal Church in 2004 and placed themselves under the authority of an Anglican bishop in Brazil.

The path toward a settlement that required no court action began in December 2006 when the diocese and the two churches signed a covenant agreement that provided for 7½ years in which no action would be taken regarding property. The agreement also provided time for the worldwide Anglican Communion to address serious issues over which its members are not in agreement.

During the period of the covenant agreement, St. Charles Church, Poulsbo, remained in the building that is now being returned to the Diocese of Olympia. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Oak Harbor, and Grace by the Sea Church shared the Oak Harbor property, which will continue to be the home of St. Stephen’s.

St. Charles Poulsbo is now worshipping at 19351 8th Ave. NE, Suite 205, in Poulsbo, WA. Thanks to the gracious assistance of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, Grace by the Sea will be worshipping at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Coupeville, WA, and at St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church in Oak Harbor, WA. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church remains at 555 SE Regatta Drive, Oak Harbor, WA.

The end date of the covenant agreement, which has now been honored by all parties, is June 30, 2014.

Virginia Episcopalians are a day late and a dollar short as they have to make way for evangelical tenants in parishes they take back in legal fights. They may win the property back, but they have lost enough tenants to no longer make parishes financially feasible.

Jeff Walton of the Institute on Religion and Democracy reported this week that a group of liberal Episcopalians, recently divorced from Anglican former parishioners, has been forced to share space with some Korean Southern Baptists.

Currently this Episcopal congregation, a small remnant of a once robust congregation that joined the Anglican Church in North America and lost its building to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, is subsidized by the Diocese to the tune of over $6,000 per church attender.

Walton earlier wrote that two church properties, formerly the home of Anglican churches and awarded to the Diocese of Virginia in court rulings, are now, somewhat ironically, being rented or sold to evangelical congregations. “The rebuilding of continuing Episcopal congregations is slow work, in some cases requiring substantial financial support from the diocese in order to maintain and operate facilities. The Diocese is once again leasing space to an evangelical group, this time at Epiphany Episcopal Church in Herndon.”

In an announcement to church members this past Sunday, Epiphany Episcopal Church made public that an agreement has been reached with New Hope Washington Central Baptist Korean Congregation, which will move into the property off Fairfax County Parkway in late July.

More than any other continuing Episcopal congregation in the diocesan “dayspring” program, Epiphany relies disproportionately upon diocesan financial support. A 2013 stewardship report from the congregation revealed that the diocese shouldered $325,640 out of a total budget of $560,640 that year. The congregation lists an average Sunday attendance of fewer than 50 persons, in contrast to an attendance of 380 prior to the 2007 split.

The small remnant Epiphany Episcopal congregation has seen a revolving door of a half-dozen clergy since 2007, when the majority of congregants voted to depart the diocese. Upon assuming control of the property two years ago, a new vicar was installed with fanfare and optimism. That vicar, the Rev. Jennifer McKenzie, served just over a year and then vanished in late summer 2013 with no announcement. Archived newsletters listing autumn events to be hosted by McKenzie indicate a sudden and unplanned departure. After a brief stint with an interim clergywoman, the congregation brought in the current priest-in-charge.

According to West, New Hope began with about 70 persons and has quickly grown to about 150. While “New Hope is not the major tenant still being sought,” in West’s words, leasing to the Korean congregation is “a good, healthy step forward.”

Lesson number 111 for TEC, God always gets the last laugh. The very people TEC hates – evangelical Anglicans – of which ACNA is now the official guardian, are the very same people the Diocese of Virginia is obliged to play footsie with but under different denominational names. Perhaps this is what Archbishop Welby means by reconciliation.

This is being repeated around the country. Evangelicals of one stripe or another are the only people liberal dioceses can do business with because they are the only churches that are growing and liberals are not. It’s the message, stupid. The only exception is where a Mosque is wanted and there are enough Muslims ready to buy a dying TEC parish. Katharine Jefferts Schori’s choice of sale is to saloon keepers, but that’s difficult in rural areas.


In England, elderly people and others would be put under pressure to end their lives if assisted suicide were permitted by law.

The Assisted Dying Bill will be debated in the House of Lords next week. This bill suggests that it is the only truly compassionate response that a civilized society can make to those who are terminally ill and who wish to end their own lives. This opinion is sincerely held and well-intentioned, but it is both mistaken and dangerous; quite literally, lethally so.

The compassion argument, as presented by proponents of the bill, runs something like this:

1 It is always right to act in a compassionate way;

2 Some terminally ill people face unbearable suffering and wish to have help in ending this suffering by bringing their lives to an end;

3 It is compassionate to provide this help;

4 The law ought to be changed to allow this to happen.

Even if we leave to one side major difficulties in determining what legally constitutes “unbearable suffering” and “terminal illness”, the above argument is deeply flawed. Were it to be presented by a candidate in a GSCE religious education exam, I should expect an examiner to take a dim view of it.

The matter is, however, of more than academic interest; it is, in truth, a matter of life and death.

Thus spake Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. His predecessor by two, Lord George Carey had a change of mind this week and now supports Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill for the terminally ill. In a piece in the Daily Mail, Carey said he has changed his mind after encountering the cases of Tony Nicklinson and Paul Lamb, who had severe paralysis but were not terminally ill.

He was immediately taken to task by no less a person than Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali who says that in assisting the dying, Carey has forgotten Christian teaching on the value of human life. “I am simply amazed at his arguments (or lack of them). He claims that in what way do these cases support a Bill specifically for those with a life expectancy of six months or less?

“The vast majority of those who are terminally ill want what Dr. Peter Saunders, of the Christian Medical Fellowship, calls "assisted living" rather than "assisted dying". This is what the Christian-inspired Hospice movement seeks to do, enabling those nearing the end of their lives to prepare for a peaceful and good death. The fact that good hospice care is still a postcode lottery is what should shame us, rather than not having an answer to Dignitas in Switzerland, as Carey claims.

“Instead of concocting expensive ways of getting rid of those at their most vulnerable, we should be making sure that good hospice care is evenly available across the length and breadth of the country.

“There is no exact science about who is dying and when they are going to die. Archbishop Carey knows as well as I do that people who have been given six months, or less, to live sometimes live for years. Who will be responsible for premature deaths, if Falconer's Bill becomes law?”

Both stories can be read in today’s digest.


Pope Francis revealed this week that 2% of the Catholic clergy, including priests, bishops and cardinals, are pedophiles. His colleagues presented the pontiff with reliable data from the latest Vatican statistics, which indicates pedophilia within the Church is at 2%. There are currently 414,313 Catholic priests worldwide. Francis held his first meeting last week with victims who were sexually abused by members of the Catholic clergy. Pope Francis noted at the time, "Before God and his people, I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you. I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves."


The best study seen in same sex union breakups comes from Scandinavia where same-sex civil unions — essentially marriages in everything but name — have been legal for about two decades. Two authors had access to population-level administrative data that generated a sample size of over 1,500 same-sex unions. After controlling for age, region, country of birth, education, and duration of the partnership, male couples in Sweden were 35 percent more likely to divorce than heterosexual couples, and lesbian partners were over 200 percent more likely to divorce. Whether the couples had children made little difference in the relative rates. - See more at: http://www.mercatornet.com/conjugality/view/14421#sthash.9KDFZBpu.dpuf


The Episcopal Church has been granted consultative status at the UN. The member states of the United Nations (UN) Committee on NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) have granted to The Episcopal Church special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at the United Nations.

ECOSOC is one of the five main UN organs and addresses economic and social development issues. Eighty percent of the UN’s work happens in ECOSOC. It is also the agency by which non-governmental organizations have official affiliation and relationships with the UN and its various agencies.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori commented, “The granting to The Episcopal Church of ‘special consultative status’ to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations by its member states will make the Church’s advocacy efforts more effective and increase our participation in shaping global development efforts. The latter is especially significant as the Millennium Development Goals initiative shifts toward a post-2015 development agenda. The effort to gain ECOSOC status has taken more than a year, and has been ably shepherded by Lynnaia Main of the Global Partnerships team.”

This designation will enhance The Episcopal Church’s three-pronged ministry of presence, hospitality and advocacy at the UN by allowing greater access and opportunities for advocacy, explained Main,


There has been a lot of press in Massachusetts that Gordon College, a Christian institution, is about to lose its accreditation over its refusal to accede to sodomy at its institution. Most of it is hot air.

The President of the College commented on the report, which appeared in the Globe, about it losing its accreditation: “Is there any truth to the news reports saying that Gordon’s accreditation status could be revoked in September?

“No. As stated in a July 15 letter we received from the Chair of the Commission of the accrediting organization (NEASC), ‘There is no chance that an action withdrawing Gordon College’s accreditation or placing the institution on probation would be taken at the Commission’s September meeting.’”

Gordon was most recently reaccredited in 2012 in a process involving a comprehensive assessment and analysis, which included a thorough review of all standards, practices and an assessment of the financial stability of an institution. As stated in the letter from NEASC, “as indicated by the generally comprehensive evaluation of the College in 2012, the Commission has enjoyed its positive relationship with the College for over fifty years and hopes and expects that to continue for many years to come.”


Violence in the Middle East has prompted calls for prayers for peace by Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada:

“With a deep sadness the world has watched the recent escalations of violence in the Middle East. The Rev. Dr. Olav Fyske Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, said in a July 15statement: “We strongly condemn the indiscriminate attacks by Israeli military on the civilian population in Gaza as we absolutely condemn the absurd and immoral firing of rockets by militants from Gaza to populated areas in Israel.” His statement is in keeping with a long-held position from our church, articulated in successive General Synods including the most recent one in 2013.

“Since the bombing, scores of innocent men, women and children have died. In Gaza alone, almost 200 Palestinians have died and 1300 have been seriously injured. The Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City (owned and operated by The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem) is exceeding its capacity to meet the humanitarian crisis. In the face of shortages in medicines, fuel and food, Bishop Suheil Dawani has issued an urgent appeal for help.

“The question is, why did we not read of the Diocese of Jerusalem praying that “the violence will end soon” when Hamas was firing rockets into Israel before Israel responded? Why do we not hear Bishop Suheil Dawani praying for Hamas to accept a perfectly reasonable cease-fire proposal that Israel was prepared to accept? Why do we not hear the Bishop of Jerusalem making statements condemning Hamas’s intent to destroy Israel and kill all its inhabitants? Why don’t we hear the Anglican Church in the Middle East condemning Hamas for hiding behind its civilians and then using the inevitable civilian deaths in their disgusting propaganda? Why does the Anglican Church not recognise and condemn Hamas for what it really is: a demonic death cult?”

Why, why, why? Surely, the answer is not that the Anglican Church has an anti-Israeli bias?


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