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CofE Faces Battle for its Soul * CofE sets up new body to look at Sexuality * Nigerian Primate Warns against Homosexuality * Australian Anglican leaders divided over Marriage Equality * Welsh Apb says Scripture Supports SS Marriage * UK Bp visits Syria

'The reign of grace'. Nothing could sum up better the blessings of being in Christ than the expression 'the reign of grace'. For grace forgives sins through the cross, and bestows on the sinner both righteousness and eternal life. Grace satisfies the thirsty soul and fills the hungry with good things. Grace sanctifies sinners, shaping them into the image of Christ. Grace perseveres even with the recalcitrant, determining to complete what it has begun. And one day grace will destroy death and consummate the kingdom. So when we are convinced that 'grace reigns', we will remember that God's throne is a 'throne of grace', and will come to it boldly to receive mercy and to find grace for every need (Heb. 4:16). --- John R. W. Stott

"The idea of religious freedom is at the forefront and center, not just of what it means to be an American, but what it means to be a human being," --- U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft

"Hillary, though a Methodist, thinks of herself like an Episcopal bishop who deserves to live at the level of her wealthy parishioners, in return for devoting her life to God and good works." --- A Clinton aide

God's unfolding purpose. In 2 Timothy 1:9-10 we seem to detect five stages by which God's saving purpose unfolds. The first is the eternal gift to us in Christ of his grace. The second is the historical appearing of Christ to abolish death by his death and resurrection. The third is the personal call of God to sinners through the preaching of the gospel. The fourth is the moral sanctification of believers by the Holy Spirit. And the fifth is the final heavenly perfection in which the holy calling is consummated. --- John R.W. Stott

The dangers to the Faith, and consequently to souls, is so great that people who know must say what they know. Every institution is being dismantled by the diabolical, which is using malleable, weak men to get at your soul. We need this truth brought to our minds constantly to avoid Hell. --- Michael Voris

The whole stream and drift of the Old Testament moves straight to the cross of Christ. The whole New Testament is nothing but the portrait of Christ. Let a man seek the true course of his own life in the Word, and inevitably it will land him at the cross, to seek mercy as a perishing sinner in the Saviour's wounds; and let him, starting afresh from this point of departure, seek his true course still farther, and inevitably what he will see will be, rising upon him in the distance, astonishing and enchaining him, but drawing him ever on, the image of perfection in the man Christ Jesus. --- James Stalke

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
Sept. 16, 2016

The battle for the soul of the Church of England has begun in earnest. By becoming the first openly homosexual bishop of Grantham, Nicholas Chamberlain reveals the depth of that battle and what could prove a turning point leading to a permanent division in the Church of England.

Last year, The Rt. Rev. Libby Lane was consecrated as the Bishop of Stockport, and in so doing, overturned the centuries-old tradition that all bishops in the Church of England must be male. This year, with the public declaration of his sexuality, it is the turn of Chamberlain to overturn another centuries-old tradition in becoming the Church's first openly homosexual bishop.

Even though this does not represent a fundamental change to the Church's position on sexuality and marriage; no official Rubicon has been crossed. However, it does mark an important step forward for the Church of England that could lead to ultimate schism.

Voices like those found in Changing Attitude and a number of bishops came out affirming Chamberlain's choice, while conservative voices made known their disapproval.

The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), a group of orthodox primates, have stated it as a "major error". Archbishop Justin Welby and the diocesan Bishop of Lincoln (Chamberlain's own senior bishop) stressed the celibate nature of the relationship and said it fit within the current guidelines for clerical relationships.

But it is the archbishop's wish to be conciliatory towards conservative elements within the Church as well. The question is, will it work?

The deeper truth is, this is just another stage in a battle that has raged since 2003, when the Rev. Jeffrey John became the first priest openly in a same-sex relationship, to be nominated as a bishop. This coincided in the Episcopal Church with the appointment of V. Gene Robinson as the first openly homosexual bishop in the Anglican Communion. The Rev. John withdrew his nomination under pressure from Dr. Rowan Williams, but it failed to quell the growing battle in the following years as a war for the Anglican soul.

In such a divided atmosphere, the events surrounding Grantham are having a multitude of effects. On one hand, it is alienating Evangelicals that already view Church authorities with distrust. This could lead to a formal separation from the Church if same-sex marriage blessings are approved.

It is a thin end of the wedge with LGBTQ Christians using the multitude of spaces to push for more compromises down the road.

What is increasingly apparent is that the CofE is going down the same path as the Episcopal Church and we all know how badly that ended.

Just as we're going to press, this news hit VOL's desk.

Church of England bishops have set up a new body to "take forward work on sexuality" which will be chaired by Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich.

The establishment of the 'Bishops' Reflection Group on Sexuality' was announced this afternoon after senior Church of England clergy met in Oxford this week.

The bishops discussed sexuality, as well as a range of other topical issues following on from the 'shared conversations' on sexuality at the Church's July Synod.

A statement from the College of Bishops said: "Following the conclusion of the shared conversations process the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have invited some bishops to take forward work on sexuality to assist the episcopal discernment process. The Bishops' Reflection Group on Sexuality will be chaired by Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich."

The full membership of the group and its terms of reference have yet to be published.

A UK VOL reader who sent it, groaned, "What's new? More fudge. More kicking the ball into the long grass. No spine. No Scripture."

*****

The Church of England's College of Bishops met this week joined in part by bishops from the Scottish Episcopal Church, Church of Ireland and Church in Wales.

They discussed from a wide ranging agenda which included clergywomen in leadership, clergy wellbeing and issues of sexuality. Discussions on issues of sexuality took place as part of a new process of episcopal discernment which will continue during the meetings of the House of Bishops in November and December of this year and in January next year at the next meeting of the College of Bishops. These discussions were undertaken by the College of Bishops alone.

Here's the kicker, the Bishops agreed that the contents of their discussion should not be shared in public during the process so as to enable those discussions to be conducted freely and in a spirit of full collegiality. Consequently, the contents of the conversations will remain private and participants have agreed not to comment on the contents of the discussions beyond their own views.

There you have it, no sex talk please, we're English, which means that both sides will continue to wage the battle over sodomy publicly in the media while the bishops chew their fingernails.

A VOL reader in England was right when he predicted that the House of Bishops wouldn't take a decisive stand on anything. "Welby is the master of fudge and again the lot of them will sit on the fence until the spikes go right through their rectums. Unless, of course, fiercely liberal bishops like Nicolas Holtam, of Salisbury, light the fire to the powder-keg. Then, all hell will break loose, and the conservatives will have to sit-up and take note." That didn't happen, but nothing is going to go away either.

*****

Nigerian Primate Nicholas Okoh warned his clergy against homosexual acts.Okoh handed the warning at the opening ceremony of the All Anglican Clergy Conference holding at the premises of Benue State University (BSU) in Makurdi. He reiterated his stance on homosexuality held by some provinces in the communion and advised members of the clergy, who have gay tendencies, to resign their position honorably or risk being disgraced out of the Church.

*****

Australia's Anglican hierarchy is apparently divided over marriage equality plebiscite. Five bishops wrote to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, urging him to reconsider the plan just days after the head of the Anglican Church came out in support of the plebiscite

The Anglican Church's senior clergy are split on whether to support the federal government's planned marriage equality plebiscite, with five bishops writing to the prime minister urging him to reconsider the plan.

The correspondence contrasts with the personal view of the head of the Anglican church, Melbourne archbishop, Philip Freier, who wrote in support of the plebiscite last week.

In one letter sent on Thursday, the bishop of Wangaratta, John Parkes, said the plebiscite would be "divisive and cause unnecessary harm to members of the Australian community". You can read the full story in today's digest.

*****

Ugandan Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, addressing journalists after the Church of Uganda's Provincial Assembly meeting last month, said The Church of Uganda had adopted a 10-year master strategic plan that includes "making the Church more vibrant and focused on the critical areas of need among the communities," reports the ACNS.

"We are greatly concerned about domestic violence, child sacrifice, drunkenness, drug abuse, sodomy and homosexuality, joblessness, poverty, permissiveness, peer pressure and other evils which target the family directly.

"We must focus our attention on protecting and guiding our families in our communities and entire country."

He said that the COU was opposed to plans by the country's health ministry to legalize abortion. "Abortion which is done by one's choice is against Gods will and the Bible considers it to be murder," he said. "Any life has the right to continue and no one has the mandate to destroy it. . .

The Archbishop also spoke out against "a harmful educational program" that had been introduced in some of the country's schools. "This program promotes homosexuality, and we are concerned about how it was allowed to be taught in some of our schools," he said. "We call for its removal and for the government to ensure that all sexuality education materials promote the biblical values of abstinence before marriage, and faithfulness in lifelong marriage between one man and one woman."

It also gave approval in principle for the creation of a new diocese of Northwest Ankole. When inaugurated in a year's time, this 37th diocese in the province would be carved out of the present Diocese of Ankole and have its headquarters in Ibanda.

*****

Bishop John Shelby Spong, 85, suffered a stroke this week, the Episcopal Diocese of Newark reported on its Facebook page. It occurred on the morning of Sept. 10, before a speaking engagement in Marquette, Michigan.

A calendar posting on Facebook by the Diocese of Northern Michigan, said Spong was in Marquette to speak on two topics: "Can Religion Survive in the 21st Century?" and "Jesus Did Not Die for Your Sins: The Meaning of the Cross." His most recent book is Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy. Spong, served as Bishop of Newark from 1979 to 2000. He is apparently on the mend.

*****

At its regular monthly meeting in the Diocese of Los Angeles at the Cathedral Center of St. Paul, Diocesan Council received, but declined to accept, a report presented by the Task Force to Study Church Properties Held by Corporation Sole.

The task force was formed in response to a resolution instructing the bishop to transfer church properties currently held by Corporation Sole, a California corporation of which the Bishop of Los Angeles is trustee, to the Corporation of the Diocese.

Diocesan Council unanimously adopted a motion that the report be returned to the task force as not acceptable as presented, informing the task force that in order to present a complete report to Diocesan Convention, Council needs the following specific information from the task force:

A careful evaluation of every church property held by Corporation Sole, including the circumstances under which each came to be held by Corporation Sole;

Loosely interpreted, Bishop Jon Bruno can keep his hands on properties like St. James the Great in Newport Beach until either he goes to trial, is forced out of the church, or retires.

*****

The Diocese of Louisiana is offering a Forgiveness Training Weekend. "Are you tired of living in a resentful world, a world that: Places a huge value on revenge Confuses revenge and punishment with justice Doesn't know how to find the freedom of forgiveness Has no idea what Jesus meant when he said: 'Love Your Enemies' If you said yes to any of these then come and join us in our mission to teach the world to how to forgive. We are hosting a Forgiveness Training Weekend."

So why isn't the Louisiana bishop telling TEC how to forgive the White privilege community? Love thine enemies includes inclusive tolerance of White privilege. He won't admit it. There will be no racial reconciliation until bishops like Curry, Wright, and Sutton lead the UBE into publicly forgiving the White privilege community for their colorlessness.

*****

The Diocese of Central Florida is coming up against the big bad ogre of TEC and its episcopal canon on Assessment. (Read 'I want your money.') Resolution C001 (changing the asking to a mandatory commitment) means they can no longer direct their tithe away from the Episcopal Church over TEC's compromising theology and bad morals. So Bishop Greg Brewer wants them to have a "conversation" (a much beloved word in TEC) and rethink that policy because if they don't, it will make the diocese ineligible for church wide grants through the UTO and then, horror of horrors, lose voting privileges at General Convention and, finally, to add insult to injury, Brewer's voice will not be heard in the HOB and executive committees! WOW. Does anyone really believe his or any orthodox voting bishop matters a hill of beans at this late stage of TEC's decline and revisionist take over?

*****

The President and Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo headed a list of dignitaries at the installation of the new Archbishop of the Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du Congo -- the Anglican Church in the Congo this week. Archbishop Masimango Katanda, the former Bishop of Kindu, was elected in July. He succeeds Archbishop Henri Isingoma, who stood down for a health improvement break and return to theological academia.

In addition to the installation of Archbishop Katanda, the service included the enthronement of the new Bishop of Kinshasa, the diocese's former assistant bishop, Achille-Sebastien Mutshindu Mayamba.

The former Primate of Tanzania, Archbishop Donald Ntetemela, preached a sermon in which he spoke about the need for "faithful leaders" to respond to the social, security and political challenges in the world. The new Archbishop will be a GAFCON primate.

*****

The Archbishop of Wales has argued that taking the Bible seriously can lead to supporting same-sex marriage, as he defended his acceptance of LGBT relationships.

Dr. Barry Morgan, who will retire in January, used his last address to the governing body of the Church in Wales this week, to deliver a parting shot to conservative critics who said he had been "swayed by the liberal culture of our age" and "ignored Holy Scripture".

He argued the Bible had more than one view on LGBT relationships as the authors' stances evolved. He said it was necessary to look at the texts as a whole, and especially at the ministry of Jesus, to understand God's will.

"Taking the Bible as a whole and taking what it says very seriously may lead us into a very different view of same-sex relationships than the one traditionally upheld by the Church," he said.

And you wonder why the Church in Wales is not growing, and is, in fact, sinking! If the Church's voice is no different from the culture, then lying in bed with The Times and a good coffee on a Sunday morning might have more going for it!

*****

Is there a difference between a church leader going to visit a brutal dictator on his turf, and asking him to change (for example Welby visited Mugabe), and giving a warm welcome to similar nasty people on one's own turf (for example Welby receiving the Pakistani imams)?

The Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, former Anglican Bishop of Rochester, along with two crossbench peers, Baroness Cox and Lord Hylton, as well as the Rev'd Andrew Ashdown, an Anglican vicar, met recently with Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator. The delegation saw Assad, even as his forces and their Russian allies, were re-imposing a state of siege on rebel-held eastern Aleppo, supported by air strikes that have killed thousands of civilians.

We must engage with Bashar al-Assad if there is to be regime change in Syria, said the bishop.

"Our visit to Syria has been attacked in the Press for giving a "war criminal" (that is, Bashar al-Assad) a photo opportunity and a tool for propaganda. In fact, it was a pastoral visit to the people of Syria, especially Christians, who have suffered so much at the hands of jihadist extremists." You can read the full story in today's digest.

*****

More than 200 leaders of faith communities have signed an open letter to Theresa May, calling for urgent changes to the government's refugee policy, particularly to allow families to be reunited.

The signatories are headed by Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, who will give a speech on Monday in front of an audience of faith leaders and refugees to reiterate the letter's demands.

Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, the former Lord Justice of Appeal, has added her name to the letter, which is also signed by leaders and representatives of the Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist communities.

"As people of faith, we call on your government to urgently revise its policy towards refugees," the letter says.

"The best of this country is represented by the generosity, kindness, solidarity and decency that Britain has at many times shown those fleeing persecution, even at times of far greater deprivation and difficulty than the present day. We rejoice in the mosaic of different faiths and British communities that we now represent."

It adds: "In the face of the unfolding human catastrophe, there are immediate and viable steps that the government can take to offer sanctuary to more refugees. We call on you to create safe, legal routes of travel, for example by adopting fair and humane family reunion policies for refugees."

*****

The British Guardian reported recently on an American study revealing--to the surprise of everyone involved--that millennials are having less sex than previous generations.

The study found that "the percentage of young adults aged between 20 and 24 who reported having no sexual partner after the age of 18 increased from 6% among those born in the 1960s, to 15% of young adults born in the 1990s." The Guardian reports that in Britain, data is hinting at similar changes. According to Cath Mercer of University College, London, "In Britain we have seen a decline in the age at first sex between those born in the 1950s and 1990s but around one in five 16-24 year olds don't report a sexual partner, challenging the stereotype that all young people are sexually active and from a young age."

And given new research out of Sweden, this is good news for more reasons than one. (Source: Nocola Davis, "Less Sex Please, We're Millennials"--BBC, July 29, 2016)

*****

This comes from a moderate/liberal woman priest from an east coast diocese. It is heartbreaking.

"It is over for TEC. E.g., The Eucharist at our election of a new bishop was completely unrecognizable. Not from BCP or EOW. It was the creation of a rector who I think should serve the Unitarian, UCC what's happenin' now church. The offertory song was "All Are Welcome at the Table" by Marty Haugen, and the bulletin, both before and after the fraction anthem, said all are welcome to the table. Canons be damned. Eucharistic theology be damned. Most of the churches in this diocese explicitly invite the non-baptized. All of which means it is unlikely I will even be able to find a church to serve in TEC when this interim is over. Never thought I would pine for Bert Herlong to be alive, I would go to his diocese in a NY second. TEC is the MCC on Unitarian steroids."

What this says, of course, is that thoughtful liberals are starting to realize the jig is up for TEC, Curry's vaunted Jesus Movement is going nowhere apparently. Lots of charisma and hype, short on substance.

*****

The Episcopal Diocese of New York has launched the Harlem Valley Ministry. Two churches and a mission in Putnam and Dutchess counties will collaborate and share a single priest.

The three parishes are St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Brewster, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Pawling, and MESA in Dover Plains. MESA stands for Misión Episcopal Santiago Apóstol /St. James's Episcopal Mission. The Rev. Jose Martinez is joining the Harlem Valley Ministry to serve as Priest-in-Charge and will lead services at all three churches.

What the news release failed to report, is that the three parishes combined, have an ASA of 75! ASA for the three yoking congregations are: Holy Trinity: 40, St. Andrew: 25, MESA: 10

*****

Anti-Christian hostility is on the minds of many American Christians these days. Each new legal challenge to religious liberty at the state and federal levels raises the issue afresh. It seems that today, Christians must think through their cultural position more carefully than at any other point in US history.

Still, given the terrible persecution of Christians overseas, I wonder whether it's accurate to say that American Christians are "under persecution." When I discuss the rise in anti-Christian hostility in the States, I avoid the "p word," and I don't make comparisons to other parts of the world.

But listen to a Middle Eastern underground house church leader: "Persecution is easier to understand when it's physical: torture, death, imprisonment....American persecution is like an advanced stage of cancer; it eats away at you, yet you cannot feel it. This is the worst kind of persecution."

A Syrian remaining in the region to assist Christians and Muslims, cautions, "It wasn't only ISIS who laid waste to the church; our cultural compromises with the government and our divisions against each other brewed for a long time. We are Damascus, the seat of Christianity; what happened to us can happen to you. Be careful."

When persecuted Christian leaders overseas warn about how seriously US Christians are marginalized, it's time to listen.

You can read the rest of the story here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/september/are-us-christians-really-persecuted.html?utm_source=ctdirect-html&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_term=11419395&utm_content=464281627&utm_campaign=email

*****

The Church in Wales is investing in new safeguarding strategy. A new safeguarding strategy to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults will be launched by the Church in Wales. The Church has strengthened its team of safeguarding officers, and now has a head of safeguarding, Elaine Cloke, as well as two provincial safeguarding officers for north and south Wales, who will respond to safeguarding concerns and allegations. In addition, there are additional safeguarding support officers based in each of the province's six dioceses.

*****

Divorced and remarried Catholics can, in "some cases", receive Holy Communion without living as "brother and sister" and without getting an annulment, Pope Francis himself has confirmed.

Ruth Gledhill, writing in Christian Today, said a leaked letter to Argentine bishops, Pope Francis gave his own interpretation for the first time of Amoris Laetitia, his exhortation that followed the recent synods on the family dominated by controversy over the Church's strict rules on divorced and remarried Catholics.

Many believe the rules excluding such couples from communion, even where they were the innocent party in a marriage breakdown, are cruel. Traditionalists, however, stand by what they say is biblical teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman for life and that there can be no flexibility.

*****

The Very Rev. Jo Kelly-Moore, Dean of Auckland's Holy Trinity Cathedral, is moving to England to become the next Archdeacon of Canterbury.

She will work with the Bishop of Dover, Trevor Willmott, to oversee the archdeaconry, and her role will also include becoming Vice-Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, the spiritual home of the Anglican Communion.

Jo Kelly-Moore has been Dean of Auckland since August 2010, during which time she successfully drove 'Selwyn's Vision ', a $14.9million project to complete the cathedral.

*****

Christ Church Anglican on the Main Line (Wayne, PA) is seeking a bi-vocational rector to fill a vacancy. The position is presently part-time, but it is anticipated that it will be full time within a year or so.

Christ Church Anglican was founded in 2012, to reach southeastern Pennsylvania with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. We are a parish in the Diocese of CANA East under Bishop Julian Dobbs and part of the Anglican Church in North America. We have an active and growing congregation (ASA 40) of diverse ages and backgrounds (median age 33.1) and are strategically located near multiple college campuses. We have a part-time deacon and a part-time organist.

If you are interested you can contact Peter Edman, Bishop's Warden, pledman@gmail.com

Supporting Documents:

Parish Profile: http://bit.ly/CCAProfile
Profile Appendix: http://bit.ly/CCA_ProfileAppendix
Parish website: http://www.christ-church-anglican.org/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MainLineAnglican
Diocesan website: http://canaeast.com/

*****

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