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Diocese of Connecticut faces multiple closures * India now most corrupt Province in Anglican Communion * Canada will turn blind eye to gay marriages even if repudiated by Synod * CofE is running out of vicars * LGBT community will eventually self-destruct

Right and wrong. In every human community there is a basic recognition of the difference between right and wrong, and an accepted set of values. True, conscience is not infallible, and standards are influenced by cultures. Nevertheless, a substratum of good and evil remains, and love is always acknowledged as superior to selfishness. This has important social and political implications. It means that legislators and educators can assume that God's law is good for society and that at least to some degree people know it. It is not a case of Christians trying to force their standards on an unwilling public, but of helping the public to see that God's law is 'for our own good at all times' (Dt. 6:24), because it is the law of human being and of human community. If democracy is government by consent, consent depends on consensus, consensus on argument, and argument on ethical apologists who will develop a case for the goodness of God's law. --- John R.W. Stott

Humility is a key ingredient in the eye-salve that gives supernatural sight in reading Scripture. --- John Piper

Moral responsibility. Scripture invariably treats us as morally responsible agents. It lays upon us the necessity of choice ... Why is it that people do not come to Christ? Is it that they cannot, or is it that they will not? Jesus taught both. And in this 'cannot' and 'will not' lies the ultimate antinomy between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. But however we state it, we must not eliminate either part. Our responsibility before God is an inalienable aspect of our human dignity. Its final expression will be on the Day of Judgment. --- John R.W. Stott

God gives us more than we can handle "to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." -- John Piper

Dear Brothers and Sisters
www.virtueonline.org
June 3, 2016

The progressive Episcopal Bishop of Connecticut, Ian Douglas, says we are experiencing the realities of the end of Christendom and we must embrace the changes that post-Christendom is bringing forth, including the fact that people are no longer flocking to church anymore and no matter how attractive our worship and programs are, business as usual is not working.

Writing for a paper on Intentional Discipleship and Disciple-Making, an Anglican Guide for Christian Life and Formation, Douglas says that Christendom with its all-encompassing social, political, cultural, and economic system that presupposes that the Church is central to the life of a people and nation is over. "The U.S. is becoming both increasingly secular and multi-religious. We cannot pretend that the age that placed the Church at the center of our public and private lives is alive and well."

The bishop as at the epicenter of decline in his diocese that is a microcosm of what is going on across the country in one Episcopal diocese after another. Multiple Episcopal parishes in New Haven, CT, face closure and their future is uncertain, as congregations shrink and costs grow.

The diocese faces multiple parish closures, including eight just in New Haven. You can read the full story in today's digest.

*****

Canadian Primate Fred Hiltz suspects there might be stress at General Synod over same-sex marriage. Really. David of Samizdat blog writes that Hiltz, as perceptive as ever, has realized that, whichever way the vote over same-sex marriage goes in July, some people will leave, aggravated. A vote for will upset the few remaining conservatives, and a vote against will upset the disproportionately high number of homosexual clergy. This is all a repeat performance of the lamentations and appeals for unity that accompanied the voting over same-sex blessings in prior synods. Then, as now, the so-called unity is bogus. Also bogus were the assurances that same-sex blessings would not lead to same sex marriage. Does anyone truly believe that priests will not be compelled to perform same-sex marriages if the vote goes that way?

Hiltz has as much as admitted that the whole synod exercise will be a vacuous farce since, even if the same-sex marriage motion is voted down -- as it probably will be -- dioceses will go ahead with it anyway.

Still, at least the synod will be green, that's the main thing.

From the Anglican Journal comes this:

"No doubt in this synod there will be some stress and some strain, but I hope and pray that in the grace of the waters of baptism in which we have been made one with Christ, that we will be able to continue to do our work in synod and that we'll know that in the midst of it all, we are, in fact, members one of another."

This General Synod, the 41st in the history of the Anglican Church of Canada, is expected to be momentous, involving as it does a vote to change the church's canon (law) on marriage.

"That's a fairly huge issue for our church, so I think people who come to this General Synod will rightly have some anxiety about that," says General Synod Deputy Prolocutor Cynthia Haines-Turner, in another video released by the office of General Synod.

It also seems likely that, whichever way the estimated 269 delegates assembling in Thornhill, Ont., July 7--12 vote, the impact will be felt in Anglican churches across Canada. In an April 12 interview, Hiltz told the Anglican Journal that bishops are concerned that clergy and parishes may decide to leave the church if the vote is not acceptable to them. (Avowals to this effect have also been made by followers of the Journal's Facebook page.) Hiltz also said he believed some clergy, if faced with a "no" vote, might decide to marry same-sex couples anyway.

As a fitting summary of the mess, Hiltz utters two tautologies followed by an appeal from the Beatles:

Hiltz said that, as he reflected recently on the upcoming General Synod, the words from an Anglican night prayer came repeatedly to mind: "What has been done has been done. What has not been done has not been done. Now let it be."

IN OTHER NEWS FROM CANADA, The Anglican Journal showed its bias when it reported with breathless reverence on some 200 people on Parliament Hill indulging in a blanket exercise "to help people understand Canada's history from an Indigenous perspective" while completely ignoring 22,000 people meeting on Parliament Hill for the March for Life.

THE COVENANT...NOT. In its never ceasing quest to appear relevant, dynamic, progressive and forward looking, the Anglican Church of Canada has decided not to decide on whether to support a Frankenstinian creation whose death throes twitching ceased five years ago: The Anglican Covenant.

From the Anglican Journal comes this: No Anglican Covenant decision in 2016. General Synod 2016 will not be asked to vote for or against adopting the proposed Anglican Covenant when it meets this July. Instead, a draft motion directs Council of General Synod (CoGS) to "continue to monitor developments related to the Anglican Covenant." Like ARCIC talks this will go on and on till it dies a natural (or unnatural) death.

And finally from Canada comes this. The Anglican Church of Canada is finally hitting its stride by becoming a tango school, reports David of Samizdat.

"I admit I have not quite decided which prospect I find most appealing: ACoC churches that are bankrupt, ACoC churches that are empty or ACoC churches that have become tango schools. The last I think; so long as they have same-sex partners, of course.

From CTV News:

Churches convert into tango schools and daycares to stay financially stable. The idea of turning her local Ottawa church into a community hub was at the forefront of Leanne Moussa's mind when the building went up for sale two years ago.

With a group of other residents, Moussa paid $1.52 million for All Saints Anglican Church, once the site of the state funeral for Prime Minister Robert Borden.

"We had a real interest in preserving what we see as an important place of Canadian history, and preserving that as a public space in some way," she said. "We think this building and this property has served some important functions, not just for the congregation but for the larger community."

Once the renovations and repairs are complete, the church will be home to a coffee shop, a wedding event space and meeting rooms for book launches, art shows and activist groups. Eventually, the church's lower hall will be turned into a permanent restaurant.

Moussa, who is not religious, notes that All Saints is still a home of worship for smaller faith-based groups. It's used as a mosque on Friday, a synagogue on Saturday and a church to two Christian groups on Sunday. It's also is a destination for tango and yoga classes nearly every night of the week.

*****

There was a time when the most corrupt province in the Anglican Communion was Mexico. In 2002, VOL reported on a festering crisis in the Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico. The church's House of Bishops released a statement saying that it had "discovered a shameful mismanagement of funds in the Dioceses of Northern Mexico and Western Mexico, which has led us to a grave crisis as an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion."

Their archbishop and a local bishop ran off with more than $1.5 million, never to be heard from again. Of course, all the money came from TEC, who asked for little accountability and basically walked away from it all. TEC decided to withdraw recognition of Bishop Samuel Espinoza as Primate of this church, and to withdraw and suspend the episcopal authority and privileges of Bishops German Martinez Marquez and Samuel Espinoza.

Now the "honor" of the most corrupt province in the Anglican Communion goes to the Church of South India, where there is a battle over the Moderator's inordinate use of power to control everything, making himself almost a pope, taking funds and using them for his own personal use. It's a nightmare story that goes on and on. There was even a call from concerned laity and clergy in India to have him withdrawn from the Archbishop of Canterbury's task force to oversee the Episcopal Church on its stand on homosexual marriage.

VOL has run several stories on the emerging corruption in the CSI.

The Anglican Church of India (ACI) is a union of independent Anglican churches in India. When India became independent in 1947, the Church of South India (CSI) was formed as a united church of Anglicans, Baptists, Basel Mission, Lutherans and Presbyterians. The United Church of South India accepted an order of uniformity in worship and practice, which was at odds with some aspects of Anglican tradition. Traditional Anglicans in the CSI did not accept this, and there was a provision for separation within a period of 30 years from the CSI. Therefore, in 1964, some Anglicans decided to withdraw from the CSI and re-established the Anglican Church of India on 24 August, 1964.

Then there is the Church of North India (CNI), which is wealthy and corrupt, with one of its bishops recently given the heave-ho. But it is the CSI where corruption is most rampant, with its Moderator being accused of multiple charges of corruption ranging from extending his stay beyond retirement age, selling properties for personal gain and much more.

You can read the latest story by Dr. Joseph G. Muthuraj, a theologian from Bangalore, who argues that the office of the Church of South India Moderator has turned "Pontifical" and that Amendments to their constitution make the Moderator the sole care-taker of the Church. "The Church should bring the deadly phenomena of corruption into its main focus with the sole intention to uproot it." You can read the full story in today's digest.

*****

There's a growing shortage of vicars in the Church of England. BBC Radio 4 news said this week that the Church of England is running out of vicars. The Church of England says it's failing to recruit enough new clergy to replace a large number of priests who are expected to retire in the next ten years. The Rev. Peter Ould, a Church of England priest based in Canterbury, said 25% of the clergy are going to be retiring shortly, and upwards of 40% of the clergy are not coming in at bottom end. The CofE has gone from 8,000 full-time to 7,000 full time clergy. The real problem in running the church on a day to day basis. You can read the full story in today's digest.

*****

As you know, Western Anglican primates have repeatedly accused Africans of not being socially conscious. Repeatedly, this is shown to not be true.

This week, Malawi President, Arthur Peter Mutharika, presented the congregation at St. Mark's Anglican Church in Mzuzu, Malawi, with 1 million Kwacha (approx. $1,400) and 100 bags of cement. The president arrived for the service, bringing these gifts, and announced the gift was for the construction of a new church building.

The Bishop of Northern Malawi, the Rt. Rev. Fanuel Magangani, was informed of the president's coming, but the gift was unexpected. "This offering is coming at the right time and it will push them further to the finishing of the project. When it is completed we shall indeed worship the Lord in the beauty of Holiness."

The project at St Mark's began some five years ago and the congregation have been fund raising at the same time as continuing to construct the building, which is now nearing completion.

*****

The LGBT community will eventually self-destruct, writes Rachel Lu for The Federalist. Whether the memory of this period evokes mild derision or deep shame, will likely depend on these next few years. It's still possible that the madness might recede and leave gays, lesbians, and religious conservatives all free to live peaceful and productive lives, knowing their fundamental rights will be respected even where their beliefs and lifestyle choices aren't. Less optimistically, the early twenty-first century could be remembered as a time when any or all of those groups were harshly persecuted, potentially leaving deep scars in our social memory.

Either way, the movement will die. How do we know? Predicting the demise of the LGBT movement may seem rash in the present moment, as North Carolina prepares to battle the U.S. Department of Justice and Washington issues edicts demanding submission from every public school in America. But gender ideology is too incoherent and too inimical to real human good. It cannot outlast the moral indignation of the present hour.

On some level, even its most ardent advocates may intuit this. Their desperation to push the boundaries as far as possible, as quickly as possible, may evidence the zeal of the terminally ill. Everything must be done today, because there is no tomorrow.

This is not an invitation to relax. Foolish ideas do eventually self-destruct, but they can do a lot of damage along the way. We also should not assume that the eventual collapse will precipitate a widespread resurgence of common sense. The evil fruits of the Sexual Revolution will likely plague us for the foreseeable future, potentially assuming a whole range of dystopian forms.

Caught in the downdraft will be the Episcopal Church, one of the great supporters and admirers of the LGBTQ movement. It is sliding into irrelevancy, even as its churches empty and die. They will learn the lesson that he who marries the spirit of the age, will soon find himself a widower. You can read the full story in today's digest.

*****

The BBC's head of religion has said although it is 'uncomfortable' to accept, the ideology behind ISIS is based on Islamic doctrine.

Aaqil Ahmed, the first Muslim to hold the post, said it was untrue to suggest that ISIS had nothing to do with Islam, despite the fact that the majority of Muslims do not agree with the extremist group.

He was speaking at an event at Huddersfield University, when he was asked to explain the BBC's controversial policy on referring to the group as 'so-called Islamic State'.

Prime Minister David Cameron has been among those who have called for the corporation not to use the phrase when referring to the terror group operating in Iraq and Syria, saying Muslims would 'recoil' at the phrase being used to justify the 'perversion of a great religion'.

Mr. Ahmed was asked at the event organized by Lapido, the centre for religious literacy in journalism, to defend the term by barrister, Neil Addison, on the grounds that he wouldn't have said 'so-called Huddersfield University'.

According to a report by Lapido, he responded by saying: 'I hear so many people say ISIS has nothing to do with Islam -- of course it has.

'They are not preaching Judaism. It might be wrong but what they are saying is an ideology based on some form of Islamic doctrine. They are Muslims.

'That is a fact and we have to get our head around some very uncomfortable things. That is where the difficulty comes in for many journalists because the vast majority of Muslims won't agree with them [ISIS].'

*****

From the Diocese of Egypt comes this word on the latest news from Bishop Grant LeMarquand of Gambella, in Western Ethiopia.

After Nuer refugee children were killed in a road accident, mobs of 'highlanders' [the Gambellan term for those from central Ethiopia] bent on revenge against Nuer refugees for the murder of numerous highlanders were turned back by the Ethiopia army -- this is significant because the vast majority of soldiers are themselves highlanders.

-- There has been no gun fire and no killing in a couple of weeks. Some roads are still dangerous, some violence is still happening, some refugee camps are still on lock down, though.

-- Churches, individuals, town councils and community groups are beginning to talk about peace. Heart-felt reconciliation will be a long, uphill battle, but every step in the right direction is important.

-- Our Nuer staff who are from the 'other side of town' are returning to work. We will need to shuttle them in by car for the next few weeks or months -- both because they are afraid and because they probably have reason to be worried. Those from different ethnic groups on our compound have been very welcoming of each other. Classes at our theological college have just ended -- sadly we had to hold most of this term in separate locations for Anuak and Nuer.

-- Church leaders have been busy compiling lists of people in their parishes whose houses were burned, who were looted, who were injured or who have lost family members so that we can begin to respond in an organized way to the real pastoral and practical needs in front of us.

-- One of the men ordained at the Area Assembly in November, Simon Taidor (who was also at the last Synod) lost a sister in the Murle carte raids. Her child was also abducted, but that child is one of 53 of the more than 100 abducted children who has been returned to Gambella through the mediation of a Murle chief and the action of the Ethiopian armed forces.

-- The rain has come (which is good), but it came suddenly and hard after a long and unusually hot dry season -- the result has been flooding in a number of places. Thankfully the road to our compound, which was washed out a couple of weeks ago, was fixed the night before we got home from the USA and Canada last week (so we didn't have to wade through knee deep mud to get home).

Please pray for continued peace, that those in authority will have wisdom, that the police and army act in a calm and professional manner, that food, clothes, building materials, -- and comfort get to those who need it. Pray for gentle rain.

*****

The York Minster Dean has been told that his support for Pride and Zen Buddhism runs contrary to biblical teaching and he should stop it.

The Rev. Julian Mann, a frequent contributor to VOL wrote a "Dear Dean Vivienne Faull letter" and said, "This is respectfully to express serious concern about York Minster's continuing support for the city's Pride Festival. This annual civic event supported last year by York Minster celebrates what God's infallible Word written, the Bible, describes as wrongful sexual relationships. Such relationships must be regarded by Christians as wrong in God's eyes and to be humbly repented of where necessary because they take place outside of heterosexual marriage, contrary to our Lord Jesus Christ's teaching for the good of the whole of humanity, as summarized so clearly in Canon B30 - Of Holy Matrimony.

"This Canon states that one man-one woman, faithful marriage for life is the God-given context for the 'hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affections'.

"Though I minister in Sheffield Diocese as a parish incumbent, the Minister has a vocation to be the mother church of our Northern Province, giving us a positive spiritual lead.

"There are as you know from national media coverage grave concerns about the Zen Buddhist meditations within the Minster precincts though not in the Minster itself, promoted by the Minster's Canon Chancellor. Such spiritual activity and the religious presuppositions that underlie it run contrary to Article 18 of the Church of England's 39 Articles of Religion, which states clearly the teaching of Holy Scripture that eternal salvation is to be found only in our Lord Jesus Christ and not in man-made religion."

*****

Dear friends of VOL. Funds to keep VOL going funds are trickling in at a very slow rate. We are pressed down on every side but we not cast down but we truly need your help to keep going. I hope you will take a few moments to put a check in the mail to support VOL's vital ministry. Regardless of the amount every penny helps. You can also send a donation via PAYPAL at the link here: http://www.virtueonline.org/support-vol/

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Thank you for your support.

David

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