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Pastors Face COVID Fallout * TEC-SC Loses appeal * Cathedral Dean Welcomes Hindus and Yoga * More Women Bishops * ACoC Inhibits Bishop * Tale of Three Anglican Archbishops * Albany Diocese Loses Two Parishes to ADNE * Winchester Bishop Urged to Step Away

Pastors Face COVID Fallout * TEC-SC Loses appeal * Cathedral Dean Welcomes Hindus and Yoga * More Women Bishops * ACoC Inhibits Bishop * Tale of Three Anglican Archbishops * Albany Diocese Loses Two Parishes to ADNE * Winchester Bishop Urged to Step Away * Uganda Martyrs remembered * Can Church in Wales be saved?

Reputation and reality. The distinction between reputation and reality, between what human beings see and what God sees, is of great importance to every age and place. Although we have responsibilities to others, we are primarily accountable to God. It is before him that we stand, and to him that one day we must give an account. --- John R.W. Stott

"LGBTQ" advocacy is built on censorship and suppression of opposing views. It can't stand up to critique, questioning, or independent thinking. It must forcibly indoctrinate and punish deviation from its idol of detaching identity from the bodies given by God. -- Robert Gagnon

Of the approximately 260 denominations listed and described in the Handbook of Denominations in the US, about 200 of them have official or unofficial policies against gay marriage and same-sex sexual relations. -- Roger E. Olsen

"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose." --- Jim Elliot martyred missionary

"My beliefs don't have to be your beliefs. But my beliefs make me who I am. My commitment to God and to the truth of a book I believe to be His Holy Word is the defining premise of my life, the focus of my faith, and my guiding directive for my actions. If you ask me to separate that from my work, from my decisions, from my art ... I simply can't do that. Not just won't -- can't. It's like asking a contractor to build a great building but first move the foundation." --- Jack Phillips, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Lakewood, Colorado

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
June 4, 2021

By any definition, Christianity in America is undergoing a metamorphosis. Nones (people with no religion), are on the rise, authentic faith expressions are barely holding their own, while liberal versions of the faith are in serious decline. Overall, churches are floundering, and no one knows what the fallout will be from COVID when the lights flash green and we can all go back to our pews.

Predictions are not helpful. What we do know is that COVID has impacted every pastor to some degree. Usually, it has brought more challenges and more difficulty.

Pastors are pulled by conflicting views among congregants over whether to mask or not to mask, whether to meet in person or virtually, or whether social distancing is even necessary. A divisive political year has compounded the issues, Brian Croft, founder of Practical Shepherding says.

"Once masks and no masks got politicized, and once masks and no masks became about what's right and what's wrong, instead of about what is an individual's conscience on the matter, then that's where these unnecessary divisions started setting in, in a really unhealthful way," Croft said. "That's pretty much what's happening all over the place. ... And this is global too. I work with pastors all over the world."

Lifeway Research, describing pastors as resilient, said about 250 pastors are known to leave the ministry each month, as opposed to a "prevailing myth" that the number is 1500 to 1700.

Croft is eager to see what statistics will indicate once the pandemic ceases.

Pastors are also leaving their churches in droves suffering from burn out, with many saying that Trump remains an issue for many parishioners who believe he unfairly lost the election. Pastors don't know how to move beyond this, they are mired in depression, believing that if they do not endorse Trump, they are being accused of not being Christian.
This is a snapshot, and we will only know the true numbers once we can all return to our churches and people have moved on from Donald Trump.

Wealthier denominations, like The Episcopal Church, are offering tens of thousands of dollars to dioceses to stay afloat, even as parishes empty.


IN SOUTH CAROLINA this week, the TEC diocese lost an appeal when the 4th Federal Circuit Court of Appeal slapped down the diocese in a suit against the Church Insurance Co of Vt for paying claims to parishes that belong to Bishop Mark Lawrence.

It filed this action against its own insurer--the Church Insurance Company of Vermont--after discovering that the company had reimbursed its adversaries' defense costs. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of standing.
The Episcopal Church remains embroiled in litigation with its former bishop and his adherents. More than $1 billion worth of properties are at stake.

You can see the complaint here: https://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinions/201143.P.pdf

IN OTHER EPISCOPAL NEWS, Hindus have welcomed the historic Trinity Cathedral, an Episcopal church in Easton (Maryland), for hosting yoga classes. According to reports, the cathedral opened up its sanctuary and moved the pews to accommodate yoga classes. (actually, further on in the article, there is a comment from the cathedral stating that the pews were moved for ease in facilitating small groups, not just for the yoga classes)

Commending the Episcopal Cathedral for facilitating yoga. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, said that yoga, referred as "a living fossil", was a mental and physical discipline, for everybody to share and benefit from, whose traces went back to around 2,000 BCE to Indus Valley civilization.

One wonders if the dean of the cathedral might be willing to host an ALPHA class or Christianity Explored to introduce Episcopalians to the gospel instead of Yoga, which manifestly turns people away from Jesus. Don't hold your breath.

I Am Sophia: A 'visionary' new novel by Episcopalian author J. F. Alexander, imagines a not-so-distant future in which organized religion is gasping its last breath. Really. VOL has been saying this for years.

Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, managing director of The College for Bishops of The Episcopal Church, calls I Am Sophia "beautiful, poignant, and theologically insightful . . . it uncovers eternal truths by engaging with real life in all its grittiness."

When a mysterious and charismatic woman insinuates herself into a fringe religious group, its dozen members wonder whether she is a lunatic, a con artist, or a messiah. Sophia quickly upends the routines and expectations of the group--the last Christians in the inhabited solar system--while Peter, their struggling leader, becomes increasingly obsessed with her. Before long, Peter finds himself following Sophia on a perilous interplanetary adventure which may cost both of them their lives.

You can read more here:

If you had any doubts about the theology and direction of Trinity Church Wall Street, and NewFest, well think on this. The richest church in the world will hold a film festival and discussion celebrating Pride 365, showcasing short films
featuring the works of both award-winning filmmakers and emerging LGBTQ storytellers and topics relating to family, identity, intergenerational dialogue, and resistance through an intersectional and celebratory lens. Enough said.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has made it clear he would like to see more women and persons of color made bishops. His wish might be coming true. Recent bishop slates continue a trend toward women, writes Kirk Petersen of The Living Church.

Three dioceses recently announced the candidates in their upcoming bishop elections: Iowa, Nevada, and Pittsburgh. Nine of the 12 candidates are women.

(It was nine out of 10 before two male candidates were nominated by petition in Pittsburgh. There were no petition candidates in the other dioceses.)

The nominations continue a trend toward female bishops that has been accelerating in recent years.

In 2019, Mary Frances Schjonberg of Episcopal News Service published an extensively reported article on the flood of female bishops. At the time of her mid-year article, six of the eight bishops elected had been women. Things balanced out a bit as the year progressed, leading to a full-year tally of eight women and six men -- 66 percent female. You can read the full report here: https://virtueonline.org/bishop-slates-continue-trend-toward-women


To the north, the Anglican Church of Canada, Lincoln McKoen, bishop of the Territory of the People was inhibited this week by Archbishop Lynne McNaughton
metropolitan of the ACC's Province of British Columbia and Yukon.

The charges are vague. "In keeping with A Call to Human Dignity, the Council of the General Synod of The Anglican Church of Canada expressed a commitment to ensuring that those who hold positions of trust or power in the church do not take advantage of, or abuse, that trust or power."

So, who did he "abuse", what trust was violated? Nobody is saying.

McKoen was consecrated on September 19, 2020 and fired on June 1st 2021. If nothing else, he can congratulate himself on holding the record for the shortest time between consecration and inhibition, writes David of Samizdat.

"Whatever his transgression, it was not one of deviating from the unorthodoxy of the Anglican Church of Canada. McKoen resides proudly in the Camp of the Non-Saints. In response to an external legal opinion scolding the ACoC on its flouting of canon law by marrying same-sex couples, he recently wrote this:

"I want to make this perfectly clear: I will not be closing the marriage canon. The Territory prides itself on being open, and inclusive for all people. I will not exclude members of the LGBTQ2SI+ community from the life of the Church. I will not consider Same Sex Marriage as "provisional" or "temporary" as the ACA wishes. I have found this document written by the ACA to be offensive and deeply insulting, regardless of whom wrote the legal opinion. I am terribly saddened this is one more attempt at relegating members of the Church, followers of Jesus Christ, as second-class citizens of the kingdom of God because of their sexual orientation." You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/canada-bishop-lincoln-mckoen-inhibited

The Residential School abuse stories that saw children abused, many of whom died without parental oversight or knowledge, erupted again this week with the current discovery of a mass grave at the Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia.

"We cannot have reconciliation until we have truth--at least, a lot more truth than we've been getting...from every side, and particularly from lawyers, judges, cops, witnesses, activists, politicians, journalists, and professors," writes Stackhouse.

There are many stories about all of this, but I think the best has been written by John Stackhouse, "In Search of Truth and Reconciliation" which you can read here:


If you have a funny bone, you can read my satirical essay: ANGLICAN CHURCH OF CANADA LEADERS CALL FOR "SALVATION DAY" WITHOUT MENTIONING JESUS

Earth Day is in, Jesus out.

In a remarkable display of hubris, The Most Rev. Linda Nicholls Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church of Canada along with The Most Rev. Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop, have called for an Earth Day without a single mention of Jesus. Jesus is apparently not necessary, or consulted, and whose coming reign on the earth seems irrelevant to the situation. The Rev. Susan Johnson, National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada added her approval to the idea.

We felt that 'creator' pretty well covered the heavenly waterfront without getting too specific about any other deity, said Nicholls, whose church is inching weekly towards extinction. You can read more here:


Just how divided is the Anglican Communion between the good guys and bad guys? In A TALE OF THREE ANGLICAN ARCHBISHOPS, I explore how faithfulness and corruption stalk the Anglican Communion, with no pushback or even acknowledgement by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The new Moderator of the Church of Pakistan has been described as a godly, Biblical, and good man of God. His heart for young people and caring for those in need is an example to us all. He is a tremendous leader and I look forward to serving with him in the coming years," ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach told VOL.

Marshall has been a supporter of the Anglican realignment movement. He spoke at the 2014 meeting of the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America, as well as at a GAFCON conference held in 2019 in Dubai.

Not so with two other archbishops. Recently, the Anglican Church of Burundi elected Bishop Sixbert Macumi as its fifth Archbishop and Primate succeeding Archbishop Martin Blaise Nyaboho, who has led the church since 2016.

A source told VOL there are allegations that Macumi bribed his way to election. "He is hostile to GAFCON, as a result, orthodox Anglican leaders will look to start up a GAFCON Chapter in the near future."

In the Church of South India, the Anglican Moderator, the Most Rev. Dharmaraj Rasalam faces corruption charges. A Commission Report has levelled charges of bribery and corruption against the Anglican Primate.

Following an interrogation of 24 complainants, it was revealed they had given substantial sums of money as bribes totaling three crore rupees ($400,000) to Bishop Rasalam and two other men to secure admission to the Medical College run by the South Kerala diocese. The admissions were denied and the money was not returned.

You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/tale-three-anglican-archbishops


As the realignment continues, two priests and their churches have joined the Anglican Diocese in New England (ADNE). The Rev. Arthur Peters of Granville and Rev. David Beaulac of Queensbury, will be added to the roster of priests and parishes fleeing the Episcopal diocese of Albany following the untimely departure of Bishop William Love, who was removed for not subscribing to homosexual marriage.

It was their commitment to orthodoxy -- the sanctity and truth of Holy Scripture -- that led these leaders (along with their Bishop, the Rt. Rev. William Love) to leave the Episcopal diocese in February 2021. Being in favor of women's ordination, the priests turned to the ADNE for their new spiritual home.

Three bishops from the Episcopal diocese plus at least six parishes have left the diocese and joined the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word under Bishop Julian Dobbs.


The Church of England is embroiled in one issue after another with the Archbishop of Canterbury spending an inordinate amount of time apologizing for the sins of others.

The latest bruhaha concerns the Bishop of Winchester, one Tim Dakin, a solid enough evangelical, but who has been charged with bullying, and showing a remarkable lack of pastoral experience in dealing with others. Dakin faces an ecclesiastical storm over the handling of his diocese and is 'invited' to step back. Questions arise if he was ever validly ordained! Dakin has no previous experience of parish leadership and was catapulted through the ranks from humble beginnings in Kenya as principal of a college for Church Army students to become the fifth most powerful bishop in the Church of England. But was he ever validly ordained? Many questions, few answers. You can read the full story here:


The Church of Uganda will hold restricted Martyrs' Day celebrations owing to COVID. Unlike the past when thousands of Anglicans made a pilgrimage to the Namugogo Shrine where 23 martyrs were killed on 3rd June 1885, this year only 200 people will attend the ceremony.

Namugongo is the village where the then king of Buganda killed 22 Catholics and 23 Anglicans who had just been converted from their traditional beliefs to new religions taken there by missionaries from Europe. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/church-uganda-will-hold-restricted-martyrs-day-celebrations


The Church of Scotland is moving towards the redefinition of marriage. Scottish Presbyterians are closer to allowing ministers and deacons to marry same-sex couples.

Church of Scotland Commissioners approved draft legislation, known as an Overture, at the General Assembly on May 24 allowing clergy licensure to celebrate same sex marriage ceremonies. The vote was 319 to 217.

The Church of Scotland, the mother church of Presbyterians, mirrors many other state churches in western Europe, and more than a few of the U.S. mainline Protestant denominations, in its declining number of adherents.

The much smaller Scottish Episcopal Church has moved to embrace LGBT identities and sexual partnerships, even as it has precipitously declined to become one of the smallest provinces in the worldwide Anglican Communion. The 2011 Scottish census reported fewer than 10,000 people claiming affiliation with the Scottish Episcopal Church.

In 2017, Scottish Anglican clergyman The Rev. Kelvin Holdsworth, provost of St. Mary's Episcopal (Anglican) Cathedral in Glasgow, provocatively urged believers to pray for Prince George -- at the time age 4, and third in line to the throne -- to find the love "of a fine young gentleman" when he grows up so as to advance the cause of same-sex marriage in church. The same clergyman in January of the same year invited Muslims to give Quranic readings during a cathedral worship service -- readings that specifically denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. And you wonder why Western Anglicanism is sinking and the Global South is rising. No brainer really.


Can the Church in Wales be saved? Mark Clavier seems to think so. As chair of the Standing Doctrinal Commission of the Church in Wales, I've been leading a series of theological conversations about the ordained ministry in contemporary Wales. In our report, "Faithful Stewards in a Changing Church," we raise a series of questions in the hopes of getting people to think about their own ministry theologically and contextually with what we call critical faithfulness -- a shorthand for taking stock of our current situation and charting a way forward within the Anglican tradition we've inherited. It's aimed at the Church in Wales, but it addresses a ministry context familiar elsewhere.

Personally, I think he is whistling Dixie. VOL believes that preaching the gospel of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as both Savior and Lord, might have the desired effect in growing the Church in Wales. Bishops should encourage clergy to refrain from talking up issues including climate change and concentrate totally on uplifting Christ crucified as the central message of the gospel. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/let-marbles-weep


FIVE PROPOSALS ON RACE. Our nation is roiled by a debate over whether it is systemically racist, and how to think about race. Christians wonder how the gospel applies to this confusing debate. How should we think about our nation's racist history? Where does God fit in? How should we respond as Christians? I have been privileged to join IRD-hosted discussions with Jewish and Christian thinkers--mostly black--on this subject in the last few years. Based on these discussions and their writings, I propose five approaches to our most difficult domestic problem.

Gerald McDermott, an Anglican theologian and frequent contributor to VOL has written a fine piece on all this that I commend to VOL readers. It can be found here: https://virtueonline.org/five-proposals-race


After an embarrassing number of wrong prophecies and bungled predictions about the 2020 election, a group of charismatic Christian leaders released a four-page statement of "prophetic standards" to help correct abuses in the movement.

The statement, released April 29 on the newly created propheticstandards.com, is the work of 85 Christian ministry heads, preachers, academics, denominational officials, authors, revivalists, evangelists and other participants in what's been called the prophetic movement, a subset of Pentecostal Christianity. Journalist Julia Duin explores this in a fine piece of writing here:


CULTURE WARS: A round-up of stories that capture the cultural moment we live in.

Isaac Simmons, an openly homosexual clergy candidate in the United Methodist Church, did a video in April 2021 as his drag queen alter ego, Ms. Penny Cost.
Southern Baptist leader Albert Mohler denounced the whole thing calling it "doctrinal annihilation." You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/illinois-church-drag-queen-leader-has-reached-doctrinal-annihilation-al-mohler

The Great Awokening: Identity Politics versus Christianity. At the recent Idols, Identity Politics, and Lies of Our Age conference sponsored by Patrick Henry College, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and The American Conservative, professors Daniel J. Mahoney and Joshua Mitchell and author/blogger Rod Dreher explored how identity politics is displacing Christianity.

Summarizing the themes of his recent book The Idol of Our Age, Mahoney argued that social-justice ideology represents an "ersatz secular religion" that casts aside traditional Christian concepts of forgiveness, repentance, and conversion. This ideology is blind to the idea that good and evil run through every human heart and contains "all the impetus of religious fanaticism" with "none of the dignity or grandeur of revealed religion." You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/great-awokening-identity-politics-versus-christianity

We are now headed into New Territory, But Christians before us have been there, writes Roger E. Olsen. Christians, especially American Christians are determined not to compromise with secular culture that is inimical to true, authentic Christianity. You can read more here https://www.patheos.com/

European Parliament to vote resolution that identifies abortion as a fundamental right. The Matić report says "barriers in the access to abortion" lead to "inequalities in achieving women's rights across the EU". A final resolution is expected to be passed on 23 June. You can read more here: https://evangelicalfocus.com/europe/11896/european-parliament-to-vote-resolution-that-identifies-abortion-as-a-fundamental-right

The state of California will be paying more than $2 million in legal fees after discriminating against churches with its pandemic closure orders. https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2021/june/california-to-pay-2m-church-legal-fees-over-virus-closures

Hobby Lobby Sues Oxford Professor for $7 Million saying ancient papyri with gospel texts were allegedly stolen.

Calvin University's first openly gay student body president paves a path.
Claire Murashima's role as a gay student body president directly challenged the school's theological positions. https://religionnews.com/2021/06/03/calvin-universitys-first-gay-student-body-president-paves-a-path/

Woke Inc. celebrates Pride Month -- but not in the Middle East. Those rainbows are nothing more than virtue-signaling to their dangerously censorious customers. https://mercatornet.com/woke-inc-celebrates-pride-month-but-not-in-the-middle-east/72545/

Jesus Was Wrong! Say Progressive Christians. He'd Be One of Us Now, meaning 'he knows better now', which means 'Now he agrees with us' https://stream.org/jesus-was-wrong-say-progressive-christians/

Struggle at Liberty University: politics or purity. https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/distinctly-catholic/struggle-liberty-university-politics-or-purity

Fake Christianity is growing in the US. Its name is Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.


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