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Primates' Summit a Bust says South American Primate * SC Diocese wants Conflicted Justice Removed * St. James Newport Beach Deal Cancelled * Nashotah House Culture Wars * Episcopal Academy Sexual Assault Review * Sydney Diocese Donates $1M to S-S Fight

'Holy gossip'. We are a very media-conscious generation. We know the power of mass media on the public mind. Consequently, we want to use the media in evangelism. By print and tape, by audio and video cassettes, by radio and television we would like to saturate the world with the good news. And rightly so. In principle nobody should quarrel with this ambition. We should harness to the service of the gospel every modern medium of communication which is available to us. Nevertheless there is another way, which (if we must compare them) is still more effective. It requires no complicated electronic gadgetry; it is very simple. It is neither organized nor computerized; it is spontaneous. And it is not expensive; it costs precisely nothing. We might call it 'holy gossip'. It is the excited transmission from mouth to mouth of the impact which the good news is making on people. 'Have you heard what has happened to so and so? Did you know that such and such a person has come to believe in God and has been completely transformed? Something extraordinary is going on ...' --- John R.W. Stott

Perhaps (!) the last vestige of Christendom that needs to be abolished is Christian recognition of state-granted marriage licenses as completely valid for us Christians and establishment of Christian marriage apart from state-granted marriages. What I am suggesting is that we, Christians, in a post-Christian society, go "the rest of the way" with separation of church and state and, for ourselves, separate government granted and recognized "civil unions" (our term for state-granted and recognized marriages) from Christian marriage. --- Roger E. Olson

The Reformation was not a break with the historic Church of Christ (catholic as in universal) but rather a cleansing and healing process within the ailing body of believers who were denied the clarity of the gospel and ready access to the teaching of the Bible as the ultimate authority for faith and comfort in the salvation wrought through Jesus Christ. The intent of the Reformation was benign, magnanimous, and pastoral. The character of the Reformation was Augustinian, the classic theology of grace defined by the Bishop of Hippo and endorsed by several important church councils. --- Roger Salter

Here we sit by the rivers of New Babylon, believing Catholics and Protestants alike, paradoxically linked in a love for Jesus Christ, but wrapped in a hundred new forms of entangling captivity--sex, food, money, drugs, ambition, technology, noise, more sex, anxiety, distrust, loneliness, the politics of victimhood and resentment, feelings posing as truth, emotion posing as reason, moral indifference and cowardice posing as compassion, imaginations strip-mined of the sacramental and supernatural, and then colonized with the relentless teasing of material appetites. A place where the horizons of the eternal disappear into a fog of the urgent now. A mighty fortress is our gaud. --- Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia

A loss of faith. The principal reason in my judgment why there is so little effective evangelism to-day is that we clergy have, in many cases, ceased to believe in it. We are no longer expecting to see moral miracles. --- John R.W. Stott

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
October 13, 2017


The primatial summit of 33 archbishops meeting in Canterbury is over. And, like most summits that we have come to know and see, there are two very opposing views on what really took place there.

There is the official communique and press releases saying it was all very wonderful and grand, with mighty issues focusing on the Five Marks of Mission of the Communion, talking about compassion and reconciliation offered by Jesus with those in need around the world, including climate change, slavery, safeguarding children etc. etc. most of which the primates can do very little about, if anything, but it is nice to be able to make grand pronouncements dressed in red robes of righteousness sitting in the safe and well-guarded environment of Canterbury Cathedral.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said that "in the best possible sense, it has been a 'business as usual' Primates' Meeting, which hasn't been usual for 20 years. The primates seem to be going away very full of hope." Really.

Then there is the other side of the story about what really took place in Canterbury which had more to do with same-sex marriage and the fact that three of the largest provinces of the communion were not present because they believe the fabric of the communion has been broken and is unlikely to be repaired any time soon, if at all.

We got this report from the Archbishop of South America, the Most Rev. Gregory Venables. He had a decidedly different take.

First of all, he clarified that there were three groups identified during the meeting: those who were walking together, those walking apart, and those walking together at a distance.

He then questioned the accuracy of the Communique and the process by which it was produced and he expressed concerned about the danger of the appearance of orthodoxy without its substance.

He took a hard swipe about the necessity of discipline, and the inability of the Anglican Communion to function coherently as a church.

Are the Primates Walking Together, asked Venables? Not exactly. "The meeting revealed that some aren't walking together, some are walking together but at a distance, and some are walking together. But even those three ways of grouping that situation doesn't deal with the issue. The issue is, why aren't people walking together? And we aren't walking together because the situation has not been dealt with.

"People are being led away from the truth. People are being led away from the safe place that God has provided in his Son Jesus Christ who died for our sin. He didn't just die to affirm us and get on because everything is alright. He died because we were in rebellion and separated eternally from God. So a sort of "sanction" might look fine for those who are looking for some way of saying, 'well, it's not right.'

Venables then took the gloves off and said this, "It's more than 'not right.' It's life and death, and it has to be dealt with. That was expressed clearly in the meeting, but of course isn't there in the Communique.

There you have it.

This of course begs the deeper question of who wrote the Communique?

Well, VOL got the scoop on that and this is what we learned from a spokesman who told us this; "Work began on the communique on Wednesday. A drafting group of three primates was established: Archbishop Philip Freier, Archbishop Paul Kwong and Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit. This group liaised with staff from the Anglican Communion Office as material was collated and a draft communique was produced. The draft communique was then presented to all of the Primates and amendments were made as required. The final version, approved by all of the primates present, was then published on Friday afternoon."

So two liberal primates and one orthodox primate (from Kenya), working in consort with the Anglican Communion office pulled it altogether. That should tell you just about everything you need to know. With Fearon's fingers all over the communique, it would never pass muster with the GAFCON primates. It was spin all the way.

Here is what Venables concluded; "Every other Primates' Meeting I have been a part of has begun with a moment when we set up a communique commission; a draft commission whose job it was to prepare a draft communique which we checked every morning and every evening of every day to see how we were doing. Admittedly, I left on the lunch on Wednesday, but I heard nothing about a draft communique. So who wrote it? It does not reflect what I experienced and heard in the meeting.

Venables attacked the root of the problem when he said this; "Why do people not get that the Bible is the Word of God? That God has expressed his opinion on this issue clearly, in the way that nobody can doubt. It's not down to my opinion. It's not down to how I see it. The whole question of Christianity isn't, "What do I think?" but "What does God think?" And God has said, very plainly, he has made us male and female, and that relationships of that nature are between a man and a woman in marriage. Everything else is sin. It doesn't matter what the elements are, it's sin. It is forbidden by God, and he has told us so in his Word."

He finished with this blast; "In all our services we read the Word and say, "This is the Word of the Lord." If scripture is not our final authority then we have no authority."

It was agreed that the Archbishop of Canterbury be invited to regional meetings of Primates and others during 2018 and 2019 so that the vision for the 2020 Lambeth Conference can be shared. The Archbishop of Canterbury will consider whether another full Primates' Meeting will be held before the Lambeth Conference. Probably not, but who cares, the major players will not be there.

You can read a number of stories on all this in today's digest, including a story I wrote about how GAFCON spokesperson, Canon Andy Gross got kicked out of the final press conference because they didn't like what he had to say earlier about the way primates were being manipulated by Welby.

IN OTHER NEWS, Welby said Christians should be "reconciled reconcilers", as he launched the Reconciling Leaders Network (RLN) -- a new international movement of peacemakers. The RLN will train "the next generation of leaders to be reconcilers within their churches, communities and nations," Lambeth palace said.

In a statement, Lambeth Palace said that the new network "is mobilizing and resourcing an international movement of mediators and reconcilers -- both ordained and lay -- to equip their local communities, churches and workplaces to serve in the midst of conflict.

"The network will equip experienced lay and ordained peace-builders to use their experience to resource the Church and mentor the next generation. It will also have a focus on supporting women in the midst of conflict in their vital roles as reconcilers."

Perhaps the Archbishop of Canterbury could use his immense reconciling skills to squaring the circle between his fellow primates and GAFCON. That would be a great start.


Attorneys for a breakaway Episcopalian diocese in South Carolina want a deeply conflicted state Supreme Court justice to be taken off of their case. Not only that, they want a prior opinion issued in the case by the justice -- Kaye Hearn -- to be vacated, according to FITSNews.com

In a motion filed before the S.C. Supreme Court last month, attorneys revealed the extent to which Hearn was conflicted when she ruled in favor of the liberal national Episcopal Church (TEC) in this groundbreaking case -- which was first reported by FITS news site five years ago.

"Justice Hearn had a duty to disclose various facts concerning her relationships," the motion to vacate Hearn's opinion stated. "Further, based on the facts and her relationships, she had a mandatory duty to recuse. Justice Hearn did not disclose the relationships, nor did she ultimately recuse."

Not only did she fail to disclose her conflicts and recuse herself, Hearn cast the deciding vote in this case -- a lapse in judgment which we believe could create a chilling effect on religious liberty across the Palmetto State. You can read more about this in today's digest. Clearly this story is going down to the wire. Bishop Mark Lawrence is calling for a major prayer effort to obtain a true outcome for over half a billion dollars' worth of properties.

The latest planned sale of the shuttered St. James the Great Episcopal Church in Newport Beach has been canceled, and the building will be reopened to worshippers, according to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, according to the LA Times.

The move would end a more than two-year drama in which the diocese's top bishop, J. Jon Bruno, tried twice to sell the church property to developers, locked out the congregation and kept the church closed even after the first sale attempt fell through. The actions resulted in Bruno being sanctioned by the Episcopal Church.

The Right Rev John Taylor, bishop coadjutor for the diocese and the successor to Bruno, who is retiring soon, said in an interview Wednesday that the church's reopening date is to be determined, but that it will be as soon as pastorally and practically possible. You can read the full story in today's digest.

Nashotah House is back in the news, and, again not favorably. The seminary has been floundering and simmering with ecclesiastical rage ever since they got rid of the Very Rev. Dr. Robert Munday as its President and Dean.

The seminary roils from crisis to crisis unable, it seems, to comprehend the damage it is doing to itself and the effect it is having on those who still believe in its mission.

Its board chairman is Episcopal Springfield Bishop Dan Martins, who embraces a Church standing in a theological and spiritual septic tank of its own making, in clear opposition to the catholic faith espoused by the 175-year old seminary. You can read the full story here or in today's digest. http://www.virtueonline.org/nashotah-house-culture-wars

In the ongoing history of sexual abuse in Episcopal academies that never seems to end, comes yet another twist. St. Paul's School (Episcopal) and the Concord, NH police signed a Memorandum Of Understanding in 2012. The school had a history of not reporting sex crimes. The MOU spells out the school's obligation to report on-campus crime, and, in particular, sexual assault, to the police. The parties have taken note of an MOU recently signed between Phillips Exeter Academy and Exeter police.

There are two related developments. The New Hampshire Supreme Court has accepted a request for review from Owen Labrie, a former student at the school. And the school has asked for a delay in the civil trial surrounding charges against the school by Labrie's victim.

Both Saint Paul's and Phillips Exeter made national headlines in recent years for their handling of sexual misconduct allegations against students and former teachers. The boarding schools also independently hired law firms to investigate claims brought by students against former faculty and staff spanning decades. You can read the full story in today's digest.


The Anglican Diocese of Sydney has donated $1 million to fund the campaign against same-sex marriage in Australia, according to a Christian News report.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, confirmed on Monday his heavily conservative diocese, the largest in the country, had backed the 'no' campaign in Australia's forthcoming postal survey on gay marriage.

'The stakes are high and the cost is high,' he told a meeting of all the churches in Sydney on Monday. 'Yet the cause is just and it is a consequence of our discipleship to uphold the gift of marriage as God has designed it -- a creation ordinance for all people.'

He added he would 'make no apology' for urging Australians to vote 'no' in the poll, which was commissioned by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to advise parliament, but is not legally binding.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Mercy always triumphs over judgment.

In Christ,


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