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RECONCILIATION, Anglican's Vain Hope * Dio. of CT settles with St. Paul's Darien * Anglican Church of Canada Faces Extinction by 2040 * United Methodist Church Splits * Trinity Wall Street Rector Resigns * Ructions in Uganda * ACNA Ordains first Mexican

RECONCILIATION, Anglican's Vain Hope * Diocese of CT settles with St. Paul's Darien * Anglican Church of Canada Faces Extinction by 2040 * United Methodist Church Splits * Trinity Wall Street Rector Resigns * Ructions in Uganda * Mozambique Ordains Three Women * ACNA Ordains first Mexican Priest

Loss of a dimension. Some of our services are far too formal, respectable and dull. At the same time, in some modern meetings the almost total loss of the dimension of reverence disturbs me. It seems to be assumed by some that the chief evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit is noise. Have we forgotten that a dove is as much an emblem of the Holy Spirit as are wind and fire? When he visits his people in power, he sometimes brings quietness, silence, reverence and awe. His still small voice is heard. Men bow down in wonder before the majesty of the living God and worship. 'The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him' (Hab. 2:20). --- John R.W. Stott

"Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who has a heaven for everybody, but a hell for none; a God who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and broad in eternity. Such a God is an idol of your own, as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible there is no God at all." --- J.C. Ryle

By slandering our deeply held Christian beliefs about human sexuality as "hate speech," Facebook violates their own definition of such. --- Robert A. J. Gagnon

More than 42 million abortions took place globally in 2019 according to new figures that found abortion to be the single largest cause of death. --- Right to Life-UK

The Church rather desperately needs news outlets that realize that 'business as usual' is not an option when the corruption is so pervasive. --- Christine Niles for ChurchMilitant

White evangelical Protestants stand noticeably apart from other religious people on how the government should act on two of the most politically divisive issues at play in the 2020 presidential election -- abortion and LGBTQ policy, according to an early December 2019 poll of Americans from various faith backgrounds -- AP-NORC poll

Dear Brothers and sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
January 10, 2020

2020 came in with a whoosh as Archbishop Justin Welby sought to gin up his base by calling for more meetings with Primates in the hope that he could play the reconciliation card to bring every Anglican leader to the table later this year in Canterbury.

From George Carey to Justin Welby, Anglican leaders across the globe have tried and failed. Repeatedly. The most recent attempt was a Westminster Abbey seminar exploring 'conflict and reconciliation' in the Anglican Communion in advance of the 2020 Lambeth conference.

Lectures were offered up by representatives from the Church of the Province of West Africa, the Church of England, The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Church of Canada -- plus one ecumenical partner. Not a single representative from an orthodox province or diocese was present. The outcome was foreordained.

Of course, the speakers could not ignore the elephant in the Abbey, - Lambeth Resolution 1:10 - namely that "human sexuality remains a divisive topic, though reconciliation may be possible through appreciation for creation, deep listening and following ecumenical examples toward unity."

The Episcopal Church has been "deep listening" since the consecration of homosexualist Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire and 100,000 Episcopalians walked out the door to form the ACNA, never more to return. Did this skip the minds of the deep thinkers at the Abbey, or did they think they could whitewash it away with high sounding talk about the "Christian theology of cultural diversity being based in two fundamental church doctrines: the act of creation and unity of the human race, and the universality of the church." Say what?

Anglicans have talked and listened themselves to death since Lambeth 1998 and they still come up with the same answer, formulated cogently in Lambeth resolution 1:10. Sex only between a man and woman in marriage or celibacy. Those engaged in homosexual activity require pastoral care, not approval. Homosexual behavior is sin.

But here we are 21 years later, and still progressive Anglican leaders think they can square the circle over sodomy and homosexual marriage.

But still Welby keeps trying. He has called for a meeting of the Primates in Jordan in January to see if he can wave his magic wand over the primates on reconciliation, hoping that the 13 new primates can be persuaded to fall in line with this "reconciliation" attempts. Three African primates said they will not attend -- Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda. In fact, you can add Kenya and Tanzania to the list. Now some of their bishops might attend Lambeth, but the primates will not. Together the five provinces account for 70% of the Communion's laity!

But this week, a new spin was put in play. The Church Times reports that the Anglican Communion Office now calls for "co-existence" with conservatives who won't go along to get along.

An ACO official admitted last month that the Communion lacked structure and certainty, and, "instead must live with ambiguity, hoping against hope that opportunities will arise in the course of the various meetings and exchanges and gatherings in a positive and creative way."

That is not going to happen. GAFCON is a reality and they will sound the bell of historic orthodoxy on faith and morals when they meet in Kigali, Rwanda, later this year. There is no way the ACO or Welby can spin or reverse that.

There is no "ambiguity" with GAFCON. None. Archbishop Foley Beach has made that crystal clear. GAFCON now has its own networks which it will not relinquish and Archbishop Beach will never sit down with Welby. Conversely, there is little indication that Welby will be inviting Beach to Lambeth Palace for tea and crumpets any time soon.

The die has been cast. The albatross of Lambeth Resolution 1:10 hangs around Welby's neck and as hard as he might try, he can never shake it off. It will be with him till the day he leaves office, and for many that time should come sooner rather than later.

*****

In the Diocese of Connecticut, an historic Charismatic Episcopal Parish announced it was bringing to an end all litigation with Diocese of CT. St. Paul's, Darien, the home of the famous charismatic Episcopal priest Terry Fullam will now continue as an autonomous non-denominational Christian Church and the new and improved St. Paul's will move to a different location. The original St. Paul's stands empty, with its former rector one Canon George Kovoor occupying a rectory with an empty church. The building is in disrepair. The Bishop of CT. Ian Douglas created the figment of a "Worshipping Community" by appointing Kovoor as St. Paul's, Darien, Priest in Charge.

On October 28, 2018, Bishop Douglas appeared in Darien and changed all of the locks throughout the property and posted an armed guard on the property. The entire congregation left with the Vestry and the so-called "Worshipping Community" never existed. Kovoor is not able to hold services as no one attends. He continues to utilize the rectory. The property is in a bad state of disrepair and neglect and the church building has a mold issue that has existed since August 2018. The diocese has had to carry Kovoor since July 2018 and the property (3 buildings) since October 2018 with no revenues being contributed by parish Tithes & Offerings. You can read the full story here: https://virtueonline.org/connecticut-historic-charismatic-episcopal-parish-announces-end-litigation-diocese-ct

*****

The top clergyman at one of the wealthiest parishes in the U.S.-based Episcopal Church has abruptly stepped down.

The Rev. Dr. William Lupfer, rector of Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church since 2015, announced his departure in a January 3 brief letter to church staff, first published by The Living Church.

Such an abrupt departure is highly unusual. Stepping down over a holiday break with no announced transition to an interim rector (Lupfer will be succeeded by church vicar Phillip A. Jackson, who will become priest-in-charge) indicates the departure decision was sudden. As of the morning of January 6, Lupfer's name and photo had already been removed from the Trinity staff page.

"I have come to the decision to step away for a time, resign as Rector of Trinity, and enjoy some sabbath rest," Lupfer wrote, noting that it follows "five years of intensive work" with vestry and other stakeholders.

Trinity holds billions of dollars in property and financial assets, dating to an early 18th century grant of Manhattan farmland from Queen Anne. In February 2019, the New York Times reported that the parish portfolio was worth an estimated $6 billion.

*****

The Anglican Church of Canada faces extinction by 2040 if everything goes as planned. Recent attendance statistics from the ACoC say that it will cease to exist by then.

Understandably, this has spread consternation amongst the clergy; no one likes to be unemployed.

The new Primate, Linda Nicholls, sees this as a "wake-up call" and asks, "what might need to be tried" to reverse the decline? I would be tempted to suggest "Christianity" if I thought it would fall on any but deaf ears, writes tongue-in-cheek writer David of Samizdat.

"I don't think they're a surprise to anybody," Nicholls said of the statistics in an interview with the Anglican Journal. "Anybody who's been in the church in the pews, or as a priest, or as a deacon or a bishop has known that this decline has been happening. We see it every Sunday, we see it in lots of ways. "I think it is a wake-up call.... If people are not coming to the church and finding a place of hope and good news, then we have to ask, 'How are we presenting that hope and good news to this current generation and time? And what might need to be tried?"

Nicholls muses that part of the problem is the "general zeitgeist", an observation that might have some merit were it not for the fact that the ACoC has utterly capitulated to the zeitgeist: the two are marching in lockstep. In spite of the church's eagerness to oblige, potential customers have little reason to turn to the church to have their chosen pronouns affirmed, their gender reassignment baptized or their drag attire sprinkled with holy water.

Laughably, Michael Thompson General Secretary of General Synod, put his finger on the problem without noticing he had done so. When the church busied itself with saving souls, ignoring social justice fads, parishes were full to overflowing. "Things are quite different now", he tells us: now we hear nothing but social justice and the pews are empty. This, he tells us is a "change for the better"!

The London, Ont., church in which he started worshipping in 1968, Thompson said, "while not filled to the point of discomfort, was full." On the other hand, he added, "in all of the years that I attended that church...in all of the years I had attended church before then, and in all of the years that I attended church until I was in my 20s, I never once heard a sermon that made reference to God's justice."

Nicholls has decided that the church's main job is to fight racism. To give her credit, by 2040 she will have succeeded in completely expunging racism from the church, writes Samizdat.

On an allied note, the Rev. Mark Nichols is the new climate-care animator in the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador. I've no idea what that means, but it conjures up an image of a puppeteer pulling the strings of a Greta doll to entertain those who have lost their faith in everything except contemporary superstitions. Maybe that's just me, though, writes Samizdat.

It's heartening to know that someone finally has the solution to global warming: animate climate care. Why did no one think of that before?

The Diocese of Toronto has decided to proceed with same-sex marriage even though the vote to change the Marriage Canon to permit such marriages was defeated at General Synod.

In a masterstroke of ingenuity, the diocese has found a way to get around this inconvenient obstacle. We don't have to change the marriage canon; all we must do is reinterpret it to mean something other than what is clearly stated in the canon. The diocese has entered the murky realm of post-truth ecclesiology.

*****

2019 was not a good year for evangelicals. By any standard of grossness, greed, venality, sexual infidelity and stupidity, Evangelicals must qualify as the No.1 story in 2019. They have lost so heavily in the court of public opinion, one is forced to ask, can evangelicals and the message of the gospel they proclaim recover in two generations. A civil war among evangelicals is the last thing evangelicals need.

Among the issues was the alliance of Franklin Graham with President Donald Trump. Whether you approve of Trump or not, it was the single biggest disaster for American evangelicalism. Franklin Graham's father would be rolling in his grave. Billy made that mistake only once with President Harry Truman by revealing what they spoke about. It took 17 years to fix that, but his son jumped right into bed with Trump, thus aligning himself and the BGEA with Trump and Republicanism. Then there was Wayne Grudem, a leading Calvinist theologian and prominent complementarian who made the "brilliant" discovery that abuse might be grounds for divorce. Apparently, it took him more than 60 years to discover that in 1 Cor. 7:15, the phrase "in such cases" should be understood to include any cases that similarly destroy a marriage. Therefore, he concluded that abuse is such a case. Evangelicals have known and accepted for decades that the three A's for divorce namely adultery, abandonment and abuse have been grounds for divorce, so now we need a Calvinist theologian getting enlightenment to tell us!

The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant and evangelical denomination in the US, discovered they were entangled in a multifaceted sex-abuse crisis and held a high-profile conference on the topic to address it. They learned that sexual abuse had taken place among their leaders and the denomination had also been losing market share just like liberal Protestant denominations. Their numbers were down, and it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out why.

An editorial in the conservative magazine Christianity Today calling for Trump to be removed from office proved to be an evangelical disaster of Titanic proportions. Whether you agreed with writer Mark Galli or not, the timing could not have been worse, right on the heels of Trump's impeachment by the House and the sure knowledge that the Senate would never go for it. If non evangelicals were cynical about evangelicals, this surely made the case. The Christian Post followed up with an editorial also calling for Trump to go.

Across the pond, a leading evangelical vicar in the Church of England, the debonair, suave and smooth-talking Jonathan Fletcher, apparently liked taking saunas with naked young men while massaging them and then beating their naked bottoms. I think this might be the definition of sadomasochism.

This sexual abuse by well-known evangelicals like Fletcher and John Smythe had been going on for several decades and may well be the reason why evangelicalism in England has not flourished since the death of John R. W. Stott. Anglo-Catholics had their own ball and chain (if you'll pardon the pun) with one Bishop Peter Ball, convicted of sexual offences against 17 teenagers and young men - one of whom took his own life. He was jailed for 32 months, but served only half his sentence.

You can read my full account here: https://virtueonline.org/2019-losers-year-evangelicals

Fletcher's sexual abuse has been well documented here: https://virtueonline.org/jonathan-fletcher-presents-church-england-crisis-integrity

England's famous Private EYE magazine has a good summary of Fletcher's sexual misconduct, titled Silence of the Lambeth.

*****

The United Methodist Church (UMC) announced it will be dealing with ongoing divisions over homosexuality by formally splitting, with the formation of a new denomination for Methodists who hold to a Biblical understanding of sex and marriage.

The church has been divided over the issues of same-sex "marriage" and homosexual clergy, with its General Conference voting in February against compromising its opposition. Tensions have continued since, however, and on Friday, the church announced the formation of a new "traditional Methodist" denomination for more conservative Methodists, the New York Times reports.

The Washington Post adds that the agreement spares the church's left-wing faction from facing sanctions that were originally slated to take effect, including suspension and/or expulsion for clergy who officiate at same-sex "weddings." By default, local churches will be members of the UMC, and would have to conduct votes in order to identify as "traditional Methodist."

The plan, which still needs to be approved by the conference in May, was devised by a 16-person committee of bishops and other officials who deemed separation the "best means to resolve our differences, allowing each part of the Church to remain true to its theological understanding."

"The solution that we received is a welcome relief to the conflict we have been experiencing," said pro-LGBT Rev. Thomas Berlin about the news. "I am very encouraged that the United Methodist Church found a way to offer a resolution to a long conflict."

Observers who maintain a Biblical stance on LGBT issues were less enthused.

"My initial reaction is that [it] should be the other way around: Let the heretics split off since they are the ones denying Jesus and the historic witness not only of the church in general but of Wesley and the denomination in particular," theologian Robert Gagnon wrote. "It is their view that is a cancer on the church. Let the faithful occupy the default position."

"This appears to be a win for the heretics; not a rout but a win nonetheless," Gagnon continued. "It seems like the faithful had the heretics on the rope with greater sanctions on unfaithful pastors performing a faux 'gay marriage' and then they compromised with the heretics to give the latter a better deal. On the other hand, it may be the best deal that the faithful can get."

Jeff Walton writing for Juicy Ecumenism says there is something instructive in evaluating the separation protocol, and he examines the legacy of the litigious and ugly split that occurred in the Episcopal Church.

"That split remains to be fully sorted out: theological revisionists continue their consolidation within the denomination, requiring dioceses to permit same-sex rites that were once optional. Revisionists also aim to revise the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) with those same-sex rites and "expansive" gender neutral language, undeterred by the defeat of a BCP revision proposal at the 2018 General Convention. Costly and time-consuming litigation continues in the cases of the Dioceses of Fort Worth and South Carolina that now affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America.

"In the Episcopal Church, there is presently no accepted canonical way -- short of an act of General Convention -- for a parish or diocese to peaceably depart unchallenged by church authorities. This contrasts with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which permits congregations to re-affiliate with another Lutheran denomination with two successive votes by two-thirds of church members present. The Presbyterian Church (USA) allows for congregations to seek "gracious dismissal" with property via negotiated agreements that vary widely across presbyteries but always provided some (often costly) route for departure.

"The negotiated United Methodist protocol establishes a 57% vote threshold for annual conference (the regional equivalent of dioceses or presbyteries) re-affiliation. Requiring traditionalists to meet a higher threshold to determine an annual conference's affiliation -- while revisionists only have to obtain 44% to win an annual conference -- is an inconsistent standard, but at least there is a defined standard.

"On the congregational level, local churches can re-affiliate with a simple majority vote. While there are provisions for the funding of pension liabilities, churches can depart with property intact."

*****

And what of Free speech in 2020. Watch out, it might be disappearing. Gavin Ashenden writing on the subject says that the word "phobic" acts as a stranglehold on how we can express thoughts.

"It's been an astonishing year. Some things have moved very fast. Two things in particular have stuck out. One is the dreadful level of plastic pollution in our oceans, and throughout our whole ecological system.

"Of all the crises I would like to do something about, dealing with plastic pollution is at the top of my list. And it can be done, and although we are doing too little too late, new forms of biodegradable plastic are emerging already, and not a moment too soon.

"But as a parallel to the pollution of the oceans is the pollution of our freedom to speak and to think. The 'woke culture' is growing deeper and deeper tentacles. This last year Kanye West was told he was not really black. Douglas Murray was told he was not really gay. Germaine Greer was told she was not a feminist, and JK Rowling was struck off the reading list of the woke because she was a transphobe.

Since Kanye West is, in fact, black; Douglas Murray is, in fact, gay: Germaine Greer is not just a feminist, but arguably the Queen of feminism, woke culture clearly isn't concerned with telling the truth. Worse than that, it doesn't like other people telling the truth, and that's why progressive, PC or woke culture presents such a danger to us.

*****

The ACNA ordained its first Mexican priest recently, further recognizing the growing realignment in the Anglican communion. On Sunday, November 10th, the Anglican Diocese of the Southwest ordained into the priesthood, Deacon Farhid Adabache, pastor of Church of the Great Shepherd church in Fresnillo, Zacatecas, Mexico. Fr. Farhid is the first Mexican national to be ordained in Mexico, in his own church, in the ACNA.

"Farhid has done an outstanding job as the lay pastor of his congregation for the last five years. He and his wife, Monica, along with their congregation have passed through some very trying times and are thriving, praise God!" said the Rev. Roger Griffin, ACNA Dean of Mexico for the diocese of the Southwest.

*****

A nasty little bruhaha has erupted in Uganda, resulting in the Archbishop of that province Stanley Ntagali being forced to intervene and suspend the Venerable Justus Tibesigwa in Kinkiizi Archdeaconry in Kinkiizi Diocese.
Among the many reasons was the wedding of a foreign couple in Queen Elizabeth National Park on July 17, 2019, a place that had not been gazetted for the function as provided for in the law.

Tibesigwa was also accused of starting a nongovernmental organization and running it without the knowledge of the Bishop and holding fundraising drives allegedly to uplift Kihihi Kindergarten School, The construction is already financed by local business Tycoon, James Musinguzi Garuga.

Justus Tibesigwa and his wife Desire Tibesigwa are also being accused of allegedly attempting to eliminate the Bishop of Kinkiizi Diocese, Dan Zoreka, by serving him food laced with poison and witchcraft. The couple reportedly handed the poison to Zoreka's house helps Prudence Kyorikora and Venice Friday to mix with his food.

However, his suspension sparked outrage from his flock, accusing the Bishop of Kinkiizi Diocese, Dan Zoreka and his Diocesan Secretary, Rev. Canon Kenneth Kanyankore of witch-hunting Tibesigwa and washing dirty linen in public.

The dispute drew the attention of the Archbishop Bishop, Stanley Ntagali, who summoned the warring parties to Namirembe Cathedral in Kampala on Tuesday to mediate the conflict. After the meeting, the Provincial Secretary, Rev Canon William Ongeng released a statement calling for calm among Christians of Kinkiizi Diocese. He explained that they had heard all the issues causing the feud and the process of meeting them will commence soon.

*****

In Mozambique, which is one of the territories of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa is allowing women to be priested and attend the altar. What until recently was only an intent speech has come true in the Anglican community of the Libombos: three women have entered the priesthood and will share the altar with men. This is taking place 125 years after its creation.

This is occurring about three decades after a decision wherein Anglicans worldwide opened the door to end an all-male only priesthood. Joana Chilengue, Lina Maria dos Santos and Fatucha Rosemary have become the first Anglican deaconesses

"It is a very big milestone in valuing women, but also in the issue of gender equity that the Bible preaches and we also preach. And, in fact, there was no question of having men and women on an equal footing who could serve God on the altar," said the Bishop of Libombos.

The wave of gender mainstreaming in the Anglican priesthood began four years ago, when the first women were admitted to seminary after long years of reflection on the time to move forward with the implementation of the decision, which had already been taken by the synod.

*****

I want to thank all those who reached out to VOL in 2019 with a donation. You have made it possible to keep us afloat in 2020. I hope you will continue to assist with a tax-deductible donation to help keep the news coming to you. We are the main source for orthodox Anglicans globally. If you can send $100.00, I will send you an autographed copy of my new book THE SEDUCTION OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH.

The money will not line my pockets but will allow me to send copies to Global South bishops who would not otherwise be able to obtain a copy. My hope is to put this book in the hands of every bishop in the Anglican Communion so they will never again be fooled by anything a sitting Presiding Bishop says about The Episcopal Church. This book represents nearly three decades of reporting. I hope you will buy it.

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David

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