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TEC Approaches Uniform Property Lawsuits...CofE Evangelicals Fight Over Covenant

Holy worldliness. All down history the church has tended to go to extremes ... sometimes, in its proper determination to be holy, it has withdrawn from the world and lost contact with it. At other times, in its equally proper determination not to lose contact, it has conformed to the world and become virtually indistinguishable from it. But Christ's vision for the church's holiness is neither withdrawal nor conformity. --From "The Contemporary Christian" John R.W. Stott

Church and gospel .What is of particular interest, because it applies to Christian communities in every age and place, is the interaction which the apostle Paul portrays between the church and the gospel. He shows how the gospel creates the church and the church spreads the gospel, and how the gospel shapes the church, as the church seeks to live a life that is worthy of the gospel. --From "The Message of Thessalonians" (The Bible Speaks) John R. W. Stott

Dear Brothers and Sisters

The Episcopal Church is in the process of putting into place a uniform approach to all property matters across the nation, according to sources. Stacy Sauls, Bishop of Lexington, KY heads a task force on property disputes to monitor "problem" dioceses, but the matter has moved into high gear following recent massive departures of mega churches in the DIOCESE OF VIRGINIA with property values exceeding $30 million.

The TEC's task force has assembled a package of briefs, court filings, and other research materials, even lists of expert witnesses, to assist loyal dioceses with lawsuits against dissident parishes that want to leave with their property.

Mrs. Schori, the Presiding Bishop and David Booth Beers, her chancellor have become alarmed at the fast-moving developments by parishes intent on leaving the TEC and have moved matters into high gear, VOL has learned.

Ed plowman of WORLD magazine has documented some of this which you can read here: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5197

VirtueOnline believes that if the national church does indeed begin a pogrom of property persecution it will continue to see a strong escalation of unpleasant responses the like of which we are seeing now at Christ Church, Savannah, Georgia where the bishop, Henry I. Louttit has given deadlines to the mother church in his diocese to pay up or else. See this story in today's digest or click here: http://tinyurl.com/wj2c3

The Episcopal Church's liberal and revisionist bishops and clergy have completely open minds about morals and theology, but when it comes to property issues they are downright fundamentalist, and they are all about the law and using it to get their way.

You can read what liberal parish priest, the Rev. Harold Lewis and his fundamentalist property pals in the DIOCESE OF PITTSBURGH are trying to do to Bishop Bob Duncan in today's digest or click here: http://tinyurl.com/vdaht. They want to reopen a 2005 property dispute in order to try and draw in the national church for a dog fight over property. The court did not immediately buy their expedited discovery.

ANOTHER conservative parish, Church of Our Saviour at Oatlands, eight miles south of Leesburg, in the DIOCESE OF VIRGINIA is going through a period of study on the issue, writes a parishioner. "We're supposed to finish our 40 Days of Discernment and have a congregational meeting to discuss whether or not to leave on Jan. 14th," he writes. This will be yet another, though smaller migraine for Bishop Peter Lee who seems to be taking legal, but not necessarily biblical advice from David Booth Beers, Mrs. Schori's chancellor that fighting for the properties is the "Christian" thing to do.

The 38th Annual Convention of the DIOCESE OF CENTRAL FLORIDA to be held January 27, 2007 promises some serious debate on the issues. On the front burner is gratitude to God for the faithfulness of the Global South Primates in their efforts to provide spiritual haven for the Windsor dioceses and Network dioceses in North America; for their consulting with the Archbishop of Canterbury; and for their facilitating of our appeal for Alternative Primatial Oversight.

The rationale behind the resolution is that the crisis in The Episcopal Church has affected the entire Anglican Communion. The Communion has worked hard to stay in community with The Episcopal Church. Those labors include the meetings called by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the report produced by the Windsor Commission, and the communiqué issued from the Primates Meeting at Dromantine. In particular, the Communion is attempting to respond to the appeals of several dioceses, including Central Florida, for spiritual haven. By whatever name that haven is offered, Central Florida needs to signal both its willingness to accept it and its thankfulness at being offered it.

Another resolution on the table is that the diocese grant congregations who wish to join the Network of Anglican Dioceses and Parishes (NADAP) the opportunity to do so provided the vestry of a congregation recommends by a 2/3 majority vote that the congregation be allowed to vote on such membership.

In the DIOCESE OF NEW WESTMINSTER, Bishop Michael Ingham is going to hit up parishes in his diocese an additional 5% assessment in 2007 to help fund more of his pet projects. In 2006 the parishes were assessed as much as $12,000 per annum. Stay tuned for more. Those parishes who have left are probably glad that they don't have to pay to support his diocesan heresies with their hard-earned moneys. WINDSOR REPORT COMPLIANCE. The bishops of Bethlehem and North Dakota, Paul Marshall and Michael Smith, have recently said publicly that they will comply with Windsor perhaps sensing no doubt that not to do so could leave them high and dry if the Global South archbishops rebel against The Episcopal Church and refuse to be seated with the new TEC Presiding Bishop.

IN the DIOCESE OF LOUISIANA, the Rev. Jerry Kramer, the Church of the Annunciation is urgently in need of funds post Katrina as he rebuilds his church and feeds thousands each week both in his parish and in a newly formed mission in the Lower Ninth Ward. Jerry writes that he could not make payroll this month. Please hit their website and make a year end contribution to this priest's fine work. Don't let the folks in New Orleans drop out of your mind even if the national media has moved on. You can make a donation here: www.annunciationinexile.homestead.com

Writes Fr. Kramer: "We are only on our feet and able to share the love of Christ through God's grace and the generosity of others from around the continent! The need here remains great -- ever increasing with more people trying to return "home" -- and much of the nation has forgotten us. There are also pictures from their Vigil Eucharist up on their website. They will have a re-consecration of their church on the Feast of the Epiphany, Saturday January 6, 2007 @ 10:00am, The Rt. Rev. Charles E. Jenkins; D.D. will re-consecrate Annunciation's worship space.

CHURCH OF ENGLAND EVANGELICALS apparently are not as united as one would have thought. A Covenant for the Church of England signed by a group of illustrious Evangelicals that includes evangelical patriarch John R.W. Stott, Bishop Wallace Benn, President for the Church of England Evangelical Council, The Rev Dick Lucas, and the Rev David Phillips, Director of Church Society and the leadership of Church Society; (to name but a few) got whacked sharply by the Bishop of Durham, the Rt. Rev. Dr. N. T. Wright. He wrote a scathing critique of the Covenant which begs the question why he did it in the face of a disintegrating CofE. Was he upset that he wasn't asked to sign it himself or was it something else? The CofE is imploding with Anglo-Catholics wanting a Third Province because they refuse to accept the possibility of women bishops. Liberals are angry and upset with Dr. Rowan Williams because he seems to be caving into Global South Archbishops and may not invite Mrs. Schori and most of the revisionist TEC bishops to Lambeth in 2008, and now Evangelicals are divided over a Covenant that would denude a lot of liberal bishops of their power (and money and authority). They plan to go ahead and support only mission minded people with money and personnel. They have said they will have no hesitation in going around official structures even if official permission is withheld by the local liberal bishop. That was apparently a read rag to Bishop Wright. You can read his scathing criticism here or in today's digest. http://tinyurl.com/yxkecl. A future VOL digest will unpack his statement.

A RECENT VISIT by the Archbishop of Canterbury to Israel and his provocative remarks about the 'Wall' is just another example of selective indignation, writes a VOL reader. "This visit, on the heels of the possible criminal indictment of the Bishop of Jerusalem, might have proved more effective had Dr. Williams met with the Hammas government to press for religious freedom (particularly of Christians) in the P.A. Of course, it is much easier to bash the democratic government of Israel than to condemn the authoritarian Islamic Palestinian 'state."

CLERGY CARE. The church is facing a crisis with respect to Clergy burn-out/stress related illness and gifted people dropping out of ministry altogether. Consider these statistics taken from a recent survey from the Fuller Institute of Church Growth:

* 80% of pastors surveyed felt their ministry affected their family negatively
* 75% reported a serious stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry
* 90% felt inadequately trained to cope with job demands
* 70% had a lower self image than when they started in ministry
* 40% had a serious conflict with a parishioner once a month
* 50% had considered leaving the ministry within the past three months
* 70% had no one they considered to be a close friend

Ideas for Encouraging Your Pastor Throughout the Year

1. Pray for them DAILY!
2. Take the family to lunch after church.
3. Teach your pastor a hobby.
4. Baby sit their children so they can go on a date!
5. Ask them: "How can I help you?"
6. Don't say negative things about them around your children or others.
7. Take their family on vacation with you.
8. Mow their lawn or shovel their walk.
9. Keep your expectations of their children in check.
10. Protect your pastor's privacy.
11. Let them know when you have received a spiritual insight as a result of their teaching.
12. Use your talents and gifts in the church. 13. Be ready to meet needs in their life wherever you see them.

(Taken from Under His Wings Ministries)

MERE ANGLICANISM CONFERENCE. If you are still pondering a brain and spiritually stimulating pick me up for the New Year, then I urge as many of you as can to attend the Mere Anglican Conference in January 25-27 in Charleston, SC.
The event features ideas and analysis by three special Anglican thinkers and speakers - Michael Nazir-Ali, Ashley Null, and Edith Humphrey. Not only that, the conference will feature Interactions panel discussions, Connections groups [for Track II participants], and wonderful worship opportunities. VOL has attended this conference each year and we grow exponentially from it.
To register by mail or fax, download the attached MS Word registration form, fill out, and mail it with your check, made payable to Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul to:
Kester Heaton
The Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul
126 Coming Street
Charleston, SC 29403-6151
Or you may fax your registration to Kester Heaton at 843-722-2105. Please note the Mere Anglicanism Conference on your check.

PERHAPS SENSING that The Episcopal Church is falling apart, St. Andrew House Center for Orthodox Christian Studies located in Detroit, is offering a colloquium on orthodox Christianity for clergy of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Anglican Church of Canada, and other churches in the worldwide. The event will take place Jan. 29-30 event 'to show love and concern for Anglican brethren and to begin the healing process'. The purpose of the colloquium is educational, according to the Most Rev. Nathaniel, Archbishop of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate of the Orthodox Church in America, and founder and president of St. Andrew House. One of the speakers is Frederica Mathewes-Green, wife of Fr. Mathewes-Green and a nationally known writer, speaker and radio commentator (www.frederica.com), is an Orthodox layperson. All the speakers are converts to Orthodoxy from the Episcopal Church.

Among today's stories in the digest you can read my YEAR IN REVIEW and I would urge you all to read articles by the Rev. Dr. Robert Sanders on "Justification, The Reformers, and Rome." You can click here: http://tinyurl.com/satan as well as Dr. Peter Toon's excellent understanding and analysis of The Baptismal Covenant. Click here: http://tinyurl.com/y9ug66

THE LATE PRESIDENT GERALD FORD was an Episcopalian and I have posted a schedule of various services at Episcopal churches around the country and the National Cathedral in today's digest.

CORRECTION: In a previous digest VOL noted that the Rev. Sean E. Mullen is the rector (formerly curate) of St. Mark's, Philadelphia and prior to that he was chaplain to the Archbishop of Perth. However he is American (born on Long Island) and is not an Australian as reported. He is also gay. VOL said he was not. Bishop Bennison issued a godly admonition to Mullen because, by accepting the position of rector, Mullen violated the Bishop's policy that no curate shall succeed the rector. Of course, exceptions have been made by the Bishop, but not here.


VIRTUEONLINE wishes all its readers in 45 countries around the world a very Happy New Year, and we will see you again online in 2007. I look forward to meeting many of VOL's readers at the upcoming AMIA conference in Jacksonville, Florida on January 17.

God bless you all and thank you for your support of this growing ministry. Keep the Faith.

If you can manage a tax deductible donation to VirtueOnline, we welcome your support.

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Thank you all for your support

All blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

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