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TEC drops 23,538 in 2018 ASA * Uganda gets new archbishop * Tanzania affirms traditional marriage and says no show at Lambeth 2020 * Nicaragua has new bishop * Nigerian Bishop's wife kidnapped and freed after ransom paid * Diocese of SC reports victory

TEC drops 23,538 in 2018 ASA * Uganda gets new archbishop * Tanzania affirms traditional marriage and says no show at Lambeth 2020 * Nicaragua has new bishop * Nigerian Bishop's wife kidnapped and freed after ransom paid * Diocese of SC reports victory in ongoing legal property drama * No Gay Gene say scientists

Why read the Bible? There is no magic in the Bible or in the mechanical reading of the Bible. No, the written Word points to the Living Word and says to us 'Go to Jesus.' If we do not go to the Jesus to whom it points, we miss the whole purpose of the Bible reading. --- John R.W. Stott

"Happiness does not depend on outward circumstances, but on the state of the heart." "Do nothing that you would not like God to see. "Praying and sinning will never live together in the same heart."
--- J. C. Ryle

The optimal place for children to be raised is in a family that follows the pattern of Scripture. Outside the family and the extended family is the community. And the closer the community, the more able it is to meet the needs. So a neighborhood is better than a city government and a city government is better than a state government and a state government, believe it or not, is better than a national government. --- Al Mohler

"... the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." --- John Paul II

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
August 30, 2019

Church attendance in the United States is at an all-time low, according to a Gallup poll released in April 2019. This decline has not been a steady one. Indeed, over the last 20 years, church attendance has fallen by 20 percent. This might not sound like cause for concern off the bat. And if you're not a person of faith, you might rightly wonder why you would care about such a thing.

Church attendance is simply a measure of something deeper: social cohesion. It's worth noting that the religions with the highest rate of attendance according to Pew Forum have almost notoriously high levels of social cohesion: Latter-Day Saints, Jehovah's Witnesses, Evangelical Protestants, Mormons and historically black churches top the list.

There's also the question of religious donations. Religious giving has declined by 50 percent since 1990, according to a 2016 article in The New York Times. This means people who previously used religious services to make ends meet now either have to go without or receive funding from the government. This, in turn, strengthens the central power of the state.

Civil society is in rapid decline, that is, those elements of society which exist independently of big government and big business, which are essential to a functioning and free society are fast disappearing.

Loneliness, isolation, fear, and the dark side of social media might be seen as a prelude to tyranny, and this in turn could lead to growing violence. Fatherlessness, a problem in the Black community is now washing over into the white community.

Of 114 mass shootings - using the Congress definition - between 1982 and May 2019, 110 were carried out by men.

According to Statista analysis, in the same time-frame 64 of the perpetrators were white, while 19 were black, 10 Latino and eight Asian.

About 60% of America is white-only, while current stats show white people carry out about 58% of shootings. As a proportion of all races and shootings, white people far outstrip others.

The deeper truth is that without parental guidance, the preaching of moral values, the recognition of what is right and wrong, churches will have little influence on the vast sea of disappearing Americans. The churches are devoid of millennials as well as Generations X and Y and they won't come to church if what they hear is no different from what the New York Times or Washington Post throw at them. If there is not a clear understanding of what the gospel is, then railing on about climate change, the wall, refugees, saving the whales and carbon footprints will not draw young people into the church.

If the parents don't believe, there is little incentive for them to go to church. Kids pick up on that immediately and follow in their footsteps. Of course, there is no guarantee that even if the parents are true believers that the children will follow. The God-given gift of free will can be met with a resounding no.

With the loss of a moral base in decision-making largely furnished from the Bible, in time the loss of business ethics will set in. One sees that in people like Bernie Madoff, Jeffrey Epstein and numerous businessmen caught with their hands in the till. We are also becoming a shame-free society, so no one feels guilty about anything, because we are told guilt is bad for you. But is it? One must distinguish between true moral guilt and guilt feelings, but guilt is a reality and only the foot of the cross can deal adequately with it.

One other emerging fact is the conflation of true Biblical faith with American Civil Religion, making it harder for Millennials (read Nones) to know what the difference is. It is very hard for Americans not to see themselves as exceptional while waving flags and toting guns. Millennials want their faith undiluted and many conclude that the rise of the Nones may not be due to a general societal decline in religious fervor, but to a decline in religious affiliation among people whose identification was weak to begin with. The death of mainline (liberal) Protestantism is guaranteed.

The killer then is nominalism. The number of Americans with a "somewhat strong" religious affiliation dropped from 12 percent to 4 percent between 2006 and 2018. That should tell you everything. Perhaps the weeding out of true believers from nominalists is necessary for a new understanding of the faith to appear. Only a return to sound gospel preaching and Bible teaching, the push for discipleship and discipline can halt the decline. The question is will we ever see it again?

*****

On the Global Anglican front there were a number of notable changes. Uganda has a new archbishop. He is Stephen Kaziimba. A source who knows him describes him as a "PRINCE and a great friend. It could not be better. He is secure, gentle, gracious, and more courageous than almost anyone I know. He is a total GAFCON supporter and a straight arrow. Honorable, honest, and godly. The real deal!!!" Now that should give Welby the vapors. He succeeds the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, who retires in 2020 at the mandatory age of 65.

Nicaragua has a new bishop in the person of the Rt. Rev. Harold Gustavo Dixon Reynales. He was consecrated Bishop of Nicaragua on August 24, 2019 at All Saints Anglican Church in Managua by the bishops of the Anglican Church of the Central America. (Iglesia Anglicana De La Region Central De America)

One of those laying hands on him was Bishop Lloyd Allen, a TEC Communion Partner bishop. Other bishops included the Most Rev. Francisco Moreno, Archbishop of Mexico; the Most Rev. Julio Murray, Bishop of Panama and Archbishop of Central America; the Rt. Rev. Silvestre Romero, Bishop of Guatemala; the Rt. Rev. Hector Monterrosa, Bishop of Costa Rica; and the Rt. Rev. Lloyd Allen, Bishop of Honduras (Episcopal Church of the USA); and Bishop Dixon.

Armed kidnappers abducted the wife of Anglican Bishop Emmanuel Maduwuike in the southwest of Nigeria Thursday, according to local reports. The gunmen later released her after an undisclosed amount of money was purportedly paid as ransom.

The Bishop's wife who was waylaid and abducted on Friday at Ekemele while she was going home from Owerri, was let go on Sunday by her abductors.

The victim, Mrs. Anuri Maduwuike, was accosted at gunpoint Thursday while returning home from Owerri, Imo State, according to an unnamed eyewitness, and kidnappers took her to an unknown destination.

The DR Congo, Bishop William Bahemuka, the Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Boga (DR Congo) reported that ADF rebels attacked Boga town in the early morning hours of Friday, 23rd August. Boga is located in the southern part of Ituri Province and is where the diocesan Cathedral is located.

More than 200 youth, children, and women were abducted, shops were looted, cows stolen, and the Anglican Mission Hospital was looted. A doctor and lab technician from the hospital were among those abducted. The raid lasted about three hours.

Government troops based in Boga were seriously outnumbered by the rebels. There are conflicting reports about the role of the army in resisting the attack. No casualties have been reported.

Residents of the town fled during the attack, but with the Ebola outbreak to their south and the ethnic conflict to their north, there are few safe places for them to flee.

Bishop Bahemuka reports that the Army has dispatched additional troops to provide security and search for those who were abducted.

"I appeal to people of good will everywhere to lobby their home governments to put pressure on the DR Congo government to stabilize the security situation in eastern Congo. We also appeal for a massive outpouring of sustained prayer from Christians everywhere. The situation is so desperate that we need God's supernatural intervention. May God have mercy on us," said the bishop.

*****

On the home front, The Diocese of South Carolina reported a victory in its struggle to keep some 30 properties out of the hands of the Episcopal Diocese of SC.

Judge Edgar W. Dickson ruled this week that he is denying TEC and TECSC's motion to dismiss a claim filed by TEC and the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina regarding the Betterments Statute claim filed by the Episcopal Diocese.

The Betterments Statute provides that a party who makes good faith improvements to property they believe they own, may be compensated for the value of those improvements, if a court makes a final determination that another party is the true owner. Many of the parishes in the Diocese of South Carolina can trace their unbroken history back to the colonial era of the state. During that entire time, there has never been any question of their unencumbered title to property or legal identity. All have proceeded throughout their history with the maintaining and improving of their properties in the good faith belief of their ownership of them, a press release put out by the Anglican diocese.

The Bishop of Milwaukee, Steven Miller, (XI Milwaukee) has announced he is resigning, having been in the job since 2003. Milwaukee is the largest city in Wisconsin and the 30th most populous city in the country.

His track record, by any official or unofficial analysis has been disastrous. If the diocese were to be traded on the Nasdaq it would have been tossed off years ago. Of course, he's not the only disastrous Episcopal bishop, there are many others whose track record is just as bad, and many are exiting now before the balloon goes up and the whole edifice comes crumbling to the ground. Miller's tenure is typical for his generation but a few twists and turns reveal that he is a corporatist bishop more concerned for the institution, than the souls of men, women and children who were supposed to be fed the Word of God rather than the soft palliatives of inclusion and diversity.

In every way shape and form Miller was a company man. His reward will be a healthy pension even as he exits and his successor presides over a diocese that looks more like a dying beached whale that kids pour buckets of water over, in the hope they can keep the poor creature alive.

When Miller began his tenure in 2003, baptized membership was a healthy 13,686, by 2017 baptized membership had dropped to 8,053, a loss of 5,633 or 41.2%. By the end of 2019, that figure will have dropped below 8,000.

Average Sunday Attendance in 2003 was 5,403, by 2017 that figure had dropped to 3,190 for a loss of 2,213 or 41%. This is the true barometer of diocesan health. By the end of 2019, it is very possible that figure will dip below 3,000.

Communicants in 2003 numbered 11,909, by 2017 that figure was 7,280 for a loss of 2,701 or 38.7%.

Baptisms in 2003 were 234, by 2017 they had dropped to 113, a drop of 121 or 51.7%.

Confirmations in 2003 totaled 104, by 2017 they had dropped to 32, a drop of 108 or 77.1%

Congregations dropped from 60 in 2003 to 51 by 2017, a loss of 11 congregations or 15%.

*****

Lay Anglican leaders from the Church of South India (CSI) have petitioned Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan of the state of Kerala not to receive the leader of the Anglican Communion Archbishop Justin Welby as a state guest when he comes to India in September, arguing that Church's invitation will gloss over the deep corruption within the CSI.

An article in The New India Express ran with the headline, "Don't receive Canterbury Archbishop as state guest: Church of South India to Kerala CM."

In their petition, the "eminent personalities" said the Church's invitation to the archbishop was aimed at covering up several issues, including and especially corruption.

"The Archbishop of Canterbury has no relevance for faithful in the state. The CSI is according him such a mammoth welcome to cover up the rot that has set in the Church and the state guest status provides a semblance of respect to the Church," said Valson Thampu, former principal of St Stephen's College, Delhi.

The group of laymen also mentioned in the petition that the Church was trying to cover up criminal charges against bishops through extensive media coverage generated during the visit of the Archbishop.

*****

Welby is caught in another thicket, this time over Brexit. The Archbishop of Canterbury has been criticized by Brexiters for reportedly meeting MPs, with a view to chairing citizens' assemblies to stop a no-deal departure from the EU.

Welby was reportedly in talks to chair citizens' assemblies at Coventry Cathedral next month with leading Commons figures who were due to meet on Tuesday to discuss tactics to oppose the UK crashing out of the EU on 31 October, the Times has reported.

The series of public meetings would discuss alternatives to leaving the EU without an agreement.

The former Conservative party leader Iain Duncan Smith told the Times: "I generally don't criticize the archbishop but he shouldn't allow himself to be tempted into what is essentially a very political issue right now."

Mark Francois, the vice-chairman of the European Research Group of Eurosceptic Tory MPs, said Britons were exhausted from being told why the result of the Brexit referendum should be overturned. He told the paper: "I suspect they will not be overjoyed by having it rubbed in by the archbishop of Canterbury to boot."

Welby was also criticized by the pro-Brexit Labour MP Kate Hoey and Brexit MEPs, who called on Welby not to interfere with Brexit.

I have posted two fine criticisms of this action by Welby here and here:
https://virtueonline.org/pharaoh-justin-welby-bent-buggering-brexit
https://virtueonline.org/citizen-welby-and-cosmetics-reconciliation

*****

An article I wrote on the future of the Anglican Communion -- GAFCON vs. the Lambeth Conference -- has gotten more than 12,000 hits on Facebook.

Progressive Western Anglicanism grows more irrelevant with the acceptance of homosexual marriage. GAFCON is the future, the Lambeth Conference is rapidly becoming the past, were the headlines.

From New Zealand to Nigeria, from Tanzania to Chile, from South Africa to Rwanda, from Kenya to North America, the steady drumbeat of orthodox Anglicanism corralled in GAFCON is taking root even as fissures in the Lambeth Conference widen. You can read the full story here: https://virtueonline.org/african-anglicans-are-future-anglican-communion

Another article on the Anglican province of TANZANIA and why they supported the GAFCON communique affirming traditional marriage got more than 30,000 hits, the highest number ever for one story.

Provincial leaders said they will not be in communion with western liberal provinces who affirm same-
sex marriage. The bishops also said they would not be attending Lambeth 2020, another stick in the eye at Welby.

Read more here: https://virtueonline.org/tanzania-gafcon-communique-affirms-traditional-marriage

*****

Should evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics attend Lambeth 2020? Well, the Rt. Rev. William Atwood, GAFCON International ambassador thinks they should not. His reasoning is excellent. Here is what he sent to VOL:

"There are some orthodox Bishops and Archbishops who feel a responsibility to go to the Lambeth Bishops Conference to defend the faith. Certainly, high-level Anglican Communion officials are urging them to attend so 'their voice can be heard when Lambeth 1.10 is discussed.' The problem is that history shows that is a set-up. If they go, whatever is said, whatever is discussed, whatever is decided, the institutional machine of the 'Canterbury Communion' will decide and do whatever they want the day after the Lambeth Conference ends, and that will be to protect and preserve the involvement of TEC and other innovating Provinces. Even worse, the attendance of orthodox Bishops will allow them to say, 'All positions were welcomed. Everyone was heard, but the consensus is that Lambeth resolution 1.10 no longer reflects the values of the Communion.' In any case, TEC, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia, Scotland, Brazil, and others will continue with their march away from Biblical authority, and sadly, away from Christ. Those conservatives who attend will unwittingly be complicit in allowing the liberal juggernaut to claim consensus.

"It is only by staying away from this conference can the point be made that the decisions and trajectory of the current Canterbury Communion structures are unacceptable. The only way to do that is by not attending the upcoming Lambeth conference," says Atwood.

To date five African provinces: Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria have said they will not attend Lambeth 2020

*****

The ABC was in Sri Lanka, where he unloaded himself on the dangers of extremism. "It is the duty of every religious tradition, for its leaders to resist extremism and to teach peaceful dialogue," said Welby.

"Religious extremism, fundamentalism, violence and terrorism can be found around the world in worrisome supply. The term Religious extremism describes faith-based actions that are deliberate attempts to cause harm to other people. It includes violent religious movements, routine asceticism that is extreme enough to cause medical concern, beliefs that cause harm through denial of medicine or mental harm through abusive family behaviors.

"Religious tolerance, multiculturalism and equality are the particular targets of extremists. Their own religion provides guidance that trumps any secular law or any concept of Human Rights.

"Although all mass movements breed the occasional extremist, the horrific specters of oppression and violent coercion have resulted mostly from Abrahamic monotheistic religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and to a lesser extent from other traditional religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism especially because of battles against multiculturalism.

"Most justifications for religious extremism are fundamentalist in nature, based squarely on religious doctrine, strictly interpreted. The declining strength of religion in the face of secularization means there are fewer middle-ground religionists to rein in extremists."

*****

There is no single 'gay gene', a new study finds. A major new study analyzing the genetic data of half a million people has concluded that there is no single gene that causes someone to be gay.

Looking at the data of individuals in the UK and US, the study found that there were some genetic variants among gay people, but that genetic factors could only account for between 8 and 25 per cent of same-sex sexual behavior within the general population at the most.

The study, published in Science Mag, sought to build on previous research which found that genetics appeared to account for similarities in the sexual orientation of twins in 18% of cases for women and 37% for men.

The researchers from Harvard and MIT looked at the data of 409,000 people stored in the UK Biobank and 68,500 from the US-based genetics company 23andMe.

The study participants were asked about how many sexual partners they had had and whether these were of the same or opposite sex.

The researchers were able to establish five genetic variants linked to same-sex behaviour, two that were found in both men and women, two found only in men, and another found only in women.

However, when considered altogether, they concluded that these variations explained less than 1% of the variation in same-sex behavior among the study participants.

*****

Has the tarnish worn off the word "evangelical"? Michael Gerson writing in The Washington Post in an article titled Why white evangelicals should panic, says this:
"Since 2000, according to Gallup, the percentage of Americans with no religious affiliation has more than doubled, from 8 percent to 19 percent. The percentage of millennials with no religion has averaged 33 percent in recent surveys...some of those alienated from religion merely drop out of the faith marketplace. They are what he calls "passive secularists." But there is also an increasing number who are "active secularists" -- people who have chosen secularism as an identity. And this is creating a secular left within the Democratic Party to counter the religious right in the Republican Party. In their hands, the culture war will be fought to the last man or woman...

Today, far too many evangelicals are seen as angry and culturally defensive, and have tied their cause to a leader who is morally corrupt and dehumanizes others. Older evangelicals -- the very people who should be maintaining and modeling moral standards -- have ignored and compromised those standards for political reasons in plain view of their own children. And disillusionment is the natural result.

"I am 'Evangelical and unashamed'" writes Dr. Os Guinness, social critic and evangelical Anglican who begs to differ with Gerson. He writes that we are, of course, 'followers of Jesus,' and therefore 'Christians,' before we are Evangelicals, Orthodox or Roman Catholics. But the labels matter as they point to important principles of faith.

Consider:
1) 'Evangelical' is deeper, earlier, and more biblical than either 'orthodox' or 'catholic,' important though those other terms are.
2) Whenever Christians seek renewal, they become 'evangelical,' as Francis of Assisi was described by the Pope when he called the church back to the way of Jesus.
3) Of all the major traditions, Evangelicals have less corruption in their history, and almost no blood on their hands, compared with the others.

It is therefore sad that, though Jews, Orthodox and Roman Catholics stay Jewish, Orthodox and Roman Catholic when their very deep problems are exposed, Evangelicals quickly jump ship.

"I, for one, intensely dislike and disagree with the compromises, mediocrity and shallowness of much American Evangelicalism. American Evangelicalism certainly requires reform and renewal. But understanding its true biblical meaning, and linking hands with its exemplars down the centuries and across the world, I remain a grateful and unashamed Evangelical."

*****

In Spring, Texas this week, Anglo-Catholic Bishop William Wantland unfolded the catholicity of Anglicanism. The former Episcopal bishop and now an ACNA bishop, laid the ground work for the Sept. FiF-NA Assembly.

An article by VOL's special correspondent Mary Ann Mueller can be read here: https://virtueonline.org/spring-tx-anglo-catholic-bishop-unfolds-catholicity-anglicanism

*****

BREAKING NEWS....

The numbers are out, and, as expected, The Episcopal Church is in serious decline. Latest average Sunday attendance shows TEC with 533,206 in 2018 down 4.2% from 2017 when the figure was 556,744. This is a total loss of 28,538. Baptized membership is down 36%!

We will crunch the numbers and bring you a full report tomorrow.

*****

VirtueOnline has begun a crowdfunding campaign to not only gain funding to keep VOL afloat, but also to grow as a brand. We want you to stay engaged with what we report on. Our new version of VirtueOnline 2.0 will include more reports, a better website to read on, better branding and essentially more news about everything Anglican. Our drive is to reach $40,000. We hope you will join with us to keep the Anglican Communion's foremost orthodox Anglican Communion News Service alive and coming into your email. For more stories go to www.virtueonline.org You can follow VOL on FACEBOOK here: https://www.facebook.com/virtueonline

All Blessings,

David

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