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TEC's Numbers Down in ASA and Baptisms * Welby's Disastrous foray into India * ACNA opens 2,000 Member Church in Falls Church, VA * Church in Wales Declines * Australian Diocese Drops Same-Sex Marriage * CofE Bishops Resist Brexit * More

TEC's Numbers Down in ASA and Baptisms * Welby's Disastrous foray into India * ACNA opens 2,000 Member Church in Falls Church, VA * Church in Wales Declines * Australian Diocese Drops Same-Sex Marriage * CofE Bishops Resist Brexit * VTS Offers $1.7 Million in Reparations * Welby cannot attend GAFCON 2020 without signing Jer. Declaration

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Claiming the lives of over 22,000 Americans every year, including over 1,000 children and teens, firearm suicide is a significant public health crisis in the US. Nearly two-thirds of all gun deaths in the US are suicides, resulting in an average of 61 deaths a day. It's by far the most lethal method of self-harm; less than 5 percent of suicide attempts using methods other than a gun result in death. --- https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

You're not really talking about some kind of church that shifted from preaching about the substitutionary atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ to the dangers of genetically modified vegetables. You're not talking about a small or a quick transition here. You're talking about a congregation that for decades and decades has demonstrated the theological damage, indeed the deadly nature, of a liberal theology that eventually ends up being no theology at all. --- Dr. Albert Mohler

The shocking thing is not that there are monsters out there who traffic children into prostitution. By now, everyone knows that. The shocking thing is how many takers there are. There turns out to be a huge market. And these takers are from all classes and conditions of life. That Epstein, a monster, offered adolescent girls to his friends and other important or wealthy men he wanted to impress is horrible enough; but the fact that so many such men WANTED what he was offering them is truly depressing. And, alas, it is only the tip of a massive iceberg of evil. --- Prof. Robert P. George

Some Muslims believe that the Houris mentioned in the Quran are buxom maidens to be enjoyed by martyrs in the afterlife. In a note to his fellow hijackers, September 11 ringleader Muhammad Atta reminded them of their impending "marriage in Paradise" to the 72 virgins. Islamic extremists refer to suicide bombing as a "wedding to the black-eyed in eternal Paradise." The German scholar Christoph Luxenberg says the "houris" with "swelling breasts" refers instead to "white raisins" and juicy fruits. (See Newsweek article "Challenging the Quran" on July 28, 2003.) Dr. Maher Hathout challenges the misconception, arguing that the Arabic refers to "beings of distinction." The Houris mentioned in the Quran are called "Horites" [Horim] in the Bible. They are described as the "mighty men" of old, heroes, deified rulers, and men of great wisdom. The Quranic expression "the "lap of the Houris" appears to be equivalent to the "bosom of Abraham" in the Hebrew Scriptures. Abraham was a Horite Hebrew ruler. --- Alice Linsley

We acknowledge God as the Lord of life and death: ultimately he gives and he takes away. We support and hail the efforts of physicians and medical researchers when their work promotes the natural processes of life and death. But abortion, euthanasia, intentional suicide, transgender modification, and reproductive and genetic engineering are affronts to God's sovereignty and to human dignity in God's image. --- Stephen Noll

The bar of conscience. Scripture has a high view of the sacredness of conscience. Conscience is not infallible; it needs to be taught. But though consciences have to be educated, they are never to be violated, even when they are wrong. --- John R.W. Stott

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
September 13, 2019

It will come as no surprise to those of us who have been watching the steady but quickening decline of The Episcopal Church that the latest figures revealed some 23,538 failed to show up for services last year. In 2018, there were 36,214 fewer baptized members in the 99 domestic dioceses. The ten foreign dioceses show a less then modest increase both in baptized membership and ASA figures.

From 2008-2018, average Sunday attendance has dropped nearly 25%, to about 562,000. By comparison, in the year 2003, it was 858,000.

The 2018 figures show that baptized Episcopalians dropped 2.1% and the loss of people in the pews on a Sunday double to 4.2%. The last time there was an ASA drop of more than four percent was in 2007, under Katharine Jefferts Schori's first full year as Presiding Bishop. That year the ASA fell 4.9% as a flood of individuals and the Diocese of San Joaquin left The Episcopal Church during her primatial reign, while three additional dioceses -- Pittsburgh, Ft. Worth, and Quincy -- prepared to realign within other Anglican provinces.

At the height of its popularity in the United States, the Episcopal Church had more than 3.5 million members. By 2010, that number dropped to less than 2 million; the decline is still underway, according to numbers from the denomination's Office of the General Convention.

Institute of Religion and Democracy Communications Manager and Anglican Program Director Jeff Walton says the decline actually started in the back in the 1960s, but picked up steam again in the 80s and 90s with the writings of Episcopal theologian John Shelby Spong.

"In order for Christianity to survive and grow, Christians needed to go and shed traditionally understood beliefs -- not only about human sexuality, but about the role of Jesus Christ, His identity, what sin and human nature looks like -- a variety of different things that are pretty key to the Christian understanding of mankind and its relationship to God," Walton pointed out.

For more on this you can read Mary Ann Mueller's fine analysis here: https://virtueonline.org/episcopal-church-numbers-continue-plummet-0

*****

It wasn't just the Episcopal Church in decline, the Church of Wales shows another Anglican province on its way to history. Figures from the membership and Finance Report 2018 show continued decline in all measures bar one.

According to AncientBriton blogger, confirmations were up 30% despite the unilateral decision of the bench of bishops to scrap confirmation as a prerequisite to Holy Communion. Some dodgy legal advice lead to a Eucharistic free for all. There was a 36% fall in confirmations 2017 - 2016.

The 25% increase in weekdays only attendance between 2016 - 2017 fell back 19% between 2017 - 2018.

Perhaps more surprisingly the reported Sunday attendance increased between 2017 and 2018 in a number of important fields: under 7s; 7 to 10s; 11 to 17s; and families. The average attendance of under 18's was down 1%; down 7% between 2016 and 2017.

The Report also shows a worrying decline in total giving across a range of categories despite an increase in average giving per attendee.

*****

On the international front, the big news was the recent visit of Archbishop Justin Welby to India where he made a total fool of himself in at least four different areas. The British call it a cockup, here in the US we might describe it as a miscalculation. It was an ecclesiastical diplomatic disaster.

Welby virtue-signaled, groveling before a 100-year-old shrine where 400 unarmed Indian civilians were massacred in which Indian Christians played no part. He also took it on the chin when climate scientists objected to his message on global warming. Welby totaled ignored multi-million-dollar corruption by Church of South India (CSI) bishops who have been rifling the till, selling off buildings and pocketing the proceeds. To cap it off, Welby failed to draw any attention to the open persecution of Christians that is now occurring on a regular basis in India. Not a negative word was spoken to Prime Minister Modi, who is systematically destroying Christianity in India to curry favor with Hindu nationalists. You can read my full report here:
https://virtueonline.org/welbys-india-trip-proves-be-major-miscalculation-ecclesiastical-diplomacy
You can also read another fine piece by Dr. Jules Gomes here: https://virtueonline.org/canterbury-archbishop-caught-lying

Gomes, who writes as The Rebel Priest also did an interview with an Indian climatologist detailing the errors of Archbishop Welby's climate change alarmism. He argues that the Archbishop is seen as shirking from his duties to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).

"Archbishop Welby's 'climate justice' lecture at India's most leftwing seminary was slammed by Indian Christians who saw it as a cop out from the real issue of widespread persecution facing the Indian church under the current Hindu fundamentalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and corruption in the Church of South India."

Welby was also lambasted for promoting religious relativism and pluralism by engaging in inter-faith dialogue rather than preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. I remember when Justin Welby was considered "evangelical". If climates change, so can evangelicals I guess."

*****

An exchange between a church commissioner and an MP questioner revealed that Justin Welby has not, nor has any intention of signing the Jerusalem Declaration, and would therefore not be eligible to attend the GAFCON gathering of bishops next year in Kilgali, Rwanda.

Only bishops who have signed the declaration are eligible to attend.

The member for South Holland and The Deepings, the Rt. Hon. Sir John Hayes (Cons.) tabled six questions to Dame Caroline Spelman (Cons.) the Second Church Estates Commissioner in Parliament on the Anglican Communion, GAFCON, and the Church of England. Mrs. Spelman responded as follows:

On the Global Anglican Future Conference: Rwanda

To ask the right Hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, whether the Archbishop of Canterbury plans to attend the 2020 Global Anglican Future Conference in Kigali, Rwanda.

On September 3, 2019 he responded:

At previous meetings of the Global Anglican Future Conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury has been represented by a diocesan bishop of the Church of England. No decision has yet been taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury about whether he or a representative will attend the 2020 Conference in Kigali, Rwanda.

Now if such a person attended, they would have observer status only and presumably report back to Welby.

The full exchange can be seen here: https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-questions-answers/?page=1&max=20&questiontype=AllQuestions&house=commons%2clords&member=312

*****

What a bishop meant for evil, God turned it for good. This week some 2,000 Anglicans stood with their new rector, the Rev. Sam Ferguson at The Falls Church Anglican as he was installed as the new rector of this incredible congregation. These people dedicated their new worship space following seven years of "tabernacling" in hotel conference rooms and high school auditoriums after they gave up their historic property because the Gospel was more important to them. All 2,000 of them! Two services were needed and both were packed, according to sources.

There is profound irony in all this as well as God's providential hand.

At one time these same 2,000 met in the old Falls Church (Episcopal) building, but got tossed out of their $40 million 250-year-old historic church in litigation with the Episcopal Church by Virginia Bishop Shannon Johnston, because they would not roll over to same-sex marriage and deny scripture over sexuality issues. The Church was then being run by the Rev. John Yates. Rather than fight, they walked away from the property. Several years later, Johnston was forced to resign his bishopric in Virginia for unspecified reasons and is now on the outside looking in, while a thriving new parish he tried to dismember and hope to keep a remnant failed to materialize. The old church is now propped up by the diocese, which doesn't want to admit failure. The schism in TEC continues. This parish will only thrive.

You can read IRD Anglican writer Jeff Walton's full take on this here: https://virtueonline.org/falls-churchva-itinerant-anglicans-consecration-new-home

*****

Man plans and God laughs: resist all you want; Brexit will happen, says British Anglican blogger Archbishop Cranmer. In a piece at his blog he writes; "Church of England Bishops in the House of Lords voted against the Government and in favor of Hilary Benn's Bill to force Boris Johnson to beg Brussels for another extension to Article 50. There they were, orating about the common good and the need for compromise and the imperative of a transformation of the narrative, but not one voice was raised about the need to bring this political purgatory to an end and leave.

That's the Anglican bit done.

God laughs.

Boris Johnson is in a bit of a pickle. He has committed himself to taking the UK out of the EU by 31st October (Reformation Day) "do or die". He was then asked in the House of Commons whether or not, if Parliament so determined, he would go to Brussels and request an(other) extension to Article 50. He responded that he would obey the law. He has since been asked if he will go to Brussels and request an(other) extension, and he responded that he would "rather be dead in a ditch".

On the face of it, he is hemmed in. As the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill becomes the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act, he is obliged, by law, to write the following letter:

O, how God laughs.

*****

An allegedly drunk man who launched into a foul-mouthed rant at cathedral staff over a crazy golf course has pleaded guilty to common assault.

Micheal Feeney berated visiting chaplain Margaret Moore about the "disgraceful" golf course built inside Rochester Cathedral.

The 67-year-old, who occasionally prays at the cathedral, raged at staff and visitors after a free nine-hole golf course was installed in the nave of the 13th-century building.

He shouted: "This isn't f***ing Disneyland, this is a f***ing cathedral, this is a f***ing disgrace."

Minus the f-bomb, we do believe the parishioner has a point. If a crowdfunding effort is taken up, we will let you know. A modern-day cleansing of the temple perhaps?

*****

REPARATIONS. Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) announced it is creating a $1.7 million endowment that will fund "activities and programs that promote justice and inclusion," including "the particular needs of any descendants of enslaved persons that worked at the Seminary."

"While the seminary itself didn't own slaves, many of the early professors did," said Curtis Prather, the seminary's director of communications. "At least one of our buildings was built by slaves. ... We have recognized this over the years."

"We wanted to make a significant start, and try to plant a seed to move in the direction of reparations," said the Rev. Joseph Thompson, PhD, the director of the Office of Multicultural Ministries, which will administer the fund. He said the fund is expected to generate about $70,000 annually.

*****

Thousands walked in silent protest against changing Northern Ireland's abortion laws. The law will drastically relax Northern Ireland's abortion laws. The protest was organized by NI Voiceless and brought together people from across the political spectrum, and people of all faiths and none. Organizers said there was frustration that the people of Northern Ireland "were not asked about this undemocratic change, which does not reflect public or political opinion here".

*****

In Australia's Diocese of Wangaratta, Bishop John Parkes said he would go ahead and allow same-sex marriages, but then later announced that he would delay the action or suspend the authorization of said marriages, pending a ruling on the matter by the Anglican Church of Australia's Appellate Tribunal. Legislation permitting the marriages had been approved by wide margins at Wangaratta's Diocesan Synod two weeks ago. The Most Rev. Philip Freier, Australia's primate, responded with an immediate appeal to the tribunal and a clear direction that no marriages should be celebrated until the matter was resolved.

The Wangaratta bishop had earlier said he would officiate this Saturday at the marriage of the diocese's archdeacon-emeritus, John Davis, to the Rev. Rob Whalley, a former California Episcopalian. Parkes had ordained Whalley to the diaconate in 2009. While Davis and Whalley's civil marriage was sealed on Tuesday, a church marriage for the couple has been delayed indefinitely.

Attention is now likely to be shifted to a meeting of the Anglican Church of Australia's bishops that Freier has called for November 20 in Melbourne. That meeting will serve as a prelude to next year's special session of the church's General Synod, which had been previously planned as a time for determining a way forward for the church on this highly contentious issue.

Sydney's archbishop Glenn Davies strongly condemned the Wangaratta decision. In a statement issued last week, he noted, "The doctrine of our Church is not determined by 67 members of a regional synod in Victoria nor is it changed by what they may purport to authorise. Time and time again, the General Synod has affirmed the biblical view of marriage as the doctrine of our Church. To bless that which is contrary to Scripture cannot, therefore, be permissible under our church law."

Davies also compared the Wangaratta decision to the Canadian Diocese of New Westminster's 2003 decision to authorize same-sex blessings. He wrote, "It is now universally acknowledged that those events were the beginning of the 'tear in the fabric of the Anglican Communion' To claim the authority of our Church to carry out a service of blessing contrary to the biblical view of marriage and the doctrine of our Church will certainly fracture the Anglican Church of Australia."

Sydney is the largest of the Australian church's 22 dioceses. It has shown growth, even as the more rural dioceses, like Wangaratta, have consistently declined and aged. Bishop Parkes seems to assume that Australian Anglicanism will gradually follow the liberalizing trajectory of the wider culture on these issues. But as David Goodhew has pointed out, Sydney's brand of Anglicanism seems poised to dominate the Australian church's future, as over half of Australian Anglican clergy under 40 serve in its churches. [TLC contributed to this report]

*****

Liberty University has become an embarrassment to Christian college journalism programs. There were negative exposes emerging in World magazine last year and a piece this year in The Washington Post, written by a former student journalist at Liberty.

We can't blame the students who are attending the school hoping to learn and do journalism. We can't fully blame the faculty who are trying to do their job and provide for their families. One has to blame leadership of that college which created such a dishonest climate for journalism education.

"University president Jerry Falwell Jr. is trying to turn the journalism program and the Champion, the campus newspaper, into a public relations training department," noted blogger and author Rod Dreher, commenting on the World article.

The World article notes that, at one point in 2016, Falwell spoke to the newspaper staff and told them it was "established to champion the interests of the university, disseminate information about happenings on Liberty's campus, as well as the positive impacts of Liberty in the community and beyond." World reported that Liberty administration sees itself as publisher with rights to oversee editorial decisions and censor content. "We're going to have to be stricter in the future if these protocols aren't followed," Falwell told the newspaper staff, according to World.

*****

New polling in the U.S. reveals an all-time high of those who identify as religious "nones," individuals who claim no allegiance to any faith.

Many of the "nones" are part of a growing group of Americans who declare they are "spiritual but not religious." And many in this group fall into the millennial age group or younger and claim to have had negative experiences with "organized religion" in the past and wrote off church because of it.

According to Barna research, that group makes up 11% of the population. Of those, even the ones who claim a faith of some kind, 93% do not attend religious services.

The rise is contributing to a concerning pattern. It's concerning not only because people are losing faith, but because of what faith represents as a component of civil society and how it contributes to our lives as a whole.

Numerous studies and polls provide evidence that the faithful are generally happier and healthier overall. Religious devotion contributes to stronger marriages, families, friendships and what appears to be significant protection from depression or addictive behaviors.

*****

Two of VOL'S stories, one on Tanzania and the other on the Rise of the Global South that I wrote, each garnered some 30,000 and 39,000 hits respectively on FACEBOOK. By any measure this is an extraordinary number of hits. Most of the readership comes from Africa. This was not luck, it is good cyber management. The person who made this possible is Mr. James Syrow, who runs a digital media ministry called Media Dei. This ministry works to bring top-level digital expertise to churches, schools, etc. They only work with nonprofits. If you think you could benefit from their efforts, you can get in touch with him at james@mediadei.org.

*****
VirtueOnline is in the midst of 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. You can make a tax deductible donation here: https://virtueonline.org/support.html

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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