VirtueOnline Viewpoints - January 09, 2009

david at david at
Fri Jan 9 16:42:39 EST 2009

Hungry for blessing. Hunger is still an indispensable condition of spiritual blessing, and complacent self-satisfaction its greatest enemy. The rich who are pleased with themselves as they are and have no consciousness of need, God sends empty away. --- From "The Canticles and Selected Psalms"

A vision of intimacy. What visions of intimacy with God the word 'sonship' conveys. Access to God and fellowship with God as Father -- these are the privileges of his children. Not all human beings are God's children, however. Verse 14 of Romans 8 definitely and deliberately limits this status to those who are being led by the Spirit, who are being enabled by the Spirit to walk along the narrow path of righteousness. To be led by the Spirit and to be sons of God are virtually convertible terms. All who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God, and therefore all who are sons of God are led by the Spirit of God. --- From "Men Made New" John R.W. Stott

The Christian and good works. Although we cannot be saved by works, we also cannot be saved without them. Good works are not the way of salvation, but its proper and necessary evidence. A faith which does not express itself in works is dead.---From "Christ the Controversialist" by John R.W. Stott

Dear Brothers and Sisters 

LAWSUITS. It was the word of the week, and what a week it was for ups downs, winners and losers as the ownership of millions of dollars worth of properties were decided in the courts. The truth is, it is just the beginning as whole dioceses wait with baited breath while the Episcopal Church gears up for legal battles with the dioceses of San Joaquin, Ft. Worth, Pittsburgh and Quincy.

For the DIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES and Bishop Jon Bruno, it was a winner takes all week. Well, almost all. The pro-homosexual marriage bishop, who heads the 85,000-person diocese, said he was "overjoyed" with a court ruling that allowed him to take back all the parishes that had fled his ecclesiastical grip. He tried not to be totally triumphant adding that he hoped it would prompt reconciliation talks with the three churches. Not a prayer. These churches have no intention of jeopardizing their souls by staying with the beefy ex-cop, who ripped the passage of Prop 8 calling for the recognition of marriage between only a man and a woman.  But it isn't all over. A lawyer for one of the breakaway churches, Eric Sohlgren, said St. James will continue its fight for control of the property despite the ruling. "St. James holds the deed free and clear. The Episcopal Church hasn't contributed a dime to St. James in 50 years." St. James will fight on in the Superior Court.

St. Luke's in La Crescenta, CA, is still in limbo. While three Southern California churches were ruled on regarding ownership,; St. Luke's was not one of them. Members of St. Luke's of the Mountains Anglican Church are waiting for their day in court.

In the DIOCESE OF PITTBURGH the announcement came that the newly forming Episcopal Church diocese in southwestern Pennsylvania intends to move forward with legal action against The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) by attempting to claim all diocesan property. 

Leaders of the newly formed "diocese" rejected Bishop Duncan's request for negotiation leading to an equitable division of assets and have gone to court demanding all the assets of the diocese that recently voted to withdraw from TEC.

This is hardly a surprise. The Rev. Peter Frank, diocesan spokesman said it was an expected, but disappointing decision. "The document filed today in the Calvary litigation by Calvary and the new diocese created after the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh withdrew from The Episcopal Church is both procedurally and substantively improper. Moreover, it is regrettable that these groups have chosen to pursue more litigation rather than agree to equitable division of the assets." 

In the DIOCESE OF MILWAUKEE, The Rt. Rev. Steven Miller said he plans to sue St. Edmund's Anglican Church in Elm Grove, Wisconsin, for fleeing his fold. 

"Sadly, the diocese is now in the position where it will be necessary to seek other remedies to address this situation and recover diocesan assets. This is particularly disheartening to me as the apostle clearly reminds us that God is not glorified when we go against one another in courts of law." 

Then why do it bishop? Cut a deal. Other bishops have. Just ask Bishop John W. Howe of Central Florida. He has had several churches leave with nary a lawsuit in sight. Furthermore, Bishop James Stanton of Dallas allowed Christ Church, Plano to leave for a cool $1 million -peanuts in the scheme of things.

The wardens of St. Edmund's responded to Bishop Miller's letter saying his decision to sue them is an effort "to expunge the fetid memory of his last letter to the parish. Rest assured that this little missive is more of the same fulmination, bravado, bluff, and braggadocio stained with the thinnest patina of feigned pastoral concern that arrived in the last diocesan envelope."


In the DIOCESE OF COLORADO, Bishop Rob O'Neill is doing his level best, spending millions of dollars to reclaim Grace and St Stephen's in Colorado Springs and to finally oust the evangelical parish priest, the Rev. Don Armstrong. This has become a long-drawn out (over three years) vicious and nasty battle between the bishop and Armstrong who is no pushover. (He was a Navy pilot in Vietnam and knows how to fight.)

In the latest round, O'Neill got the police to raid Armstrong's offices and take his computers looking for irregularities in the church's books. O'Neill says the Anglican priest misused church funds in allocating restricted monies for his kids education. An affidavit says Armstrong misappropriated $392,000. VOL spoke with Armstrong who denied it, of course, saying the scholarships for his children, Zachary and Melissa, were authorized by former church wardens Stuart Loosley and John Simons.

The bishop is desperate for a win and will, it seems, go to any length to bury this now deposed priest and take back the $17.5 million property from its new spiritual CANA home. You can read the full story here or in today's digest.


AS MONEY gets tighter, bishops are growing more desperate and tightening the screws on parishes demanding their absolute fealty with demands for payment of their full fair share --demands that are hurting some parishes. One priest, Fr. Harry T. Cook of St. Andrews Church in Clawson, Michigan, author and former editor of the "Detroit Free Press", wrote to Bishop Wendell Gibbs saying, "For Christ's sake, leave them alone."

Here's why. VOL has learned that the average bishops' salary is over $141,000. (Note: 99% of all Episcopal dioceses are in decline). In order to get their weekly pay checks, some bishops are putting thumb screws to their parishes. In the DIOCESE OF UTAH for example (Mrs. Jefferts Schori's old diocese), there are 24 parishes. The bishop, the Rt. Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish draws a salary of $149,000. To get that, she charges each parish a whopping $6,208.00. The national average is $1,743.00 per parish to support the bishops' salary. Now you know one of the reasons why orthodox parishes are leaving. It is not just about doctrine and morals; the question is also why financially support a bishop who cannot and will not affirm 'the faith once for all delivered to the saints' and is slowly watching their dioceses sink beneath the waves with dying congregations.


The problems are not just in TEC. The ANGLICAN CHURCH OF CANADA is in financial trouble. They recently slashed their budget by $1.3 million and laid off seven staff. The treasurer resigned at the national office. In November, seven staff at the national office in Toronto was also laid off. The layoffs were part of a plan to cut the 2009 budget by $1.3 million, reduce the deficit to $800,000 and to try to put an end to a pattern of incurring deficits in recent years. With a church in numerical and financial decline and many wealthy parishes leaving the denomination, the ACofC will ultimately lose. Quite simply put: no gospel, no future.

It's ironic. The "poor" Global South Anglican provinces are rapidly growing by the tens of thousands with the addition of new converts and new dioceses. They are becoming much more financially viable. The ANGLICAN PROVINCE OF NIGERIA was able to raise several million dollars in a few short weeks to order to send all of its bishops to GAFCON in Jordan and Jerusalem. Lambeth concluded owing millions of dollars.


PARISHES continue to dribble their way out of TEC. In the DIOCESE OF UPPER SOUTH CAROLINA, Bishop Dorsey Henderson got a shock saying it broke his heart when he learned The Rev. Rob Hartley, vicar of St. John's Mission Church in Clearwater, had announced the church's decision to leave TEC, citing differences with the national denomination over its position on homosexuality. The "Augusta Chronicle" reported that most of the church's 90 members decided to align themselves with the Anglican Church in North America, as a conservative alternative to the Episcopal Church. The split won't spark a conflict over ownership of the parish property because the group plans to vacate the building, the newspaper reported. Bishop Henderson said the move came as a surprise to him. 

Spiritual blindness is always a surprise to liberal bishops. The bishop recently announced his retirement. In the future, a new bishop will be able to watch more parishes dribble away. 

Fr. Hartley welcomes new comers to the Church of the Holy Trinity (CANA). You can reach him at    (803) 341-0075 or accept his invitation to at their Sunday services at Merovan Business Center Highway 25 (Edgefield Highway).


It should be said that LEAVING TEC is not always the preferred route for some orthodox Episcopal parishes. An article in "Christianity Today", a landmark evangelical journal, has an interview by Tim Morgan with The Rev. Russell Levenson Jr. of St. Martin's in Houston with a congregation of more than 8,200 members - the largest single parish church within the Episcopal Church (TEC). It's not surprising that it is in Houston, the land of megachurches. It is also no surprise that this church is conservative, evangelical, and healthy. The surprise is that its rector (senior pastor) is staying within the Episcopal Church. He has joined with other conservatives in the Communion Partners Plan.

Members of the plan support the moratoria on additional gay bishops and same-sex blessings, and also views the draft Anglican Covenant as one way to facilitate renewal. Levenson gave an exclusive e-mail interview with CT that you can read that here or in today's digest: Readers can draw their own conclusion about whether they should stay or leave.


START the New Year in the right direction. Tom Ehrich a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York offers some sensible advice.

In this winter of financial, political and ethical discontent, our nation needs to make a slew of resolutions for the New Year. Here are a few ways to start:

* Don't believe in "something for nothing." We cannot continue to suspend skepticism and careful evaluation just because we want things to be a certain way.

* Don't shop on credit. This is the year to tear up credit cards, stop drawing down home equity loans, and stop using debt to finance our lifestyles.

* Be generous even when you feel strapped. True community depends on people looking out for each other, especially when danger or distress looms.

* Learn to can vegetables and to make repairs. It isn't about saving money, but about self-reliance and making-do. As we stagger into the second year of a worsening recession, it is important that we each feel capable and not rendered powerless by a complex world.

* Learn from failure. The greatest shortcoming among recent leaders hasn't been their mistakes, bad guesses and faulty information, but their refusal to admit failure, to accept accountability for failure, and to learn from failure. We the people, in turn, need to stop pouncing on failure.

* Rethink how you raise your children. We seem to be engaged in an epic experiment in nonparenting, with too many children raised by minimum-wage employees, television and over-involved parents living through their children. The results are sobering: children who cannot think for themselves, who have a high sense of entitlement, who plagiarize without compunction, and who are intellectually and motivationally unprepared to learn. Who, then, will make the hard decisions and do the hard work that freedom and economic vitality require?

* Help your faith community to grow by accepting changes. Now more than ever, our society needs faith communities that are able to heal at the margins, speak forcefully at the center, and help a distracted and floundering people find solid ground. Too many congregations are paralyzed by conflict and resistance to change.

* Spend more time at home with loved ones. Even if we could still afford the parallel lives that many families lead (and we can't), this is the year to spend more time together.

* Stop living vicariously through a celebrity culture. We need to look into our mirrors and stop seeing what we wish we were and, instead, find peace in who we are.


LOOKING for an authentic Anglican expression of the faith in Reno, Nevada? Larry Morris wrote to say that one is up and running. He is working with Alfredo Amezaga. Together, they have established SIERRA ANGLICAN CHURCH, in Reno, NV, the former home of the Presiding Bishop of TEC. They will hold their first sacramental service on Saturday.  You can find out more about them by clicking here: You can join them for worship at 10:30 AM on the 1st & 3rd Sundays of each month. Fr. James Obermeyer (AMIA) will be their celebrant for the month of January.


The Bishop of Argentina and the Archbishop of the PROVINCE OF THE SOUTHERN CONE, the Most Rev. Gregory Venables, have sent a word of encouragement to pro-lifers in TEC. He wrote, "I am more than happy to take this opportunity to write on behalf of one of the most important ministries in operation within Anglicanism today. Protecting the unborn and defending the most vulnerable in our society is at the very heart of the Anglican Church's mission, and I commend ANGLICANS FOR LIFE for their admirable contribution toward that end. I am honored and privileged to offer my endorsement of this organization and encourage my colleagues to become familiar with Anglicans for Life's outstanding resources and to place a high priority in regularly acknowledging the sanctity of life in their ministry and preaching."

Anglicans for Life has saved lives, strengthened families and brought countless numbers of people to a deeper appreciation of the great gift of life and the dignity of each and every human being. Their international outreach means even greater spiritual strength will be added to the most urgent goal of ending abortion and other pro-death practices worldwide. It will probably come as no surprise that TEC officials take the opposite position, led, of course, by Bishop Gene Robinson who believes that women should have the final say on life and death issues for the unborn. It goes along with sodomy being good and right in the eyes of God, according to Robinson.


SPREAD, The Society for the Propagation of Reformed Evangelical Anglican Doctrine, is entering a new and exciting stage of its development and hopes it will shape the Anglican Communion for generations to come.

The Society was formed in 2004 and is based in the US under the Chairmanship of Bishop John Rodgers, formerly President and Dean of Trinity Episcopal School of Ministry and one of the founding bishops of the Anglican Mission in America. SPREAD is dedicated to the preservation and propagation of the reformed Christian faith as classically expressed by the English Reformers and definitively stated in the Anglican Formularies, the Thirty-nine Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal. It has produced a number of carefully researched papers with a particular effort to shed light on the widespread confusion surrounding the beliefs of the current Archbishop of Canterbury.

"Events between the 1998 and 2008, Lambeth Conferences have demonstrated decisively that the Communion's present 'instruments of unity', including the See of Canterbury itself, are no longer fit for purpose when confronted with deep theological confusion in which evil is held out as good and good as evil. A merely institutional unity not firmly rooted in the revealed truths of God's Word written is not only counterfeit but also toxic, exposing the whole Communion to the false teaching and the immorality absorbed by the Western Churches. 

"Taking encouragement from the GAFCON movement's Jerusalem Declaration of June 2008, which reaffirmed the authoritative role of the historic formularies for Anglicanism today, SPREAD seeks to guard against this danger and to encourage the emergence of new Anglican structures able to support a coherent and confident proclamation of the gospel around the globe.

"With a new Anglican Province being declared in North America, we concluded that the Society would be best based in England as the focus of the struggle for a reformed Anglican Communion now shifts to the other side of the Atlantic. As Archbishop Greg Venable noted in May last year '"The central question of the attitude to gay partnerships is just as big and pressing a matter in England as in North America and the division of opinion runs as deep in North America and so all the factors that could bring internal division and a blow up are there.'" It is increasingly clear that the Church of England and the other Anglican Churches of the UK are following the same path to apostasy as their North American counterparts. SPREAD therefore supports wholeheartedly the commitment of the Jerusalem Declaration to a unity which is in the first place confessional rather than simply institutional and is committed to articulating this need and the implications for future leadership and governance." 

The new SPREAD web site can be found at: 

The Rev. Charles Raven is SPREAD's Director.


The REFORMED EPISCOPAL CHURCH will consecrate its first bishop in the new Province of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) on the Saturday of Epiphany I, January 17, 2009 A.D. at two o'clock in the afternoon in New Israel Reformed Episcopal Church (a parish of the Anglican Church in North America) 69 Simons Street, Charleston, South Carolina. The Most Rev. Leonard W. Riches, Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church, together with other Bishops and Presbyters of the Province of the Anglican Church of North America, will consecrate the Rev. William J. White as a Bishop in the Church of God and Bishop Suffragan for the Diocese of the Southeast and ACNA.


Got Talents? FIVE TALENTS announced the launch of its Fellows Program this week. Business professionals, graduate students, seminarians and clergy can now lend their talents in a unique way to Five Talents International as a Five Talents Fellow, announced Craig Cole, Five Talents president. 

"Dedicated individuals with an interest in serving the poor through Christian microenterprise development can now apply to work as a volunteer fellow with a Five Talents partner in Africa, Asia or Latin America for six months to one year. Fellowships will start during Summer 2009. Applications are due Monday, March 2, 2009.

" The Five Talents Fellows program was created as a response to the demand from both partners asking for assistance with specific projects and from volunteers desiring to lend their talents to serve the poor through microfinance. The program is designed to strengthen the work and mission of Five Talents to fight poverty, create jobs and transform lives by advancing the goals of its local partner institutions with meaningful projects or research. Given the high demand for involvement in the rapidly growing field of microfinance, this program offers significant benefits for interested candidates, including substantial exposure to the unique mission of Five Talents."

For more information or to apply or , visit

Established in 1999, Five Talents International has provided funding for business training and thousands of loans, ranging from $50 to $300, in 15 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Each loan finances a microbusiness that, in turn, supports up to six other people. A majority of the loan recipients are women.


The Vatican newspaper published an article detailing the BIRTH CONTROL PILL as the cause of abortion and cancer. reported that the Vatican's official newspaper caused a media storm in the European press with an article asserting the abortifacient and carcinogenic effects of hormonal contraceptives. The Italian edition of L'Osservatore Romano carried an article on a report by the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (FIAMC) that was created to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the encyclical Humanae Vitae, the document by Pope Paul VI that reiterated the Catholic Church's teaching on artificial birth control. Pedro José María Simón Castellví, the president of FIAMC, wrote that "the means of contraception violate at least five important rights: the right to life, the right to health, the right to education, all right to information (their spread is at the expense of information on natural resources) and the right to equality between the sexes (the burden of contraception falls mostly on women)." The hundred-page report, published in German, is an analysis of scientific data on the effects of the Pill and includes three hundred bibliographic citations, mostly from specialized medical journals.

The report "clearly demonstrates" that anovulant, low-dose hormonal birth control pills work not only by preventing ovulation but also by causing the death of an already existing child in the uterine wall. This embryonic person, Castellvi wrote, "even in its early days, is something other than an egg or female germ cell." From the embryonic stage, the child grows in a coordinated way and this development, unless prevented, "ends with its exit from the womb in nine months, ready to devour a litre of milk." 


>From STRATFORD-UPON-AVON, England comes word that where England's most famous writer William Shakespeare is buried could be forced to close without major repairs. The Rev. Martin Gorick told the "Birmingham Post" that Holy Trinity Church needs 2.5 million pounds (almost $4 million) worth of work. "If we don't attend to the windows, we are probably only five years off from having to close the church, from a safety point of view," he said. "We are determined that won't be the case." About 250,000 people a year come from around the world to Holy Trinity to see the slab over William Shakespeare's grave, with its curse on anyone who moves his bones, and the monument with its bust of the writer. Holy Trinity gets more visitors than any other parish church in the country. The oldest parts of the church date from 1210. Shakespeare was baptized in the church, served as a lay rector, and had his funeral and burial there. Gorick said the church receives no aid from the government. It depends on donations from visitors and its own fundraising to pay for maintenance and repair.


FACING A CREDIT CRUNCH? The Church of England has a prayer for the jobless. The Church of England is trying to comfort workers hit by redundancy with prayers. It has offered encouragement both to the thousands laid off in the recession and to those who feel guilty that they are still in employment. The "Prayer on being made redundant" and "Prayer for those remaining in the workplace" were published by the Church's "rapid response prayer unit".

Prayer On Being Made Redundant.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, that in the middle of the sadness, the anger, the uncertainty, the pain, I can talk to you,

Hear me as I cry out in confusion, help me to think clearly, and calm my soul,

As life carries on, may I know your presence with me each and every day. And as I look to the future, help me to look for fresh opportunities, for new directions,

Guide me by your Spirit, and show me your path. Through Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen.

Prayer for Those Remaining in the Workplace:

Life has changed: Colleagues have gone - redundant, out of work. Suddenly, what seemed so secure is now so very fragile,

It's hard to know what I feel: Sadness, certainly. Guilt, almost, at still having a job to go to, and fear of the future,

Who will be next? How will I cope with the increased pressure of work?

Lord Jesus, in the midst of this uncertainty, help me to keep going, to work to the best of my ability,

Taking each day at a time and taking time each day to walk with you, for you are the Way, the Truth and the Life. 


Church officials say 30,000 people have read this prayer since it was published in September 2008.


An ATHEIST ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN has been launched on buses across Britain. A fund-raising drive for the promotion of atheism carrying the slogan, "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life", raised more than £140,000. British Humanist Association and prominent atheist, Professor Richard Dawkins backs the campaign, which will also be featured in the Tube.

The Church of England said Christian faith allows people to put their life into a "proper perspective". A spokesman said,: "We would defend the right of any group representing a religious or philosophical position to be able to promote that view through appropriate channels. "However, Christian belief is not about worrying or not enjoying life." 

Pressure group Christian Voice has questioned the campaign's effectiveness, but the Methodist Church said it would be a "good thing if it gets people to engage with the deepest questions of life" and suggested it showed there is a "continued interest in God". The advertisements will run on 200 bendy buses in London and 600 vehicles in England, Scotland and Wales.


So who are society's most violent? You will never guess. When research began in the 1970s, the public was well -acquainted with the stereotype of beer-swilling men who bullied their wives. But when a scientific researcher published his research findings in 1975, everyone was amazed -- women are just as likely as men to engage in PARTNER VIOLENCE.  When he did follow-up surveys over the following 20 years, the gender-equal results confirmed his original research. More surprisingly, when other researchers studied homosexual relationships, they found lesbians have the highest rates of partner aggression. There is a problem, but not with the research itself. The burgeoning feminist movement staked out the domestic violence issue as its cri de coeur. The feminists ginned up their own theory: Domestic violence is a hate crime perpetrated against women. Gloria Steinem said it best, "The patriarchy requires violence or the subliminal threat of violence in order to maintain itself." 

But what if all the research paints a completely different picture, showing heterosexual women are equally likely to aggress, and the highest rates of battering are found among lesbians? Obviously the hate crime theory goes out the window, and Steinem's breathless claim seems pretty far-fetched, as well. So what's a good feminist to do about the good professor's research? Well, why not start a whispering campaign? Anything for the cause of female empowerment, right? Click here for more details:

PS. Lesbian priests in TEC won't like this information, cuts way too close to the bone.


The Standing Committee of the DIOCESE OF SYDNEY this week passed a resolution welcoming the new North American Anglican Province. In other news, The Rev. David Short and The Rev. Dr. Jim Packer, both from Canada, accepted offers from Archbishop Peter Jensen to become honorary clerical canons of St. Andrews Cathedral. You can read more at their website:


Fr. RICHARD JOHN NEUHAUS, the influential Roman Catholic priest, writer, and the primary author of the Institute on Religion and Democracy's 1981 founding manifesto, "Christianity and Democracy," passed away this week due to complications from cancer. Neuhaus, 72, served on the IRD board until today. His work at the New York-based Institute on Religion & Public Life and at the influential journal First Things was far-reaching, leading to the friendships between religious leaders from many Christian traditions as well as political decision makers. Neuhaus was a major force behind the "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" movement, which brought the two closer in common theological affirmations and public witness.


NEXT WEEK I shall be traveling to the MERE ANGLICAN conference in Charleston, SC. I hope I shall meet some of you there. VOL has been promised interviews with Rochester (UK) Bishop Michael Nazir Ali and Southern Baptist leader Dr. Albert Mohler. Dr. Mohler writes about Anglican issues from time to time at his blog. As the Southern Baptist Convention's leading theologian, VOL believes he has something to say to us. Stories will be posted to as they become available.


I hope you will consider a tax- deductible contribution to VOL to make my travels possible. At the end of January, I will be attending the AMiA conference in Greensboro NC, and then on the Primate's meeting in Alexandria, Egypt. We do need funds to cover these vital conferences in 2009 that no one else will cover, if VOL does not. Please consider a donation today.

You can make a snail mail gift to: 

1236 Waterford Rd.,
West Chester, PA 19380

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