‘Christianity Is Finished In Iraq,’ Says Priest From Nineveh


A man leaves his car and packs his bag at the Khazair checkpoint after fleeing from Mosul, Iraq on June 11, 2014. Credit: R. Nuri UNHCR/ACNUR via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

A priest hailing from what used to be Iraq’s largest Christian city has lamented the exodus of over 100,000 Christians from the city, many of whom are fleeing on foot with no food, money or water.

“Today the story of Christianity is finished in Iraq,” said a priest who identified himself as Fr. Nawar.

“People can’t stay in Iraq because there is death for whoever stays,” told CNA Aug. 8.

A priest who has been living and studying in Rome for the last three years, Fr. Nawar is originally from the Iraqi city of Qaraqosh (Bakhdida) on the plains of Nineveh, which was considered the Christian capital of the country until the Kurdish military forces known as the Peshmerga withdrew from it.

The city then fell to forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – known as ISIS – on Wednesday night. Since then more than 100,000 Christians have fled the city, many taking with them nothing but the clothes on their backs.

According to reports from BBC News, the Islamic State militants have taken down crosses and burned religious manuscripts…

Read on here.

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali: “Designer babies are a disaster for society”

Former Rochester bishop says the announcement raises some important questions about the future of our children and the role of men in our families


Britain is to get its first NHS-funded national sperm bank to make it easier for lesbian couples and single women to have children.

This announcement raises some important questions about the future of our children and the role of men in our families and communities.

The most important thing to say is that the needs of any child must be primary. It is the upbringing, welfare and education of the child that should be the prior consideration. It is not enough to ‘want’ a child, let alone one with particular characteristics.

This bank will allow women to choose from profiles of donors, which will include educational attainment and ‘attractiveness’ criteria, raising the spectre of ‘designer babies’, born to the parents’ specifications.

What if the process of pregnancy and birth ‘interferes’ with the desired outcomes? Will such babies then be rejected?

Research shows that children are best brought up in families where a mum and dad are present. The role of fathers in the nurture of their children is unique and cannot be replaced by other so-called ‘male role-models’ or, indeed, an extra ‘mother’.

Research tells us that children relate to their fathers differently than to their mothers, and this is important in developing a sense of their own identity.

In particular, boys need closeness to their fathers for a sense of security and in developing their own identity, including appropriate patterns of masculine behaviour.

The results of ‘father-hunger’ can be seen in educational achievement and on our streets, where it contributes to delinquency.

None of this should detract from the heroism of single parents. They should be provided with every support by the State and by local communities.

There is, however, a big difference between children growing up without fathers because of death or family breakdown, and actively planning to bring children into the world who will not know one of their biological parents and where such a parent will never be part of the nurture of these children.

This also brings the question of anonymity to the fore. The change in the law, so people could, at a certain age, find out who their biological father is, has certainly contributed to the ‘shortage’ of donors in response to which the sperm bank has been set up.

If there is no anonymity, will potential donors come forward, or will the bank face these same ‘shortages’?

The move – funded by the Department of Health – is largely designed to meet the increasing demand from thousands of women who want to start a family without having a relationship with a man

The move – funded by the Department of Health – is largely designed to meet the increasing demand from thousands of women who want to start a family without having a relationship with a man
What then? Will it rely on overseas donors? What implications will this have for anyone wanting to be in contact with their biological dad?

The removal from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of the need of a child for a father may have been a triumph for radical feminists, but we should not be planning for bringing significant numbers of children into this world who will not know their fathers.

This will be disastrous, not only for the children, but for a sense of self-worth in men and, therefore, for society generally.

We have had enough of children being the recipients of endless, fashionable social experimentation.

Let us give them the love they deserve, rather than just gratifying our own desires.


NEW ZEALAND: The Slow Train Wreck of Schism Comes to the Anglican Church in Aotearoa


News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

I was born in Wellington, NZ, more decades ago than I care to remember and grew up attending a Plymouth Brethren Assembly Church while attending a private, very liberal Presbyterian Boys College (school). It wasn’t until years later, when I fled to England to study theology, that I came under the influence of men like H.D. McDonald, John Stott, Martin Lloyd Jones and others, thus working my way out of fundamentalism on the one hand and liberal Presbyterianism on the other. It’s been a long journey and apparently, it is not over.

I knew nothing of Anglicanism in the country of my birth. I only got acquainted with it through my entry into Anglicanism nearly 25 years later and began watching and listening as it, too, became part of the great conversation on the nature of the gospel, social justice, women bishops and, more recently, the advance of homosexuality, into the debate.

I have no emotional stake or personal loyalty in the debate because of my origin of birth. I lived in England for a number of years and then moved to Canada before reaching the US in 1979 with theological study stops along the way.

My love for New Zealand has to do now with my brother, his family; a slew of cousins and the sheer beauty of a country that is the envy of the world. Americans love going there to see its raw beauty, experience its natural hot pools, see its geysers, experience its beaches, fish its lakes, rivers, oceans and much more. They also make a lot of movies “down under” including the popular Lord of the Rings series.

Being fully ensconced in the US now as a wandering, somewhat battered Anglican journalist with more scars to show for it than an African zebra, I was not surprised to learn that with only one diocese – Nelson – still orthodox in faith and morals that, sooner or later, it was bound to happen. The Anglican Church there would vote for same sex blessings slipping, as it will inevitably, into full gay marriage, gay rites and much more. It is only a matter of time.

One should never underestimate American influence in the burgeoning culture wars. What starts here, soon travels the globe, sometimes in nano seconds influencing all in its path. Aggressive secularism, radical Islamism, and multiculturalism are seriously impacting the West. The rejection of the Judeo-Christian foundation which has shaped the West is slowly being eroded along with its cultural and spiritual values. New Zealand is not exempt. Bishops, clergy, and bloggers are now trampling on Orthodox Anglican expressions of “the faith once for all delivered to the saints.” The old liberalism that allowed both sides to live and let live is gone. It is dead. We now have orthodox vs revisionist or, if you prefer orthodox vs progressives. The middle is dead (It is increasingly so in American politics).

Recently it was announced that two vicars in New Zealand were leaving their church over Motion 30 that permits the blessing of same-sex unions. A few weeks ago, Charlie Hughes, then Vicar of Henderson (near Auckland), left. This past week Michael Hewat, Vicar of West Hamilton, took most of his sizeable congregation and departed. They now worship in new locations.

It was a bridge too far for the two evangelical vicars.

One NZ Anglican blogger, a neo-evangelical named Peter Carrell, believes their actions were unnecessary and unwarranted and explained it like this:

“I do not think anyone should leave our church because of Motion 30 approved at our recent General Synod. But some are leaving. I can imagine some are leaving because Motion 30 does not go far enough towards blessing of same sex partnerships…Some are leaving because Motion 30 goes too far towards blessings and appears to presage a future line our church will cross.”

He then posited a number of reasons for staying:

- we have not crossed the line where we have changed either our constitution or canons in an unacceptable manner,
– the grace of inclusion of viewpoints at GS in Motion 30 requires a reciprocal obligation for holders of various viewpoints to remain engaged with the process of the next few years,
– the evangelical witness within the Anglican church historically has been a witness against the tide of majority viewpoint and the current tide is flowing no more strongly than in past times,
– if our church does not wish to retain an evangelical witness within its midst, the church should be honest about that and drive that witness out through expulsion rather than have that job done for it by resignations and departures,
– speaking personally, I have gay friends in the church whom I would like to remain in conversation with as a fellow Anglican rather than as a former Anglican.

The Anglican Church is only a few short years behind the ecclesiastical and theological times. Sooner or later, an Anglican Mission in New Zealand (AMiNZ) will be born or an Anglican Church in NZ (like the ACNA) will appear and a whole new Anglican day will dawn for remnant orthodox Anglicans in Aotearoa.

The Rev. Carrell (who may well be a bishop one day a source told VOL) is nonetheless deluding himself into thinking that the line has not been crossed, when in fact it has, and these two vicars are symbols of that crossed line. More will follow and, in time, a whole diocese will leave the Church and, if NZ has a Dennis Canon, that will kick in and the legal battles will begin. Mr. Carrell is delusional, but he is not the first. For sure, NZ does not have a Gene Robinson or a John Shelby Spong yet, but give it time. Some idiot in Holy Orders will suddenly discover the resurrection needs to be re-interpreted, the atonement is really child abuse, and that culture triumphs over Scripture, causing the uprisings to begin.

And it really doesn’t matter how many gay friends Mr. Carrell has, it is not about compassion but about truth. Many persons, including myself have gay friends, however we are not at liberty to try and change the ontology or cosmology of human sexuality to accommodate a handful of people.

The evangelical witness has all but dried up in NZ. Worse than that is Carrell’s belief that liberals and revisionists will leave them alone “to love and serve the Lord” when in fact the opposite will be true.

Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics will now be vilified; they will be defrocked; their pensions will be taken from them; all in the name of a false diversity and phony talk of inclusion. They will not be left alone because what they believe totally violates the progressive, morally relativistic mindset of Anglicans who have sold out to the zeitgeist. Orthodox Anglicans are therefore the people most to be feared and hated because they refuse to follow them and who refuse to bow the knee to their theological progressivism.

A recent case in point occurred in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, (ACSA) wherein a seminary invited a North American lesbian priest to preach and celebrate the Eucharist. The Anglican Church there has not (yet) ratified gay priests to function in its province (even further behind than NZ). When two orthodox priests protested to Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, they got ripped and vilified in emails by revisionist priests in their diocese. “I never knew such hatred existed,” one of the two priests told me.

What Mr. Carrell fails to appreciate is the depth of hatred by those who insist God has changed His (or as many believe, Her) mind. Those not accepting those changes will now be the target of their newfound vilification and hatred.

There are literally hundreds of stories VOL has posted over the years about the bitter war over homosexuality, starting with Anglican Primates as they wrestled with the issue in Dromantine, Brazil, Dar Es Salaam, et al. In sheer exhaustion, the Global South primates announced they had had enough and were no shows in Dublin, refusing to spend one more dime or argument trying to persuade the Western church that imbibing this behavior was not only killing their own churches, it was killing their people as Islam was now using it as an excuse to butcher thousands of Anglicans in countries like Nigeria and the Sudan. Not even murder and mayhem is allowed to change the minds of people like Louie Crew, or Gene Robinson, or Colin Coward, or Peter Tatchell. All must bow before the Moloch god of sodomy. Those who refuse must be cast into the lion’s den of excommunication and inhibition.

The Anglican Church in New Zealand will go the way of all flesh, following The Episcopal Church in the US and the Anglican Church of Canada. There is nothing now to hold it back, not even a hopeful but lost Anglican blogger.


The surprising benefit of a stay-at-home mother




Mothers are the great glue which binds society together. They organise, they volunteer, they nurture. And, when they are not around, you notice it. Look at any of those etiolated “communities” where every woman is a worker and you will see what I mean.

But the bigger (and bitter) argument for stay-at-home mothers concerns children. In Britain, in recent years, the debate has been closing down. Through tax and benefit changes, successive governments have made it ever harder for a woman to absent herself from the workforce to bring up her own children.

Whitehall would much rather encourage the creation of an army of childminders and nursery workers (which it can, inter alia, not only conscript but heavily regulate).

Some of these women do sterling work. Others, perhaps a majority, are young women with limited prospects. The authorities recognise this. That is one reason the way our pre-school children are looked after is increasingly the stuff of highly-prescribed curricula.

Our legislators may have decided that society is better served by clever women entering the workplace, rather than staying at home to raise children, but every now and then a spanner falls into the works.

The latest challenge to the prevailing orthodoxy comes, not for the first time, from Scandanavia – a part of the world where, for all its nanny-state associations, it is still possible to question the moral and practical superiority of the working mum without being labelled a neanderthal.

Academics from the university in Stavanger have drilled into a mass of data to study the impact on a child’s educational ability of a stay-at-home parent. The context for this research is that, in 1998, the Norwegian government brought in a scheme that greatly increased parental incentives to stay at home with young children – but only up to the age of three.

What the 2013 study (pdf) found is an unforeseen consequence of this policy. It is hard to measure whether having a mum around all the time can make a toddler smarter. But having a mother at home helps more than just the small child she may have recently brought into the world.

Her being ever-present improves quality of life within and without the home, for neighbours, spouses, grandparents – and yes – older children. And, where older children are concerned, we find ourselves in territory which does have a metric; because older kids do exams.

So what is the impact of having a stay at home mum on teen-aged children doing school exams? Guess what – it’s positive. And demonstrably so. The Norwegian policy was not intended to give them a booster. It was rooted in a belief in Attachment Theory, a fear that severing the connection between a parent and a young child would be deleterious for that child.

But it turns out that the really provable benefit actually accrues to older children.

For women, and I am one of them, who felt in their bones that our children need us around most as they go through school, these findings amount to a revelation. They confirm us in the view that being a stay-at-home-mother is not a transitory condition – not something we do until our children start school. Not all women see it as a vocation. Some are itching to get back to their careers at the first opportunity. Many see the departure of a youngest child into full-time education as the moment when they should ‘return to normality’.

But, as this Norwegian study reminds us, “normal” should be neither here nor there. What matters is what works. And we now have firm evidence that what works for children – not just when they are toddling but throughout childhood – is the presence of a parent at home full-time full-stop.

Joanna Roughton is Media Relations Manager for the London-based Home Renaissance Foundation and editor of HRF’s BeHome blog. This article is reproduced from BeHome with permission.

- See more at: http://www.mercatornet.com/family_edge/view/14579#sthash.sObJArK0.dpuf

Anglican Church in North America Set to Surpass Anglican Church of Canada in Average Sunday Attendance

Anglican Church in North America Set to Surpass Anglican Church of Canada in Average Sunday Attendance


By David W. Virtue DD

The upstart Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is set to surpass the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) in Average Sunday Attendance, if it has not already done so.

New figures obtained by VIRTUEONLINE (www.virtueonline.org) reveal that over the past two years the ACNA has steadily gained in numbers, while the ACoC, which has been on a steady decline since the beginning of the 21st Century, is now rapidly declining even as it attempts to position itself as a major global player in talks on reconciliation in the Anglican Communion.

In 2001, the ACoC claimed an annual Average Sunday Attendance of 162,138. By 2007, the last year official figures could be obtained, the ASA had dropped to 141,827 a drop of 19,311.

The total number of Anglicans on parish rolls in 2007 was 545, 957. The total number of Anglican parishes was 1,676. The true barometer of health is, however, Average Sunday Attendance.

Based on attrition rates in 2007, including loss of membership to the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC), death, moving to other denominations and parish closures, now estimated to be some 300, Average Sunday Attendance, based on annual losses of about 3044, (between 2007 and 2014) the estimated attendance in 2014 in all churches in all provinces would, in fact, be closer to 100,000!

By contrast, the Anglican Church in North America, which officially birthed in St. Vincent’s Cathedral, Bedford, Texas in 2009 under the authority of the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, Robert Duncan, reveals a missionary Anglican denomination of some 983 congregations and a membership of 112,504 with an Average Principal Service Attendance (APSA) of 80,471. That compares to 700 known congregations in June of 2009. This is a 40 per cent growth in absolute numbers of congregations. 105 new congregations were reported (in the 2013 congregational/diocesan reports) as anticipated start-ups in 2014.

The figures for last year (2013) do not include some 230 congregations which did not get reports in, therefore these figures are actually higher.


In April of 2012, the ACoC Synod said it may have to merge seven Eastern Canadian dioceses into three.

The Ecclesiastical Province of Canada – the domestic province of the Anglican Church of Canada covering Quebec and the Maritime Provinces said in a statement released on April 17, 2012, that a motion put forward by the Provincial Governance Task Force seeks to create “a leaner, more efficient ecclesiastical province better equipped to carry out God’s mission in eastern Canada.”

Consolidating dioceses “recognizes the changing demographic of the Anglican Church within the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada in terms of both decreasing numbers and the increased cost of providing ecclesiastical services within our seven existing dioceses,” the explanatory note accompanying the motion stated.

Among the proposals are merging the dioceses of Eastern, Central and Western Newfoundland – which were formed out of the Diocese of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1976 – back to a single diocese. The Diocese of Fredericton, which covers the province of New Brunswick, could be merged with the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, while the dioceses of Quebec and Montreal could form a single diocese.

According to the 2011 Anglican Church Directory, Montreal has 96 active clergy, 66 parishes, and approximately 12,000 members on its parish rolls. Quebec has only 23 clergy, 45 parishes and 4000 members.

Fredericton has 69 active clergy, 85 parishes, and approximately 24,000 members, while Nova Scotia & PEI has 127 clergy, 111 parishes, and 127,000 members.

Western Newfoundland has 27 clergy, 32 parishes and 36,000 members; Central Newfoundland 34 clergy, 32 parishes, and 33,000 members and Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador has 48 clergy, 27 parishes, and 61,000 members.

Depopulation of rural Canada is placing pressure on the Anglican Church of Canada to change its current structures. At its 5 June 2011 meeting of synod, the Diocese of Moosonee voted to dissolve the diocese due to a sharp fall in the northern diocese’s population. Delegates unanimously adopted a resolution directing its officers to begin talks with the Province of Ontario to dissolve the diocese and create a mission area to oversee its 26 parishes.

In November 2009, Bishop Barry Clarke of Montreal and Bishop Dennis Drainville of Quebec initiated a two year “discernment process” to look into “opportunities and obstacles to partnership” between the two dioceses including a possible merger.

In 2009 Bishop Drainville told the Canadian House of Bishops his diocese was “teetering on the verge of extinction.” Of the diocese’s 82 congregations, 50 were childless and 35 congregations had an average age of 75. These graying congregations often had no more than 10 people in church on Sundays, he reported. “The critical mass isn’t there, there’s no money anymore,” he added. The bishop declared that he could possibly be “the last bishop of Quebec.” Total ASA for the whole diocese is about 4000! For the record, just one church, Christ Church Anglican in Plano, Texas, boasts a membership of just under 4000!

“The critical mass isn’t there, there’s no money anymore,” and yet parishes want to function the way they always have. With no money coming in from parishes, “we have not paid our national assessment in church for two years,” said Bishop Drainville. “I have no pride in that. There will be many other dioceses that will fail.”

At an open forum, Bishop Patrick Yu (Toronto area bishop, York-Scarborough), related that he was “troubled by the sense of panic….” He said that a bishop’s role is “to be the non-anxious presence,” to say that “the church may be falling, but here’s what we can continue doing.”

Between 1961 and 2001, the Anglican Church of Canada lost 53 per cent of its members, with numbers declining from 1.36 million to 642,000. The rate of decline has increased in recent years, according to an independent report given to the Canadian House of Bishops in 2006 by retired marketing expert Keith McKerracher.

In 2010 the Diocese of BC made what it called “visionary” changes: closing 13 churches. A report by the Diocese of BC’s Diocesan Transformation Team (DTT) suggested that the diocese is not “closing parishes in order to prop up a dying institution or to delay its inevitable collapse” but that its mission is about being “a people on a journey” and, no, not people on a journey to oblivion.

In an interview, the new bishop of the Diocese of BC, Logan McMenamie, mentions that the diocese is suffering from “negativity and creeping congregationalism”. Although the latter sounds a little like a skin disease, it is actually an understandable response to the diocese taking parish buildings from congregations that paid for and maintained them and selling them for its own gain, observed a Canadian blogger.

Noting the overall decline, the Rev. Keith Nethery, media relations officer for the Anglican Church’s Diocese of Huron, commented, “Obviously the world is a different place. Our bishops realize this isn’t the church we grew up in or our parents attended. People in the world have changed and their needs are different.”


With the ordination of an openly homogenital priest to the episcopacy in 2003 in the person of Gene Robinson, many orthodox Episcopalians believed the time had come to separate themselves from The Episcopal Church. Common Cause Partnership was formed in June 2004 from six conservative Anglican organizations. They became a united, missionary and orthodox Anglican Union in North America and drafted a theological statement in 2006.

In September 2007, fifty-one bishops met in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to discern direction and to bind themselves constitutionally, saying they intended to found an “Anglican union”. Some of the bishops present were foreign bishops, including a retired archbishop.

Key members of the partnership participated in the June 2008 meeting of conservative Anglicans in Jerusalem, the Global Anglican Future Conference, which in turn prompted the formation of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.

In December 2008, the Partnership met at Wheaton, Illinois, at a constitutional convention to form a “separate ecclesiastical structure in North America” for Anglican faithful distinct from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. On June 22, 2009, delegates of the ACNA’s founding bodies met at St. Vincent’s Cathedral in Bedford, Texas, for an inaugural Provincial Assembly to ratify its constitution and canons.

At this meeting, a number of major steps were taken to officially establish the new province including the election of Robert Duncan, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, as archbishop.

Today the ACNA boasts 29 dioceses from coast to coast, including Canada, as well as a special Armed Forces and Chaplaincy Jurisdiction in a unified Anglican Church in North America. The Anglican Network in Canada is a continent-wide family of churches and a diocese in the Anglican Church in North America, under its Bishop Charlie Masters.

“We sowed in tears. We reap in joy,” noted Archbishop Robert Duncan recently, as he prepared to pass the mantle of leadership on to a new generation.

A recent Provincial Council reported that the number of congregations could be as high as 1088, or a fifty-five per cent increase in congregations since 2009. This is our “net.” What about our “gross?”

If one adds the 50 congregations from the Anglican Mission under Bishop Philip Jones, the number of congregational start-ups would be 488.

While admitting that 1000 church plants might have been a reach, the new Archbishop of the ACNA Foley Beach noted that 488 is not 1000, “but it sure is an awesome harvest.”

“We threw away the rear-view mirror. This was God’s doing, enabled by our cooperation in His call. To my knowledge, no other Christian group in North America has done anything like this in the last five years.” Noting the difficulties and opposition, Beach said the devil does not like what we Anglicans are up to! “It has been transformative and given us unparalleled joy. The call for 1000 new congregations was God’s call. The call is not ended. It carries on, and in any case, this is just the first thousand for a Church whose mission is to reach North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. What has been established is the understanding that our chief form of domestic mission is achieved through church-planting. Sixty Hispanic congregations are a part of the 488. Other ethnic congregations have also been established. Congregations have been established in assisted living communities, on college campuses, in store-fronts and even in prisons.

“Our DNA all across this Church has been coded for church-planting. I am thrilled to report that the 2013 congregational reports reveal a healthy Church. Most of our people are at worship most Sundays. Of a total number of 3097 baptisms, thirty-one per cent, 969, are of those above the age of 16, converts not transfers. There were 3197 conversions reported. There were 6011 new people reported to have been brought into our congregations through evangelism and outreach. There were 2079 confirmations, 1312 receptions and 293 reaffirmations of Faith. (These figures are for the 763 congregations reporting.)”

By contrast, the statistics for the Anglican Church of Canada show staggering losses including the single largest Anglican parish in Canada – St. John’s Shaughnessy, Vancouver with almost 2,000 members and closures almost weekly across the country.

Newspaper headlines can now be found which read, “The Decline and Fall of the Anglican Church of Canada.”

In 1961, 1.3 million people attended an ACoC church; making the average yearly number of those exiting the ACoC around 20,300 people. If one assumes a constant number of people exiting per year, one ends up with no one left by the year 2025!

The deeper question is why, and the answer is not too difficult to come by. The ACoC is bent on proclaiming a gospel quite different from that of its immediate rival, The Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC), which proclaims itself a missionary diocese out to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, making and baptizing disciples, and spreading the gospel of the kingdom.

The mission of the ACoC can best be summed up in the words of the former Bishop of British Columbia, James Cowan when he declared in a CBC interview that he wants to “forge a deeper connection with the culture and engage in more ‘social justice’ and ‘spirituality’.” In December of last year, he reversed a policy that prohibits clergy in same-gender relationships from serving in the diocese. It sounds as if the mission is more of the same pseudo-Christian clap-trap that has brought the diocese to its knees, noted one Canadian observer.

The ACoC is, of course, only following the script of its sister province, The Episcopal Church USA, with which it enjoys deep harmonic convergence. If the two Anglican ships of state do go down together in the next 20 to 25 years, at least they will know they both got the script wrong even as the Anglican Church in North America eats its lunch.

The Archbishop of Canterbury may still be agonizing over whether or not to recognize the new Anglican entity. In the end his recognition of the ACNA will be irrelevant. In time it may well be the only game in town.


Cheap Grace Masquerading as Pure Grace

By Professor R A Gagnon: The Unfortunate Gospel of Rev. Clark Whitten —Alan Chambers’ Mentor, Pastor, and Chair of His Board. As I noted in Appendix 2 (pp. 31-35) in my online article “Time for a Change of Leadership at Exodus?,” if one wants to understand Alan Chambers’ theological views one needs to sample the problematic views on grace by Alan’s pastor at Grace Church Orlando, Exodus Board chair, and theological mentor: Clark Whitten. Rev. Whitten is the author of Pure Grace, a recent book…

read more

‘A return to the Middle Ages’


Barbarism has returned in a supposedly civilized world. What can we do?

How do you dialogue with a fanatic,” asks an Iraqi Patriarch in the middle of insane violence.

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako says he is working with the government of Iraq to bring Christian refugees to Baghdad.

The majority of Christians who have been driven from villages and towns in the Plain of Nineveh are living in dangerous conditions, in makeshift facilities that are now overflowing. In the Iraqi capital, there would be greater care in terms of hygiene, medical care and personal safety.

The Patriarch is also convinced that the American airstrikes are not enough to stop the pressure and advance of ISIS troops.

Here’s part of the fuller interview with Aleteia.org.

Is it true that ISIS militants are asking Christians to pay a tax in order to save their lives and are likewise abducting women and taking them as their wives?

These two reports are true. Christian women have been abducted, and taxes have been demanded. In particular, these Islamic fanatics ask Christians for money to allow them to return to their homes. But the Christians don’t trust them. They are people who continually change their minds: they are unreliable. Perhaps today a Christian pays, returns home to stay there in peace, and tomorrow the militants attack him again, and one never knows what the consequences will be.

The government in Baghdad has accused ISIS Sunni jihadists of having thrown hundreds of Yazidis into mass graves, including women and children who were still alive. What can can you tell us about this?

What you’ve heard happened to the Yazidis is true. More than a thousand women have been kidnapped. A great many children are dead. The people have neither food nor water and they feel cut off from the world. They don’t know where to go or what to do.

In speaking about the crisis in Iraq, Archbishop Sivano Maria Tomasi, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva, has said that “military action at this time is needed.” What do you think about US military intervention?

Partial strikes are not enough. The solution to the crisis needs a broader agreement, with the involvement of the Kurdish government and the Iraqi central government. Without an overall strategy, the dream of seeing the people return to their homes will not happen.

And then this:

In your opinion, what will we see happen in the days to come?

I fear that the situation is worsening. There is a problem with the refugees and the humanitarian emergency, and another problem with the political order. For now I don’t see any prospects. The whole world must mobilize itself for the situation in Iraq; otherwise, a stable and permanent situation, in my opinion, will permanently slip away.

The Telegraph is reporting this dire situation, which is merely reporting the truth on the ground there.

The last day of Qaraqosh’s time as a Christian town, a time almost as old as Christianity itself, began with a mortar shell at nine in the morning.

It came through the roof of Melad and Marven Abdullah’s house on Wednesday, killing them instantly. Melad was nine; his cousin, Marven, four. The mortar struck Marven in the head as it landed. They found his arms and feet, crushed against the wall, but nothing else.

The family’s next-door neighbour, Enam Eshoo, had popped in to deliver some fresh drinking water; she too died where she fell.

The day ended with an order to evacuate. Within a couple of hours, the city’s tens of thousands of inhabitants were crowding the road to Kurdistan, fighting with troops manning checkpoints, trying to find shelter where they could.

The streets of the capital Erbil’s newly Christian suburb, Ainkawa, swelled by exiles from ten years of punishing terror and oppression in northern Iraq, are now full of stunned and helpless people. They are camping on the floors of church halls, in a building site, in the street. An old woman was sleeping in a flower bed. Another begged for help.

“Please take me home,” the woman, Azat Mansur, said. It was not clear what she meant by “home”; it sounded more spiritual than real, since her home is now under the control of the jihadists of the Islamic State.

“I can’t stay here any more, or anywhere else. They are going to kill us. They will cut our heads off, if we stay here.”

There is great fear that the advance of the jihadists of the Islamic State is not over, that even Erbil is not safe, two days after the jihadists advanced to within 30 miles.

Mrs Mansur knows them directly, having fled their June advance into Mosul, from where she and all the other Christians were expelled. The jihadists stole $2,000 and her mobile phone at a checkpoint before they let her go, she added…

Qaraqosh is, or was, the largest of a triangle of Christian towns north and east of Mosul, in fact the largest Christian town in Iraq.

It has been Christian since the earliest years of the faith.

Islamic State, the ultra-jihadist al-Qaeda off-shoot that now controls large parts of the country, first tried to attack in late June, after its sweep through Sunni areas of the north and west.

In that case, they were beaten back, or at least did not press their assault. It seemed for a while as if their forces were stretched thinly, bolstered by their allies in the primarily Sunni tribes of western Iraq but not able to reach into areas where those tribes had no interest, such as Kurdish or Christian regions. The promised attack on Baghdad never materialised, either.

But that assessment was wrong. In the last three weeks, IS has made substantial gains in both Syria and against the Kurds, seizing 17 towns in the last week alone, according to their own account, and Mosul Dam, the country’s largest.

Last weekend, they sent the entire population of another beleaguered minority, the Yazidis, into flight north-west of Mosul. Thousands are still camped out on a mountainside, surrounded, starving and awaiting some form of deliverance.

The residents of Qaraqosh had feared they were next in line, but even so, events happened faster than they expected.

Mr Abdullah, a member of the local home guard, was on duty when the mortar hit on Wednesday morning. “There was blood and flesh on the ground,” he said, as he stood in the gardens of St Joseph’s Cathedral in Ainkawa, a church of the Chaldean Catholics, one of Iraq’s patchwork of sects. He himself, like most in Qaraqosh, is from the Assyrian Catholic church.

Alongside Marven and Melad, who was killed by shrapnel in the head and chest, Anas, Mr Abdullah’s seven-year-old younger son, was also seriously injured.

The mortars landed all Wednesday, and families began to pack up and leave. The Abdullah family and the relatives of Enam Eshoo stayed on for the funeral, which was held in the Church of the Virgin Mary at 5pm.

There has been a church on the site since the earliest years; it was mentioned by travellers in the 12 Century.

Not long after the funeral, a mortar landed outside the church’s front gate.

Shortly after that again, a ticker tape notice on the satellite news channels flashed a warning, said one resident, Wissam Isaac. Mr Isaac worked at a Qaraqosh primary school, teaching the local Syriac language, derived from Aramaic, the language of Christ.

The ticker said the Kurdish army, the Peshmerga, on whom the residents had been relying for their defence, was withdrawing.

“Before this time, no-one really thought we would have to leave,” he said. “We trusted the Peshmerga. They said they would save us. They stayed in our houses. We can’t believe this has happened.”

No one can.

Today, ethnic cleansing has a feeling of permanence.

“Without our homeland, we face extinction as a people,” said Mardean Isaac, a British-Assyrian writer. “We are watching our last chance for survival disappear.”

Sitting on the floor of an Ainkawa church hall, watched over by a statue of the Virgin Mary, Bassma Yousef said she could barely find milk for her 20-day-old baby, Mervy, let alone food for the rest of her family. The thousands of people here are eager for hand-outs from aid organisations, the United Nations, or anyone who can help them, before they leave and move on, as they feel they must.

They are less interested in the two bombs that Washington finally dropped on the Islamic State on Friday, regarding them as too little, too late.

So American scholars and other leaders have launched a desperate relief effort, and anyone can sign on to help.

The so-called Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS/ISIL) is conducting a campaign of genocide against Christians, Yazidis, and others in Iraq. In its fanatical effort to establish a caliphate, ISIS/ISIL has engaged in crimes against humanity by deliberately causing mass starvation and dehydration, and by committing unconscionable acts of barbarism against noncombatants, including defenseless women, children, and elderly persons.

It is imperative that the United States and the international community act immediately and decisively to stop the ISIS/ISIL genocide and prevent the further victimization of religious minorities…

President Obama was right to order airstrikes against ISIS/ISIL to stop its advance on key cities, as well as to provide humanitarian assistance to people fleeing their assaults. Much more needs to be done, however, and there is no time to waste.

We, the undersigned, are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. We are conservatives, liberals, and moderates. We represent various religious traditions and shades of belief. None of us glorifies war or underestimates the risks entailed by the use of military force. Where non-military means of resolving disputes and protecting human rights are available, we always and strongly favor those means. However, the evidence is overwhelming that such means will not be capable of protecting the victims of the genocide already unfolding at the hands of ISIS/ISIL.

Read the whole thing and sign on if you agree. If not, at least be increasingly aware of what’s going on.

What is happening to these people now, and the further threats they face, would not be happening but for errors and failures of our nation’s own in Iraq.  This can and should be acknowledged by all, despite disagreements we may have among ourselves as to precisely what these errors and failures were, and which political and military leaders are mainly responsible for them. The point is not to point fingers or apportion blame, but to recognize that justice as well as compassion demands that we take the steps necessary to end the ISIL/ISIS campaign of genocide and protect those who are its victims.

So help us God, to do what is within our power.

- See more at: http://www.mercatornet.com/sheila_liaugminas/view/14584#sthash.83QSjV8u.dpuf

As ‘Voluntourism’ Explodes In Popularity, Who’s It Helping Most?

Haley Nordeen, 19, is spending the entire summer at the Prodesenh center in San Mateo Milpas Altas, Guatemala. The American University student helped build the center's new library.

byCarrie Khan

Haley Nordeen, 19, is spending the entire summer at the Prodesenh center in San Mateo Milpas Altas, Guatemala. The American University student helped build the center’s new library.

Carrie Kahn/NPR

As you plan — or even go — on your summer vacation, think about this: More and more Americans are no longer taking a few weeks off to suntan and sightsee abroad. Instead they’re working in orphanages, building schools and teaching English.

It’s called volunteer tourism, or “voluntourism,” and it’s one of the fastest growing trends in travel today. More than 1.6 million volunteer tourists are spending about $2 billion each year.

But some people who work in the industry are skeptical of voluntourism’s rising popularity. They question whether some trips help young adults pad their resumes or college applications more than they help those in need.

Children learn to cook at Prodesenh, a community center in San Mateo Milpas Altas, Guatemala.

Children learn to cook at Prodesenh, a community center in San Mateo Milpas Altas, Guatemala.

Carrie Kahn/NPR

Judith Lopez Lopez, who runs a center for orphans outside Antigua, Guatemala, says she’s grateful for the help that volunteers give.

All visitors and volunteers get a big warm welcome when they walk in the doors of her facility, . It’s part orphanage, part after-school program and part community center.

Most of the kids at Prodesenh don’t have parents, Lopez says. They live with relatives. Some were abandoned by their mothers at birth. Others lost their fathers in accidents or to alcoholism.

There are three volunteers here now, all from the U.S. Lopez says they give the kids what they need most: love and encouragement.

One those volunteers is Kyle Winningham, who just graduated from the University of San Francisco with a degree in entrepreneurship. “Yeah, my real name is Kyle, but mi apodo aqui es Carlos,” he says.

Winningham didn’t have a job lined up after school, so he decided to spend his summer at Prodesenh. “When the kids have homework, I help with homework,” he says. “When they don’t, I generally help out with teaching a little bit of English.”

But today they are cooking. Lopez hands out bowls filled with bright red tomatoes, onions and mint. She’s teaching the kids to make salsa.

Haley Nordeen, an international relations major at American University in the District of Columbia, is also spending her entire summer at Prodesenh. During her first six weeks here, the 19-year-old helped build the newest addition to the center, a small library. Now she’s tutoring.

“I’ve met a lot of international relations majors here, so it seems like a trend,” Nordeen says.

Most volunteer tourists are women. They’re also young adults, between the ages of 20 and 25, says the industry consulting group , based in Glasbury, Wales. But more and more high school students are also traveling and volunteering.

Sam Daddono is a junior at Rumson-Fair Haven High School in New Jersey. His whole Spanish class is in Antigua, sharpening their Spanish skills. But they’re also hiking up the side of a volcano every morning to help tend to a coffee plantation — and learning about what life is like here in Guatemala.

“The way I view things now is a lot different than before,” Daddono says. “I’ve visited other countries, but I’ve never done hands-on work or really talked to the people about the problems that they face in their lives.”

That worldview for many American teens is a lot different than it was two decades ago, says Ken Jones, who owns , a volunteer tourism company out of Antigua. He got his start in the travel business, offering only Spanish-language classes. But young people today, he says, want a richer experience.

“It used to be beach and beer,” Jones says. “And now it’s, ‘Well, I want to come down and learn something and figure out how to help or be a part of something.’ It was more superficial 20 years ago, maybe.”

The industry has exploded in the past few years, says Theresa Higgs, who runs in Boston. The nonprofit offers what she calls a cultural immersion program.

But Higgs is on the fence about whether the rise in popularity of “voluntourism” is a good thing. She’s heartened by the altruism of volunteers, but she’s worried about the flood of for-profit organizations bursting onto the scene.

“What I think often gets lost is the host communities,” she says. “Are they gaining? Are they winning? Are they true partners in this? Or are they simply a means to an end to a student’s learning objective, to someone’s desire to have fun on vacation and learn something?” she asks.

Higgs urges travelers to do their homework and research companies, just as you would before giving to a charity or volunteering for any organization.

About a dozen youth from the United Church of Christ from Yarmouth, Maine, are learning how to count to 10 in the Mam language, from an elderly indigenous woman in Guatemala City. They are volunteering for a week at the nonprofit , which helps children and parents who live and work in the capital’s sprawling garbage dump.

It’s pouring rain outside, but 17-year-old Mary Coyne isn’t bummed. She’s glad she spent her summer vacation here instead of at the beach, she says. “Yeah, I’m not getting a tan and not eating ice cream,” Coyne says. “But it’s something different. It’s like your whole being is satisfied because of experiences like this.”

Kenya police work with Anglican Church to combat crime

Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Guido Potters
Related Categories: Kenya

[The Star, by Wanjohi Gakio] Administration Police in Nyahururu and the Anglican Church are holding a five-day crusade to call for reforms among criminals

The officers said the rise in consumption of illicit brews is worrying.

Nyahururu district AP boss Daniel Masaba told a press conference in Nyahururu that local illicit brew consumers are not changing their ways even after being arrested and prosecuted.

He said they are giving police officers a difficult time hunting them up and down besides being an eyesore and a burden to the society.

“These people are jailed but are still slipping into old ways. We have used guns and now want to bring the bible on board to see whether our work will be more effective,” Masaba said.

The full article can be found here

The Limits of Christian Perfectionism



Mark Tooley

by Mark Tooley@markdtooley

Recently I passed the above United Methodist church touting its anti-gun stance. United Methodism has officially backed gun control since the early 1960s. This stance is just one of many examples of official Methodism’s post-Social Gospel political perfectionism.

Wesleyan perfectionism, as conceived by John Wesley, emphasized that the individual Christian, relying on the Holy Spirit, constantly seeks the perfection of Christ. For this reason, United Methodist ordinands pledge they are “going on to perfection.” There is never to be complacency about sin. Christ is both our strength and our goal.

But Wesley was ever a grounded realist. He didn’t counsel that a Christian make plans for tomorrow as though all sin were overcome. The struggle for holiness is lifelong. We must be always aware of our fallen inclinations, avoiding temptation where possible, and seeking forgiveness when needed, which is often, while trusting God will keep us under His watch as we trust in Him.

And Wesley certainly never counseled that Christians should operate socially and politically as though the effects of all or most sin in the world were already vanquished. Again, he was a realist. Most, even in nominally Christian cultures, are not living seriously Christian, he certainly knew, as he toiled to spiritually vivify nominally Christian Britain. And even the devout are constrained in their redemptive work by their own stumbles and finite understandings.

Politically, Wesley was adamantly the realist. He stalwartly supported the British constitutional system of crown and parliament because he thought, for all its imperfections, it provided an approximate social good preferable to the alternatives. Unlike the Puritan regime of the previous century, which sought rule by the saints, Britain in Wesley’s day was governed by sinners constrained by balances of power. This system did not assume virtue but assumed human frailty while at its best incentivizing virtue.

Wesley didn’t approve of the American Revolution because, once again as the realist, he thought it could not improve on Britain’s constitutional system. But likely had Wesley lived longer he would have at least grudgingly realized that the new American constitutional system replicated many of the assumptions of Britain’s arrangement. He would have certainly agreed with James Madison’s explanation that government in this world is not of angels and must instead factor fallen human nature. Madison and the other Founders created a regime where competing interests would balance against each other, inhibiting too much power to any one segment.

Of course, Wesley believed in social reform, which he thought chiefly the work of the church as it evangelizes and disciples. But he also favored the pursuit of just laws that at least approximated the lofty justice of God’s kingdom without pretending that God’s Kingdom could be completed through human law. He likely would have agreed with America’s Founders that in the wider body politic, enlightened self-interest is usually the best for which to hope even in the very best of times.

The Social Gospel 100 years after Wesley’s death inverted the pursuit of perfection, making it chiefly political and systemic, not personal and spiritually redemptive. This new spin on Christianity imagined God’s Kingdom could be realized through mobilization and legislation. A perfected society would then perfect individual souls. Wesley would have thought the whole project absurd.

So much of Wesley’s understanding of political order in a fallen world has been erased from collective memory that I have suggested Wesleyans should ponder the Calvinist example regarding human limitations. But as Wesley well knew, even Calvinists have at times dreamt of politically consummating the Kingdom of God. Christians of all stripes must be always on guard against utopianism and even less sweeping forms of social perfectionism. Social arrangements with modest goals that recognize the central power of self-interest should inform Christian political witness.

Liberal Christians must be warned against trusting expansive welfare and regulatory states to defeat poverty, against naive international peacemaking, against pretending that human laws can redirect global climate, against romanticizing illegal immigration as biblical sojourning, against pretending that global energy needs can depend on windmills, the sun and seaweed, and against ignoring the limited and chiefly punitive vocation of the state in restraining evil.

Conservatives Christians are usually more comfortable admitting the limits of human nature. But we also must acknowledge in our fallen world, this side of the eschaton, there will always be abortion, sexual immorality, intoxication, blasphemy, corruption, gambling and every form of human vice, even in the very best of societies. We can pray and labor to bring down the most egregious high places of rebellion against God’s purposes. But the struggle is ongoing and never complete. We mustn’t romanticize a past that never existed or fantasize about a perfected society built by our own hands.

God is always redemptively at work in our sinful, tumultuous world. Personally and politically, we should seek to align with His purposes, as best we understand, realizing our own limitations, and having confidence only in His perfection.


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