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Saturday, 27 August 2016

Two sides of the coin

"During his time as archbishop, Dr Morgan has championed many changes in the Church in Wales, including a change in its law to enable women to be ordained as bishops.
He also apologised "unreservedly" to gay couples for prejudice in the church." BBC Report

Such comments are the highlights of many fulsome reports of the impending retirement in January 2017 of the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, all written from a secular viewpoint including the announcement on the Church in Wales website:

"Dr Morgan, who is the longest serving archbishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion and also one of the longest serving bishops, will retire on his 70th birthday at the end of January. He will also retire as Bishop of Llandaff after more than 17 years service, having previously been Bishop of Bangor for nearly seven years....During his tenure as Archbishop, Dr Morgan has championed many changes in the Church in Wales, including a change in its law to enable women to be ordained as bishops and the implementation of a radical strategy, 2020 Vision, to help the church grow and prosper in the approach to its centenary year.  He has also played a prominent role in public life, campaigning most notably for a fair devolution settlement for the Welsh Government and speaking out on matters of moral concern."

Reading some of the tributes, "the Archbishop of Canterbury described Dr Morgan as an 'extraordinary servant' who would be 'deeply missed' while the First Minister of Wales praised his 'vast contribution' to Welsh life" and "Wales’ senior bishop, the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, praised his 'courageous leadership' of the Church in Wales", the casual observer is left in ignorance of the decline to near extinction of the Church in Wales under Dr Morgan's 'leadership'. 

You can read a more balanced view of the Archbishop's secular agenda during his time in office in VirtueOnline Viewpoints from which I quote:

Morgan is among the most revisionist of Western archbishops in the Anglican Communion, whose only legacy was changing a law enabling women to be ordained as bishops and then apologizing "unreservedly" to gay couples for prejudice in the church. Under his tutelage, there was no evangelical revival and churches continue to wilt and die.

In Sept, 2014, I wrote about the The Washed up World of the Anglican Church of Wales and noted that Morgan said that he would resist the founding of another province with every fiber of his body. He was, of course, alluding to the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). He made this statement at the 2009 Virginia Annual Council.

Well, his body might need new fibers because his Church might not be around for very much longer at the present rate of decline.

According to the latest statistics (2013), the Anglican Church in Wales shows Average Sunday Attendance (over 18) of just a little over 31,000 and under 18 of just a few over 6,000. That's a drop of some 1,728 persons (over and under age 18) from 2012. The Church is not attracting Millennials.

The trend for the future will be much the same as the past as there are no green shoots of renewal extant in the province, a source told VOL. Wales is the former ecclesiastical home of the less than notable, Dr. Rowan Williams.

Dr Virtue also writes:

As the Episcopal Church sinks slowly into the sunset, with millions of dollars in Trust Funds, valuable properties worth millions of dollars strategically located in large cities and a healthy Church Pension Fund, the other side of the coin is that its pulpits will lose several thousand priests and close more than 1500 churches over the next six years.

The Episcopal Church will see a drop of more than 2,000 full time parish priests in the next half dozen years, as retirement numbers increase geometrically, with a likely decrease of ordinands going into the ministry, Church statistics reveal.

This translates into the number of full time priests being reduced by 65% - 75% of total congregations in the denomination. These numbers are from 2014, the last year reported in some cases. Indications are that the situation is probably worse now in 2016. The average age of an Episcopal priest is 59 (or the mean - half older, half younger) there is a tsunami of retirements headed their way in the next 5-10 years with no possible way of filling pulpits with new ordinands.

For all its efforts to double the Church by 2020 and TREC, an attempt to reimagine the Church, nothing, it seems, is working. The church continues on its Gadarene slide.

That Dr Morgan should have chosen the oceanographer and Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church (TEC), Katharine Jefferts Schori as his guiding light says it all.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Christ the Redeemer mimics Muslim icon

Source: Twitter #Rio2016

My 'In tray' this morning contained a recommended tweet, #Rio2016. Above is the lead 'photo'.

'Christ the Redeemer' is, for some, "the ultimate religious symbol", for others, an "irresistible tourist attraction". Read about the construction of this modern wonder of the world here

As celebrity cults continue to be pumped out by the media with the BBC frequently taking the lead, questions have been asked about why the BBC 'ignores Olympian Usain Bolt's commitment to Christ': "Usain Bolt is a Bible-believing, God-honoring, Jesus-worshipping Christian. But not a whisper from the BBC; not a word of explanation of the real significance of these 'moments to himself.'"

By contrast Mo Fara's Muslim prayers on the track are a constant reminder of his faith before displaying his characteristic 'M' symbol on his head.

Many interpretations will be applied to the changed Rio image of Christ, all detracting from the primary image of Christ the Redeemer but few today will care if Christians are offended by it.

The Olympic movement strives to strengthen its ideals by condemning the Egyptian judo star who refused to shake hands with his Israeli opponent after being beaten and there was widespread praise for the Olympic spirit when New Zealand and American runners helped each other during their race after collision.

If the BBC and the rest of the media displayed similar standards Christians would have less cause for concern.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Conference to Preserve the Breadth of Anglicanism in Wales

"Be joyful and keep the faith!"                                                                                                                                                           Source: Credo Cymru

"Credo Cymru [Forward in Faith Wales] is to host a conference in Cardiff on September 21 and 22 entitled 'That Nothing Be Lost - Fel Na Choller Dim'. This title was chosen in order to stress our hope that we may preserve the theological breadth (and depth!) of Anglicanism in Wales.

"Some thirty-five participants will take part; they include clergy and laity from Wales as well as seven members of the Church of England. The conference has been organised as a result of the decision of the Governing Body to authorise the consecration of women as bishops in the Church in Wales. The organising committee, which includes the Director of Forward in Faith, Dr Colin Podmore, has sought to bring together those who rejoice at this decision and those who are perturbed by it. Our aim is to see how much common ground there is between the two groups of Anglican Christians. The participants  will consider carefully what is required to ensure a place for people of differing convictions to feel secure and able to flourish within the Church in Wales and to hear how a similar intention is, even now, being worked out in our sister church in England.  To this end the bishops of St Asaph and Gloucester, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron and the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, will make important contributions to the discussions." Full details here.

Keeping the faith in Wales is not without obstacles when it comes to worship. To their credit there are male and female clergy who recognise the theological difficulties of members who are unable to accept the sacramental ministry of women. Arrangements are often made to avoid embarrassment to women clergy and laity by naming the celebrant in weekly notice sheets. That did not find favour with the Archbishop of Wales who stopped the practice at Llandaff Cathedral when he found time to take on the role of Dean. - Dr Morgan has since decided that the role of Archbishop is too onerous for one man (or woman) believing that three bishops are needed to run modern dioceses in Wales even though Wales as a Province has double the bishops per attendees than many English dioceses, see Statistics of Omission.

Contrary to the beliefs held by most Anglicans and members of the Orthodox and Catholic churches, the Church in Wales followed the example of the US Episcopal Church and the Church of England, taking their own counsel to conclude that "the Church in Wales is fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender", scripture and tradition being trumped by a misguided view of equality.

While the CofE made effective provision for members who "on grounds of theological conviction and conscience are unable to receive the sacramental ministry of women bishops or priests [but] continue to be within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion", the CinW decided in her wisdom to make no similar provision following the mean minded Jackson/Wigley amendment, only obstacles.

In these circumstances Credo Cymru and FiF are to be congratulated for their initiative. If the Welsh bishops remain unwilling to change their stance they will confirm their intention to kill off Anglicanism as a broad church in Wales.

The conference prayer:

Almighty God, Father of us all,
send your Holy Spirit to guide and renew all of us in our pilgrimage of faith.
Open our eyes to see your Spirit at work.
Bring healing where there is division,
bring hope where there is despair,
bring joy where there is sadness.
Help us to see how we can work together,
so that others may embrace Jesus as Lord and Saviour
within the family of your Church.
To Him be all honour and glory, now and until the end of time.  Amen.

Update [13.09.2016]

Provincial press release: Bishops support Credo Cymru conference

"Dr Morgan said, 'When the Church in Wales ordained women priests and made it possible for women to be ordained bishops, it acknowledged that there was still a place in that church for those who, for whatever reason, found that difficult.  Credo Cymru members belong to the Church in Wales and since I am the Archbishop of the whole of the Church in Wales, for that reason I accepted its invitation to attend'."

Prayer is requested for the conference – both in advance and while it is meeting. Pray that the needs of the faithful be met by recognising their needs rather than having the wishes of others forced upon them.

The conference is for invited participants only, but all are welcome to the Sung Eucharist which will be celebrated at St Martin’s Church, Roath, Cardiff, on St Matthew’s Day, Wednesday 21 September 2016, at 6.30pm. The preacher will be the Bishop of Burnley, Philip North and the Archbishop, Dr Barry Morgan, will preside.

Update [23.09.2016]

The Credo Cymru web site has a brief report on the Sung Eucharist referred to above with a copy of Bishop Philip North's homily.

Update 2 [23.09.2016]

A follow up Media Release has now appeared on the Credo Cymru web site with some of the papers from the Conference. Others will follow.

As the Chairman of Credo Cymru, Canon Jeffrey Gainer, said: ‘This was an opportunity for heart to speak to heart with integrity and charity. We are grateful to those of different views for their courage and generosity in coming to talk with us. I hope that the conversation will continue, drawing in others, and begin to transform our situation in the Church in Wales.’

By joyful and keep the faith!

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Another farcical Church in Wales 'consultation'?

Abp Morgan hectoring Governing Body         Source: Church in Wales Highlights

A Church in Wales Press Release has details of another so-called consultation:
"The Church in Wales is taking a fresh look at the role and responsibilities of its most senior leader [archbishop] and people across Wales are being invited to make a contribution". 

Contributions have previously been requested from people across Wales in 'consultations' which have allowed the bench of bishops to cherry pick comments they found favourable before binning others which did not accord with their predetermined agenda.

Diocesan meetings were organised at considerable expense to discuss a Code of Practice designed to cater for faithful Anglicans who, on theological grounds, were unable to accept the ministry of women bishops. The wishes of the majority were ignored, see True to his word: "Over my dead body!". Then there was the farcical taking of opinions about allowing same sex marriages and/or blessings in church, see Marriage: Dodgy discipleship?. Barry and his bench sitters simply did what they wanted when the result did not fit their secular agenda, see Bishops' rank hypocrisy. So why should anyone expect other than a predetermined outcome this time?

Looking at some figures puts the latest consultation into perspective. From Wales Online in 2014 - "If church-going is the best measure of the health of a faith community, Wales’ Christian communities should see a warning light flashing":

"Research by Tear Fund in 2007 showed Wales had the lowest level of regular church attendance in the UK at 12%, behind England (14%), Scotland (18%), London (22%) and Northern Ireland (45%). The 2001 census showed 71.9% of the Welsh population were self-described Christians but this fell to just 57.6% by the time of the 2011 survey.

Between 2011 and 2012, the number of adults attending Church in Wales Sunday services fell by 5%, from 33,783 to 32,171. Easter attendance dropped by 8% from 60,924 to 56,063."

According to the 2011 census the population of Wales was just over 3 million of which 58% claim to be Christians. Only 1% of the population worship regularly in the Church in Wales. At 1.5% there are more regularly worshipping  Muslims in Wales with numbers increasing while the number of worshippers in the Church in Wales continues to decrease.

In this context the Church in Wales Press Notice suggests an unwarranted sense of self importance designed to bolster the influence of the archbishop:

"The Church has commissioned a team to conduct the review but it is hoped that as many people as possible will participate. The team will seek views from across the Church and wider society at various key stages and is beginning by inviting initial views on the Archbishop’s role and how he or she might best be supported in the future. The Archbishop has duties both within the Church and nationally and these roles need to be properly understood so that they can be robustly supported."

It is not the Archbishop who needs support but the worshippers. They have been led astray by bishops who have grasped every secular fad to make the church 'more relevant' to society.  The Archbishop should be a shepherd leading his people to God not to a dictatorship of relativism.

The Press Release  draws the attention of readers to Dr Morgan's Presidential Address published in Highlights (p.3). The Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) has a more succinct summary.

Jobs for the girls and for the boys, if there are any left: 

"Archbishop Barry said it is worth noting that what that report [the 1980 Commission on Boundaries and Structures of the Church in Wales] was recommending was the same kind of things for bishops and dioceses that the later Harries report was recommending for parishes – a collegiate method of working. 'In other words, in every diocese, there should be more than one bishop, each with a distinct area of jurisdiction but forming a single unit for administration – just as in ministry areas each individual cleric would have a specific area for pastoral care but be part with others of a ministry area. This meant moving away from the concept of one bishop one diocese, to two or three bishops in every diocese, working closely together in partnership as far as the administration of the diocese as a whole was concerned, but each having pastoral jurisdiction over a particular area'. Other working groups and reports have suggested Llandaff as the permanent Metropolitical see, with the archbishop as diocesan, and an elected assistant bishop; or an archbishop without any diocesan responsibilities. Neither model has found favour. "

Dr Morgan's preferred option is for the archbishop to be based in Llandaff, an option previously rejected. This may come as a welcome release by the next archbishop given the mess created by Barry and his minions in Llandaff Cathedral.

Had Dr Morgan's mission been spiritual rather than political in making the church 'more relevant to society' the consultation would have had some relevance. Under his leadership the Church in Wales has been turned into a secular institution with prayers, giving wholehearted support to the sexual revolution which has demeaned the sanctity of marriage and twisted the meaning of love leading to sexual licence and promiscuity while masquerading as part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

The best way to support the Archbishop is to encourage him to abandon the secular agenda and lead his, or her, people back to God.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

It's not a game

A view from the US

Not content with changing the rules which protect the sanctity of marriage the gay lobby now expects the State to pay for unprotected sex via the NHS to help prevent them contracting HIV: "Aids campaigners are celebrating a watershed victory after the high court ruled that NHS England can pay for 'game-changer' drugs that prevent people being infected with HIV by their partners".

While it may be cheaper in the long run to prevent rather than treat Aids, there has to be added to the cost of the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug the cost of treating any side effects plus treating the added risk of STDs which is rising among gay and bisexual men. But there is more to this than the money. There is a moral dimension.

With limited resources to provide essential treatment there are, for example, needy children with cystic fibrosis, people with cancer who have to apply for funding to just give them some hope through no fault of their own. Twenty-five vital cancer drugs have been deemed 'too expensive' for the NHS.

With so many pressing health needs the tax payer should not be asked to fund a life-style choice at the expense of the needy.

Postscript [08.08.2016]

Transgender ‘men’ given IVF treatment by the NHS. Women who have undertaken sex reassignment surgery to become 'men' are being given IVF treatment on the NHS.

Conservative MP Peter Bone questioned why the NHS is choosing to fund this, especially considering its limited resources for more necessary medical services:

 "The NHS is does not have endless pots of cash and, with accident and emergency departments and hospitals bursting at the seams, we should stop pretending that it does," he said. 
"When you go into realms like this, I am not sure why the taxpayer should be funding it. It’s something that people could surely fund privately if they want to. We’ve had changes in the Cancer Drugs Fund which will stop some cancer drugs being available to people on cost grounds.
"I just sometimes ask if the NHS is getting its priorities right."