An Open Letter from Religious Leaders, December 15, 2017
As leaders of various communities of faith throughout the United States, many of us came together in the past to affirm our commitment to marriage as the union of one man and one woman and as the foundation of society. We reiterate that natural marriage continues to be invaluable to American society.
We come together to join our voices on a more fundamental precept of our shared existence, namely, that human beings are male or female and that the socio-cultural reality of gender cannot be separated from one’s sex as male or female.
We acknowledge and affirm that all human beings are created by God and thereby have an inherent dignity. We also believe that God created each person male or female; therefore, sexual difference is not an accident or a flaw—it is a gift from God that helps draw us closer to each other and to God. What God has created is good. “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27).
A person’s discomfort with his or her sex, or the desire to be identified as the other sex, is a complicated reality that needs to be addressed with sensitivity and truth. Each person deserves to be heard and treated with respect; it is our responsibility to respond to their concerns with compassion, mercy and honesty. As religious leaders, we express our commitment to urge the members of our communities to also respond to those wrestling with this challenge with patience and love.
Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can “change” their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults. Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of “first, do no harm.” Gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt. The state itself has a compelling interest, therefore, in maintaining policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it.
The movement today to enforce the false idea—that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa—is deeply troubling. It compels people to either go against reason—that is, to agree with something that is not true—or face ridicule, marginalization, and other forms of retaliation.
We desire the health and happiness of all men, women, and children. Therefore, we call for policies that uphold the truth of a person’s sexual identity as male or female, and the privacy and safety of all. We hope for renewed appreciation of the beauty of sexual difference in our culture and for authentic support of those who experience conflict with their God-given sexual identity.
Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera
Bishop of Scranton
USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America
The Rt. Rev. Eric V. Menees
Bishop of San Joaquin
Anglican Church in North America
Rev. Eugene F. Rivers, III
Founder and Director
Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies
Church of God in Christ
The Rev. John F. Bradosky
North American Lutheran Church
Rev. Dr. Gregory P. Seltz, PhD
The Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty
Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Philadelphia
USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth
The Rev. Paull Spring
The North American Lutheran Church
Most Rev. James D. Conley
Bishop of Lincoln
USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and
Defense of Marriage
Rev. Tony Suarez
Executive Vice President
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
The Rt. Rev. John A. M. Guernsey
Bishop, Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic
Anglican Church in North America
Very Rev. Nathanael Symeonides
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison
Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod
The Rev. Dr. L. Roy Taylor
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in America
Imam Faizal Khan
Founder and Leader
Islamic Society of the Washington Area
Director of Policy Studies
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Most Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz
Archbishop of Louisville
USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty
The Rev. Dr. David Wendel
Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism
The North American Lutheran Church
Archbishop of Pittsburgh
Orthodox Church in America
Join Anglican Family for its annual conference January 17-19, 2018 at Trinity School for Ministry
What does the Bible have to say about raising children in the faith? How can the Church support families as units of discipleship and mission? How do families fit into God’s plan of redemption?
These questions and others will shape our conversations at the 2018 Anglican Family Conference which will take place January 17-19, 2018 at Trinity School for Ministry.
Presenters will include: Trevecca Okholm, author of Kingdom Family: Re-Envisioning God’s Plan for Marriage and Family; Dan Dupee, author of It’s Not Too Late: the Essential Part You Play in Shaping Your Teen’s Faith; Jonathan Warren, co-associate Rector at Church of the Ascension in Pittsburgh with his wife Tish, author of Liturgy of the Ordinary; and Leslie Thyberg, a member of the ACNA’s Committee on Catechesis and its working group, Anglican Family. We are dedicated to the renewal of families for the flourishing of church and society through the resourcing of clergy, lay leaders, and parents in the work of faith formation.
For more information and to register for Anglican Family 2018, visit the Anglican Family website.
The Anglican Church in North America is looking for volunteers to serve with the Communications Team over the next few months. Do you have a heart to serve and fit one of these job descriptions?
Online Helpers Needed: Do you enjoy helping people, and interacting online? The Anglican Church in North America is looking for volunteers to provide support through live chat and by phone to congregations who are filling out their annual reports. Each year our congregations report their relevant numbers and statistics, and sometimes they get “stuck” with technical issues or questions and need a little help.
We are looking for a few people who are skilled and experienced in customer service to volunteer a few hours per week from January to March to run a live chat and be available to support our congregations. Preferably, the volunteer will have experience with Zoho Services, another customer-service ticketing system, or be willing to learn the system. Training is provided. Volunteer must be personable, servant-hearted, and have a passion for the Anglican Church in North America.
Stat Geeks Needed: The Anglican Church in North America is looking for volunteers to help consolidate and analyze data from our annual congregational reports. As our congregations fulfill their yearly duty to report to the Province their relevant numbers and statistics, the data from each needs to be validated, consolidated, and analyzed for functional use.
We are looking for someone who is detail oriented, and skilled in statistics and data analysis to volunteer a few hours per week from March to May. Volunteers must be proficient in Microsoft Excel. Volunteers must be servant-hearted, have a passion for the Anglican Church in North America, and be trustworthy in handling confidential information.
To the Faithful of the Gafcon movement and friends from Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria and Chairman, the Gafcon Primates Council.
My dear people of God,
On the 7th December, the first ordinations of the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) took place in London. AMiE was established by the overwhelming consensus of the Nairobi Conference in 2013 as a mission society in England to help our English brothers and sisters in the massive task of evangelisation.
It is very appropriate that this historic event has taken place in the Advent season.
The second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power and majesty is essential to the Christian hope. The last book of the Bible closes with the words of Jesus ‘Surely I am coming soon’ and our joyful response in the midst of our present sufferings and struggles is ‘Amen. Come Lord Jesus!’ (Revelation 2:20).
But at Christ’s return there will also be final judgement. Those of us in the ordained ministry of the Church have a special responsibility to be messengers of the good news of the gospel by which we are saved from that judgement. To neglect that duty or to distort that message is therefore a very serious matter and brings the messengers themselves under the judgement of God. Where there is no repentance and those who are called to be shepherds of the flock continue to be unfaithful to the Good Shepherd, action must be taken.
Following his consecration as a missionary bishop for the UK and Europe earlier this year at the request of Gafcon UK, Bishop Andy Lines has now ordained nine men to serve in church plants which have already been established and to create new ones.
The purpose is to help re-evangelise a nation that was once one of the greatest centres of Christian mission the world has ever seen, but is now one of the most secular, and its strategy is to do this by planting new churches. Many faithful Anglicans remain within the Church of England, but there is a danger that their work will be compromised or made more difficult if the Bible is no longer upheld as the rule of faith. How can a Church be effective in mission when it has muddled the truth of the gospel? Mission and fidelity cannot be separated.
This was exactly the point made by Mrs. Lorna Ashworth, a member of the Archbishops Council (of Canterbury and York) and of the General Synod, when she resigned last month from both, saying that ‘as a corporate body we have become unable to articulate the saving message of Jesus Christ which fully encompasses the reality of sin, repentance and forgiveness – without this message we do not teach a true gospel and people do not get saved.’
This is the road down which the Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada have led the way. Now that the spiritual crisis in the Anglican Communion is so clearly affecting the Mother Church herself, we need to be very clear on three core values of the Gafcon movement.
Firstly, the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration commits us to working within the Anglican Communion. AMiE is sponsored by Primates of the Anglican Communion and to emphasise this, Archbishop Ntagali of Uganda and myself both recorded video messages of support for the AMiE ordination service.
However, secondly, the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration clarified that the Anglican Communion is not determined simply by relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury. We are confessing Anglicans and historic ties, however fruitful they have been in the past, cannot be allowed to compromise the truth of the gospel. Consistent with this principle, we recognise AMiE as fully part of the Anglican Communion.
Thirdly, AMiE demonstrates courage. By the grace of God we make the sacrifices that are necessary to proclaim Christ in season and out of season, even when that means leaving the comfort of established institutions as so many in the Anglican Church of North America have already demonstrated.
Advent is a time to remember that the purpose of the Church is to please and glorify God, not men. May God give all of us grace so that one day we will hear those wonderful words of the Lord Jesus ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ (Matthew 25:23).
The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria and Chairman, the GAFCON Primates Council
Global South Primates discuss the events leading to their affirmation of the Anglican Church in North America
In 2015, the Global South Primates stated in their communique “We rejoiced to welcome the Anglican Church in North America as a partner province to the Global South, represented by its Archbishop, the Most Reverend Foley Beach.” This decision of the Global South Primates came after more than a decade of successive events, and gave the Anglican Church in North America seat, voice, and vote in Global South. In 2016 the Global South Primates elected the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach, to the Steering Committee of Global South. We will hereby discuss the events that led to our affirmation of the Anglican Church in North America.
1. At the Primates Meeting of 2003, the Primates warned the Episcopal Church in USA about the consequences of the consecration of Gene Robinson.
“If his consecration proceeds, we recognise that we have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion and we have had to conclude that the future of the Communion itself will be put in jeopardy. In this case, the ministry of this one bishop will not be recognised by most of the Anglican world, and many provinces are likely to consider themselves to be out of Communion with the Episcopal Church (USA). This will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level, and may lead to further division on this and further issues as provinces have to decide in consequence whether they can remain in communion with provinces that choose not to break communion with the Episcopal Church (USA).”
When the consecration of Gene Robinson as a bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire within the Episcopal Church in America took place, the Anglican Communion Network (ACN) was formed.
The ACN was officially formed in January 2004 at a conference in Plano, Texas attended by several hundred priests and lay leaders, including 12 Episcopal bishops. Retired Florida Bishop Stephen Hays Jecko was a leader. Its main intent was to provide a system to supply theologically conservative leadership and church oversight to Anglicans in the United States and Canada.
2. In 2005, the Windsor Report that was presented to the Primates stated in Section D 157 that:
“There remains a very real danger that we will not choose to walk together. Should the call to halt and find ways of continuing in our present communion not be heeded, then we shall have to begin to learn to walk apart.”
3. At the Primates Meeting in Tanzania in 2007, the Archbishop of Canterbury invited two Orthodox bishops from the Episcopal Church in USA (TEC), Bishop Bob Duncan of ACN and Bishop Bruce MacPherson of the Communion Partner Bishops within the Episcopal Church to speak. After listening to their concerns, the Primates wrote in their communique that:
“It is also clear that a significant number of bishops, clergy and lay people in The Episcopal Church are committed to the proposals of the Windsor Report and the standard of teaching presupposed in it (cf paragraph 11). These faithful people feel great pain at what they perceive to be the failure of The Episcopal Church to adopt the Windsor proposals in full. They desire to find a way to remain in faithful fellowship with the Anglican Communion. They believe that they should have the liberty to practice and live by that expression of Anglican faith which they believe to be true. We are deeply concerned that so great has been the estrangement between some of the faithful and The Episcopal Church that this has led to recrimination, hostility and even to disputes in the civil courts.”
4. In an attempt to solve the crisis within TEC, at the Primates Meeting in 2007 it was suggested that there be a formation of a Pastoral Council.
The Primates will establish a Pastoral Council to act on behalf of the Primates in consultation with The Episcopal Church. This Council shall consist of up to five members: two nominate d by the Primates, two by the Presiding Bishop, and a Primate of a Province of the Anglican Communion nominated by the Archbishop of Canterbury to chair the Council.
5. Unfortunately, the TEC Standing Committee rejected the recommendation of the Primates to form the Pastoral Council. As a result, several dioceses and many individual parishes in both Canada and the United States transferred their allegiances to Anglican provinces in South America and Africa.
6. The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) was founded in 2009 by former members of the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada, many of whom were illegally deposed after disassociating themselves from the revisionist doctrinal and social teachings of The Episcopal Church.
7. In 2010, the Global South Primates meeting in Singapore welcomed the formation of the Anglican Church in North America as a faithful expression of Anglicanism.
“We were pleased to welcome two Communion Partner bishops from The Episcopal Church USA (TEC ) and acknowledge that with them there are many within TEC who do not accept their church’s innovations. We assure them of our loving and prayerful support. We are grateful that the recently formed Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is a faithful expression of Anglicanism. We welcomed them as partners in the Gospel and our hope is that all provinces will be in full communion with the clergy and people of the ACNA and the Communion Partners. GS 2010 Singapore.”
Due to this long and complex history of events and their consequences, many people do not understand how the faithful Anglicans who are currently in the Anglican Church in North America have struggled to keep the unity of the church, and at the same time remain faithful to the Anglican tradition. More than 650 priests and more than ten bishops who were originally ordained and consecrated within TEC were deposed. It became a necessity to form a body that keeps those faithful within the Anglican tradition, hence the Anglican Church in North America was formed, and welcomed as a valuable member of the Global South Anglicans.
8. It is worth mentioning that the orders of priests in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) have been recognised by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.
The decision follows work by the Faith and Order Commission, in consultation with the Council for Christian Unity (CCU), on whether ACNA meets the criteria by which the C of E recognises the ministry of those whose orders are of Churches “within the historic episcopate and with whom the Church of England is not in communion”.
9. In light of recent events within the Anglican Communion, we unashamedly remain in full communion with our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Church in North America.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis, Bishop of Egypt, Chairman
The Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh, Archbishop of All Nigeria, Vice - Chairman
The Most Rev. Stanley Natagali, Archbishop of Uganda, Secretary General
The Most Rev. Moon Hing, Archbishop of S.E.Asia , treasurer
The Most Rev. Greg Venables, Archbishop of South America
The Most Rev. Ezekiel Kondo, Archbishop of Sudan
The Most Rev. Daniel Sarfo, Archbishop of CPWA
The Most Rev. Onesphore Rwaje, Archbishop of Rwanda
The Most Rev. Stephen Than Myint Oo, Archbishop of Mynmar
The Most Rev . Zacharie MASIMANGO KATANDA , Archbishop of Congo
The Most Rev. Paul Sarker, Archbishop of Bangladesh
The Most Rev. Daniel Deng, Archbishop of South Sudan
You can also view the statement on the Global South website
Anglicans for Life will hold its third annual Summit: Mobilizing the Church for Life in Falls Church, Virginia on January 18, 2018 and its first ever Life Symposium: Equipping the Church for Life on January 26, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Both events coincide, respectively, with the March for Life in Washington D.C. and Walk for Life in San Francisco. Join fellow Anglicans in the manifestation of Christ’s love for the unborn and his Gospel of Life.
Read more from Anglicans for Life President Georgette Forney below and find resources for each event at the bottom of the page.
It is hard to believe we are in the last month of 2017! It has been quite a year with almost daily occurrences of violence and division featured in the news. As our culture increasingly celebrates and embraces death, it feels, more than ever, like we are being besieged on every side. I do not know about you, but I need more than encouraging sentiment. I want to do something about all this, to see the Church fulfill its purpose as the voice of the voiceless, the unborn, the elderly, and the vulnerable.
The deepest desire of my heart is to see God’s people equipped and prepared for life ministry. And Anglicans for Life will be holding not one but two events to help you and your church do just that! We are excited to share that AFL will be hosting the 3rd annual Summit: Mobilizing the Church for Life on January 18th, 2018 in Falls Church, VA. Additionally, with the Lord’s provision and support from the dioceses, we are also hosting our first West Coast event, Life Symposium: Equipping the Church for Life on January 26th, 2018 in San Francisco, CA.
The vision of both events is the same. As we have seen in Scripture, God instructs us to protect and value Life. And I want to see Anglicans taking action in their churches and communities to fulfill this command! To help with this, Summit 2018 and the Life Symposium will seek to motivate life-ministry and will feature keynote speakers, workshops, and networking opportunities to provide both inspiration and practical action ideas. After both events, there will be an Anglican prayer service the following morning, after which we will join with hundreds of thousands of life-affirming people at the March for Life in DC or the Walk for Life in San Francisco. In addition to yourself, I would encourage you to invite a friend and to share this invitation with others, especially if God has put it on your heart to start a life-affirming ministry. As with any calling, God intends us to act in and rely on community for support and prayer. Seeking partnership within your congregation can create a unique and necessary dynamic for ministry!
As well as serving a God who loves Life, we are grateful to work with priests, pastors, lay people, and churches in the ACNA, whose very statutes affirm the sacredness of Life. According to Title II, Canon 8, “God, and not man, is the creator of human life…. therefore, from conception to natural death all members and Clergy are called to protect and respect the sanctity of every human life.”
I am personally inviting you to come to our events, not because abortion and assisted suicide are important “hot-topic” issues and not to bemoan the state of our culture, but because my hope is that the words of this canon will be more than just a theological position. I want people who come to these events to be filled with a passion for Life and have a sense of how God is calling them to act. This year has been a year of violence and division but I pray 2018 will bring unity and partnership for the sake of the Gospel of Life. May these events prepare churches and individuals to protect, honor, and celebrate the gift of life given to us by our Creator and to mobilize the Anglican Church to action!
To learn more about our events and to register, please visit our website. Additional information about each event is listed below.
Deacon Georgette Forney
January 18-19, 2018: Held in Falls Church, VA, followed by the March for Life in Washington, D.C. Please visit our website for details about our speakers and registration information www.anglicansforlife.org/summit-2018.
Learn about one of the Summit’s featured speakers, Stephanie Gray, here.
Life Symposium January 26-27, 2018: In conjunction with the Walk for Life in San Francisco, California. Additional information can be found on our website: www.anglicansforlife.org/symposium-2018.
In this world of hostility, strife, and violence we ache for the coming of God’s kingdom, for His promised shalom.
Those who recently attended the second annual Matthew 25 Gathering caught hopeful glimpses of the irrepressible mission of God in the scores of ministries represented by North American Anglicans.
Christ is bringing about Shalom on the earth. Bryan, a participant in Matthew 25, baptizes his homeless friends in the City Hall fountain of his town. David, another Matthew 25 participant from Canada, whose homeless ministry is now homeless, has offered belonging and housing for the vulnerable Inuit of his large city. Vicky’s small parish fights for sanctity of life in a country that allows late term abortions. Jeff walks alongside at-risk youth through basketball, life-skills training, and gospel discipleship. Eva-Elizabeth shares life with special needs adults celebrating the small moments that make life beautiful. All these ministries are Anglican works of justice and mercy in North America.
For three days, one hundred other participants like these spent time swapping stories, praying together, listening to God’s call and heart, and tackling difficult issues that affect their gritty, challenging contexts. Our purpose was to connect with other practitioners on the ground, to grow as a learning community, and to be refreshed through retreat, silence, feasting, and prayer.
The following words tell the story of our time together: “Anglican Justice and Mercy Contending for Shalom.” We know that shalom is the way things are supposed to be, but instead we live in a sin-shattered world of pain and sorrow. We therefore proclaim and embody the good news of the kingdom among “the least of these,” where the mercies and justice of God shall reign. This is hard work. Because hardship and trials are abundant while progress and resources can be scarce, we must contend for it. Shalom costs something: the cross of Christ and our own, as we take it up and follow Him with defiant hope. Finally, we do so as Anglicans. We have an Anglican community of practitioners, who are heirs of a rich tradition of contemplative-activism, and sacramental spirituality.
Theologians, historians, canons, priests, and others led us to deeper reflection on these themes. Archbishop Beach offered vision for the ACNA’s core value for God’s heart for “the least of these” and blessed practitioners in freedom to continue their work knowing they have a place in our Anglican tribe.
We are contemplative activists, reflective practitioners, a people of the Book, who love sacramental living. We have given ourselves to the broken places of North America and face not only personal sin and heartache but also systems and institutions that oppress and damage. Our only hope is in Jesus, the one we encounter in the hungry, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned, the stranger. It is a good and beautiful thing to do so in the company of our Anglican family.
Andrea, a participant of Matthew 25, supports chaplains in prisons where the incarcerated can know true freedom in Christ and flourish despite circumstances. Through legal advocacy, Jason, also a participant in the Matthew 25 Gathering, serves hard-working immigrants finding a new home in a land of safety, plenty, and freedom. Alan’s parish is plowing fields in their suburban city for refugees to farm. On the stories go….may we keep telling, re-telling, and telling anew how Christ is bringing about Shalom on the earth.
by Christine Warner
This week Archbishop Beach traveled to Rwanda to preach, teach, share in worship and fellowship with the clergy of the province, and bring greetings from North America.
The Most Rev. Onesphore Rwaje, Archbishop and Primate of Rwanda, welcomed 500 priests and bishops from around his province for their annual clergy conference December 4-8, 2017. The conference was hosted in the Dioceses of Shyogwe by The Rt. Rev. Jered Kalimba, who has been the bishop of the diocese for over 20 years. Bishop Kalimba’s entrepreneurial leadership has brought about a variety of projects and initiatives, from youth ministries to water projects, which have built up the communities in his diocese.
The Rt. Rev. Alfred Olwa, the new bishop of the diocese of Lango in Uganda was invited as a special guest to give the plenary addresses on the conference theme, “Growing Together in Communion.” Archbishop Beach led the times of Bible teaching and preached at the opening Communion Service.
Taking I Corinthians 12:21-31 as his text, Archbishop Beach encouraged the gathering to honor each of its members, and for each to work in their unique gifting. “As followers of Jesus we have all been baptized into the same body, Christ’s body. As Paul tells us, ‘We are all individual members of him. We belong to Christ and to one another.’”
Bishop Olwa spoke powerfully of the central importance of the lordship of Jesus Christ for growth. Using the example of the tangerine tree he said, “If you grow in communion in Jesus Christ you will first grow tall. As you mature and bearing fruit your branches will become heavy, bend down low, and be relevant for your people.”
The Anglican Church of Rwanda, which has eleven dioceses and an estimated 800,000 members, is somewhat unique in its reliance on lay catechists to spread the Gospel. In many dioceses the parish priest overseas both a centrally located congregation, and a cohort of up to 50 lay catechists who lead outlying congregations.
The Anglican Church of Rwanda has played a special role in the founding of the Anglican Church in North America, providing spiritual leadership for some of our members before its founding, and then joining the rest of Gafcon in calling for the formation of the province. Archbishop Beach expressed his appreciation for our brothers and sisters in Rwanda, “You stood by us in our time of need, we will always be grateful for you, and it is a joy to partner with you in ministry.” Archbishop Rwaje presented Archbishop Beach a hand-made wooden Ciborium symbolic of our provinces being in full communion with one another.
See pictures from the visit here on Facebook or below on Flickr.
A David and Goliath story of how a small yet faithful congregation was denied access to a public park because of its intent to play Christian music but stood firm until city policy was changed, protecting religious freedom.
In May, Shepherd’s Heart Anglican Church in Fairfax, Virginia will hold a concert at Old Town Square Park as an outreach to the community. What may sound like a typical event in any American town is instead a remarkable story of a small church’s perseverance through an unexpected struggle for religious liberty.
Two years ago, church member Pat Broderick first had the idea to hold a gathering at a city park but was subsequently denied access by the park manager because the church wanted to play contemporary Christian music.
“It was just our way of giving back to the community and letting them know we were down the street if anybody wanted any help or anything like that,” said Broderick.
Shepherd’s Heart is a small yet faithful congregation of about 40-50 members started by the late Fr. Harold Hammond in 1990, but currently without a full-time rector.
In 2016, Shepherd’s Heart leaders and members were challenged to brainstorm about ways to reach out to the community. After watching the city tear down an old gas station and replace it with a beautiful park, Broderick got the idea, especially given the park is “right around the corner from the church.”
Upon “following the prompting of the Holy Spirit,” as she described it, Broderick submitted a request to the city to use the park. At first, she says, there was no problem. But when she answered their follow-up questions and the city learned they would play Christian music, the city told her they could not partner with a religious organization and associate church and state.
“I just got so depressed and so down-hearted,” said Broderick, describing her reaction to the denial. “[That feeling] never went away and a voice in my head said ‘persevere, persevere.’”
A great woman of prayer, Pat returned to the training she had received from Fr. Harold: sit still, be quiet, and listen. “I just prayed. I didn’t know what else to do.” Pat had waited for two months before being given the opportunity and deciding to act. That’s when she reached out to a new member at the church she knew to be an attorney.
“Pat pulled me aside one Sunday morning after the service to talk about the issue. She knew I was an attorney and wanted to know my opinion. I told her that I wasn’t an expert, and I’m not Virginia barred, so I couldn’t give her legal advice. But, once upon a time, I did take first amendment in law school, and the whole situation smacked of content restriction,” described Charles Gorman, long-time Anglican, attorney, and member of Shepherd’s Heart.
The city’s policy did not expressly prohibit use of the park for religious activities or by religious groups. Instead, the city’s denial of the application was based on unchecked, arbitrary discretion – which is Constitutionally invalid.
Under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, religious expression and speech are protected in traditional public forums such as public parks like that of Old Town Square in Fairfax. City restrictions on such freedoms are heavily scrutinized and must not discriminate against a particular viewpoint. Further, in traditional public forums, state actors cannot censor people or groups based on the content of their speech, except when there is a compelling state purpose and the restriction is both necessary and the wording narrowly tailored to achieve that purpose. Accordingly, the Supreme Court has ruled in other similar cases that in circumstances like these in which the forum is available to others and the event is open to the public, there is no Establishment Clause conflict.1 Additionally, in order for the state to require permits (i.e. approval) as a prerequisite for individuals or groups to engage in protected speech, it must follow very strict and objective criteria in decision making. To base such permits on vague discretion by officials making the individual decisions may be considered a prior restraint on protected speech and a violation of the First Amendment.
Fairfax City’s denial of Shepherd’s Heart’s application “was classic prior restraint, which is exactly what the Founders wanted to prevent when they drafted the First Amendment,” explained Gorman. “We used the Freedom of Information Act to get access to the city’s park policies. Even though they said it wasn’t allowed, there was nothing in writing to back it up. It was completely arbitrary.”
Gorman, feeling convinced of the Constitutional violation, contacted the Center for Religious Expression in Memphis, Tennessee who took on the case pro-bono.
“The city cannot treat a Christian group differently just because it’s Christian. All that Shepherd’s Heart wanted to do was just like what other groups had done but with contemporary Christian music,” explained attorney Nate Kellum of the Center for Religious Expression who handled the case.
“I can’t say it enough: I have tremendous respect for Shepherd’s Heart and how they handled themselves,” Kellum applauded. “They never wanted a lawsuit, they just wanted to be a part of the community.”
Fr. Jerry Brown, a bi-vocational Associate Rector at Shepherd’s Heart, was at first unsettled about whether to pursue the case. “[The City’s policy was] wrong, but at the same time, is this something worth fighting?”
His tiny parish had little resources, and the city had plenty. On top of that, he was greatly concerned to not take the church away from its calling to worship God and send out the Gospel. At the same time, the efforts of the church to do so were being strangled illegally by the city.
Shepherd’s Heart turned to the Lord, seeking Him in prayer throughout the process. They sought Him for wisdom whether to pursue the case. They sought Him for guidance in working with the attorneys. They sought Him for their freedom and the ability to use the park.
“We prayed about it. I,” Fr. Jerry said, “had a peace about going forward. And everybody together said, ‘let’s go for it.’”
On October 26, 2017, Shepherd’s Heart Church and the City of Fairfax, Virginia signed a settlement agreement leading to significant changes in city policy with respect to church access to city parks. It is now expressly written in city policy that religious activities are permissible uses of the city’s parks.
“Fr. Jerry sent me an email the morning he was going to go to Federal Court to settle the case. He outlined what they were agreeing to, and my jaw almost hit the floor. We got everything we wanted and then some,” Gorman exclaimed. Upon hearing of the settlement, Broderick shouted to the Lord. “Yes, Lord! …I was just so excited!” she recalls.
Attorney Nate Kellum admitted, “I am really, really pleased with the result.”
For those involved, this is an impactful result, but they also realize how impactful this case is beyond their city. Broderick, Gorman, and Brown all noted that Christians in our society tend to not know their rights and are confused by the language of the “separation of church and state” and the “establishment clause” so readily thrown at them by government entities. Broderick herself admits that she didn’t know her rights, but she knew the denial of her request to use the park because of the faith-based content of the music did not seem right.
Gorman said, “It was amazing to me the number of people I spoke with, when telling them about our case, who genuinely thought we were wrong. That we, as a church, shouldn’t be allowed in a public square. But that’s not the law.”
According to the First Liberty Institute, a leading religious liberties litigation group out of Plano, Texas, the United States has seen a 133% increase in attacks on religious liberty in just five years.2 As renowned religious liberties attorney and CEO of First Liberty Institute, Kelly Shackleford, puts it, “Americans have entered a tipping point.” 3
Gorman explains, “there is so much misinformation and confusion about the law that many people give up before they even get started. If we don’t fight for our rights, no one else will.” And the law is – in fact - on our side. “Our country needs us! It needs you!”
According to Kellum, “this is a very important result…[it’s time] for churches, for Christians, to really be bold enough to be able to stand up for our beliefs and the ability to share our beliefs.”
To do that, we must be confident in our faith and confident in our rights, just like Shepherd’s Heart Anglican Church in Fairfax, Virginia.
1 See Good News Club v. Milford Central School, 533 U.S. 98 (2001); Widmar v. Vincent, 454 U.S. 263 (1981); Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District, 508 U.S. 384 (1993).
2 First Liberty Institute, Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America (2017), https://firstliberty.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/UNDENIABLE_ONLINE-1.pdf
3Shackleford, Kelly, A Time to Stand 2016, https://firstliberty.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/2016_ATTS_3.625x8.75_WEB.pdf
Rachel Thebeau is the Communications Associate for the Anglican Church in North America. She is a licensed attorney and a Blackstone Legal Fellow with Alliance Defending Freedom, one of the nation’s leading religious liberties organizations.
How Stephanie Gray changed the conversation and opened doors.
Stephanie will be one of the featured speakers at “Life Summit 2018: Mobilizing the Church for Life,” co-sponsored by Anglicans for Life and the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic.
by the Rev. Georgette Forney
Stephanie Gray recently appeared on my Facebook newsfeed in a video that featured her speaking at Google headquarters. I decided to watch and was amazed. Like “TED” talks, Google Talks try to “feature the world’s most influential thinkers, creators, makers and doers all in one place.” As I watched her presentation, I was impressed with the clarity and depth of her message, and was equally amazed that she was speaking at Google. Her message was about how to stand for the sanctity of human life.
She focused on how to start conversations and engage people without offending those on the opposite side of the opinion spectrum. She used questions and answers to lead to productive dialogue in making the case for life. She did a phenomenal job of weaving stories together to create relatable and real analogies to the pro-life and pro-choice arguments.
At the end of each discussion point, she brought the conversation back to how the ultimate affirmative answer supports life. Stephanie explained that when starting conversations, whether in an environment that’s friendly or not, it is best to begin with open-ended questions such as “Who inspires you, and why?” She explained that while people she interviewed often gave very different answers to the first question on who inspires them, it was the second question of “why” that produced very similar responses. Stephanie found that people were usually inspired by those who had suffered some kind of great difficulty, trial, or challenge and had overcome it.
What did she find was so similar in their responses? How had they overcome their great challenges?
1. Putting others before themselves. Love is universally attractive and deep down we are all attracted to selflessness.
2. They have perspective. Sometimes suffering is unavoidable, but despair is avoidable if we give that suffering meaning.
3. They do the right thing, even when it is hard.
Stephanie concluded her Google Talk by challenging her audience to follow the example of those who inspire them – to put others before themselves, gain some perspective on tough circumstances, and do the right thing, even when it is hard. Her challenge changed the conversation and opened the door to more conversation on why standing for life can make all the difference.
Stephanie was Executive Director for twelve years of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform. She now serves on the faculty at Blackstone Legal Fellowship where she trains law students from around the world about conversing persuasively on sanctity of life issues. She is author of Love Unleashes Life: Abortion & the Art of Communicating Truth as well as A Physician’s Guide to Discussing Abortion. Stephanie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and a Certification (with Distinction) in Health Care Ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Stephanie will be one of the featured speakers at “Life Summit 2018: Mobilizing the Church for Life,” co-sponsored by Anglicans for Life and the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic. It will be held at Falls Church Anglican (Falls Church, VA) on January 18, 2018.
The Rev. Georgette Forney is President of Anglicans for Life and co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.
To learn more or to register for Life Summit 2018, as well as the Life Symposium in San Francisco, CA, visit https://anglicansforlife.org/summit-2018.
Stephanie’s talk, “Abortion: From Controversy to Civility,” is available online here: https://youtu.be/DzzfSq2DEc4
How A Louisiana Native Went Around the World and Back To Plant A Church
by Matthew Swab
With his affable personality and genuine nature, it is easy to imagine Fr. Jarrett Fontenot leading a congregation, both from the pulpit and through daily life. As a bi-vocational priest, he jokes that I am catching him during his “transition between identities.” Indeed, as our conversation concludes I can hear the background noise has shifted from the sound of children kissing Daddy goodbye to the buzz of a busy office.
Jarrett is the rector of Holy Cross Anglican in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a 50-person parish that meets for Sunday worship in a Cadillac dealership overlooking the interstate. The location is not ideal, but the parish has exciting plans for the future. Jarrett is also a call center manager for The National Center for Disaster Fraud at Louisiana State University (LSU). The Center was established after Hurricane Katrina and processes calls from across the country before routing them to the appropriate federal agencies. Our conversation is a week after Hurricane Harvey and just days before Irma is expected to hit Florida. He is busy, but does not hesitate to make time for me.
A Louisiana native, Jarrett came to faith as a teenager in a non-denominational Bible church. Throughout his college years at LSU, he engaged with various evangelical traditions as his faith grew and deepened. During that time, he met his wife, Elizabeth, through Campus Crusade. While finishing a Masters Degree in Public Administration and Non-profit Management, he felt a call to seminary. And so, at the age of 26, he and Elizabeth moved from Louisiana to Massachusetts to attend Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
While in Massachusetts, Jarrett and Elizabeth attended an Anglican church in the midst of moving into what would become the Anglican Church in North America. The transparency, respect, and grace with which the leaders of the church handled the transition was eye-opening and inspiring for the Fontenots, deepening their affinity for Anglicanism.
Upon graduating from Gordon-Conwell, they made a daring move to pursue a three-year program with a hospital in the United Arab Emirates. Elizabeth used her skills as a nurse while Jarrett employed his talents in administration. During that time, they helped to plant St. Timothy’s in Al Ain, a mission plant of St. Andrews in Abu Dhabi. Through that work, Jarrett realized his call to the pastorate. When their time with the hospital was cut short, they returned to Baton Rouge with a new calling in their hearts and a baby boy in their arms!
Jarrett was ordained to the priesthood in June 2013, but their church in Louisiana had closed in May 2013. He recalls thinking, “This is not the way you’re supposed to do this!” Eight months later, he received a phone call. An Episcopal priest asked for help moving his parish to the Anglican Church in North America. Though it was not what he had anticipated, Jarrett agreed and they began the hard work of re-planting the congregation as Holy Cross Anglican.
In December 2015, Jarrett took on the role of head rector at Holy Cross and, even after almost two years, he humbly admits there is a constant sense of wondering, “How should we do this? Are we going about it the right way?” Having re-planted a congregation, there is a challenge to respect and honor the existing parish while also stepping forward into the future to establish a clear vision for the ministry.
Throughout our conversation, he refers to the “Kingdom perspective” that he strives to maintain. There are times when the needs of a family surpass what he or his parish can support. Rather than simply turn them away, though, he directs them to another ministry equipped to serve them. He does this by intentionally connecting with healthy churches throughout the community. Every other week, he meets with pastors from another denomination to discuss both personal and parish needs. They keep one another accountable and, through their relationships, better serve the community of Baton Rouge.
That is why he is so excited about the future of Holy Cross. They have been given an opportunity to move to a new, more accessible location that puts them in the middle of several diverse neighborhoods. As they consider the possibility of this new location, they are already talking to and listening to the people of the community to determine how they can best serve them.
With such changes on the horizon and with encouragement from his Bishop, Jarrett hopes to go full-time as rector in the near future. He realizes, however, that moving out of bi- vocational ministry will require planning, patience, and several years to prepare. The possibility of these changes presents wonderful and exciting potential for Holy Cross Anglican. While Jarrett knows it may be a long process, he has learned to be patient and wait on the Lord to build His Church.
Archbishop Duncan provides more information about the remit given to the Holy Orders Task Force at their formation.
There has been much public discussion since the College of Bishops met in conclave last September to discuss women in holy orders. Bishop Jack Iker’s address to the Diocese of Fort Worth convention has been a part of this conversation, but included an unintentional inaccuracy. To avoid confusion and misunderstanding, our first Archbishop, The Most Rev. Robert Duncan, recently called Bishop Iker to clarify the instructions that were given at the formation of the Task Force, and has now offered the following public comment and correction about the process by which the Task Force developed its study:
“A statement made by Bishop Jack Iker to his Annual Convention on November 4, 2017, is untrue, and – because it seems to have gained wide circulation – I believe I need to correct the record publicly. Because I am also Archbishop Emeritus, I also think brief comment is appropriate.
Bishop Iker stated: ‘It is interesting to note that when Archbishop Robert Duncan appointed the Task Force, he charged them with doing a study of the issue of women in holy orders, but instructed them not to come to a conclusion or to make any recommendation as to how to resolve the debate.’ As the chair of the Task Force, Bishop David Hicks has confirmed to me in writing, with willingness for me to quote him publicly, that no such instruction was ever given. It was never my leadership style to begin with the conclusion, except that the Lord wanted us together and wanted us to focus on mission. Far from what my long-time friend averred, my instruction to the Theological Task Force on Holy Orders was that they do the theological study that was promised at the foundation of the Province so we might better understand how to move forward.
That the Study provided biblical and hermeneutical grounds for both positions is the outcome of the study. That that outcome did not resolve the issue was not what many in either perspective hoped for, but it surely gives ground for the compromise that was necessarily imbedded in our Constitution and Canons when we came together in 2009. Not surprisingly, akin to Global Anglicanism, the matter of women in the presbyterate is not one that can presently be settled unless we should choose to go our separate ways.
It is a fact that the majority of our bishops do not ordain women to the presbyterate. It is also a fact that those dioceses which do ordain or license women to the presbyterate constitute a large majority of our church’s membership. However, this process has never been about attaining “winning” majorities and church politics, but about arriving together at a mutual consensus. The conclusion of the Theological Task Force on Holy Orders Study seems to be that we are, as faithful Anglicans, not yet at a final conclusion. If we have learned anything about church-life in the last fifty years, it should be that political action (facts on the ground and majority rule) to settle unresolved ecclesiological challenges is an extraordinarily divisive way forward. Coming to Godly consensus – as we did at the foundation of the Province in structuring a way to go forward together – is the course that is far more difficult but infinitely more fruitful.”
A reflection from the Anglican Relief and Development Fund on ministry in South Sudan
by Christine Jones
“It is human nature. As they grow up, they keep killing each other!” These words from Archbishop Daniel Deng of South Sudan are sobering. And indeed the situation in South Sudan is heartbreaking. With the worst humanitarian crisis occurring since World War II, the fact that over 20 million people in four countries are starving seems simply overwhelming.
However, in South Sudan, the church continues to be a source of hope for those suffering. For example, many internally displaced people have arrived at a camp on the Diocesan compound in Wau, South Sudan, seeking help. Wau Diocese covers two out of the 10 States of South Sudan and is located in the northwest of the country. It is closer to the border with Sudan than to the capital of South Sudan in Juba. Violence has led many to abandon their farms and flee for safety. They arrive at the church compound where they not only receive food but also pastoral help.
Many of you answered the call of Archbishop Foley Beach to help the South Sudanese through the Church in South Sudan. Food was distributed across the country. Some of this aid reached Wau. But how did the Diocesan staff know how to distribute it to the 5,000 people camped out in their compound?
Rev. Samuel Mabith Madut, the Diocesan Administrative Secretary explains,“Before distributing food, we first met with community leaders to identify the most vulnerable people. We made sure that the community leaders we consulted were representatives of all different communities living in the camp.”
Tribal-based violence has been at the heart of the conflict in South Sudan, so any relief efforts must rise above tribal tensions and include reconciliation. The community representatives, both male and female, identified the most needy: nursing mothers, pregnant women, the elderly and disabled, and orphans and children separated from their parents.
As they handed out food, “we also took advantage of the opportunity to preach about forgiveness, reconciliation, and peaceful coexistence among the communities within the camp and also when they return to their villages,” Rev. Samuel continues.
This is not new for South Sudan, especially for the Diocese of Wau. In 2012, Bishop Moses Deng Bol of the Diocese of Wau reflected,“I think most of the people who are not believers will really see that the church is meeting not only the spiritual needs – which I came to do – but also the physical need. I believe that this will also result in a peace building as [this] is an area that has been dominated by tribal conflict. And I am hoping that we will use this project to bring communities together for talking about health, water, sanitation, about cleanliness. But then we will also talk about peace.”
This statement was in response to an aid effort to bring clean water to Wau, but the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus in ways that meet the needs of the whole person has not changed. Bishop Moses is now an Archbishop responsible for a larger area of South Sudan. Please pray for him as he ministers to an increasing number of refugees.
In some ways, this money is just a drop in the bucket for meeting the true needs. But God is at work. Archbishop Daniel Deng says that the South Sudanese government is looking for ways to have a dialogue to end the war. They have approached the church to help with these conversations, having seen the reconciliation happening among church communities. Providing an example to the civil government is an exciting opportunity for the church. God will surely use it!
An Interview with Eric Overholt
by The Rev. Canon Steven Tighe, Provincial Canon for Youth Ministry
As a French Horn player with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Eric Overholt lived moments that can legitimately be described as glamorous. He played the Luke Skywalker solo from Star Wars at the Hollywood bowl, for 18,000 light-saber wielding fans. He’s played in the orchestra for movies that you’d recognize. It was his “dream job,” one that he had been pursuing since high school when he discovered a gift for the French Horn. That gift took him through a music degree at Baylor (where he was first introduced to Anglicanism), to a Master’s degree at The Juilliard School in New York, and eventually to a position with one of the finest orchestras in the world.
It all fell apart in 2013 when he developed a neurological condition that affected only his French Horn playing. After a very difficult three years of treatment and rehabilitation, he came to a realization: “When things started to fall apart, I was desperate. Losing the ability to play French Horn was like losing my identity. It was the beginning of a wrenching transition, and I’d like to say that the transition was a beautiful story of self-surrender, but it wasn’t. I was frustrated and angry and disappointed. When I finally gave up and put my horn down, I just started digging ditches. I spent three months with a pick and a shovel in my back yard trying to work through my frustration with God and with life.”
He came across a podcast from Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales, who described his own personal collapse as he lost Veggie Tales. Eric could relate as Vischer spoke of digging, listening, laughing, and weeping all at the same time, as he struggled with his own identity and relationship with God.
Can you say a few words about your faith up until that point?
I came to faith early. I grew up in the church, and I remember responding to an altar call at a children’s camp. From that point on, my desire was to follow Jesus. And in fact, I had always believed that He was calling me into music. It’s not exactly a stretch to see acceptance into Juilliard, or winning a job in the LA Philharmonic as an act of God! But now all of that was gone, and as I dug my ditch, I slowly began to realize that Jesus wants our surrender. What he wants most of all is a real relationship with us – to first walk in the garden with him, and only then does he want our work with him in the world.
How did you get from digging ditches to working with teenagers?
One of my most important early faith influences was a great youth minister in the Junior High ministry of the church I grew up in in Oklahoma City. He cared about us, mentored us, and raised us up as leaders in the group. That had a profound effect on my life and my faith, and since college, I’ve almost always volunteered with the youth group at the church I attended. When I realized that God was asking me to lay down my French Horn, it slowly dawned on me that He might be calling me into full time ministry at St. Luke’s Anglican in La Crescenta, California – a big part of that with teenagers.
That sounds very different from your work in music!
It was an exciting life, and I loved playing what I consider the greatest music ever written with some of the most gifted musicians ever to play it. I still miss it. But now, God is teaching me that such a life pales in comparison to talking about Jesus with a thirteen-year-old, or laying hands on a high-schooler and seeing them filled with the Holy Spirit. That is life-changing stuff.
Teenagers have a hard time these days. I mean, every Christian has the pressure to live a worldly life, but kids are so much more vulnerable. The pressures are immense: get straight “A’s”, get into a good college, be cool in the eyes of their friends. They’re desperate for adults in their lives who take a real interest in them as people; who can introduce them to Jesus; who walk together with them through their teenage years.
What do you think the Anglican Church has to offer teenagers?
Alot! I feel really fortunate to be in the Anglican church, and I think the Book of Common Prayer that Thomas Cranmer put together was the result of a profound move of God. When I was first exposed to Anglicanism in college, I was amazed to find all these resources for my devotional life: the readings, the liturgy, and prayers that God still uses to draw me into his presence and plan.
That said, I think the greatest gift Anglicanism has to offer young people is the breadth of possible spiritual expression within our traditions: all the way from the rich, somber symbolism of Anglo-catholic sacramental worship to the charismatic excitement of hearing the voice of God at a concert or seeing him heal someone through our teenager’s prayers. There’s so much room for them to explore their relationship with God and their faith and service, all within the bounds of Biblical orthodoxy.
How do you think the Church can do a better job of engaging our young people?
A good youth ministry is a huge engine of growth for a congregation, and I’m seeing that at St. Luke’s. Teenagers who are following Jesus bring such vitality to the church; they have an energy for living that’s infectious. Youth ministry works best when parents and the church are in partnership. So, parents: stay invested in the spiritual lives of your children, even if it seems like they don’t want you to. You may not see it or feel like it, but you really are the most important spiritual influence in your kids’ lives. Stay in communication with the adults that are discipling your teenager.
I’d tell teenagers what I tell my kids: go to Jesus. If you have questions, go to Jesus. If you have problems, go to Jesus. There really are answers to life’s problems, and He’s got them. Learn about Him in the Scriptures. Life with Him is more whole, more full, and yes, even more fun!
Any last comments?
Yes. Teenagers: if you don’t have a youth pastor at your church, go to your rector and put them on the spot and tell them that you want them to disciple you. Just tell them that you want to learn how to read the Bible and pray.
Rectors: talk to the teenagers in your congregation, next Sunday ask them how things are going. They won’t say much at first, but when you continue to ask each week, they’ll begin to trust that you really are interested and begin to let you in. Keep at it!
And finally, please pray for me. I fail so much more often than I succeed, but I want to live my testimony that Jesus is enough and to really believe that He’s all I need.
“The community needs to see refugees as real people with the same hopes and challenges that we all face, and refugees need to hear and see a broader community that welcomes them and wants to know them.” —Ernie Didot
Interview by Mary Ailes
Ernie Didot is a professional photographer and videographer, and a member of the Anglican Church of the Incarnation in Harrisonburg, VA. Recently he collaborated on photography exhibit that drew attention to the challenges facing refugees in the Shenandoah Valley.
Tell us about yourself—were you born and raised in Harrisonburg, Virginia? Have you lived there all your life? What makes the community special to you?
I’m a native Virginian, born in Richmond, but was mostly raised in what some around here call, “The State of Northern Virginia.” So I was a Washington, D.C. suburban boy and it was not until I went to college at James Madison University here in Harrisonburg that I discovered life outside of the big city or suburbia. I remember my first stroll through a farmer’s chicken house and later recounting with horror to my suburban friends the culling process. Wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, what felt very “rural” to me at the time began to grow on me. I fell in love with the people, the Valley, and the mountains.
At the time I went to college in the 80’s, the most I saw of people of color in the Valley were the migrant apple pickers (even though there was an African-American community in town, I really wasn’t aware of it). Fast forward 25 years later and the school system is now made up mostly of people of color and/or people who speak English as a second language. Because of the poultry industry and the supply of low-skill jobs, the Shenandoah Valley is an attractive relocation area for refugees. The three universities in the area, the agriculture, the international flavor, the deep Anabaptist roots, plus other industries in the area like Merck and Coors combine to make a unique mix of people. Harrisonburg is called “The Friendly City,” and I think for good reason.
You are an Anglican Christian, a member of Church of the Incarnation in Harrisonburg. How did you come to be a part of that community?
I have grown up in the mainstream evangelical currents of America. When I returned with my wife and children from Guatemala, we wandered for a while looking for a church that magnified Christ, held a high view of Scripture, and demonstrated the fruits of the Spirit in the church community. We found it in an Episcopal church plant here in the Valley, but shortly after joining the church we all went through the turmoil that many experienced in those years with the crisis in the Episcopal Church. We were part of a group of families and friends in the church who decided to plant an Anglican church in the Valley in 2010. We have all been blessed beyond measure with our church family and Rector Aubrey Spears. We have helped plant two churches now in Elkton, Virginia and Crozet, Virginia (very close to Charlottesville) and we are at another point of decision as we have reached maximum capacity again.
You work in video and photography helping clients to tell their story. What made you decide to center your work on video and photography?
My wife and I served in Christian relief and development for eight years in the highlands of Guatemala. Three years into our time there we saw the need to help provide educational material that the people could understand both linguistically and culturally. Since many of the people we worked with were pre-literate, we began producing videos and training them to produce their own videos in their own language and culture. I have since gone on to work with people around the world in helping them tell their story or tell stories that help better communicate their message. We saw how, when the gospel or quality-of-life messages were communicated in story form and in their language and in their culture, they were obviously more inclined to understand, absorb, and make life changes.
One of my favorite things to do is produce video portraits of people and how God uses them in their vocations. Lately I have been working with the Our Daily Bread devotionals in these types of productions, which have taken me to Haiti, Kenya, and Guatemala.
I’ve only recently come back to photography after sharing a studio with a professional photographer named Howard Zehr. Howard is a rock star in the Restorative Justice world and through him I saw how he integrated the use of photography to teach restorative justice. For instance, he returned this summer to a Pennsylvania penitentiary to photograph “lifers” whom he photographed portraits of 25 years ago. Howard participated with me in this Refugee Resettlement project. He is a great man.
Currently, as we are conducting this interview, your photographs are on exhibit in Harrisonburg in a show called “Refuge in the Valley: Portraits of Hope,” that focuses on the settlement of refugees in the Harrisonburg area. What caught your attention about doing this project?
A Congolese refugee family moved into an apartment behind our house about a year ago and we got to know them. They invited us to a Congolese welcome party and the director of the Church World Service approached me about taking professional photos of refugees. I had been working on portrait photography so this seemed to be a natural fit, given we were already friends with the Congolese—plus a few Sudanese refugees in our church. It seemed like a great opportunity to help them be introduced to the town and if we hosted the show in our church, a great opportunity for our church to get to know them. I saw it as privilege for the church to host it and an opportunity to demonstrate our openness to embrace the stranger and the refugee.
How did you go about “telling the story” of a refugee through your photos? What do you look for to convey their story?
I was one of three photographers. We all decided to not show them in the context of where they live, but rather to capture the essence of who they are. We had noticed that sometimes the surroundings of their environment in photos distracted from people drilling down and really connecting with the person. My approach was to ask them to bring or wear something that strongly reflected their identity. For our neighbor, the Congolese mother, I caught her grinning from ear to ear clutching the Bible that was in her native tongue from the Congo. For her daughter, she was in a brilliantly colored outfit and headdress. I struck on a good vein with her when we started talking about hymns and worship songs from her homeland—I even had her playing and singing the music she enjoyed as the photos were being taken. One of my favorites (but didn’t make the cut in the actual show) was of her lifting her hands in praise to God. I had just asked her what brings her most joy and she said, “Praising God.”
A trio of Cuban men were particularly interesting. Two of them were high ranking in the Havana police force and the third had succeeded in escaping on his 17th try! I asked them to stand as a Cuban man would stand, which to my eyes looked like very proud men. They were sharply dressed and would often flash a “V” sign in the photo. They told me that this was the sign of resistance in Cuba against the regime. While all of them were proud, one of them was particularly melancholy because he had left behind his wife and children. The recent change in the Cuban policy meant it would be very difficult for him to bring his family to the States. I think I appropriately caught his sadness.
A 19-year-old Muslim lad named Homza from the Central African Republic appeared to be a bit down, too. He was alone with his mother in a town south of Harrisonburg not known for many Africans or Muslims. He shared that he was sad because he really didn’t receive much of an education in all of his sojourn to the States and he had just missed entering high school. It wasn’t until we started chatting about soccer that I was able to get him to really come to life.
What did you learn from the refugees while you were working on the project?
One thing I learned as we were taking pictures is that family is family. They had the same dynamics as when my family took pictures at the local Olan Mills studio back in the day. With one family, grandma was grumpy, the boy wasn’t smiling correctly for mom, the mother’s outfit needed adjusting every other photo and by the end of the session they were a bickering mess with each other—just like some experiences I recall. The other thing was that even in the relative “safety” of the U.S., they still had fears for family back home. I was looking forward to a photo session with a Yazidi family from Iraq (Mosul region) who had become fast friends with my sister-in-law. I thought that they would jump at the opportunity since we knew them so well, but I think there were concerns of the images getting back to family or friends in their country and putting them in danger for some reason. In the midst of the stresses of everyday survival in this new land, they are still very much engaged, worried, and stressed over family and friends back home.
Why do you think this is important for the community to engage in?
There are a lot of reasons, but the immediate reason is for the two-way street of acclimation: the community needs to see them as real people with the same hopes and challenges that we all face, and the refugees need to hear and see a broader community that welcomes them and wants to know them. The church needs to engage more so that we understand how we can best help them. Without engagement, it is very difficult to understand where they need or want help. We have discovered that many of the refugees are from a strong background in their faith, but are landing in a culture that is declining in its emphasis on faith. Because of the influence of the Anglican church worldwide, but particularly in Africa, we see a real openness to find a home in our church. The liturgy resonates even though we may sing worship songs more stoically, like hymns, which they call “Songs that are sung with your hands by your side.” It is an amazing opportunity at our doorstep.
Sometimes people in the church think that only specially gifted people who know the languages of the refugees are the only ones capable of helping refugees, when really it is more about simply making yourself available to help in the common things of life: transportation to the store and church; keeping an eye out for good housing; pointing them in the direction of a great thrift store; and introducing them to our simple traditions, like Christmas tree cutting and carving pumpkins. The application Google Translator has quickly become my good friend when working with refugees.
How do you see opening up more conversation on refugees improving conversation in other areas of conflict in local American communities, especially after the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia?
Charlottesville, Virginia, feels like it is in our backyard, being only one hour away. The nation was certainly rocked, but our community felt it particularly hard, furthering an already polarized divide. The shadow side of the Valley is that expressions of anti-immigrant sentiment, symbolic displays of past racial prejudice, and other activities manifest themselves in many ways. The more we hear the refugees stories, play with their children, help them navigate the grocery aisles, and throw snowballs with them for the first time, the more we can all get on with the work of educating, building, and enjoying each other in bona fide community. As a follower of Jesus, this is par for the course and is about making all things new in His kingdom.
The exhibit is called “Portraits of Hope.” Why is hope so important?
I was thrilled with the name. We certainly wanted to communicate that these people, who have made it here on a shoestring having won the lottery-like immigration selection process, all held the common denominator that they had escaped from a seeming dead-end and now had hope for a new life. They have hope now largely because they have security, education, jobs, housing, and freedom. But what many miss and long for is their family, friends, and community. One of the hardest things for them to adjust to is not just the climate with months of cold, winter weather, but what some of them will sometimes call a cold community. Our culture is more indoors on the computer, TV, or video games, even incubated in our cars and offices. As they enjoy their newfound hope, it is important that we demonstrate that there will be hope for connecting with people, to be part of a community again.
How has your faith impacted your work in photography?
Photography, like gardening or carpentry is for others, is simply an extension of how God has equipped me to serve Him in His kingdom. Frankly, I think I am moderate on the scale of photography skills, but I do like people, I love to draw out stories from people, I understand the power of images, and l am a good connector—so if God can put that together in me and my artistic expression to see his church be a light, to be a connector, to be a hospitable welcomer—then life does not get much better.
What role does your family play in your art and work?
My kids were adopted from Guatemala at birth. They are very Mayan in look and skin color, but very American in culture. I do think that when refugees or international students make the connection as to who our children are, that this plays a role in helping break down some barriers and shyness. They have appeared in many videos as “extras” and have helped in the logistics of providing rides and caring for children more times than they probably wanted to, but they have been tremendously helpful.
My wife Katrina is a natural with people and food (she’s a licensed social worker and restaurant owner). We are in a constant state of trying new foods so, of course, this common denominator with other cultures proves to be a salve in all our interactions with international newcomers. It does not take long to discover her in the kitchen by the side of a newcomer.
How may we pray for you as you continue to tell these important stories through photography and video?
As you learn of the stories and hear of the needs, it is difficult to not want to address them. I need to learn where to begin, continue, and end in addressing the needs. I need wisdom in how to continue best in the role as a connector and communicator through the mediums of video and photography.
Mary Ailes is the Director of Communications for the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic.
Build memories and invite your friends and neighbors to hear the true story of Christmas at the most prestigious concert halls in the country!
Join Ireland’s own Keith & Kristyn Getty, known for modern hymns and carols such as In Christ Alone, for their sixth annual tour of Sing! An Irish Christmas. As featured on Public Television to over 45 million households, the Gettys are joined by their band of virtuosic instrumentalists fusing Celtic, Bluegrass, Americana, Modern and Classical music along with cultural dance and the choral sounds of the holiday.
Video Preview of Sing! An Irish Christmas: https://youtu.be/FC8ydeWbYDc
|Concert Dates and Locations|
|Pensacola, FL||Dec. 3 Sun||Olive Baptist Church|
|Colorado Springs, CO||Dec. 6 Wed||Broadmoor Hotel|
|Colorado Springs, CO||Dec. 7 Thu||Broadmoor Hotel|
|Topeka, KS||Dec. 8 Fri||Fellowship Bible Church|
|Arlington, TX||Dec. 9 Sat||First Baptist Arlington|
|Muscle Shoals, AL||Dec. 10 Sun||Grace Life Church|
|Washington, DC||Dec. 13 Wed||The Kennedy Center|
|Cleveland, OH||Dec. 14 Thu||KeyBank State Theater in Cleveland|
|Chicago, IL||Dec. 15 Fri||Christian Heritage Academy|
|Charlotte, NC||Dec. 17 Sun||Calvary Church|
|Atlanta, GA||Dec. 18 Mon||The Fox Theatre|
|Roanoke, VA||Dec. 19 Tue||the Berglund Center|
|New York, NY||Dec. 20 Thu||Carnegie Hall|
|Reading, PA||Dec. 21 Thu||Santander Performing Arts Center|
|Nashville, TN||Dec. 23 Sat||The Schermerhorn Symphony Hall|
Look at four unique ways grassroots outreaches are making a difference in their communities.
The Rev. Cn. David Roseberry
The Matthew 25 Initiative was created by the Province to help churches share the love of Christ with the least, the last, and the lost. Thanks to the Initiative, in the last few years, many congregations have started new ministries. Look at four unique ways grassroots outreaches are making a difference in their communities.
1.Vita Nova INC
In the name of Christ, Vita Nova INC. of Perry, New York provides safe housing and Godly discipleship to men coming out of prison who often struggle with life controlling issues. Often, the only option is to return to the familiar places, relationships, and habits that did not serve them well before. Instead of being forced to return to their old ways of life, Vita Nova INC. offers healing and hope through a new relationship and a new way of life. Immediate physical needs of housing and meals are met while Christ-centered programs are offered, providing a fresh way forward and hope for their present and future.
2. Restoration Immigration Legal Aid
Providing much needed legal aid to those who have come to our country hoping for a place of safety, belonging, and freedom, Restoration Immigration Legal Aid (RILA) of Arlington, Virginia ministers to those who are most vulnerable and have the fewest resources. Since 2016, RILA has served more than 50 clients through monthly legal aid clinics. The majority of these clients have experienced trauma, or even life-threatening events that led to their coming to the US, and now seek asylum. During clinics, volunteers provide legal assistance, a meal, childcare, interpretation services, and prayer. This ministry is meeting very real, and otherwise very costly and complex, needs of our new neighbors and offers compassionate assistance in the name of Jesus.
3. St. Lazarus Mission
Extending the hands of Christ to love the least, lonely, labeled, and lost, St. Lazarus Mission of Dayton, Ohio is connecting parishes to elderly care in nursing homes. More than 1 million people are living in America’s 16,000 nursing homes. While engaging in ministry in multiple locations, each nursing home is adopted by a specific leader who can be the day-to-day “champion” for the people at their site. This model fosters deep relation- ships with residents, staff, and family, and belonging and care for those so often forgotten outside the walls of their nursing home.
4. Arizona Neighborhood Transformation
In the small, tight-knit community of Guadeloupe, Arizona, where less than half the children will graduate from high school, Arizona Neighborhood Transformation has created not only physical space, but real opportunity to help their children succeed in school and beyond. The Guadeloupe Learning Lab is a place where children receive after-school tutoring and summer education, as well as help with real life issues they may be having. Parents are encouraged to work with their children and teachers during the school year. Directed and facilitated by community members with a heart for the Kingdom, the Learning Lab is meeting needs in the lives of these children and their present and future families in the name of Jesus.
Redeemer Anglican and local middle school team up to improve classroom.
Who doesn’t love a great before and after? Especially when the ‘after’ represents a partnership between churches, businesses, and community non-profits.
“This is the first time that I’m aware of that we’ve worked on a practical project together,” says Deacon Lauri Moyle of the collaboration between Anglican Church of the Redeemer in Chattanooga – where he serves – and Highland Chapel of The Mission Chattanooga. “It was very much an intentional thing.”
This past summer, Redeemer and Highland Chapel transformed the special education and home economics classrooms of nearby Orchard Knob Middle School, as part of a larger school improvement project organized by a local foundation. The teacher requested a “loft apartment” feel to the home-ec portion of the room.
“It was pretty run down,” says Deacon Lauri. “I knew somebody in our congregation who has a degree in theater set design, so I knew she would be up for a creative project. She just went at it and created a diagram schematic, color patterns, and so on.”
Volunteers from the two churches provided the labor, paint, and some other equipment and materials, and in a week’s time had created a brand-new space to help students learn how to take care of themselves and a home… the positive feedback from the teacher including that the project has improved the students’ behavior.
But the bigger picture is how this opportunity came about, and the dozens of other groups involved in revamping many areas of the school.
Deacon Lauri serves as a Community Chaplain through a grant from the Matthew 25 Initiative of the ACNA. Because this allows him to continually connect with organizations throughout the city, he was invited by a local foundation on an out-of-town trip to explore addressing racial inequality… and as the saying goes, one thing led to another. Soon Deacon Lauri and others from that trip were gathered at Orchard Knob Middle School for a separate conversation about mentoring boys in the community, where the director of the secular Footprint Foundation noticed the tired atmosphere of the school.
A couple of weeks later, the foundation director had worked with the school to organize 40 groups – ranging from small businesses and non-profits to large corporations – to breathe new life into classrooms, outdoor spaces, hallways, the library, and cafeteria. The collaboration with Redeemer and Highland Chapel volunteers included the University of Tennessee Chattanooga football team helping paint the rooms, and middle schoolers from an out-of-state Baptist summer camp helping sand down surfaces. The foundation paid for the home-ec room’s new furniture.
“It’s a very practical gift that I think shows Jesus’ love for the community, and it was definitely known to everybody involved that we’re two congregations, two churches trying to help with this,” says Deacon Lauri. “It showed the director of the foundation that here’s a church that’s willing to show the love of Jesus through practical help.”
Stemming from his experience as a Community Chaplain, Deacon Lauri has encouragement for churches about starting and maintaining community relationships that lead to the practical support of our neighborhoods: It begins with an attitude of learning.
“Not assuming that you know what the needs are, but asking questions, and trying to figure out what mediating institutions exist that can help educate you on those needs,” says Deacon Lauri, “And really find folks that are knowledgeable and have been doing this work for a long time.”
He also adds that churches should be aware of their limitations, and work within them.
“Use the resources that you have at your disposal and figure out where you fit in where you’re not creating an extra layer – finding the need and then trying to fulfill the need within the means of what you can offer,” he says. “Don’t overcommit. Follow through, and then be intentional about keeping those relationships going.”
Redeemer has many outreach ministries, including food distribution to the needy, backpacks of school supplies for children… but this is perhaps the first time they had partnered practically with another Anglican church.
“Our congregations differ primarily in age and also in church liturgical practices – our expression is a little more traditional. But we definitely fellowship with the other pastors from the network, and our increased desire is for our congregations to get to know each other a little bit,” says Deacon Lauri.
“In the future, I’m definitely hopeful that we can work together on something like this, we just need to be intentional about it. I think the desire is there.”
By Rachel Moorman
Communications Associate for Anglican Diocese of the South
Original story here
A message from Archbishop Foley Beach
One of the significant events in a believer’s walk with the Lord is when He begins to open your eyes to see the harvest field around you. You begin to see your hurting friend. You see the struggling family down the street. You see the fellow employee addicted to porn. You see a widower who is alone and isolated. You see a person being neglected and left out because she is new to the country. You see a man with four children and one on the way who has just lost his job because of downsizing. You see a lady down the street who is struggling with heart issues.
This awareness can be overwhelming, frustrating, and paralyzing for the follower of Jesus. It can be discouraging and painful. Even more, you may ask: “What do I do and how do I respond when I see whole communities destroyed because of weather related events?” Added to all of this is the vitriol and violence we now see in the pubic square and in the political arena. The cultural and ideological war in which we now find ourselves in the West can be quite disturbing and unsettling. Many followers of Jesus are not sure how to engage, if to engage, or the appropriate place to engage all of these challenges.
As Christians we cannot put our heads in the sand and ignore what the Lord is showing us. When He gives a person insight, perspective, or awareness, He expects that person to use this insight in His wisdom, with His guidance, and for His purposes. It is so easy to allow obstacles to get us off task, away from the calling God has placed on all our lives as His followers.
Jesus said: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. There- fore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2). There is a plentiful harvest all around us here in North America! Therefore, “pray earnestly” to God asking Him to send forth helpers. We should do all we can to help and serve, but this does not necessarily mean that we are to do it alone. Ask God for helpers. He will answer your prayers. Jesus tells us here that it is “His” harvest. Our role is to be faithful in doing our part, and faithful in asking God for more help.
All around us we see evidence that the human heart is wounded and hurt. Theologically and Biblically we understand this is the result of sin (Romans 3:23). However, we also know that Jesus provides the answer, the forgiveness, the healing, and the renewing of the human heart by His death and resurrection from the dead. It is by faith that we call on Him and receive His goodness into our lives. And yet, it is up to us not only to share with others how He has brought healing and new life to our lives, but to disciple others to be able to do the same.
The pain and suffering in our world is not going away, but when God opens your eyes to it, He is also equipping you through His Spirit to do something about it. Hear this prayer the Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesians: “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that He may know the hope to which He has called you…” (Ephesian 1:16f ). Let’s stay on task and not get sidetracked from His purposes!
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America
The last, the least, and the lost are being reached with the transforming love of Jesus Christ and YOUR GIVING IS MAKING IT POSSIBLE.
Dear friends in Christ,
We are living in a time of significant upheaval and change. Our nations have endured a massive amount of damage and displacement from hurricanes and wild fires. Earlier this month tragedy struck again with yet another mass murder, this time in a church. There are wars and rumors of wars. We are watching our culture change, shifting away from truth and attempting to redefine history and reality.
Yet, both personally and as your Archbishop, I find myself more and more encouraged by the hope of the Gospel and the proclamation of this Gospel by the local congregations we find in the Anglican Church in North America. We are a people of great hope and courage!
This past June, we experienced the presence of God at our Provincial Assembly. In October, I saw first-hand the energy and passion of a group of leaders at the Matthew 25 Gathering in Phoenix. YOUR GIVING IS MAKING IT POSSIBLE for the last, the least, and the lost to be reached with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. This is happening through a diverse range of church-sponsored ministries: half-way houses, after-school programs, assisted living facilities, and food pantries. There is so much ministry taking place in the Anglican Church in North America that gives me encouragement.
Each week, as I travel around the province, I see people committed to prayer. I see youth ministers reaching out to the next generation and nursery workers serving the littlest among us. I see volunteers, the unsung heroes of the church, serving selflessly and leaders teaching the Scriptures. I am convinced that God, who began a work in us as the Anglican Church in North America, will carry it on to completion.
This coming summer, the Anglican Church in North America will celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Gafcon conference in Jerusalem. We will share in global fellowship with our brothers and sisters from around the Anglican Communion and host our annual Provincial Council meeting at the same time. These relationships connect us with millions of people around the world.
Then, in the summer of 2019, we will celebrate our tenth anniversary as a Province at our Assembly in Plano, Texas. The dates are June 18-19, 2019, and I hope you will make plans to join us. Before we get there, though, we have much to do to continue carrying out our Gospel work with hope and courage, and we need your help.
To meet the needs of the people and support all of our mission projects, we need to raise $345,000, and we cannot do that without your help. By clicking here or simply texting “GIVE” to 724-655-4198, you can help the Anglican Church in North America carry out its Gospel mission.
Will you prayerfully consider supporting the mission of Christ’s church by giving to the Anglican Church in North America?
With great hope in Christ Jesus,
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America
The Anglican Multi-ethnic Network launches a series of resources entitled AMEN Reads.
The Anglican Multi-ethnic Network exists to help Anglicans in North America better reflect the diversity of the body of Christ in local churches so that our churches’ ethnic make-up manifests the universal saving power of the gospel and its ability to unite all people under the lordship of Christ. Part of that work involves dealing with the historic causes of alienation between different ethnic groups and seeking godly reconciliation. To that end, we are offering to the province a series of resources entitled: AMEN Reads. These resources can be used in sermons, small groups, and Sunday school classes to help churches think through issues of racial reconciliation and social justice from a biblical perspective.
The book we have chosen for our first edition of AMEN Reads is entitled Gracism by Dr. David A. Anderson. We are encouraging churches, small groups, and individuals to read this book during the season of Epiphany which begins Jan 6th, 2018. We choose Epiphany because this feast celebrates God’s desire for his son to be revealed to “the peoples of the earth.” More information about the book can be found here. We hope that a significant number of churches, small groups, and individuals in the Province will take advantage of this opportunity to think and pray together about God’s desire to reconcile all peoples to himself.
How can you get involved:
We are hoping to get at least 50 churches participating in this initiative. So we are asking that pastors of churches sign up below and agree to invite at least two other pastors to participate in this program.
Prayer for the Second Sunday of Epiphany:
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Original story from A.M.E.N. can be found here.
Learn more about insurance benefits offered to dioceses, clergy and lay employees of congregations, and affiliated ministries.
If you are a rector of an Anglican Church in North America congregation or director of an Anglian Church in North America ministry or affiliated organization, you and your employees may qualify for this important benefit. If you are on staff at an Anglican Church in North America diocese, congregation, or affiliated ministry, ask your administrator if they have considered enrolling in the Anglican Benefits Program for Life, AD&D and Disability Insurance.
Your [designated] administrator can get started by going to the Benefits Page on the ACNA website. There, you will find all the tools you will need.
We will help you to enroll your employees with 4 Easy Steps:
Step 3: Employees of participating ACNA organizations, who qualify* and want to sign up, can do so by completing, signing, and dating the Enrollment Form and sending it to the Benefits team within the 30-day timeframe.
*Per the terms of the ACNA contract with UNUM Insurance, employees who wish to enroll must be full time employees of ACNA affiliated organizations. This requires employment of 20 or more hours per week with an ACNA organization or congregation. Each ACNA organization or congregation will define for itself the meaning of full time as long as it equals the minimum of 20 hours per week.
The Anglican Church in North America and the North American Lutheran Church release joint study guide highlighting our common understanding of Jesus Christ, the Scriptures, Baptism, and Communion.
October 31, 2017
From Archbishop Beach:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On this 500th anniversary celebrating the beginning of the Reformation, I am deeply aware that we are in the midst of a new Reformation that is sweeping the globe, not just within Anglicanism, but all of Christendom. People are returning to the plain teaching of the Scriptures, and embracing Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior.
It is in that spirit that I am pleased to commend to you a new resource (see below) that has been developed in conjunction with our Lutheran brothers and sisters. “Four Pastoral and Educational Affirmations” is a study guide produced by The Anglican Church in North America and The North American Lutheran Church which highlights our common understanding of Jesus Christ, the Scriptures, Baptism, and Communion.
If you are part of an Anglican congregation and live in a community where there are also North American Lutheran churches, I encourage you to consider joining together in grassroots ecumenical conversations to deepen your faith by learning more about the biblical truths that we share in common.
I am thankful for the hard work of the NALC/ACNA dialogue committee, the co-chairs, Bishop Charlie Masters (ACNA) and Pastor David Wendel (NALC), and Bishop Ray Sutton, Dean of Ecumenical Affairs.
May God continue to lead us as we seek to faithfully live out the next Reformation by leading people to a living relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America
Dear friends of the Anglican Church in North America and the North American Lutheran Church,
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
We bring you greetings on behalf of the participants of the ecumenical consultation of the Anglican Church in North America and the North American Lutheran Church.
As a part of our ongoing conversations, we have developed four pastoral and educational affirmations addressing the topics of “Jesus Christ, the Gospel and Justification,” “Holy Baptism,” “Holy Communion,” and “Holy Scripture,” with accompanying study guides designed to involve local lay people of all ages in learning, reflection and conversation. All are included in the attached booklet which may also be printed as hard-copy.
Our hope is that these materials will be used for study, reflection and discussion within congregations, families, small groups or other activities within parishes and congregations of ACNA and NALC.
More importantly, it is the hope of the consultation participants that neighboring ACNA and NALC parishes will seek out each other and develop opportunities to study these four affirmations together. More information about such study groups is provided in the introduction to the booklet.
In service to Christ our Lord,
The participants of the ACNA/NALC Ecumenical Consultation
Lambeth Resolution I.10 and the 2017 Primates Meeting: An Analysis of the 2017 Primates’ Meeting Communiqué by The Rev. Dr. Stephen Noll
Nearly one year ago I wrote an essay titled “Crossing the Rubicon: Lambeth Resolution I.10, the Church of England, and the Anglican Communion,” which began this way:
Earlier this year I was speaking with an English friend concerned about the direction of the Church of England. “Where do we draw the line?” he asked. “That’s easy,” I replied: “It’s called Lambeth Resolution I.10.”
I then analyzed (“fisked”) a letter by Mr. William Nye, the Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council, who had clearly been authorized to speak for the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. In this letter Mr. Nye attempts to relativize the 1998 Lambeth Resolution I.10 on Human Sexuality as speaking for that Conference only, hence having no ongoing normative authority.
In the light of the Communiqué from the October 2017 Primates Meeting, I would go a step further and say that in the view of the Lambeth Establishment, Resolution I.10 was a huge mistake and aberration, the effects of which will be undone at Lambeth 2020.
Let me briefly state why the 1998 Lambeth Conference and its key Resolution constitute an historic “Rubicon” moment for Anglicanism:
The 2017 Lambeth Primates’ Communiqué makes no mention of Lambeth I.10 and indeed seeks to undo all of its effects. It expresses “sadness” that the Scottish Episcopal Church, like the Episcopal Church USA before it, has proceeded to bless same-sex marriages in the church in the Name of the Triune God. The “consequences” of this action are a 3-year suspension from representation or voting in certain councils.
What, I might ask, follows when these consequences expire? I think the answer is quite obvious: by 2020 same-sex marriage will have been accommodated as a moral option within the Anglican Communion. The Communiqué goes on to say: “We welcomed the news that the Church of England has embarked on a major study of human sexuality in its cultural, scientific, scriptural and theological aspects and anticipated considering the results of this work at a future meeting.” Is there any doubt that the new study will discover that the unchangeable standard of marriage and abstinence is, well, changeable after all? Is there any doubt the “cultural and scientific” aspects of postmodernity will open a way around the clear teaching of Scripture?
The 2017 Primates’ Meeting was, contrary to appearances, a disenfranchising of the Global South and a dis-enhancing of the Primates’ authority. The agenda and Communiqué were clearly prepared in advance, and the indaba process prevented any real dissent. The false tears for the absence of three major Provinces were accompanied by the back-hand of fellowship to the Anglican Church in North America: “you are not Anglican, but we love you as Christian brothers anyway.” Read carefully, the 2017 statement is the utter reversal of the Primates’ Communiqué ten years ago.
As I see it, the 2017 Primates Meeting was an attempt, using the prestige of Canterbury and funds from New York, to undo Lambeth I.10 and the Global South movement that resulted from it.
The Archbishops of Canterbury (and York) have crossed the Rubicon and taken the Church of England with them. Now they are seeking to ferry the Global South with them.
So how many Global South Primates are actually in this boat – a relevant question since there are no signatories to the Communiqué? And if certain Primates are on board with Canterbury, then how many bishops and churches of their Provinces are willing to go along for the ride?
This is a Joshua 24:15 moment: whom will you serve? We remember the costly answer of our forefathers in the faith: “Here I stand; I can do no other.”
The Rev. Dr. Stephen Noll is Professor Emeritus of Trinity School for Ministry and former Vice Chancellor of Uganda Christian University. This essay is adapted from his forthcoming book  The Global Anglican Communion: Contending for Anglicanism 1993-2018.
Passion for Gospel Centered Unity and Mission was emphasized at the Caminemos Juntos conference in Brazil
The conference gathered Anglican representatives from across the Americas in Recife, Brazil the week of October 5 – 7.
“Passion for the Americas” was the theme of the Caminemos Juntos 2017 conference, a conference with more than 200 Anglican representatives from North, Central and South America held in Recife, Brazil, with the goal of catalyzing mission and church planting throughout the continent.
This second annual gathering of Caminemos Juntos in South America brought clergy and a diversity of lay leaders from more than 9 countries together. The three themes of the conference were: Mobilizing, Equipping, and Planting, in order to walk together as the Anglican Church in the Americas.
The conference was organized by the Greenhouse Movement, the ACNA, the Diocese of Recife in Brazil, the Anglican Church in Chile, and GAFCON.
It is important to note that this year’s gathering included a visit from Charles Raven, Secretary of Membership Development for GAFCON, who shared about the Anglican movement worldwide.
The three day gathering was hosted by Parróquia Anglicana Espíritu Santo (PAES), the largest anglican church in Latin America, with more than three thousand members. The program was comprised of plenaries, workshops, and small working groups, along with a special worship and prayer night on Thursday, which was attended by more than 800 people.
For the first time this year, there were pre-conference equipping sessions 2 days prior to the main conference gathering. One of the workshops was led by MOCLAM and was focused on teaching the panorama of scripture from Genesis to Revelation. Similarly, there was a training for those interested in becoming church planters and global missionaries sent out from Latin America. Caminemos Juntos’ worship movement, United Adoration led a retreat for songwriters where new songs were written and then sung throughout the conference. You can listen to one here.
Rev. Jonathan Kindberg, co-director of Caminemos Juntos, said that having the conference in Brazil was key as participants were able to experience first hand the spontaneous growth and revival being lived out in Brazil, a dynamic similar to what happened in the Anglican church in East Africa. This fire and passion that God is awakening is not only for Brazil but is spreading throughout Americas.
The first day focused on Mobilization. The focus was how to mobilize the Latin American church on global mission. One of the key questions was: “How can the Anglican Church in Latin America shift from being a mission field that simply receives missionaries to being a church that sends missionaries throughout the world?” The day began with a talk by Carlos Scott, former president of COMIBAM (a consortium of Latin American mission and sending agencies) and the current facilitator of an organization called Misión Glocal (Glocal Mission) in Argentina. In his presentation, Scott described the evolution of the Latin American missionary movement in recent years and how we are experiencing an enormous paradigm shift in how mission is seen and practiced.
As Scott emphasized, if at the end of the 90’s there were four thousand missionaries, today Latin America has a total of twenty five thousand missionaries both in Latin America and being sent from Latin America throughout the world. He said there is a growing missionary expansion and that the Church in Latin America is beginning to understand its purpose of extending the Kingdom of God to all nations.
Rev. Jonathan said that this awakening is also beginning to happen in the Anglican church in Latin America. For example, in recent years there has been a growing reciprocal sending and receiving of Latin American Anglicans to and from the US. “Today we are seeing how Chile, for example, is sending missionaries to serve in Latino or Central American communities in the United States. We also have the example of Chilean Anglican missionaries like Verónica Vega who is serving in India.”
This first day of the conference also included a talk by Filipe Santos, mission pastor of City Church in Sao Paulo, the largest Baptist church in Brazil, who spoke on how to develop a church culture that values mobilization in order to creatively reach the key cities of the world.
Participants once again were not only able to hear about examples, but got to experience this kind of creative mobilization first hand by visiting congregations throughout the Diocese of Recife, which since separating from the Episcopal Church in 2005, has planted more than 30 churches in only 12 years, thanks to missional strategies such as Casas de Paz (“Houses of Peace”) and is on it’s way to becoming a province.
As Bishop Miguel Uchoa explained, “Houses of Peace is a lay-led initiative and evangelistic tool to enter non-Christian homes and has led to the planting of new congregations… and the mobilization of the entire church.” Some of the other innovative missional initiatives of the diocese are: social ministries aimed at reaching the poor and marginalized like House of Hope, church-based outreach Karate classes, the planting of congregations inside prisons and an evangelistic marriage ministry and video curriculum for couples which has millions of hits on youtube (see here).
A second focus of the conference was “passion for equipping.” One of the sessions this second day of the conference was led by a team from Chile. Diocesan Bishop Héctor (Tito) Zavala spoke about “passion for formation,” and how this has facilitated the ongoing growth and maturity of the Chilean Anglican Church.
On this same topic, some of the leaders from Chile spoke aboutthe Center for Pastoral Studies (CEP), the Chilean Anglican seminary which started in 2003, and also about other Chilean equipping initiatives for leaders, which have led to the planting of 19 churches and the ordination of almost 50 clergy in the past 17 years.
Bishop Zavala said, “I believe that the reason we have had this fruit these last years is that we have been seeking to be truly evangelical, in the fullest sense of that word: centered on teaching the Word, the formation of leaders, and the empowerment of the entire local church for mission.”
Along these same lines, the importance of being able to share equipping resources between the different countries in the Americas thanks to Caminemos Juntos was highlighted. One example of this is the exchange that has taken place between Mexico and Chile. Chile this last year brought their highly successful Anglican Marriage Encounter program (EMA) to the fledging ACNA deanery of churches in Mexico. Also this last year a leader from the Chilean seminary came to the church of Iglesia del Gran pastor in Fresnillo, Mexico to do a week long intensive course on Anglican Mission and Identity.
“The Anglican church in Mexico today is weak in terms of equipping and these kinds of exchanges greatly motivate us because without formation there is no vision” said Juan Manuel Herrera, one of the lay ministers of Gran Pastor, one of the larger ACNA churches in Mexico.
The Greenhouse Movement (known as Sociedad Misionera San Pablo in Latin America) presented on the third focus of the conference: “passion for church planting.” Greenhouse’s Missioner General, William Beasley, along with Bishops Marcio Meira and Flavio Soares of Brazil, spoke on the work of lay church planting both in the US and in Brazil.
The Greenhouse Movement has been deeply shaped by Anglican Church in East Africa which has also experienced explosive growth thanks to the move of God through lay leaders. William Beasley explained that we are seeing God pour out this same fire of revival in Latin America. While holding firm to the gospel and the historic roots of Anglicanism, lay leaders throughout the Americas are engaged in a creative missional effort that opens the door for the spontaneous expansion of the church that is able to reach all kinds of cultures and communities.
Adrian Torres, a lay leader at San Pedro, a church in Buenos Aires Argentina, similarly iterated: “Today we are seeing a thriving movement that grows through the laity. It is crucial that we shift our missional paradigm to include this new reality. Argentina needs this missional effort because we yearn new church plants.”
One of the main emphases during the conference was that the Global Anglican Church is currently in the midst of twin reformation: a doctrinal reformation and a missional reformation.
Charles Raven, who led a workshop on this very topic, explained that this year, as the Church celebrates the 500th year since the Protestant Reformation, we have come to grips with the fact that we are not simply celebrating a historical event. The Church has always been and is always reforming. Today, we are working to recover and restore the truth of the Gospel. It is this Gospel of grace rooted in the Bible that ultimately drives us to fulfill the Great Commission.
Rev. Jonathan Kindberg, co-director of Caminemos Juntos, referred to this same theme of reformation:
“We are continuing to work alongside GAFCON to expand our network to share resources and training in all 35 countries of the Americas and the Caribbean. We are striving towards mission centered unity, while also holding firmly to our biblical foundations, knowing that it will result in the formation of new Anglican church plants all across the Americas and throughout the world.”
We expect that this vision will continue to spread, and, at our next conference in Chile (Oct 4-6, 2018), we hope to witness even more countries walking together under the same vision and passion of reaching all the Americas with the love of Christ.
A Prayer for the Nashotah House Community
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I have just learned of the death of The Rev. Dr. Daniel Westberg, Professor of Ethics and Moral Theology at Nashotah House Theological Seminary. Fr. Westberg died yesterday while boating on Lake Nashotah. Please join me in praying for the repose of his soul, and the Holy Spirit’s comfort and peace to be upon his wife, family, friends, and the whole Nashotah House community:
Most merciful God, whose wisdom is beyond our understanding: deal graciously with those who mourn, especially the Westberg family and Nashotah House community. Surround them with your love, that they may not be overwhelmed by their loss, but have confidence in your goodness, and strength to meet the days to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For more information regarding the passing of Fr. Westberg, please view the Nashotah House announcement here.
Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, GAFCON Chairman, responds to Primates’ Meeting Communiqué
To the Faithful of the Gafcon movement and friends from Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria and Chairman, the Gafcon Primates Council.
My dear people of God,
On the 31st October, it will be 500 years since Martin Luther’s 95 Theses triggered the Reformation. He was fired by holy indignation because of the way ordinary Christians were being abused by a church which was turning the need for divine forgiveness into a money making machine through the sale of indulgences, but that led him on to see the root of the problem.
The message of God’s free grace in the gospel had been buried under layers of superstition and human tradition, which Luther and the Reformers then exposed to the light of God’s Word. The recovery of the Bible as the first and foremost source of authority in the Church was the basic principle of the Reformation. Everything else depended on this and still does.
Anglicanism claims to be an expression of Reformed Catholic Christianity, but the Canterbury Primates Meeting held earlier this month shows once again that the Anglican Communion is in urgent need of a new reformation. I and a number of brother Primates (representing between us over half of practising Anglicans worldwide) did not attend as a matter of conscience. We cannot ‘walk together’ with those who have abandoned the teaching of the Bible, but that is what the Communiqué issued from the meeting encourages us to do. The painful truth is that the authority of Scripture is being replaced by the authority of Canterbury.
There is no mention in the Communiqué of Lambeth Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference where the vast majority of the Communion’s bishops reaffirmed the Bible’s teaching on marriage and sexuality, including the clear statement that homosexual practice is contrary to Scripture.
Same-sex ‘marriage’ is referred to merely as a difference of understanding while the only call to repentance is to those who have crossed provincial boundaries to support orthodox brothers and sisters unchurched by leaders who have rejected God’s Word.
The Conference also affirmed the LGBTI community and their lifestyle, while unequivocally disowning the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA), an orthodox Anglican Province.
If we may be reminded, it was the unwillingness of the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to provide oversight to dissenting orthodox Anglicans in the USA as advised by the Primates Meeting that led to the formation of ACNA, to keep it in the Anglican Communion fold. ACNA is therefore authentically orthodox, Anglican and Gafcon altogether.
It appears that the Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) and other revisionists have now got what they failed to get at the 1998 Lambeth Conference. It seems it is now ‘officially’ possible to teach the opposite of what the Bible teaches and still be fully part of the Communion, with the only penalty being a few procedural handicaps which in practice amount to very little.
Is this now how the Primates of the Anglican Communion understand ‘Walking Together’? It has become clear that the Communiqué does not represent the reality of the meeting.
Some Gafcon Primates did attend the meeting in the hope that they could make a difference, including Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Anglican Church of South America who was one of the original members of the Gafcon Primates Council in 2008. Commenting on the Communiqué, he has said ‘It does not reflect what I experienced and heard in the meeting. That’s fine, it might be somebody’s perception, but it wasn’t my perception and that leads me to ask more serious questions.
Our Gafcon Jerusalem Statement and Declaration of 2008 got to the heart of a painful truth when it concluded that ‘we are a global Communion with a colonial structure’ and the appearance of a few African faces in those structures does not mean that anything has changed. The Primates Meeting Communiqué does not embarrass the Archbishop of Canterbury who, as widely reported just before the meeting began, refused to answer a journalist’s direct question about whether or not homosexual practice was sinful, but it should embarrass all Anglicans who seek to live under the authority of the Word of God.
Also, the outcome of the meeting helps the Archbishop of Canterbury to continue tolerating almost routine breaches of Lambeth Resolution I.10 in the Church of England, but it does not help the global majority of ordinary Anglicans who wish to see their families and societies enjoy the great blessing of godly living.
So how should we move forward? The process of reformation is never smooth sailing, but we can be sure that as we remain faithful to our vision of restoring the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion, we shall have success in God’s good time. Already, Gafcon is enabling training, building global mission relationships, gathering the marginalised and resourcing Anglicans worldwide. Our next conference in Jerusalem in June 2018 will mark a further step in the great project of reformation begun ten years previously and by the grace of God will enable Anglicans around the world to walk together in the true communion of gospel partnership.
The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria and Chairman, the GAFCON Primates Council
Introducing the New 2018 Liturgical Year Collection by Modern Liturgic
This collection highlights the re-ordering of time around the story of God’s mission to the world in Jesus Christ. Running from Advent to Trinitytide, December 2017 through November 2018, the collection illustrates various aspects of the Christian liturgical tradition – seasons, colors, feast days, and more. All of the feast days, seasons, and other dates, etc., are aligned with the ACNA Texts for Common Prayer.
The collection is comprised of: An 11×17 “evergreen” liturgical year circle print that showcases the liturgical seasons and features the more prominent holy days in the Anglican tradition. A full-year calendar (starting in Advent!) that highlights and explains the various seasons, feast days, and commemorations that exist each month throughout the year.
Pre-order now and your item will be shipped by November 1st, 2017. Go to modernliturgic.com.
Register for the ACNA Liturgy Taskforce Webinar today!
On October 10 and 11, LeaderWorks will facilitate two webinars from the meeting of the ACNA’s Liturgy Taskforce as they work on common texts for liturgical use for our province. We hope to provide an opportunity to hear from the faithful men and women who have put in years of hard work on our prayer book. They will share the principles that have guided them in creating and revising the texts, and they will address some of the common questions that have arisen through the process.
Panelists will include the chair of the Taskforce, the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan and Senior Reader, Dr. J.I. Packer. Rev. Canon David Roseberry will moderate the discussion.
For more information and to register click here
A number of study tours to Jerusalem and the Mediterranean are are being led by members of the Anglican Church in North America this coming June.
Below is a brief description of each opportunity with links to the schedules, itineraries, and registration information for each.
Sailing into the New Testament World
Led by: New Testament Scholar Dr. Peter Walker and Archbishop Emeritus Robert Duncan
June 24-July 1, 2018
Next June’s trip will be a great opportunity to see a good number of Pauline sites within just one week, including places Paul visited on both his second and third missionary journey’s (Acts 16-20). Walking the streets of Ephesus, Rhodes, Athens, and Corinth, traveling across the Aegean Sea: these are all ways of seeing Paul’s world that will make the New Testament come alive for you in a whole new way. And then there’s the added bonus of sailing to Patmos to see the place where St. John the Divine wrote the Book of Revelation.
Please join us as we enjoy this beautiful part of the world, so rich in its history and significance. It will also be great fun! Traveling together will give us the experience of being on vacation with fellow GAFCON attendees and friends, giving us time to reflect on all that we have experienced together in Jerusalem, as well as the opportunity to meet new people and see new places. $2,795 per person.
For more information click here or call 1-800-856-1045, ext 5
CANA East Bible Tour of the Holy Land
Led by: Bishops and Leaders of CANA East
June 4-15, 2018
This will be the eighth tour that Bishop Julian & Brenda Dobbs have coordinated. The total cost of the tour is $4,395, which includes 10 nights in four star hotels, full breakfasts and dinners, transportation to and from the departing US airport, as well as all transportation and entrance fees related to the guided tour. The tour guide will be the same guide that has led all previous tours and there will be regular Bible study, worship and prayer at Holy sites with the Bishops and Archdeacon of CANA East. Among the planned sites for the tour are: the Elah valley where David slew Goliath, the Mount of Beatitudes, Sea of Galilee, Muhraka where Elijah confronted the priests of Baal, Nazareth, Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives. These are only a few of the many sites that will be visited during the eleven day trip.
If you are interested in learning more about this tour, please click here.
Discover Israel – A Leaderworks Exclusive
In partnership with Imagine Tour and Travel
Hosted by: The Rev. David Roseberry
June 13-17 or June 23-26, 2018
Join one or more of the three amazing 5 day/4 night excursions for GAFCON attendees from North America. Each of these excursions will include hotel accommodations in 4 star, First Class hotels, breakfast and dinners, licensed guide, all entrance fee, taxes, tips, and associated costs. I have been leading tours or laity and clergy of Israel for over 22 years.
Excursion I: Survey the Ministry of Jesus: From the coastal plains to the Sea of Galilee; the cool heights of the North and the mountains of Jerusalem.
Excursion II: The Negev, Ramon Crater, Red Sea, Petra, and Masada. Israel and the Desert Like You’ve Never Seen or Imagined
Excursion III: Discovering the Holy City: A detailed experience and tour of the riches and beauty of Jerusalem. (may be adjusted to accommodate Provincial meeting)
Israel Familiarization Tour for Leaders. The Life & World of Jesus, A Shoresh Study Tours Itinerary
Led by: Bishop Neil and Marcia Lebhar
June 7-17, 2018
On this Familiarization Tour especially designed for bishops and other ministry leaders, we will focus on the life of Jesus from his home in Galilee to Jerusalem, giving particular attention to the influence of Jewish thought and culture of the period on the origins of the Christian faith. Our goal is a better understanding of Jesus’ ministry, his place among the Jewish people, and the application of his teachings for us today. The FAM tour will also include sites from the Old Testament. The tour is designed to prepare leaders to lead future trips if they feel so called. Spouses are very welcome to join us as well. We will be staying on the shores of the sea of Galilee he and Christ Church in the Old City in Jerusalem. Thursday, June 7th is Departure from USA. Tour will begin Friday June 8th after 4pm.
Land Price: Per Person, Double Occupancy $1,699
Single Supplement $499
If interested please call 904-701-4230
On the heels of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma has brought flood waters, loss of power, and general havoc to the southeastern United States.
After causing widespread devastation across the Caribbean, Irma’s damage to the mainland U.S. was—in some ways—not as grave as expected.
However, for a storm as big as Irma, this still means many places were damaged by flood waters and high winds. We are receiving word from Holy Trinity Anglican and Grace Anglican (both in the Jacksonville, FL area) of damage to their communities. We expect to get more reports in the coming days from others as power is restored and the damages assessed.
Effectively working through the local church
Fortunately, the local church is in a position to reach out to those in need. In Houston, Church of the Apostles has organized a backpack drive, where volunteers can fill backpacks with necessities for kids and families who are struggling to regain a sense of normalcy after losing so much to Harvey.
In Florida, Grace Anglican Church is coordinating clean-up crews and is in need of strong equipment—and strong backs! All Souls Anglican Church (also in Jacksonville) is mobilizing to help in recovery efforts. Follow us on Facebook where we will post ongoing needs and opportunities as we receive them.
Share a story, encourage a donor
Help from afar
Even if you live far from Florida you can support the local church in their community efforts with your donations to ARDF. We are partnering with several dioceses in the affected regions so as to get aid to the places that need it most.
Register for Convergence, a two-day gathering designed to help Anglican church leaders engage a new generation.
Convergence is an annual two-day gathering at Asbury Theological Seminary designed to help Anglican church leaders engage a new generation with ancient pathways for formation and mission in contemporary ministry by bringing together Scripture, Spirit and Sacrament. During our time, we will worship corporately in liturgical chapel services and also explore topics such as “The Power of Liturgy,” “Sacramental Preaching,” “Sacramental Church Planting,” “21st Century Catechesis” and more. We believe that exploring the historic practices of the church will bring new life and substance to the leaders of our day and we would be delighted if you joined with us for this incredible opportunity!
Register before October 15th to receive a free electronic copy of Our Common Prayer by Dr. Winfield Bevins. In addition, we have the ability to offer Continuing Education Credits for Convergence. To see if you qualify for earning CEU credits, contact us through our “Contact” page and let us know!
Visit http://convergenceasbury.com for information.
The Sing! Conference is for church leaders to learn about building a Biblical understanding for congregational singing.
The Sing! Conference exists to help pastors, musicians, and leaders build a Biblical understanding and creative vision for the congregational singing in their churches. Bringing together speakers and artists from many traditions and walks of life, our desire is to encourage churches towards a deeper, more dynamic view of theology, artistry and mission in congregational singing.
The FREE live simulcast of the Getty Music Worship Conference: Sing! includes all 7 plenary session talks from pastors and speakers such as Alistair Begg, David Platt, Joni Eareckson Tada, Paul Tripp, Don Carson and many more, along with exciting new musical content from the Gettys and other top artists. It will also feature the 5000 person hymn-sing at the Grand Ole Opry House and EXCLUSIVE content and special appearances from the panel of over 50 speakers at the event.
Over 4000 pastors, church leaders and believers from over 16 countries are gathering in Nashville, TN for a conference that seeks to encourage and reform congregational singing.
RSVP today at here and receive a digital songbook with 25 free songs from Keith & Kristyn Getty!
Caminemos Juntos and AMEN make a statement in regards to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Caminemos Juntos and the Anglican Multi-Ethnic Network (AMEN) are entities of the Anglican Church in North America dedicated to helping the province better reflect the diversity of North America in our local churches. We join together at this time to express our love and concern for those who are affected by the recent revocation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). These brothers and sisters of ours, most of whom are of Latino ethnicity, are experiencing grief, pain and fear as well as uncertainty about their future. We want to make it clear to them that they have our support.
The Latino community in the United States is and will continue to be a vital part of the Church in this country and for this, we give thanks to Almighty God. As fellow members of the Body of Christ, we rejoice in the gifts they bring to our Church family (1 Cor. 12:22) and the contributions they make to local communities. We therefore ask those entrusted with the role of governing and legislating to provide a comprehensive solution to the wider immigration issue that includes a path to citizenship for those children raised here who only know this place as their home.
To develop an awareness of the various facets of DACA, DREAMers and immigration, we encourage everyone to take the time to become informed about the legal and personal issues that impact so many.
As co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord, we hope and pray that members of our province will avoid hurtful and hateful language and instead foster attitudes that unite us in Christ rather than divide. Furthermore, we encourage our fellow Anglican Christians to reach out with tangible expressions of the love of Christ to those whose lives are directly affected by these circumstances, be it through words of encouragement or deeds of provision. May the peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding be the true path that leads us to citizenship in God’s eternal kingdom.
For more information about Caminemos Juntos:
For more information about A.M.E.N:
Anglican relief efforts are now getting underway as Hurricane Irma brings devastation all across the State of Florida and beyond.
Just two weeks after Hurricane Harvey flooded southern Texas, Irma is hammering Florida. Southern Floridians are no strangers to storms. However, according to experts at the National Hurricane (as quoted in the Washington Post), Irma could very well be a “once in a generation storm.” Churches cancelled Sunday worship services and the estimates are that five million people are without power.
ARDF is partnering with several Anglican Dioceses to help get relief to people affected by Hurricane Irma: the Diocese of the Gulf Atlantic, based in Jacksonville, FL, The Anglican Diocese of the South, based in Atlanta, GA, and the Diocese of the Carolinas, based in Pleasant, SC. States of emergency have already been declared in Florida and Georgia.
How to help
You can donate funds even now to support Irma relief.
The following is from the Primates of the Global South who met in Cairo from September 8-9, 2017.
We, the Primates of the Global South, met in Cairo from 8-9 September 2017 to work together in service of the Church, to follow up the recommendation of the 2016 Global South Conference and to discuss arising issues. We give thanks to God for our time of prayer, worship, and communion. In particular, we benefitted greatly from the ministry of Dr. Os Guinness who led us in a Bible Study on the topic of biblical Covenants and the love of God. We were blessed by the tremendous hospitality of All Saints Cathedral, the Diocese of Egypt, and Bishop Mouneer Anis. We are also grateful to the Egyptian government for all the efforts taken to ensure granting visas and the security of the meeting.
We remembered and gave thanks for the encouraging fellowship that our delegates shared here in Egypt last year at the 6th Global South conference. We were reminded of that conference’s theme “Being Found Faithful.” By God’s grace we have been saved and there is nothing in this life that matters more than our faithfulness to Christ.
We shared together the challenges and blessings that we are experiencing in our provinces. We noticed common themes across our fellowship. For many of us, natural disasters and political unrest have created new waves of refugees, yet at the same time this instability is being accompanied by an extraordinary outpouring of God’s Spirit. We heard testimonies from areas in our provinces where people are coming to Christ in thousands, new schools and hospitals are being built to care for the poor, and new provinces and dioceses are emerging. We pray that God will provide more labourers to disciple these new believers that He is bringing into His kingdom, and pray that He will provide us with the resources to share His love with all in our communities.
We welcomed The Most Rev. Ezekiel Kondo of the new province of the Sudan, and we rejoiced in the news of the desire to form new provinces in Chile and Egypt.
As faithful members of the Anglican Communion, we are working on a new structure for the Global South to ensure fellowship in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and the advancement of the kingdom of God, with emphasis on Ministry Formation, Economic Empowerment, Mission Partnerships, Discipleship and Youth Ministry. Under the chairmanship of Bishop Rennis Ponniah the Structure Committee will convene its work in Singapore at the end of October 2017.
We express our sadness for the decision taken by the Scottish Episcopal Church to change its doctrine of marriage and are thankful for the faithful remnant of the Scottish Anglican Network that continues to contend for God’s Word. We are also saddened by the decisions of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada to allow same-sex marriage. If this decision is ratified it will further tear the fabric of the Communion.
We invited Bishop Julian Henderson, President of the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), to address us about the challenges facing orthodox Anglicans in England. We commend the recent CEEC statements reaffirming the biblical definition of marriage. We encourage Anglicans in England to continue to stand firm in defence of the Gospel and to speak up for the central place of Scripture in the life of our Church, particularly in this 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
We are saddened that the 16th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka, Zambia, did not unequivocally accept the decisions of the last Primates Meeting. While we expressed a desire to walk together as a Communion, this was contingent upon our decisions regarding The Episcopal Church being respected and upheld. Unfortunately, this agreement was not enforced and The Episcopal Church has been allowed to take part in decision making regarding “matters pertaining to polity and doctrine.” They have also represented us in ecumenical meetings. This has led to a further breakdown of trust and confidence.
In light of this reality, we discussed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation to the upcoming Primates’ Meeting. The conscience of some does not allow them to attend. Some intend to go in defence of the Gospel and some are continuing to discern what the Lord is asking of them in this hour. We have all agreed to pray that the outcome of the upcoming meeting will be decisive and lead to coherent and responsible action regarding the issues which continue to tear apart the fabric of the Communion, issues that have eternal consequences.
We rejoice and pray for the upcoming meeting of Gafcon in June 2018 in Jerusalem and give thanks for this renewal and reformation movement.
We gave thanks for the sacrificial and significant service of Bishop Mouneer Anis, asking him to continue as our Chairman. Our next Global South Primates Meeting will be 8-13 October 2018.
We ask you to continue to pray for the Church, especially that we might be found faithful stewards contending for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. Jude 1:3
The Rt Rev. Mouneer Anis (Chairman)
Diocese of Egypt, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa
The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh (Vice Chairman)
The Church of Nigeria
The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali (Secretary)
The Church of Uganda
The Most Rev. Ng Moon Hing (Treasurer)
The Church of the Province of Southeast Asia
The Most Rev. Foley Beach
The Province of the Anglican Church in North America
The Most Rev. Masimango Katanda
The Anglican Church of the Congo
The Most Rev. Ezekiel Kondo
The Church of the Province of Sudan
The Most Rev. Daniel Sarfo
The Church of the Province of West Africa
The Most Rev. Paul Sarker
The Church of Bangladesh
The Most Rev. Stephen Than Myint Oo
The Church of the Province of Myanmar
The Most Rev. Gregory Venables
The Church of the Province of South America
A statement from Archbishop Beach and the College of Bishops on the ordination of women to the priesthood.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am writing to you from the airport in Vancouver, British Columbia following the meeting of our College of Bishops. We met this week, September 5-7, 2017, in order to discuss the report of the Theological Task Force on Holy Orders. As we met, we were deeply aware that North America is reeling from devastating natural disasters: we heard first-hand accounts of hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana, the smoke from widespread wildfires in the Western parts of Canada and the United States filled the air of Victoria where we met, and we followed the latest reports of hurricane Irma in Haiti, Cuba, and the Caribbean. With that hurricane now threatening the southeastern United States, some bishops in the affected areas had to leave early to make preparations in their dioceses and in their own homes. In the midst of these challenges, we gathered to do the important work of discernment that had been laid before us.
I write to thank you for your prayers for our meeting. Each bishop shared his personal position on the ordination of women, and the position of his diocese. We spent time listening to each other and to the Lord. The deliberation was frank and, at times, poignant and painful. We worshiped, prayed, read Scripture, and spent much time in silence, earnestly seeking to hear God’s voice and saying often throughout our time together, “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him” (Habakkuk 2:20).
Words cannot convey all that the Lord did in our midst, but we leave more unified than ever, and I give thanks for your faithfulness to lift us up in prayer. Below is the statement by the College of Bishops, unanimously adopted.
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America
September 7, 2017
In an act of mutual submission at the foundation of the Anglican Church in North America, it was agreed that each Diocese and Jurisdiction has the freedom, responsibility, and authority to study Holy Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition of the Church, and to seek the mind of Christ in determining its own convictions and practices concerning the ordination of women to the diaconate and the priesthood. It was also unanimously agreed that women will not be consecrated as bishops in the Anglican Church in North America. These positions are established within our Constitution and Canons and, because we are a conciliar Church, would require the action of both Provincial Council and Provincial Assembly to be changed.
Having gratefully received and thoroughly considered the five-year study by the Theological Task Force on Holy Orders, we acknowledge that there are differing principles of ecclesiology and hermeneutics that are acceptable within Anglicanism that may lead to divergent conclusions regarding women’s ordination to the priesthood. However, we also acknowledge that this practice is a recent innovation to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order. We agree that there is insufficient scriptural warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood as standard practice throughout the Province. However, we continue to acknowledge that individual dioceses have constitutional authority to ordain women to the priesthood.
As a College of Bishops, we confess that our Province has failed to affirm adequately the ministry of all Christians as the basic agents of the work of the Gospel. We have not effectively discipled and equipped all Christians, male and especially female, lay and ordained, to fulfill their callings and ministries in the work of God’s kingdom. We repent of this and commit to work earnestly toward a far greater release of the whole Church to her God-given mission.
Having met in Conclave to pray, worship, study, talk, and listen well to one another, we commit to move forward in unity to carry on the good witness and work that God has given us to do in North America (Ephesians 4:1-6; John 17). We invite and urge all members of the Province to engage with us in this endeavor to grow in understanding the mission and ministry of all God’s people.
Adopted Unanimously by the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America
The Church of Our Lord, Victoria, BC, Canada
Archbishop Beach provides an update on the relief efforts following hurricane Harvey, and asks for prayer for those in the path of Hurricane Irma.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This hurricane season seems to be particularly severe. I am writing to share with you some of the good news coming out of Houston, as well as to ask you to pray.
Please lift up those affected by these hurricanes. Although the exact trajectory of hurricane Irma is not yet determined, the Caribbean Islands are beginning to be hit, and Florida has already declared a state of emergency. Please pray for wisdom for all those facing difficult decisions, for government leaders preparing their communities, for individuals and families deciding whether to stay or evacuate, and especially for those who have no choice but to ride out the storm.
Please continue to pray for the victims of hurricane Harvey. Your generosity in caring for those recovering from hurricane Harvey continues to bring the love of Christ to those who have most needed encouragement. There are excellent reports from those coordinating the relief effort and you can hear some of them for yourself below:
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America
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Archbishop Beach issues a call to prayer as the bishops meet to discuss the ordination of women.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As many of you may have heard, the College of Bishops is gathering this week (September 5-7) in conclave (a private assembly of the bishops) to discuss the report we have received from the Task Force on Holy Orders earlier this year, specifically women’s orders. This is the beginning of our formal discussion as bishops, and I sincerely doubt it will be the end of our prayerful deliberation on this important issue. We are seeking to hear God’s will for us as Biblically orthodox, and faithful North American Anglicans, who are part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
There are two things which I want to share with you, as members of the Anglican Church in North America.
First, as Anglicans we are a conciliar Church in which decision-making and authority are shared amongst the clergy and laity. If the College of Bishops were to be united in discerning that it is God’s will to move in a different direction than that which is established in our Constitution (see Article VIII, Section 2), it would need to be brought to the full leadership of the Church for discernment (ie. Provincial Council and Provincial Assembly, see Article XV).
Second, I believe in the power of prayer, and that God provides prayer as a means to further his purposes in the world and in the Church. I ask you to keep the bishops (and specifically your bishop) in your personal and corporate prayers as we gather to discuss this issue and how we move forward together. Our bishops are godly men and are committed to seeing the Anglican Church in North America flourish and prosper under the authority of Holy Scripture and the Tradition of the Church. Please pray for us. “To him who is able to do more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20,21).
Forward, Always Forward. Everywhere Forward!
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America
It is very, very hard to watch images coming out of Houston in the wake of Harvey. Katrina left deep scars. When I see an image of my hometown under water, I can look past the damage and heart ache. And what I see is the church there about to experience its finest hour.
By the Very Rev. Canon J.A. (Jerry) Kramer
Twelve years after the levees broke and New Orleans went under water, images and conversations still race through my head.
The day I remember most, however, came several months after the landfall and devastation.
Our tiny Broadmoor neighbourhood church managed to acquire a very used double-wide trailer. Deposited in the middle of our parking lot, it would serve as a makeshift church, community center, and relief site (for years).
As a gaggle of hardy New Orleanians managed to return “home,” we embarked on what appeared to be a fools’ errand of trying to save our neighbourhood from being demolished by city planners. With 100% of all homes and buildings in our community destroyed or severely damaged, our little church offered up the double-wide as home base for our civic association.
One Saturday morning, we asked all returning residents to meet up near the church from where we would canvass the neighbourhood, assessing the damage and leaving messages for our neigbhours. Afterward, we hosted a lunch cobbled together from relief supplies for the resident volunteers.
As neighbours and new friends left the trailer after lunch, I heard two statements over and over again; these still ring in my ears. After hugging my neck, over and over they said to me on the way out of the parking lot, “Thank you for doing this. Today was the first time I could sit on a chair, at a table, and just talk with people who understood what happened to me.” Followed by, “I never knew what this building (the old flooded church) was. I never knew what people did here.”
I was to stunned to learn the depth of irrelevance to which our 163-year-old parish had sunk. Although I had only been installed as Rector (pastor) a few weeks before Katrina hit, I knew that things would have to change. Quickly.
Flash forward five years and our neighbourhood was mostly repaired and rebuilt. It was far better than before on many levels. The parish worked hand in glove with the local civic association to bring residents home, helping to rebuild their lives. It was the church’s finest hour. We experienced resurrection.
The transformation was so profound, and so improbable that the Harvard Kennedy School of Government studied us for five years. The academic question being: How did one of the poorest communities in New Orleans (median household income $10,000) experience a 93% return of its residents?
While our Harvard colleagues had no idea of the power of prayer or the Holy Spirit or the promises of God, they did conclude that the church played a significant, vital role in our community’s comeback. There was “something” about the church that made it both “different” and highly effective in disaster events.
It is very, very hard for me to watch images coming out of Houston (my hometown where my sister and parents still live) in the wake of Harvey. Katrina left deep scars. However, when I see an image of my hometown under water, I can look past the damage and heart ache. And what I see is the church there about to experience its finest hour.
Here is what we learned in Katrina and how Christ followers in south Texas can shine Jesus’ light for all to see:
1. Sharing water, food, shelter, etc. is not enough for people in crisis. They need to know the love and faithfulness of God. We refused to accept relief supplies from a particular denominational provider because we were not allowed to use the Name “Jesus.”
2. With Jesus front and centre, while relief is happening, pray with people. Share words of love, comfort and hope from Scripture. People are not merely physically broken but spiritually and emotionally hurting. Jesus is their healer. Tend to their hearts not just their bodies and buildings.
3. Rumour Phase: Do NOT believe everything you hear from the media. Wild rumours are a normal part the crisis. Remember all the people who were supposedly killed in the New Orleans’ Superdome? I can see this already starting in Houston. You can help by not spreading false stories on social media or by email.
4. This is a marathon, not a sprint. An initial crush of “volunteers” will inevitably race in to help. There will need to be a thoughtful evolution of capacity building taking time to put into place. Churches will need to think about housing volunteers in the days and even years ahead. There must be platforms for launching relief operations and recovery initiatives. Note, too, that crises attract pedophiles and “fake” clergy. Ill- intentioned people know there will be vulnerable children in a chaotic environment upon whmo they might prey. Vet your volunteers. And don’t be offended if you are vetted.
While almost all are well-intended, the majority of dear people arriving on the scene in the early days caused more harm than good. We weren’t ready for people to come and stay with us; some needed rescuing themselves or became a tremendous burden on us. If you or your church wish to enter the disaster zone and help, coordinate this with locals. Find out how you can be of greatest help, not becoming one more issue causing stress.
5. Listen! Don’t presume what people need. This is why almost all large charitable organisations failed miserably. These groups were too large to truly hear from the grassroots and adapt as needed. Needs will change as the crisis cycle moves from relief to recovery and then resolution. Our slogan was, “Be fluid, not flexible, because flexible is too rigid.” Be ready to turn on a dime; people and communities recover at different paces. Denominations especially felt the pull towards centralised response with predictably terrible results.
6. Help and recovery as a community. It was proven in Katrina that “victims” who went out and helped others in need recovered at a faster rate. The people who stayed inside and looked inward did not do well in the long-term. Get people involved in your relief and recovery ministries. The only way you will endure – and hopefully thrive – is by committing to one another. Stand together and fight, leaving no one behind.
7. Relief and recovery are best directed at the lowest level. The church should already be engaged with the lives of the community (we had to make up for generations of disengagement very quickly). The church can be a voice for their needs, hopes, and dreams for recovery. Highly centralised operations failed miserably. We learned the key to effective help is for outsiders to look for grassroots, boots on the ground locals, and support them. Think bottom up, not top down.
8. Embed deeply with your local community. Sacrifice to the bone. Our little church was asked to give up its campus for five years to host the local civic association’s relief and recovery operation while providing housing for 3,500 volunteers annually. This meant, essentially, giving up our campus and beautiful old church. Jesus gave everything. There is nothing He held back on the cross. Why shouldn’t we give all, to the point of profound pain, not just “inconvenience?” Idols must die. Giving up our wants and comforts goes to the heart of following Jesus.
9. Churches that simply tried to put things back the way they were ultimately died out. 60 percent of all churches in New Orleans didn’t make it in in the long run. Their focus was “getting back to the old normal.” That is a guaranteed recipe for failure. Work within the community to envision a “new normal.” What would the church look like in the new normal, truly engaged with residents, meeting their deepest felt needs (remembering a relationship with God in Jesus is everyone’s greatest need)?
There is much more to say. But the day is early. The recovery process will take years. While the road ahead looks daunting, it can be your finest hour as a Christ follower and as His Bride, the Church.
With all blessings and Hope in Him,
The Very Rev. Canon J.A. (Jerry) Kramer
If you would like to see how it all began in New Orleans, you can watch me paddle into the city here less than one week after the levees broke. If you go this page, you will see many short videos on Katrina relief and recovery from a Church-based perspective.
For more resources from the Harvard Kennedy School on neighborhood recovery, see: http://www.belfercenter.org/publication/lessons-katrina.
You can help the relief effort for Hurricane Harvey by donating through the Anglican Relief and Development Fund here.
Church of the Apostles Anglican (Houston, TX) has just opened as an official Red Cross shelter for those displaced by the catastrophic Houston floods in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Senior Pastor David Cumbie, whose first weekend in the parish was last Sunday, August 20th, is handling the relief effort. Pastor David has been sleeping at the church and offering shelter and help to anyone who needs it, while his wife is coordinating volunteers remotely. Please pray for Fr. David and Church of the Apostles. You can help the relief effort by donating through the Anglican Relief and Development Fund here.
Bishop Clark Lowenfield (Bishop of the Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast) is on the ground in Houston and is spearheading the Anglican relief effort now underway. Hear an update on how you can help.
Hurricane Harvey has already displaced thousands in south Texas and Louisiana, and the rains and flooding are expected to continue throughout the week to come. Archbishop Beach is calling the Church to pray, give, and prepare.
You can help by donating through the Anglican Relief and Development Fund here.
Meteorologists are warning that while the winds have now died down, the greater danger could come from the continual rain that the region will receive.
Bishop Clark Lowenfield and The Anglican Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast are based in Houston, Texas and will be coordinating the relief effort among Anglicans in the region. Bishop Lowenfield, who was forced to evacuate his home yesterday, said, “Thank you to all those who have been offering their prayers and expressing their concern to us. The impact of Harvey is already evident, and we are being told to expect days more of rain and ‘catastrophic flooding’. In the Houston area in particular, the devastation will take months if not years of recovery. Your gift to the Anglican Relief and Development Fund will mean that individuals in some of the most hard-hit areas will be able to put their lives back together once this is all over. Above all, I implore you to pray with us in this storm. As Psalm 29:10-11 tells us, ‘The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever. May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!’”
Archbishop Beach is calling the Church to pray, give, and prepare: “Now is an important time for the Church to step forward. First and foremost, please join me in praying for the people of south Texas and Louisiana. Please pray for all those in distress, those who are being called to extraordinary acts of courage, and those who are obediently engaging in small acts of faithfulness.
Second, please consider giving so that Christians in the area will have the resources they need to show their communities the love of Christ in tangible ways. We cannot anticipate today all that will need to be done in the days ahead, but we are blessed to have churches in the region who can be the hands and feet of Christ.
Third, whether you are in Texas, Louisiana, or in the states surrounding the region, please be preparing to serve. As the Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast prioritizes the needs, you will be hearing more about how you and your congregation can serve through volunteer work teams.”
You can help by donating through the Anglican Relief and Development Fund here.
The Anglican Multiethnic Network exists to help local churches embody the diversity that manifests God’s reconciling of the world to himself through his Son. To do this work effectively churches must be willing to speak plainly about the racism and injustice that continues to plague North America.
We witnessed this racism again on display over the weekend in Charlottesville when a young woman was murdered and many others were injured during a protest of a white supremacy rally. Our prayers are with her family and all the victims of violence and hatred.
We want to make it abundantly clear that as Anglicans we believe that all people are created in God’s image and, as image bearers, all are worthy of equal dignity and respect. God does not value one ethnicity above another. His Son shed his blood for us all. We find our meaning and value in his death, resurrection, and ascension for us, which both humbles and exalts people of all ethnicities. Christ is the source of our reconciliation with God and each other. White supremacy, therefore, is an affront to the gospel because it speaks against the Anglican (and wider Christian) doctrines of creation, salvation, and ecclesiology (the one people of God called from all the ethnicities of the earth). Racism and white supremacy have no place in Anglicanism.
We confess that as Anglicans we ourselves have a long way to go in reflecting in our churches God’s vision for his multicolored Kingdom and addressing the concerns of communities of color, but we are committed for the long haul to seek the fullness of God’s purposes in all these things. We ask you to pray for Charlottesville and North America—that racism would be overcome and that we might live together in harmony. We also ask that you pray for the Church—that God might grant us the wisdom to be salt and light during these challenging times.
Yours In Christ,
The Anglican Multi-Ethic Network (A.M.E.N.) Leadership Team
Read Archbishop Beach’s addressed the North American Lutheran Church at their 2017 Mission Festival and Convocation in Nashville, Tennessee on August 11, 2017:
Grace and peace to you in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
As the Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church in North America, it is my joy and privilege to bring you greetings on behalf of the College of Bishops, the clergy, and the laity of the Anglican Church in North America.
In this year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I have to confess it is really good to be with Lutherans! Especially Lutherans who believe the Bible and attempt to practice its teaching!
Thank you, Bishop John, for your invitation and your hospitality over these days. I am deeply grateful.
The Anglican Church in North America and the North America Lutheran Church have been having ecumenical discussions and fellowship for a number of years now, and we partner in various ways to further of the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I personally appreciate your clear stand on the moral teaching of the Bible. It seems that God has called us to live in a generation when too many Church leaders have thrown away Biblical morality for the sake of cultural relativity. Even leaders from our various traditions, who wear the same name as we do, Lutheran and Anglican, have abandoned the teaching of the Bible.
A virus of immorality, has spread to the leadership of the Church and become accepted as “Christian.” It is nothing more, than pagan morality, dressed up and Christianized, with inclusive language and politically correct verbiage. We have become too feeling-oriented in the Church. Yes, we are to love, but we’ve become afraid to tell people of their sin. This is not love at all, it is deception (And you know where deception comes from).
Because we refuse to tell people God’s truth, refuse to reveal to people God’s holy expectations, in the name of love, we are deceiving people into thinking that “living in sin” is ok with the Almighty. It is not. Thank you, for your clear stand for Biblical Morality. We in the Anglican Church in North America stand with you.
Secondly, I want to thank you for your emphasis on discipleship. Jesus said to his disciples: “GO and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always.” This is called the Great Commission. Sadly, for too many in our pews and chairs, it is the Great Omission. This is what we are called to be about – making disciples. Jesus ends this commission by saying “Lo, I am with you always.” As we make disciples, He promises to be us. This ought to immediately motivate us – so Jesus will be with us. He says to “Go” literally. Isn’t this what a commission does? It gives you something to do. As you go, make disciples.
We must get out of our churches and go. We must get out of our homes and go. We must get out from in front of the television, and go. We must get out from in front of our computer screens, and go! As you go, make disciples.
Did he say go and make new members? Did he say go and lead beautiful worship services? Did he say go and build buildings?
All those things are great, but not if we are aren’t doing what he asked us to do. As you go, make disciples. Make disciples of all nations. Make disciples of all people. Not just our kind. Not just people who look like us. Not just people who share our values. Make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.
We aren’t to just get people to pray a special prayer, and then get them wet in baptism, we are to teach them. Teach them what Jesus taught. Teach them what His Word says. Teach them how to follow Jesus in a world which hates him. As you go, make disciples, of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to observe all that I commanded you, and I will be with you always.
What a joy to know that you have a vision of discipleship! We are excited about our partnership with you in these Gospel endeavors. Together, we can impact North America, for generations to come!
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, and the blessing of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be with you all forever more. Amen.
The Anglican Church in North America is pleased to announce that this October Ms. Rachel Thebeau will join the provincial staff as a communications associate.
A member of Christ Our King Anglican Church in New Braunfels, Texas, Rachel earned a Bachelors Degree in Corporate Communications and Public Affairs from Southern Methodist University (SMU). She then went on to get a law degree from SMU, sits on the State Bar of Texas, and serves as the Assistant Chancellor of the International Diocese.
Rachel was a delegate to the Anglican Church in North America’s Inaugural Assembly in 2009, and since that time has also served as a delegate to Provincial Council, Gafcon (Nairobi), and the Global South (Cairo). For the last 10 months Rachel has been working overseas for the International Justice Mission (IJM) combatting the online sexual exploitation of children.
“I am thrilled to join the provincial staff. It is a privilege and great joy! I love the Anglican Church. I love her people. The Lord is moving mightily in our Church, and I am looking forward to serving her in this capacity,“ Thebeau said.
The Rev. Canon Andrew Gross, Canon for Communications and Media Relations commented, “The Anglican Church in North America is blessed to have some really talented people, and we had a strong group of candidates apply for this position. I’m delighted that Rachel is coming on board. She has a servant’s heart, a diverse skill set, and a love for Anglicanism both in North America and globally.”
The Anglican Church in North America is built upon the principle of subsidiarity, which in practical terms includes the recognition that most of the ministry of the Church takes place through individuals, congregations, and grassroots networks. Part of the work of the Provincial communications team is sharing with the whole Church the best of what is being developed locally.
Canon Gross is excited about the future: “From a communications standpoint, we are just scratching the surface of what is possible. The province continues to grow, and with it the sheer volume of information coming from our task forces and various grassroots initiatives has increased exponentially. Rachel will be working with me to help share these resources. It will require a coordinated effort between members, staff, volunteers, and freelancers. It is an exciting time to be an Anglican in North America.”
Please keep Rachel in your prayers as she finishes up her work with IJM and begins her new role with the Province.
Conference organizers for Matthew 25 are happy to report great attendance and response to a leadership event called The Matthew 25 Gathering in Scottsdale, Arizona, September 27-29, 2017.
Archbishop Foley Beach, will be at the event to teach and encourage the group as they share the love of Christ with the last, the least, and the lost.The M25 Gathering, the second in as many years, is a learning community of workers, leaders, ministers, and practitioners who are actively engaged in justice and mercy ministries in North America.
The M25 Gathering is a pastoral companion ministry to the Matthew 25 Initiative within the Anglican Church in North America. Begun as a vision of Archbishop Beach, M25 is a kick-starter ministry that equips parishes and congregation to begin works of mercy and ministry in their own community in the name of Jesus. Seeded by a million dollar matching fund grant, M25 churches apply for funding from the Anglican Church in North America and then raise their own match to the funds that are granted. Since its founding, over $2 million dollars has been granted, raised, and placed into active ministry.
Recent awards from the Anglican Church in North America include 30 new ministries that are being started across the US and Canada. New ministries that were awarded grants are strongly encouraged to attend and participate in the full event.
Organizers have also added a ‘field-trip’ to some of the ministries that are meeting human needs on the Mexican border-town of Nogales, Arizona. Details for this day trip are being made available to all attendees upon registration. Dr. Soong Chan-Rah of North Park University will not be attending as was previously announced.
For more information on Matthew 25 go to: www.matthew25i.org
President and CEO of American Anglican Council, The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey, reflects on Psalm 37 after Supreme Court ruling.
In his book The Contemporary Christian, John Stott writes that a follower of Christ should have a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. Without both, he or she is unarmed. With the newspaper only, you have the calamity and depravity in the world with no hope to offer. With only the Scripture, you have hope but no sense of where to apply it.
So, on this day of prayer and fasting for the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Diocese of South Carolina, for the decisions that lie before them in the face of the South Carolina Supreme Court’s decision to award 29 of their churches to The Episcopal Church (TEC), it seems appropriate to take the decision in one hand, and the Bible in the other, and seek God’s mind in this situation to direct our prayers. As I prayerfully and carefully reviewed the decision, the facts around it, and all the reports and reviews published so far, I believe the LORD directed me to Psalm 37:
“Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon wither away.” (Ps. 37:1-2 NIV)
Psalm 37 addresses the question “How should God’s people react when ‘evil men’ and ‘those who do wrong’ succeed in their ways?”
The decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court in the matter of the ACNA Diocese of South Carolina vs. the TEC Diocese of South Carolina (Heard September 23, 2015 and filed August 2, 2017) appears to be such a case. The net effect of this case seems to be the transfer of the property of 29 congregations from the ACNA Diocese of South Carolina to TEC. Ultimately this could mean the displacement of thousands of families from the place where they have worshiped for generations. It could mean the loss of all the ACNA Diocese of South Carolina offices, the bishops residence and more.
The legal effect is to overturn the South Carolina Supreme Court decision in All Saints Parish, Waccamaw v Diocese 385 S.C. 428 (2009) that neither the then Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina nor the national church (by the Dennis Canon) can create a trust in favor of themselves in any church in South Carolina unless they already have an express property interest in that church. This 2009 decision was based on long settled common law principles of trusts in South Carolina law. The legal effect of the Court’s August 2 decision is to reinterpret the facts of this case de novo, and by bare majority of 3-2 to reinstate the validity of the Dennis Canon by turning the “neutral principles” approach to church property disputes (see Jones v. Wolf , 443 U.S. 595 (1979)) into a “deference to internal hierarchical church law,” approach—turning “neutral principles on its head.” As Justice Kittredge concluded in his opinion (dissenting in part and concurring in part): “The message is clear for churches in South Carolina that are affiliated in any manner with a national organization and have never lifted a finger to transfer control or ownership of their property—if you think your property ownership is secure, think again.”
I won’t add to the superb analysis by Allan Haley (aka The Anglican Curmudgeon) in the article on how Justice Hearn, a member of the TEC South Carolina Diocese and one of the leaders who actively sought to oust Bishop Mark Lawrence while he was still in TEC provided the swing vote that transferred millions of dollars of property to the church she was actively representing, and how her participation in this case, rather than recusal, violated the South Carolina Appellate Rules of Court and Rules of Judicial Conduct. “A Massive Conflict of Interest” is an understatement, and worth reading in its entirety.
But to make matters worse, the Provisional Bishop of the TEC Diocese in South Carolina is Gladstone B. “Skip” Adams—the same TEC Bishop of Central New York who would not sell back Church of the Good Shepherd Binghamton NY to the departing Anglicans (the majority) but instead sold it below market value and the offer of the Anglicans to Muslims who converted the church into a Mosque!
So, if the August 2 decisions stand, what will happen to the historic Anglican Churches of Charleston? They are surely historic landmarks that cannot be sold and turned into condos, townhomes or retail boutiques as other TEC bishops have tried to do. These Anglican Churches left en masse (80%) with the clear majority of their members when they left TEC. There are not enough Episcopalians to keep the buildings open and maintained. Will we see Skip Adams turn the steeples of the Holy City into minarets, yet again—or museums?
This is a bad situation. Those who do wrong, and who have a history of doing wrong, appear to have succeeded. What can God’s people do?
The psalmist answers quite simply “There is a place for righteous anger (see Psalm 35), but don’t react to the wicked with their own weapons. Don’t fret.” Don’t be constantly and visibly worried, anxious and distressed. Don’t get heated. Don’t be envious. Resist the temptation to play the same games as those who do the wrong thing. Resist the temptation to harbor a spirit of resentment—which is tantamount to doubting God’s final justice. Don’t plot or gnash your teeth and plan to slay those who do wrong with the sword—let God take care of that (see vv. 10-15)
“Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 37:3-4)
In other words, shift your focus from the wrongdoers to GOD. As followers of Jesus Christ, rest in his perfect work of salvation, receive the promises of the Father, and let the Holy Spirit stir up in you and me every good gift for the furtherance of His Kingdom. Cultivate an attitude of faithfulness—and do it right where you find yourself! That’s what it means to “dwell in the land and enjoy good pasture.” Do good in the place God has given you.
And what if that place is up for grabs? No matter. God works wherever he sends us to wait—even those places where the wrongdoers dominate (see 37:34). God calls us to seek the welfare of the city where he has “carried us into exile,” and to put down roots however temporary our stay may be (See Jer. 29:4-7).
I am reminded constantly of the example of The Falls Church Anglican in Virginia. Under years of costly litigation and appeals, they planted three churches in the DC Beltway (Arlington, Alexandria and Vienna) and one on the outskirts of Northern VA, in Winchester. All are thriving. TFC lost their buildings, but their congregation grew even as they gave away hundreds to these church plants! Now they have a location and a building that exceeds what they had before, as they are growing in mission and evangelism where God has planted them.
How tragic it would be if litigation and appeals took our eyes off God and the things that delight him—especially reaching those who do not yet know the transforming love of Jesus Christ.
“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: he will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” (Ps. 37:5-6)
You see, our ultimate vindication lies not with the secular courts, but with the LORD. “He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” (emphasis added)
From the time faithful Anglicans began to leave TEC, the supreme courts of many states have made a mess of Jones v. Wolf and the application of “neutral principles of law” in resolving church property disputes. The August 2 decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court not only turns neutral principles into deference to a hierarchical church, it turns TEC into a singularly privileged body that can impose a trust on property in which it has no settled express interest. Unlike any other person, corporation or non-profit, it can declare by a mere change in its canons that it is the beneficiary under an implied trust! Such a privileged position is certainly a violation of the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution. And that doesn’t even begin to address the constitutional rights to freedom of association that have been violated by making TEC, and any hierarchical church, a “roach motel” where you can check in but never leave.
But despite the hostility of secular courts and the media, and despite the political agendas that trump the facts and reasoned legal precedent, the Anglican Church in North America is planting new churches and growing. The same cannot be said for TEC. Many people who were never in TEC and know nothing of the litigation are coming to ACNA because they are attracted to its authenticity of both liturgy and Biblical preaching. They are coming because of our commitment to Biblical discipleship and local mission. Young and old, single and families are finding a home in churches that provide both a grace-filled comprehensiveness and Biblical boundaries that lie at the heart of Reformational Anglicanism.
Could this be a result of the LORD causing the justice of our cause to shine as the noonday sun?
“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land…” (Ps. 37: 7-9)
Being still before the LORD and waiting patiently for him is no mere resignation. It is a positive, faithful effort to replace fretting and doubting by a trust in God, because the solution of the problem can only come from him (see also Psalm 62:5). This nothing less than the posture of prayer. Prayer keeps us focused on delighting the LORD and trusting in him.
The ACNA Diocese of South Carolina has remedies available—not only the petition for rehearing before the South Carolina Supreme Court that Alan Haley mentions in his article, but also petition for hearing before the US Supreme Court on the federal issues that I have mentioned already, including the misinterpretation and misapplication of Jones v. Wolf, it’s last ruling on church property disputes. This case certainly seems ripe for such a hearing. We can be sure that Bishop Lawrence, the Standing Committee and their superior legal team are already working on this.
But our job now is to PRAY for them. Pray for the Bishop, pray for the Standing Committee and pray for the legal team. Over the years that I have been with the AAC, I have been blessed to work with Anglican lawyers who pray! I have been impressed by so many Anglican lawyers who have invited the people in the churches they represent to see such prayer as an even more important work than the research, briefs and oral argument.
I know for a fact that these Anglican attorneys depend on our prayers!
But in this time of waiting let’s not forget the other Anglicans affected by TEC litigation—the thousands in the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin who have been removed recently from their churches by the California courts, the pending litigation in the Anglican Dioceses of Ft Worth and Quincy, and the dozen or more churches in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh that are awaiting trial or a settlement with TEC.
Perhaps we also ought to pray for the leadership of TEC. Pray that they will let go of the anger and bitterness behind scorched earth litigation, and seek a result which promotes “healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, amendment of life and reconciliation” among all parties. After all, these lofty, even Biblical, goals are the very language they use for reaching “accords” in their own Title IV Canons (see TEC Canon IV.14.1) Wouldn’t such an accord or settlement be better than turning the steeples of historic Anglican Churches into minarets or museums?
“Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous.” (Ps. 37: 16-17)
Whatever the result may be, whatever we have left will be better than that which is confiscated and held by wrongdoers. There are so many stories of Anglicans losing their church buildings in costly litigation, only to find often miraculous provision of new and better buildings than they had before. There are also many stories from Anglicans who left TEC with only the shirt on their backs, and as a result shifting their focus from buildings to mission! Our former Archbishop Robert Duncan summed it up so well: “They can have the stuff; we’ll take the souls.”
That too is the story of our Anglican brothers and sisters who discovered us through this awful conflict, and who remind us that where they live, all it takes to plant a new church is a banyan tree with enough shade and a few people willing to share Jesus Christ with the least, the last and the lost!
O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: increase and multiply on us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through the things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our LORD, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. AMEN
The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey is President & CEO of the American Anglican Council.
New Wineskins Missionary Network reflects on the 2017 ACNA Assembly.
I’m sitting on our plane, flying back to North Carolina from Chicago, still reeling and absorbing all that ACNA Assembly 2017: Mission on our Doorstep was and offered to me.
This was my first time attending an ACNA Assembly, and this one certainly did not disappoint! It was also my first time to visit Wheaton College, and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect venue. As a mission-minded person, the Assembly theme of Mission on our Doorstep was intriguing and offered a whole lot of material to chew on and consider. The Spirit of God was alive and active at Assembly, moving among all of us. Here are a few initial takeaways on mission from the week in Wheaton.
Who really is my neighbor? This is a theme that emerged in one of the Anglican Global Mission Partner’s (AGMP) workshops. Stories were shared of loving one’s neighbor, and you wouldn’t believe the diversity of the stories that were told! International students, the elderly, Muslims, teenagers, the people who live down the street from you-all of these are people that can be found outside your door in your own neighborhood. The takeaway-everyone is my neighbor!
We must proclaim the gospel without reservation. This is a theme that came out in Louie Giglio’s teaching, in Bishop Ben Kwashi’s exhortation, and in other teachings and talks. We must proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without reservation-for the sake of God, for the sake of others, and for the sake of ourselves. We can repent for the shame of the gospel that we have all had at one time or another. This is a hopeful message that is vital to the heart of mission.
Being as the source of Doing. In another AGMP workshop, Cynthia Buttram (a SAMS missionary serving with her husband, Kerry, in Cairo, Egypt) addressed the need to ‘Be’ before we go and ‘Do’ anything. When we turn our thoughts to mission, we most often think of what we can do, what we need to do, what we will try to do. But Cynthia addressed the need to be with God, in his word, in solitude, and in rest before we try to go and do anything. It is out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks, and as we consider stepping out in mission we must first ensure that we are rooted in Jesus and filled and inspired by the Holy Spirit.
“To the ends of the earth and to the ends of your heart.” This quote by Amy Carmichael was shared by Geoff Chapman, Senior Pastor of St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Pittsburgh, PA, during a morning plenary session. The dual direction and double mission of the Great Commission is “to the ends of the earth and to the ends of your heart.” God has a salvific and redemption plan for the entire world, and he has this same individual plan for you. Stepping out in mission advances the great commission in our actions to the ends of the earth, and in this process, it also advances the great commission to the depths of our hearts.
A mission appropriate heart response. During another AGMP workshop Lollie Twyman, from the Missions Committee of the Diocese of Ft. Worth, shared their diocesan experience growing in reciprocal mission with the Anglican church in Malawi. After years of sending teams and pouring out resources, the folks in the Diocese of Ft. Worth stopped to ask this question-“Is a heart response always a mission appropriate response?” They came to the conclusion that, no, it is not always mission appropriate, even when it comes from a place of love and compassion. This question catalyzed their Diocese to develop reciprocal mission, and to aim at developing mission partnerships that maintain the dignity of their international partners and do not foster dependency. This is a great question for all of us considering missions involvement to consider!
The major takeaway from Assembly is that mission-opportunity to share the love of Christ with others, to display kindness and compassion, to serve those in need-is literally waiting outside our doors.
Before we boarded our flight in Midway a few hours ago, we had about 20 minutes to sit and wait in the terminal. Jenny and I flipped open our computers, ready to begin slogging through our email inbox. As I opened my computer, I heard a happy baby babble from the row of seats behind me. I turned to see a bright-eyed handsome little baby, smiling at me happily in the arms of his mother. We began talking and I couldn’t help but notice by the color of their skin, the design of their clothing, and the mother’s accented voice, that they clearly were not from around here. I asked the mother the name of her baby and she said his name and she explained that it means “God’s gift.” We fell into conversation as I asked her where they are from (India), what she does for a living, and where they were headed. I got the opportunity to share that I was a Christian and that I place my hope in Jesus Christ, and she shared with me some of her Hindu faith. I learned about her culture as I asked about the mark of ink that adorned her forehead, which turns out to be a sign of a married woman in her culture.
Did I get to share the Gospel and lead her through a prayer of repentance? No. But what I got to do was smile, express my interest in her culture and family, and show in a very small way the kindness and love of Jesus Christ. I pray that this is one of many seeds that God plants in her heart. The takeaway? Mission really is right on our doorstep.
By Stephie Van Wagenen, Assistant to the Director for New Wineskins.
On August 7th, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina met in prayer regarding the Supreme Court decision.
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina, having met together with our bishop, The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, in Charleston this day, sends to all of our brothers and sisters of the diocese our love and our greetings in the name of Jesus Christ. We are so profoundly thankful for all who have fasted and prayed for our diocese and our Standing Committee during the past week from across South Carolina, throughout the Anglican Church in North America, and among all the faithful in global Anglicanism.
We have spent this time together in prayer and discussion regarding the decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court last Wednesday. In light of the conflicting opinions issued by the court, we met with the legal counsel for our diocese and have approved a strategy on how we go forward seeking clarity. We want you to know this: the legal process continues. We will be filing a motion for a rehearing from the Supreme Court, the deadline for which is September 1st. We are convinced there are compelling reasons to make this motion. There will be other avenues along with and following that action.
Finally, while we cannot tell you what tomorrow brings, we want to reiterate three things that you already know. First, again, the legal process continues. Second, we are stronger together. Third, we will continue in all circumstances our God-given mandate of making biblical Anglicans for a global age. Know that we love you, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and that we remain,
Yours in Christ Jesus,
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina
The Rev. David Thurlow, President
The Very Rev. Craige Borrett
The Rev. Karl Burns, Vice-President
The Very Rev. Peet Dickinson
The Rev. David Dubay
The Rev. Marcus Kaiser
Mr. Alonso Galvan
Mr. Gerry Graves
Mrs. Susan McDuffie, Secretary
Mr. Foster Smith
Mrs. Anne Walton
Mr. Brandt Shelbourne
The original message can be found here
200 youth together for great worship. Powerful speakers. Aliens in the dark. PYG tattoos. It all happened at the 2017 Provincial Youth Gathering.
During June 27-30 two hundred teenagers and their youth leaders spent four days at beautiful Wheaton University in Chicago, IL at the ACNA’s Provincial Youth Gathering.
“It was absolutely incredible And I felt changed! I loved it so much I want to invite as many people as possible next time.”
The worship music was wonderful and moving, in both Spanish and English. The speakers were excellent. Like Archbishop Ben Kwaashi from Nigeria, who explained why Anglicanism makes sense for Jesus followers. He then told the story of why he decided to follow Jesus and invited us to follow, too. It was powerful, and the response was amazing! Another speaker, Bishop Stewart Ruch, talked to us about what it means to be human and what the Bible tells us about God’s plan for sex and gender, and then spent the next hour inviting people forward and praying for them. It was SO much more than I ever expected!
“The two bishops were incredible! Being able to see the passion for Jesus Christ that these men of God had was inspiring and compelling. They have changed my outlook on the Christian church and Christianity as a whole.”
We also heard from Pastor Louie Giglio, the founder of the Passion conferences, who is a good friend of Archbishop Foley Beach, and finished off a crazy first day with two hours of ALIENS, played in the dark, all over the Wheaton campus.
Thursday began with a series of workshops presented by the members of the Anglican Global Mission Partners, talking about the exciting ways that God is changing the world right now, and how we can be people that He uses to do that. Charles Landrum, a pastor in Chicago, told us about how to reach the world around us every day, Which led us to what many people considered the most powerful part of the conference: the ministry in prayer for each other on Thursday night.
“I was impressed about the broadness of the different types of people that were here.”
When the conference ended on Friday afternoon, seventy-five of us went off to practice “mission on our doorstep” by serving in the inner city of Chicago with Center for Student Missions. For the next four days we worked at the city food depository, fed homeless people, ministered at a men’s home and ate incredible food prepared by the people in the neighborhoods we were ministering in.
It was a crazy, fabulous week of Jesus: an incredible time of worshipping, learning and serving together. What happens if you missed it? We’re doing it again in 2019. SAVE THE DATE: June ??????, 2019 in Dallas Texas.
Yes! The 2018 Anglican Liturgical Calendars are now available for pre-order!
The 2018 Anglican Church in North America Liturgical Calendars are now available. Last year’s calendars sold out, so make sure to get your order in early! Costs will vary with quantity.
To order click here.
All inquires should be directed to The Ashby Company at 1-800-413-2220.
Archbishop Foley Beach challenges the the church to engage in mission right outside our front door.
The Provincial Council 2017 unanimously votes to accept the Diocese of South Carolina into the Anglican Church in North America.
Delegates stood in applause after the vote was taken, and the diocesan delegation was officially seated.
After the vote, Archbishop Mouneer Anis (Egypt) addressed the council, and Bishop Mark Lawrence gave thanks to the Global South for their care for the diocese over the last few years.
The Diocese of South Carolina voted March 11, 2017, to affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). The vote, which was held during their 226th Convention, was unanimous in both orders (clergy and laity).
Established in 1785, the Diocese of South Carolina was one of the nine original dioceses of The Episcopal Church in the United States that organized after the American Revolution. The Diocese of South Carolina includes 53 active churches, with 22,149 baptized members and 142 clergy. The average Sunday attendance is 9,085. They will become the largest diocese in the Anglican Church in North America.
Over 380 members and visitors attended the opening services of the new Christ Church Vero Beach complex.
By Tracy Trudell
The opening our new 27,000 sq. ft. church complex exceeded our expectations,” says The Rt. Rev’d John Miller, Rector of Christ Church Vero Beach. “Of course we had a few bumps in the road considering we were altering all three of our service’s times and formats. At the same time, the end result was very satisfying. We give God all the glory,” he continued.
The opening culminated over two years of planning and building for the church started in a rose garden in April 2008. For the past few years, the church has worshipped in a former shopping complex. “Although adequate in size, the ‘store front’ type church did not fully meet all of the needs of our members,” said Bp. Miller. “Our new location and facilities give us much needed room to grow and fulfill our mission of being the best Church we can be for Vero Beach,” he continued.
The June 18 Sunday worship services were preceded by a Friday evening celebration for church members called “Prayer, Praise and Testimony.” Following the service, a meal, prepared by Christ Church parishioners, was held in the spacious Welcome Area and Community Center.
According to Bishop Miller, “We designed our new facility with glass walls in front to allow us to be as transparent as possible to the people in the Vero Beach community. Thoughtful use of spaces both inside and outside of the church will allow us to better enrich the lives of our members and groups using our complex.”
“An example of this is our multi-use Welcome Area,” he continued. “Commonly referred to as the church Narthex, the Christ Church Welcome Area is flanked by a cafe on one side and a library on the other. Tables and seating can be set-up between them to accommodate large banquets, meetings, and other functions.” Designed by the architectural firm of Rardin & Carroll, the church’s Worship Center interior features massive, supporting, wood laminate arching pillars, a large stained-glass window above the altar designed by Conrad Pickel Studios of Vero Beach and movable congregation seating. The Proctor Construction Company of Vero Beach served as general contractor for the Christ Church complex. On the north side of the Church are located the kitchen, the 9.23 Community Center, and a dedicated Teen Center. In additional to modern worship services, the 9.23 Community Center will annually host over 500 community events by organizations such as Scouts, Military Moms, Buggy Bunch, Community Bible Study, Classic Conversation Homeschoolers, and the Coast Guard Auxiliary. The Teen Center, with both indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi-equipped recreation areas, provides a safe gathering space for teens.
The church’s Education Wing on the south side, in addition to the regular children’s Sunday School, provides a weekday mom’s morning out program called Teaching Our Toddlers Spiritually (TOTS). A variety of children’s activities can be accommodated with an outdoor enclosed playground and separate indoor classrooms for various ages.
A Memorial Garden, with walking paths and benches for meditation and reflection, is located between two lakes on the south side of the property.
Additional information on Christ Church can be found by going to its website, http://www.christChurchvero.org or by calling the Church Office at 772-562-8678.
Christ Church Vero Beach is a member of the Gulf Atlantic Diocese within the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), which unites nearly 1,000 congregations across the United States, Canada, and Mexico into a single Church. The ACNA is recognized as a province of the Global Anglican Communion, comprising approximately 85 million members, by the Archbishops of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.
Christ Church’s clergy include The Rt. Rev’d John Miller, Rector; The Rev’d Nathan Bistis, Associate Rector; and The Rev’d Richard Demsick, Missionary Pastor. Debra Gordon is the Director of Children and Family Ministries.
Tracy Trudell is Communications Coordinator at Christ Church, Vero Beach, FL.
The Rev. Canon Andy Lines consecreated as a missionary bishop for Anglicans in Scotland, the UK, and Europe.
On June 30, 2017, The Anglican Church in North America’s College of Bishops was joined by 27 Primates, Archbishops, Bishops from around the Anglican Communion to consecrate The Rev. Canon Andy Lines as a missionary bishop for Anglicans in Scotland, the UK, and Europe.
This action by the College was taken at the request of the Gafcon Primates following their meeting in Lagos, Nigeria in April of this year.
During this 500th anniversary of the Reformation, this consecration comes in the context of a global reformation that is happening in the Anglican Communion. The Scottish Episcopal Church recently changed its definition of marriage, aligning itself with those Anglican provinces which are rejecting the authority of the Bible such as The Episcopal Church (USA) and Anglican Church of Canada. In response to these attempts to undermine the authority of the Bible, Gafcon has stepped into the gap to provide oversight to those faithful Anglicans who are standing boldly for the Gospel.
The consecration of a bishop for Scotland by bishops in the United States begins a new chapter in the history of the Anglican Communion. In his address to the Provincial Assembly, Archbishop Beach shared some of that story:
“After the American revolution, the new Anglican Church here - then called the Protestant Episcopal Church - could not get the establishment in England to provide a bishop. It was the Scots who came to the rescue and consecrated Samuel Seabury in 1784 as the first American Bishop. It is a privilege to now return the favor to those in Scotland who are crying out for oversight.”
The consecration took place in Wheaton College’s Edman Chapel, in Wheaton, Illinois. The service came at the end of the Provincial Assembly whose theme was “Mission on Our Doorstep.” The Assembly drew over 1,400 Anglican leaders from around North America and the world.
In his sermon, The Most. Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, and Chairman of Gafcon, heralded the Assembly as evidence of the growth of the Anglican Church in North America saying, “Let me congratulate you on the beautiful Assembly that has just been concluded. It is a sign of maturity indeed, and we thank God for everything.”
Immediately after the service Bishop Lines, shared more about his role as a bishop: “My principle desire is to see Christ glorified. That is done through people coming to know him through the scriptures, and that requires local churches where he is faithfully proclaimed, and those require godly pastor-teachers to lead them and to teach them. I see my role as enabling people to be in that position.”
You can hear more from Bishop Lines in the video below:
The College of Bishops approved the admission of four new members at its June 2017 meeting in Wheaton, IL.
With the Rt. Rev. Ray Sutton’s installation as the Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church, The Very Rev. Walter Banek was elected as a Suffragan Bishop to assist Bishop Sutton with episcopal responsibilities in the Diocese of Mid-America. The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, Bishop of South Carolina, joined the College in anticipation of the Diocese of South Carolina’s admission into the Anglican Church in North America. The Rev. Canon Andy Lines was elected as a Missionary Bishop for Europe. In addition, The Rt. Rev. Peter Manto’s election as Co-Adjutor in the Diocese of the Central States was also approved. Bishop Manto had previously been a Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of the Central States under Bishop Dan Morse.
The Very Rev. Walter Banek, grew up in Chicago, IL, the son of immigrants who came to the United States from Germany following World War II. He studied Architecture for two years at the University of Illinois (1970-1972) before deciding to transfer to Moody Bible Institute (1972-1975) where he received his BA in Bible Theology. He received his M.Div from Cummins Theological Seminary in Summerville, SC in 2000.
At Moody, the Rev. Banek met his wife, Nelda, and they were married in 1975. They moved from Chicago to Oklahoma where they first became active in Tanglewood Reformed Baptist Church in Sand Springs, OK, and then in 1981, joined Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Tulsa, OK (1978-1991).
He was ordained a deacon in the Reformed Episcopal Church in 1989, ordained a priest in 1993, and unanimously elected as Suffragan Bishop in 2017.
The Rev. Banek and his wife Nelda have four children, as well as three adopted Russian siblings. They have seventeen grandchildren.
The Right Rev. Mark Lawrence was born in Bakersfield, CA, and was educated at California State University, Bakersfield (BA, 1976) and Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry (M. Div. 1980) Ambridge, PA. He has also received honorary degrees from Nashotah House (D.D. 2008) and Sewanee (D.D. 2009). He has ministered in a wide variety of parish settings from suburban church plant, rural mission, inner city church, to downtown parish in California and Pennsylvania.
In 2008, he was consecrated the 14th Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina at the Cathedral of Saint Luke and Saint Paul in Charleston, SC, and led the Diocese of South Carolina to join the ACNA by a unanimous vote in their Diocesan Convention on March 11, 2017.
Bishop Lawrence has been married to Allison Kathleen Taylor since 1973. They have five children, and 21 grandchildren.
The Rev. Canon Andy Lines, 57, became a Christian as a teenager through youth camp ministry. Following university studies he served in the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment (London-based) from 1979–1988 as a lieutenant and then a captain.
While serving in the army, Canon Lines was seconded to Operation Raleigh. After marrying and on leaving the army, he studied at All Nations Christian College and went to Paraguay as a missionary, co-ordinating and teaching Bible courses for the church’s lay and ordained leaders. In October 2000, he became General Secretary (now Mission Director/CEO) of Crosslinks. He is Chairman of the Anglican Mission in England and also Chairman of the GAFCON UK Task Force.
The Canon Lines has been married to Mandy for 29 years and they have three children (Alex, born in 89, and now married to Bryony, Zoe, born in 1992, and Lizzy, born in 1995). They live in New Malden, Surrey (England) and attend Emmanuel Church in Wimbledon.
Canon Lines enjoys reading military history, Spanish-speaking, cycling, rugby, second-hand bookshops, and amateur dramatics.
Bishop-elect Lines will serve clergy and congregations who are outside other Anglican structures in Europe, providing an opportunity for ordination and oversight from a perspective of Biblical orthodoxy. Though seated in the Anglican Church in North America College of Bishops, he will be primarily operating overseas.
Bishop Peter Manto sees his role as “providing pastoral care for the clergy in our diocese and the parishes they serve, strengthening the networks of relationships between the various parishes, encouraging cooperation among the various parishes, and initiating outreach into each region—all the while being certain that we remain true to our Lord and His Gospel.”
In addition to being a parish pastor for over 35 years, he was the church-planter for a non-denominational church in Mason, OH, that he later guided to become Trinity Church in the Reformed Episcopal Church. On Dec. 7, 2013, he was consecrated as the Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of the Central States (Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America).
Bishop Manto has been married to his wife, Janice, for 43 years, and they have four adult children and nine grandchildren.
Provincial Council is underway. Learn more about what’s happening across the Anglican Church in North America.
The Document center is at this link: http://www.anglicanchurch.net/?/private/Provincial_Council_2017
The password is: wheaton2017
Provincial Council on June 27 will officially receive the Diocese of South Carolina into the ACNA.
Over 1,400 Anglican leaders from North America are being joined by Primates, Archbishops, and bishops from around the Anglican Communion. The Assembly and the meeting of the Provincial Council will be livestreamed. Click here for livestream information.
This will be the first year the Diocese of South Carolina sends an official delegation. During the Council meeting, on the morning of June 27, the Council will receive the Diocese of South Carolina into the ACNA.
The Diocese of South Carolina voted March 11, 2017, to affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). The vote, which was held during their 226th Convention, was unanimous in both orders (clergy and laity).
Established in 1785, the Diocese of South Carolina was one of the nine original dioceses of The Episcopal Church in the United States that organized after the American Revolution. The Diocese of South Carolina includes 53 active churches, with 22,149 baptized members and 142 clergy. The average Sunday attendance is 9,085. They will become the largest diocese in the Anglican Church in North America.
For more information on the Diocese of South Carolina, visit their website here.
Bishop Ray Sutton was installed this week as the 17th Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church.
Archbishop Foley Beach gives thanks for the installation of Bishop Ray Sutton as Presiding Bishop
Installation photos by Kevin Kallsen.
What a privilege to be here today to Install Bishop Ray Sutton as the 17th Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church!
This is a man, like many of you, that I have come to deeply respect, love, and honor as a father in the Lord.
His compassion, his scholarship, his vision, and his desire for unity in the Body of Jesus Christ makes him the ideal person to servant-lead the Reformed Episcopal Church in this next season.
He has been a blessing to our Province serving as the Dean of the Province and also as the Dean of Ecumenical Affairs.
As an integral part of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America, the Reformed Episcopal Church brings a depth of spiritual, historical, and ecclesiastical substance to the ACNA.
And I am grateful to have a such a man as Bishop Sutton at the helm.
I hope you will join me in interceding for him (and Susan) in an intentional and on a regular basis.
More on Presiding Bishop Ray Sutton
The Most Rev. Ray R. Sutton serves as the Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) and the Ordinary of the Diocese of Mid America. He is also the Dean of the Province and Ecumenical Affairs of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), of which the Reformed Episcopal Church is a founding member and special jurisdiction. Bishop Sutton often lectures at ACNA and Reformed Episcopal Seminaries, and is a popular retreat speaker.
A native of Kentucky and a Dallas resident since he was 13, Bishop Sutton received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Southern Methodist University and his Masters of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. From 1976 to 1991, he served as a parish minister. Following this, he pursued doctoral studies in an associated research program at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford with Coventry University, from which he received his Ph.D.
He became the Dean and Professor of New Testament at the Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Philadelphia, and continues as an adjunct professor today. Later, Bishop Sutton functioned as Dean and Professor of Theology at Cranmer Theological House, where he continues to teach. He has also authored four books on theology, his most recent being Signed, Sealed and Delivered: A Study of Holy Baptism.
Bishop Sutton is married to Susan Jean Schaerdel of Dallas, a fellow graduate of Southern Methodist University. The Suttons have seven children and four grandchildren. The Suttons live in Dallas where Bishop Sutton’s residential offices are at the Pro Cathedral of the Church of the Holy Communion.
To the Faithful of the GAFCON movement and friends from Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria and Chairman, the GAFCON Primates Council.
My dear people of God,
“For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” (Ephesians 2:18)
As I write, we are preparing for Trinity Sunday. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is vital. Without it, we cannot speak truly of God in a way that is faithful to the bible. However, in the fourth century the Church was nearly overwhelmed by the Arians. They were the followers of Arius, who claimed that the Son was a created being, not really God.
If the Church had continued to follow Arius, the Christian faith would have been lost. To deny the full divinity of Jesus strikes at the heart of the Christian message that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. St Athanasius is still remembered as the man who was willing to make a costly stand against this heresy.
I am reminded of Athanasius because we are facing a similar struggle for the integrity of the gospel in our time. On Thursday 8th June, the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) changed its teaching to allow men to be married to men and women to women. It followed the path already taken by the Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada.
This attempt to redefine marriage is not a secondary issue about which we can agree to disagree and continue to walk together. It means that Jesus was mistaken when he taught that marriage was between a man and a woman and that sex outside of such a marriage is a sin. It is a radical rejection of the authority of Scripture. The Church claims that it can consecrate behaviour that God’s Word clearly teaches to be sinful. According to the Bible, this behaviour, without repentance, separates those who practice it from his kingdom.
Athanasius consecrated orthodox bishops in dioceses led by Arians because he knew that the apostolic faith itself was at stake. This was the principle guiding the interventions which led to the formation of the Anglican Church in North America in 2009 and it was affirmed by over three hundred bishops in assembly at Gafcon 2013 in Nairobi. It was therefore very appropriate that on the same day that the Scottish Episcopal Church formally turned aside from the historic Christian faith, Gafcon announced that Canon Andy Lines, already an internationally recognised missionary statesman, will be consecrated later this month as a Gafcon missionary bishop for Europe.
This is not a step we have taken lightly, but from the beginning Gafcon has been committed to standing with the marginalised. Requests for help from Scottish orthodox leaders to the Archbishop of Canterbury were turned down. Indeed, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church told his General Synod last year that the Archbishop of Canterbury, had assured him that he would welcome the Scottish Church to the 2020 Lambeth Conference even if it chose to change its marriage canon to include same sex unions.
So now Gafcon stands ready to recognise and support orthodox Anglicans in Scotland and elsewhere in Europe as the drift away from apostolic faith and order continues. For reasons of mission and conscience, we can expect to find a growing number of orthodox Anglican congregations needing oversight outside traditional structures, as is already the case with the Anglican Mission in England.
The creation of a missionary bishop for Europe is an historic moment. It is a recognition that the era of European Christendom has passed and that in this 500th anniversary year of the Reformation, a new start is being made by building global partnerships for mission.
So let us be strong. Let us stand with the marginalised and work tirelessly for the continuing reformation of our beloved Communion. I thank God for our fellowship and pray that he will uphold us by his unfailing presence.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14)
The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria and Chairman, the GAFCON Primates Council
Archbishop calls for a Day of Prayer and Fasting on August 4th for the Diocese of South Carolina.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Gospel:
Many of you have heard of the mixed decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court, ruling that most of the parishes in the Diocese of South Carolina may have to turn over their properties to the Episcopal Church. The legal process is still unfolding and I am asking you to join me in a day of prayer and fasting for the Diocese on this Friday, August 4. Below is a note I just sent to the bishops of the Anglican Church in North America:
Dear Brother Bishops,
I am calling for a Day of Prayer and Fasting for this Friday, August 4th, for the Diocese of South Carolina. Let us fast and intercede on behalf of:
* Bishop Mark Lawrence
* The Standing Committee
* The Clergy (and rectors)
* The vestries and congregations affected by this ruling
* The Legal team
Let us ask God for His blessing on all of them…
- For Wisdom from God (James 1:5)
- For Godly Counsel (Proverbs 15:22)
- For true Justice (Amos 5:24)
- For trust in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5,6)
- For God’s leadership in their next steps (Ps.32:8)
- For the right doors to be opened (Mt.7:7,8)
- For the public witness of the Gospel and the Glory of God (1 Cor.10:31; Col.3:17)
- For God’s peace in the storm (Phil.4:6,7)
Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives, and the one who seeks, finds, and to the one who knocks, it will be opened. (Jesus in Mt.7:7,8)
In Christ’s Love,
“I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8). Bishop Lawrence writes diocese following Supreme Court ruling.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Thursday evening Allison and I returned to Charleston. We were on vacation with family in California when the South Carolina Supreme Court issued the long awaited ruling. Obviously, it was not the favorable ruling we were seeking. Therefore, we returned home as soon as possible. Frankly, it is a grievous decision for us on so many levels. Perhaps you, as do I, have to fight despondency as I consider its many ramifications for us as a diocese, and especially for our congregations and clergy. For make no mistake—if this ruling stands how we carry out God’s mission and the ministries he has given us will dramatically change. You may already have received from previous diocesan communications, the diocesan website or from local news, the gist of the court’s conflicted 77-page opinion. Therefore, I will not rehearse it here. My purpose is more personal.
Today, thousands of Christians around the world are holding you, the congregations of the diocese, as well as our clergy and bishop in prayer. Even more specifically, yesterday Anglicans on this continent were lifting us in constant prayer. As you may know, we recently voted as a diocese to affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America, and this summer their Provincial Assembly joyfully received us as full members therein. What a comfort it is to know that our Archbishop, the Most Reverend Foley Beach, asked the bishops, clergy and laity of the ACNA to pray and fast yesterday on our behalf.
Many of those praying and fasting have in the past walked away from their church buildings, buildings they built and maintained, and in some cases, where their families worshiped for centuries. Some left by choice; others after years of litigation. I do not mention the latter, however, as if the legal issues in our case are fully resolved. They most certainly are not, though they are clearly challenging. Rather, I want you to know the sort of Christians who are praying for us; and while holding us in prayer, many are fasting. They have paid a price to follow their Lord. We are part of a provincial body of Anglican Christians and they are walking this hard road with us. Their fellowship at such a time is greatly comforting to me and I hope it is for you.
I also want to tell you what our next steps are. First, this Monday, August 7, the Standing Committee and I will meet with our lead legal counsel, Mr. Alan Runyan. I assure you that our legal team is looking at the various options before us. Second, this Wednesday I will meet with the deans of the various diocesan deaneries, and that afternoon, Mr. Runyan, Canon Lewis and I will meet with all the clergy of the diocese. Please keep us in your prayers. Many important decisions are before us and we want to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ and walk in step with the Holy Spirit.
Finally, I am honored to be your bishop, and, God willing, I will remain so as long as you and he will have me. I have been deeply encouraged by Psalm 16 where David, as psalmist, confesses that he has no good apart from God. The LORD is his chosen portion, his cup and his lot. Yet in verse 3, he also acknowledges that along with finding comfort in God in the midst of dreadful setbacks he also finds encouragement from the people he serves: “As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.” Serendipitously, as if to illustrate this truth to me, when Allison and I arrived in the Charleston airport late Thursday afternoon walking to get our luggage we saw two familiar faces— members of St. Michael’s and the diocese—Dr. Alston Kitchens and her husband, Greg. They greeted us with smiles and hugs, and assurances of their prayers. They embodied many of you; the ones with whom we have cast our lot. Ten years ago, when I was going through a difficult consent process as your Bishop-Elect I wrote, “I have lashed myself to the mast of Christ and will ride out this storm wherever the ship of faith will take me.” As you know, it brought me here.
Someone, clearly pleased with this judicial ruling, recently sent me an email sardonically asking when I was leaving town. I wrote back, “I’m not leaving town.” I am lashed to Christ and lashed to you. We will see in the midst of this present storm where the ship of faith will take us. Ironically, I do not suspect that means leaving town, regardless of what else may change. This, dear friends, is what I know and want to remind you of—in favorable and unfavorable rulings from human courts, Christ is still Lord, he will come again to judge the living and the dead. His kingdom will have no end.
Yours in Christ,
Mark Joseph Lawrence
XIV Bishop of South Carolina
The original message can be found here.
Archbishop Foley Beach and Bishop Kevin Allen met today with His Beatitude, Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
They discussed the importance of the three great Christian Traditions (Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and Anglicanism) to encourage one another in faithfulness, and to offer a united witness – speaking prophetically to the world while caring for those in need. Bishop Allen said: “We were moved by the Patriarch’s heart for caring for God’s people regardless of the challenges facing the institutional Church.”
The broader ecumenical dialogues within Christendom and their implications in facing the current challenges in the world were also discussed. Archbishop Beach said: “This has been a tremendous encouragement and we were blessed by how warmly we were received.”
Picture from left to right: The Rev. Issa Musleh, Archbishop Foley Beach, Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, Bishop Kevin Allen, Archbishop Aristarchos
Why is a Christian youth group important for healthy adolescent faith?
By Steven Tighe
I’ve been working with teenagers in churches for a while—long enough to have seen multiple generations of parents earnestly trying to raise their children to follow Jesus, and long enough to have identified some common mistakes.
I often speak to adults about those mistakes. Most frequently talking about the importance of the Christian youth group for healthy adolescent faith, and I almost can’t count the number of parents who have heard me speak and come up to explain why their kids don’t attend. They have good reasons: “Sports are so important and the team practices are on youth group night,” or “Kids these days have so much homework, and academics have to take precedence over fun,” or “We don’t want to force religion down our teenagers’ throats, we want our children to choose church freely, the way we did,” or “My kids tried youth group and they said they already knew the whole talk and that the other kids are cliquey.” For years I would nod sympathetically and talk about how it was good that they were at least taking their children to church, because that’s important too.
That conversation has a second part, that usually happened two or five or ten years later, when those same parents came in real anguish to ask if I had any advice to help them with their children. Reporting that their kids were no longer attending church, or they were taking drugs, or sleeping with a girlfriend, or moving in with a boyfriend. I’ve lately come to the conclusion that I haven’t done anyone any favors by having tried to be nice in that first conversation.
This article is what I probably should have been saying to those parents all along.
The stark truth is that the number of teenagers who have a real and growing faith and aren’t attending a Christian youth group is vanishingly small. There are some, but to put it bluntly, if you think your teenager is one of these you are very probably wrong.
How can this be? How is it that we, as parents, can be so sure about our teenager’s faith, only to have it seemingly disappear when they get older? I think it starts because when they’re young, our children are so open to our faith. They love having the Bible read to them. They like going to Sunday School. They know all the stories. They seem so entirely open to OUR opinions about Jesus that it’s almost impossible to believe they could change their minds.
But around the time of puberty, things do start to change. One of the biggest changes is that Mom and Dad no longer have such unchallenged influence. Other factors start to matter just as much or more. Those other factors are big reasons that Christian youth groups are so essential to teenage faith.
The three crucial adolescent faith factors
The first factor is the growing influence that other adults (and older children) start to have in their lives: teachers, youth leaders, coaches and others. Teenagers start to seek the attention and approval of adults who are not their parents! If we’re lucky, some of these influential adults are Christians who care about teenagers and attend our churches.
The second group that starts to carry greater influence in the lives of adolescents is their peers. Adolescents are desperately concerned with the opinions of the adolescents around them.
As an illustration, I recently talked to the parent of a teenager in 7th grade. She was well loved and well parented, but her group of school friends had turned on her, blocked her from their social media, and she was distraught, talking seriously about wanting to kill herself. The influence and the affection of her loving parents was dwarfed by the influence of this small group of clueless middle school girls. This isn’t unusual. To an adolescent, the influence of peers is enormous. It’s not surprising that peers, who carry so much influence in other areas, would also have a big influence on a teenager’s faith.
The third critical relationship for healthy adolescent faith is the relationship with God Himself. Kids are highly relational, and those spiritual experiences where they “meet” God, whether it’s because they heard his voice, felt his presence or “just knew” that He loved them, are a major building block in most young people’s Christianity. For the most part, these spiritual experiences occur on retreats, Christian camps, conferences, and mission trips that are part of American youth group life.
It’s these three factors that make youth groups crucial to adolescent faith. For the vast majority of teenagers with a growing Christian faith, their mentors, Christian peers, and powerful spiritual experiences all exist in the context of their Christian youth group.
Sunday church, and Sunday school are important, but not sufficient for the faith of our adolescents, especially when one considers the faith challenges that come from movies, music, and social media. Two hours on Sunday is not enough to equip a teenager to properly interpret the lies and misconceptions of forty hours a week of media!
What about those of us in churches that don’t have youth groups?
There are solid options: First, it doesn’t have to be a youth group at your church. It makes sense to see if any of your teenager’s friends have youth groups at other churches with whom they can attend. Second, the youth group doesn’t even have to be a church youth group, there are some excellent school based Christian youth groups sponsored by organizations such as Young Life and Youth For Christ, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and others. Check with your child’s school to see if any of those ministries are available.
One final suggestion, if you have your children attending another organization’s youth group it’s important to have them connected with non-parental adult mentors from your church. Find someone from your church willing to meet with your child once a week to read the Bible together. This is the heart of the Young Anglican’s “Engage” program (younganglicans.com). Talk to your priest or bishop about having the Engage Training in your church or diocese.