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Last week Archbishop Beach was in Lagos, Nigeria for a meeting of the Gafcon (Global Anglican Future Conference) Primates. Below is the Communique from their meeting
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As your Primates, we met in Lagos, Nigeria from 24th -28th April 2017 to pray andwork for the continued renewal of the Anglican Communion. We give thanks for the extraordinary hospitality of the Diocesan Bishop of Lagos, the Archbishop of Lagos, and the Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).
We began our time together each day with prayer and the study of God's Word. Aware that we are approaching the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, we gave thanks for the faithful witness of those leaders who challenged the Church to recover the authority of the Scriptures. They were men and women who were willing to take costly action, and sealed that testimony with their own blood.
Jerusalem 2018 Global Anglican Future Conference
Gafcon is a global family made up of 9 provinces and 5 branches representing the majority of the world's Anglicans. Jerusalem 2018 will be the 10th anniversary of the founding of our movement. We are looking forward to acting as an instrument of unity in gathering our people together so that they can share the same joy in the Gospel that we experience when we are together.
Our theme will be "Proclaiming Christ Faithfully to the Nations" and we are anticipating having over 1,700 delegates join in worship, teaching and pilgrimage. In the next few months, each province or branch will be issuing invitations among their membership. Please pray for the planning team as they attend to the many details of this event.
If One Part of the Body Suffers, Every Part Suffers With It
Our meeting has also been an opportunity to share with one another our burdens and the suffering of our people. In particular, we discussed the ongoing civil war in South Sudan, and the challenges faced by the church in that province. This conflict has displaced millions, many of whom have found a temporary home in northern Uganda. The Anglican church there is caring for these refugees as best it can, but the region's resources are currently overwhelmed. We commissioned the Primates of Uganda and Kenya to visit the South Sudan to explore ways we can work with other ecumenical partners to offer mediation that might bring about an end to this conflict.
Many in our African provinces are confronted by the dual threats of insurgent Islamism and drought. The targeting of Christians and churches in northern Nigeria has been in the news, and the daily dangers there and elsewhere continue to be real. Combined with drought conditions, there is the potential for widespread famine in our Sub-Saharan provinces.
In our Global North provinces the challenges are different. With the increasing influence of materialism, secularism, and the loss of moral foundations, our people in these provinces face dangers that are subtle, but spiritually dangerous.
Please keep each of these concerns in your prayers, and consider what God might be calling you to do in response. Our provinces have borders, but our Church does not, and the sharing of material and spiritual resources has never been more needed.
A Missionary Bishop
During our meeting, we considered how best to respond to the voice of faithful Anglicans in some parts of the Global North who are in need of biblically faithful episcopal leadership. Of immediate concern is the reality that on 8th June 2017 the Scottish Episcopal Church is likely to formalize their rejection of Jesus' teaching on marriage. If this were to happen, faithful Anglicans in Scotland will need appropriate pastoral care. In addition, within England there are churches that have, for reasons of conscience, been planted outside of the Church of England by the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE). These churches are growing, and are in need of episcopal leadership. Therefore, we have decided to consecrate a missionary bishop who will be tasked with providing episcopal leadership for those who are outside the structures of any Anglican province, especially in Europe.
A Word of Encouragement to Faithful Anglicans within European Provinces
We wish to reassure all faithful Anglicans in European provinces that they also have our prayers and our support. We are aware that some Christians within these provinces who are contending for the faith may at first perceive the news of a missionary bishop as a threat to their hopes for reform from within.
We believe that the complexity of the current situation in Europe does not admit of a single solution. Faithful Christians may be called to different courses of action. We bless those whose context and conscience have led them to remain and contend for the faith within the current structures. If you are successful, you will not need a missionary bishop; if you are not successful, an alternative is at hand. The only true failure would be to waste time through inaction.
We also pray for those who are not yet clear about what faithfulness requires. May God give you the wisdom and courage of the Reformers to stand firm wherever the Lord calls you to stand.
Bishops Training Institute (BTI)
The launch of the Bishops Training Institute has been successful, drawing bishops from around the world for training and teaching in the unique role of leading a diocese. The Institute is based in Kenya, and led by the Rt Rev. Samson Mwaluda, assisted by the Rev. Paul Sampson. The next course will take place in May this year, and BTI 3 in November.
We received updates from our established branches in Australia, New Zealand, Southern Africa, Brazil, and the United Kingdom. We also received encouraging reports about new Gafcon branches emerging in other parts of the Anglican world. We give thanks for the continued growth of this movement, and the opportunity we have to share in fellowship with those who are preaching the Gospel around the world both in season and out of season.
The Global South
We give thanks for the fellowship that we had last October with the Anglican Global South at the 6th Global South Anglican Conference in Cairo, Egypt. We affirm our desire to continue to work in close partnership, walking together in the truth of the Gospel.
We are grateful for the leadership of our Chairman, the Most Rev. Dr Nicholas Okoh. As we look towards Jerusalem 2018, we ask for your continued prayers and support. Specifically, we ask that you would pray for the continued renewal of the Anglican Communion, and the spread of this reform movement. In all these things may Christ be glorified and his name proclaimed faithfully to the nations.
Read the latest developments from the college of bishops on ministry, worship, teaching.
We met together January 9-13, 2017, in Melbourne, Florida during the first week of Epiphany. Our time together was a balanced mix of worship, teaching, business, and fellowship.
We give thanks for the full participation of the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina. We are grateful for the ministry of David Clifton, Director of Worship and Music Arts at Apostles Anglican Church, Knoxville, Tennessee, whose music enriched our worship each morning and evening. During our meeting we received formal greetings from Archbishop Welby and Archbishop Okoh. We also sent greetings to the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Nigeria which was meeting at the same time.
During our meeting, we received updates from a variety of initiatives that have been undertaken within the Church, and we worked to approve new resources for worship (liturgy) and teaching (catechesis). As usual in these conversations we experienced both the gifts and tensions inherent in a three streams church: Evangelical, Anglo-Catholic, and Charismatic. We give thanks for the breadth of Anglicanism, and the unity that we in the Anglican Church in North America have in Christ.
Assembly 2017: Mission on Our Doorstep
We heard about the progress being made for our next gathering as a Province. The theme for Assembly 2017 is “Mission on Our Doorstep” and will be held June 28-30, 2017, in Wheaton, Illinois. The Assembly gathering is open to everyone, and will feature speakers and guests from around the world. In addition to the plenary speakers and workshops, there will be specific tracks such as church planting, youth, Caminemos Juntos (hispanic ministry), Anglican Multi-Ethnic Ministries (AMEN), and chaplaincy. Registration will open in the next couple weeks.
Ministry: Matthew 25 Initiative
We give thanks for the confidence in the Anglican Church in North America held by an anonymous donor who has pledged more than $1 million in matching funds to double the money that we raise to impact people’s lives. The Matthew 25 Initiative focuses on the teaching of Jesus, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Matthew 25:35-36), reflecting the heart and priorities of the Lord.
The Liturgy Task Force presented most of the remaining texts for a proposed Book of Common Prayer 2019. These texts, after discussion and amendment, were adopted as “working texts,” to be published on the Provincial website (www.anglicanchurch.net) for present liturgical use and for the gathering of online feedback towards the finalization of these texts by 2019.
The texts presented were:
Five psalms exemplifying a Renewed Coverdale Psalter, inspired by the work C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot, were also shared, as were a number of historical texts and calendar tables proposed for inclusion in the Prayer Book.
Among other matters reported were:
Order: Holy Orders Task Force
In 2012, the task force was asked to develop resources to help guide the bishops’ future discussions on holy orders in general, and the ordination of women in particular. At our meeting this week, the Holy Orders Task Force presented Phase 4 of their work to the college. The College thanked the task force for the hard work that they have done on this topic in just a few short years. Having received the report at this meeting, the conversation then turned to the timeline for addressing these issues.
The Phase 4 report is being formatted and combined with the previous documents from the task force. This report will be passed on to the GAFCON Primates and to our ecumenical partners for feedback, and released to the whole Church in late February. The bishops will pick up these discussions at their next two meetings, in June and September of this year.
The task force’s report does not represent the position of the college, as our formal discussions on this topic are just now beginning, but it is our hope that this document will begin to give us a common language for conversation in the College, and aid dialogue in the larger Church.
We are well aware that this is a passionate topic. We would remind our members of the clergy and laity that in all our conversations, whether they be in person, or on social media, our conduct must always honor Christ, and model his sacrificial love.
We received an update from The Rev. Dr. Joel Scandrett and The Rev. Art Going, members of the Committee for Catechesis. The work of the committee is to encourage the whole church to embrace catechesis as a critical means of discipling; to be a church investing and engaging in lifelong disciple-making.
The College adopted a revision to Parts 1 and 2 of the Catechism, with the goal of producing a final version of the Catechism in the coming year. The Bishops approved changes that were presented, and endorsed the plan to place pastoral prayers formerly in the introduction in the relevant sections of the text, and to add prayers for pastoral application to other sections.
The Committee continues to focus its work on three audiences and three challenges:
Youth Ministry: Young Anglicans Project
We received an update from the Rev. Steven Tighe, Provincial Canon for Youth, and head of The Young Anglicans Project. Young Anglicans works for an effective Christ-centered ministry to teenagers in every church of the Anglican Church in North America. To that end they are working to train, and network youth leaders, provide resources to make church youth ministry prosper, and to advocate for ministry to adolescents at the parish, diocesan and provincial level.
Young Anglicans has these projects underway:
Outreach: The Telos Collective
This week Bishop Todd Hunter shared with the bishops a new task force that has been commissioned. The Telos Collective: Anglicans at the Intersection of Gospel and Culture, is a small, strategic alliance of the best missional minds in the Anglican Church in North America who will gather each year to think, plan, and dream about how best to reach the culture for Christ. Archbishop Beach asked Bishop Hunter of the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others to found and lead the Telos Collective. Hunter is now inviting dedicated leaders from across the province to attend the annual Intersection Conference, an intensive “missional greenhouse” where leaders will receive specialized training in a collaborative setting and return home to continue the conversation. The first conference is slated for May 18-20, 2017.
Church Planting: Always Forward
We received an update on our church planting initiative, Always Forward. The goal of Always Forward is to assist in planting Gospel-centered, missional, sacramental churches by equipping dioceses to become church planting networks. This year Always Forward held a well-attended church planting conference in Denver, facilitated church planter leader training in Atlanta, launched the new Always Forward Podcast for Anglican church planters, and developed a framework for assessing and organizing a diocese for the work of church planting.
In 2017, primary initiatives will focus on developing a Strategic Leaders Initiative for the identifying, equipping, and supporting of diocesan church planting leaders, and an online training program for planters. The annual church planting conference will be held in conjunction with Provincial Assembly in June, and in the fall, Always Forward will host a church planting simulcast to encourage local planters to get together for training and collaboration while engaging in group-based learning. There are also plans for collaboration with other Gafcon provinces to work towards a global, collaborative church planting network.
Bishop Coadjutor for the Central States and Suffragan for Mid-America
We gave thanks for the life and ministry of Royal Grote, Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church, who died this past November. As Archbishop Beach said in his address, “His legacy in this College and in our Province will long be remembered. The tone he exhibited among us, especially with difficult issues and with difficult people was amazing and so Christ-like and Christ-affirming. Being around him made me want to like more like Jesus!”
As Bishop Ray Sutton now takes on the role of Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church sub-jurisdiction, we gave our consent to the Diocese of Mid-America for the election of a suffragan bishop to assist him in his duties. We also gave our consent to the Diocese of the Central States to elect a bishop coadjutor.
God is entrusting this Church with powerful and diverse ministries to reach North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. These Gospel initiatives are the result of tens of thousands of sacrificial efforts, large and small, being made by lay and clergy members throughout this province every day. In the words of St. Paul: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:3-6)
Please continue to pray for Christ’s Church.
ACNA West Examining Chaplains Gather
for Initial Meeting to Develop a
Common Presbyteral Ordination Examination
Ten Examining Chaplains and two Bishops and one consultant gathered at Jesus the Good Shepherd Anglican Church in Henderson, NV from June 15th through June 17th to begin development of a common Presbyteral Ordination Examination for the five Dioceses of the ACNA West consortium. Representatives from the Diocese of Western Anglicans, the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others (C4SO), the Diocese of San Joaquin and the Diocese of Cascadia reviewed the Canonical Core Competencies developed by the ACNA West working group at meetings through last winter, at which the Anglican Diocese of the Southwest was present. The Chaplains then divided into four working groups to begin question development in the nine Canonical areas specified by the ACNA Canons which candidates for the Priesthood must demonstrate competency.
While each Diocese will maintain its own ordination discernment and preparation process, the hope of the group is that the development of a single, common Ordination Exam will maximize resources in question development and assessment across the Dioceses. In addition, the development of such resources as shared study guides, bibliographies and test questions will create a central body of knowledge that brings unity across the Dioceses.
The group brings a wealth of pastoral experience, intellectual capacity and education to the table. The most significant task for the week was to build relationships and trust among the Chaplains from different Dioceses and then to agree on a common purpose. What truly binds the Chaplains together is a desire to ensure that those who are entrusted with the task of shepherding the people of the Body of Christ through the exercise of priestly ministry have the knowledge they need for that great task.
While the task is a large one, the group left with an agreement to work on test question development through the summer and fall with the intention of administering the new exam to candidates for ordination in January 2017. All involved agreed that the purpose of the examination is assessment of a candidate’s knowledge and education so that any gaps could be identified and further training and mentoring provided.
The group will gather again in June 2017 to assess the first year of examinations and continue development of examination and preparation resources.
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