The Bishop's Corner The Lord Works in Wonderful and Mysterious Ways.
The Right Reverend Eric Vawter Menees
For the past several years I have served the province as ambassador from the ACNA to the Province of South America. As a result, I had perhaps the natural inclination that the Diocese of San Joaquin would form a companion relationship with one of the dioceses in South America. Though, try as I might, the relationship never formed.
Last October, upon returning from Chile and the enthronement of Archbishop Zavala, I began to pray, “Lord, do you have another plan for the Diocese of San Joaquin?” The following week my assistant, Fr. Berghuis, made an appointment with the Dobbs’. Rick and April Dobbs arrived for their appointment and shared with me about a ministry they were involved in called Shepherd’s Love Ministries (www.shepherdslove.com). Shepherd’s Love works with orphans and young people in the Diocese of Kigezi. Kigezi is in the highlands of Uganda on the border with Rwanda. As they spoke, my heart stirred not only for the ministry (Florence and I have now sponsored a child) but also for Uganda and the Diocese of Kigezi. I wondered, was the Lord opening a door? I made some phone calls to learn about the diocese and their Bishop. I was soon introduced to Bishop George Bagamuhunda. To make a long story short, Bishop Bagamuhunda spoke with his Standing Committee which voted to form a companion relationship with the Diocese of San Joaquin. Not surprisingly I spoke with our Standing Committee who also voted to form a companion relationship with the Diocese of Kigezi.
You may not have heard of the Diocese of Kigezi before but it’s a diocese that has had a very large role in spreading the kingdom of God. In 1935 a convention was held in Kabale, the see city of the diocese of Kigezi, and that convention was the first large scale event in what has now become known as the East African Revival. The people of Kigezi started sharing the gospel with people around them and that revival eventually spread from Kigezi to the whole country of Uganda and then to the neighboring countries of East Africa. The people of Kigezi are to this day engaged in this kind of evangelism and discipleship. On a recent video call with Bishop George he brought the phone to the door of the cathedral where I witnessed a youth rally with 400 young people in attendance.
Bishop George will be visiting us in our diocese this coming October, and I’m planning on visiting the Diocese of Kigezi next June.
June 14-16, I had the distinct honor of attending the College of Bishops where we re-elected Archbishop Foley Beach for a second term. Our canons and constitution wisely allow for the election of a second term as Archbishop and Primate of the Province. Archbishop Beach was chosen by his colleagues on the Global Anglican Futures Conference Primates Council to serve as Chairmen.
On June 17th, Dr. Bill Atwood, Mr. Jim Doe and Fr. Jack Estes joined me in representing the diocese at the Provincial Council Meeting where we approved the budget for the coming fiscal year beginning July 1st. In addition, the Provincial Council made much needed tweaks to the Provincial Canons following 10 years of experience. Many of the changes were under the heading of discipline, with which San Joaquin has had some experience.
The evening of June 17th through noon on June 19th, the Provincial Assembly was held. The diocese was ably represented by Fr. Jonathan Kanary, Delores Vargas, Dcn. Melinda Barrow, Andy Ehrhart, Fr. David & Betty Miller and Beth Conklin.
The Provincial Assembly, which occurs every three to five years, was hosted by Christ Church Cathedral, Plano, TX. This assembly marked the tenth anniversary of the founding of our province and received the 2019 Book of Common Prayer. This new prayer book is a gift to the Church as a whole and I am encouraging all the congregations to use it, unless a pressing missional reason exists.
The central theme of this year's assembly was "Discipleship". Throughout the worship, teachings and plenary sessions, we heard a clarion call to renew discipleship in our congregations and fulfill the Great Commission of Matt: 28 "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." Breakout teaching sessions expanded on making disciples alongside presentations of the main initiatives currently being undertaken by the province.
I want to take a moment to send to you the following highlights and links, so that you may be able to engage in the re-sources and ministry that is taking place at the Provincial level:
Five Ministry Initiatives
At the provincial level there is a ministry focus on the following initiatives, all of which invite participation from your local congregation. Where is God calling you to plug in?
This prayer book has been several years in the making, and just printed in time for the meeting of Provincial Assembly. It contains the liturgies of the Daily Office, Holy Eucharist, Holy Days, and Pastoral/Episcopal rites, with prayers, lectionaries, and more. Also included is the Coverdale Psalter of 1535 … renewed for contemporary use through efforts that included … T.S. Eliot and C.S. Lewis. The webpage for the BCP2019 is here: http://bcp2019.anglicanchurch.net/ and it is available for purchase here: https://anglicanliturgypress.com/
The new AP for our province is now available and will connect you with happenings from the assembly and future events and information from the Province going forward. Download the ACNA AP here: http://anglicanchurch.net/?/main/page/1860
Evergreen Project Canon David Roseberry has developed a ministry designed to "Grow Generosity" in the province, diocese and parish. His four-point strategy includes; Webinars, Newsletters, an Annual Stewardship Campaign Plan, and Empowerment - Gospel Culture of Generosity. You can connect here: http://theevergreenproject.org/
The Anglican Rosary
Closer to home, join with me in celebrating the newest author in the ACNA, Jenny Estes. Jenny is a parishioner at Ascension, Bakersfield, and has completed the writing and publication of her first book entitled The Anglican Rosary. Her writing opens up a whole new venue of prayer and meditation on scripture by explaining various methods to pray with the Anglican Rosary. Her book and rosaries were very well received at her booth during the assembly. You can view her book and rosaries at https://jennylynnestes.com/. Her book is also available on Amazon.com.
Anglican 4th Day
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY Anglican 4th Day of North America
ALL ABOARD THE CURSILLO BUS BOUND FOR RENEWAL!
Time is swiftly approaching for the Anglican 4th Day Weekend #10. The retreat will again be held at St. Anthony’s Retreat Center in Three Rivers, California from July 31-August 4, 2019. The team is working joyfully and diligently to refine an already great agenda to insure a fulfilling and inspiring weekend for both the candidates and the team.
Did we say a fulfilling and inspiring weekend for the team? Yes, most Cursillistas who have had the opportunity and privilege to work on an Anglican 4th Day Team can verify that it is a valuable renewal resource for each member of the team as well as for the candidates. If you have never served on an Anglican 4th Day team, ponder and pray about doing so for the next 4th Day, #11 in the summer of 2020.
You probably remember parts of your weekend. We are here to assure that many positive changes have been instituted for the weekend which will make the retreat more relaxed and meaningful for the candidates. A renewed emphasis on the three pivotal concepts – Study, Prayer and Action – has been reinstituted into the weekend. More time is spent on an individual’s personal spiritual walk to start evangelism at its roots, with individual members of the Anglican 4th day community.
The weekend and its content are much more transparent to the candidates than they have been in the past, allowing candidates to see the inner workings of a community based on the tripod concept upon which the weekend is based. To individualize the retreat during the weekend, we emphasize the candidate’s inclusions of the elements of hope, faith, and love in his or her life.
Of course to continue this important ministry of the church, we need your support. For some people this support equates with money. Yes, we need financial support. But just as importantly, we need to have members of the Cursillo community identify and encourage members of their parishes to attend a weekend if they have not had the opportunity to do so. We also need sponsors for those people we identify as candidates.
If you are not able to provide either one of those two means of support, lastly, we need consistent and heartfelt prayer to support the candidates, team, and the weekend itself. Without your prayers of support, our actions may fail to follow the course Christ has set for us when we speak Anglican 4th Day’s statement of philosophy – “Christ is Counting on You!”
Please look around your parish and identify and encourage individuals who would benefit from being a candidate for Anglican Weekend #10. We are currently accepting candidate applications for the upcoming week-end. If you have any questions or concerns, please send them to Frank Reed, Diocesan Lay Director of Anglican 4th Day, at email@example.com. Please pray for this ministry which is designed to revitalize the church.
Christian fellowship night
DIOCESAN YOUTH MISSION TRIP
Diocesan Youth Mission Trip: Come Build Hope July 14-19, 2019
Once again, the diocese will partner with Amor Ministries in Tijuana to build a home for a family in need. This trip is geared for youth entering the 7th grade through college and is open to adults as well. Younger children may come if accompanied by their parent. The cost will most likely be between $200-300 per missionary. This includes lodging in a tent, food while in Mexico, along with the building materials and tools needed to build the house. The amount will be determined by the fundraisers participating congregations hold along with diocesan scholarships. All participants must have a passport and some spending money for meals while traveling. It currently takes 6-8 weeks to get a passport and the cost varies by age between $115-145. Look for more details to come in the next couple of months. If you have any interest or questions, please contact Father Mark Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reflections from the former archdeacon
By The Ven. Donald A. Seeks
MORE ON GOd’S WRATH
One of the great classics of this past century has been the book Knowing God, written by now retired Anglican Dr. J.I. Packer, former professor in our Anglican seminary in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. First written many years ago, well over a million copies have been sold, and in several languages. Many of the best known Christian leaders living today have consulted this book very often.
In twenty-two chapters Dr. Packer describes many of the “attributes” of God as the author understands them; after completing this book there can be little doubt that Dr. Packer has been given major spiritual gifts of wisdom and understanding.
An “attribute” is a characteristic of someone which when revealed helps us to understand what that person is like and how they may react in given situations. One of the aspects of God’s self-revelation is to allow us to learn about His will for us and how we fit into His divine plan. God’s attributes also are those which He has chosen to reveal about Himself so that you and I can come to know Him on a more intimate basis. He shows enough about Himself so we will understand His thoughts and actions as they apply to us. Our constant limitation in discussing the attributes of God is that we must use finite symbols (our words and ideas) to try to comprehend an Infinite God Who is Spirit. This means that any attribute which is revealed by Him can only be a metaphor, a picture of reality, a reality which is totally beyond our full understanding. Also, we have to use anthropomorphic (human) terms for these descriptions. Jesus came to earth partly in order to clarify our understanding. For everything we need to know about God in this life can be discovered in Jesus.
At the same time it is important to remember that our human emotions have no exact equivalent in the Divine; they are only approximations. We need also to remember that God has perfect control of all His emotions, whereas, we do not.
In one of the chapters in Knowing God, Dr. Packer describes the “Wrath” of God. Wrath is variously defined as “deep, intense anger or indignation,” “strong, vengeful anger or indignation, retributory punishment for an offense or a crime,” and “divine chastisement.” “Anger” is a stirring of resentful displeasure and strong antagonism, by a sense of injury or insult; a strong displeasure and usually of antagonism, an intense emotional state produced by displeasure. And “indignation” is a righteous anger aroused by injustice or baseness, “righteous anger at what is considered unfair, mean, or shameful.” With “wrath”, there is likely “a desire to revenge, or punish” says the dictionary.
Dr. Packer also asks, “How often during the past year did you hear a sermon on the wrath of God? The modern tendency for Christians is to play down or ignore altogether the subject of divine wrath.” Why should this be so?
Packer responds, “Because the subject has become taboo in modern society, and Christians by and large have accepted the taboo and conditioned themselves never to raise the matter…” “To an age which has unashamedly sold itself to the gods of greed, pride, sex, and self-will, it is no wonder that people want to shut their ears to the fact that God may as a result respond in ways they will not like. The Church mumbles on about God’s kindness but says virtually nothing about His judgment,” says Packer. “Yet the Biblical writers engage in it constantly.” One of the most striking things about the Bible is the vigor with which both Testaments emphasize the reality and terror of God’s wrath.” To quote an earlier scholar: “A study of the Concordance will show there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness.”
When I suggested to some fellow clergy that I was going to attempt these two articles the response was everything from mild amusement to a kind of negative skepticism. A layman who is a good friend told me up front he probably would not read them. People get uncomfortable thinking about God having anger or wrath because they are thinking about how we act. When you or I or someone we know erupts in wrath or anger, there usually is a loss of self-control, or some irrational statements made or actions taken. They may be grounded in wounded pride, hurt feelings, or a misguided sense of reality.
But these have nothing to do with God’s wrath or anger because there never is a loss of self-control, or capriciousness or self-indulgence. In other words, God never “blows His top.”
There may be times we claim we are acting in “righteous anger,” and there may be a very few times when we sense an injustice is taking place.
More often we rationalize our anger as ”righteous” when in fact, it is not as righteous as we would hope. God can-not be anything but righteous so when He expresses anger or wrath it is always righteous.
The Bible constantly makes the point that just as God is good to those who trust Him, so He is a terror to those who do not. If we fail to recognize that and understand it, we run the risk of our own slippage in trust. For many years I worked around high voltage equipment. If I failed to trust the posted warnings, I would have suffered the consequences, often fatal. Now I was not afraid of electricity; if I had been I would not have been able to do my work. But when I saw evidences of its power to damage and destroy, I developed a healthy respect for it. One of my acquaintances did not; he often secured the safety relays on the doors of the television transmitter, bragging that he could overcome any obstacle. He was electrocuted because he ignored the reality at hand.
For me, it would have been stupid to live in terror of the high voltage around me, but I could function efficiently having a deep awe and respect for this gift from God. When we determine to live within the parameters God has established, we do not have to be afraid of God’s wrath or anger. We have a holy fear of God, of course, but it is balanced with knowledge of His love and constant seeking of our highest and greatest good.
At the same time, we must remain conscious of the fact that a perfect love must carry with it a sense of perfect justice. Perfect justice demands there be divine retribution toward those who go against God in sinful defiance and rebellion toward God’s will. St. Paul was inspired to write that when Jesus returns in “blazing fire,” He will “punish those who do not know God and who do not obey the Gospel…” Jesus speaks of separating the sheep from the goats. Historically, it is filled with acts of divine retribution, all the way from the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden, to the overthrow of major empires, to the vivid and terrible prophecies of Satan and his minions in Revelation. “Clearly,” writes Dr. Packer, “the theme of God’s wrath is one about which the Biblical writers feel no inhibitions whatsoever. Why then, should we?”
May we not ignore or pretend this attribute of God does not exist, for if God fails to act when people go against the reality of His will, our lives would have no boundaries. We would be like undisciplined children who when unloved and unguided think that no one cares enough to be concerned for their future.
God our Father cares enough to allow Jesus to go to the Cross for us and thereby experience for Himself all the destructive consequences of sin. Naturally He will react in power to prevent sin from taking over His creation. That is the essence of His love.
60th Annual convention, november 8th, 2019
NOTE: Registration is not the same thing as the certification of delegates - they are unrelated. More details to come.
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