Dear St. Andrew’s Family,
As many of you will know I am just home from the Anglican Church in America’s electing conclave, Provincial Council and Assembly. Thank you for your prayers.
As a bishop in the church I joined with 50 of my colleagues for 3 ½ days of prayer and conversation as we sought to discern the Lord’s will as to who would succeed Archbishop Bob Duncan. I wish I could tell you more of our time together – I wish I could tell my kids of our time together. It was rich. It was honest. We clearly saw the Spirit bring us to a profound unity. And, the consequence was the unanimous election of +Foley Beach, the Bishop of the Diocese of the South, as our next Archbishop. We did, though covenant with one other to keep the details of our time together private amongst ourselves – a commitment I believe which allowed the depth and honesty of our conversations to unfold and ultimately bear fruit.
The days following saw the genuine enthusiasm of the wider church gathered as we both conducted the necessary business of the church and were fed by some of the finest teaching I’ve encountered.
One of the highlights of the week was Archbishop Bob’s report to the Provincial Council in which he noted the various signs of our growing Province’s maturation. Spiritually, ++Bob noted that in these past five years we have seen the development of liturgical texts to assist our congregations in the deepening of their spiritual lives. Additionally, we have developed a catechism to assist our congregations in Christian formation. The fruit of these efforts? The fruit of the Spirit’s life and ministry in our churches? ++Bob reported to us the overwhelming news that in in the past 5 years we have planted almost 500 congregations! And, in the past year we have seen over 3000 conversions to Jesus Christ and a 13% increase in membership. Incredible!
On the last day of our Assembly, our Archbishop-elect, Foley Beach, had a 30 minute time of Q & A. He began his conversation with us by sharing his testimony. It was quite moving. I’ve included the video, below, so that you might see and hear for yourself the man whom the Lord has tapped to lead our church:
Lastly, in his first sermon as Archbishop at the closing Communion service, ++Foley presented a challenge to the church. Noting that Christ’s command was to go and make “disciples” (not Christians and certainly not Anglicans) he commended to every delegate – and I would say to every member of the ACNA – that over the next year we each befriend one person who does not know or follow Jesus. And, as our friendship with this person grows we commit ourselves to praying for that person and to sharing our faith with that person. Additionally, ++Foley suggested that each person come along side one younger believer for the purpose of encouragement and discipleship. Two very good suggestions, I think.
And so I commend his encouragements to you, my St. Andrew’s family. Develop a friendship with someone who does not name the Name of Christ and in the course of your friendship, undergirded by prayer, gently share what Christ has done in your life. Come along side a younger believer and encourage them. Walk with them. Teach them what it means to be a disciple.
Friends, I am thrilled at where the Lord has brought us – as a parish, as a diocese and as a larger North American church – these past several years. I am overwhelmed by His faithfulness and His goodness. I hope you, too, know the joy of Christ in your life and I pray your continued obedience to Christ’s words, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28.19-20)
In the family,
PS – It would be impossible for me to report the above to you without noting my profound gratitude for our now retired Archbishop Bob and his wife, Nara. Very few understand the sacrifices made and wounds received as he – as they – sought to create a home in North American for displaced Episcopalians/Anglicans. ++Bob led with vision and courage and Nara was there each step of the way. And, to them, I say, “thank you.”