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A Conversation on Race

and Mission Among African Americans

April 27-28, 2015

 

A Collect for the Human Family: O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Ephesians 2:19-22 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Revelation 7:9-10 I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice,“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

 

raceandmissionFrom Ferguson to North Charleston to Baltimore

In November of this past year, the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri became a further catalyst for our ongoing conversations about race across the United States and within the Anglican Church in North America. In response, Archbishop Foley Beach called together leaders from around the Church to discuss issues of race, systemic injustice, and our mission to reach all of North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. We recognize that this must include a deeper level of engagement with and among our African American communities.

In January, Bishop Alphonza Gadsden of the predominantly African-American Diocese of the Southeast (REC), graciously offered to host this dialogue at one of his parishes, New Bethel Reformed Episcopal Church (ACNA) in North Charleston, South Carolina.

At that time, we never could have anticipated the way North Charleston would become a part of the national conversation, nor could we have known that the unrest in Baltimore would unfold during the days of our gathering. The leaders of one of our newest church plants, Church of the Apostles in the City, Baltimore, MD were with us for this dialogue. Throughout the day their cell phones rang with first hand accounts from family members who were the victims of this violence. These are real people in our parishes, and we grieve together.

We had the opportunity to join them in prayer, interceding for the safety of the police officers, the citizens of Baltimore, and the perpetrators of violence. We have been encouraged by the witness of Baltimore’s clergy who took to the streets in an effort to end the violence that was destroying their communities.

There are no easy answers to the issues that plague our communities, but the spirit of unity that was in our midst this week testifies to the hope that we have through the cross of Christ, which reconciles us to God and one another.

Towards A More Diverse and Unified Future

We began with a frank assessment of the current challenges facing the Anglican Church in North America in our mission with and among African Americans. The Book of Revelation gives us the multiethnic vision of the Church in which members of every nation, tribe, people, and language offer up their unified praise before the Lamb (Rev. 7:9-10).

This biblical vision leads us to affirm a deeper commitment to both multiethnic and ethnic-specific expressions of the Church; a change that is critical if we are to remain in step with the Holy Spirit in light of the shifting demographics of North America.

Multiethnic ministry continues to expand within our Church. This emphasis includes Bishop Leung of Vancouver whose pioneering work in Asian and Multicultural Ministries in Canada (AMMiC) has now spread to the United States. Caminemos Juntos is a vibrant network of members committed to the growth of Hispanic congregations in North America. This week we have taken the first steps in addressing as a Province, the need for the intentional inclusion and growth of the African American community in our midst.

The Challenge Today

Few conversations are as timely and important to our life as a Province, and so while our hearts have been grappling with the tragedy of the present, our eyes are looking to the future.

To this end we:

  1. Ask each congregation to pray and work for racial reconciliation in their community,
  1. Intend to develop a Provincial team to lead our multiethnic ministries and we encourage the development of regional networks to support those who are called to multiethnic church planting, evangelism, and discipleship,
  1. Invite dioceses and parishes to consider how they might actively develop more effective multiethnic leadership pipelines,
  1. Invite dioceses and parishes to make a financial commitment to supporting multiethnic leadership.

Talk alone will not bridge the gap or bind us together, but if we are to move forward, action must be preceded by honest dialogue. Talk is not cheap. Risking these conversations in our present culture is costly. We invite all who love the Lord Jesus Christ to join us in moving the conversations in our communities forward, so that together, having cleared a foundation, we can build a common future that brings glory to God.

 

A Collect for Peace (prayed during the violence that unfolded in Baltimore, Monday, April 27, 2015) O God, the source of all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works: Give to your servants that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey your commandments, and that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness, through the merits of Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

A Collect for Mission (prayed during Morning Prayer, Tuesday, April 28, 2015) O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate

The Rt. Rev. Alphonza Gadsden
Bishop, Diocese of the Southeast (REC)

Rev. Jay Baylor
Church of the Apostles in the City, Baltimore, MD

The Rev. Taylor Bodoh
Incarnation Tallahassee, FL

Mrs. Linda G. Butler
Grace Reformed Moncks Corner, SC

Mr. Ron Davis,
All Saints, Woodbridge, VA

Mrs. Rose-Marie Edwards-Tasker
Intercessor, Anglican Church in North America

Mr. Kevin Gadsden
New Israel Reformed Episcopal Church, Charleston, SC

The Rev. Canon Andrew Gross
Canon for Communications and Media Relations

The Rt. Rev. John Guernsey
Bishop, Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic
Dean of Provincial Affairs

The Rev. David Hanke
Restoration Anglican Church, Arlington, VA

The Rev. Christopher Jones
Incarnation Tallahassee, FL

The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence
Bishop, Diocese of South Carolina

Mr. Peter Lebhar
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Tallahassee, FL

The Ven. Canon Dr. Jack Lumanog
Archbishop’s Canon & COO

The Rev. Esau McCaulley
PhD Candidate, St. Andrew’s University, Scotland

Mr. Drew Miller,
St. Andrew’s City Church, Charleston, SC

The Rt. Rev. William White
Bishop, Diocese of the Southeast (REC)

The Rt. Rev. Steve Wood
Bishop, Diocese of the Carolinas

Ms. Carletta Wright
Church of the Apostles in the City, Baltimore, MD

AshleyNullA few weeks ago we (St. Andrew’s and the Diocese of the Carolinas) had the pleasure of hosting The Rev’d Dr Ashley Null, the theological advisor to the Diocese of the Carolinas, for two-days of teaching and ministry.  As a part of his time with us Ashley sat down with The Rev’d Claudia Dickson Greggs for a little chat about his life and work.  Claudia writes occasional papers for the Diocese entitled,Perspectives, in which she highlights some of the various people and ministries associated with the Diocese of the Carolinas.  Following is a snip of her article, the full article is linked below.

Grace and gratitude play a central role in The Rev’d Dr. Ashley Null’s life and work. Ashley is an authority on the English Reformation – particularly the theology of Thomas Cranmer, who was the author of the first Book of Common Prayer and the Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of King Henry VIII and Edward VI.   Ashley also serves as a senior research fellow for The Ridley Institute and a theological consultant to the Diocese of the Carolinas, most recently giving a series of thought-provoking lectures to the clergy of the diocese. In those lectures, Ashley talked about how Cranmer’s understanding of God’s grace and mercy shaped the Communion service he composed for the first English Prayer Books (or the 1552 Book of Common Prayer).

A similar understanding – of how God’s grace, freely offered in love, sets the stage for us to acknowledge our sinfulness and repent – has shaped Ashley’s life. Although born in Birmingham, Alabama, (‘Ashley’ is a family name) he was reared in Salina, Kansas, and since his father was an Episcopalian, the Null family attended Christ Episcopal Cathedral, where the bishop of the Diocese of Western Kansas was in residence. His mother had been raised in the Baptist church (her great-great-grandfather was the first Secretary of the Southern Baptist Foreign Missions Board) but with Pentecostal influences– and all of these Christian traditions – Anglican, Evangelical and Pentecostal – played an important role in Ashley’s formation as a Christian. The Book of Common Prayer, with its liturgies and prayers rooted in Scripture, held a special appeal for him.

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For My Nephews

March 24, 2015

Thought this was pretty neat.  Prioleau Alexander uses the mini-series Lonesome Dove to pass along life lessons to his nephews.

Like most Uncles, it is my desire to be remembered by my nephews when they are older, and I am gone.

I will never hold a place in their lives remotely as important as their parents, but then again I am spared the difficult task of actually raising them. Their parents enjoy the most intimate, wonderful times, but must also endure the difficult times. They have their role clearly defined by societal norms, while mine is vague. I can be the cool uncle, the crazy uncle, the generous uncle, the carefree uncle…or, if I choose, the aloof and distant uncle.

I don’t know what combination of these I will be remembered as, but I’ve made certain it will not be the latter. I had one of those, and when we buried him I didn’t shed a tear. After all, one rarely cries over a stranger.

Anyway, a while back my brother’s son won the Exceptional Citizen Award from the school he attends. There was only one recipient, and it was a very big deal. The award shocked me, because it was so different from my behavior in school…. I was a popular kid, but I used my popularity like a self-centered pop star. I surrounded myself with the cool clique…I teased the unpopular kids…I scorned the un-coordinated kids…and I spoke nary a word to any girl I didn’t consider cute. 

In short, I was a jerk, and I’m ashamed of it to this day.

My nephew, on the other hand, is an athletic and popular kid, but has used his popularity in a way that reveals an exceptional man in the making. The award he won sited the fact that he never speaks badly about a classmate…he is the first to encourage and compliment the class underdogs…he is the student who always reaches out to a classmate in need… and he is courteous and respectful to his teachers. He doesn’t know it, but he now holds in his mind the memories I wish I had from those years.

I wrote my nephew a letter to tell him how proud I was of him. I wrote a letter as opposed to stopping by and talking to him because no one writes letters anymore, and I knew it would have a deeper impact on him. I didn’t, however, just tell him I was proud of him; I told him why I was proud of him, and discussed at length some of the trials and tribulations he would encounter as he grew older…I did my best to help him understand how rare his gifts are, and how those gifts could serve him in the future…I talked to him like an adult, and said, “You’re on the right track. Be proud of yourself, and don’t change for anyone.”

Then, to my surprise and amazement, my sister’s son recently won a similar award. Different parents…but obviously this nephew has the same sort of gifts, and attitudes towards his fellow man.

And this got me to thinking…as an Uncle, what could I possibly offer these lads that might have an impact on their lives?

Then, on a long bike ride through the hills of Western Maryland, it occurred to me: Boys learn from their parents…and through good parenting become good men… but the one thing they usually fail to do is listen to their parents on matters concerning the years ahead. Parents have the ability to offer them decades of wisdom paid for with significant quantities of personal pain, but there’s something about the human psyche that causes us all to reject this most obvious and valuable of gifts. Like a moth to the light, it is our fate to bump up against that smoking hot orb called experience until we learn, or die.

So, on this bike ride, I decided my gift to my nephews would be wisdom.

There are, of course, several drawbacks to this plan . . .

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Happy Thanksgiving

November 27, 2014

charlie brown thansgiving

I ran across this sermon several weeks ago while I was thinking through what I wanted to say to my son, Tim, and his then fiancé, Katie at their recent wedding ceremony (if you’ve not done it, it is quite a different experience to preach the wedding of your child).  I didn’t use anything from this sermon.  But it was helpful to see how he spoke to a loved one on a joyous occasion.

So today, however much you rejoice that you have reached your goal, you will be just as thankful that God’s will and God’s way have brought you here; and however confidently you accept responsibility for your action today, you may and will put it today with equal confidence into God’s hands.

As God today adds His ‘Yes’ to your ‘Yes’, as He confirms your will with His will, and as He allows you, and approves of, your triumph and rejoicing and pride, He makes you at the same time instruments of His will and purpose both for yourselves and for others. In His unfathomable condescension God does add His ‘Yes’ to yours; but by doing so, He creates out of your love something quite new – the holy estate of matrimony.

God is guiding your marriage. Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God’s holy ordinance, through which He wills to perpetuate the human race till the end of time. In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to His glory, and calls into His kingdom. In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more that something personal – it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man. As you first gave the ring to one another and have now received it a second time from the hand of the pastor, so love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God. As high as God is above man, so high are the sanctity the rights, and the promise of marriage above the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love. It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.

God makes your marriage indissoluble. ‘What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder’ (Matthew 19:6). God joins you together in marriage; it is His act, not yours. Do not confound your love for one another with God. God makes your marriage indissoluble, and protects it from every danger that may threaten it from within and without; He wills to be the guarantor of its indissolubility. It is a blessed thing to know that no power on earth, no temptation, no human frailty can dissolve what God holds together; indeed, anyone who knows that may say confidently: What God has joined together, can no man put asunder. Free from all anxiety that is always a characteristic of love, you can now say to each other with complete and confident assurance: We can never lose each other now; by the will of God we belong to each other till death.

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wedding coupleJoyfully!

Coming soon to a church near you:

“It’s an unwitting decision to think that we don’t need to be held together by shared theology and a shared understanding of the gospel, but by relationships, shared institutions, and a general sense that we all want to do good in the world,” DeYoung said.

Losing unity over the gospel is a recipe for disaster, and numbers will slowly decline as churches head to more conservative denominations, he said. Most of the [Reformed Churches in America] RCA churches now filing to leave, including University Reformed Church, are heading for the Presbyterian Church in America.

It’s part of the “reshuffling of the deck” among American congregations, DeYoung said.

“This big sorting that’s happening in the mainline is also going to happen in evangelical churches, colleges, seminaries, and parachurch organizations,” he said. “You’ll find a stronger, more doctrinally robust evangelical church, even though it may be smaller than it once was.”

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