Archives For Mission

An Invitation to Park Circle

September 18, 2014

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.”

Read it all.

The Ridley Institute at St. Andrew’s is pleased to announce a week-long, seven-lecture introductory seminar on The Person and Ongoing Work of the Holy Spirit to be held on campus at the end of this month.  This course is part of Andy Piercy’s year-long School of Worship, but has been opened up for participation by the public.

The seven lectures will be given by The Rev’d Rob Sturdy over four days, 28 April – 1 May.  The schedule for the lectures is listed below – note that most lectures occur in the morning. The registration cost is $30. Participants will be expected to bring a Bible and notepaper, and can register on our website.

A full course on The Person and Ongoing Work of the Holy Spirit, spread over ten weeks with expert guest lecturers, will be held next spring (2015), and will cover more ground in greater depth than these four days can afford us.  However, this seven-course introductory seminar is an excellent chance to begin laying a foundation for our understanding of, and relationship with, the Holy Spirit.

I hope you are able to take advantage of this latest offering from The Ridley Institute.

Monday, 28 April
12:30-1:00 Registration, Coffee

1:00-2 Lecture 1: “The Holy Spirit, a Biblical theology”

Tuesday, 29 April
9:00-9:30 Coffee

9:30-10:30 Lecture 2: “The Holy Spirit: A Systematic and Historical Approach” 

10:30-10:40 Break

10:40-11:40 Lecture 3: “The Holy Spirit and the Ministry of Jesus” 

Wednesday, 30 April
9:00-9:30 Coffee

9:30-10:30 Lecture 4: “The Holy Spirit and Regeneration”

10:30-10:40 Break

10:40-11:40 Lecture 5: “The Sealing of the Spirit” 

Thursday, 1 May
9:00-9:30 Coffee

9:30-10:30 Lecture 6: “The Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church” 

10:30-10:40 Break

10:40-11:40 Lecture 7: “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit”

No.  It is not.

Ed Stetzer explains.  From Christianity Today:

Come on—it’s 2014.

Every church should have an online presence.

Your church people and your community are there, so you should be as well. But that is different than referring to something that happens via your website as a “church.”

Can an online gathering of Christians be classified as a church? Let’s think through this by asking five questions.

Read the rest.

Here’s a snip:

IWabukala Abp Eliudn the year ahead we must resolve to devote ourselves to the great biblical mandate to make disciples of all nations which was the focus of our gathering in Nairobi. There is urgency about the gospel and it must be proclaimed in word and deed, in season and out of season and it is the same gospel, whether in strife torn nations such as South Sudan or in the affluent but morally disorientated nations of the developed world.

We cannot therefore allow our time and energy to be sapped by debating that which God has already clearly revealed in the Scriptures. Earlier this week, the English College of Bishops met to reflect upon the ‘Pilling Report’, commissioned to reflect on how the Church of England should respond to the question of same sex relationships. Its key recommendations were that informal blessings of such unions should be allowed in parish churches and that a two year process of ‘facilitated conversation’ should be set up to address strongly held differences within the Church on this issue.

While we should be thankful that the College of Bishops did not adopt the idea of services for blessing that which God calls sin, it did unanimously approve the conversation process and this is deeply troubling. There has been intensive debate within the Anglican Communion on the subject of homosexuality since at least the 1998 Lambeth Conference and it is difficult to believe that the bishop’s indecision at this stage is due to lack of information or biblical reflection. The underlying problem is whether or not there is a willingness to accept the bible for what it really is, the Word of God.

At Lambeth 1998, the bishops of the Anglican Communion, by an overwhelming majority, affirmed in Resolution 1.10 that homosexual relationships were not compatible with Scripture, in line with the Church’s universal teaching through the ages, but the Pilling Report effectively sets this aside. The conversations it proposes are not to commend biblical teaching on marriage and family, but are based on the assumption that we cannot be sure about what the bible says.

I cannot therefore commend the proposal by the College of Bishops that these ‘facilitated conversations ‘ should be introduced across the Communion. This is to project the particular problems of the Church of England onto the Communion as a whole. As with ‘Continuing Indaba’, without a clear understanding of biblical authority and interpretation, such dialogue only spreads confusion and opens the door to a false gospel because the Scriptures no longer function in any meaningful way as a test of what is true and false.

Faced with these challenges, I am reminded of the importance of the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration. It places our fellowship under the written word of God, which ‘is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church’s historic and consensual reading’. Here we have a solid foundation for the responsible reading of the Bible which preserves its transformative power. As John the Evangelist writes ‘these things are written so that you may believe…..and that by believing you may have life’ (John 20:31).

 Read it all.


To Be Tired of Luther . . .

January 20, 2014

From Carl Trueman:

… is to be tired of life.

Most of those who know anything about Luther’s life tend to think of his appearance at the Diet of Worms in 1521 as the point at which he was most vulnerable — the isolated reformer surrounded by the massed forces of the Holy Roman Empire and the Catholic Church.  In fact, it is clear that Electoral Saxony had a well-thought out strategy for keeping him safe.

Luther is probably most at risk in 1522, when he is recalled from the Wartburg to restore civil order in Wittenberg.  As radical iconoclasm and rioting has taken hold in his absence, he needs to bring some stability and sanity to the Wittenberg reformation or his protector, Frederick the Wise, will have no choice but to abandon his cause.    It is then that Luther really has nothing an no-one to rely on other than his own personal presence and his preaching ability.   Of course, we know that these are enough.  Luther triumphs.  Karlstadt and Zwilling are forced out.  And the Reformation moves forward.

In the struggles of early 1522, Luther preached a famous sermon on March 10 which contains one of my favourite quotations, revealing the secret of Luther’s Reformation success:

In short, I will preach it [the Word], teach it, write it, but I will constrain no man by force, for faith must come freely without compulsion. Take myself as an example. I opposed indulgences and all the papists, but never with force. I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing; the Word did everything.

Read it all.

A very good article from Albert Mohler:

Most viewers are likely unaware of what they are actually seeing. They are not merely watching an historical drama, they are witnessing the passing of a world. And that larger story, inadequately portrayed within Downton Abbey, is a story that should not be missed. That story is part of our own story as well. It is the story of the modern age arriving with revolutionary force, and with effects that continue to shape our own world.

Downton Abbey is set in the early decades of the twentieth century. Though by season four King George V is on the throne, the era is still classically Edwardian. And the era associated with King Edward VII is the era of the great turn in British society. The early decades of the twentieth century witnessed a great transformation in England and within the British Empire. The stable hierarchies ofDownton Abbey grew increasingly unstable. Britain, which had been overwhelmingly a rural nation until the last decade of the nineteenth century, became increasingly urban. A transformation in morals changed the very character of the nation, and underlying it all was a great surge of secularization that set the stage for the emergence of the radically secular nation that Britain has become.

Viewers should note the almost complete absence of Christianity from the storyline. The village vicar is an occasional presence, and church ceremonies have briefly been portrayed. But Christianity as a belief system and a living faith is absent—as is the institutional presence of the Church of England.

Political life is also virtually absent, which amounts to a second great omission. The epoch in which Downton Abbey is set was a time of tremendous political strife and upheaval in Britain. The Earl of Grantham would likely have been quite distressed by the rise of the Liberal Party’s David Lloyd George as Prime Minister. The right of women to vote was a recent development, and the political waters were roiled by high unemployment and a faltering British economy. The signs of the Empire’s disappearance were there for all to see, even if most among the elites did their best to deny the evidence. The great landed estates were draining their lordly title holders of precious capital, and the economic arrangements that allowed the nobility to live off of their estates would never return. That is why so many English lords looked for rich American women to marry.

A great moral revolution was also in full sway. Birth control was increasingly available and openly discussed. In 1930, the Church of England would become the first major Christian church to endorse the use of contraceptives. Sexual morality was changing with a lessening of sanctions on premarital sex and adultery. Calls for liberalized divorce laws became more frequent. Many argued that the working class should have the same access to sexual liberty that the nobility seemed to allow themselves.

Read it all.

A message from the College of Bishops following our January meeting.

January 10, 2014

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1

The bishops of the Anglican Church in North America met in Orlando, Florida from January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany, to January 10th. We were blessed to be joined by the Rt. Rev. Humphrey Peters, Bishop of Peshawar, Pakistan. This has been our largest meeting, with only a few bishops absent due to inclement weather or overseas assignment. The bishops of the Anglican Church in North America have made it clear that it is a high priority to be together to pray and meet in council to carry forward the apostolic ministry of the Church. This week we again met in an atmosphere of mutual support and affection, with much prayer for one other. Bishop William Ilgenfritz, Missionary Diocese of All Saints, served as Chaplain for the College.

In our opening Eucharist, the Rt. Rev. Todd Hunter was invested as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others, commonly called “C4SO.”

We were blessed by Biblical teaching each morning from Dr. Wesley Hill, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Trinity School for Ministry. In this season of Epiphany, we were encouraged by Dr. Hill’s teaching on the nature of our triune God as both transcendent above his creation and present with us in our suffering.

It was a thoroughly productive gathering in which the bishops were able to address a range of topics, working to establish consensus and maintain fraternal relations. We were encouraged by our times of sharing about the fruitful ministries in our dioceses and by testimonies of God’s grace and answered prayers.

Following two years of work by the Catechesis Task Force, the bishops unanimously approved a new Catechism for trial use, with mechanisms for feedback and refinement planned over the next two years. The Catechism, written primarily for adults, is designed to speak to those who are exploring the faith, as well as to disciple Christians to greater knowledge and spiritual maturity. The Catechism, produced to uphold and communicate apostolic faith through pastoral application, is invitational in approach, drawing inquirers to faith in Christ, pursue a loving relationship with the Father, and welcome the power of the Holy Spirit in everyday life. We are eager for trained catechists to be raised up to use this wonderful tool, as well as for additional discipleship resources to be developed and shared across the Church.

As we continue to develop a Prayer Book to enrich our common liturgical life, the bishops worshiped using the Province’s approved texts for Holy Communion and daily Morning and Evening Prayer. We did initial work on a first draft of liturgies for Baptism, Confirmation and Admission of Catechumens, refining them to help insure that those liturgies are accessible and reflect the richness of the historic Anglican faith and tradition. The College continues to look forward to the day when the Province will have its own Book of Common Prayer.

As Archbishop Duncan is retiring as Archbishop in June, 2014, the bishops also discussed and prayed about the process of electing a successor and the subsequent transition. Archbishop Duncan reflected with the College on his experience in the office and the bishops expressed gratitude for his courageous and persevering leadership. Archbishop Duncan then graciously absented himself so we could pursue facilitated conversation with Dr. Cynthia Waisner, who again served as our consultant. Seeking to avoid a political process, the bishops committed to a covenant of behavior and a season of prayer as we move toward the bishops’ conclave in June. The College of Bishops will have regular days of prayer and fasting in the coming months, and then gather the week before the Provincial Assembly to discern in prayer the one whom God is calling as successor to Archbishop Duncan.

The Rt. Rev. Humphrey Peters shared with us about ministry in his diocese in Pakistan. It was All Saints Church in his diocese that was attacked by suicide bombers after Sunday worship last September, killing more than 100. We were all touched by his reports of both the challenges and the rewards of pursuing Gospel ministry in Pakistan. Bishop Humphrey presented Archbishop Duncan with gifts from his diocese and Archbishop Duncan responded with the presentation to Bishop Humphrey of a signed copy of our new Texts for Common Prayer.

The tragic conflict in South Sudan was also forefront in our prayers. We sent greetings and encouragement to our brothers and sisters in the Church in Sudan and promised to call the Anglican Church in North America to intercede for peace and justice in South Sudan.

We heard an excellent presentation by Dr. Louise Duncan Jakubik about mentoring, which was helpful to our work of discipling Christians and developing leaders.

We received a report from Canon Nancy Norton, Executive Director of the Anglican Relief and Development Fund. We were encouraged to hear that more than $1.2 million was given for development projects in nine countries, and for disaster relief in Oklahoma and Colorado. The bishops were enthusiastic in praise of Canon Norton and her accomplishments as she looks toward retirement at the Provincial Assembly.

We reflected on our time at GAFCON-2 in Nairobi, which was attended by almost all of our bishops. We rejoiced at the continued growth of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GFCA) and its role as a vital Instrument of Communion. We discussed our international relationships and the challenges faced by the GFCA.

Transferring to the chapel of a nearby church, the bishops prayerfully consented to the election of the Rev. J. Mark Zimmerman as first Bishop of the Diocese of the Southwest. Fr. Zimmerman has served as rector of Somerset Anglican Church (formerly St. Francis-in-the-Fields) in Somerset, PA since 1999. His consecration is scheduled for February 28, 2014 at the Church of St. Clement, El Paso, TX.

The bishops also consented to the election of the Rt. Rev. William J. White as Bishop Coadjutor in the REC Diocese of the Southeast. Bishop White has served as Suffragan Bishop of that diocese since 2009.

The Bishops received with gratitude the report of the Theological Task Force on Holy Orders. Their work includes faithful scholarship and conversations of significance in an atmosphere of respect and trust that is important to our common life. Though the issue of Holy Orders is a sensitive one in the Church, we are thankful for the way that the Task Force is modeling a commitment to full theological inquiry and fidelity. This gives rise to the bishops’ expectation that we will emerge having faithfully found God’s guidance for our Church.

In reviewing the steps that the Task Force has taken, we approved its report on hermeneutical principles (i.e., principles for the interpretation of Scripture). This expresses the principles by which we approach the theological study of Holy Orders. This report will now be released to the Church and sent to the International Theological Commission of GFCA and our ecumenical partners, seeking their input. It is important to note that this careful, thorough and collegial study into Holy Orders has rarely been done before by Anglicans.

The next phase of the work of the Task Force will identify the ecclesiological principles (i.e., principles of the nature of the Church) of ministry and orders including what the Anglican formularies say about the nature of the church, the general character of ordained ministry, the characteristics of each order, and the relationship between the ordained ministry and Christ and his Church. The Task Force has formed sub-committees which will engage scholars and scholarship from the Anglo-Catholic, Charismatic, and Evangelical traditions (“three streams”). A draft of this work will be presented to the bishops in June.

Church planting continues to be at the heart of our Provincial life. We heard the exciting report of the Rev. Canon Alan Hawkins, Vicar of Anglican1000, about the work of establishing new congregations and worshiping communities across the Province. In the huge mission field with Hispanics, fifty-seven Spanish-speaking congregations have been planted. Particularly helpful was his emphasis that we are now engaged in planting just the first 1000 churches. Anglican1000 continues to support diocesan leaders, church planters, coaches and the church at large. Three regional events have been held in the past few months and there will soon be additional events in Phoenix and Atlanta. In addition, reflecting a growing focus on mission with college students, a conference on campus ministry will be held in Chicago in April. The Greenhouse Movement is also having a huge impact by catalyzing clusters of new congregations.

Bishop Ray Sutton, Provincial Ecumenical Officer, reported on the growing relationship with the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), which includes the recent decision by the NALC to create at Trinity School for Ministry a “seminary center” for the training of its ordinands. The College approved an agreed statement on Eucharistic hospitality with the NALC. Bishop Sutton also shared about upcoming dialogues with the Polish National Catholic Church and the Messianic Jewish community.

An Anglican Unity Task Force was established to address the issues that have arisen through the formation of new churches and dioceses, resulting in overlapping jurisdictions throughout the province. Bishops from this task force, together with lay and clergy leaders, will meet again this spring.

Mindful of the opportunities and challenges before us, this meeting of the College of Bishops has been characterized by Gospel joy. We are deeply thankful for the fellowship we share in Christ.

We are so pleased by the gracious service and support that many people offer to our Church. The Provincial staff is a devoted and truly productive team. We are deeply indebted to them, and to the many clergy and laity who serve on the various working groups of the Province, including those task forces which reported to us this week: Catechesis, Prayer Book and Liturgy, Governance, Ecumenical Relations, and the Theological Task Force on Holy Orders. We are grateful to the Anglican Chaplains who provided administrative support to GAFCON-2 in Nairobi.

We are blessed as a Church and humbled by what we have seen the Lord accomplish in our midst in these first few years we have been together as the Anglican Church in North America. We continue to pursue our life in Jesus Christ and the vision of a Biblical, missionary, and united Anglicanism. May God be greatly praised.

From Archbishop Cranmer:

Bishop Pete Broadbent of Willesden was horrified that His Grace should be so blasé. Perhaps blasé isn’t quite the word: Bishop Pete tweeted “I’d have thought you’d be a bit more robust about this piece of liturgical nonsense. It’s baptism lite. Not Christian initiation.” He went on to say that “without penitence, faith and discipleship, there’s no initiation into Christ”.

Which is true, of course. But His Grace is of the view that penitence, faith and discipleship are no longer generally demanded of godparents by the Church of England; indeed, they no longer have to be believers at all. A few bishops might expect their clergy to undertake proper preparation with parents and make enquiries about sponsors, but very few do. Contra Canon B23, godparents are not ‘vetted’ by vicars or assessed for suitability: they are not asked if they have been baptised or confirmed: most are simply an extra ‘aunt’ or ‘uncle’ who might be good for a few quid on birthdays and at Christmas.

His Grace does not condone this: it is simply the reality. It is highly unlikely that the Archbishop of Canterbury made these enquiries of Oliver Baker, Emilia Jardine-Paterson, Earl Grosvenor, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, Julia Samuel, William van Cutsem and Zara Tindall prior to the baptism of Prince George of Cambridge. One simply trusts the choices of the parents: god-parenting long ago ceased to have much to do with raising the child in the Christian Faith.

There are those who are of the view that the Church of England’s baptismal liturgy is not broken and doesn’t need fixing. Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is one such, but so is Bishop Pete. It’s easy to focus on the Daily Mail right-wing conservative objections and ignore the Guardian-reading left-liberal enlightened criticisms: liturgy reform is not a left-right issue.

Bishop Pete argued against the new rite in the House of Bishops: “It’s vicar as chat show host,” he said.

But many vicars have become ecclesial extensions of Oprah. His Grace does not condone this: it is simply the reality.

Read it all.