Welcome to San Francisco Anglicans! This website is a ministry of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). More specifically it is a ministry of St. James Anglican Church in San Jose. It has a very simple purpose: help people in San Francisco find us so we can help launch new Anglican Churches in San Francisco. Emmaus Anglican Church is our first. We hope to launch many more in the coming months. We hope this interests you. If you would like more information please email Fr. Ed McNeill or call him at 408-674-2770.
To the Faithful of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and friends
from Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya
and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council
Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord! Psalm 31:24
My dear brothers and sisters,
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
I am so thankful to the Lord for his goodness to us as we met here in Nairobi for GAFCON 2013. It was a great gathering in which we saw unmistakable signs of God’s blessing. Our expectations were exceeded in many ways as 1,358 delegates from 37 nations gathered for what I can only describe as a foretaste of heaven. My prayer was that we would see the glory of God and we did as we enjoyed a wonderful time of worship, prophetic bible teaching and mutual encouragement. It was truly a mountain top experience in which the Lord Jesus was gloriously present, but we knew we could not stay there. We have to come down from the mountain to face the challenges ahead.
And so we have. The Church of England has just released what is known as the Pilling Report, the conclusions of a Working Group commissioned by the House of Bishops to report and make recommendations on issues of human sexuality. I am sorry to say that it is very flawed. If this report is accepted I have no doubt that the Church of England, the Mother Church of the Communion, will have made a fateful decision. It will have chosen the same path as The Episcopal Church of the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada with all the heartbreak and division that will bring.
The problem is not simply that the Report proposes that parish churches should be free to hold public services for the blessing of homosexual relationships, but the way it justifies this proposal. Against the principle of Anglican teaching, right up to and beyond the Lambeth Conference of 1998, it questions the possibility that the Church can speak confidently on the basis of biblical authority and sees its teaching as essentially provisional. So Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth conference, which affirmed that homosexual practice was ‘incompatible with Scripture’ and said it could ‘not advise the legitimisation or blessing of same sex relationships’, is undermined both in practice and in principle.
The proposal to allow public services for the blessing of same sex relationships is seen as a provisional measure and the Report recommends a two-year process of ‘facilitated conversation’ throughout the Church of England which is likened to the ‘Continuing Indaba’ project. This should be a warning to us because it highlights that the unspoken assumption of Anglican Indaba is that the voice of Scripture is not clear. This amounts to a rejection of the conviction expressed in the Thirty-nine Articles that the Bible as ‘God’s Word written’ is a clear and effective standard for faith and conduct.
As a matter of conscience, one member of the Working Group, the Rt Rev’d Keith Sinclair, Bishop of Birkenhead, was unable to sign the Report. He issued a dissenting statement which I strongly endorse as an alternative way forward which honours the authority of Scripture and expresses a deep pastoral concern for the transforming power of the gospel in a society which is moving into ever greater confusion about sexual morality and identity.
We should pray earnestly that the English House of Bishops steps back from endorsing this Report, but the developing situation in the Church of England, the historic Mother Church of the Communion, underlines the need for our Global Fellowship to build on the success of GAFCON 2013 and implement our commitments. As we noted in the Nairobi Communiqué, the GFCA is becoming an ‘ important and effective instrument of Communion during a period in which other instruments of Communion have failed both to uphold gospel priorities in the Church, and to heal the divisions among us.’
As Chairman I am committed to seeing our vital work of promoting and defending the gospel expand. During the coming year we shall be working to increase our organizational effectiveness, set up global networks and improve our communications, but we also need the involvement of every member in prayer, giving and active engagement with our global vision. We are at heart a spiritual movement of renewal, looking to the Lord who graciously revives his Church and this is a reality that flows out of the daily discipleship of each one.
I write with deep gratitude to you all for your prayer and fellowship in this great project which the Lord has called us. This Advent Season is a reminder to live as those who are ready for the Lord’s return in power and glory, as Saviour and as Judge. So let us be of good hope, confident in the ultimate triumph of God’s purposes in Jesus Christ.
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word (2 Thess. 2:16,17).
The Most Rev Dr Eliud Wabukala
Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans
December 4th, 2013
The Pilling Report, a document presented to the Church of England by its “Working Group on Human Sexuality,” is reflective of the season in which Anglicanism in the West finds itself. There are certainly elements of the report that are to be commended:
- In a day when the temptation is to partisanship and easy answers, there is a balance of views and perspectives within the report that is commendable.
- The report rightly emphasizes that fear and hatred have no place in the Church’s response to any persons, and calls upon Christians to show Christ’s love to those living with same-sex attraction.
- The report recognizes that appeals to genetics and behavioral sciences in sorting out the roots of homosexual desire are not as conclusive as many claim.
- Finally the report notes the challenge of evangelizing—especially the next generation—as the disconnect between the Church’s teaching and the prevailing culture continues to grow.
Unfortunately, the Pilling Report also contains elements that are potentially destructive to the Church’s life and witness.
- While an “open ended process of facilitated conversation” is advised, the ‘end’ of affirming same-sex unions is already recommended, and this bias affects the trajectory of both the report and the conversation.
- Underpinning this call for ‘facilitated conversation’ is the controversial claim that the argument for the Church’s traditional teaching about marriage and sexual intimacy is “inconclusive.”
Inviting the church to discover a new consensus about sexual relationships beyond those of a lifelong union of one man and one woman in Holy Matrimony is not helpful.
Concerning these matters, I am in complete agreement with the Right Reverend Keith Sinclair, the Bishop of Birkenhead, and a member of the Working Group, in his dissent from the Report. The Church must not waiver from its received teaching. Scripture and the catholic consensus must be treated as givens, the attitude of the signatories not withstanding. Those who would re-construct the received moral order in the 21st century to respond to a culture bent on self-actualization, rather than dying to self, will do no better than those who—quite unsuccessfully but with much damage—in the 20th century sought to re-define the doctrines of the Trinity and the person of Christ.
Our prayers are with the House of Bishops of the Church of England as the Pilling Report is received, considered and acted upon. Our prayers are with the entire Church of England as she seeks to be a faithful Church in a secular and post-Christian age. Our prayers are with the Archbishop of Canterbury as he leads in this most challenging time, not least in relationship to the Anglican Communion, whose majority cannot support the trajectory the Pilling Report countenances as concerns accommodation of sexual relationships outside of Holy Matrimony. Our prayers are also with those experiencing same-sex attractions, and with their families and friends, and with all those who have been injured by any kind of bigotry by members of the Church or the society. ‘By this will all men know that you are my disciples, that you have love for one another.’ [John 13:35]
The Most Reverend Robert Duncan
The Drive is not a typical location for an Anglican church. But, then again, Immanuel Vancouver is not a typical Anglican church. The Rio Theater situated in this upcoming hip commercial area, is an alternative venue that puts on small stage productions, hosts bands, shows some offbeat films and at times houses a church for the disconnected, the disaffected and the hurting. Feet sticking to the floor, surrounded by posters that would cause most church ladies to blush, and amidst the smell of beer, a diverse group of people gathers. Some of them are obviously from the young alternative scene that dominates The Drive, some come from the corporate world, others come with the difficulties of a life on the street etched into their faces.
That’s Immanuel Vancouver: an incredibly eclectic gathering of folks in the heart of downtown, connecting unchurched young people (20-40 year olds, who have no interest in church or Jesus but who do have great social concern for the poor), the disillusioned (those people who love Jesus but have a hard time loving His Church), the substance addicted and the mentally struggling to Jesus Christ and to each other.
“We are all about transformation,” says The Rev. Simon Neill, the Rector of Immanuel, “ we believe that if you walk with Jesus the inevitable thing is transformation. With this level of brokenness – it simply takes time. 18 months ago, it almost killed us – it is so brutal and thankless. But isn’t that what I do to God? This is the story of God.”
Simon began his work at Immanuel in 2008 with 12 faithful people and has seen it grow to a regular group of 125 attending adults, with about 90 in church on any given Sunday. “We are a bunch of nutcases, but we love each other,” says Simon, or as a motto of Immanuel states, the church is about “Real God, Real People, Real Lives.” The vision of the church to reach those who are struggling and disconnected is revealed in the identity of its people: 45% had a previous drug addiction, 25% have serious mental health issues, only 22% have a full time job, only 4% earn above the average wage, 48% have never attended a church before Immanuel, and 20% do not self-identify as Christian. When Simon says, “this is the story of God” he points to those whom God is gathering at Immanuel- the broken and unloved, the hurt and the lost- and how through the persistent work of the Gospel, new life is being found in Jesus Christ. Immanuel is a very unique church, but shares in a very ancient story of a faithful and loving God.
Simon has an incredible array of examples of how God has been faithful to build His Church in Vancouver: Stories about the unchurched coming to know Christ for the first time through Alpha courses and other avenues; stories about devastated lives resurrected after addiction, abuse, and neglect have done their terrible work; stories of hope being found. Just this month, the community at Immanuel saw a young man they have been working with for three years, who’s life had been shattered by addiction and abuse, give his life to Jesus Christ in a profound and decisive way. This is the work of the Gospel, this is the work of Immanuel.
The stories that have come out of Immanuel Vancouver are an incredible testimony to the faithfulness and goodness of our God, and the potential of Jesus’s body empowered by His Spirit to make a real difference in the world. But in the midst of great tales of redemption, Simon is very clear about giving the glory to the proper place. “I want people to hear these stories and long for them to happen in their church as well. At the same time, as you go through the work, it’s definitely not sexy. It’s dull, it’s monotonous, it’s frustrating. You can tell all the great stories at the end, but that doesn’t communicate very well how difficult it is when you’re in it. And things don’t get done because we made great decisions. The whole way I ended up in Vancouver was pretty stupid, motivated in large part by my arrogance. I had a great deal of success in the UK in business and in ministry, but all I had ever done was reapply resources that already existed. When we came to Vancouver, there were no resources at all, and it was so brutal and thankless that it was devastating to me and my family. We made bad decisions. But God simply blessed us anyways. He remained faithful and gracious in the midst of our foolishness.”
“Faithfulness” is the operative word in the story of Immanuel. 12 faithful people were involved in a dying church, but God called them to stay in Vancouver and bring a pastor. A pastor showed up expecting to start a revival in Vancouver, but he only finds backbreaking work and God’s call to keep fighting the good fight. The community has a huge heart for those the world has destroyed – the addicts and the mentally afflicted – and they tirelessly love and serve them, but there is little fruit. The story of Immanuel is a story of persistence, long suffering and the faithfulness of God.
“Isn’t it so like how Jesus deals with us? We are foolish and stupid, sinful to the core, and He simply remains present with us,” says Simon, “Even though it’s excruciating for Him, He suffers with joy in His heart. And it’s when we see that joy on His face that we start to be changed from the inside out. It’s when we notice that no matter what we do, no matter how evil and wicked our sin, He won’t leave. That’s when we start to feel safe. We start to let our guard down. So that’s what we do here at Immanuel. We remain present. We’re not particularly smart, or cool, or hip. We have nowhere near the necessary resources to meet the pastoral needs of our church. With the kinds of problems people in our church have, there’s no way we can fix them fast. So we take the long road. We walk with them for a long time to show them that God loves them. We walk with them long enough until they know they can trust us to let down their defenses. And it’s crazy, but if we remain present, God shows up and does His work of transformation in people’s lives.”
What is certain is that in Vancouver, on The Drive, at the Rio Theater no church is more aptly named- Immanuel! God is with us!
To see more visit www.immanuelchurch.ca.