We met together January 9-13, 2017, in Melbourne, Florida during the first week of Epiphany. Our time together was a balanced mix of worship, teaching, business, and fellowship.
We give thanks for the full participation of the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina. We are grateful for the ministry of David Clifton, Director of Worship and Music Arts at Apostles Anglican Church, Knoxville, Tennessee, whose music enriched our worship each morning and evening. During our meeting we received formal greetings from Archbishop Welby and Archbishop Okoh. We also sent greetings to the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Nigeria which was meeting at the same time.
During our meeting, we received updates from a variety of initiatives that have been undertaken within the Church, and we worked to approve new resources for worship (liturgy) and teaching (catechesis). As usual in these conversations we experienced both the gifts and tensions inherent in a three streams church: Evangelical, Anglo-Catholic, and Charismatic. We give thanks for the breadth of Anglicanism, and the unity that we in the Anglican Church in North America have in Christ.
Assembly 2017: Mission on Our Doorstep
We heard about the progress being made for our next gathering as a Province. The theme for Assembly 2017 is “Mission on Our Doorstep” and will be held June 28-30, 2017, in Wheaton, Illinois. The Assembly gathering is open to everyone, and will feature speakers and guests from around the world. In addition to the plenary speakers and workshops, there will be specific tracks such as church planting, youth, Caminemos Juntos (hispanic ministry), Anglican Multi-Ethnic Ministries (AMEN), and chaplaincy. Registration will open in the next couple weeks.
Ministry: Matthew 25 Initiative
We give thanks for the confidence in the Anglican Church in North America held by an anonymous donor who has pledged more than $1 million in matching funds to double the money that we raise to impact people’s lives. The Matthew 25 Initiative focuses on the teaching of Jesus, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Matthew 25:35-36), reflecting the heart and priorities of the Lord.
The Liturgy Task Force presented most of the remaining texts for a proposed Book of Common Prayer 2019. These texts, after discussion and amendment, were adopted as “working texts,” to be published on the Provincial website (www.anglicanchurch.net) for present liturgical use and for the gathering of online feedback towards the finalization of these texts by 2019.
The texts presented were:
- The Rites of Healing:
- Reconciliation of Penitents
- Ministry to the Sick
- Communion of the Sick
- Great Litany and Supplication
- Occasional Prayers and Thanksgivings
- Consecration and Dedication of a Place of Worship
- Ash Wednesday
- Palm Sunday
- Maundy Thursday
- Good Friday
- Holy Saturday
- Great Vigil of Easter
All of these texts will be available on the Provincial website within the next couple weeks. One diocese requested that its contemporized 1552 Rite for Holy Communion be included in the 2019 Book. While the rite was not accepted for inclusion, the request enabled the College to address how it will commend such rites and canonically affirm the long-term place of historic Prayer Books and of Prayer Books in use at the time of the formation of the Province.
Five psalms exemplifying a Renewed Coverdale Psalter, inspired by the work C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot, were also shared, as were a number of historical texts and calendar tables proposed for inclusion in the Prayer Book.
Among other matters reported were:
- a plan to refresh the Texts for Common Prayer webpage (for ease of use) on the Provincial website;
- an easy-to-use online resource (www.legereme.com) for reading the Daily Office and for determining appropriate Eucharistic collects, lessons and prefaces; and
- a timetable for incorporating feedback toward finalizing the BCP 2019.
The Liturgy Task Force will invite final comments on the working texts of the offices and eucharists during 2017 (for final adoption by the College in January 2018) and of all other Prayer Book rites and texts in 2018 (for final adoption by the College in January 2019). Over 300 suggestions have already been received and catalogued through firstname.lastname@example.org, to which 2017 and 2018 responses will be added, considered, and incorporated as the Liturgy Task Force seeks to finalize a twenty-first century successor to the Book that is Anglicanism at prayer.
Order: Holy Orders Task Force
In 2012, the task force was asked to develop resources to help guide the bishops’ future discussions on holy orders in general, and the ordination of women in particular. At our meeting this week, the Holy Orders Task Force presented Phase 4 of their work to the college. The College thanked the task force for the hard work that they have done on this topic in just a few short years. Having received the report at this meeting, the conversation then turned to the timeline for addressing these issues.
The Phase 4 report is being formatted and combined with the previous documents from the task force. This report will be passed on to the GAFCON Primates and to our ecumenical partners for feedback, and released to the whole Church in late February. The bishops will pick up these discussions at their next two meetings, in June and September of this year.
The task force’s report does not represent the position of the college, as our formal discussions on this topic are just now beginning, but it is our hope that this document will begin to give us a common language for conversation in the College, and aid dialogue in the larger Church.
We are well aware that this is a passionate topic. We would remind our members of the clergy and laity that in all our conversations, whether they be in person, or on social media, our conduct must always honor Christ, and model his sacrificial love.
We received an update from The Rev. Dr. Joel Scandrett and The Rev. Art Going, members of the Committee for Catechesis. The work of the committee is to encourage the whole church to embrace catechesis as a critical means of discipling; to be a church investing and engaging in lifelong disciple-making.
The College adopted a revision to Parts 1 and 2 of the Catechism, with the goal of producing a final version of the Catechism in the coming year. The Bishops approved changes that were presented, and endorsed the plan to place pastoral prayers formerly in the introduction in the relevant sections of the text, and to add prayers for pastoral application to other sections.
The Committee continues to focus its work on three audiences and three challenges:
- Outsiders becoming insiders - learning from the ancient church how to do catechetical evangelism through patterned practices in an environment of warm, evangelical hospitality.
- Forgetters becoming rememberers - renewing our commitment to lifelong catechesis—laying the foundation for all other ventures in discipleship; completing the revision of To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism.
- Beloved children becoming belief-ful adults - rediscovering the crucial role of family for discipling our children for Christian life and mission.
Youth Ministry: Young Anglicans Project
We received an update from the Rev. Steven Tighe, Provincial Canon for Youth, and head of The Young Anglicans Project. Young Anglicans works for an effective Christ-centered ministry to teenagers in every church of the Anglican Church in North America. To that end they are working to train, and network youth leaders, provide resources to make church youth ministry prosper, and to advocate for ministry to adolescents at the parish, diocesan and provincial level.
Young Anglicans has these projects underway:
- The “Engage” initiative to help small churches and church plants reach and disciple teenagers through one on one Bible reading. At this point seven dioceses are involved at some level with the program.
- Youth ministry training webinars, all available on the web through the Young Anglicans Project website.
- An Anglican Gap Year program (aGAPe Year). Designed as a year-long discipleship program for high school graduates wanting to spend a year in mission and ministry before college. Directors have been hired and are raising support with our first class expected in September of 2017.
- A conference for training diocesan youth directors in Dallas, October 24-26, 2017.
- National Anglican Youth Ministers conference in conjunction with the Rooted conference will be next October 25-26, 2017, in Dallas.
- Two youth leader networking video conferences every month for youth leaders
- Quarterly newsletter goes out to the 2,500 Anglicans interested in youth ministry on our mailing list, and via social media.
- Making and maintaining connections with other ministries in the Anglican Church in North America, including Anglican Global Mission Partners (AGMP), Caminemos Juntos, the Catechesis committee, and Always Forward.
Outreach: The Telos Collective
This week Bishop Todd Hunter shared with the bishops a new task force that has been commissioned. The Telos Collective: Anglicans at the Intersection of Gospel and Culture, is a small, strategic alliance of the best missional minds in the Anglican Church in North America who will gather each year to think, plan, and dream about how best to reach the culture for Christ. Archbishop Beach asked Bishop Hunter of the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others to found and lead the Telos Collective. Hunter is now inviting dedicated leaders from across the province to attend the annual Intersection Conference, an intensive “missional greenhouse” where leaders will receive specialized training in a collaborative setting and return home to continue the conversation. The first conference is slated for May 18-20, 2017.
Church Planting: Always Forward
We received an update on our church planting initiative, Always Forward. The goal of Always Forward is to assist in planting Gospel-centered, missional, sacramental churches by equipping dioceses to become church planting networks. This year Always Forward held a well-attended church planting conference in Denver, facilitated church planter leader training in Atlanta, launched the new Always Forward Podcast for Anglican church planters, and developed a framework for assessing and organizing a diocese for the work of church planting.
In 2017, primary initiatives will focus on developing a Strategic Leaders Initiative for the identifying, equipping, and supporting of diocesan church planting leaders, and an online training program for planters. The annual church planting conference will be held in conjunction with Provincial Assembly in June, and in the fall, Always Forward will host a church planting simulcast to encourage local planters to get together for training and collaboration while engaging in group-based learning. There are also plans for collaboration with other Gafcon provinces to work towards a global, collaborative church planting network.
Bishop Coadjutor for the Central States and Suffragan for Mid-America
We gave thanks for the life and ministry of Royal Grote, Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church, who died this past November. As Archbishop Beach said in his address, “His legacy in this College and in our Province will long be remembered. The tone he exhibited among us, especially with difficult issues and with difficult people was amazing and so Christ-like and Christ-affirming. Being around him made me want to like more like Jesus!”
As Bishop Ray Sutton now takes on the role of Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church sub-jurisdiction, we gave our consent to the Diocese of Mid-America for the election of a suffragan bishop to assist him in his duties. We also gave our consent to the Diocese of the Central States to elect a bishop coadjutor.
God is entrusting this Church with powerful and diverse ministries to reach North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. These Gospel initiatives are the result of tens of thousands of sacrificial efforts, large and small, being made by lay and clergy members throughout this province every day. In the words of St. Paul: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:3-6)
Please continue to pray for Christ’s Church.