Bishop Cavalcanti and Wife Tragically Killed

It is with a heavy heart that the Anglican Church in North America passes on the sad news today from the Anglican Diocese of Recife in Brazil.  It was reported earlier that the Right Reverend Bishop Edward Robinson de Barros Cavalcanti and his wife Miriam Cavalcanti were tragically killed. Their lives were taken by a family member on Sunday, February 26 at around 10:00pm in the city of Olinda, Brazil. Details of their deaths are still being investigated.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti was among the great friends and steadfast heroes of the Anglican Church in North America.  He and his wife, Miriam, are mourned by all of us in this Province.  Our prayers and love are extended to the clergy and people of Recife, and to all friends and family, not least because of the tragic circumstances of their murder.

Bishop Robinson was a champion of the faith once for all delivered to the saints. He led his diocese to stand against the theological revisionism that plagued his Province and he stood with all of us in the parallel battles in North America and in global Anglicanism. Internationally, he was among the band of courageous bishops and archbishops who adopted North American congregations during our days of trial.

I personally have the warmest of memories of Robinson Cavalcanti throughout all of my years as bishop. Moreover, since the founding of our Province, he was often a guest at meetings of our Provincial Council and College of Bishops, most recently in September. 

We thank God for the lives of these faithful servants.  We entrust them to the merciful keeping of our Lord and Savior in whose Resurrection “death is swallowed up in victory.” Robinson’s words to us at this moment would be one with the Apostle Paul’s in I Corinthians 15, not least in the exhortation at the end: “Therefore, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Faithfully your archbishop,


Statement released from the Diocese of Recife:

“The diocesan family gives thanks to God for the life and devoted ministry of its Father in God, our pastor, teacher and friend, a true prophet and present day martyr, who championed the cause of the Gospel of Christ for the Church and for the Anglican Communion, which was attended by his wife, as a faithful helpmate, who supported him throughout his years in ministry.

“[Bishop Cavalcanti has] left for Eternity, leaving a legacy of service, love, and doctrinal firmness, by which this Diocese will continue. In due course we will be releasing the day, time, and place of his burial.”

-Bishop Evilásio Tenório, Suffragan Bishop Elect
-Bishop Flávio Adair, Suffragan Bishop Elect
-Rev. Márcio Simões, President of the Diocesan Council

Photo caption: Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti and Archbishop Duncan at Provincial Council in June, 2011, Long Beach, California (Credit: Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh).

A Look Inside: The Gulf Atlantic Diocese

As part of the Anglican Church in North America’s “A Look Inside” Diocesan news series, we spoke with Fr. Eric D. Dudley, rector of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Tallahassee, a member congregation of the Gulf Atlantic Diocese. Fr. Dudley tells how his church was built up physically and spiritually by families and how they are honoring their faith’s orthodox heritage today.

St. Peter’s Anglican Church is still a relatively young church. How did it get started?
St. Peter’s is seven years old this year.  I left St. John’s Episcopal Church (the old downtown church in Tallahassee) seven years ago with the majority of the staff, all but one Vestry member and 700 members of the parish.  A group of ten families bought an old Church of Christ building, and two small ancillary buildings and gave them to us for worship.  The first week here looked like an ant hill, with people running all over, cleaning and building and creating church!  We had absolutely nothing when we came, so we had to build an altar, buy a pulpit, build kneelers, buy chalices, etc.  Many of the families who chose to come had a heritage at St. John’s that extended back many generations in a beautiful church that was 180 years old; yet, they left all of that for the Truth of God’s Word which is ageless.

How have you witnessed the Lord growing your church?
God has grown this church in two particularly visible ways:  in size we have gained almost five hundred members who were never a part of St. John’s Church, and our growth in commitment to the Lord has been visible in all the mission outreach that has happened here from day one (we sent at least one group per month on a mission trip in our first year alone).

What characteristics or qualities of the St. Peter’s congregation and its ministries strike you as particularly unique?
A few things stand out about the life of St. Peter’s:  1. An extraordinarily warm and friendly church where newcomers feel immediately welcomed 2. We are old-fashioned Anglicans who have remained true to traditional worship and traditional music, yet our seams are bursting with young families and singles.  3. We seek to do everything we do with excellence (in Worship, Sunday school, parish dinners, etc.).

In what ways has the Tallahassee community impacted your congregation, and in what ways has your congregation impacted the local community?
The move from St. John’s Episcopal to St. Peter’s Anglican was spread across the front pages of the local newspaper the day after we left.  Instantly we were embraced by orthodox brothers and sisters of other denominations (PCA Presbyterians, Baptists, orthodox Methodists, Catholics); senior clergy from several denominations came to our first service to show solidarity.  We are well known in the community- hated by some, embraced by others, but clearly understood.  I think because many of our members are very visible in the community (Two Chief Justices of the Florida Supreme Court, the President of Chamber of Commerce, numerous doctors, lawyers, judges, professors, the most recent Lieutenant Governor) it has made a huge impact for the larger community to witness this public profession of orthodox faith.

What are words of wisdom you can offer to other growing churches or churches in formation?
Do not fear!  God is in this movement, and that on which He places His hand will not fail!  We have not had one moment of regret!  It is, however, terribly important that you not look back (keep your hand on the plow); I encouraged our members from the first Sunday to stay away from the blog sites, and from conversation about the Episcopal Church.  We made our decision, we followed the lead of God, now we look forward with great joy to the future He intends.  I would also strongly encourage new churches NOT to throw the baby out with the bath water!  Yes, there are things about the Episcopal Church that we want to let go of, but many things that we helped shape and which are part of a much larger Anglican tradition that we would never want to lose.  Leaving the Episcopal Church does not mean leaving Godly Anglican traditions.  Sometimes I fear that we are trying so hard to be something else that we cease to be Anglican.  All these rich traditions that we have inherited (the centrality of the Eucharist, kneeling in corporate confession, corporate Creedal affirmations, collared clergy, youth deeply involved as acolytes, etc.) provide a sense of anchored stability, ancient mystery, that do so much to shape hearts and minds for Christ, and which we have found to be enormously appealing to young people looking for mystery, sacrificial living, ancient Truth.

How is the Lord working through St. Peter’s today and how can the Anglican Church in North America continue to pray for your church community?
God continues to use us as a witness to the Life and Hope that only comes from His Truth.  We are in the process of building a large, new church whose architecture will reflect our ancient and orthodox heritage, and which will be located on the busiest thoroughfare in Tallahassee (visible on our website www.saint-peters.net); we hope to have the money needed to build by the end of this year; please pray for that! 

Photo caption: St. Peter’s Anniversary Celebration, October 10, 2010.

Archbishop Duncan’s Ash Wednesday Message

22nd February, A.D.2012
Ash Wednesday

Rend your hearts and not your garments.  Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil.  [Joel 2:13]

So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled with God.  [I Cor.5:20]

TO ALL WHO SHARE IN THE LIFE OF THE ANGLICAN CHURCH IN NORTH AMERICA:
Beloved in the Lord,

We have come again to the awesome season of Lent.  The name of the season comes from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning spring.  Our English word lengthen comes from the same root, for this is the season when days lengthen in the Northern Hemisphere.  This is the season when we, too, are lengthened or stretched because we are invited to get our relationship with our God and our relationships with each other restored and renewed.  Getting things right is hard work, often painful work, but from the effort comes the immense fruitfulness of an Easter and Pentecost – a summertime, if you will – of our souls.  Lent is when I must prune my roses – and when I need to allow my Lord to prune me – so that a riot of color and beauty and fragrance can occur in a couple months’ time.

As I have said my prayers in recent days, I have had a very strong sense that it was time to write you again, both to invite you into the opportunity of Lenten discipline and devotion and to share with you the results of some of the corporate pruning our God has already been engaged in.

HOLY LENT

Self-examination and confession are foundational to the Christian life.  Whether it is the “sinner’s prayer” that invites the Lord Jesus in the very first time, or the penitential opening of daily morning and evening prayer, or the regular accountability of the sacrament of reconciliation, we cannot make progress without personal repentance and conversion.  Because we are sinners, the need to restore right relationship – with God, with our spouse, with our parents, our children, our friends, with our priest (or our people), with fellow-workers and fellow-worshippers, with neighbors, with the poor and needy – is as constant as our need to breathe and our need to give thanks.  “I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a Holy Lent.” 

Immersion in God’s Word and contemplation on the mighty acts of our Savior in his Incarnation, Passion and Death-on-the-Cross are also means by which our lives – both individually and corporately – are anchored in Christ.  There is no substitute for them, and there is no exercise more central to our discipleship than these twin enterprises. 

CORPORATE BLESSINGS

I wrote to the Church twice in December, once in preparation for Christmas and a few days later about the crisis in one of our founding jurisdictions, the Anglican Mission in the Americas.  Much hard work has been done with (and within) all three groups – the Province of Rwanda, P.E.A.R./North America, and the Anglican Mission – where relationships were fractured.  That work continues, but I can honestly say that there has been much progress.  As Archbishop, I, together with many other Anglican Church leaders and people, have poured much prayer and energy into healing of the wounds and the re-building of our future together.  Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop of Kenya and Chairman of the GAFCON/FCA Primates Council, has also poured himself into reconciliation and restoration of Communion order.  Many of us are now encouraged and hopeful. 

I continue to find young people drawn to the Anglican Way, and particularly on college campuses and in urban settings.  Many will have seen the Christian Broadcasting Network’s six-minute story entitled “Anglican Fever: Youth Flock to New Denomination.”  I think there is a direct tie between our “joyful acceptance of the confiscation of our property” [Heb.10:34] and young people seeing in us those willing to follow Jesus whatever the cost.  It seems to me that what so many of us found to be painful pruning in the loss of properties and possessions has produced abundant new fruit in a generation looking for something (someone) worth living for.  What is more, among the generation that is experiencing the “loss,” I see very little bitterness or anger, but an abundance of the fruit of the spirit [Gal.5:22-23] and amazing hopefulness about the future.

What is also worth commenting on in this season of legal losses is the David and Goliath story emerging from one of our smallest and poorest dioceses, Quincy: a “win” on summary judgment by those who characterized themselves as “hayseed lawyers, working on a shoestring.”  Whatever the general losses, it remains true that our God loves to show His power by lifting up the lowly.

HALF-WAY

The Executive Committee of the Province and the Archbishop’s Cabinet met together recently at St. Peter’s Church, Tallahassee.  (What a great company of Christian witness!)  On the minds of most were that we are now half-way through the first five-year term of an archbishop.  Once again there was extraordinary evidence of how far the Lord had brought us.  All the difficulties and challenges we have faced because of our stand for “the Faith once for all delivered to the saints,” have generated remarkable developments.

Anglican 1000 has changed us profoundly.  We passed our 200th plant just before the Tallahassee meeting.  We have a long way to go, but church planting increases exponentially.  The catalytic work, led from Christ Church Plano, that turned an archbishop’s call into church-wide reality is first and foremost something for which we are thanking God.  The subject has changed.  We are not looking in the rearview mirror any more.  We are all about reaching North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ through ever-increasing numbers of missionary congregations. 

The Anglican Relief and Development Fund (whose Board also met during our days at Tallahassee) has also reached a new stage of growth and maturity.  The notion of objective philanthropy and measurable change has so caught on that we changed our bylaws to allow for an ARDF-Australia, an ARDF-Canada, and an ARDF-US. 

10-10-10 stewardship has also grown significantly, as has extra-mile and founders fund giving.  More and more of our people are embracing the biblical tithe as their own personal basis for giving.  At the same time congregations are committing ten percent to their dioceses and an ever-increasing number of dioceses are making a ten percent gift to our Province.

Congregations (like individuals) that have not been Anglican are also considering whether Anglicanism might be for them.  Our three streams – evangelical, catholic and pentecostal – like our three accountabilities – to the Word, to the Tradition and to the transformation of society – are proving an attractive blend of faithful Christian expression.  By the time of our annual meetings in June we may well have some “covenanted associations” to consider, with groups of congregations not heretofore identified as Anglican, coming especially from African-American and Latino cultures. 

Our “first gathering of the whole Church since Bedford/Plano” (2009) will rally at Ridgecrest, North Carolina, June 7-9, 2012.  The themes for Assembly 2012 are “captivating disciples, multiplying churches, and transforming communities.”  The faithful will gather from all over the United States and Canada, and from all over the world.  Everyone is welcome.  The task force laboring on the Prayer Book will have more work to share.  There will be great worship, inspiration, learning, fellowship and recreation.  Anglicans of every age will come together. 

UP FROM EGYPT

I return to the Lenten theme.  “It is often easier to take the people out of Egypt than it is to take Egypt out of the people.”  We have come a very long way, but it would be easy to fall back.  There are lots of stresses.  It would be easy for us to regress from the new life which is our call.  And we are sinners.  The best way to keep the Enemy from breaking in and sowing division or discouragement is to embrace what Lent has to offer us.  Remember our partners around the world who are suffering so much – in Northern Nigeria and Syria, in Sudan and Ethiopia and Myanmar, and here at home too.  Give thanks for all that God has done for us, and don’t fall back.

Faithfully in Christ,

+Robert Pittsburgh

 

1 Book of Common Prayer (1979), p.265.

2 Opening Address, Bedford/Plano, 2009