Originally published in the May 2012 ed. of The Apostle.
BY: Canon Jack Lumanog
“After this 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…”
(Revelation 7:9 ESV)
The reality of the Kingdom of God is that we will see all nations, tribes, peoples and languages before the Lord in worship. But why wait until eternity? What if we could see this expressed in our Church right now? This vision of Revelation 7:9 has been burning in my heart for quite some time now. And we are beginning to see this vision become a reality in the Anglican Church in North America.
Earlier this year, two bishops from a group of African American churches came to Pittsburgh to meet with Archbishop Robert Duncan. This group of Pentecostal churches, called Jubilee, were represented by Bishops Gregory Bowers and Levi Green. Jubilee is in fellowship with Greenhouse – a regional church planting movement led by Canon William Beasley, who was also at this initial meeting. Jubilee has been incorporating liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer and weekly Communion as part of their worship services.
This has led the Jubilee churches on a journey to embrace the historic Christian Church in all her fullness while still maintaining the exuberant praise and worship of their Pentecostal tradition. They are at the beginning of exploring a working relationship with the Anglican Church in North America.
Shortly after this meeting, Archbishop Duncan reflected in his Ash Wednesday pastoral letter, “Congregations 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.”
Recently, I began communicating with a student at Fuller Seminary on the track for ordination. He has a new kind of church plant stirring in his heart. The Rev. Jamal Scarlett along with The Rev. Cameron Lemons are working together to plant The Grove Church of Lake Elsinore (CA). “Cameron and I started meeting together two years ago as we believed God was stirring our hearts toward multicultural ministry. I am Afro/Latino-American (Black Hispanic) and he is an Irish-American,” shared Rev. Scarlett.
When they met, they were both Southern Baptists. Cameron was a Youth Pastor at a local church and Jamal was a Worship Leader and Youth Pastor at another church. Over many coffee hours, they began a conversation about what it might look like to be a church that is multicultural. That is, a church that is not just multicolored, but sees diversity of culture as a ministry asset versus a liability. The desire was to be a church that reflected Revelation 7:9 where people of every nation, tongue and tribe worshiped and glorified the Lord together. Ultimately, this led to the call of planting The Grove Church with a missional imperative set on acts of kindness (feeding the hungry, caring for the lonely and the outcast) as well as seeking the restoration of all things, including reconciliation.
As these two pastors were praying for a vision for their church plant, they were led on a journey to Anglicanism. Jamal recalled, “In the middle of all this, I happened upon the Anglican 1000 website and knew this is where we were meant to be. After about six months of planning, a leadership committee was formed that met together for a year. After that year (and a few test services), we believed that God was calling us into the city of Lake Elsinore to be a multicultural church that sought the good of the city by exalting the risen Lord. As of March 30th, our leadership team has voted to ‘go Anglican!’ We are now formally under the Diocese of Western Anglicans with Bishop Bill Thompson.”
He continued saying, “We desire to be a church that fosters a deep spirituality and reverence for God, a church that is thoroughly evangelical in proclaiming the risen Christ in its pulpit, and charismatic in that we long to see God at work around us as he had been in the New Testament.”
The Grove has come a long way in a very short amount of time. “God has recently blessed us with a worship space to gather on Sunday evenings. Our first service was February 21, 2012 and we were blessed to have five baptisms the first service of new believers that we have been sharing the Gospel and community with. We have also seen the notion of ‘ancient-future’ worship become a reality in our midst. The beauty of the liturgy blended with contemporary forms of worship has cultivated a deep spirituality that has provided a ‘middle-way’ for our Catholics and Evangelicals as we’ve journeyed together on this Canterbury trail,” said Jamal.
Both Jamal and Cameron are working together with a committed core team to minister in their community in order to reach the searching, seeking and the hurting. Jamal serves as the Minister of Music and Cameron serves as the Lead Pastor. The Grove Church already has a feeding ministry twice a week, a weekly Bible study, discipleship groups for young men and young women and a counseling care ministry for women. They also invite college students and young adults into their community through “A Night of Art.” The Grove gathers at a local venue and shares the various artistic expressions from their community – poets, short story writers, artists, and songwriters.
I am so hopeful when I see what God is doing in the Anglican Church in North America. Already we are seeing God work in Hispanic ministry through Caminemos Juntos (led by Rev. Gabe Garcia and Rev. Jonathan Kindberg) and in Asian and Multicultural Ministries in Canada (AMMiC) led by Bishop Stephen Leung. May the Lord continue to raise up even more communities of faith so that we can reflect the Kingdom reality of Revelation 7:9 in the life of our Anglican Church!
PHOTO 1 CAPTION: (from left to right) Canon William Beasley, Bishop Levi Green, Archbishop Robert Duncan, Bishop Gregory Bowers and Canon Jack Lumanog meet together in Pittsburgh
PHOTO 2 CAPTION: Members of The Grove Church of Lake Elsinore