An Easter Message from Archbishop Duncan

Easter, A.D. 2013

Beloved in the Lord,

The Psalmist declares:

The Lord is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation. 
[Psalm 118:14]

As I write this letter to you it is Wednesday in Holy Week.  I am travelling to Juba in South Sudan to spend the Great Three Days (The Sacred Triduum) with Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, his clergy and his people.  I am to be away from all the things that are familiar, except that the Church is one throughout the world, and the old, old story does not change (yet changes everything).

Flying today I could see the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays (Kent Island, Cape Henelopen, Cape May), places associated with boyhood and early ministry.  Hours later there were Cape Trafalgar and Gibraltar and the North Coast of Africa, places I had never been but about which my historical studies and interests caused me to reflect over lots of years and lots of learning. 

Easters have been spent mostly with the Church communities I have known well and with those who are family (blood, marriage and church) whether in New Jersey or Connecticut or New York or North Carolina or Delaware or Western Pennsylvania.  One Easter, Nara and I spent at Canterbury, which was to be surrounded by things we knew (the cloud of witnesses, the music, the architecture) and those we did not know (the worshippers we were present with.)  I know that this Easter in South Sudan will be all at once different and the same. 

The seventeenth century poet and pastor George Herbert left us with two poems he entitled “Easter.”  The second of the poems ends:

 

Can there be any day but this,
Though many suns to shine endeavor?
We count three hundred, but we miss:
There is but one, and the one ever.

This Easter I am looking back.  Like Lady Julian of Norwich in the 14th century, I am asking, “What does it all mean?”  Whether in Juba or in Pittsburgh – and wherever you find yourself – what I testify is that the Gospel is my strength and my song, and that Jesus has become my salvation.  Easter is the day that lights and gives meaning to all the others, wherever I – we – spend it and with whomever I – we – spend it.  The tomb is empty.  The world, the flesh and the devil are defeated.  Jesus is alive.  In Him, the alien becomes familiar, loss becomes gain, sorrow becomes joy, and death becomes life.  This Easter I am also looking around and looking ahead. 

May the Father’s love, the Son’s victory and the Holy Sprit’s power overwhelm you, penetrate you and those surrounding you, as they continue to do in me, with the Easter perspective that changes and transforms everything. 

Faithfully in Christ,

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Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America

Anglican 1000 Summit 2013: Responding to the Challenge

At the Opening Eucharist on Monday, March 4, with over 700 church planters, clergy and lay leaders, staff and volunteers in attendance, Archbishop Robert Duncan offered the homily.  Recalling his call to plant 1,000 churches during his inaugural address in 2009 Duncan said, “1,000 churches in five years.  The number was God’s.  To put that in front of people one has to be deemed crazy!”

image“The Lord said I’ll give the power,” continued the Archbishop. “Indeed that’s what the movement has been about since the first day.”  The theme of Summit 2013, “The Church: The Pillar and Foundation of the Truth” was repeatedly expressed by the speakers and breakout session leaders.

During Morning Prayer, Dr. Wesley Hill referenced I Timothy 3 which refers to the church as “the pillar and buttress of the truth” (ESV).  Dr. Hill observed the irony in the relationship of the Church and Christ.

“Strangely, we are called to be a pillar for the very thing which is our pillar and buttress. It isn’t we who support Christ.  It is Christ who supports us.”

Plenary speaker Alan Hirsch honed in on the example that Christ gave to church planters and leaders, emphasizing the fact that we were designed with everything that we need to unleash the potential of Christ’s Church.  Furthermore, the Church that Christ designed is missional and intended for world transformation.

In order to be a transformational and missional church, though, The Rev. Dr. Joel Scandrett discussed the importance of catechesis in the formation of individuals who have developed godly habits though the mastering of essential elements of the Christian faith.

“One of our key tasks as a missional church is the recovery or a culture of Catechesis,” Scandrett said, “If the church’s mission is God’s mission, and formation is essential to mission, and Catechesis is the means of formation, then we must catechize.”

Following the plenary sessions on Monday morning, more than 30 breakout sessions and special initiative workshops were offered on subjects ranging from the practical nuts and bolts of church planting to leveraging social media in ministry. 

imageOn Wednesday morning, the Anglican 1000 team comprised of the Revs. Alan Hawkins, Dan Alger, and Jeff Weber laid out the 1,2,3 Challenge.  In essence, Anglican 1000 calls every church in the Anglican Church in North America to plant “1” church, in the next “2” years, using one of “3” planting strategies: Jurisdictional, Congregational, and Pioneering.  You can learn more about the 1,2,3 Challenge by visiting http://anglican1000.org/123-challenge

“In calling for 1000 churches, Archbishop Duncan gave the ACNA the gift of a systemic change in how we ‘do business’” said Hawkins. “Anglican 1000 is not about 1000 churches…it’s about the first 1000!”

The Anglican 1000 team reaffirmed their commitment to advance the work of church planting.  They are experienced church planters coming alongside other planters to provide resources and tools to encourage, equip, and catalyze our leaders as they go out to do the Lord’s work.

In order to practically encourage, equip, and catalyze the work of church planting, we need to take the wisdom and leadership resources of the Province and get them as local as possible.  Locations for upcoming regional events include Chicago, Atlanta, New England, Seattle, Ottawa Canada, Phoenix, and Boston.  Visit the Anglican 1000 website for details.

During his charge to the attendees at the Opening Eucharist, Alan Hawkins quoted an anonymous 1976 graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in nearby Deerfield, IL who prophetically wrote the following:

“If you want to see something last for a season, plant flowers.
If you want to see something last for a lifetime, plant trees.
If you want to see something last throughout eternity, plant churches.”

Summit 2013 concluded with a Commissioning Service where leaders of the ACNA prayed for and sent out those responding to those sensing a call to plant a church under the 1,2,3 Challenge.