Leaders of the Anglican Church in North America gathered at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin, as the Provincial Council met on June 18-19, 2013 and the College of Bishops on June 20-21. Our time together included worship, prayer, Bible study, fellowship and deliberations about our life and mission to reach North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ.
The historic conflicts out of which we began produced in us a commitment to pursue a change in heart and a change in how we go about applying Biblical standards in our common life. We are committed to a change in behavior from our previous experience, embracing transparency and charity as we practice Biblical fidelity. Happily, we are progressing in our pursuit of a Biblical, missionary, and united Anglicanism in North America, even as we face great challenges.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ redeems, transforms and offers the only real hope to the world. We have experienced the change and power it brings and are passionately committed to furthering that grace in North America and the world beyond.
* * * * *
Archbishop Duncan’s State of the Church Address
Archbishop Duncan, in his opening address to the Provincial Council, described “the immense favor God has granted us” in the Church’s first four years, reflected in unity despite significant differences. He said that his prayer for the Church is that “its founding vision – ‘a biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in North America’ – will always remain its vision and its commitment.”
Quoting Yogi Berra, Archbishop Duncan said, “The main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing.” The challenge facing the Church is to “put away lesser differences and band together to imagine and structure a future for a renewed and re-invigorated Anglicanism.”
He noted that the formation of the Province in 2009 marked a reversal of the historic pattern of disintegration of Anglicanism in North America. He quoted English church historian Colin Podmore, who said of our founding: “This coming together was unusual in all of Church history.”
Archbishop Duncan said that an organization’s first stage is typically characterized by agreement, but “then come the growing pains: the normal conflicts and legitimate disagreements over how to resolve important questions of organizational life.” He identified issues to be addressed by the Council and the College of Bishops, including: the progress of Anglican1000; “overlapping” dioceses; the minimum size of a diocese; how we relate to our global partners; financial support of the Province; and approving liturgies “with a right and generous spirit.”
He also cited reasons to celebrate, such as the new churches planted and the new converts who have come to faith in Jesus Christ; the progress on an Anglican Catechism and on classical Anglican liturgies; the Church’s public witness on the sanctity of life and religious freedom; growth of our military and institutional chaplains; partnerships in the Global South and Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GAFCON/GFCA) and ecumenical relationships; and the work of the Anglican Relief and Development Fund.
Archbishop Duncan noted with gratitude the presence of the Bishop of South Carolina and other representatives of that diocese, as well as observers from the Jubilee Pentecostal Fellowship of Churches and the Bishop of Recife, Brazil.
In conclusion, Archbishop Duncan encouraged the Council:
“The main thing is the kingdom of heaven, and by God’s grace it has come very near to us. We have received God’s favor, not because we deserved it, but because God gave it…‘Freely we have received. Freely give.’ The main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing.”
(The full text of the Archbishop’s address can be read here.)
The Vicar of Anglican1000, the Rev. Alan Hawkins brought an informative and encouraging report to the Provincial Council concerning the work God is doing through Anglican1000. Since Archbishop Duncan’s inspiring call at his investiture to plant 1000 churches in five years, God has done great things: the subject of the conversation has been changed to “church planting;” resources have been mobilized and deployed to train and support churches and planters; and over 300 new churches have been planted through the ministry of the Anglican Church in North America and its constituent dioceses and sub-jurisdictions. Praise God!
The focus of Anglican1000 for the next year will be a series of regional training summits in key locations around North America: Chicago, Seattle, Boston, Atlanta, Toronto, Phoenix and Houston. Skilled trainers have dedicated seven weeks of their lives over this period to gather with leaders and planters in each of these cities and teach the basics of church planting.
Will 700 more churches be planted? If every church takes up the “1-2-3 Challenge,” the answer will be “yes!” (Visit the Anglican1000 website for details.) Yet while we believe the goal of 1000 new churches is important, even more important is birthing and nurturing mission and church planting as a way of life in our Province. The Lord Jesus came “to seek and save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). His heart is to see many sons and daughters brought to glory. A thriving church is a church that is multiplying the Gospel in word and deed, by strategic and loving engagement with its community and by participating in the single most significant method of making new disciples of Jesus in our generation: planting new churches.
We are grateful for the God-inspired vision of Archbishop Duncan, carried on initially by Canon David Roseberry, and now brought to fruition by Vicar Alan Hawkins and his team. Pray, proclaim, plant!
An Anglican Catechism
The Catechism Task Force, which has been developing a comprehensive Catechism over the past two years, presented a report to the College. To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism is now is in final refinement for a working document to be published by the end of the year.
Prayer Book and Common Liturgy
A very helpful report was received from the Prayer Book and Common Liturgy Task Force. The Ordinal, version 4.0 was slightly revised by the College and given final approval. Initial approval was given for use in the Church of two rites for the celebration of Holy Communion – one that is normative for a Sunday morning service and a shorter one which may be used at other times. We worshiped using the proposed rites for the Eucharist and for Daily Morning and Evening Prayer, which were also approved for use in the Church. We heard reports on other liturgies currently being developed for baptism and confirmation, and noted that all the liturgies seek to retain the richness of the theology of the historic Books of Common Prayer, expressed in a more contemporary language.
Finances and Stewardship
For the fourth year since our founding, the Province is finishing the fiscal year in the black. There is a challenge, as well, as not a large enough percentage of our Provincial income comes from diocesan giving. At this stage of our corporate life, what the dioceses give has to be supplemented by other individual gifts in order to fully fund the Province’s lean budget. While we have adopted the tithe (10%) as the standard of giving for individuals, congregations and dioceses, tithing is not yet fully practiced. Noting that we have taken many other steps which have required faith and sacrifice, there was a renewed commitment to teach about Biblical stewardship and for dioceses to fulfill the full 10% giving to the Province.
Religious Freedom and Islam
In his sermon at his investiture in 2009, Archbishop Duncan said, “We’ve got to be about the business of engaging Islam…because there is only one way to the Father, it’s the only way. It’s a matter of life and death.” Accordingly, the Anglican Church in North America is a leading voice in matters of religious freedom and understanding the challenges of a resurgent Islam.
Given that our Church is committed to promoting and respecting the sanctity of every human life from conception to natural death – a commitment expressed explicitly in our Canons – nearly half our College of Bishops marched in the fortieth anniversary March for Life in January 2013, in Washington, D.C.
The Province is committed to educating our dioceses and congregations about the challenges and growth of Islam and to provide ways for the love of God and the Gospel message of Jesus Christ to be demonstrated to all faith groups.
Recognizing that the suffering and persecution of Christians by other faith groups (especially Islam) is an increasing trend, the Anglican Church in North America stands alongside Christians everywhere, especially those in the Global South, whose lives and livelihoods are being devastated through the suffering and persecution. We call upon the faithful across North America to pray fervently for an end to religious violence.
2012 Congregational Report
More than two-thirds of Anglican Church in North America congregations reported statistics for the 2012 Congregational Report (formerly known as the Parochial Report). While this is an increase over the number of responses received in 2011, we must continue to do better, striving for full reporting from every member congregation in future years. Doing so will enable us to know better who we are and what we are doing as a Church.
The numbers reported were positive, indicating that we remain true to our mission of “reaching North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ.” For 2012, our congregations reported that 2,382 individuals were baptized and 1,758 were confirmed. For every two children baptized, one adult was baptized. Additionally, the number of adult confirmations in 2012 increased threefold compared to previous years. Finally, more than 1,900 conversions for Christ were reported for 2012.
Matters of Jurisdiction
The Anglican Church in North America is an Anglican Province of dioceses and jurisdictions with both geographic proximity and affinity relationships, which participate equally and fully in the life of the Province.
Both geographical dioceses and affinity jurisdictions are being used by Almighty God to further the mission of the Province to reach North America with the Gospel.
It has become clear at this stage of the life of the Province that the multiplicity of overlapping jurisdictions throughout North America and Canada presents a relational challenge for the bishops, dioceses and congregations of our Church.
While affinity-based jurisdictions and overlapping dioceses are not unknown in other Provinces of the Anglican Communion, the Provincial Council expressed a determination to move towards geographical structures as normative and affinity structures as the exception. The Provincial Council also affirmed that unity in the Province will be strengthened as bishops, clergy and churches from overlapping jurisdictions join together in fellowship, spiritual growth, and mission. To that end, both the Provincial Council and the College of Bishops are committed to discerning practical methods for collaborative mission and ministry in several specific geographic regions.
New Dioceses and New Bishops
Noting the growth and commitment to church planting of a number of groups applying to be admitted as dioceses, the Provincial Council approved the following as new dioceses: the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others, the Diocese of the Southwest, the Diocese of the Upper Midwest, the Missionary Diocese of All Saints’, the Missionary Diocese of CANA East, the Missionary Diocese of CANA West, and the Missionary Diocese of the Trinity.
The College elected the Rev. Stewart Ruch, III, rector of Church of the Resurrection, Wheaton, IL, as bishop of the new Diocese of the Upper Midwest and the Rev. Peter Manto, rector of Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church, Mason, OH, as Suffragan Bishop of the REC Diocese of the Central States. The Rev. The Rev. David Bryan, rector of Christ Church, Murrells Inlet, SC, was confirmed as a nominee for Bishop in PEARUSA to serve the Southeast Regional Network. In addition, Bishop John Miller, now serving as rector of Christ Church, Vero Beach, FL in the Gulf Atlantic Diocese, was restored to full fellowship in the College.
Theological Task Force on Holy Orders
The Theological Task Force on Holy Orders is currently working on Phase 2 of its study, in which it aims to articulate the principles of biblical interpretation that will be used to guide its work. These principles, set forth in a draft preliminary report presented to the College of Bishops, were drawn from the foundational documents of the Anglican Church in North America: the Constitution and Canons, the GAFCON Jerusalem Declaration, The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The bishops gave approval to the preliminary work, and the Task Force will now produce a document that will form its report to the College of Bishops for this phase of the study. The Task Force aims to have Phase 2 completed for the January 2014 meeting of the College of Bishops. When the final form is approved by the bishops, it will be released to the rest of the Church.
We are deeply encouraged by the partnership we experience with the Global South and the GAFCON/GFCA Provinces. We rejoice in the fellowship and mission cooperation of these relationships and look forward to sending a strong delegation of more than 130 representatives from all of our dioceses in the United States and Canada to the GAFCON 2 meeting in Nairobi. This October gathering promises to lay out concrete ways to cooperate in the pursuit of Gospel mission as Global Anglicans.
Anglican Relief and Development Fund
The Anglican Relief and Development Fund (ARDF) is the official relief and development agency of our Province. Since its founding in 2005, members of the Anglican Church in North America have provided over $5.5 million in funding for 124 development projects in 34 countries. In so doing, we have dramatically strengthened our partnerships in the Global South. In addition to development work, we are engaged in relief efforts around the world and in North America. To best respond to those in need, the College of Bishops recently adopted a new emergency response protocol. The Provincial Office responded with ARDF to the recent deadly tornadoes in Moore, OK, successfully putting this protocol to work. We issued a call to prayer, bulletin inserts from ARDF, and direct e-mail and social media appeals. The response has been overwhelming: ARDF received over $72,000 for relief work in Oklahoma City. These funds are being transferred to the International Diocese and its congregation, St. James Anglican, which is working with partners in the Oklahoma City area to support the victims of the disaster.
* * * * *
We remember in prayer our brothers and sisters who live under circumstances of persecution or as victims of natural disasters, especially tornado victims in Oklahoma and wildfire victims in Colorado. We have been greatly blessed by the good news of the Gospel and we seek to share that hope in word and deed with all who suffer. Knowing the great love which God has lavished upon us, we are eager to continue reaching out to others in mission.
Freely we have received, freely we give.