House of Hope: Recovery, Ministry, and the Shepherd’s Heart

Twenty-five years ago, while he was a student at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, the Rev. Michael Wurschmidt, “Pastor Mike,” and his wife, Tina, founded Shepherd’s Heart Anglican Church in Pittsburgh.  Their mission is to “share the heart of Jesus our Shepherd on the streets of Pittsburgh and to the ends of the earth.”  Pastor Mike is also a federal chaplain with Veteran Affairs. 

In addition to traditional worship services on Sunday evenings, Shepherd’s Heart parish includes “Shepherd’s Place,” a drop-in center for homeless men and women; a food pantry; a shuttle bus to transport homeless individuals to medical and other important appointments; a resource center filled with clothing, shoes, boots and more; and Shepherd’s Heart Veteran’s Home (“the House of Hope”), a transitional housing program for formerly homeless veterans. 

In August 2018, a decorated Air Force veteran and a former drug addict named Bill moved into the House of Hope.  Through the ministry, Bill has now – at 43 years old - committed his life and work to Jesus Christ.  He will never be the same and praises God for healing and transformation!  God is leading him to help other homeless veterans in the future.  He is now healthy - physically, emotionally, and spiritually – and will soon move into his own apartment. 

Pastor Mike interviewed Bill for this story. 

Pastor Mike: Tell me about your childhood.
Bill:   I grew up in Toronto, Ohio, a small town near Steubenville.  I was a good student and loved history immensely.  I am a huge World War II buff and I also like to read about the Civil War.  My parents took me to many battlefields (Gettysburg, Bull Run, Richmond) while traveling around with our family bluegrass band called “The Ohio River Band.”  In school, I was in the band, choir, glee club, show choir, jazz band, and musicals.  I had a wonderful childhood and a loving family. 

At what age did you go to the Air Force?  What was your specialty?  What year were you discharged? 
I went to the Air Force in 1994 at the age of 18.  In basic training, I chose Space Systems Operations.  I received my technical training at Vandenburg Air Force Base in California as well as Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  I was a Satellite Data Systems Supervisor stationed at Buckley Air Force Base and was responsible for the detection of missiles and other threats to the United States and our allies.  I really enjoyed what I did.  I was a crew instructor as well as the crew evaluator, certifying new crew members for mission ready status.  I also won Guardian Challenge 1996 [an annual Air Force competition for the space warfighter wings].  I was discharged in 1998 and returned to Toronto, Ohio to live. 

What did you do after the Air Force? 
I worked as a Union Insulator (Local Union 2) out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  I worked in steel mills and power plants insulating boiler walls and steam pipes.

What year did you turn to drugs?  Was there a particular event or situation that contributed to your turning to this temptation? 
I started dabbling with drugs around 2003.  I was married in 1994 and my wife and I were having frequent arguments.  I was playing guitar in bars and hanging with a whole new group of friends. 

What was your lowest point? 
In 2008, a former girlfriend committed suicide.  We had a son who was five.  He was present with her when she died.  I had many regrets and much anger at that time.  I blamed myself because I was doing drugs and was not more supportive of them both.  I also used that event as a reason to relapse and to go deeper into drugs.  I was financially broken, defeated, and spiritually broken. 

How has your life changed since you came to SH? 
Shepherd’s Heart changed me immediately.  The staff and volunteers here made me feel that I could have a future again and a fresh start was possible.  In turn, I started believing in myself again. Before I knew it, I was being productive and asked to perform small tasks at Shepherd’s Heart.  I marveled because just a few short months before, I was in active addiction.  With counseling, I was enabled and empowered to give attention to many areas in my life that needed change. 

How have you come closer to God? 
The most important fact is that God has transformed me.  I now have a desire to be closer to Him.  I don’t need the drugs.  I’m in the praise and worship band at Shepherd’s Heart.  I volunteer for everything I can, I try to help all my fellow veterans, and I share the Word of God with them as well.  I am also writing gospel music and plan to make a CD in His praise in the future, 

Where is God leading you next?   
I feel the Lord is leading me to work with homeless veterans.  I would like to get a degree in social work focusing on those with substance abuse/addiction.  I also want to work with homeless men and women.  I am thankful to God for Shepherd’s Heart.  The love here is truly the best blessing I could ever have received. 

What are your plans, hopes, and goals for the future? 
I want to praise God forever. I plan to keep giving back, praising and worshipping God through my music, and being a positive role model for others who are homeless. 

The Book of Common Prayer 2019 Now Available for Pre-Order

Both Pew and Deluxe editions are available. Pew editions price at $16.95 each but drop to $14.95 each when purchasing 16 or more copies. Deluxe editions are $29.95 each.

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Three Dioceses Clarify Their Provincial Affiliations

According to the Houston agreement, jointly signed by Archbishop Okoh of the Church of Nigeria and Archbishop Beach of the Anglican Church in North America, each diocese will reside canonically in either the Anglican Church in North America or the Church of Nigeria, as it chooses, and can apply for ministry partner status in the other province. 

At its synod this past week, the Diocese of CANA East took action to remain solely a diocese of the Anglican Church in North America and to change its name to The Anglican Diocese of the Living Word.  The Diocese has also applied for ministry partner status with the Church of Nigeria. In his address to his diocesan synod, Bishop Dobbs explained the significance of the new name:

The living word of God is the supreme authority in Anglicanism. Article VI of the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, ‘Of the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation,’ puts it this way: ‘Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.’ In Anglicanism, the living Word of God alone contains all things necessary for salvation.

This was the view of Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, who was martyred for his faith in 1556. He said, ‘Let us night and day muse, meditate and contemplate the Scriptures. Let us ruminate, and (as it were) chew the cud, that we may have the sweet juice, spiritual effect, honey, kernel, taste, comfort, and consolation of them.’

The Anglican Diocese of the Living Word beautifully captures the essence of the fundamental beliefs of our diocese.

The Diocese of CANA West and the Diocese of the Trinity have chosen to be solely dioceses of the Church of Nigeria. Article II.3 of the Constitution of the Anglican Church in North America states that “Member dioceses (or groups of dioceses organized into distinct jurisdictions) are free to withdraw from the Province by action of their own governing bodies at any time.”

On Tuesday, May 22, 2019, the Executive Committee of the Anglican Church in North America received notice from the Diocese of CANA West and from the Diocese of the Trinity to withdraw from the Anglican Church in North America. 

The Houston protocol states that:

Each CANA diocese shall make all necessary constitutional and canonical amendments to effectuate such membership in one Province. Similarly, if any CANA diocese wishes to apply to the CoN or the ACNA to be a Ministry Partner, it should make such application.

Commenting on the joint protocol, Bishop Fagbamiye of the Diocese of the Trinity said, “The new Protocol is sincerely long awaited, and it is an answer to our prayers, particularly the Nigeria American immigrants and other immigrants in the Anglican Diocese of the Trinity which from inception is in CANA.” The Diocese of CANA West and the Diocese of the Trinity may now apply for ministry partner status in the Anglican Church in North America by following Title I Canon 7 Section 1 which reads:

Ministry Partners, Affiliated Ministries and Religious Orders work together with the Anglican Church in North America to extend the Kingdom of God. Those desiring admittance in one of these categories shall apply in writing to the Council to become associated with the Church. Applicants must subscribe without reservation to the Fundamental Declarations of the Church stated in Article I of the Constitution. The Council may admit an applicant upon terms deemed appropriate. Ministry Partners, Affiliated Ministries and Religious Orders may have representatives attend functions or gatherings of the Church upon invitation of the Archbishop. Ministry Partners, Affiliated Ministries and Religious Orders may withdraw or have their status ended with or without cause. 

Archbishop Beach commented on the decisions taken by the dioceses:

In the spiritual realm and in the Church, it is important to have clear lines of authority.  The agreement that I signed with Archbishop Okoh has allowed each of the CANA dioceses to bring clarity since they were technically connected with two provinces, two archbishops, and two houses of bishops. For those choosing to remain under the Church of Nigeria, we bless them in the name of Jesus and pray that their ministry here in North America will lead many people to come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. As Jesus said: ‘the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.’