College of Bishops Communiqué

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” (Isaiah 60:1-3. Reading for the Feast of the Epiphany)

Introduction

We began our meeting on Monday, January 6th by celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany, and concluded our meeting on Friday, January the 10th. We began each day in worship of Almighty God with preaching from the Scriptures and the celebration of Holy Communion. Our business and fellowship throughout the day was punctuated with Midday Prayer and Evening Prayer. It was a great joy to use the Book of Common Prayer 2019 for each of our divine worship services.

On Thursday, we were blessed by the generous hospitality of Prince of Peace Anglican Church in Melbourne, Florida. Their clergy, staff, and volunteers hosted us for lunch, and, meeting in their consecrated space, we consented to the election of Bishop R. Charles Gillin as bishop ordinary of the Diocese of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic (REC). More about the election can be read here.

Clergy Care, Health, and Wellness

As bishops, we have an ongoing commitment to care for our clergy and their families and to equip our clergy to care for their people in the midst of the world. We gave thanks for Archbishop Beach’s Epiphany letter to the clergy of our province which provided practical, biblical advice for developing and maintaining a healthy and balanced life. We commend the letter in its entirety to all of our clergy, as well as those lay leaders, such as vestry members, who share a responsibility for the health of their parish culture.

Recognizing the importance of the physical health of our clergy and their families, we spent time discussing our concerns about the rising cost of health care.

Also this week, Jay Haug, representing the ministry Living without Lust, was invited to make a presentation to the bishops. In a measured but straightforward way, he reminded us of the staggering statistics of pornography involvement in all sectors of our society, including the church. The internet has radically increased access to pornography and dramatically lowered the age at which it is first experienced. Having drawn our attention to the huge challenge, which we must not ignore, Haug shared strategies and resources to go beyond the outward behavior to the heart of the problem, which is the root of desire. The good news is that there are effective support groups available and principles for recovery for the many who are caught in addiction and there is assistance for all to help avoid any involvement in pornography.

Prayerbook & Catechism

We gave approval to a traditional language version of the Book of Common Prayer 2019. Parts of the traditional language version will be available electronically in the near future and the book will be in print by the summer of this year. We also received a report from the Prayer Book Task Force. They are producing an Altar Book for the Book of Common Prayer 2019, the book Occasional Services, and a lesser feasts and fasts book to be called Sanctifying Time. The College commends the work of the members of the Task Force and thanks God for the contributions they have made to the wider Church.

The College also learned of the appointment of an expanded Music Task Force, now under the chairmanship of Mr. Mark Williams of Christ Church Anglican, Savannah, GA, and its new website, www.acnamusicresources.com.

We received with great joy the final version of the Catechism, To Be a Christian. We were thankful to be joined by leaders of Crossway Books, Mr. Anthony Gosling, COO of Crossway, and Mr. Dane Ortlund, Chief Publishing Officer, who presented us with copies of the final edition of the catechism straight from the press. We expressed our appreciation for Crossway and the partnership we have developed over the years. The Catechism will be in stock later this month, and is now available for order.

Issues of Race

Following a video presentation by the Rev. Dr. Esau McCaulley, Director of the Anglican Church in North America’s Next Generation Initiative, and the Rt. Rev. Alphonza Gadsden, Bishop of the Diocese of the Southeast (REC), the College spent time in discussion and prayer about issues of race, racism, and recent mass shootings. Particular attention was given to the great need for multi-ethnic outreach and church planting, ensuring that all peoples are reached for Christ and to addressing the public witness of the Province and our dioceses on matters of justice.

Via Apostolica

Last year, on January 10, 2019, Bishop Todd Atkinson was accepted into the College, while the jurisdictional status of his churches in Canada, called “Via Apostolica,” was still to be determined.

At this meeting of the College of Bishops, exactly one year later, the following proposal, moved by Bishop Charlie Masters, Bishop of the Anglican Network in Canada, was presented and accepted:

This College of Bishops recommends to the Provincial Executive Committee and Provincial Council the establishment of Via Apostolica as a Provincial Missionary District under Canon 12 and recommends Bishop Todd Atkinson be designated a ‘Bishop for Special Mission” to lead this ministry.

This will next be presented to the Executive Committee in February of this year and the Provincial Council in June.

Global Relationships

The Anglican Church in North America continues to maintain and develop strong, strategic, and growing relationships with Anglican provinces around the world. Through the international ministry of Archbishop Beach and as a result of his ministry as Chairman of the Gafcon Primates’ Council, the global missional relationships and outreach of the Province have been strengthened through new and existing partnerships. The Gafcon Primates’ Council represents the majority of the world’s active Anglicans.

The bishops of the Anglican Church in North America welcome the invitation to attend and participate in the Kigali 2020 Bishops’ Conference in June which will provide an opportunity for the bishops of Gafcon to stand together, uphold the faith once for all entrusted to the saints, and strengthen gospel and ministry ties that bind us together in Christ.

The College also received a report from Canon Phil Ashey and Bishop Bill Atwood (Dean of International Affairs) on the Global South Anglican Covenant adopted by the 7th Global South Assembly in Cairo on October 11, 2019. This Global South “Cairo Covenant” addresses the “ecclesial deficit” or lack of discipline for false teaching in the Anglican Communion. Gafcon continues to address the “gospel deficit” of false teaching by proclaiming Christ faithfully to the nations, and authenticating Biblically faithful Anglicans.  The College recognized the different charisms that Gafcon and the Global South have expressed in upholding the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3) and rejoice in the renewed opportunity presented by the Cairo Covenant for both Gafcon and the Global South to work together for the sake of Gospel mission and the recovery of genuine Communion among Anglicans. The College received the invitation to review the Cairo Covenant in preparation for ratification by the Provincial Council in June 2021.

Ecumenical Relationships

We celebrate the work of our Ecumenical Task Force and thank God for our ecumenical partners. We have endorsed concordats with the Episcopal Missionary Church and with the Independent Catholic Philippine Church (also known as the Iglesia Catolica Filipina Independiente). These concordats will be presented for approval to the Provincial Council in June.

We continue dialogue with numerous church bodies with the goal of healing the Church and working towards Christian unity. Two guests from the New Day Kingdom Assembly Church were observers at the College as their church explores the “Anglican Way.” Archbishop Thomas E. Wallace and Rev. Theron Davis Ham made the trip from Houston to be with us, and we enjoyed their fellowship throughout the week.

Finally, we want to encourage members of the Anglican Church in North America to attend our joint conference with the North American Lutheran Church entitled “DiscipleLife 2020” to be held in Orlando, FL on February 13-15.

Holy Orders

Over the last three years, the Bishops’ Working Group on Holy Orders has continued to serve by proposing creative and innovative ways to continue the discipline of conversation, seeking to understand the varied differences in our perception of the nature of holy orders. During this time, we have discovered again and again that there are layers upon layers of differences in ecclesiology, hermeneutics, theology, and tradition. These layers result in deep differences in our perspectives on the nature of holy orders in general and the role of women in orders in particular. We recognize that there is great pain over these differences both within our working group and throughout the Province. During the week, we spent time in small group discussions on this topic, both formal and informal. The working group continues to encourage the College to lead in both lament and prayer as we seek a way forward.

Chaplaincy Ministries

We heard a report from Bishop Michael Williams on behalf of the Special Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy about the continued strong growth of the Province’s chaplains. There are now 23 hospital and hospice chaplains, 17 community chaplains, 3 prison chaplains, 17 Commissioned Lay Chaplains, and 81 military chaplains, with an additional 24 actively engaged in the application, ordination, and endorsement processes. We gave thanks for this fruitful ministry and prayed for our chaplains, particularly for those serving in areas of conflict.

Sexuality

We had an engaging and unified conversation around the opportunity for pastoral care to those within our churches who are same-sex attracted. We identified the ways in which the church has not always seen and heard the reality of men and women living with strong same-sex attraction, and we discussed the importance of developing greater clarity around this pastoral ministry and providing more theological leadership for our province. Our discussion included the greater debate within the larger evangelical church around the kind of language that should be employed to describe a faithful follower of Jesus who seeks to live under the authority of Scripture while experiencing the reality of unwanted same-sex attraction. The Archbishop assigned a task force, chaired by Bishop Stewart Ruch III, to develop a theological and pastoral statement for consideration at our next meeting that addresses the use of this language as well as an articulation of our heart as bishops for many who have various kinds of sexual brokenness.

Conclusion


We thank all those across the Province who prayed for us last week. As the Lord moves us from strength to strength, we give thanks for the blessing of fellowship provided by the collegial atmosphere and the common commitment we have to reaching North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ.

Trinity on the Border

Immigration – one of the most politicized words in the United States, and possibly all of North America, today.

Perhaps that is why all throughout the political spectrum people have varying reactions to “ministry to immigrants” and often those reactions are strong and emotional. Maybe you’re even experiencing an emotional reaction to this article already. Stick with me.

Likely, there are places on this issue in which we can all agree: There is a crisis on the border (even if we disagree on what it is and how to handle it) and immigrants are human beings who are loved by God. If we all start here, we can appreciate the ministry of Trinity on the Border, deep in the south of Texas.

Harlingen, Texas is 15 miles give or take from the Mexico border. As recently as this summer, hundreds of immigrants from all over the world were pouring into the United States here each day. A nice city of approximately 65,000 residents lined with palm trees and modern development, Harlingen is neither run down nor filled with desert and tumble weeds like some outsiders might expect from a Texas border city. But it does face the border crisis daily.

This is why the Rev. Michael Jarrett and his wife, Dr. Erica Jarrett, moved to the city in 2015. While serving in other parts of Texas the previous year, the Jarretts had a growing concern for the number of immigrants coming into the United States and the lack of an Anglican presence there to meet them in their need. So, when the Jarretts asked the Lord to send Anglicans to the South Texas border, He – in His good humor – sent them.

“It was clear that this was a significant issue that we felt that the Church, the Anglican Church in North America, needed to have a response to. Over time, we realized we are the Anglican Church in North America and if the Province is going to have a response, maybe it’s us,” Fr. Michael said.

After a web search, the Jarretts found and connected with La Posada Providencia, the only shelter of its kind in the Valley of South Texas. La Posada is a mid-way shelter. It houses immigrants who are beyond detention centers but not at their final destination. Run by three women who are members of religious societies, the shelter provides housing, English language and U.S. culture classes for all levels and ages, transportation and help with appointments, and more. image Most importantly, though, at the very real, human level, they provide friendship, love, and a smiling face.

When he first arrived in town, Fr. Michael was a driver for the shelter, but the partnership has grown significantly. Eventually, the Jarretts also began a medical clinic and began leading worship services. Two years ago, they started a Christian school. All together these ministry areas now make up what is Trinity on the Border.

“We are a chapel and outreach mission serving Christ along the South Texas/Mexico border,” says Fr. Michael. “We just came and started doing whatever a doctor and priest could do to serve down here.”

Trinity on the Border serves its community by meeting tangible needs, both for immigrants and residents. Many in the community have medical needs but are unable to afford the necessary care. Using a Matthew 25 grant, Trinity on the Border was able to build out its central mission location with offices, a chapel, and two exam rooms for their free clinic.

Dr. Jarrett and another local doctor, who attends the worship services and has kids in the school, provide free medical care to those in need at the Trinity on the Border mission building every week. Additionally, Dr. Jarrett makes weekly “house calls” to the La Posada immigrant shelter.

Today, the partnership with La Posada is far more than it originally was. Not only does Dr. Jarrett provide medical care for immigrants, other staff of Trinity on the Border have roles there as well. The Rev. Daniel Behrens, Missionary Curate for Trinity on the Border, teaches English classes three times per week. His wife also participates by leading children’s activities.

The Trinity school meets a need for Christian education in the city. Using the Charlotte Mason curriculum, it provides a different approach to education and child development that is unique in the area. The school now has about 15 students between kindergarten and 3rd grade.

Finally, the chapel ministry of Trinity on the Border is the piece that flows into all others. With a healing prayer service on Thursday mornings at the Culture of Life clinic, Eucharistic services at a shelter on the Mexican side of the border, and Thursday morning chapel at the school, this ministry goes beyond their congregational Sunday services.image

“We’re not Trinity for the Immigrant even, we are Trinity on the Border. We are for whoever is here,” says Fr. Michael before describing his newest ministry pursuit: to be a chaplain for the Coast Guard, a Department of Homeland Security position. “We keep reminding our team that we’re here for everybody. We serve Border Patrol, we serve Customs, we serve immigrants, we serve the poor who live here, we serve the rich who live here.”

Yet, Fr. Michael and his team are not ignorant of the political climate. “People want us to speak into the political situation. And we have personal opinions on that. I don’t think everybody on our team has the same personal opinion,” he said, “but as far as our work, that stays pretty simple. If they’re here, if they’re a human being, we are going to love them with the love of Christ and what happens to them is not really in the realm of what we can do anything about.”

One thing the team knows is that every person they encounter has a different story. In mid-September, those stories included a father and son from Angola who had been separated at the border but were reunited and at La Posada together. Because of their earlier separation, the father had already received asylum and the young child was still going through the process. They included a young, English-speaking single mother from Uganda staying at the shelter while working to earn her GED and secure a driver’s license.

At the clinic, the room hosting the healing prayer service was packed with those in need, all with their own stories as well. Notably, a young man, a musician who spent most of his time in bars, had just quit drinking the week before. He wants to be a better father and give his time to the Lord in service. He received prayer and anointing.

For Fr. Daniel, who is nearly one year into his curacy, it is a privilege to serve these people and that is evident in his care for them. It’s been “difficult” and “awkward” at times, he says, but “awkwardness may be evidence that you’re doing something cross-cultural.” To him, the ministry of Trinity on the Border is a “special thing, very different from other ministries in the Anglican Church in North America.”

Ultimately, the Jarretts and their team are accomplishing what they set out to do: bring Jesus to the Texas and Mexico border through the Anglican expression. And that is something we can all be proud of.

For more, listen to the Things Anglican podcast on the Anglican Church in North America App, on Apple Podcasts, or here.

College of Bishops Consents to New Bishop for Diocese of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic (REC)

Gillin has served as the bishop suffragan of the diocese since September 2012 when he was consecrated. Based in southern New Jersey, just due east of Philadelphia, Gillin is centrally located to the majority of the congregations in the diocese that spans from Maine to Maryland with one outlier in Ontario, Canada.

Married for 47 years, Gillin and his wife, Jan, have two married children and four grandchildren. They have spent his entire 41-year clerical ministry in the Diocese of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic (REC), though it once had a different name.

Gillin succeeds the Rt. Rev. David Hicks, who announced his resignation in April 2019, noting he would return to congregational ministry as rector of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Butler, Pennsylvania, a parish in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Commenting on the decision of the College, Hicks said, “Bishop Gillin is a godly man. We worked well together when I was in the diocese. I am sure he will do well as God leads him. He and the people of the diocese remain in my prayers.”

The Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) is a sub-jurisdiction within the Anglican Church in North America. In accordance with the REC Constitution and Canons, the Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Ray Sutton, became interim bishop upon Hicks’s resignation and will serve in such capacity until spring 2020 when Gillin will be installed.

“We are so very thankful for the Lord’s confirmation of Bishop Chuck by the College of Bishops. He has been a faithful bishop for many years. We know he will continue to bless the Church in his new sphere of call as Ordinary of the Diocese of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic,” said Sutton.

The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach, Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church in North America, shared the gracious sentiment: “We are delighted to have Bishop Gillin active again in the College, but most importantly we are appreciative of his willingness to serve the diocese he already knows and loves in this new capacity. He’s a man of humility, devoted to the Lord. I believe he will continue to lead and serve the diocese well.”

In the moments following the bishops’ decision, Gillin offered “thanksgiving to God for His mercy and grace, to the Diocese of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, to the Standing Committees of the various dioceses of the REC, and for the confirming action of the Anglican Church in North America College of Bishops. I look forward to working with the College, with my fellow bishops in the REC, and especially with the clergy of the NEMA diocese in moving us forward in God’s power to accomplish His will in reaching the people within our diocese and the world with the transforming love of Jesus Christ.”