Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Birthday of the Anglican Church in North America

Well, it was an amazing day yesterday! Last night Anglicans from all over the country participated in a service of worship and praise to God for what He has done in bringing this new province into being. As this excellent article explains, this is not a split but the forming of an orthodox fellowship, theologically- rather than geographically-based, within the existing communion of Anglicans. It seemed to be a common theme of the day: that only God could have accomplished this!

One of the day's accomplishments was the unanimous approval by a council of bishops of the draft constitution for the new province, turning it into a provisional constitution. Another was the selection of Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh to be the Archbishop of the new province, and I must say, he looks good in a miter! (He's famous not only for having been recently deposed by The Episcopal Church for his orthodox stand, but also for eyebrows that can stand up to a miter, shall we say.)

Here's a shot of our group with the new Archbishop:


We figure that Light of Christ was probably the congregation who brought the highest percentage of its attendees! Father William and Deacon Anne Beasley are pictured with us here.

The other event we attended yesterday was a reception with the event's organizers at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, where a number of people spoke. The director of the BGC, Lon Ellison, could hardly contain his excitement, quoting Tigger: "Woo-hoo!" He said that the new province is the beginning of a new movement he'd call "Biblical Anglicanism." He predicted that it will soon be one of the largest movements worldwide, since it's starting big and will grow quickly as many existing ministries will be eager to partner with it. He said "it's not what you're against, it's what you're for" that is so exciting.

Father William Beasley of Wheaton read from Jesus' high-priestly prayer in the book of John, that believers would live together in "complete unity." And how is that possible? Among other remarks, he mentioned his days at Yale Divinity School (and this is a little out of context but I thought it was a helpful examples): "All you had to do was lift up the name of Christ. Really! Many would run, but others would flock."

Father "Doc" Loomis from Ohio read the story about the great catch of fish, and how "they began to call to their partners in other boats to come and help them." It's not about the boats, he said (meaning AMIA, CANA, AAC, etc.). Unity comes when we focus on mission.

He and William both talked about revival following persecution and reported on the Anglican Awakening Services that have been held (several in the US and one in Canada), and they said these Awakenings will continue on cross-denominational lines.

Tim Morgan, a writer for Christianity Today, said that in the revivals in Africa, there has always been a great awareness of "walking in the Light" meaning the light of the Scriptures, and that is what this Anglican movement is about. "This is not the work of human hands," he said.

A Ugandan woman who has been in the US for over 30 years said, "We Africans sometimes get put on a pedestal because you brought revival to us and now we are bringing it back. But we struggle with...I guess it is pride...We think church should be done our way [each country has a fierce sense of pride in its own customs, she described]...and now you are forging the way for unity.... There is only one way, and that is Jesus' way."

On a personal level, I was so encouraged by the day. Everywhere there was such a sense that these are momentous steps that are being taken at God's direction and with His blessing. It was wonderful to worship with such a diverse group of Anglicans in a welcoming Evangelical Free church (in fact, the same one that John and Margie Fawcett were married in 8 years ago-- another great celebration!).

We especially enjoyed "the band" as the Archbishop kept referring to Church of the Resurrection's worship team (plus a few musicians from other churches). Their worship style might not be everyone's cup 'o tea, but for us it was a blast (on a shofar, no less)!

And I had the pleasure of meeting blogger and Rev. Ann Kennedy!


Here we are with her oldest, Emma. We wished we had hours instead of the few minutes that we chatted about churches, kids, homeschooling, ministry, moving and the challenges of all. Her church is in the throes of a lawsuit with The Episcopal Church, who would rather close it down--and all of its ministries to the poor in that area--than sell it to its orthodox congregation. (Oh, the craziness!) Anne is a sweetheart of a mama to her four beautiful young children, 6 and under, and it was a pleasure to meet her husband, Father Matt, as well, and put a face to the name.

I also met blogger and priest's wife Amy, oh so briefly, just as the afternoon meeting was beginning, along with her two daughters--and then, sadly, we never reconnected again! Well, she's a little closer to me, or will be soon, I believe--her husband is taking classes at Nashotah House, the Anglican seminary an hour+ from us--so hopefully we'll have another chance to get together.

For the still-curious, here is a helpful summary of what has been accomplished by the formation of the new province (to be called the Anglican Church in North America or ACNA). And this article explains the whole thing for non-Anglicans.

3 comments:

tonia said...

fascinating!

rejoicing with you...

and praying for your friends in Jos.

Amy said...

It was such a pleasure for me to meet you at last! I'm sorry we didn't get more time to chat. I guess I'll just have to come & visit!!

Jenny in Ca said...

wow, sounds like an amazing, exciting weekend! I read about this happening in the paper and thought of you guys!