The belief the Anglican Church in North America has arrived and will not be dislodged from the Anglican or North American religious scene, was celebrated yesterday by the congregation worshipping at the opening Eucharist of the 2014 ACNA Assembly. Gathering under the theme “Thy Kingdom Come”, the congregation of almost 900 celebrated the church militant, prayed for the church penitent and placed their hope in the church triumphant to come.
Spirits were high as the conference began with a Eucharist on June 25, 2014 in the chapel of St Vincent Archabbey in LaTrobe, Penna. Dressed in cassock, surplice and stole, over 150 deacons, priests and bishops, joined by seven overseas archbishops processed into the Catholic abbey to the hymn the “Church’s One Foundation” in a display of enthusiasm not witnessed amongst conservative Anglicans since the 2003 Plano Conference, and a confidence not seen for a generation.
The four day assembly is expected to celebrate their denomination’s strong growth, its maturation from a collection of disparate special interest groups into a united church, and the successful election of a new archbishop. The Assembly will also pay tribute to their outgoing archbishop Robert Duncan, the first leader of the ACNA.
The Baroness Cox, a cross bench member of the House of Lords and founder and CEO of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), was invited by Archbishop Duncan to speak to the relief work undertaken by her agency and other Anglican agencies. The Rt. Rev. Don Harvey, Dean of the ACNA, served as celebrant while Dr. Michael Powell of Forward in Faith, and Canon Nancy Norton of Anglican Relief and Development, served as lectors.
Speaking in a relaxed and upbeat tone, the archbishop jested with the congregation. He said it might be “appropriate” for him to “wear a kilt and paint my face blue” in light of the theme of battle taken from the text of the 24th Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, that he “who endures to the end shall be saved.”
Those who had long thought “I really am crazy” could take comfort in the sight, he joked.
He began by noting he was “not here to say goodbye. That takes place on Friday.” Nor to “transfer” authority to the newly elected primate: “That happens on Saturday.”
“I am here to preach to you the kingdom of God,” he said.
The archbishop spoke to the topics of “conversion, compassion, courage”, offering illustrations of these imperatives from his life and travels. During a trip to Rwanda in the late ’90’s, he recounted how in visiting a rural district that had been devastated by banditry and tribal fighting, an army officer told him “Don’t worry bishop, this road has been safe for a week.”
“Courage comes from trusting the Lord,” he said. “If the road is safe, why are worried”, he asked, urging Anglicans to remain steadfast against the assaults of the enemy and to remember that the Lord was with them always.