A Collect for the Human Family: O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Ephesians 2:19-22 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Revelation 7:9-10 I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice,“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
From Ferguson to North Charleston to Baltimore
In November of this past year, the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri became a further catalyst for our ongoing conversations about race across the United States and within the Anglican Church in North America. In response, Archbishop Foley Beach called together leaders from around the Church to discuss issues of race, systemic injustice, and our mission to reach all of North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. We recognize that this must include a deeper level of engagement with and among our African American communities.
In January, Bishop Alphonza Gadsden of the predominantly African-American Diocese of the Southeast (REC), graciously offered to host this dialogue at one of his parishes, New Bethel Reformed Episcopal Church (ACNA) in North Charleston, South Carolina.
At that time, we never could have anticipated the way North Charleston would become a part of the national conversation, nor could we have known that the unrest in Baltimore would unfold during the days of our gathering. The leaders of one of our newest church plants, Church of the Apostles in the City, Baltimore, MD were with us for this dialogue. Throughout the day their cell phones rang with first hand accounts from family members who were the victims of this violence. These are real people in our parishes, and we grieve together.
We had the opportunity to join them in prayer, interceding for the safety of the police officers, the citizens of Baltimore, and the perpetrators of violence. We have been encouraged by the witness of Baltimore’s clergy who took to the streets in an effort to end the violence that was destroying their communities.
There are no easy answers to the issues that plague our communities, but the spirit of unity that was in our midst this week testifies to the hope that we have through the cross of Christ, which reconciles us to God and one another.
Towards A More Diverse and Unified Future
We began with a frank assessment of the current challenges facing the Anglican Church in North America in our mission with and among African Americans. The Book of Revelation gives us the multiethnic vision of the Church in which members of every nation, tribe, people, and language offer up their unified praise before the Lamb (Rev. 7:9-10).
This biblical vision leads us to affirm a deeper commitment to both multiethnic and ethnic-specific expressions of the Church; a change that is critical if we are to remain in step with the Holy Spirit in light of the shifting demographics of North America.
Multiethnic ministry continues to expand within our Church. This emphasis includes Bishop Leung of Vancouver whose pioneering work in Asian and Multicultural Ministries in Canada (AMMiC) has now spread to the United States. Caminemos Juntos is a vibrant network of members committed to the growth of Hispanic congregations in North America. This week we have taken the first steps in addressing as a Province, the need for the intentional inclusion and growth of the African American community in our midst.
The Challenge Today
Few conversations are as timely and important to our life as a Province, and so while our hearts have been grappling with the tragedy of the present, our eyes are looking to the future.
To this end we:
- Ask each congregation to pray and work for racial reconciliation in their community,
- Intend to develop a Provincial team to lead our multiethnic ministries and we encourage the development of regional networks to support those who are called to multiethnic church planting, evangelism, and discipleship,
- Invite dioceses and parishes to consider how they might actively develop more effective multiethnic leadership pipelines,
- Invite dioceses and parishes to make a financial commitment to supporting multiethnic leadership
Talk alone will not bridge the gap or bind us together, but if we are to move forward, action must be preceded by honest dialogue. Talk is not cheap. Risking these conversations in our present culture is costly. We invite all who love the Lord Jesus Christ to join us in moving the conversations in our communities forward, so that together, having cleared a foundation, we can build a common future that brings glory to God.
A Collect for Peace (prayed during the violence that unfolded in Baltimore, Monday, April 27, 2015) O God, the source of all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works: Give to your servants that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey your commandments, and that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness, through the merits of Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
A Collect for Mission (prayed during Morning Prayer, Tuesday, April 28, 2015) O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach, Archbishop and Primate
The Rt. Rev. Alphonza Gadsden, Bishop, Diocese of the Southeast (REC)
Rev. Jay Baylor, Church of the Apostles in the City, Baltimore, MD
The Rev. Taylor Bodoh, Incarnation Tallahassee, FL
Mrs. Linda G. Butler, Grace Reformed Moncks Corner, SC
Mr. Ron Davis, All Saints, Woodbridge, VA
Mrs. Rose-Marie Edwards-Tasker, Intercessor, Anglican Church in North America
Mr. Kevin Gadsden, New Israel Reformed Episcopal Church, Charleston, SC
The Rev. Canon Andrew Gross, Canon for Communications and Media Relations
The Rt. Rev. John Guernsey, Bishop, Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic & Dean of Provincial Affairs
The Rev. David Hanke, Restoration Anglican Church, Arlington, VA
The Rev. Christopher Jones, Incarnation Tallahassee, FL
The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, Bishop, Diocese of South Carolina
Mr. Peter Lebhar, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Tallahassee, FL
The Ven. Canon Dr. Jack Lumanog, Archbishop’s Canon & COO
The Rev. Esau McCaulley, PhD Candidate, St. Andrew’s University, Scotland
Mr. Drew Miller, St. Andrew’s City Church, Charleston, SC
The Rt. Rev. William White, Bishop, Diocese of the Southeast (REC)
The Rt. Rev. Steve Wood, Bishop, Diocese of the Carolinas
Ms. Carletta Wright, Church of the Apostles in the City, Baltimore, MD