Archbishop Foley Beach presents his annual address on the state of the province to Provincial Council 2016.
Council delegates, laity, clergy, and bishops of the Province, and our esteemed guests who are here: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. (Eph.1:2,3 ESV)
I stand before you today at the end of my second year as your Archbishop and Primate, and I thank you for your prayers for me and for Allison. This sacred stewardship is a privilege, but also a huge responsibility – and your prayers make all the difference!
This has been a good year for the Province. We continue to grow in membership, attendance, churches, church plants, conversions, baptisms, giving, and mission. As we have continued to attempt to be faithful to our God and the teaching of His Word, he has blessed us and honored us, and continued to pour out his favor.
Our mission as a Province is to reach North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ, which he has demonstrated by his death on the cross, his resurrection from the dead, and the personal transformation he brings to all who come to him in faith. The Apostle Paul prayed that the Ephesian believers might comprehend this love in all its breath and length and height, and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” Eph.3:18,19. Oh, that the people of North America would know His love as well!!
The College of Bishops (College Affairs)
The bishops continue to work and serve the church diligently and faithfully. We met after the last Provincial Council meeting in Vancouver, and we met in January. In between, the bishops have been part of the various working groups and task forces of the Province have been meeting and doing the work of our Church.
Under Archbishop Bob Duncan’s leadership, we as a Province are inching closer to bringing forth a new Book of Common Prayer – hopefully in the year 2019. We now have approved liturgies for use in the Church for Morning and Evening Prayer, Mid-Day Prayer, Compline, Family Devotions, Three versions of the Eucharist, Ordinations of a deacon, priest, and bishop, Baptism, Confirmation, Renewal of Baptismal Vows, a Sunday Eucharist Lectionary, a Daily Lectionary, and Collects for the Church Year. At this week’s College of Bishops meeting, we will review the Marriage rite and the Burial Rite.
We have consecrated Ron Jackson as the new bishop for the Diocese of the Great Lakes, and this week at our upcoming meeting we will examine the election of the new bishop of Pittsburgh to follow retiring bishop, Archbishop Emeritus Bob Duncan. With the help of Canon Phil Ashey and the American Anglican Council, we held our first official Bishops’ Leadership Summit at the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove in North Carolina, an event designed to train bishops to be bishops.
With the inspiration of Archbishop Rwaje and the Rwandan House of Bishops, two of the PEARUSA networks are becoming dioceses of the ACNA. The Church of Rwanda is releasing its clergy and congregations into the Anglican Church in North America. Although they have been dual citizens (resident in both Provinces), the Rwandans concluded that now that we have a mature Anglican Province in North America, there was no longer a need for a missionary district of PEAR (Rwanda) here. At this Council the Governance Task Force will present resolutions to create two new dioceses out of two of the PEARUSA networks under the leadership of Bishop Steve Breedlove and Bishop Ken Ross. The third PEARUSA Network is merging with several dioceses and Bishop David Bryan has been elected to serve as a Suffragan bishop of the Diocese of the Carolinas, where most of the clergy and congregations have become domicile. Thank you, Archbishop Rwaje for your leadership and inspiration.
With the retirement of Bishop Win Mott, the REC Diocese of the West has merged its congregations with other existing dioceses and this will not only strengthen those dioceses, but will eliminate some of our overlapping jurisdiction issues.
I must say, as I have said in the past, that it is a great privilege to serve with these bishops – they are the godliest men I have ever met and they exemplify the integrity of Jesus Christ and the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
I want to thank Bishop Terrell Glenn, the Assisting Bishop of the Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast and rector of the church plant, Church of the Apostles in Houston, for his service as Dean of College Affairs – as a volunteer.
After 6 years as a Province, we have almost a thousand churches, over 111,000 members, over 1700 clergy, 29 dioceses, plus the Jurisdiction for the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy, 51 bishops. We have over 350 missionaries serving in cross-cultural ministry around the world through the Global Anglican Mission Partners, and we have hundreds of parishes engaged in Matthew 25 kinds of ministry to the poor and neglected people in our communities.
Through the Matthew 25 gifting of grants matching the local congregation’s ministry funds, we (the ACNA) will have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past year into 24 congregational projects feeding the poor, serving the homeless, caring for orphans, helping single mothers, providing legal aid, ministering to at-risk children and teens, and so much more – all in the Name of the Christ and with the message of the Gospel. Thank you, Canon David Roseberry for your leadership of Matthew 25.
It has been just over a year since this community here in Charleston lost nine precious souls, including Myra Thompson, the wife of our own REC priest, Anthony Thompson, when a young gunman killed them while attending a Bible Study at “Mother” Emmanuel AME Church. We praise God for Fr. Thompson’s powerful words of grace which he addressed to the shooter in court, when he forgave his wife’s killer and called upon him to repent and give his life to Christ. This tragedy among so many has highlighted the need for serious discussions on race relations, and we are working to be a Church where all feel safe under the shelter of His Wings. I am grateful to be a part of a Church who believes what the Bible teaches – that God loves everyone regardless of the color of their skin or the depth of their sin.
Of course our hearts are still very heavy over the senseless acts of evil in Orlando last week. The killing of “The Voice” singer, 22 year-old Christina Grimmie on Friday, and then the horrible and evil attack on The Pulse Night Club have shocked, stunned and awakened the nation. While we still don’t know all the details of these events yet, we know the latter was rooted in the shooter’s Islamic beliefs and perhaps in his own sexual identity issues.
I invite you to continue to remember the families and friends of those who have been lost, and those fighting to recover from wounds and injuries. These are our people. Many of our parishioners, our friends, our family members struggle with same-sex attraction. We are all in this together. This was a terrible tragedy, and many are rightly scared for their safety. Please reach out to those you know and assure them of our love and protection.
As Christians we must demonstrate the love of Jesus to all. This care for our individual neighbors is an essential expression of our commitment to Biblical doctrine. As a Church we will not allow our neighbors’ lives to be threatened, but will stand with them against those who spread hate. We will not allow our neighbors to be cut off from the means of Grace, but will continue to compassionately to offer the Biblical teaching that provides the only way to the God the Father – Jesus.
As a Province we are continuing to plant new churches, and we are seeking to create a culture and the infrastructure for planting many congregations on this continent. Canon Dan Alger will telling you about the upcoming Always Forward Church Planting Conference to bring church planters together for encouragement and equipping.
We have been looking in a serious way at Holy Matrimony, not only on how to better teach and equip our children and how to prepare couples for marriage, but also how we might influence the culture we live in to return to the teaching of the Bible. You will be hearing more on this from Dr. Stephen Noll.
We have a serious need in the Province to work on training our parishes for ministry to children and youth – not just to the few who come to our churches, but how to engage and reach out to the children and youth in our communities who are growing up without the benefit and necessity of knowing Jesus, or even the basic morality of the 10 Commandments. I cannot tell you how it pains me to see our deficiencies in reaching our young with the Gospel. I hope you will join me in not only praying for God to show us how to do this more effectively, but also giving and serving in order to reach the young in our communities and neighborhoods.
We are continuing to have conversations with the Diocese of South Carolina about affiliating with the Anglican Church in North America. We have had wonderful and fruitful discussions with their leadership and with members of the diocese. They are currently in the process of discussing this with their deaneries and will bring it before their Diocesan Convention in the near future. We will hear from Bishop Mark Lawrence tomorrow when he arrives.
I am blessed with a tremendous Provincial staff and a cadre of Canons, some full-time, some part-time, and some volunteer, who all serve the Lord by serving the Province with their extraordinary gifts and talents. God has blessed us with capable, dedicated, and spiritually committed individuals. As you know, I am committed to not creating a Provincial bureaucracy, but we do need more folks to help with the tremendous opportunities the Lord has placed in front of us.
As I have traveled around the Province, I hear the same refrain: Thank you for standing for the truth of God’s Word and the Faith which has been handed down from the Apostles. People of faith all over this continent are expressing their grattitude for our unwillingness to compromise the Gospel, yet doing so with compassion and grace.
I would like say thank you to Bishop John Guernsey of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic who has served faithfully as our Dean of Provincial Affairs – as a volunteer.
Since we have met last year, we continue to see our discussion with other Christian bodies grow and deepen. I could hire Bishop Ray Sutton full-time, and he still would not be able to keep up with it all.
To use the terminology of the His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill, of the Russian Orthodox Church, we are part of a “new ecumenism” which is spreading through the Christian Church. With so many Churches abandoning Scriptural and Historical theology and morality, those who are keeping to the Apostolic Faith are finding each other and building partnerships.
While Bishop Ray Sutton will have more to say, I would like to highlight just a few points regarding our ecumenical relationships.
The first is our relationship with the Orthodox Church in America and the Russian Orthodox Church. I was privileged to lead a delegation to Moscow last August at the invitation of His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill to meet with him and Metropolitan Hilarion. They made a point of saying to us that this was the beginning of official ecumenical discussions between our Churches, and that we were the Church they were recognizing us as the Anglicans in North America with whom they would have ecumenical discussions. It was a tremendous demonstration of unity.
The second is that I participated with our team in discussions with the Missouri Synod Lutheran and Canadian Lutheran Church and participated in a Faith and Freedom Symposium this past February at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. We issued a joint Statement entitled “On Closer Acquaintance” which said in effect that we have a number of differences, but our common theology is worth continuing discussions. The Missouri Synod Lutherans do not engage in many ecumenical conversations and so the fact that we are in conversation together is highly significant.
The third is our relationship with the Free Church of England. During this council, you will be asked to affirm an agreement I have signed on our behalf regularizing the relationship between our two Churches. The Free Church of England and its Mission in Germany and Croatia have been a sister Church of the Reformed Episcopal Church which is one of our founding entities and a vital part of the Anglican Church in North America. It is time to formally recognize each others’ churches.
I want to thank Bishop Ray Sutton, Bishop Coadjutor of the REC Diocese of the Mid-America Diocese, who is not only our Provincial Dean, but our Dean of Ecumenical Affairs. He is doing a wonderful job, and he too, is a volunteer.
Parts of the Anglican Communion continue to be in turmoil as the unbiblical theological and moral viruses of Western Churches and the secular culture continue to spread and divide the Church. The revisionist agenda is well-funded, and there is a strategic effort on their part to target under-resourced Provinces of the Anglican Communion.
As you know, the Archbishop of Canterbury called a meeting of the Primates of the Communion last January to discuss the discipline of the Episcopal Church for changing its marriage canon, and to see if we could find a way to hold together as a Communion. I was invited, and with the rest of the GAFCON and Global South Primates, attended the Canterbury gathering in good faith. We left the meeting believing that, while all we had hoped for had not been accomplished, at least something potentially positive had come out of the meeting to restore Godly order and discipline to the Communion. However, since that time the developments have not been positive, and as the Chair of GAFCON, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, said recently, “our hope has been brought low.”
Since the Canterbury Gathering in January, the agreements that were made have not been honored. We in the Anglican Church in North America are committed to remaining faithful to the teaching and fellowship of the Apostles as found in the Bible, to Biblical reconciliation, and we will trust the Lord for the future. We are committed members of the GAFCON movement and remain in partnership with orthodox leaders of the Global South who are seeking to bring repentance, renewal, and reformation to the Anglican Communion.
What is tragic about all of this is not just the divisions within the Anglican Communion. What is most tragic is that because of false teaching, millions of souls will not hear the Good News of Jesus Christ, or they will hear a Gospel that appears to the be the Gospel, but in reality is contrary to the very Word of God – which is no Gospel at all. Souls are at stake. Lives are at stake. Eternity is at stake. It reminds me of what the prophet Isaiah said to the people of his day: Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. (Is.5:20, ESV)
Well, there is more to the Anglican Communion than what we hear about Canterbury or from the Anglican Communion Office. In August Allison and I were invited to Uganda by Archbishop Stanley Ntagali to lead the bishops and their wives in retreat. It was a tremendous time of fellowship in the Holy Spirit. In September Archbishop Eliud Wabukala invited me to preach at his Diocesan Conference in Nairobi. It was a service in the spirit of the East African Revival, and it was powerful!!
In October I had the privilege of attending the Global South Primates Council meeting in Cairo. At that meeting led by Chairman Archbishop Mouneer Anis, the Global South recognized and acknowledged Full Communion with the Anglican Church in North America. They declared us to be a Partner Province of the Global South – calling us a Partner Province because we are not in geographically in the Global South—and giving the Primate seat, voice, and vote at their meetings. What this means is that with the recognition of the GAFCON Primates Council and now the Global South Primates Council, the Anglican Church in North America is in Full Communion the vast majority of Anglicans around the world.
Last November, Bishop Bill Atwood, our Dean of International Affairs and I, were invited to go the India and meet with leaders of Believer’s Church and Good Shepherd Church. Together, both of these Churches have over 25,000 worshipping communities and over 3 million members. Both of these Churches have Anglican Ecclesiology, and Apostolic Succession, and they desire to be a part of the Global Orthodox and Biblical Anglican movement and in full Communion with the Anglican Church in North America. We are exploring these possibilities. Like with any new relationship of substance, there are things to iron out and discover, but with these two bodies in India, we have seen what is rare and most important in so many Churches today—a passion for the Gospel and a compassion for people which is demonstrated by the fruit of their labors, especially among the poor. Because of the inspirational ministry they are doing, it is worth the hard work of learning in what ways we can build a partnership with them
This past April I attended the GAFCON Primates Council Meeting in Nairobi, Kenya where we honored Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, the GAFCON Chair who was retiring as the Archbishop and Primate of Kenya. We elected Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria as the new GAFCON Chair and Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Uganda as the Vice-Chair. We discussed GAFCON 2018 which will be held in 2018, in just two years’ time. We had a very successful meeting!
This past November I attended the Anglican Relief and Development Fund Global Trustees meeting in Cairo.
The Primates actually decide the projects we fund and this time we approved several projects to help reach the needy and assist with ministry in various Provinces.
I would also like you to know that Archbishop Mouneer Anis arranged for the Primates who were present to meet with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr. Ahmed el Tayeb, and also to meet with His Holiness, Tawadros the Second of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Both meetings were quite fascinating and I believe accomplished good work for the Kingdom of God.
I want to thank Bishop Bill Atwood, Bishop of the International Diocese, for serving as our Dean of International Affair – also as a volunteer.
As we continue to move forward as a Biblical, united, and missionary Anglican Province in North America, I would like to remind you about the Four Marks of Modern Anglicanism which I shared with you at my Investiture as Archbishop. I believe these must be manifested in our character if we are to be the Church God has called us to be it in our time.
Four Marks of Modern Anglicanism
A Repenting Church
A Reconciling Church
A Reproducing Church
A Relentlessly Compassionate Church
1) A Repenting Church
This is the message we have received in the Gospel…
Remember the message of John the Baptist: Repent
Mt.3:2 – Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Remember the message of Jesus: Repent
Mt.4:17 – From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Remember the message of the Apostle Peter – at the end of his Pentecost sermon and the people were asking, “what must we do?”
Acts 2:38 – Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you and your children…
Remember the words of Apostle Paul when he was addressing the people of Athens in
Acts 17:22 – The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands people everywhere to repent.
We are called to be a repenting Church That is, we must be a repenting people of God; a group of repenting followers of Jesus. When God shows us our sin, we must turn from it and return to the Lord.
Isn’t this what repent means?? Literally, to change your mind.
St. John of Dasmacus: Repentance is returning from the unnatural to the natural state, from the devil to God, through discipline and effort.
This repentance doesn’t stop when one is born again or comes into a relationship with God through Jesus; It is a day by day, moment by moment reality.
When a person comes to faith in Jesus, God does a wonderful and amazing thing – he places within the person the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit begins to teach you, guide you, reveal to you the ways of God,
And he begins to reveal to you your sin.
As God the Holy Spirit reveals to you your sin – usually through His Word, you then have a choice—- continue in the sin or change your mind (repent) and begin to believe the behavior or attitude is a sin – and turn from it!
This is repentance.
He is constantly showing me my sin –and unless I repent, I quench the Holy Spirit in my life and in my ministry. 1 Thess.5:19.
As God shows us our sin, we must turn from it and return to the Lord.
St. Paul of the Cross: Should we fall into a sin, let us humble ourselves sorrowfully in his presence, and then, with an act of unbounded confidence, let us throw ourselves into the ocean of his goodness, where every failing will be cancelled and anxiety turned into love.
We are called to be a repenting Church.
This is part of what we confess as Anglicans.
Isn’t this what we pray each week when we pray the General Confession?
If you pray the Daily Office, you pray it twice a day every day…
We are truly sorry, and we humbly repent
Or some version of this – depending on the liturgy.
As we confess our sins, we tell God that we are sorry, and that we humbly repent.
Yet, do we?
The question each of us must ask ourselves:
Is there something in my life which the Lord has shown me of which I must repent?
As a Province and as believers, unless we repent of our sins, we quench the Holy Spirit in our amidst.
If we are going to be the Church the Lord wants us to be, we must be a repenting Church.
The Second Mark of Modern Anglicanism is that we must be is
2) A Reconciling Church
When I speak of reconciliation, I am not talking about being reconciled with the world,
Or with sin,
Or with sinful behavior
Or giving up one’s principles
Or compromising Biblical Truth in order to be reconciled.
However, the Scriptures do tell us that we are all ministers of reconciliation and that we are to be reconciled with each other.
This reconciliation is based on the cross of Jesus, on the Truth in the Scriptures,
And on the tradition handed down to us by the Church Fathers.
To be reconciled means there was once a problem.
The Australia Anglican scholar, Leon Morris, writes:
Reconciliation properly applies not to good relations in general but to the doing away of an enmity, the bridging over of a quarrel. It implies that the parties being reconciled were formerly hostile to one another.
This was true with us, and The Lord.
This is true with too many of God’s people with each other.
For real reconciliation to take place, you must remove the enmity – the source of the quarrel.
We may apologize for our actions.
We may pay back money we owe.
We may return something which we borrowed.
We may make restitution for the damage we have done.
In every situation there must be a dealing with the root cause of the enmity.
In other words, there is no true reconciliation without repentance.
Jesus died on the cross to put away our sin; he removed the enmity between humanity and God.
He opened the door for all human beings to come back to God. He made it possible for us to reconciled to God through faith.
However, there is another aspect of reconciliation, and if this is not addressed in our lives and in our congregations, the Holy Spirit is grieved.
The Apostles John addresses this in 1 John in several ways. Here is one…
I John 4:20 – If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
God has called us to be a reconciling church; a people who are reconciled with God through Jesus Christ and who are reconciled with one another.
Doesn’t Jesus tell us that this is one of our biggest witnessing tools to unbelievers – our love for one another??
People wound us
People get mad and say bad things
Family members hurt us.
Friends go back on their word.
Godly people get out of the Spirit and in the flesh and do things or say things which offend us.
This happens in congregations, too – we are all human and too many times our sinfulness is brought into spiritual situations, and we can make a big mess of things.
I know I have…
The biggest problem we have in being reconciled with others is our unwillingness to forgive.
Unforgiveness sets in.
Resentment begins to grow.
Bitterness creeps in.
And before long,
Unforgiveness has so grieved the Holy Spirit in your life that there is no joy or peace,
and it affects everything you do.
A simple test that you haven’t forgiven someone and you are not reconciled….
You see the person walking your direction at some event – maybe a party or down the hall at church – and you turn and go the other direction because you don’t want to see them.
You hear their name come up in a conversation, and you say, or want to say, something negative about them.
Brother and sisters, this must not be!
We are called to be a reconciling Church.
To be reconciled doesn’t mean you are going to agree about everything.
To be reconciled doesn’t mean you necessarily even agree about the facts of what happened.
To be reconciled means that you value the Lord and each other so much, that you are willing to acknowledge your own part in the situation, repent, and you are willing to forgive and move on.
I know there are times when you have done everything you can to be reconciled with someone and she/he will have none of it.
When you have done all you can do, you forgive and release them to the Lord.
But this is not the case with most of us? For most of us, there is work we need to do in order to be reconciled with our sister or brother.
This is what we confess each week….
When we pass the peace each Sunday, what are we symbolizing?
We are not just greeting our neighbor, I am visibly saying that to the best of my ability, I am reconciled with my brother or sister – before I come to the Table of the Lord.
We are called to be a reconciling Church. If not, we grieve the Holy Spirit.
You may not think it affects your life.
You may not think it affects your relationships with others.
You may not think it affects your ministry.
But it does!
Ephesians 4:30f – And do not grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
So the question which must be asked: Is there someone or a “bunch of someones” with whom you need to be reconciled?
God is calling us to be a reconciling Church.
A Third Mark of Modern Anglicanism is we are called to be
3) A Reproducing Church
Just as in the creation story when God told humanity to be fruitful and multiply,
Jesus commissioned his disciples before he ascended to do the same.
Matthew 28:19 – Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you to end of the ages.
We are called to be a reproducing church – a disciple-making church.
This is the major reason God gives us the Holy Spirit.
Remember his words after this in Acts 1.
Go into Jerusalem, and wait for the gift of My Father. And then says…
Acts 1:8 – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to end of the earth.
The power of the Spirit is related to the commission to Go and make disciples.
Do you think that God will continue to pour out his Spirit if we are not obeying his commission?
Jesus says here that we are to GO.
They will rarely come to us.
We must go.
We must get out of the four walls of our church and go.
We must get out from in front of the television or the computer screen and go.
We have a lot of our members who are ministering overseas on other continents.
Added to this are many congregations and individuals across the Province who are going to other nations with the Gospel.
It is incredible the impact these ministries are making, and we need more people who are willing to go.
But our primary mission field is North America –
The United States
And God has also brought much of world to us – right into our neighborhoods and communities.
And you and I need to Go.
We need to go to people in our world – our sphere of influence.
The people we work with
The people we have fun with
The people down the street
WE need to go to our next-door neighbors
Do you even know your neighbors’ names?
What would happen if your congregation took seriously the neighborhood around your church?
I challenge you to draw a circle of a one-mile radius around where your congregation meets, and get to know your neighbors.
We must GO.
The fish are not going to jump into our boat.
We must go fishing where the fish are.
Go and make disciples.
Disciples are followers of Jesus,
Disciples walk with the Lord.
Disciples know their Bibles
Disciples know how to pray and commune with the Lord
Disciples know the importance of worship and gathering at the Lord’s Table.
Anglican Disciples know their Bibles and their catechism.
Friends, We are called to be a reproducing Church
So the question which must be asked is this:
Who is your Timothy?
Who is your Mary?
Who are you discipling?
The 4th Mark of Modern Anglicanism is that we are called to be
4) A Relentlessly Compassionate Church
2 Cor.5:14 – The love of Christ compels us!
1 Tim. 1:5 – The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
Galatians 5:22 – The fruit of the Spirit is love.
Jesus, in the second Great Commandment: Love your neighbor as yourselves.
Do you know what most unbelievers out there think we feel toward them?
They think we hate them.
They think we despise them.
They think we judge them.
They think we don’t care about them.
Now, obviously, they don’t know us very well because that is not true.
But this is our problem, not theirs.
God calls us to be relentlessly compassionate to the people in our world.
Let me challenge you pray a very dangerous prayer:
Lord, open my eyes to see the hurt and the pain in the people around me.
Don’t pray this unless you are ready to be compassionate.
Don’t pray this unless you are ready to care.
People all around us are suffering immensely.
People have wounded family relationships
People are living in sexual brokenness and misery
People are financially burdened and overwhelmed
People are addicted to alcohol, drugs, sex, porn, and money
People are exhausted and can’t get off the merry-go-round, and the black-hole just gets deeper and deeper with no way out.
People have medical conditions which sap all their strength and creativity.
They are craving a little compassionate care.
They are craving a better way.
We have the answer for their needs.
We have the answer for the drug addict.
We have the answer for the porn addict… financially broken, emotionally and physically abused, those living a life of poverty – his name his Jesus.
He cares for them and desires to help them.
He deeply wants a relationship with them and to lead them into meaningful life.
However, this Jesus expects his body to be His Body in the towns, villages, cities, and neighborhoods in which we live.
His arms. His legs. His voice. His ears. His heart.
We are not and cannot be the Church as we have known it.
We must be a living Body engaged with the people around us.
We must be the Temple of the Holy Spirit exhibiting the fruit and gifts of the Spirit in all we do.
We must know who they are
We must know why they hurt
We must know what their needs are
We must pray for them and love them and share Jesus with them. This is not an option anymore.
It is our mission taken directly from vision of Jesus in the New Testament. His purpose has not changed. His directive has not changed.
We are to be a relentlessly compassionate Church.
I would like share with you today that we have had a challenge given to the Province. A donor has shared that if we can raise $1 Million in the next year for Matthew 25, he will give $1 Million for matching grants for ministry to the needy. And he will match the funds as they come in – we raise $100,000, he gives $100,000 These funds will serve as a Kick-starter for local congregations to do Mt 25 ministries in the their communities.
I want to challenge every ACNA congregation to begin some kind of Matthew 25 ministry (if you are not already engaged in one). Can you imagine 1000 churches across the U.S. and Canada reaching out in their communities with Relentless Compassion – finding the disenfranchised, the invisible, the abused, the abusers, the addicted, the lonely, the isolated, the hungry, the homeless, the abandoned, the prisoners, the elderly, the immigrants? Every church in the Province! What is your congregation’s Mt. 25 Ministry???
If we are able to raise these monies, this is not so we can create another bureaucracy – no! It is to empower the local congregation to reach their community with the Gospel of Jesus. I want to see every church do this. Talk about being compassionate!! Let’s do it!
May the Anglican Church in North America manifest these Four Marks of Modern Anglicanism: A Repenting Church. A Reconciling Church, A Reproducing Church, and a Relentlessly Compassionate Church.
So… in the words of Archabbot Boniface: Forwards. Always Forward. Everywhere Forward!! Let’s do the work of Christ. Forwards. Always Forward. Everywhere Forward!!