Bishop Ackerman addressed delegates at Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois
OUR LADY OF THE SNOWS, IL: (August 27, 2006)---A spirit of joy, hopefulness, unity and prayer enveloped the jubilant opening choral Evensong which brought together Anglicans from around the United States, and even the world, as they united in body, mind, spirit and common purpose joining their collective voices in praise and petition as Forward in Faith-North America's (FiF-NA) 2006 Assembly got underway Thursday (Aug. 24) and will continue through Saturday (Aug. 26).
Resplendent in a vivid red cope -- honoring the martyrdom of St. Bartholomew - and a muted gold mitre FiF-NA President, the Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman, Bishop of the Diocese of Quincy, challenged and electrified nearly 100 Forward in Faith delegates, spanning the spectrum of various American Anglican expressions telling his fellow churchmen that they had to reach out to those fellow current and former Episcopalians and who have been marginalized and betrayed by the actions of the recent Episcopal General Convention which handed the headdress of the presiding bishop into feminine hands and basically ignored the call from the Windsor Report to repentance.
"We are the Church," Bp. Ackerman declared. "We have to stop defending and start doing."
The bishop said he was excited by the fact that he felt the new shape of Anglicanism was a reality in America. The actual beginning of American Anglican realignment started a year ago.
"Realignment has started," he proclaimed. "We gather to celebrate what Jesus Christ has done to bring us to this present moment."
The agony and suffering traditional Anglicans have experienced during the past three and a half decades has been the seedbed of sacrifice and prayer which is bringing about a renewal and reforming of face of American Anglicanism.
Bp. Ackerman said that Episcopalians and other traditional Anglicans have been experiencing the various stages of grieving for a long time as they saw their church implode from within. The disbelief, the anger, the bargaining, and depression have gripped the members of the Episcopal Church taking them on a spiritual and emotional rollercoaster of thoughts, feeling and spirituality. "We are not the victim," he said. "We must no longer as if we are victims."
For years traditional Episcopalians have felt victimized and marginalized by the national church. They have seen their traditional Anglo-Catholic faith threatened, eroded and collapse as one by one their clearly understood hallmarks of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith have been questioned, ridiculed and in many cased rejected for a pabulum of relevancy, irreverency, tolerance and non discriminating inclusion resulting in a total breakdown of faith and morals which has left the Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA) with a non-celibate gay bishop, a female presiding bishop-elect, a confused, betrayed and spiritually wounded membership and dwindling communicant numbers.
The faith once delivered to the Apostles has been tossed out in an attempt to dilute the Gospel and provide cheap grace, meaning that anything goes and that no matter how unorthodox and extreme one is -- in the name of justice -- s/he is accepted and acceptable to the "church". As a result the demands of faith, the encounter with the Cross and the burden and pain of the Cross, have been compromised by the world and modern culture.
Bp. Ackerman explained that as Anglican Christians seeking to see the fullness of Anglican faith and practice stabilized in the United States that they are called to be Simon of Cyrene, who was taken from the crowd to help carry Christ's Cross along the road to Calvary.
"We are the people in the crowd dragged out of the crowd to carry the Cross for Jesus," Bp. Ackerman clarified. "We are Simon of Cyrene."
"God trusts us," he said "Look to the Cross and to the tomb to see God's own salvific action."
The FiF-NA president said that the umbrella organization was a movement within the church was charged to bring the Church (the active, vibrant Body of Christ) to those who know no church. In part it is FiF-NA's responsibly to ensure that Anglican sacraments were secured and maintained with certainly, surety and consultation.