June 11, 2010
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1:3-5
The second annual Provincial Council of the Anglican Church in North America gathered 145 delegates and representatives of the jurisdictions and ministry partners of the ACNA. With the Provincial College of Bishops and Executive Committee, we were wonderfully hosted at All Saints Cathedral in Amesbury, MA from June 7-11, 2010. In our meeting we have been conscious of both the great joy and the great responsibility that has come to us through the transforming love of God in Jesus Christ. As the scripture from 1 Peter makes clear, our focus is on the hope that comes to us through the resurrection of Jesus. We are united in our resolve to share that redeeming love of Christ as faithful Anglicans and members by God's grace in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ.
We were profoundly aware of struggles of others who are pressed by the global economic crisis or face devastation from the oil in the Gulf of Mexico. We prayed for these issues and for Christians who face terrible persecution.
The Council joyfully marked a series of significant landmarks as we celebrated the first anniversary of the launch of the new Province.
Archbishop's Address: Mobilizing for Mission and Anglican1000.
We are grateful for the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst and for His encouragement through our worship, prayer, and meetings. We are thankful, too, for the faithful leadership of the Most Rev. Robert Duncan, our Archbishop, and his constant reminders of the pursuit of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. In his Provincial address he said, "[W]e have been able to articulate a threefold accountability without which any congregation falls short of being reliably Anglican: accountable to the Holy Scriptures, accountable to the Great Tradition, accountable for the transformation of society. These understandings are, in themselves, remarkable achievements."
Speaking of the commitment of the Province to plant 1,000 new congregations in the first five years of our life, the Archbishop said, "Anglican1000 is a symbol of who we are. A leader, David Roseberry, came forward after my investiture sermon fifty weeks ago, saying he would do whatever it takes to work with me to make the planting of 1000 new congregations in five years a reality." That gave rise to Anglican1000 in which "everybody is imaging congregational multiplication: little parishes, big parishes, young people, old people, black people, white people, First Nation people, Asian people. It's catalyzing our existing congregations. It's catalyzing undergraduates on countless campuses. This is the Anglican Church in North America."
The Archbishop reported that we have planted more than one hundred new congregations in our first year.
Decision making and accountability reports were carried out in the context of worship and Bible study. Particularly poignant was the identification of a cadre of new young Bible teachers who reinforced the call to plant the 1,000 congregations and taught on the compelling call to mission and the responsibility to extend the Kingdom of God through sharing the transforming love of Christ. The following actions and decisions were affirmed:
Formation of New Dioceses
The Council created the Anglican Diocese of the South and the Diocese of the Great Lakes. These new dioceses have exhibited tremendous energy and commitment to scriptural faith and to the vision of church planting and evangelism. The formation of two new dioceses in our first year is tangible evidence of the depth of the commitment across the ACNA to the vision of planting 1,000 churches in the first five years of our life. It brings the total number of dioceses in ACNA to twenty.
The Provincial Council received reports of the welcome that the ACNA received at the Fourth Global South Encounter (GSE4) in Singapore. We were particularly heartened by the clear demonstration of full communion with our Province by the Global South Provinces gathered there, as exemplified in our Archbishop celebrating the Eucharist during the Encounter. Since Anglican relationships have been defined through Communion, this was particularly important.
It was noted that Archbishop Duncan has been seated on the GAFCON/FCA Primates Council, a further demonstration of the solid relationships that ACNA enjoys with the majority of the world's active Anglicans.
The ACNA Ecumenical Task Force reported wonderful progress with ecumenical partners who have been clear that they will only have conversation with jurisdictions that are completely committed to Biblical orthodoxy. Our ecumenical progress has been substantial with the Orthodox Church in America and several groups of Lutherans (some of whom are interested in linking directly with us). We are also in conversation with groups of congregations of Messianic Jews who want to pursue closer relationships with our Province and have ongoing conversations with the Roman Catholic Church.
The Provincial Council meeting provided a mechanism for celebrating relationships with Mission Partners who share the fundamental declarations of our Anglican faith and who are united with us in reaching out with Christ's transforming love. Conversations over recent months made it clear that Mission Partner status provides the best structural mechanism for continued cooperation of the Anglican Mission, and that was approved by the Council. We share a passion to reach North America with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and will continue to pursue that together.
The Council celebrated all these reports and actions as significant demonstrations of the work of the Kingdom of God and growth of our new Province.
College of Bishops
Meeting in the days immediately after the Provincial Council, the College of Bishops approved both the creation of a new Missionary Bishop position to pursue Christ's mission among the Niobrara Sioux Native Americans and confirmed the selection of the Rev. Dr. Foley Beach as the first Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the South. The Rt. Rev. Derek Jones was approved as suffragan bishop to oversee cooperatively an ever increasing number of military and institutional chaplains and chaplain candidates.
The College also engaged a panel which presented a range of views concerning women's ordination to the priesthood. Thoughtful theological presentations were made on both sides of the issue, and conversations were characterized by conviction, but in an atmosphere of thoughtfulness. There was great encouragement from the ability to have substantive conversation with such grace.
All through the gathering of the Executive Committee, the Provincial Council, and the College of Bishops, there were reports of transformed lives and new congregations coming to life all across North America. Though there are tremendous challenges, we have taken great encouragement from the astounding progress of our first year together. Without a doubt, "The Lord has done great things for us and we are glad indeed." Psalm 126:3