Sunday, December 30, 2012
By The Very Rev. Dr. Donald P. Richmond
Over the past number of years increased attention has been given to evangelization. Originally rooted in the Roman Catholic Church, other denominations have also sought to re-present the gospel of Christ in ways that are far more comprehensible to modern / postmodern culture. Anglicans have also sought to re-form the ancient faith in ways that are far more palatable or pertinent.
These efforts are not entirely bad, although many are manifestly misguided. Just the other day I was reviewing a jurisdictional publication whose newest energies targeted building "Celtic" communities. Before this, and continuing, the renewal of worship (worship with "relevance") has been emphasized. Similarly, although striking a different note, the Inaugural Assembly of ACNA featured Dr. Rick Warren and his "missional" approach.
Other examples abound. Almost everyone today seeks to jump on the "missional" bandwagon, obviously overlooking at least three fundamental issues: (1) Evangelism is not a new idea, it is a gospel imperative, (2) Programs do not accomplish the purpose of God, and (3) By emphasizing programs above prayer we place the cart before the horse.
When reading about such efforts, and many others like them, I am often reminded of Hebrews 6:3 where the anonymous author tells us that we must do these things, but it is well past the time when we should have grown up and moved on (Hebrews 5: 12 - 6: 3). And it is indeed well past the time that we should have moved on by moving back into the patterns - priorities, principles and practices - that God has revealed.
In my opinion, our misconstrued "missional" emphasis is simply "elementary" teaching that has been long neglected. What Christian does not know that the Great Commandment and Great Commission are our priorities in life, priorities given by God and quite natural to those who are genuinely "alive in Christ?"
In order to move on we must return to our biblical and theological foundations. These are very briefly noted in Acts 2: 42. On the day of Pentecost, and shortly thereafter, the church was built upon four priorities: Apostolic Teaching, Prayer, Fellowship, and the Breaking of Bread. Each of these will be briefly commented upon.
Recent efforts to return to full orbed catechetical instruction and formation among North American Anglicans are commendable. Our Prayer Book, in both its structure and substance, is a catechetical masterpiece that is firmly rooted in apostolic teaching. It is to this apostolic teaching (centered in Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit) we must become and remain faithful. Programs do not build the church, the Paraclete does. Strategies do not enlarge our borders, the Scriptures and Spirit do. More often than not programs and strategies are shallow human substitutes for biblical fidelity, theological integrity, prolonged waiting and patient prayer. Bibles, not busy-ness or business, build churches.
The primitive church was built upon prayer. Prayerfully waiting upon the Spirit, and being enflamed for service, the early church proclaimed the "good news" of Jesus Christ both efficiently and effectively. They had no program beyond "waiting on God."
Their strategy was decisively spiritual. When the Spirit spoke, they spoke. Where the Spirit moved, they moved.
Anglicans are rooted in prayer, or at least should be. We practice what has been called (I believe by the late Rev. Dr. Robert Crouse) "Prayer Book Spirituality." If we are not people of prayer, we are not truly Anglicans. If we are not people of prayer, there may be cause to question whether we are even Christians. If we build houses apart from sustained supplication we build upon a Babel foundation. "Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it."
As such, I believe that it is imperative that we Anglicans return to our Book of Common Prayer, to free prayer, to ejaculatory prayer, to sustained prayer, to warfare prayer, to prayer that sweats blood. In order to build churches we must build ourselves. It is my challenge to every Anglican, especially clergy, to return to our Daily Offices and an hour a day of simply waiting upon God. No prayer, no power. No Spirit, no success.
Community is critical to effective gospel communication. We come from and are made for community. In my soon to be released article, "Orange County or New Testament Evangelism?," I write: "We have our small groups, our cell groups, our fellowship groups, our accountability groups, our gregarious groupings of genteel gropers who so desperately want to "feel" good. And these are not entirely bad, but they are barely a beginning. What we really need, however, is deep fellowship. Fellowship is far more radical and far more personal. Fellowship is found when we practice commonality, community, and communalism..." (Daily Press, 2013). Are Anglicans truly building fellowships or are we simply hankering after Celtic, Benedictine, Saddleback, or other forms of well-meaning but often ill-informed substitutes? I truly "get" these efforts. I am myself Benedictine and believe that St. Benedict's Rulehas a great deal to teach us. I have been associated with a monastic community for almost a quarter of a century, and this association has enriched my life. I value George G. Hunter's The Celtic Way of Evangelism. I "see" the need for creating fellowship. But, in spite of "getting" and "seeing" this need, I often baulk at how we conceive and seek to create these communities. Any community building without the caritas of commonality and communalism is ill-conceived.
Any informed reader will note that these four focuses, culminating in the Breaking of Bread, suggest that we must truly become liturgical communities, Eucharistic communities. Although much could and has been said about this topic, suffice it to say that a liturgical and Eucharistic community lives its lifeafter the Service of Worship has ended and the Benediction has been given. The Breaking Bread community that builds the church is the broken hearted community that limps through life along with and among others.
The Breaking Bread community does not seek to artificially create effective means of evangelism because, when liturgy and Eucharist are lived, it naturally emerges. In such a community, the Liturgy of the Word becomes the proclamation of the Gospel, the Liturgy of the Sacrament becomes the promulgation of sacrificial living, the Anamnesis becomes the radical re-presentation of life giving incarnation and the Epiclesis becomes the center point for ministry in, through and by the Holy Spirit. In short, this type of community becomes and behaves as the "altar of the world." The so called "New Evangelization" and our "missional" emphasis is nothing new. It is, in fact, ancient. It is biblical, spiritual, mandated by God and an imperative placed on every believer. But we must build God's way, not our own.
The Very Reverend Doctor Donald P. Richmond, a Priest-Oblate with the Reformed Episcopal Church and Order of Saint Benedict, is a widely published author, poet, and monastic cartoonist.
Special to Virtueonline www.virtueonline.org
December 29, 2102
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
|Archbishop Stanley and Mama Beatrice - John Macdonald amd me seated nearby|
|St Paul's Cathedral, Namirembe Hill Saturday AM before service|
|President of Uganda Museveni addressing congregation|
|(l to r) ACNA bishops Neil Lebhar, John Guernsey and Bill Thompson|
|Former Archbishops Nkoyoyo and Orombi flank newly enthroned Archbishop Ntagali|
|Processing out - John Macdonald and I observe|
|Main Administration Building at Uganda Christian University|
Note: All pictures (except the photo of UCU) courtesy of the Rev Canon Dr Alison Barfoot, Assistant for International Affairs to the Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Uganda.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Friday, December 7, 2012
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Without that work, we would never have any desire to come to Christ. That’s why we say that regeneration precedes faith.
Saturday, December 1, 2012
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
When an organization such as a for-profit business begins to experience inward drift, it will change or die within relative short order. The marketplace will not buy its goods or services if the company doesn’t address the needs and the hearts of the consumers.
Monday, November 26, 2012
Sunday, November 25, 2012
At the 10:30 service at the end of his sermon Christopher made an appeal for those who would like to surrender to Christ the King to stand –the whole congregation stood. He then asked those who’ve done this for the first time to raise their hands and five did so. Praise God! It will be our job to follow up these commitments and we surely will. All in all it was a great Sunday.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Monday, November 19, 2012
The Holy Spirit was present and active! We listened to readings from Holy Scripture, prayed and sang a combination of staid Anglican hymns like "Alleluia, Sing to Jesus", old gospel hymns like "It is Well" and "His Eye in on the Sparrow" and renewal choruses from the 1980s like "Glorify Thy Name" and "Surely the Presence of the Lord is in This Place". And the Rector, John Fierro, preached with fire in his belly!The service was a real testimony to the hard work and commitment to the gospel by the people of the former
Just sayin', DDW
Saturday, November 17, 2012
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith….” Hebrews 12:1—2a
When this Diocese last met in a convention at St. Philip’s, it was September 16h, 2006. I was one of three candidates for the XIV Bishop of
Consequently, I trust you will understand that I have strived in these past five years, contrary to what some may believe or assert, to keep us from this day; from what I have referred to in numerous deanery and parish gatherings as the
But I must say this again and again. This has never been about who is welcome or not welcome in our church. Its about what we shall tell them about Jesus Christ, his mercy, his grace and his truth – it is about , what we shall tell them when they come and what we shall share when we go out.
We have spent far too many hours and days and years in a dubious and fruitless resistance to the relentless path of the Episcopal Church. And while some of us still struggle in grief at what has happened and where these extraordinary days have brought us, I believe it is time to turn the page. The leaders of the Episcopal Church have made their positions known—our theological and creedal commitments regarding the trustworthiness of Scripture, the uniqueness and universality of Jesus Christ, and other precious truths, while tolerated, are just opinions among others; our understanding of human nature, the given-ness of gender as male and female, woven by God into the natural and created order, is now declared by canon law to be unacceptable; our understanding of marriage as proclaimed in the Book of Common Prayer “established by God in creation” and espoused by Anglicans around the world hangs precariously in the life of the Episcopal Church by a thin and fraying thread; and our understanding of the church’s polity, which until the legal strategy of the present Presiding Bishop’s litigation team framed their legal arguments, was a widely held and respected position in this church . Now to hold it and express it is tantamount to misconduct or worse to act upon it – is ruled as abandonment of this church. While one might wish the theological and moral concerns were on center stage, it is the Disciplinary Board for Bishops misuse of the church’s polity that has finally left us no place to stand within the Episcopal Church. So be it. They have spoken. We have acted. We have withdrawn from that Church that we along with six other dioceses help to organize centuries ago.
While I have strived to keep us from this
Following Christ the Pioneer and Perfecter of our Future
So turning the page let us take a brief look at this next chapter of the Diocese of South Carolina. We shall need, of course, the promises and exhortations of the apostolic word. I began this address with verses from the Letter to the Hebrews. After surveying in the 11th Chapter of his letter the luminaries of past generations who walked by faith and not by sight—Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, David and many lesser known men and women— the writer turns the page for his readers to the present and the future. Surrounded by these witnesses or martyrs from the past these early Christians must take their place in this great narrative of salvation history. Shedding themselves of every hindrance and clinging sins and (may I suggest perhaps things they cannot take with them) they are to press on looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of their faith. And so must we.
Challenges and Opportunities within the Diocese: Much speculation has arisen now that we are out of the Episcopal Church as to where the Diocese of South Carolina is going? I have repeatedly said at gatherings around the diocese that this question has not been a topic of serious discussion among the changing members of the Standing Committee over the years, or for that matter among the deans, or within the Council. It needs to be state again that our time has been taken up with keeping the diocese protected, while being intact and in the Episcopal Church. And knowing that should push come to shove we would need to be prepared for numerous contingencies, we put in place various protections. These are now profoundly helpful: we have a pension plan for clergy and laity; insurance possibilities for our congregations; a diocesan health insurance program. These do not allay every sacrifice or concern by any means, but they do at least fill a void that would otherwise be unnerving and almost unmanageable for many of our clergy and congregations. Yet work remains to be done in these areas, and will be done in a timely manner. Our challenges in this new landscape are many. Some rather small, and others quite enormous—but so are the advantages.
Having chosen to persuade rather than coerce we have a great meeting place—the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ! He is the one who opens the great doors or closes them. You may recall that the risen and glorified Christ spoke to the Philadelphian church in the Revelation of St. John the Divine: “Look, behold I set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.” I believe he has opened a door for us as well. We know how to do mission. We know how to preach the gospel; to make disciples; to share our faith with others; to do effective youth ministry; hold on to the essential doctrines of Christ while being innovative in reaching emerging generations; We know how to plant and grow congregations. Do we have much to learn? You bet. Will we learn it? We will. I ask you to imagine if this might be true - that perhaps the greatest congregations in this Diocese of South Carolina have yet to be grown - maybe they haven’t even been planted. Some of us are getting long in the tooth and need to learn from and make way for younger leaders. As for me I realize how quickly it has happened: those words of the Psalmist that once caused me to think of retired priests and elder statesmen I now apply to myself: “O God, you have taught me since I was young, /and to this day I tell of your wonderful works. /And now that I am old and gray-headed, O God, do not forsake me, /till I make known your strength to this generation and your power to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71:17-18) When did that come to be about me and not someone else? The LORD spoke to Servant-Israel regarding her witness to the world saying: “Behold, I do a new thing—before it breaks forth I tell you of it.” It is a time for the old to dream dreams and the young to see visions. If we can combine prudence and dynamism we can get somewhere. So even while we keep the richness of a residential seminary clergy track, we need to explore new ways of preparing young men and women and even middle-age ones for ministry; especially those who know how to travel light. It is a new day and new ways of proclaiming the old truths need to be adopted.
I stated at our recent Clergy Conference that I hoped we will maintain a comprehensive Anglicanism. Should we lose an African-American congregation we shall look at planting another. If we lose an Anglo-Catholic parish we will pray for what God will have us do; there are those from whom we can learn from here in this area. As for multi-racial congregations surely that is a gift whose time has come - or perhaps is past time. Imagine what this Diocese of South Carolina can accomplish for the
Let me turn to the challenges and opportunities in North American Anglicanism for a minute:
All this might be what lies behind the question often raised at the deanery and parish forums I’ve been addressing—“Bishop, with whom will we affiliate?” My answer has been quite simply, “For now—no one.” As any wise pastor will tell you, if you been in a troubling, painful or dysfunctional relationship for a long period of time and then the marriage or relationship ends, you would be wise not to jump right away into the first one that comes along and tie the knot. You’d be wise take your time. Nevertheless, I hope we can work with and for a greater unity among the Anglican Churches within our local region and also within
I recall some other challenging words from the past. Those sardonic and haunting words of William Reed Huntington, whose genius over a century ago shaped the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral: “If our whole ambition as Anglicans in America be to continue a small, but eminently respectable body of Christians, and to offer refuge to people of refinement and sensibility, who are shocked by the irreverences they are apt to encounter elsewhere; in a word, if we care to be only a countercheck and not a force in society then let us say as much in plain terms, and frankly renounce any claim to Catholicity. We have only, in such a case, to wrap the robe of our dignity about us, and walk quietly along in a seclusion no one will take much trouble to disturb. Thus may we be a Church in name and a sect in deed.” I mention these cutting words for two reasons. I believe we need to work in two directions at the same time. First we need to allow ourselves to draw near to the throbbing needs of the world around us. And while maintaining the four pillars of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, we need to creatively engage our culture not with the tired arguments of the past, answering questions no one is asking, but answering those questions in the sorrowing and aspiring heart of our society.
Some years ago after the General Convention 2009 I went with a group of conservative Bishops to meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury. But not wanting to put all my eggs in one basket, I also made an appointment with the Bishop of London. His offices are near
Finally, I turn to our place in The worldwide Anglican Communion. Our vision since 2009 has been to Make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age: Helping by God’s grace to help shape emerging Anglicanism in the 21st Century. Just this week I mentioned in my recent Open Letter to the Diocese that we have heard from Archbishops, Presiding Bishops, and diocesan bishops from Kenya to Singapore, England to Egypt, Ireland to the Indian Ocean, Canada to Australia. They, represent the overwhelmingly vast majority of members of the Anglican Communion and they consider me as a faithful Anglican Bishop in good standing and they consider this diocese as part of the One, Holy, Catholic and
Nevertheless, this I assure you, there shall be lengthy and thorough conversation among the clergy of this diocese—our bishops, priests, and deacons—and our lay leaders before any decision will be presented before this Convention that would ask you to associate with any Province. I remind you of an historical fact—this diocese existed after the American Revolution for four years before it helped to fully form the Protestant Episcopal Church in these
What then in conclusion? Having turned the page, having gazed however briefly at the next chapter, the path begins to open up before us, “… let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the Founder and Perfecter of our faith who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” These resolutions you will soon have before you are first and foremost a way for you to affirm the action of disaffiliation which the Standing Committee has legally and canonically taken. Many of you have already decided in your heart and mind how you will vote. Others will need more time. But I invite you for just a moment to stand on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral at the heart of the bustling city with the needs of the world, or if you prefer stand at the corner of Meeting and Broad here in Charleston or outside the Walmart in Goose Creek or Moncks Corner, or sit in a vestry meeting after having been a Rotary luncheon in Florence and lean yourself into a throbbing and hurting world. Ask yourself how long do I want to spend my time, my energy and my soul in a resistance movement that has proven so fruitless. Is it not time to get on with a ministry of Jesus Christ to a broken world? So in keeping with your understanding of God’s Word, the historic teachings of Christ’s Church, and the leading of the Holy Spirit and Jesus’ call to make Disciples, it is time to take stock of what you think, and in harmony with your heart and conscience to act. May God guide us all.
“Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen.” Jude24