BISHOP’S EPISTLE April – May 2016

Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and a blessed Paschal Feast and Season to all! I pray that your Holy Week and Easter Services went well. Each year the various services of Lent and Holy Week refocus our hearts and minds upon the self-offering of our Lord Jesus culminating in his death on the cross. There would be no Easter Sunday to celebrate without the pain of Good Friday. “It is finished,” were the final words of Christ on the Cross proclaiming his victory over sin and death. The Crucifixion is the victory which Easter joyously proclaims. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more of our people attended the Services of Holy Week, especially Good Friday. There is, of course, a natural aversion to suffering and pain on the part of all of us, however, the true appreciation of the Joys of Easter cannot fully envelop us without first walking the Via Dolorosa. May the growing knowledge in our hearts that our Lord is Risen from the grave inspire each of us in letting the world around us know of the great hope of the resurrection we share with him.

SYNODS: DEUS, week of July 11-15 in Riverview (Tampa), Florida; DMA, July 28- 29 at Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville, Illinois

DEUS Synod—2016 Theme: Salvation: the Mission of the Church Now that the rigors of Lent and the joyous celebration of Easter Sunday have passed, I want to remind you that we all need to get our registrations in for our Synods this summer. You can register online at www.anglicanprovince.org (at bottom of the home page is Synod link). The DEUS has a beautiful venue on the Riverwalk in downtown Tampa, Florida and a program which will be of interest and should be enjoyable to all. I have invited Bishop Kenneth N. Myers of Sherman, Texas, who has authored a number of books to be our guest speaker. Bishop Myers is well-known in Anglican circles for his insightful, orthodox and down to earth writing and speaking. Bishop Chad Jones had him speak at St. Barnabas’ Church twice and he was very well-received. This DEUS Synod will be the first one hosted by St. Matthew’s Church, Riverview, Florida, and they are working very hard to make this a wonderful experience for all. We have many plans which will make for an enjoyable time together and the worship services are always uplifting to the spirit. Remember all clergy are required to attend unless excused by the Bishop Ordinary and all laity are invited to attend!

The Diocese of Mid-America Synod will be held July 28-29, 2016 at Our Lady of the Snows (OLS) in Belleville, Illinois across the river from St. Louis. This Synod will be presided over by the Right Rev. Robert Giffin, who now resides in San Antonio, Texas. OLS is just about midway between the northern and southern part of this Diocese. OLS is a wonderful peaceful venue for such a gathering and it is important that all parishes and missions be represented at the Synod.

The DOW Synod will be held in October 2016 but the venue and the dates are yet to be determined. I will have additional information by our next issue of the Epistle.

On the subject of investing in the future of the APA and the Continuing Church (CC) in general, it is becoming more and more obvious that building the church using methods of the past is no longer viable. Much of what the CC relied upon has been churches transferring from one jurisdiction to another for whatever reason. Those days are past for the most part and that is a good thing. What it does mean is a re-thinking of our priorities and a revision of our mission plan for the future. If we wish just to survive and not thrive in building God’s kingdom, we can accomplish little and continue with the status quo. It is axiomatic that if we are not growing we will be fading away. As I have mentioned before, from the beginning, the CC was started by people who for the most part were beyond 50 years of age. Many of our congregations are well-beyond this stage of life and thus it becomes imperative that if we are to grow with a new generation of people, we must reach out into our communities and get involved. People need to know we exist and that they are welcome to come visit; to “come and see!”

I have appointed a “Task Force on Evangelism” which will be organizing itself in the next month. Part of the plan is to raise funds to help support a new or an existing mission which has promise for growth to help fund a priest who is willing to take on the challenge of building a congregation. This has grown out of our Lenten Appeal Domestic Mission Fund which we have done for 2015 and again in 2016. Our 2015 Fund effort is already providing a plan for success under the leadership of Fr. Wade Miller and St. Philip’s, Blacksburg, Virginia. We have learned and are learning some vital lessons from this experience. We hope to complete the fund raising for the 2016 Mission Fund before too long and I hope all of you will participate and send your Lenten Funds to our Treasurer, D.J. Fulton.

The Task Force will be issuing a Proposal following their first meeting which will be distributed to all our churches. It is important that we all embrace the Mission Development plan in order that we have a uniform plan as we all move forward together. Critical to any of this is prayer for guidance as our Church and Province move forward into the future. I am also re-issuing a document written by our former Bishop, Anthony Clavier, 20+ years ago, which I have modified to make it more applicable to our generation. The document is entitled, Building Stable Congregations, which I will attach.

Tied closely with the Task Force and the Proposal for church planting and revitalization is Clergy Education. In order for clergy and congregation to be successful, the priest must have sufficient knowledge of who and what we are theologically and spiritually and the congregation must be willing to listen and be open to instruction. We must have the means to train young men who may have completed Seminary not in our tradition and also those transfers into our church from other traditions. Our cooperative effort, Logos House of Theological Studies, with our communion partners in the Anglican Church in America (ACA) is providing a needed service in training Deacons and Deaconesses. Fr. William Martin, as Dean of Logos House, is providing priestly formation for men who have come to us ordained in other jurisdictions as well. This is a heavy work load for the Dean who also serves as a full time parish priest in the DEUS. Additional funding is needed to provide fair compensation for the Dean and to provide for others who can teach some of the courses under the direction of the Dean. Without well-trained clergy it is not possible to build and sustain a congregation of spiritually and theologically strong people as they develop into a full parish.

This brings me to my final point. In order to of the past is no longer viable. Much of what the CC relied upon has been churches transferring from one jurisdiction to another for whatever reason. Those days are past for the most part and that is a good thing. What it does mean is a re-thinking of our priorities and a revision of our mission plan for the future. If we wish just to survive and not thrive in building God’s kingdom, we can accomplish little and continue with the status quo. It is axiomatic that if we are not growing we will be fading away. As I have mentioned before, from the beginning, the CC was started by people who for the most part were beyond 50 years of age. Many of our congregations are well-beyond this stage of life and thus it becomes imperative that if we are to grow with a new generation of people, we must reach out into our communities and get involved. People need to know we exist and that they are welcome to come visit; to “come and see!”

I have appointed a “Task Force on Evangelism” which will be organizing itself in the next month. Part of the plan is to raise funds to help support a new or an existing mission which has promise for growth to help fund a priest who is willing to take on the challenge of building a congregation. This has grown out of our Lenten Appeal Domestic Mission Fund which we have done for 2015 and again in 2016. Our 2015 Fund effort is already providing a plan for success under the leadership of Fr. Wade Miller and St. Philip’s, Blacksburg, Virginia. We have learned and are learning some vital lessons from this experience. We hope to complete the fund raising for the 2016 Mission Fund before too long and I hope all of you will participate and send your Lenten Funds to our Treasurer, D.J. Fulton.

The Task Force will be issuing a Proposal following their first meeting which will be distributed to all our churches. It is important that we all embrace the Mission Development plan in order that we have a uniform plan as we all move forward together. Critical to any of this is prayer for guidance as our Church and Province move forward into the future. I am also re-issuing a document written by our former Bishop, Anthony Clavier, 20+ years ago, which I have modified to make it more applicable to our generation. The document is entitled, Building Stable Congregations, which I will attach.

Tied closely with the Task Force and the Proposal for church planting and revitalization is Clergy Education. In order for clergy and congregation to be successful, the priest must have sufficient knowledge of who and what we are theologically and spiritually and the congregation must be willing to listen and be open to instruction. We must have the means to train young men who may have completed Seminary not in our tradition and also those transfers into our church from other traditions. Our cooperative effort, Logos House of Theological Studies, with our communion partners in the Anglican Church in America (ACA) is providing a needed service in training Deacons and Deaconesses. Fr. William Martin, as Dean of Logos House, is providing priestly formation for men who have come to us ordained in other jurisdictions as well. This is a heavy work load for the Dean who also serves as a full time parish priest in the DEUS. Additional funding is needed to provide fair compensation for the Dean and to provide for others who can teach some of the courses under the direction of the Dean. Without well-trained clergy it is not possible to build and sustain a congregation of spiritually and theologically strong people as they develop into a full parish.

This brings me to my final point. In order to accomplish these critically important issues I have mentioned, we must have the commitment of our people spiritually and financially. This means giving prayerful thought to including in your Estate Planning your Parish, the Diocese, and the Province for its ongoing mission which you were a part while a member of the Church Militant. While the world around us seems to be ever imploding, I am encouraged. “The harvest is plenteous but the laborer are few…” We continue to grow steadily; we have bright, enthusiastic young (a relative term) priests joining us and many in training. Just as critical to having clergymen willing to labor in the harvest, we need those who will support them. May God bless you and give you a Joyous Eastertide, +Walter