APA Ecuadorian Mission Trip

On August 23, 2017, an Anglican Province of America mission team traveled to  Riobamba, Ecuador, to visit Churches under the oversight of the APA. Members of the team included my friend; the Right Rev’d Chandler Jones who visited St. James just a few years ago; the Very Rev’d David Haines, one of my fellow counselors at the APA Summer Camp; and the Very Rev’d Ralph Waterhouse, Dean of the Cathedral, a great priest and a great friend who visited me while I was in the hospital on a respirator. They returned home on from a memorable trip on August 31.

Why Ecuador? In 2016, a remote group of indigenous people from Ecuador requested Apostolic oversight from Bishop Grundorf and the APA. The group faced persecution from the Ecuadorian government, and they were abandoned by the Roman Catholic Church. Two priests and nine deacons courageously worked to serve churches in thirty-two villages with twenty-thousand parishioners.

People do not enjoy religious freedom in Ecuador the same way we do in the US. Churches must be registered and recognized by the government. The Anglican Group in Ecuador gained recognition from the government last year. Bishop Grundorf visited the group in November of 2016. Then he met with church leaders, celebrated Holy Communion, ordained a man to the Diaconate, and held a contentious meeting with representatives from the Roman Catholic Church. This year’s mission trip continued the APA’s support of the Ecuadorian Church by assessing progress in land acquisition, church construction, and repair. Further, Bishop Chad performed ordinations and the team provided instruction on aspects of Anglican faith, practice, and worship.

On August 27, mission team member Father Ralph Waterhouse posted on Facebook;

Visited two villages yesterday. First greeted us with a parade that led into church under construction. Bishop Chad released bird representing the Spirit. Lunch followed; guinea pig, maize, beans and beer. Second village was three hour away and up a treacherous mountain gravel road to 12,000′ elevation. Baptisms and Confirmations…. Long, hard, emotion-filled day. Traveling with wonderful folks helping with translating, funding, etc…

The same Sunday, Bishop Chad Jones posted;

Day 4 – 27th August 2017 – today we blessed the new compound for the Anglican Church in Ecuador and ordained three priests for the Indigenous Pastoral, the APA in Ecuador. These three priests are the first indigenous priests ever to be ordained in the country! Thanks be to God!

I spoke with Bishop Chad on Saturday September 2nd, just two days following his return. He was exhausted, but in a jolly mood. He said that the team visited nine villages and over two thousand parishioners. The people are persecuted, but hopeful. We should pray for our Churches in Ecuador and take heart that God is growing His Church. Finally, I am thankful that my friends returned home safely and that they were able to serve our Lord in such a magnificent manner!

Bishop’s Epistle

Anglican Province of America

XXIII No. 3                      July-September 2017

The Most Reverend Walter H. Grundorf, D.D.

Greetings to all as we begin the countdown for our historic Joint Synods October 2 through 6, 2017. I urge all who can possibly attend, to make your reservations for the hotel soon. You may find the links to register for Synod and make hotel reservations online from our APA website (www.anglicanprovince.org under the NEWS tab). Please remember to scroll down to bottom of each page to see “register” and “next” buttons. If you still need help with online registration, you may contact, Debbie Weaver at dweaver63@gmail.com. So there is no confusion, the first part of the Synod week will be when each jurisdiction will be doing its own regular business. The APA, Diocese of the Eastern U.S. (DEUS) will be having its various committee meetings on Monday and Tuesday. The APA/DEUS and the APA/Diocese of Mid-America (DMA) will begin their individual plenary sessions on Wednesday morning at 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. On Wednesday evening, after the evening events, the APA Provincial Council will meet at 8:30 p.m. in preparation for our APA Provincial Synod the following day. Thursday at 9:00 a.m. the APA Provincial Synod will hold its triennial Meeting scheduled until 5:00 p.m. All Worship Services, Holy Communion, Morning and Evening Prayer will be held each day and is for all jurisdictions to join together for worship. Each of the four Jurisdictions will take a day when they will be in charge of their respective Daily Services. The APA will be in charge of the Wednesday Services. Thursday evening, beginning at 7:30 p.m., will be the All Jurisdiction Banquet with special guest speaker, the Rev. George Clendenin, an original participant in the 1977 Congress of St. Louis.

Friday of the Joint Synods will be a Plenary Session along with all four Jurisdictions participating and the signing of the Official Intercommunion Document. It will indeed be an historical occasion and we pray the Holy Spirit will be our guide. This historic event will be followed by a Joint Celebration of the Synod Mass, with each of the Archbishops (Presiding Bishops) participating in the Service. It has fallen my lot to be the preacher at this Mass. We anticipate this will signal the beginning of a new era of cooperation as with great hope we move forward together into a promising future for Traditional Anglicans.
I would like to give a little background as to why we are in this position of calling together the four major jurisdictions of the Continuing Anglican Church at this time.
The 1960s were an unstable time in the U.S. with the Viet Nam War, the racial rioting in many of the major cities, the assassination of President Kennedy and then of Civil Rights Icon Martin Luther King, Jr., all contributing to division in our Country. The Episcopal Church (TEC) was always a symbol of stability but during this period became a Church unsure of itself, with Bishops denying major contents of the ancient Creeds and having their preaching and writings in this regard go unchallenged. TEC also became very much involved in liberal partisan politics. Those in TEC who were unhappy with the direction of the Church had two options, leave the Church or stay in and fight. Organizations such as the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen and the Foundation for Christian Theology were created to inform members of TEC of what was happening in their Church. Some left TEC and formed early versions of the Continuing Church. Those of us in this early iteration of the Continuing Anglican Movement found ourselves involved in establishing congregations as those who were leaving TEC needed a church in which to worship. These early churches formed a jurisdiction in 1968-1970 called the “American Episcopal Church.” While the Episcopal Church was using the ‘trial liturgies’ in those days, those of us who were ‘Continuing Anglicans’ were faithfully using the 1928 BCP or the Missal. Any conflicts in our newly formed Anglican congregations were usually centered around whether or not it was going to be Morning Prayer or Holy Communion, not about issues which later became much more concerning, e.g. Women’s Ordination and later the Ordination of Practicing Homosexuals.

In 1976, the General Convention of TEC officially voted to approve the Ordination of Women (WO) to all three orders of ministry. This led to the departure of a number of the Anglo-Catholic wing of clergy along with a number of the Broad Church traditionalists. A Congress was called by the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen. The Congress was held in St. Louis in September 1977 and titled the Congress of St. Louis. Importantly from this Congress, a document called The Affirmation of St. Louis was produced and is referenced in the Solemn Declarations of each of the four participating jurisdictions who will be a part of the October Joint Synods.

Leaving out much of the detail, the body remained intact under the name of the original Anglican Church of North American (ACNA) for a couple of years. No Episcopal Bishop had left TEC at this time, so there was a vacuum in leadership. The body elected four of their priests to be consecrated as bishops in the original ACNA. A retired bishop of TEC, Albert Chambers, agreed to be a consecrator although he never left the Episcopal Church. Each of the four bishops elected and consecrated in this fragile new jurisdiction separated from each other for one reason or another. The American Episcopal Church, our original jurisdiction, continued on in parallel with the other Continuing Churches from the Congress of St. Louis and managed to grow all through the 1980s which was a time when some of our most stable congregations, such as St. Alban’s, Orlando (Oviedo), FL; St. Barnabas’, Atlanta (Dunwoody), GA; All Saints’ Charlottesville, VA; and St. Mary’s, Delray Beach, FL; to name a few, came into existence.

Other attempts at unifying jurisdictions over the years have not been completely successful. As time goes by, we are finding various ways forward in fulfilling our Lord’s command that we be one. The fact that each of our Jurisdictions involved in this Synod uses the same liturgy and practice much of the same discipline is an encouraging factor. Each Jurisdiction now recognizes the Episcopal Orders of the others. We pray that the Lord will show us the way forward as we seek to grow in friendship, in love, humility and ultimately Unity.

Anglican Legacy Camp 2017

Please see the pictures and article on the Anglicanprovince.org webpage and see some very encouraging signs of growth in our youth of our church from around the DEUS and others from intercommunion partners that attended summer camp. I want to thank all those who contributed to the scholarship fund to provide a way for deserving children to attend camp. What a great way to bond with other Anglican children as they meet at camp from year to year. Special thanks to coordinator, Fr. Michael Cawthon, the Clergy Counselors: Bishop Chad Jones, Fr. Cawthon, Fr. Haines, Fr. Harlow, Fr. Pinto, Fr. Rivard, Fr. Paul Sterne (Diocese of the Holy Cross); Laity Counselors: Kelli Brodrecht (St. Alban’s Cathedral), Pam Driscoll (St. Michael the Archangel Church), Matthew Green (St. Andrew’s Church, REC), and Susan Crosby (St. Michael the Archangel Church); and all the lay people of St. Michael the Archangel Church, in Charlotte, North Carolina, who helped make this year’s camp so successful.

Lenten Fund 2016 and 2017 update

I want to thank all of the parishes and missions of our Province, along with all individuals who contributed to the 2017 Lenten Fund. We are so close to our goal to finish the project which began in Blacksburg, VA at St. Philip’s Church. This is truly a mission project to a community which has a major University, Virginia Tech, and Radford College. Both schools have students at St. Philip’s. I dare say St. Philip’s Church now has the largest percentage of millennials of any church in the APA. The lovely old building of St. Philip’s Church has required much in the way of renovation, not only for safety but mandated by the city of Blacksburg. This has set back the reserves for the vicar’s salary. Please help us finish this project and make St. Philip’s completely self-sufficient. If you have Lenten Funds collected and have not sent them in yet or if you would like to have your congregation be a part of this year’s Fund, please do so when you are able. Continue to pray for Fr. Wade Miller and his efforts to build St. Philip’s Church.

Other good news concerns the 2016 Lenten Fund recipient, St. Peter the Apostle Church, Kingsport, Tennessee. After a long search period, we have found a capable and highly-qualified priest by way of the REC and the ACA named Fr. Robert Placer. Fr. Placer is moving to Kingsport by August 1, 2017 to begin his ministry there. The Church is very excited about the prospect of having a full-time parish priest in the community for the first time! We are all looking forward to seeing and hearing how God will use our Lenten fund, once again, to grow His kingdom.

Good news from the DOW

As you know, All Saints’ Church, Prescott, Arizona, lost their parish priest last December 2016 when Bishop George Fincke died. Last summer, a priest from the ACA Diocese of the Northeast, Father Ian Dunn, who had been working a secular job California, called expressing interest in available parishes in the APA. After discussions with him over some months, and talking with Bishop Marsh, his Diocesan Bishop, I put him in touch with Fr. Greg Miller who was looking for a part-time curate. This was worked out with Bishop Marsh and Fr. Dunn was granted a provisional license and moved to St. Matthew’s, Weaverville, North Carolina. He worked a part-time job, but was able to experience parish life in a well-functioning congregation and with a highly competent mentor in Fr. Miller.
I suggested in May that Fr. Dunn might apply to become the rector of All Saint’s, Prescott. Fr. Dunn applied and spent time there in early June. Following the visit, Fr. Dunn was contacted by the Senior Warden, Ben Lizak, and was told that the parish would like to call him to be Rector. He accepted pending the approval and Letters Dimissory from Bishop Marsh, which was graciously provided. Many thanks to Bishop Brian Marsh for a wonderful example of cooperation between intercommunion partners. Fr. Dunn expects to begin his ministry in Prescott on August 1, 2017.

On the Ecumenical Front

An APA Mission Team will be traveling to Ecuador along with Mission Partners from Worthy Endeavors Ministry to visit our clergy and churches in the Anglican Province of America in Ecuador, August 23-31, 2017. This is our second visit to our newest Global Partner and the team accompanying our Vicar General, Father David Haines, will be, Bishop Chad Jones, Senior Suffragan, and Dean Ralph Waterhouse of St. Alban’s Cathedral. Plans are to teach the clergy and lay leadership in the Anglican Way. There will be visitations to new church construction in some of the 32 communities, numerous confirmations, and a special time with the Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood of two of their Deacons. This important trip is made possible with thanks to those who contribute to our foreign missions fund. Also, Fr. Waterhouse will be evaluating the possibility of taking select youth on a Mission Trip to the region next summer to assist in clean-up, painting and other jobs at the APA/Ecuador Headquarters in Quamote.

The Reformed Episcopal Church General Council- June 2017

I was privileged to be an invited guest, along with Mary, to the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) General Council Meeting in Dallas, Texas, June 14-16, 2017. It was a great time of renewing old acquaintances among the clergy and laity. The highlight of the time there was the Institution of Bishop Ray Sutton as the new Presiding Bishop of the REC at the lovely Church of the Holy Communion. Along with the business agenda, Bishop Sutton did three developmental sessions on their REC 100 program to promote and encourage planting and growing churches in the Anglican Way. This was part of Bishop Royal Grote’s legacy for the future of the REC which he and Bishop Sutton shared prior to Bishop Grote’s untimely death last Thanksgiving Day. The program was very well presented by Bishop Sutton whom I have invited to attend the Joint Synods in October. I have asked Bishop Sutton to present a condensed version of the REC 100 to our Clergy Conference on Tuesday, October 3rd, between 10:00 a.m. and Noon.

Episcopal Missionary Church Synod – July 12-14

I have been invited, along with Mary, to attend the Episcopal Missionary Church (EMC) Synod by Presiding Bishop William Millsaps in Monteagle, Tennessee. It will be a time of meeting some old acquaintances and also to bringing greetings to the Synod from the APA. We look forward to stronger relationships with Bishop Millsaps and his Church in the future.

First Episcopal Visit by the Diocesan and Presiding Bishop

My first visit to St. James the Great Church in Smiths Station, Alabama, will be Sunday July 16, 2017. St. James the Great Church, along with their priest the
Continuation of Bishop’s Epistle Rev. John Klein, were received into the Diocese and the APA at our Synod in Tampa, Florida, last summer. We are looking forward to seeing their Church facility and the faithful members of this new mission church. Smiths Station is between Columbus, Georgia and Auburn, Alabama.

In closing, we were saddened by the loss of Fr. Richard Blyth on June 9th in Melbourne, Florida, after a long struggle with cancer. Fr. Blyth was a faithful, loving and devoted priest of our Church and will be missed by all, including family, friends and St. Paul’s Church, Melbourne, Florida, where he served as a long-time assistant priest. Fr. Blyth’s Requiem Mass will be held on Saturday, August 5th, at St. Paul’s, Melbourne, Florida. Rest in peace Richard+

I look forward to being together at the Joint Synods in October. In the meantime, have a pleasant and fruitful summer. Do continue to pray for the many needs of our Church and also for the complete healing of Father Kevin Sweeney, in your daily prayers.

Faithfully yours in Christ,
+Walter

Presiding Bishop’s Column

Epiphany Greetings in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ!

Our annual January Winter Conference was held at and hosted by the parish Church of Christ the Redeemer, Fort Valley (Warner Robins), Georgia. There were a multitude of activities and board meetings during the course of the week of January 16-20. Along with the meetings and sessions there were times to socialize around the meal times and worship in their beautiful new church building. We are most grateful to the Rector, Father Matthew Harlow and his wife Sarah who, with the folks at the Church of Christ the Redeemer, did a superb job of organizing and assisting in so many ways to make our Conference for our clergy, their wives, the deaconesses, and the Standing Committee members such a success.

The Clergy Conference began with an interactive time with reference to a recent clergy survey conducted in the later part of 2016. The clergy who responded to the survey on how to make meetings more productive, mentioned a number of areas of interest. This was a change of pace from more recent conferences which have been focused on teaching and theological issues. Without getting into detail, which will be shared with the clergy in a Pastoral Letter, the subjects raised covered a wide range of contemporary concerns from expectations of the parish priest to standardizing who may receive Holy Communion to dividing ashes for those cremated, etc.

The second part of the Conference covered an oral history of the very early days of the ‘continuing Anglican Church’ through my eyes and memory. This was done by way of an interview with Fr. Glenn Spencer, who gave a brief introduction and asked questions pertaining to those earlier years “fireside chat style.” What was covered goes back some 50 years, when as your Bishop, I was just out of school and newly ordained as a deacon and priest. What made this historical review seem to capture the interest of the clergy and others attending was that none of it was scripted and was all done conversationally with plenty of anecdotal material. What was interesting to me when thinking about this in advance of the Conference, is so many of those who were around in the early days are no longer with us. I know there are those who have written their version of the ‘Continuing Church’ Story. But having been around from the earliest of days, I was there for most of it. Much of the early history of what was our predecessor jurisdiction (the American Episcopal Church) predated the 1977 Congress of St. Louis, back to the mid and late 1960s. What came across to me personally upon reflection and to those of our Clergy, was the turmoil that was happening in the 1960s in the world, our country and the church. In the world of the 60s, there was the bloody Vietnam War and the ineffective leadership that did not have the will to win the war. In our country, there were violent protests in the streets over the war, race riots in most major cities, and the Episcopal Church abandoning the foundations of its beliefs personified by the Bishop of California, James Pike. This, along with the desire to change the one stable part of the Episcopal Church, the Book of Common Prayer 1928, replacing it with ‘trial liturgies,’ caused increasing dissatisfaction. All of this and other elements created a decade of instability out of which came the early iteration of the ‘Continuing Anglican Church’ movement. Other events in the Episcopal Church in the next decade brought a new wave of ‘Traditional Anglicans’ parting ways with the Episcopal Church. (Note: The oral memoirs were recorded for historical purposes and will be completed at future Conferences. It is important that we record our own history rather than others doing it for us.) The next Clergy Conference will include a completion of our history and a vision for the future of the Continuing Church and the APA.

At the Conference Eucharist, we had the Ordination to the Diaconate of Peter Joslyn. Plans are that he, and his wife Erin and children, will be moving to Greensboro, N.C. where he will serve as curate at St. John’s Church to the Rev. Mark Menees.

The Conference concluded on the morning of January 20 with the DEUS Standing Committee (SC) Meeting. As part of the business there were interviews with those who completed and passed their Canonical Examination earlier in the week with the Board of Examining Chaplains and interviews with the Bishop’s Advisory Committee. This interview, with those completing their exam, is the opportunity for the SC to ask questions of each candidate prior to recommending them for ordination to the Bishop. Those recommended for ordination by the Bishop were: Deacon Brian Oldfield, Holy Trinity Church, Fernandina Beach, FL; Deacon Bartol Stone, St. Alban’s Cathedral, Oviedo, FL; Mr. Tyler Phass, Diaconate, Reformed Episcopal Seminary; and transfers from other jurisdictions: the Rev. James Johnson, from ACA and the Rev. James Danford, from ACC. In addition, Sean McDermott, who met with the BEC and passed his exams during the Conference, was interviewed by the SC members shortly after the Conference, and was recommended for ordination to the diaconate.

Trip to India—February 14-26, 2017

Our longest standing Global Partner is the Anglican Church of India Diocese of Andhra Pradesh. The Mission Team for this trip will be Vicar General David Haines, Dr. Mary Grundorf, representing the Foreign Mission Board, and me, as the Metropolitan Bishop for India. Our Presiding Bishop is the Rt. Rev. Lawrence Jaya Rao. His Cathedral Church of the Holy Nativity is in Jammalamadugu in the Kadapa District. Bishop Jaya Rao now has 27 village churches and 26 clergymen along with a number of Bible women (Deaconesses) serving with him. We have two purposes for this trip. One is to visit the Good Shepherd School in Kullar, Mahubnagar District in the new State of Telengana. This is the school which the APA raised funds to build in 2011 and it is now complete and I plan to be there to preform the dedication. This school will serve the Dalit children in that area and particularly those children of the Hindu Temple prostitutes. This is a way that OM and their supporting partners such as the APA are able to help interrupt the cycle of poverty and abuse that is experienced by the Dalit people. Their only hope is through our Lord Jesus Christ and providing them with an education.

Our other purpose for the trip is to visit village churches to make contact with the people and to witness first-hand the growth and the needs of the people. This personal contact is so important for these people who are in most cases isolated and need to know they are loved and that other Christians care about them.

Our number of churches in India has more than doubled since my last visit in 2011 and we are so thankful to Bishop Jaya Rao for his faithful witness and guiding hand in his Diocese and beyond. Please pray for Bishop Jaya Rao that the Lord will continue to give him health and energy for the wonderful work he is doing. We pray also that the Lord will raise up other men to serve in his ministry. I am so grateful to our gifted Vicar General David Haines, who manages to keep up with all our Global Partners in the world along with their needs and concerns. He manages to know so many of the clergy by name and church. He is truly a blessing to us all.

Generosity in our midst

I am always amazed and eternally grateful for the generosity of our people. We have received a gift of $25,000 as a seed gift for The Pregnancy Center of Sanford and Oviedo for a new “mobile unit” to go into under-served areas to offer free pregnancy testing, sonograms, and counseling. The benefactor from Holy Trinity Church in Fernandina Beach has provided this gift on behalf of the APA and our strong Pro-Life position and firm belief in the sanctity of life from inception to natural death. Bless you, Lois!

In closing, I want to mention a website that I think all of us could profit by reading; AmazingParish.org. At times, I talk with clergy who seem to have lost their energy and vision and need to find inspiration. This website has many good thoughts and ideas. It is tempting to get into the habit of sitting at a computer for hours on end without a focus. I suggest you go on this website and use the ideas and experience of others who have successfully developed plans and then take the next step of implementation. Don’t let being a “small church” be an excuse for not taking bold action. You will need to find others in your congregation who will share the vision and be willing to work with you to move forward. This relates to the model which we have discussed so often, are we going to be a ‘mission-minded’ parish or ‘maintenance-minded’ parish. If your parish is content to be maintenance-minded they need to be reminded that they will only be a generational church. Most do not want that. Take action! It is up to you to inspire the people with your actions and leadership. Being a parish priest is more than showing up on Sunday to preach and celebrate the Eucharist. We are instructed by St. Paul to ‘equip the saints for the work of the ministry…’ (Eph. 4:12) and it is up to the clergy to lead the way.

We have entered into the unknown once again as we recently celebrated the beginning of a new calendar year. We have never come this way before. Many no doubt made resolutions for this year. Let us all resolve to be more faithful in our work for the Lord and his Kingdom. Where we have failed, let us ask for forgiveness and pray that we may be more diligent as we move forward. God has blessed us all in many ways. May we be thankful in spite of any setbacks in the life we may have, recognizing we have new opportunities each day.

Just to let you know, I will be sending out the 2017 Lenten Appeal notice later this month. Please watch your email and our website for this important effort in our Province. Start now preparing your parishioners to commit $1 to each of the 40 days of Lent.

Blessings to all,

+Walter

Requiem aeterban

Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord; and let light perpetual shine upon them. By now most of you are aware of the loss of those who were Clergymen in the APA and also others who were associated friends. We lost a dear friend in Bishop Royal Grote of the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) on Thanksgiving Day 2016, who passed away in his sleep. About ten days later, we lost Bishop George Fincke, who came to us from the REC a year and a half ago, and I had just Instituted him as Rector of All Saints’ Church, Prescott, Arizona in October 2016. Then, we lost Father Charles “Gene” Mallard on December 18, 2016, after arriving home following his Eucharist at St. Thomas’ Church, Alto, Georgia. On January 2, 2017, Deacon Eric Dawson from St. Paul’s Church in Melbourne, Florida died. Also, many of you know Bishop Ken Myers, author and conference speaker, who provided the developmental session at the DEUS Synod in July 2016. Bishop Myer’s wife Shirley died after a severe bout with double pneumonia in January 2017. The loss of these faithful servants of our Lord is sincerely felt among all of us and especially by their families. Please pray for the peaceful and sweet repose of each of them and for their families.

St. James Turkey Shoot- Sundays 1PM

Turkey Shoots are Sundays at 1PM. Join us at 10AM to worship our Lord Jesus in Truth and beauty. Have coffee with us in our Historic Glebe Parish House, then pull out your shotguns and join us for the Turkey Shoot.

Shots average $5. Bring your shotguns, we provide the ammunition. If you don’t own a shotgun, you can borrow one from us.

Prizes include; sausage, bacon, rib eye round roast, pork ribs, beef ribs, steaks, tenderloin, and pork chops.

 

Men are Not Machines- Epiphany and New Year 2017

first-programmable-computerThe first freely programmable computer was built in 1936 by a German engineer named Konrad Zuse.  That computer became operational in 1941.  Since then technology, as we all know, has made tremendous strides.

Now, every successive year brings new technology is that is faster, smaller and more efficient than the previous year’s tech.  This movement toward greater technologies has created a great expectation that progress is linear through time, that is that things should improve and get better every year.

This expectation breaks down when it is applied to people.  Since the beginning of the great recession, more work is expected out of fewer people for less money.  That’s business, except people carry those same expectations outside of the workplace.  We multi- task.  We fill our schedules so that we’re busy all the time.  People are not machines.  Eventually, this kind of strain leads to breakdown.  Physical breakdown.  Mental breakdown.  The breakdown of families.  These breakdowns can lead to serious personal and social issues such as sexual dysfunction and chemical abuse.

Last week, I suggested that you submit yourself to Jesus, to let him help you form your thoughts, desires, goals and behavior.  This week and over the next four sermons, I will talk about four traps, four false beliefs which bind us and prevent us from thinking and behaving as mature Christians.  These traps and false beliefs are not new, the Bible has an answer for them all, however they are exacerbated by the pressures of living in a modern, increasingly secularized world.

The first trap is the performance trap.  This trap is caused by the false belief that you must meet certain standards to feel good about yourself.  The second trap is the approval addict.  This person believes that they must be approved by others to feel good about themselves.  The third trap is the blame game.  Those who fall into that trap believe that those who fail are unworthy of love and deserve to be punished.  The final trap is shame.  Those who fall into that trap believe this about themselves, “I am what I am.  I cannot change.  I am hopeless”  I will speak to each of these over the coming four Sundays.  This week’s topic is the performance trap.

As I will discuss later in the sermon, the way out of these traps is spiritual maturity.  You arrive at spiritual maturity through a very basic law, lex orandi, lex credendi.  The law of prayer is the law of belief.

If you pray and worship, often and correctly, your mind will be transformed.  God will work in you to transform your thoughts and desires, eventually effecting your behaviors and actions;

Present your bodies a living sacrifice a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God,        which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:1)

In the Gospel reading for the first Sunday after the Epiphany, Jesus stays behind at the temple in Jerusalem after His parents left for home.  It seems strange to an overprotective parent a parent could go for a day without knowing that their twelve year old son was missing, but realize that the men and women in the caravan were traveling separately.  Jesus could’ve been with either His mother or His father.  Neither parent would’ve thought it was peculiar that He wasn’t around, until they reach home.  I can hear Joseph now saying something like, “Mary, I thought He was with you.” To which Mary would respond, “No, I thought that He was with you.”  Finding that Jesus wasn’t among the caravan, they trace their steps backward, in an effort to figure out just where Jesus could be.

finding-jesus-in-the-templeAnd so these earthly parents turn toward Jerusalem, seeking Jesus.  And on the third day, they find Him debating religious doctors in the Temple.  Mary asks Jesus, “Why did you do this to us?  Can’t you see that your father and I have agonizingly been searching for you?”  And Jesus responds, “Why did you need to search?  Didn’t you realize that I would be here in my Father’s house?” Then they went home to Nazareth, and Jesus was obedient to His parents.

As I’m learned as a parent, children become more self-aware and willful at 12 years old. Here, Jesus is realizing His purpose on earth, just like other 12 year old children.  And He is becoming self-willed, but not sinful.  As it states in the next verse, Jesus was obedient to His parents, just like the 5th commandment dictates.

Jesus was growing up, transforming into an adult.  Growing up is a theme familiar to St. Paul.  In our Bible Study in Ephesians you may recall that Paul said, “That henceforth we be no more children…” He tells us and the Ephesians to “grow up into him in all things…”  We need to be mature in our faith.

Today’s collect for the First Sunday after the Epiphany itself contains a teaching on the meaning of prayer.  Not every prayer is answered with a “yes” because not every prayer is according to His will.  St James explains it this way, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts (James 4:3).”  We should pray to determine God’s will and to learn what we “ought” to do.  We should then seek God’s will to accomplish it.  That is what St. Paul means in the Epistle by “presenting yourself as a living sacrifice.”  He means seeking and doing God’s will.  That’s what St. Paul means by renewing the mind, that is praying that we may perceive and do what things we ought to do.

Despite being baptized.  Despite efforts to live and follow Jesus.  Despite being washed in the Blood of the Lamb and being born again in Christ Jesus, our minds go places they ought not.  Despite being restored to righteousness by Jesus, evil thoughts still flash through our brains that conspire to undo us.

In Colossians 2:8, St. Paul warns us, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”  Don’t be spoiled by vain deceit, he says.  That sounds a lot like today’s Epistle, “Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think.”  These thoughts are constant.  St Paul himself recognized them in himself when he said, “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I (Romans 7:15).”

A true mark of maturity is when we begin to test deceitful thoughts and their resulting behaviors against the Word of God.

One of the deceptions all of us tend to believe is that success will bring us happiness.  We believe that we must meet certain standards in order to feel good about ourselves.  This is the same deception that the serpent used to tempt Eve.  “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat (Genesis 3:4-6).”  Eve fell to the deception, “If I meet this standard, then I’ll be happy.”  The standard was wisdom and knowledge of good and evil, but it was a lie.

The consequences of falling for the false belief that you must meet certain standards to feel good about yourself range from fear of failure, to perfectionism, to the drive to succeed, to the manipulation of others to achieve success, to withdrawl from all healthy risks.

Eventually, our desire to succeed can lead to being driven beyond healthy limitations, leading to an inability to relax or enjoy life, let alone enjoy time with family and relationships.

Remember Mary and Martha?

Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.  But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.  And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:38-42).”

The good part, according to Jesus, was to be present in mind and body, to sit and listen.  Instead, Martha was busy, troubled and resentful, trying to live up to some expectation of what it means to be a good host.

The result of believing the deception that our self worth is based upon meeting some standard can have heavy  long-term consequences.  When we feel we’ve been insulted or injured by others, we feel anger.  Out of pride, we believe ourselves to be diminished and so we shift that responsibility to someone else.  We can become depressed as a result of anger turned inward.  We develop low motivation, believing in advance that we will fail no matter what we do, and so we believe that we have no reason to exert any effort.

Satan wants to deceive us.  Satan wants to destroy us.  Sometimes he accomplishes that through our own thoughts.

So what do we do?  If you have fallen into the trap of believing that you and others only have value when certain standards are met, how do you get out of it?

God’s answer is this, justification by faith.  “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… (Romans 5:1)”  Justification means that not only has God forgiven you of your sins, but He has also granted you the righteousness of Christ.  You are fully pleasing to the Father regardless of how you look, how smart you are, what kind of car you drive, who your parents are, or based upon anything that you’ve done in the past.  None of that matters.  You please the Father and have value because of what Jesus did on the cross.  To overcome this trap, you must first realize that you are subcoming to the false belief.  Then you must supplant that false belief with the truth, that is the truth contained in Holy Scripture.  You must supplant it with prayer and worship until the truth of the Gospel is your belief.  Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.  The law of prayer is the law of belief, or to put it another way, we believe what we pray.  Then we develop a new outlook, we can start to see ourselves and others as God sees us and others.

St. Paul in the Epistle tells us not to be conformed to the world, which measures success by titles, records and dollars, but instead to renew your mind.  He is telling us to have a new attitude.  The new attitude comes from looking at everything in terms of God, instead of looking at everything from the self-regarding perspective which comes to us naturally.

The new attitude involves asking such questions as, “What does God want me to do here?” “What would the Christian response to this situation be?” “How can I best serve the interests of this other person?”

What St. Paul teaches about our sacrifice of ourselves is part of the celebration of Holy Communion also. In the long Prayer of Consecration on pages 80 and 81 of the Prayer Book, we begin by representing the sacrifice of Jesus under the forms of bread and wine, just as He taught us to do.

After the Word and the Spirit have made the bread and wine his Body and Blood, we join our sacrifice of ourselves to his sacrifice of himself. The dramatic climax of the prayer comes when I say, for all of us, “And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee.”

The point of all this should be obvious. We can never transform our minds, that is, take up the new God-regarding attitude, without help. The power we need both to want to make that sacrifice and actually to go ahead and do it comes from God.

That power flows from Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and we literally eat it and drink it at the altar rail. Later on we ask God to give us the help we need “to do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in.” You can only do those good works after you have made your own sacrifice the transforming of your mind, the offering of your whole selves, your souls and bodies, to do what God wants you to do.

When you believe that you are completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God, you no longer have to fear failure.  As time goes on, you experience freedom from fear of failure and an increased desire to do the right things, that is to serve Christ and His Kingdom.  You act out of love for Christ rather than out of some contrieved standard of achievement.

Christ is worthy of our love and obedience.  The more we understand His Love and majesty, the more we praise Him and honor Him at the expense of everything else that seems to press upon us.

To avoid the deceptions of the world, the flesh and the devil, develop maturity.  Test your thoughts against God’s Word.  Seek to do the will of God.  Pray that you might know what things you ought to do and ask for the power to faithfully fulfill the same.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

 

 

Bishop’s Epistle- Christmas 2016

Anglican Province of America

Anglican Province of America

As we enter the Christmas Season and prepare for the Grand Celebration of our Lord’s Incarnation, what a great time it is to think of the many blessings we have received as we reflect on this past year. As Presiding Bishop, I want to say how thankful I am for the wonderful and faithful Bishops, Priests and Deacons we have in our Province who give selflessly to their people and the work of the ministry. And so many do what they do and count it a joy with thankfulness to God for calling them to this work for His Kingdom. It is a joy to see the numbers of young men and in some cases their wives joining them as they make the commitment to take on the challenge of Seminary. God has truly blessed our Province as we see the next generation of clergy and lay people preparing themselves for the building of God’s Kingdom wherever they may be called to serve. I am truly thankful for the numbers of committed lay people in our parishes who have responded to the call to help financially support our Seminarians. Along with this support, likewise I appreciate the lay participation in our Domestic Lenten Fund to assist the clergy and their families as they take the leap of faith and relocate to another city to take on a struggling or new mission church.

This past year saw the dramatic increase in our Church as it has expanded into the central Andean Mountains of Ecuador. Through our partnership with Worthy Endeavors Missions, Inc., and Samaritan’s Purse the APA was invited to provide Episcopal Oversight to 32 Communities totaling 20,000 people of the Pastorale Indegenas of Ecuador, now of the Anglican Province of America in Ecuador. We, along with our Partners, were able to meet the leadership, both clergy and laity, and many of the people on a visit in November 2016.

Our Global Partnership in India continues to expand and the joint project of the APA with OM (Operation Mobilization) to build a school for the Dalit children is prepared for dedication. Our Mission Team, led by Vicar General David Haines, will be visiting Bishop Jaya Rao in February 2017 for this purpose and to visit many of the village churches we help support there. Our Partnership in Haiti continues to struggle with the disastrous weather conditions and governmental corruption. Fr. Mews continues to work heroically and now has a number of new deacons assisting him with the school and church. Our Philippine Church continues to grow under new leadership and efforts to work with the ACC in that country are ongoing.

October 2017 will bring a special event as we will be having joint Synods with four major ‘Traditional’ Anglican jurisdictions meeting in Atlanta, GA. This is a historical event which we pray will be a first step in bringing together into communio in sacris these jurisdictions as we seek to unify the Body of Christ. Your regular prayerful intentions are requested for the Joint Synod’s success.

Some of us have struggled in the past year with loss of loved ones in both family and parish. However, as Christians we have the assurance that our loved ones are in the loving arms of our Lord. Whatever losses, whatever disappointments we may have had, may this time of our Christian year inspire us all with renewed Hope and Vision remembering the Lord of the Universe is on our side and he does love us.

With Love to all and a Merry Christmas from Mary and me,

The Most Rev. Walter H. Grundorf, D.D.
Presiding Bishop, Anglican Province of America

Bishop’s Epistle September- Synod 2016 Highlights

Blessings and Peace to you all!

Synod 2016 Highlights

bishop-grundorf-addresses-2016-deus-synodThis is a follow-up to my Summary of the DEUS Synod in July 2016. You can read highlights on the APA webpage. There will be a slide show of pictures of the various activities during the Synod week on the webpage before long. The 48th Synod of the DEUS was well-planned and well-executed by the host parish St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, Riverview (Tampa) Florida. Anyone who has been involved in hosting a Synod knows how much effort is required and attention to detail needed to achieve success. Additionally, this Synod was one of the best attended in our DEUS history. Each year more and more people realize how important it is for the Diocese to come together to strengthen bonds. Likewise, meeting old friends and welcoming new clergy, seminarians and lay members is a part of the great fellowship of love we have always shared as a Diocese. It was such a pleasure to see the number of our men and particularly the young men who are in Seminary preparing for the ministry of our Church. It gives us great hope for the future of traditional Anglicanism!

One of the features of our DEUS Synods has been the special attention we pay to our clergy wives. This year was no exception with arrangements made by Debra Middleton, co-chairman of the Synod for a guided boat tour through the Hillsborough River viewing the beautiful homes and historic buildings along the way. The tour ended with a luncheon at the Columbia Restaurant on the Riverwalk. On Tuesday evening, July 12, the clergy, wives and other early arrivals to Synod were taken from the Sheraton Hotel by bus to St. Matthew’s Church for Evening Prayer followed by refreshments including heavy hors d’oeuvres in the parish hall.

boogey-with-mary-grundorf-and-alice-sweeneyWednesday’s Opening Session was taken up with Diocesan business: elections, appointments, various reports along with financial reports and the adoption of a budget for 2017. The evening of the first day was completed with Evensong followed by a barbecue and entertainment by the “Boogalizers,” a blues band with St. Matthew’s own Greg Clark. To complete the Tampa Cuban tradition, there was an authentic cigar roller for all to see and enjoy.larry-smoking

Thursday was devoted to Developmental Sessions, with guest speaker, Bishop Kenneth N. Myers of Sherman, Texas. Bishop Myers spoke on his book Salvation (and how we got it wrong). Although the subject matter included a theological discussion of the ‘Atonement,’ which can be controversial because of its many faceted concepts, the Bishop kept the sessions interesting and engaging for all in attendance. The Sessions both morning and evening were to a full house. Bishop Myers’ books can be purchased on line from Amazon or from his website www.kennethmyers.net. All of the books he brought with him were sold as soon as they hit the table.bishop-ken-meyersfr-brad-cunningham

The Synod Eucharist was celebrated on Thursday evening in commemoration of the Feast of St. Bonaventure. The Banquet followed Happy Hour with entertainment by the Ladies of the Southern Company Chorus. The Synod concluded on Friday morning with a ‘Travelers Mass’ and the final session.

The concluding report was from the Domestic Mission Board led by board member Fr. Brad Cunningham along with Fr. Wade Miller reporting on the progress of our first ‘Domestic Mission Project’ St. Philip’s Church in Blacksburg, VA. The work at St. Philip’s Church has gone extremely well with the congregation excited about their prospects for the future. New people have come to the Church over the year, longtime members are energized by the good things happening and the physical building is being re-vitalized. We pray that our next Lenten project with also meet with such success. Bishop Bill Perkins is the Chairman of this Board.

Elections at the DEUS Synod

Standing Committee: Elected to serve a three- year term were: Fr. Brad Cunningham by the House of Clergy and Debra Middleton by the House of Laity. Elected to serve as President was the Very Rev. Gordon Anderson and as Secretary: Mrs. Karen Cozad. Rotating off the Standing Committee following their three-year term with our thanks were the President, Fr. Kevin Sweeney and Mr. Alex Constant. Mr. D.J. Fulton was re-elected as our Diocesan Treasurer.

Always a highlight at the Synod is to hear the Parish Reports and the good things that are happening. We are especially pleased to see the number of seminarians and congratulate the parishes who are involved in inspiring and sending men to seminary, particularly All Saints’ Church, Charlottesville, VA; St. Matthew’s Church, Weaverville, NC; and St. Alban’s Church, Joppa, MD. The Diocese is also involved in assisting those in seminary financially and I encourage all of you to be generous the Second Sunday in Advent for the Seminarian Sunday Collection.

Special Thanks

Finally, great thanks goes to Fr. Kenneth Bailey, Rector of St. Matthew’s Church, Riverview, FL, as well as Tom and Debra Middleton, Co-chairmen of the Synod. Thank you to Nancy Bailey our official photographer and Fr. Greg Miller of St. Matthew’s Church, Weaverville, NC, our Synod organist.

If you wish to read the rest of the Bishop’s Epistle, please click on the following link which will take you to the Anglican Province of America Website;

Bishop’s Epistle Continued on APA Website

Faithfully,
+Walter

What does God hate?

Things God HatesIn Sunday’s homily, I posed the question, “What does God hate?” A knee jerk reaction would be, “nothing,” since God is love (1 John 4:8), right? As a church, we must remind the people that God indeed is love, but He also hates sin and will judge sin with a fierce wrath. It says as much in Holy Scripture. King Solomon in the book of Proverbs, wrote

“These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19).”

Alice hates snakes. She hates them because some species of snake are dangerous. If a snake threatened Raven, you can be sure Alice’s “momma bear” would appear and that snake would not stand a chance.

God hates sin the same way that Alice hates a snake which threatens her child. God loathes evil and demonic forces that try to pull people down to a Godless eternity, just as a mother hates a poisonous snake.

God loves man. Compassion prompts God to loathe sin. God gave His best (Jesus) so that we may have the best (heaven) and eternal communion with God), thus, God abhors anything that seeks to foil our communion with Him (Sin, Satan, and eternal perdition).

After some self-reflection, you may respond, “Well I’m not guilty of any of that,” to which I refer you to the very first mentioned sin mentioned by King Solomon. Good for you, your thoughts of pride are your reward, however, if you are thinking, “What can I do about these traits of the heart?” there is an answer. You cannot do anything your own. God has already done the work for you.. St. Paul tells us, “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2)”  Acknowledge your sin, turn to Jesus, and follow Him only. Jesus comes into your heart. He transforms your heart, changes your nature so that you will love instead of hate. Gossip, slander, and maligning will no longer provide you pleasure.

Jesus, through His triumphant death on the Cross purchased a new life for us all. “I am come that they might have life (John 10:10),” He said, and, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).”

No matter our guilt, God will forgive you, because Jesus Christ (God become flesh in the person of Jesus) died on the Cross for our sins. God hates the evil in the hearts of men and women, but He loves you. God loathes the forces that lead to perdition, but God loves everyone with an infinite love. You must know that God does not force us to follow Him. Instead, He offers us a gift of love. It is up to each of us whether we accept this gift or not. Here is God’s promise to you, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (1 John 1:12).”

God Answers Prayer

For the Church

O GRACIOUS Father, we humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic Church; that thou wouldst be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

Bishop Grundorf at 2016 DEUS Synod

Bishop Grundorf at 2016 DEUS Synod

The Prayer for the Church originates from “A Summarie of Devotions,” written by Archbishop William Laud and first published in 1667. The prayer appeared in the American Prayer Book in the 1928 edition. It is among my favorite prayers, and I ask each of you to pray it as well.

When you pray, realize that Church is “Holy” because God calls it, sets it apart for His purposes, and fills it with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In the prayer, the term “Catholic” applies to the Church as a whole, as the Body of Christ, and not in reference to a particular denominational portion of the Church.

I know that God hears our prayer and answers them, even regarding the Church. It is easy to find areas where the Church is in schism, and even heterodox, however, God appears to be pulling Orthodox Anglican Churches closer together.

Over the years, I’ve watched the APA and Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) cooperate. The REC administers the APA Clergy Pension Plan. REC Seminary in Philadelphia offers education tuition free to Anglican Postulants and Candidates.

In the last couple years, the APA and the Anglican Church in America (ACA) have moved closer to intercommunion. The APA now administers a Theological School, Logos House of Theological Studies, a school begun by the ACA but now serving the APA and ACA alike. Fr. William Martin, and APA priest, serves as the Academic Dean of Logos House.

If that were not enough, the ACC, APA, ACA, and the Diocese of the Holy Cross, all Orthodox Anglican jurisdictions, plan concurrent Synods in October 2017. St. Barnabus Anglican Church in Dunwoody, GA will host the APA Provincial Synod. God is moving to bring His Church together. God hears your prayers, and I encourage you to keep praying “For the Church.”