ANGLICAN 1000: PEARUSA Report on Church Planting Conference in Plano, Texas
By the Rev. Dr. Steve Breedlove in Plano
March 8, 2012
As this year's Anglican 1000 gathering in Plano winds down, it affords a good opportunity to reflect on the blessings of this time, especially the clarity generated by conversations around the not‐infrequently asked questions, "Why are we going into this PEARUSA process?" and "Tell me again, why don't we go directly into the ACNA?"
Using "we" reveals that the questions have come primarily from people who have been part of the AMiA. The reason I am being asked is that my colleagues know I am thickly involved in the question of possible future jurisdictions for clergy and churches staying under Rwandan oversight after the recent crisis in the AMiA. (See the Moving Forward Together statement on www.pearusa.org for background.) Rest assured, the questions have been honest, good, and helpful: we need to talk through this openly and freely.
Before I share what has surfaced through this interaction, let me set the table: Anglican 1000 is a network gathering of Anglican church planters, church‐planting agencies, and leaders. It was the dream of Canon David Roseberry (Christ Church, Plano) in response to ACNA Archbishop Bob Duncan's 2009 call for the planting of 1000 new Anglican churches. It is a sort of a "trade show" for Anglican church planting, a time for bringing together practitioners, trainers, and people who simply love Jesus and believe in the strategy of church planting. The teaching and workshops are aimed specifically at boosting church planting. Notwithstanding anything else you may have heard, ACNA is full of people passionate about church planting.
Another element helps paint the picture: I was one of the workshop leaders. I had the privilege of explaining a leadership development ministry I lead, the Anglican Missional Pastor Program (AMP). AMP is focused on equipping and supporting young clergy and church planters, and God has blessed it beyond all expectation over the past four years. Interestingly, there were five other "leadership development ministries" featured in workshops, and I shared my workshop platform with the Rev Geoff Chapman, who founded a parish‐based clergy development ministry in Sewickley, PA - one with a very different strategy from the AMP program. Besides six different workshops there were three additional clergy development agencies with informational booths. Development of next‐generation planters and pastors is a significant concern to ACNA. Many creative ideas and strategies are erupting on the grassroots level.
Now here's the point that will come into play shortly: I found it refreshing and stimulating to see people who have the same heart for what I am doing but who have a different strategy, or a different story, or a different opportunity, or a different cultural context, or a different network. It was the farthest thing from a sense of competition or jousting for "who's got the coolest program." What came into focus was the Lord of the Harvest, weaving together a big net to catch a lot more fish. Borrowing an analogy from David Roseberry's opening address, "you catch a lot more fish with a net than a single line". The analogy works even if the "catch" is "mobilizing, training and supporting next‐generation planters and clergy."
Now back to the question: why are we pursuing the possibility of PEARUSA? Especially in light of Anglican 1000, why have we petitioned our spiritual fathers to establish a Missionary District as a continuing missionary effort in North America? Why are we working hard, sacrificially even, to write a charter and to plan a synod for late summer? A lot of work . . . Why?
First of all, it is important to know that Anglican 1000 is not an engine and agency for church planting. The engines are the Anglican congregations, dioceses, networks, districts, and (in our case) sub‐jurisdictions that unite to plant churches. For PEARUSA to be a participant in the Anglican 1000 movement as a Missionary District dedicated to the strategy of planting churches is completely consistent with Anglican 1000's operational principles.
Second: many key leaders in the ACNA want us to come in as a missionary extension of the Province of Rwanda. The zeal for exploring our identity as an entity, for seeking to be formed as a jurisdiction, was shaped by conversations with ACNA leaders. Early on, rectors of large, mission‐minded ACNA congregations proposed: "Come in as a jurisdiction - as a unit. Bring your best to the table to help us do what we are all committed to do." Archbishop Duncan himself spoke clearly. Sitting in a restaurant near the provincial office in Pittsburgh in early January, +Terrell Glenn asked, "How do we begin to move into a right relationship with the Anglican Church in North America?" ++Bob's wisdom was, "Begin by being what you always thought that you were."
Since that time, many conversations have revealed an eagerness to receive the body of churches that we currently refer to as PEARUSA into ACNA. This is not competition: it is the creative synergy that comes as like‐minded people with much in common help each other do the work of Christ. We are being invited to be a part of the big net.
But these statements still don't answer the why. Remembering clearly St Paul's soul‐searching question, "What do you have that you have not received?" we reflect on: Our shared story, rooted in Rwanda: We have always understood and believed that we were rooted in Rwanda; it has been fundamental to our identity and mission. Our relationships with Rwanda influence us greatly; they connect us directly into the East African Revival and to the Global South. The Lord is afoot in the world, and the pendulum of spiritual fire has swung to the Global South.
Worldwide mission is being led as much or more by the non‐Western church. What a privilege to carry that story in our very DNA, into the work of God in North America. Canonically we are seated in Rwanda, and through Rwanda, in GAFCON and in the worldwide Anglican Communion. "Birthed in Rwanda, planted in America, bearing fruit in our communities" has always been our story. But in ways beyond what we've ever actually experienced corporately, the door has recently opened to active leadership from and collaboration with our Rwandan leaders. We are engaged in mission in a way shaped and formed by their passion for reconciliation, prayer, transparent friendship, and strong collaborative decision‐making. Our identity as a missionary effort of Rwanda is changing us, and we believe we have more to learn. We hope to come to the ACNA family with our own lives transformed by the spiritual blessings we receive from the Church of Rwanda, GAFCON, and the Global South.
Our respect for our spiritual leaders: The recent difficulties with the Anglican Mission have brought great pain and shame to our spiritual leaders in Rwanda. We did not treat them well, but now we have an opportunity to repair the breach. Whatever shape future jurisdictions and relationships take, we must move ahead with respect, love and humility toward Rwanda. We have the opportunity to build a bridge between biblical, mission‐driven Anglicans in the Global South and in the West. Maintaining our relationship with the Rwandan church is essential. We hope to bring commitments to reconciliation and submission to authority to the larger ACNA family.
Our own relational culture: The clergy and churches in PEARUSA have been given a rich history of friendship through collaborative mission. God has given us work to do together, and we have developed lifelong friendships. We rejoice in this family. A family does not interact healthily with neighbors by internal fragmentation but by security, love, and openheartedness. There is great freedom in a healthy family to both rejoice in its shared story and to expand (and be expanded) by others. The family grows without being dismantled.
We hope that our unity as a movement is a constructive addition to the larger family of the ACNA.
Robust reformational Anglicanism: In common with our ACNA brethren, PEARUSA holds the essentials of evangelical Anglicanism handed down through the English reformation. We believe that the doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty‐nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal.
To be more specific, we are committed to the 1662 Prayer Book as the standard of both doctrine and worship. At the same time, our charter will establish the liturgical flexibility that seeks to make word and worship accessible to people. We also affirm an ecclesiology reflective of the historic understanding of the church concerning women's ordination to the priesthood. Humbly acknowledging that other godly students differ on these matters, and believing in the principle of ecclesia semper reformanda - the church is always reforming (although with this necessary fuller explanation of what we mean by that phrase1) - we believe we should enter the theological conversation in an attitude reflective of the irenic dialogue that has characterized the best of Anglican doctrinal debate. We desire for "unity in essentials, liberty in nonessentials, and charity in all."
1 As Barth pointed out, ecclesia semper reformanda (the church always being reformed), divorced from the rest of the slogan, "according to the word of God," identified the true church with modern progress - keeping up with the spirit of the age. I would add that the drive in Protestant bodies to conform the gospel to the spirit of the age has often invoked the Spirit apart from and even sometimes against the Word in its activity of "always reforming." However, as Barth observes, "singing a new song" and "always being reformed" are only commendable goals if they are invitations to courageous and obedient faith rather than simply following the spirit of the age. It means that the church is always being reformed, not reforming itself, submitting itself to the judgment of God's Word and asking anew whether its confession and practice are in accord with Scripture. Only in this way is any church truly apostolic.
Michael Horton, People and Place: A Covenant Ecclesiology (Louisville: Westminster John Knox: 2008), 223. Nevertheless, we sense that we should enter the theological conversation. These are important matters of faith, order, worship, and mission. We hope to humbly expand and strengthen the theological conversation.
Missional DNA and identity: Many ACNA brothers and sisters are still occupied with extracting themselves from their former setting, settling crises, and reestablishing mission and identity. It will take time for many ACNA churches that are coming out of TEC to regain momentum. We respect these important battles, and we need to keep those members of our family in prayer. But few PEARUSA churches share that particular story. Most of us are new plants - fresh incursions of the Gospel into communities that have never experienced biblical, mission‐driven Anglicanism. By God's grace, PEARUSA represents clergy and churches who have planted churches, but who still have fresh legs for the race. The work is great and the army needs a battalion of well‐rested, seasoned soldiers. We have been given a freedom in mission that could bring encouragement to the greater family.
We hope to bring our strategy and experience of church planting to the ACNA family. It goes without saying that the clergy and churches of PEARUSA will gain immeasurably through this relationship. Friendship and partnership in the Gospel will abound. What we bring to the table will be met and exceeded, measure for measure, by what we receive. We have already been treated with great respect and honor: we are humbled by the openheartedness of Archbishop Duncan and the bishops, clergy and laity of ACNA. We are convinced that God is doing a great work in North America - of growing united, biblical, mission‐driven Anglicanism. We are thankful to anticipate entering into the family as a welcome member.
It also needs to be said that some of our closest long‐term friends from AMiA are going directly into ACNA, with the full blessing of Archbishop Rwaje. The reasons for that vary from church‐to-church, and in no way do we experience this as anything less than a source of joy and gratitude for God's continuing development of united, biblical Anglicanism in North America. What future picture is emerging through this?
We hope and pray that PEARUSA is established as a Missionary District by the end of March and that, by mid‐summer, Archbishops Duncan and Rwaje will have established a protocol that governs our existence as a sub‐jurisdiction of ACNA. Our churches are moving together toward a synodical gathering in August to discuss and ratify our charter and establish our long‐term governance structures.
In the future, we seek to be an ongoing missionary effort of Rwanda in North America that is also a full‐fledged sub‐jurisdiction and missionary partner of ACNA. How that develops in the long term will be the work of the Holy Spirit through succeeding generations of leaders. The image of a marriage seems appropriate. Two different people who share much in common come together as one. At the moment of their marriage, they are one in the eyes of God. But throughout the marriage, they also become one. Together they build a family, and in the blessing of God, produce children. We anticipate a happy marriage between PEARUSA (or whatever our future name may be) and ACNA, to the glory of the church and the expansion of the Gospel.
The Rev Dr Steve Breedlove is Canon to Missionary Bishop Terrell Glenn of PEARUSA
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