First Century Christianity Blossoms at Anglican 1000
A VOL EXCLUSIVE
By Mary Ann Mueller in Plano, Texas
March 7, 2012
For three days last week, four hundred Anglicans descended upon Christ Church-Plano - a venue very familiar to them - to engage in the profoundly Biblical activity of church planting. This was done in a manner very reminiscent of the way the Apostles did it in the First Century.
In fact, there were several direct descendents of the apostles present - 15 bishops gathered from across the United States and Canada. They were lead by Archbishop Robert Duncan who acted as a modern-day Apostle Paul. It was Archbishop Duncan who, at his investiture as ACNA's first primate, challenged the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) to plant 1000 Anglican congregations during the first five years of the newly emerging American Anglican province.
Conference presenters urged their conferees to turn to the Scriptures for a true blueprint in bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to a broken, sin-sick world starving for the truth of the Gospel. They are sharing the Good News with nursing homes and retirement centers, college campuses, and out into the streets and byways of the city - anywhere where people are alone and hurting and in need of the transforming love of Jesus Christ.
The First Century church planters in Corinth, Thessalonica, Colossae and elsewhere did not use modern day terms such as "DNA" and "digital media". Overhead projection screens, computers and PowerPoint presentations were also foreign to Paul, Barnabas, Peter, James and John. However, these early church fathers faced the same problems that modern day church planters face - secularism, cultural influences, and an irreligious mentality. The Gospel message is the same: Jesus Christ and His transforming love.
St. Paul faced stoning, shipwreck, beatings, prison, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst and exposure in order to present the Gospel message to the masses. Archbishop Duncan may not face literal shipwrecks and sleepless nights (other than in prayer), but he does have to face overnight flights, security pat downs at the airport, and globe-hopping jetlag. Where the First Century Apostle-to-the-Gentiles endured hunger, thirst and exposure, his latter-day counterpart graciously tolerates box lunches, tepid bottled water, too cold air conditioning and stuffy conference rooms.
New Testament church planters: Andrew, Thomas, Barnabas, Ignatius, Clement of Rome, James, Peter, John and others spread the Gospel and planted Christian communities as they travelled to such places as Alexandria, Carthage, Constantinople, Athens, Antioch and Rome . Thomas went to India. According to legend, Joseph of Arimathea planted the first seed of Christianity in the British Isles. That tender Gospel root eventually blossomed into what is now modern-day Anglicanism.
The challenges facing 21st Century church planters are not so very different than the problems facing the First Century apostles. Christianity spread over the entire face of the globe from the humble efforts of a handful of dedicated men and women, many of whom actually walked with Jesus and literally conveyed what they heard and saw to anyone they met along the way.
Today, a purified Anglicanism is rapidly being spread over the North American map by the dedication of those who are committed to see true Christo-centric, Gospel-based, Scripturally-grounded Anglicanism be re-established, grow, and flourish in the United States and Canada. "Anglican Fever", as Archbishop Duncan described it, is catching hold after a season of deliberate deconstruction and disintegration of North American Anglicanism. The dictates, guidelines the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer, the Thirty-Nine Articles, and the Anglican Formularies have all been thrown to the four winds by The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.
Every week, comes word that another new church plant is in the offing. A new Anglican shoot is springing forth. Since Archbishop Duncan first issued his astonishing challenge, ANCA plants have popped up across the United States and Canada. Be they flying the Reformed Episcopal Church flag, the Anglican Network in Canada banner, or a diocese of Fort Worth, Quincy, Joaquin or Pittsburg crest the result is the same: the Gospel is being preached and the Word is taking root. Only three states do not have any ANCA congregations: Alaska, South Dakota and Rhode Island.
When Peter first preached the Good News, in Acts 2:41, a total of 3,000 believed and were baptized. Just two chapters later, in Acts 4:4, Peter again preached and was arrested, but 5,000 were converted by what they had heard and witnessed.
Since Archbishop Duncan issued his clarion call, more than 200 new church plants have been established with at least another 35 coming into focus, bringing the number of ACNA and Common Cause Ministry Partner congregations to more than 1000. Reaching the Archbishop's goal of 1000 new church plants would just about double the number of North American Anglican congregations giving ACNA a good foundation for continued expansion and growth.
Archbishop Duncan has some good examples to follow. With just a handful of disciples, Jesus spread His Gospel across the entire face of the globe. Since the 16th Century, Anglicanism has spread to every inhabitable continent. Today 80 million of the world's more than two billion Christians are Anglicans. At least 100,000 of those Anglicans belong to ANCA congregations; the number is continually growing with new church plants. Archbishop Duncan's 1000 new church plant goal is just a benchmark. Something to build upon, once it is reached.
The ground is fertile for the Gospel in the United States and Canada and the planting of new Anglican congregations. AMiA Bishop Charles Murphy recently noted that there are at least 150 million unchurched Americans in the United States with more in Canada.
According to the Anglican 1000 website, some recent new church plants have sprung up in: Kailwa, HI; Hudson, WI; De Funiak Springs, FL; Cody, WY; Old Town, ME; Medway, MA; Free Soil, MI; O'Fallan, IL; Magnolia, TX; and Goose Creek, SC in the United States as well as Mississippi Mills, ON; Squamish, BC; and Moncton, NB in Canada.
---Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline.
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