Category : Evangelism and Church Growth

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Parish Ministry

(NPR) Iranians Are Converting To Evangelical Christianity In Turkey

In a hotel conference room in Denizli, Turkey, about 60 Iranians sing along to songs praising Jesus mixed with Iranian pop music. When the music stops, American pastor Karl Vickery preaches with the help of a Persian translator.

“I’m not famous or rich. But I know Jesus. I have Jesus,” he says, with a Southern drawl. The Farsi-speaking Christian converts shout “Hallelujah!” and clap.

Vickery, who’s part of a visiting delegation from Beaumont, Texas, then offers to pray for each person in the room.

Women with hair dyed blond and short skirts and clean-shaven men in slacks stand up to pray in unison. Vickery puts his hand on one woman’s head and speaks in tongues. One man closes his eyes as tears fall. Another woman raises her hand and shouts “Isa,” Jesus’ name in Arabic and Persian. The room smells of sweat.

Among the parishioners are Farzana, a 37-year-old hairdresser from Tehran, and her daughter Andya, 3, who runs around, taking photos with her mother’s cellphone.

“It feels good. Our relationship to God becomes closer,” Farzana says. She doesn’t want to give her last name because she says her family in Iran might face persecution for her conversion. Her family knows she is a convert and they’re scared for their own safety inside Iran.

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Posted in Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Immigration, Iran, Religion & Culture, Turkey

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Andrew

Almighty God, who didst give such grace to thine apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of thy Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give unto us, who are called by thy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Evangelism and Church Growth, Spirituality/Prayer

(CT’s The Exchange) Preoccupied with Love: Lifting High Evangelism Again–An interview with Bill Hogg

Bill: It’s easy to let evangelism take a back seat. Many churches are content shuffling sheep and luring switchers to their fold rather than catching Jesus’ Luke 15 burden for lost sheep and pursuing and penetrating lostness. On the whole, we have lost the lostness of the lost. Evangelism by and large is not a passion. It is an afterthought or a hiccup rather than the heartbeat of most churches.

We need to be awakened afresh to the beauty, power, and truth of the gospel and invite the Lord to ignite the fires of evangelism.

We need to wake up to the cultural moment we find ourselves in. It can’t be business as usual. James Emory White says, “If you build it, they won’t come!” We are now planting churches and scattering gospel seed in increasingly Post-Christian soil.

With the rise of the Nones and Dones, evangelism must involve gracious and patient explanations and powerful demonstrations of the good news.

Some of our inherited evangelism paradigms don’t serve us well in this moment we find ourselves in. We need to ditch reductionist sales pitch approaches to evangelism.

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Posted in Evangelism and Church Growth, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

Bishop of Manchester To Launch The Antioch Network

The Bishop of Manchester is launching the first diocese-wide Bishop’s Mission Order on 29 November, 7.30pm at St Bride’s Church in Old Trafford. The Order will establish the Antioch Network in Manchester, which will create a network of new, small worshipping communities, with the aim of bringing more young people to faith, particularly in deprived and ethnically diverse areas.

The project will build on proven models of creating new worshipping communities in parts of the diocese over the last few years. In some exciting developments, small churches have been created where people have come to faith and been baptised, lives have been changed, and the local community has been blessed.

The Antioch Network aims to create 16 small churches (people not buildings) over six years in the poorest areas and those that currently have the lowest church attendance. The churches will typically be on estates and in communities of deprivation, some ethnically diverse and others mainly White British.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

London Diocese announces first Resource Churches

The Diocese of London has announced the first stage of its strategy to create resource churches across the diocese. Initially, 19 churches have been designated as London resource churches.

Resource churches are part of the growth strategy of the London Diocese that builds on our 30-year history of church planting across every tradition, which itself is part of a long history of church planting stretching back into the 19th century. They will work with their area bishops to help to revitalise existing parish churches where we are looking to build confidence and stimulate growth, start new worshipping communities in areas where there is scope for new initiatives, and develop missionally-minded leaders and create resources for the wider Church. Every parish in the diocese was given an opportunity to express interest in becoming a resource church. The diocesan senior leadership team recently approved the final list.

London resource churches will receive a planting curate, a three-year post which will see them trained in the resource church before planting out after one to three years. These curates will be prepared to start new worshipping communities or help revitalise parish churches around the diocese, as well as being fully trained to incumbent status and deployable throughout the Church of England. A grant awarded to London from the Strategic Development Fund will finance 15 of these posts. In addition, the Diocese of London will assign curates from their existing diocesan allocation as planting curates in these resource churches over the next six years.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

(CT Pastors) Violence Isn’t the Only Threat to Evangelism in Nigeria

What is evangelism like while shepherding the church through intense persecution?

It may surprise you to hear this, but the effects of persecution are both good and bad. Positively, it shakes the institutionalism of the church and proves to us that there is no lasting home in this world. But it also destabilizes individual human beings and raises a lot of questions in the hearts of sufferers.

The first questions we encounter with people is this: “Is it because of our sins that God is punishing us?” That tends to be the most common interpretation of what we’re going through. But the truth is that churches impacting society by exposing sin are going to make those powers that are being exposed unhappy. When the church is a light in the world’s darkness, it will suffer from the darkness.

The other question we encounter is from people who cannot make meaning out of their difficulties. A young girl came back from boarding school and arrived to find her father, mother, and sisters, everybody at home, dead. And she wanted to know “why?” We don’t have answers to that except to continue to encourage such a person to trust God. Even though we don’t know why now, we will know it in eternity.

Yet persecution has increased the love, the sharing, and the caring of people for each other. We don’t love the persecution itself. But it has caused in our churches a practical demonstration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Strong churches move in to help people and take them in.

For example, my wife, Gloria, has a habit of taking in orphans. When I was in Jerusalem this past June for GAFCON, the mother of a seven-month-old baby was shot back in Nigeria. The killers thought they had killed both of them, but later on in the day, people went searching for the corpse of this woman, and they found the baby sitting there crying with his dead mother. They immediately knew to bring him to Mama Gloria, to our house.

Showing the love of God by caring for orphans and widows is a top priority, and it is a great witness to our neighbors who are not Christians. It is a great testimony of the gospel.

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Posted in Church of Nigeria, Evangelism and Church Growth

‘Share the good news on estates and the nation will take notice,’ says Bishop of Burnley Philip North

In 2013, the Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd Philip North, told the General Synod about his former parish on a large Hartlepool estate, which had been vacant for more than two years.

“Compare that with a recent vacancy in a richly endowed parish near Paddington, which attracted 123 firm applicants, and you will see the true measure of the spiritual health of the Church of England,” he said.

Five years later, he believes that, after years of being complicit in the abandonment of estates, the Church of England is “back”.

“The Holy Spirit is doing amazing things on the estates of this nation, and we are joining in,” he told a meeting of the National Estate Churches Network at St Francis at the Engine Room, on Wednesday.

Launching a strategy that includes an aspiration to have a “thriving, growing, loving church on every significant estate in the country”, he highlighted new church-plants, including Freedom Church, planted by St Paul’s, Marton, on the Mereside estate in Blackpool (News 4 August 2017); Oldhams Church, in Bolton (News 11 May); and St Cuthman’s, on the Whitehawk estate in Brighton (News 11 November 2016).

Recent visits to theological colleges had left him “overwhelmed by the enthusiasm that many of them have to serve in areas of deprivation”.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelism and Church Growth

He attended last year’s deadly Charlottesville rally. Then a black pastor changed his life.

One year ago, Ken Parker attended the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, but has made a significant transformation after accepting an invitation to a black church. His story is featured in part in the Emmy-nominated Fuuse film ‘White Right: Meeting the Enemy’ on Netflix.

You need to take the time to watch it all.

Posted in Baptism, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Soteriology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer

Almighty God,you called your church to be One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. By your grace you have given us new life in Jesus Christ, and by your Spirit you have called us to proclaim his name through out the nations: Awaken in us such a love for you and your world that..we may so boldy proclaim Jesus Christ by word and deed that all people may come to know him as Savior and follow him as Lord; to the glory of your Name.

Posted in Evangelism and Church Growth, Spirituality/Prayer

Church of England funds ambitious growth programme

More than a hundred new churches are to be created in a £27 million drive by the Church of England to revive the Christian faith in coastal areas, market towns and outer urban housing estates, it was announced today.

New Christian communities in areas including the Kent coast, housing estates in Plymouth and market towns in Cambridgeshire are to be set up by the Church of England as part of its Renewal and Reform programme.

The plans have been backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby as a ‘wonderful example’ of how churches are seeking to be faithful to God and to serve their communities.

He said: “The Church of England exists to share the good news of Jesus through our words and our actions. Across the country, churches are bursting with life – which in part is shown through how they love and serve their communities. I’m especially pleased about these grants because they demonstrate our commitment to following Jesus to the places of greatest need in our society….”

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

“They do kill some of us, but those who are alive just continue… we will not wait wait for persecution to stop before we preach the gospel – we just keep preaching. If we die, we die preaching. If we live, we continue the job…” –

Watch it carefully and watch it all.

Posted in Church of Nigeria, Evangelism and Church Growth

(CBC) Graham Singh is saving a Montreal church by first closing the doors, then opening them wider than ever

In 2015, Singh took over a beautiful, ornate church in the centre of Montreal’s bustling downtown. St. James the Apostle had a leaky roof, an uneven foundation, and its books were in rough shape.

With the bishop’s blessing, he became the pastor of the church. And then he closed it down. He closed it down for nine months, giving the existing congregation of about 30 a list of other Anglican churches they could attend.

He emptied the church of its pews and got rid of the choir. He changed the name from the old St. James the Apostle to the new and more modern St. Jax.

Singh started toward his ultimate goal of changing the building from an Anglican church — to a multi-faith community centre.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

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Posted in * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

(ACNS) Anglican Church of Melanesia launches Decade of Evangelism and Renewal with crusade

Members of the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) should “arise and shine for Jesus Christ,” the Province said this week as it launched a decade-long focus on evangelism and renewal. The programme was launched on Pentecost Sunday with a special service at St Barnabas Cathedral, in Honiara, in which the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, preached. On the eve of the service, the province held an open-air evangelistic crusade in the car park of Honiara City Council.

Writing on its official Facebook page, the province said: “It is believed that this program will significantly transform our lives to be renewed, revived, and reformed so that we can be able to live out the realities of the Gospel truths as we seek God’s Kingdom together.

“Therefore it is a Christian call to all ACOM member to arise, and shine for Jesus Christ and to continue in the work of equipping, mentoring, forming, teaching, discipleship and nurturing those who follow Jesus Christ, individually and as a Church. The way towards the eternal goal, is to honor and glorify God.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Melanesia, Evangelism and Church Growth, Melanesia

(ACNS) Church in Wales sets aside £10 million evangelism fund “to inspire new Welsh revival”

The Church in Wales has announced a new £10 million GBP scheme to help its six dioceses fund new evangelism projects. The Church in Wales’ first ever Evangelism Fund will be launched this weekend with the aim of engaging “Welsh society with the claims of the Christian faith in vibrant and exciting ways.” The fund will provide grants of between £250,000 and £3 million, for diocesan projects that “will focus on people rather than buildings,” the Church in Wales said.

The fund will be managed by a committee with expertise in church growth and business ventures; and is being launched on Pentecost Sunday (20 May). Pentecost is traditionally regarded as the Church’s birthday, when Christians focus on sharing their faith and growth. This year, as in 2016 and 2017, it will come at the end of Thy Kingdom Come – a 10-day global wave of prayer focused on the church’s evangelism and witness.

“We are putting our money where our mouth is,” the Archbishop of Wales John Davies said. “We have long talked about growing the church and now we want to invest in projects across the country to enable that to happen. It is a radical answer to the decline we are experiencing in many places, and £10 million is a transforming amount.

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Posted in Church of Wales, Evangelism and Church Growth, Stewardship

The rector of Saint Helena’s, Beaufort, writes his Parish

From here:

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We are warned repeatedly in the Scriptures (Psalm 131:1, Romans 11:33-36, etc.) that there are many things our infinite and perfect God is doing that are beyond our comprehension and understanding, yet He is working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). From time to time by the power of the Holy Spirit, God shows us what I call Kingdom convergence — the ability to glimpse His guiding hand in the midst of things that might not initially be seen as connected. Allow me to give three examples in the life of St. Helena’s today.

  1. “Why the Battle?” Series — Through this teaching series at the Rector’s Forum and the availability of these resources online, many of us are gaining a greater understanding of how important this Gospel struggle is to the greater call of discipleship. We are truly dealing with different worldviews and seeing the necessity of being sharpened in our ability to speak persuasively for our position.
  2. Recent TEC Court Filings — Imagine how important it is for us to be united in this stand for the Gospel when we got word yesterday that TEC has asked the State District Court to begin to distribute the properties of the diocese and the parishes to TEC based on their winner-take-all strategy (read the motion HERE). Never mind the fact that the US Supreme Court is still considering our petition for writ of certiorari, this is a tactic that is designed to deflect our attention and begin to strike doubt in the hearts of our church members. This is why it is so important that we stay focused on our Vision.
  3. Fripp Island Summer Services — Kingdom convergence is so visible here because we are moving out with raising up worshipping communities this summer at Fripp Island. This is not a time to shrink back, but a time to be bold. My encouragement is that God has raised up this outreach through the members who live on Fripp, and we as a Body are being drawn into this fine prayer and planning through the work of servant leaders. The long and the short of it is that St. Helena’s will offer a beach service at 9 am on Fripp Island in front of the beach club beginning Sunday, May 27, and going through July 8. This is an outreach service designed to sow the seeds of the Gospel to the numerous weekly visitors to the island. Kingdom come!

All three of these things and many others are going on in the life of St. Helena’s. We are being guided by the Holy Spirit and our Vision to stand firm and continue to be focused on the least, the last, and the lost. I hope you see the Kingdom convergence that I do. Indeed, “God is working His purposes out …”

With hope,

–(The Rev.) Shay Gaillard

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(MC) Martyn Percy–The Church of England: Mission and Ministry after the Decade of Evangelism

The problem – the legacy of this Decade, in effect – can be simply expressed. The Church of England – or at least its hierarchy – is stuck in broadcast mode. Like the proverbial Englishman abroad, they cannot make themselves understood in a world that increasingly finds the Church incomprehensible, especially in spheres such as sexuality, gender, equality, safeguarding, the
exercise of power, the holding of authority and being open to accountability. But does the Church perceive this? No. It just talks louder, hoping, somehow, it will be heard. It won’t.

In all this, the Church only seeks to make itself more appealing, and attractive to those who might join. Yet it rarely asks the same public why they don’t join. It is like a business doing even more hard selling, with increasing desperation, but unwilling to ask the consumers why they aren’t buying. What is strange about this situation is that the drivers of the agenda are deeply concerned about mission and evangelism. So, they act out of the best of intentions.

But the problem is that the underlying theology of mission and of the Holy Spirit – missiology and pneumatology – is deeply deficient. Expressive evangelistic campaigns tend to achieve very little. Even the Evangelical Alliance admitted in 1994 that the main achievement of the Decade was to establish ‘new levels of co-operation between the Churches’. Hardly a great result but, as other writers in the field of missiology had known for years, what was compelling and credible was an authentic and humble Church. One that listened deeply and lived its faith, faithfully and unassumingly, ratherthan brashly promoting its brand.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(CT) Rosaria Butterfield: Christian Hospitality Is Radically Different from ‘Southern Hospitality’

You advocate a kind of hospitality that steers clear of teacups and doilies. How does radically ordinary hospitality differ from what most people think of as “Southern hospitality?

First of all, it is not entertainment. Hospitality is about meeting the stranger and welcoming that stranger to become a neighbor—and then knowing that neighbor well enough that, if by God’s power he allows for this, that neighbor becomes part of the family of God through repentance and belief. It has absolutely nothing to do with entertainment.

Entertainment is about impressing people and keeping them at arm’s length. Hospitality is about opening up your heart and your home, just as you are, and being willing to invite Jesus into the conversation, not to stop the conversation but to deepen it.

Hospitality is fundamentally an act of missional evangelism. And I wouldn’t know what to do with a doily if you gave it to me. I would probably wipe up cat mess with a doily.

 

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Posted in Entertainment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Diocese of SC) Tyler Prescott–Is Your Church Reaching the Community That Actually Surrounds It?

Tell me if this description fits: You’re a centuries (or maybe only decades) old congregation in a rapidly changing community of the coastal plain or Pee Dee area of South Carolina. For years you’ve been trying to “reach young families” or, more recently, “engage millennials,” but you aren’t really sure where to begin. Does that sound familiar? It could be the constant refrain of many a church in South Carolina and certainly for many in our Diocese! Where is one even to begin?

An important starting place is by asking ourselves a few questions:

Who are we?
Who are our neighbors?
How can we be better neighbors in our community?” (see Romans 15:1-2 for but one Scriptural imperative).
Such questions allow us to thoughtfully consider how our congregations both reflect and diverge from the communities they serve. Further, these questions invite us to consider how our congregations may then bring the Gospel into these communities in a way that showers their particular concerns, particular fears, particular shame, and particular guilt with the all-encompassing love of Christ.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

‘What do we mean when we pray Thy Kingdom Come?’ The Reverend Nicky Gumbel & Archbishop Justin Welby

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

(Christian Post) Church of England in Decline: What’s Being Done to Combat Shrinking Congregations?

Empty churches. One-person congregations. Ministers “dressed up with no one to listen.” Is this the stark reality facing Church of England parishes?

While to many, the future of the denomination looks bleak, there are major efforts at work aimed at bringing the faithful back to the church.

One is a digital initiative that develops new ideas to enhance outreach and information. Another seeks to showcase the importance of the church community during momentous events in people’s lives, such as weddings and funerals, when they’re seeking answers to critical questions.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Science & Technology

Saint Helena’s, Beaufort, reports on last week’s South Carolina Diocesan Convention

From Rev. Todd Simonis, Senior Associate: I very much appreciated Bishop Lawrence calling local churches to have a mission mindset. It was great to have conversations about the changing demographics of the Lowcountry and how we, as the church, must be ready to reach out to those demographics. As always, it was an encouraging time to be with others from the diocese.
From Rion Salley, Senior Warden and Delegate: Bishop Lawrence shared how a little intentionality can go a long way for the Kingdom of God. First, as sowers of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ we can take more time to familiarize ourselves with the people in our community and build deeper relationships with those God has put in our midst by walking through life together as Jesus did.
From Rev. Chuck Pollak, Priest Associate: For me a highlight was the sermon by Bishop Lowenfield, who described his difficult decision to leave the Episcopal Church, and the joy he now feels as a member of ACNA. His journey is similar to one that many of us have experienced, and we know how wrecking that decision has been to us and to others as well. His message is one of hope.
From Jane Manos, Delegate: It was great to be with the Parish Church of St. Helena at the convention – a true honor! From Bishop Lawrence’s address, what stood out to me: “Uncertainty is WHY we need to sow the seed (of the Gospel).”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Adult Education, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology

(SA) Ruth Lukabyo–Youth Revival: The impact of the 1959 Billy Graham Crusade on young people

Dad was not the only young person whose life was transformed that day. In fact, a statistical analysis of the Sydney Crusade demonstrates that 60% of those who signed the decision card were under the age of 21. The age most highly represented was 12-15 years at 28%, followed by 16-21 years at 19%. Many call the 1959 Billy Graham Crusade a revival, but it was not only a revival, it was a youth revival.

Apart from the work of the Spirit, why did the Crusade have such a marked impact upon youth? Graham’s message was a traditional gospel message of the sinfulness of people and their need for forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus. This was not new.

What was new was the way it was communicated and Graham’s focus on young people. Youth nights were organised which were full of energy and infectious enthusiasm and were perhaps the most fruitful of the Crusade meetings. Associate evangelists spent hours at secondary schools, speaking at assemblies and lunch hour meetings. Graham spoke at Sydney University outside the Great Hall to a crowd of 4,000 students. Even at the main Crusade meetings, Graham would address young people separately and call them to dedicate themselves to Christ.

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Posted in Australia / NZ, Church History, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

South Carolina Diocese Urged to Go Out to Sow Seeds of the Gospel at 227th Diocesan Convention – A Convention Wrap-Up

Through his refrain, [Bishop] Lawrence seemed to sum up the theme of the Convention urging church members to “go out to sow”– beyond their church walls to engage their communities for Christ.

“So what would it look like for the diocese and our congregations to step out more fully in mission?” he asked. “First, I believe we would seek to engage our local communities in relevant, sensitive witness and evangelism; secondly, that Matthew 25 ministries (those reaching the poor and neglected) would proliferate among us; and thirdly, we would partner with one another to plant churches that plant churches.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

Bishop Mark Lawrence Addresses the 227th South Carolina Diocesan Convention

Before I go any further with my purpose, let me get something out of the way. Call it litigation—legal updates—the financial challenges it brings. You may think it is the elephant in the room. I suggest to you it is not. Certainly, the most recent legal volley from The Episcopal Church is an attempt to bring every congregation of the diocese (and even those outside the diocese) into their crosshairs. But, it is not the elephant in the room. An elephant in the room is a metaphor for what many fear is a problem that is not acknowledged openly. Frankly, the legal battle is acknowledged everywhere I go. Whether at Bishop’s forums, coffee hours, vestry meetings, church door handshakes, evening phone calls, or casual dinners. Then there is the related question, such as, “If we should we lose, who will stay with the building and who will not?” All I will say of this for now is what I hear in my quiet moments from the Lord that now is no time to lose my resolve! Therefore, by God’s grace, I shall not. I suggest the same for you. But if your congregation needs a refresher course about the theological issues that led to our dissociation from TEC may I suggest you get a copy of the video that Al Zadig and Kendall Harmon are making at St. Michael’s entitled: “Why the Battle? Different God and Gospel.” Thank you, Al and Kendall.

So that said, I want to address what I believe is the real elephant in the room. I have been your bishop now for ten years. The first five years were in the context of theological and ecclesiastical struggles to remain “intact and in TEC”: the last five in litigation to be “intact and out of TEC”. As I reflect on this decade—just a mere one thirty-fourth of the time Anglicanism has been in Charleston and one twenty-third of the time the Diocese of South Carolina has been in existence, I realize I am sojourner among you. If the years that Anglicanism has been here were measured as one hour my years with you would be considerably less than two minutes. And in that hour there has been wars and rumors of wars. There have been rectors removed from their pulpits in the midst of British occupation and reinstated after the Revolution. There have been Union soldiers housed in our churches and surgeries performed on Southern gravestones. A Confederate submarine sunk in Charleston harbor and German submarines lurked off the Carolina coast. There have been fires and floods, earthquakes and plagues. The ironies abound. One of my predecessors in his Bishop’s Address in the late 19th Century wondered what could be done about the declining churches along the coast, for some of the parishes could hardly stay open—all the growth was inland. Parishes in the Low Country were languishing. Now the Low Country and the coastal regions are so bursting with people moving in from elsewhere one can hardly navigate the roadways. Instead, we ask what we should do about our congregations in the small towns of the Midlands and the Pee Dee. It is they who struggle to keep their church doors open. The hymn writer, Issac Watts might well have had them in mind when he wrote:

“Time like an every rolling stream bears all our years away; /they fly, forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day. /O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, /be thou our guide while life shall last, and our eternal home.”

Indeed, are we not all sojourners? An ever-changing environment is the normal backdrop to life; change is the real constant. Hence there are always “good reasons” for the sower not to go out. This I believe is the elephant in the room. It is the main theme of this address. Jesus said, “A sower went out to sow.” It did not matter to our Lord that there was uncertainty—he went out to sow. Uncertainty is arguably, why we need to go out to sow. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” so must we go out into the field. I have spoken about this in one way or another at almost every diocesan convention. It seems always to lose out to other pressing concerns. Sadly, I have let it.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

Prayers requested for the historic diocese of South Carolina Diocesan Convention which meets beginning Friday

You can find an overview of information there, including links for the workshops and a schedule for both days.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(BGEA) Billy Graham: A Life Remembered

Watch it all (just over 28 1/2 minutes)

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture