A Word from our Diocesan Bishop Steve Wood

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“Go”
“Wait”

Two simple words which cause us so much trouble!

Go
Jesus told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.  Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.  Lk 10. 2-3

Wait
Jesus gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 4-5

Why is it so hard to do what Jesus commands us to do?  Why do we think we know better?  Part of the “going” and “waiting”, for Jesus, involved teaching (presuming we’ve first learned ourselves) others to obey (Mt 28.20).  Another word we don’t like!  But there it is, 4 times from the lips of the Lord in ten short verses (Jn. 14.15-24) culminating with: “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

Going and waiting are hard.  Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh.  Jonah wanted Judgment.

Peter found himself in slightly different circumstances.

Speaking to a confused church, which apparently wanted God to get on with the judging and were frustrated with waiting, the Apostle penned these words: The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3.9)

God does not view time and circumstance as we do. He calls us to go to a broken world (from which we want to run) and to wait in the midst of the sadness and ugliness and pain of human brokenness.  This waiting, though, is not a passive waiting.  It’s a waiting that brings with it the power of the Spirit which empowers our proclamation and demonstration that the Kingdom of God is at hand and that the only appropriate response to the presence of God’s Kingdom is repentance and believe (Mk. 1.15).  The Lord’s seeming delay in bringing about the consummation of all things is not a result of His indifference but of His patience – a waiting for all who will come to repentance.

How utterly unlike Him I am.

It is uncomfortable to live in a sinful world.

And the truth is, I’d rather be comfortable.

I wonder how you’re doing in regard to going and waiting?  I wonder to whom the Lord has said for you to “go” but you’re waiting?  I wonder how many circumstances you find your patience being tried because you are so ready to go – and yet the Lord seems to have said, “wait”?

Do you have a heart that is content with going and waiting as the Lord leads?

Jesus never intended for the faith to be lived out in the imaginary realm of supposition and make believe.  Instead you and I are called to fully live in the present, sometimes hard pressed, sometimes perplexed, sometimes knocked down, but never crushed or abandoned – always carrying within our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed. Always accompanied by and filled with the Spirit

Go.
Wait.

Two very difficult words.

Developing Healthy Congregations

15541267_786901648114635_2912949989732689445_nA Note from Bishop Steve Wood

 

Dear Friends,

As our diocese continues to develop our common life Nancy Bryan has helpfully begun a regular e-newsletter of sorts to ensure we stay connected one to another. Included in these e-newsletters will be a brief article from me.  Being our first such newsletter I thought I’d write you about that which is closest to my heart; developing healthy missional congregations.

Over the course of my ordained life I have continually observed that when a congregation goes flat it is usually because one aspect of their life is out of balance.   As Anglicans entrusted with the great treasure of a rich liturgical life, we tend to do worship well. And, as I’ve traveled from parish to parish across our diocese we tend to love one another well. Most commonly it is the missional focus that has been lost.

So, how can you – and your parish – develop a heart that will grow an outwardly minded (mission minded) church?  Here are five suggestions:

 

  1. Adopt the “apostolic” attitude found in Romans 1.5-6: “Through Him (Jesus) and for His name’s sake, we (you) received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles (unreached people) to the obedience that comes from faith.”  Paul says that each one of us who has received grace for salvation has also received apostleship – meaning we have all been sent into the world as Christ’s ambassadors (2 Cor. 5.20).
  2. Find neutral ground to reach out to the community.  The possibilities are limited only by your creativity.  In the Diocese of the Carolinas the Village Church in West Greenville, SC partners with other community volunteers to serve their neighborhood by offering free bicycle maintenance, bike learning (and bike earning) opportunities and community development.  Called the Village Wrench they set up in a neighborhood of West Greenville on the first Saturday of every month. It is a tremendous bridge into the community giving pre-Christian people an opportunity to rub shoulders with Christians in a non-threatening atmosphere.
  3. Cultivate an evangelistic mindset.  Think person-to-person, friend-to-friend, neighbor-to-neighbor, colleague-to-colleague.  This, in fact, is much more important than any program or event your parish could implement. Twenty years ago George Hunter, the author of How to Reach Secular People, suggested that in our secular climate it takes twenty contacts(!) to build a bridge between your friend and Christ. The point is, stay engaged.  Folks will want to see your faith lived out and that takes time.
  4. Spice up your evangelistic life with a little variety.  Again, the evangelistic opportunities are endless.  For example, if you hear a single mom has a sick child you could: bring her dinner, mow her lawn, bring in the mail, visit the child and pray for him/her, share how your faith helped you in a hard time, invite her to church – or a home group, be a friend, have coffee – build a bridge.
  5. Meet people where they are.  Increasingly, the bankruptcy of our secular/pluralistic culture (materialism, atheism, skepticism) is being made clear.  Our society has moved from pluralism (many truths) to relativism (no truth is more true than others) to post-post-modernism (what is truth?).  Many in the church panic and become ashamed of the Gospel, feeling that the Bible is irrelevant to our modern world.  NOTHING could be further from the truth.  In fact, this kind of thinking reflects more clearly a worldly analysis than a biblical one.  The Bible is still living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword – able to penetrate soul and spirit and judge the thoughts and attitudes of people’s hearts (Heb. 4.11).

 

In Christ,

Steve

Please Hold On…

Suffragan Bishop David Bryan

Face it, we hate to wait. We don’t like lines, waiting rooms or delays in our ‘instant’ society. There is an inherent impatience in the way our culture has shaped us in the western world.

Which is why Advent’s biblical emphasis on waiting is important for us to hear. We live in between the advents of Christ into our world. We are encouraged to allow our time waiting to do its sanctifying work in us. It has been wisely said that next to suffering, waiting may be the greatest teacher and trainer in godliness, maturity and genuine spirituality.

Advent reminds us of the centuries God’s people waited for the fulfillment of his promise to send a Savior. He came! Jesus, speaking of his return, said “stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men waiting for their master to come home…” (Luke 12:35-36) Waiting, whether we like it or not, is an integral part of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

But there is good news for those who embrace this call to wait as a matter of trust in God’s promise to us. Psalm 33:20-21 bears witness to this: “Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.” We wait because we trust that God, in his time, will fulfill his promise to us in his Son. We believe, with the prophets, that those “who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

We fail in our waiting when we take things into our own hands…. when we decide to operate out of our own agenda and not God’s. We fail when we give up hope and cease to trust in God’s Word to us.

When we pray for a family member or friend to be touched by God’s grace and we don’t see results, we are tempted to give up. When we pray for a job or opportunity to open up and we don’t see it come to fruition, we are tempted to give up. Advent reminds us to press in, to actively wait for God to move, to break into our story, often in unexpected ways. He has proven in the incarnation of Jesus Christ that he is trustworthy.

I’m not sure what you are waiting for right now, but when, in your circumstances, you hear “please hold on…”, hear it as an invitation to hold on… to the promises of God!

Press Release:: The Rt. Rev’d David Bryan Elected Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of the Carolinas

bpbryanMT PLEASANT, SC – Monday May 23, 2016, clergy and lay delegates from the Diocese of the Carolinas voted unanimously to elect Bishop David C. Bryan as the first Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of the Carolinas.

Bryan has served as Bishop of the Southeast (PEARUSA) Network since September 2013. This Network, one of three in PEARUSA, is part of a missionary district established by the Anglican Province of Rwanda in the United States.

This June, Archbishop Rwaje of Rwanda will formally hand over all three networks to Archbishop Foley Beach and the Anglican Church in North America. Two of the networks will become dioceses. The clergy and churches in Bishop Bryan’s network will have the opportunity to become part of an already existing Diocese of the Carolinas under Bishop Steve Wood.

“It’s the right thing for us to do here in the Carolinas,” Bryan said. “The clergy who elected me as their bishop agreed with me that we didn’t need another diocese. I am personally looking forward to working with Bishop Steve Wood and sharing episcopal ministry with him.”

The clergy and parishes in Bishop Bryan’s PEARUSA network will have until July 1 to apply for admittance into the Diocese of the Carolinas.

“I’m excited about the possibilities ahead,” Wood responded. “Bishop David and the clergy of his network are teaching all of us about humility and passion for gospel unity. The vote last night, I think, tells it all. Our clergy and lay delegates are excited about coming together.”

Archbishop Beach added, “Archbishop Rwaje and the House of Bishops of Rwanda want our Anglican witness of Jesus Christ in North America to be strong. I believe what Bishop David and the Southeast (PEARUSA) Network is doing demonstrates that witness boldly and courageously in the Carolinas.”

Related to the actions of the Southeast (PEARUSA) Network, Bishop Thad Barnum has accepted the position of Assisting Bishop in the Diocese of the Carolinas where Bishop Barnum has established an Office of Clergy Care attending to the personal and spiritual well-being of the clergy.

+Thad and his wife Erilynne have four grown children and eleven grandchildren.  They reside in Pawleys Island, SC.

+David and his wife Nancy have three grown children, with two married and one engaged. They reside in Columbia, SC.

+Steve and his wife Jacqui have four grown children and two grandchildren.  They reside in Mt. Pleasant, SC.

Perspectives :: Discerning a Call to Ordained Life

By the Rev. Claudia Greggs

Nothing about Virginia McCray Musselman’s life is accidental.  At birth, she was given the name “Virginia,” which means “pure of heart,” a quality her parents hoped would always characterize her.  From an early age Virginia had a longing to serve the Lord and would ply her father, a minister ordained in the Presbyterian church, with questions about Jesus and salvation.  Her father reminded her often that God had a special plan for her life.

In her teens, Virginia’s faith grew and she actively sought to discern the plans God had for her.  Upon her eighteenth birthday she spent several days apart in prayer and study as she pondered what path the Lord might have for her to take next.  A verse in the book of Isaiah captured her attention: “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations…”  42:6.  She sensed that this verse, although originally intended for the people of Judah, was also a word to her from the Lord, to assure her of two essential points – that He had set her apart for a special purpose and He would lead her step by step.

Years later, as she looked back on that time spent in prayer, Virginia realized that God was teaching her how to listen for His voice and to trust Him – both of which are essential for a life in ministry.  She returns to this verse often, and as God’s plan for her life continues to unfold, she trusts that the Lord will guide her, as if holding her by the hand, to whatever He has in store for her next.

Virginia is the eldest of eight children, all of whom were home schooled.  As she was finishing her high school studies she applied to do short-term mission work in Romania, through Bill Gothard’s foreign mission agency.  Her father worked for Bill Gothard and Romania was a country Virginia’s parents loved and prayed for, so when Virginia learned that there was an opening for a teen to serve in Romania, she was eager to apply.  She was accepted and served for two years – three months each school semester, with a furlough at home in Arkansas during the summer months.

When an opportunity arose for a family to serve in missions in Romania, Virginia and her parents and siblings all went together.  They spent the next three years there in family ministry.  Virginia worked with Romanian teens using a curriculum developed by Gothard’s Institute of Basic Life Studies which offered lessons in character development.  Although the government prohibited evangelism in the classroom, the mission teams sought to develop relationships with the students so that they could share their faith with the students outside the classroom.

After five years of missions work in Romania, Virginia returned to the States and pursued an undergraduate degree in English from Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, New Jersey.  After graduation, and unsure of what to do next, she decided to move to North Carolina along with her cousin, who had been accepted into a graduate program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.   It was not long before Virginia found employment as a first grade teacher’s assistant at a Christian school.

After visiting a few churches in the area, Virginia and her cousin accepted a friend’s invitation to worship nearby at All Saints Anglican Church – and once they did, they felt drawn to return, Sunday after Sunday.  Virginia quickly discovered that Anglicanism afforded her the most authentic expression of her faith in Jesus Christ and within a year she was a confirmed member of All Saints.

She continued working as a teacher’s assistant for several more years, but eventually realized that although she loved the children she worked with, it was in interactions with adults – parents and colleagues – where she felt she was truly ministering.  It became increasingly clear to Virginia that she needed to make a decision about her future: either seek to be certified as a teacher or find a way to return to evangelistic ministry, which she loved and missed.

About this time Bishop Steve Breedlove, who was the Rector of All Saints, encouraged Virginia to consider prayerfully ordination to the diaconate.  The process of discerning a call to ordained ministry was both exciting and unsettling for Virginia because even though she sensed the Lord’s hand in Bishop Breedlove’s invitation, she knew her parents would not be able to support her if she reached the conclusion she was called to the diaconate.  They still belonged to the denomination in which she was raised – one in which women were not ordained or allowed to teach or preach in the presence of men.

In time and after much prayer, Virginia reached the same conclusion as that of the discernment committee at All Saints with whom she was working – that the Lord was calling her to ordination to the diaconate.  The endorsement she received from the committee and from Bishop Breedlove was wholehearted and unanimous.  Although she hated to disappoint her parents, she also knew she was obeying God’s call on her life – something her parents had raised her to do.  Eventually Virginia’s parents were able to support her decision and her family travelled to North Carolina to attend her ordination.

During this time and following her ordination, Virginia participated in a program designed by Bishop Breedlove for men and women entering ordained ministry called, Anglican Missional Pastor.  After she completed that program she decided she wanted to further her education in ministry so with Bishop Breedlove’s blessing she enrolled in the Masters of Divinity program through Regent University in Virginia Beach.

For the first eighteen months of the program Virginia resided in Virginia Beach and served as a deacon at Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church in Norfolk.  She had met the rector of Redeemer, Brian Campbell, through the Anglican Missional Pastor program so when she moved to Virginia Beach Brian invited her to serve as a deacon at his church.  Little did she know that she would meet her future husband at this church.

On the first Sunday of Advent in 2012, several months after Virginia began her studies at Regent, John Musselman was in town visiting his parents.  John lived and worked in Raleigh, where he was a member of the Church of the Apostles.  However, whenever he was in Norfolk John would worship at Redeemer – and he knew Brian, and his wife, Janis, well.  In fact, Janis was eager to introduce John to Virginia.

So on that Sunday morning, just before the service began, Janis made a point of introducing John to Virginia.  However, there was no time to talk afterward, so John contacted Virginia after he returned to Raleigh.  Each had been praying for some time to the Lord about finding the right spouse – someone who was a biblically-grounded and deeply committed Christian – and within a matter of months John and Virginia knew that the Lord had answered their prayers by bringing them together.  One year later, they were married and Virginia moved back to Raleigh and completed her degree online.

Virginia graduated in 2015 and was chosen by the seminary faculty to receive the “Outstanding Graduate” award – a distinction granted each year to one graduating student, based upon academic excellence and Christian character.  She had begun her seminary studies unsure of her ability to do well and of her future role in the church but the Lord affirmed her desire for more education and His call on her life through the encouragement and respect she was afforded by her teachers and fellow students.  They saw how the Lord was using her mightily for ministry – and eventually she, too, began to sense that her call from God was beyond what she had previously envisioned – the she was being called to serve as a priest.  Her husband, John, agrees wholeheartedly.

Virginia now serves as a deacon at Church of the Holy Cross in Raleigh and has entered into a discernment process in the Diocese of the Carolinas for ordination to the priesthood.  Although she could not have envisioned this path for her life when she was a teenager, the words the Lord spoke to her at that time through the prophet Isaiah continue to encourage her and call her forward.

 

The Rev. Claudia Greggs is the Clergy Associate for Pastoral Care at Holy Trinity Church in Raleigh.