A Word from of Diocesan Bishop Steve Wood

Having the Word and the Spirit

“Jesus said to His disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses.”

How did the early church turn the Greco-Roman world upside down?  Certainly, a large part of their success lay in their message – that through Christ people could find freedom and salvation from all the things that held them in fear and bondage.

But it wasn’t just the early church’s message that made them so fruitful.  It was both Word and Spirit.  The early church was empowered by a vital experience of God – the Holy Spirit’s presence.

The Book of Acts communicates a simple message to Christians, that apart from the Holy Spirit, we Christians have nothing and are nothing and can do nothing.  Our whole life is dependent on the Holy Spirit.  Our coming to faith in Jesus is the product of the Holy Spirit.  Our Christian growth is a result of the Holy Spirit, our unity in the church – created by the Holy Spirit.  Our evangelism and mission is empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Our knowledge of God’s Word is a result of the Holy Spirit.  Our hearing from God, our healing, the restoration of marriages and families, our insight into the things of God, our servanthood, our Christian character:  It’s all the result of the power of the Holy Spirit.

Listen, there is very clearly and very definitely something to believe in Christianity – we can never let go of that.  But there’s also something more.  There is Someone to receive, Someone to experience.  Christianity has a certain truth content to it.  But Christianity goes beyond creeds and beyond propositional content.  It involves an encounter with the Holy Spirit – an experience of God through the Holy Spirit.  This is partially what Jesus meant when He said, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”

Much of the church today says not to worry about experiences and not to worry about feelings.  Concern yourself with the truth and that is enough.  On one hand there is truth in this.  You don’t have to wait for a feeling to obey God.  The Christian life is not just a life of waiting around for a feeling in order to do what is right or good or helpful.  We act in faith based on the truth.  We know what God’s Word says –we know what God’s will is and so we do God’s will regardless of our feelings.

But the Bible consistently presents the Holy Spirit as Someone who can be experienced – as Someone who imparts power.  A few examples of this biblical witness:

The Apostle Peter wrote truths for us to believe but he also spoke of his experience.  1 Peter 1:8 he writes that as we encounter God we experience “joy unspeakable.”
The Apostle Paul, who wrote some of the most profound and dense theology, said in Romans 5, “God’s love is poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit?”  Is that just doctrine or an experience?
Again, Paul, we read in Romans 8 that we have received the Holy Spirit and by Him we cry out, “‘Abba, Father,’ the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirits that we are children of God” is that heart cry, “Abba Father,” just right belief or it is the result of a genuine encounter with the Holy Spirit?

God brought the prophet Ezekiel to a desert valley that was covered with the bones of dead men.  While Ezekiel watched, the Spirit of God breathed upon those dried out bones and flesh grew on them and dead men came back to life.  Some of us are like those dead bones in the valley.  You’re not physically dead.  You may be as physically fit as one could be.  You may be intellectually fit.  Your mind could be incredibly quick and your wit as sharp.  But even if you are physically alive and intellectually alive, spiritually you can still be dead – dead to God.  Dead, in terms of your awareness of God.  Dead, in terms of your experience of God before the power of the Spirit makes you alive to the reality of God.

Jesus said to His disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses.” The power of the Spirit is at work in us to make us look like Jesus.  And living like Jesus is a fantastic way to live.  Jesus was free.  Jesus was secure.  His identity was not based on the opinions of those around him.  He did not feel the need to prove Himself.  He did not measure His success in life by what He possessed or what He accomplished.  He did not measure the fruitfulness of His ministry or the faithfulness of His Father by the response of His audience.  He was at peace with Himself.  Jesus was authentic.  He was the real deal.

Being like Jesus means that you are aiming at loving other people and not being self-consumed with introspection or self-pitying, being self-absorbed.  Being like Jesus means you’re able to love people who are different than you.  People who are different in color, different in background, different education, different ages. Being like Jesus means that you speak well of others instead of always complaining, bad-mouthing, gossiping.

Wouldn’t it be nice to live life like Jesus?  Secure, content, thankful, truthful, loving, free?  How does it happen?  How does holiness happen?

It happens by the Word and the Holy Spirit working together in our lives.

One last thought on this matter. When I was in seminary I had a theology professor who used this ditty to make this point:

To have the Word without the Spirit is to dry up.
To have the Spirit without the Word is to blow up.
To have the Word and the Spirit is to grow up.

May we all grow in the fullness of life that the Lord means for us to know.

Yours in Christ,

Cathedral Bridging Racial Divide

In November of 2016 I was feeling convicted: the previous several years, across the country, and in our own state, had seen a series of highly publicized, racially implicated shootings—some clearly racially motivated, others not so clearly, yet fitting that narrative too closely for comfort.

I know that I can’t count myself “woke” to these issues, but my eyes had been opened to the kinds of challenges young black men encounter daily in our society; the kinds of additional burdens that young white men simply never face. Terrance had come to live with us for about 8 months in 2006-7 when he and my two boys were in middle school together. I saw how even the most trivial incidents—conversations, retail transactions, transportation challenges—were tinged with racial bias for him. I saw him deal with slights and inconveniences (and I’m not talking about actually ugly encounters) with grace and kindness, and with an indefatigable optimism that had to be exhausting.

Yet here I was, some 10 years later, my life not having changed at all.

So I cold called Pastor Jamey Graham of the St John Baptist Church. I had met Jamey once, nearly 10-years earlier, in a locker room having both worked out; I sheepishly asked if we could be friends.

Over the next year and a half, we did that. We shared meals, enjoyed long conversations, got our families together, and dreamed about our churches doing something(s) together. His church is Baptist, mine is Anglican, so there are some limits on what that can look like; but we both wanted to do something, in the shared conviction that something is always better than nothing.

 This June saw our churches take a first step together. We hosted a three-day Preaching Mission: a simple sung Evening Prayer with sermon. He would preach, and his church choir would sing before and after each sermon. Then, we would gather for an hour or so in the Parish Hall to get to know each other.

It was amazing! We averaged about 120 each evening, and the fellowship far exceeded my timid hopes. In some ways, the services amplified our differences: from the Opening Sentences through the Canticles felt starkly reserved and “white.” The choir and Pastor Jamey’s excellent preaching would bring the house down, and then we would tone it down again from the Apostles Creed through the Prayers. But to my delight, no one was troubled by that. We each got to be ourselves, and we enjoyed each other very much.

We don’t know where this will lead. This fall we are organizing supper clubs that will combine two families from our church with two families from theirs. The only requirement is that those groups figure out how to share a meal four times between now and the end of the year. What comes after that? We can’t wait to find out.

Chip Edgar,
Dean and Rector Church of the Apostles, Columbia

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Diocese Launches Church Planting Curacy

As the Diocese of the Carolinas continues to look to the future, we are excited to announce the Kardia Church Planting Curacy program to help raise up the next generation of church planters.

The church planting curacy program is designed to help prepare Anglican church planters to plant missional Anglican churches in the Diocese of the Carolinas. The curacy will provide practical training and mentorship within the context of a local Anglican church that has been approved by the Diocese.

Canon for church Planting Winfield Bevins says, “I am very excited about this important next step for our church planting strategy for the Carolinas. We believe that developing a robust curacy program is a critical next step to the mission and expansion of the Diocese of the Carolinas to identify, equip and send church planters to plant Anglican churches across the Carolinas and beyond.”

The curacy lasts between 12-36 months depending on the context and candidate’s experience and background. Normally during the final year of the curacy, curates called to church planting will develop a church planting strategic plan. At the conclusion of the curacy, the curate will be sent out to plant a church in partnership with the local church and Diocese. There are many strategic benefits for creating a curacy program for our diocese.

For the Curate

  • Practical experience in real ministry contexts.
  • On the ground training for church planting.
  • Experience working with/on a staff of clergy and ministry leaders.
For the Diocese
  • A pipeline of equipped, experienced new clergy.
  • A potential church planter with training and experience.
  • Foster a culture of churches planting churches.
For the Parish
  • Assistance in ministry
  • Opportunity to invest in young clergy.
  • A potential new church plant.

At the core of this model is a desire to equip curates to become effective Anglican church planters and to grow the Diocese through starting new churches. The Diocese will start accepting applications this fall and will select three curacies each year. All curacies applications will be approved by the Kardia team.

For more information contact Winfield Bevins Winfield.bevins@asburyseminary.edu.

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The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail!

by Sharon Pullen Anchor
When God asks a question, He isn’t trying to fill gaps in His knowledge. His questions are always followed by life changing revelations to the ones He is addressing. Consider a few of the questions God has asked and the implications for the listeners: “Who told you that you were naked? (Gen 3:11); “What is that in your hand?” (Ex 4:2); “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:4).Jesus was preparing to share a profound truth with His disciples one day as he began to ask them questions about what people were saying about him. “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Jesus asked.The disciples answered, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”Then Jesus asked the most important question ever asked, the one to which we all must respond. “But who do you say that I am?”

Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus said, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:13-18).

What did Jesus mean when he said the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church? Gates are physical and stationary barriers that cannot advance with aggressive action, so Jesus must mean that the church is somehow putting force on the gates of hell.

Numerous commentaries based on Jesus’ statement in Matthew 16:18 describe the church storming the gates of hell and breaking down the strongholds of the enemy. But that image presents a problem. Nowhere in scripture are we called to take up arms against the enemy in an offensive way. On the contrary, we are called to stand firm against evil, knowing that our strength comes from the Lord. The pieces of the armor of God described in Ephesians 6 are protective and defensive, enabling us to stand against the attacks of the enemy. The only possible exception is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. We use the word to resist temptation as Jesus did in the desert.

Time and time again we see in the Old Testament God’s people defeating their enemies against overwhelming odds by following His instructions to perform seemingly benign actions such as marching around the wall of a city, blowing trumpets, and smashing jars. In the final clash between good and evil in Revelation, we are not found on that battlefield either. God is clear in His word and in His actions that the battle belongs to Him.

Not only does the battle not belong to us, it already has been won. The Apostle Paul prayed that we might grasp the “immeasurable greatness of [God’s] power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.  And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Eph 1:19-23).

So how exactly is the Church breaching the gates of hell?

The phrase used in Matthew’s gospel for gates of hell, pulai hadou, is a Jewish expression meaning “realm of the dead.” The two words appear in Job 38:17 and Isaiah 38:10 (Septuagint version), and in both instances, the phrase refers to death. When Jesus promised Peter that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church, he wasn’t referring to some sort of crusade against demonic forces, but rather to the powerlessness of death over believers. Jesus will build His Church on the faith of those who proclaim Him as Lord, and the members of His Body will not be defeated by death.

The Lord reminded me of His promise while I was serving on a Kairos Prison Ministry team inside a women’s prison. I was singing with a group of prisoners during a worship service when I began to look around at these women, some of whom had just given their lives to the Lord. They were weeping and lifting their hands in praise, many of them openly worshiping God for the first time in their lives. I was so moved by the strong impression I had of God’s overwhelming love for these women and His pleasure and delight in their sweet worship, I had to stop singing. There in the very heart of territory long held by the enemy, I could hear the heavenly angel choir singing with these women. I was awestruck by the indescribably beautiful sound of an unearthly harmony wrapping around the human voices in the room.

During those incredible few moments, God reminded me how very thin the veil is between the earthly and the heavenly realms. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, and the heavenly hosts are praising God and rejoicing over the salvation of the lost. When souls are saved, the church advances, and the dominion of death diminishes. These things are not happening somewhere up there or out there; they are happening right here around us as Jesus builds His Church toward its completion.

Jesus asked a group of women in prison the all important question, “Who do you say that I am?”

God revealed the truth to them, and they answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

These women stepped from death to life.

The gates of hell did not prevail.

And the angels sang.

Sharon Pullen is a member of Church of the Holy Cross in North Raleigh.

ADOC Campus Ministries

First, the bad news.  When sociologist Christian Smith published Souls in Transition: The Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers in 2005, he famously observed that while the majority of Americans still identified as Christian, the quality of their belief tended to be the theologically dubious “moral therapeutic deism.”  If anything, the spiritual squishiness of young adults in 2005 has only increased.  According to Pew Research, in 2015 the fastest growing religious group in the United States among young adults was “unaffiliated,” jumping from 16.1% in 2007 to 22.8%.  This helps explain recent research showing that between 60 and 70% (Barna) of students who grew up in church leave during college.  Add to this the American College Health Association’s findings that 53% of students felt hopeless.  Needless to say, there is a tremendous need for the gospel on college campuses.

Despite these statistics, college is a time of tremendous opportunity.  If I were to ask a room full of Christians in an average Anglican Church in the Southeast if they had a conversion experience with Jesus Christ in college, odds are that a majority would raise their hands.  Just as many lose their faith in college, many also find it.  Simply put, college is a transformative time.  The question for the church is: how will we respond?

For this reason, Anglican churches in Clemson and Columbia are partnering with the CCO (Coalition for Christian Outreach) to reach college students––collectively around 60,000 students between the two areas.  Recognizing that the Church is Jesus’ chosen instrument for proclaiming and living the gospel, our goal is to connect students to the life of the local church.  Our ministries will be Anglican in nature, but our hope is that though it Christ’s whole church will be built up.  From move-in day when we help move students into their dorm rooms, to the day they are anxiously preparing for final exams, we will be with them, praying for them, and exploring what it means to live in the light of the lordship of Jesus Christ.

This is where we need you.

  1. If you have students in Columbia or Clemson, we would love to meet them!  Feel free to reach out to Justin or Jonathan through a phone call or email (see below).
  2. To learn more about students’ stories and partner in prayer, join our newsletter by sending us an email (see below).
  3. The ministries in Clemson and Columbia depend on individuals and churches to financially partner with them in order to reach students.  If you are an alumnus, have students in either city, or just want to change the university through the spread of the gospel, consider becoming a sustaining financial partner.

For more information about the CCO: Go to  www.ccojubilee.org

  • For more on Anglican ministry at Clemson, contact Justin and Molly Hare at Christ the Redeemer:
  • For more on Anglican ministry at the University of South Carolina and Columbia Area Schools, contact Jonathan Furst at Church of the Apostles: