A letter from our ADOC Bishops

July 8, 2020

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For some time, we have discussed how our diocese might better organize itself for more fruitful mission and ministry. Given the geographic distances and challenges within our diocese we’ve considered different versions of deaneries, regions and oversight.

Early this year our bishops began talking, praying and discerning how it might work to develop a South Carolina area and a North Carolina area with two “Area Bishops” primarily focused on the mission and care of their respective areas, under the authority and oversight of Bishop Steve Wood, our Diocesan Bishop. Our hope is that having bishops resident in South and North Carolina will allow us to respond to and work with clergy and churches more rapidly and effectively.

Last week the Standing Committee approved funding to help make this happen. Under this new arrangement, Bishop David Bryan will be the Area Bishop for South Carolina and Bishop Terrell Glenn will move to Raleigh, NC and be the Area Bishop for North Carolina. Churches will still have the freedom to continue with their current bishop and we will attempt to honor any preferences and requests for visitations, etc. This will also apply to our parishes that are not in North or South Carolina. Bishop Thad Barnum will continue his work in Soul Care for all of our clergy.

We are grateful to serve alongside each of you in the Diocese of the Carolinas.

Warmly yours in the Lord,

Bishop Steve Wood
Bishop David Bryan
Bishop Terrell Glenn
Bishop Thad Barnum

 

 

The Diocese of the Carolinas       440 Whilden Street       Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464       843.424.6297

A Letter Concerning the Death of George Floyd and So Many Others


A Letter Concerning the Death of George Floyd and So Many Others

George Floyd was made in the image of God and as such is a person of utmost value. This is not true because a few Anglican Bishops issue a letter. This conviction arises from our reading of Scripture. The Psalmist said:

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well (Psalm 139:13-14).

The opening book of our Scriptures declares the value of all human life:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:27)

What happened to George is an affront to God because his status as an image-bearer was not respected. He was treated in a way that denied his basic humanity. Our lament is real. But our lament is not limited to George and his family. We mourn alongside the wider Black community for whom this tragedy awakens memories of their own traumas and the larger history of systemic oppression that still plagues this country.

George’s death is not merely the most recent evidence that proves racism exists against Black people in this country. But it is a vivid manifestation of the ongoing devaluation of black life. At the root of all racism is a heretical anthropology that devalues the Imago Dei in us all.  The gospel reveals that all are equally created, sinful, and equally in the need of the saving work of Christ. The racism we lament is not just interpersonal. It exists in the implicit and explicit customs and attitudes that do disproportionate harm to ethnic minorities in the country. In other words, too often racial bias has been combined with political power to create inequalities that still need to be eradicated.

As bishops in the ACNA, we commit ourselves to stand alongside those in the Black community as they contend for a just society, not as some attempt to transform America into the kingdom of God, but as a manifestation of neighborly love and bearing one another’s burdens and so fulfilling the law of Christ.  We confess that too often ethnic minorities have felt like contending for biblical justice has been a burden that they bear alone.

In the end, our hope is not in our efforts but in the shed blood of Jesus that reconciles God to humanity and humans to each other. Our hope is that our churches become places where the power of the gospel to bring together the nations of the earth (Rev 7:9) is seen in our life together as disciples. Such work cannot be carried out by an individual letter in a time of crisis. We commit to educating ourselves and the churches under our charge within a biblical and theological frame to face the problems of our day. We likewise commit to partnering with like-minded churches in the work of justice and reconciliation.

The Feast of Pentecost is here in a couple of days. The power of the Spirit is loosed to convict of sin and deliver us from its power. Our prayer is that in a country as diverse as these United States, the church will be united in the essential truths of Christianity including its concern for the most vulnerable. So…Come Holy Spirit. Mediate to us and all the earth, we pray, the victory of Jesus over the principalities and powers that seek to rule and cause death and destruction in this time between the times. Come Holy Spirit.

Almighty God, on this day, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, you revealed the way of eternal life to every race and nation: Pour out this gift anew, that by the preaching of the Gospel your salvation may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Almighty God, you created us in your own image: Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and help us to use our freedom rightly in the establishment of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Sincerely in Christ,

 

Bishops Jim Hobby, Todd Hunter, Stewart Ruch III, and Steve Wood


 

From A Shepherds Heart

A letter from Archbishop Foley Beach

As followers of Jesus in the modern world, we can often get side-tracked by all the noise of technology, social media, politics, and busy schedules and forget what our lives are to be about in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul reminded his disciple, Timothy, what Jesus has commanded for us all: “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:5).” True love flows from a heart that is pure, a conscience that is clear, and faith that is real.

Paul was reinforcing the teaching of Jesus: “A new commandment I give to you that you love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34,35).” The commandment to love was not new for the people of God; this is what the Law taught. What was new in the commandment was to love as Jesus loved. His love was different, so much so that He tells His followers to abide (remain) in His love and His joy would not only be in them, but their joy would be full (John 15:9-12). If we are to abide in His love and to love others as He has loved us, we must ask the question: how has He loved us? Let me share four ways.

1. HE SHARED HIMSELF. This is what the Church calls the Incarnation, God entering the human race. “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).” He set aside His divinity, His glory, and His majesty, and entered into our world as one of us. He became a human being. “This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9).”

How do we love like Jesus loved? We share ourselves with others; we enter into their worlds. Whether this is a spouse, friend, neighbor, co-worker, child, or unbeliever, we leave the comfortableness of our world and go into theirs. We leave our glory, go humble ourselves, and enter into their world. Too many attempts to share Jesus with others are rooted in an expectation that “the other” come to us. But like Jesus, love is expressed when we leave our world, our culture, our network of friends, and enter to the others’ world and share in their lives.

2. HE SERVED OTHERS. Jesus expressed His love with action and deeds in serving. He taught, He performed miracles to help and heal people, He traveled great distances, and He even washed his disciples’ feet, the cultural role of a servant. Jesus explained his actions of love in this way: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve (Mark 10:45).”

This may sound strange to you, but real love is about the other person. It is not about you or me. When you love someone, it is not about the romantic feelings you might have. It is about the other. Jesus modeled His love by serving others. As followers of Jesus (disciples), we express love by serving others. Those of us in leadership roles must ask: Am I a serving leader or a self-serving leader? Jesus loved by serving.

3. HE SACRIFICED. Jesus expressed his love by His sacrifice, His death on the cross. He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 13:15).” He sacrificed Himself so that we have forgiveness of our sins. He sacrificed Himself so that we might have a relationship with God. He sacrificed Himself when he didn’t have to. The Apostle John says it like this: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10).” The Apostle Paul explains it this way, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).”

How do we love one another as Jesus loved us? We sacrifice for others. We pick up our cross daily and follow Jesus. That is, we die to self and live for God. We sacrifice our selfishness and self-centeredness. We live as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1).

This does not mean that we compromise what is right and what is true. We do not set aside the commandments of God in the name of love. Love is sacrificing self to follow the commandments of God. As Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives within me, and the life I live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

4. HE REMAINED STEADFAST. Jesus was committed to His mission. He was resolute, dedicated, and unwavering. This is love. The writer to the Hebrews says it this way: “Let us fi x our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down on the right hand on the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:2,3).”

Too many of us have bought into the “love is a feeling” philosophy of our culture. If I feel love, I love. If I don’t feel love, I don’t love. If I fall in love, I get married. If I fall out of love, I get divorced. The Apostle Paul contradicts this definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13 saying that love is not about how I feel: “Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not envious. Love is not arrogant. Love is not rude. Love does not insist on its own way. Love is not irritable. Love is not resentful. Love does not rejoice in sinful behavior. Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends (1 Corinthians 13:7,8).” Jesus modeled this kind of love.

Brothers and sisters, the aim of our charge is love. As the Anglican Church in North America, we are attempting to reach North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. Let’s ask God to help us to do this. During the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, let us reach out to others with the love of Jesus Christ.

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The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate

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Advent and the Inner Landscape of our Soul

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A note from Bishop Steve Wood

In the title essay of her collection of essays, When I Was a Child I Read Books, the author, Marilynne Robinson recounts her days growing up accompanied by the inherent loneliness of Idaho and the enduring positive benefit of this kind of loneliness (she notes that for Americans of a certain era such emotions as mourning, melancholy, regret, and loneliness were “high sentiments, as they were for the psalmist and for Sophocles, for the Anglo-Saxon poets and for Shakespeare”). Being a child of the Midwest with family still scattered across her hills and hollows along with a son who with his family live in Montana, Robinson’s essay was resonant.

All of this was brought to mind with the advent of Advent and having recently returned from a week in South Dakota where I was struck again by the beautiful loneliness of the post-harvest landscape – with winter settling in – and the long wait ‘til spring.

These high sentiments of mourning and melancholy and loneliness are often my companions. I experience them in the solitude of life.  Sometimes in the poetry of a Herbert or Whitman or Donne, other times listening to the “wh-who’s” of the owls and howls of the coyotes while walking through the chilly black woods under a full November moon.

This week we, the church universal, mark the beginning of our church year with the season of Advent.  The season of Advent is a season of preparation as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ. Our seasonal collects and hymns have as their backdrop the prophetic witness to the people of Israel waiting in their “lonely exile” for their Messiah.  They mark as well our waiting in a lonely exile as a peculiar people for the Messiah’s second Advent. The church seasons are meant to help us navigate the landscape of our inner being. They can, at their best, give shape and rhythm to our spiritual life.  They can, at their best, provide the opportunity to recognize and embrace aspects of our life we might wish to ignore – all within the context of the faith and our community of faith.

The season of Advent is a season of preparation as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth.  We live as some have said, “in between the times.” Meaning that we live between the incarnation and the final consummation of His return  And in this waiting, I find a sense of the high sentiments of which Robinson wrote. I find myself saying often with the biblical writers, “Maranatha” – “come, Lord.” I find myself waiting and wondering with the Psalmist who asks, ‘how long?”  How long until our Lord’s triumphant Advent?

So, how can Advent help us navigate the inner landscape of our soul?

Well, we do know something of Christ as we await the final consummation. We are not left as orphans.  He has come. He has given us His Spirit. And so, our waiting is a patient waiting. Patient because we have confidence in Christ and His promise to return.  Patient because of His promise that He will set all things right. Patient because of His promise that there will be a day and a place where there will be no more tears, a day and a place where we will see Him face-to-face.  This confident, patient waiting can give us – if and as we cooperate with the Spirit’s work in our lives – the opportunity to examine and address those hindrances and obstacles in our lives: our crooked paths, our rough places. This waiting though is suffused with inherent loneliness and longing.  A loneliness and a longing that allows one to, in Robinson’s words, “experience . . . radical singularity, one’s greatest dignity and privilege.” That allows one to navigate the landscape of the heart and to discover again that our high sentiments and deepest desires are pointers that point to One thing – the One man, Christ Jesus – who alone is able to satiate our heart.

Come, Lord Jesus.

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All Souls, Lexington, SC Launching in September

After 9 months of prayer and planning, Church of the Apostles will be launching a new church plant in Lexington, SC called All Souls Church. We will launch on September 15. Over these last few months, the Lord has gathered a team of 40 people out of both the Apostles family and the town of Lexington to help begin this new work, and we are so excited to see what the Lord will do through us as we seek to spread the good news of Jesus to all people.

Lexington is the largest and fastest growing suburb of Columbia, with nearly 100,000 people in the zip codes where All Souls will be serving. Please pray that the Lord will use us to share Jesus with those who have never heard the gospel and those who haven’t heard it in a long time. We have built a fantastic relationship with Heritage Christian Academy where we will meet for worship, and we are so thankful to have such a wonderful place to start. To learn more about All Souls Church, please visit allsoulslex.com, and be sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter.