Network Council: Moderator’s Address
The warmest of welcomes to one and all: to the distinguished representatives of our international partners – Archbishop Justice Akrofi of West Africa, Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa, Bishop Marcelino Rivera of Northern Mexico, Moderator Don Harvey and Bible-Teacher for this Council David Short, both of Canada – to our beloved brothers and sisters of Common Cause in the United States, to the press and media, to the leaders of Anglican Relief and Development and our Anglican Global Mission Partners, to the Bishops, Deans and Clergy and Lay Representatives of our Network Dioceses and Convocations, to the staff serving us, and all others who have come in whatever capacity as guests and friends: You are well come. We want your stay in these days to be great days of worship, of labor, of re-commitment and of refreshment. Let any of us who are your hosts know what we can do to make it so.
14 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “For your sake I will send to Babylon and break down all the bars, And the shouting of the Chaldeans will be turned to lamentations. 15 I am the Lord, your Holy One, The Creator of Israel, your King.” 16 Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, 17 who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: 18 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I am doing a new thing: now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. 20 The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, 21 The people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.
A REFORMATION OF BEHAVIOR
Network Dean Bill Murdoch has been sounding a clear trumpet call since January: the time has come for a “reformation of behavior” among the orthodox: among orthodox Anglicans and among all the orthodox Christians of the West. Fr. Bill, just one month ago, preaching at an historic ordination of three church planters deployed to New England and the District of Columbia, said that this reformation would be characterized 1) by an embrace of holiness centered on both virtue and fruitfulness; 2) by a commitment to radical discipleship; and 3) by leaders concerned to “leave a ministry behind.” The phrase “reformation of behavior” was a gift to us from our dear brother Rick Warren of Saddleback Church (California) in his November address to the Hope and A Future Conference.
We are gathered for the Third Network Council, and we have come a very long way. The first and chartering Council met at Christ Church, Plano, Diocese of Dallas, in January of 2004. The second Council met at St. Vincent’s Cathedral, Bedford, Diocese of Fort Worth, in April of 2005. Now we meet at Pittsburgh in July/August 2006. In some measure, all of these Councils have been about a reformation of behavior.
Many who are gathered here will recall the extraordinary manner of decision making employed at the Plano Council. We operated as bishops, priests and laity together. We operated as a unicameral assembly. Diocese by diocese we reached consensus, and even unanimity: every article of the charter was adopted without final dissent, even though there were difficult and, at times, even painful, debates. I have never in my whole life presided over a gathering that was so obviously under the Holy Spirit’s sovereign sway. Do you remember the moment when we agreed to respect one another in our differences about the ordination of women? Thirty years of bitter division slipped away and we stood and sang the Doxology. This was a reformation of behavior: a national assembly meeting and deciding in a manner reflecting what we see in Acts 15.
At our Bedford Council we spent nearly all our energies on mission, both domestic and foreign. The leaders of the various mission agencies, who are gathered in Anglican Global Mission Partners, could scarcely believe that we were actually committed to giving so much attention to Jesus’ charter to his Church in Matthew 28. Yes, it is true, this Second Council fell back into old patterns as we attempted to draft a “Windsor Covenant,” but the dominant focus on mission in the gathering was another significant reformation of corporate behavior.
This Pittsburgh Council is about many things, all of which have to do with the Network’s defining vision of a “biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in North America.” The are many practicalities to attend to: elections, funding, relations with our Common Cause partners; children and youth initiatives, church planting developments, global missionary efforts; the aftermath of General Convention, Network-wide anxieties, significant actions in response; a coherent path-forward through the tumult and uncertainty of this next chapter of our lives as faithful Anglicans in a hostile domestic environment. But as your leader, your Network Moderator, as I enter this third year of what our Charter spells out to be an initial three-year term, I have no greater hope for this meeting than that the embrace of this reformation of behavior will have been, and will ever-increasingly be, our hallmark. “How those Christians love one another!”… “How they love their Lord!”… “How they sacrifice for the good of the world!”
The call to us is to be the Church at its best, no matter how hard the times. The call to us is to be ourselves at our best, as our God asks and the Holy Spirit enables. No greater achievement will be possible for this Council or for our movement, than this reformation of behavior. Fruitfulness and the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control [Galatians 5:22–23]) are inseparable. It is why “innovating ECUSA” has failed so miserably, and why we have often failed, too. Of course we have called on them to repent, but we, too, are every bit as much in need of repenting. Our struggle is not about sexuality, it is about sin. The “fix” is not about them, it is about us. The whole world is drawn to the Body of Christ when the Body of Christ looks like Jesus, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else [John 12:22]. Perhaps they have not looked like Jesus, but neither have we. A reformation of behavior: now…and among us… This must be at the center of our future together.
What has Happened?
Innovating ECUSA has walked apart. The clarity we prayed for has been given. We would have preferred repentance and return. It was what the Anglican Communion had asked and what many of us, in General Convention and before, had worked for.
The verdict from virtually every quarter, from global Christian observers to the secular press, that the General Convention of the Episcopal Church has “walked apart” means that the international and domestic situations are both changing very rapidly now. The Living Church described the events of the week following the General Convention in this manner:
No Calm after the Storm
Under normal circumstances, the days following the conclusion of a General Convention are a time of quiet…. Not this year. The week of June 25th turned out to be one of the most significant weeks in the history of the Episcopal Church, with developments occurring on an hourly basis. During the week, we began to see what appears to be the unraveling of The Episcopal Church, with dioceses asking the Archbishop of Canterbury for oversight, and the archbishop himself presenting a possible plan for realignment.
It all started with the announcement that Christ Church, Plano, Texas, was leaving The Episcopal Church. Then came…”The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican” [from Archbishop Williams.] …
The archbishop’s reflection had been released only a day when the Diocese of Newark announced…a non-celibate homosexual person [among its nominees for bishop.]…
Later that day, the rest of The Episcopal Church learned that the Diocese of Pittsburgh [had joined] Fort Worth in asking for alternate primatial oversight. Pittsburgh …[also] asked to be removed from Province 3 and to be placed in a non-geographic province…
Within hours of the Pittsburgh announcement on June 28, two other standing committees – South Carolina and San Joaquin (joined later by Central Florida and Springfield) – also announced they were petitioning the Archbishop of Canterbury for primatial oversight, and two or three other dioceses seemed ready to make similar moves.
Finally, on the same day, it was announced that the Rev. Martyn Minns, rector of Truro Church, Fairfax, Va., was elected a bishop by the Church of Nigeria.
[These] are early factors in the eventual realignment of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion…
No one can any longer say that “nothing is happening,” though some, despite all this evidence to the contrary, remain prisoners to that mantra. These last three years have seemed interminable, and the anxieties are only heightened by this latest break of the logjam.
While nothing can compare to the week of June 25th, the perspective one gains on the work of the Network, and that of our circle of allies and partners, by looking back to August, 2003, leaves one understanding that a great deal has happened in the intervening three years, a great deal that has brought us to this present moment of far more visible change and action.
8/5/2003 – 20 bishops appeal for intervention 8/7/2003 – the Archbishop calls an “extraordinary meeting of the Primates” 10/7–9/2003 – the Plano Conference: “A Place to Stand: A Call to Mission” 10/16/2003 – the Primates ask ECUSA to retreat from “tearing the fabric” 10/17/2003 – Rowan Williams speaks to four US bishops about a “Confessing Network” 11/2/2003 – consecration in New Hampshire Nov/2003 – Anglican Global Mission Partners organized 11/20/2003 – Memorandum of Agreement to form the Network (Heathrow Airport) Dec/2003 – Steering Committee appointed from 12 dioceses; convocational system devised 1/20/2004 – The Network is chartered by representatives of 11 dioceses and 6 convocations 1/25/2004 – Moderator seated at Archbishop Orombi’s enthronement in Uganda Winter/2004 – AAC begins service as Network secretariat Mar/2004 – Moderator’s Cabinet formed
May/2004 – Network office opened in Pittsburgh Jun/2004 – Common Cause Announced Jun/2004 – convocational, transfers and ordinations bishops in place Jun/2004 – Network team testifies to Lambeth Commission Jul/2004 – Anglican Relief & Development Fund established Aug/2004 – Convocation of Anglicans in North America inaugurated by Nigeria Aug/2004 – 3 Los Angeles congregations transfer overseas/ process begins by which 100 congregations come under Uganda, Kenya, So. Cone (incl. Recife), Cent. Africa Oct/2004 – Windsor Report released Oct/2004 – Network Moderator addresses All Africa Bishops Conference Feb/2005 – Common Cause Roundtable I Feb/2005 – Dromantine Primates Meeting and Communique Mar/2005 – Confirmations at Bath, Ohio Mar/2005 – Common Cause Roundtable II May/2005–- Network Bishops and Deans stand with Connecticut Six Jun/2005 – Common Cause announced Jul/2005 – Network ends financial dependence on AAC Sep/2005 – Network Moderator and Team included in Third South-South Encounter/ Archbishop of Canterbury recognizes all in Network as members of the Anglican Communion 11/10–12/2005 – Hope and A Future gathers in Pittsburgh Jan/2006 – Network staff additions in church-planting, children/youth, communications Feb/2006 – Common Cause Roundtable III Apr/2006 – Network’s International Conference comes into existence Jun/2006 – ECUSA General Convention re-confirms its “walk apart”
Despite our anxieties and our sense of how long and hard these days have been, would we not now say with the Prophet Isaiah, that our God has indeed made “a way in the wilderness and a stream in the desert?” Or, looking back to Hope and A Future, can we not see that there has been a cloud by day and a pillar by night?
Three Initiatives for the Days Ahead
It has been very hard indeed to speak of some “plan,” except in retrospect about “God’s plan.” The central reason for this is that we are part of a system, the Anglican Communion, whose reins we do not hold. We have done our part, initiating and responding as the Lord has led, but ours in just a part, a portion, of the story and the cast. This is very hard for us to admit, and even harder for us to accept. Our preference is for a “microwave church,” nearly instant results, on our terms, at the moment we desire. Let’s face it: It is the culture of the micro-wave that has gotten ECUSA into the troubles that have beset her, and we, too, have embraced that culture. The Bible is filled with stories of people who wanted God to act now to deliver, and to deliver on their terms. One of Scripture’s main messages is that God can be trusted for the results in His time and on His terms. A very big piece of the reformation of behavior that is being asked of us is in this matter of impatience and need for control. We dare only risk “plans” from the framework of trust and of repentance, or God will find it better to keep us in the wilderness or the exile, as He did with His people so long ago…and has done with the faith-less in every generation.
Having said this, I can risk talking about plans for the days ahead.
The structures of the Network have evolved with changing needs. One of the structures that emerged early in the life of the Network was the Moderator’s Cabinet. Members of the Cabinet have been: David Anderson (Secretary of the Network), John Guernsey (For the Deans), Ed Salmon (For the Bishops), Martyn Minns (International Concerns), Kendall Harmon (Strategic Initiatives), and Rose Marie Edwards (Intercessors). Larry Crowell, Wick Stephens and Daryl Fenton have each, in turn, shared in the Cabinet work. Bill Atwood of Ekklesia has shared in Cabinet discussions regularly. This key advisory panel has worked with me weekly for two and a half years now. Right after General Convention it was clear to the Cabinet that the work immediately ahead of us lay in three areas of endeavor. I want to speak to each of these matters now.
First, there is the matter of the appeal of seven Network Dioceses for an extra-ordinary pastoral relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury, a relationship that most have described as “alternative primatial oversight.” After the Bishops and Standing Committees of the seven Dioceses lodged the request, the Bishops of the seven Dioceses worked together on a submission to Lambeth Palace which unified and developed the original requests.. This fourteen page submission, including appendices, was transmitted in the week of July 16th. The purpose of the appeal was:
•disassociation from “innovating” ECUSA
•spiritual cover through re-assignment of the tasks normally assigned to the Presiding Bishop
•recognition of Communion standing from Canterbury as required in the ECUSA constitution
•commitment to accountability under the Constitution and Canons as an “enduring” ECUSA, and;
•the creation of a practical “cease-fire” in the American Church such that the Communion Covenant process might run its course.
Needless to say, we are hopeful about the Appeal, if not necessarily optimistic. This is a kairos moment in the life of the Anglican Communion, especially as regards the evolving role of its leadership by the Archbishop of Canterbury. If Canterbury can find a way to recognize the spiritual legitimacy of the claim of the Network Dioceses (and of the Network Parishes in Non-Network Dioceses) – together, one would hope, with the wider fellowship of emerging “Windsor dioceses” — to be that part of ECUSA that has “not walked apart” from the Communion – that has sacrificially and faithfully stood for what is the Communion’s articulated teaching and for what are the accepted boundaries of its order – then Canterbury sustains and renews his claim to be “gatherer” and “moral voice” of the Communion. To do this, he must bring along a strong majority of the Primates and of his own House of Bishops, for he is no pope. But do this he must. If he fails, any hope for a Communion-unifying solution slips away, and so does the shape and leadership of the Anglican Communion as we have known them. Our prayers are with Rowan Williams now more than ever. It is a kairos moment, a crossroads of Church history.
Many Network priests and deacons have – during the last three years – been charged with “abandonment of the Communion of this Church,” and – without trial – “deposed.” Happily, the rest of the Anglican world has not judged them deposed and they have found themselves warmly received and enfolded by leaders of the Global South, leaders who have had no difficulty determining which were the faithful Anglicans. With the conclusion of the 75th General Convention, a new chapter opens. Now, four California bishops have asked an “investigation” of a bishop, one here among us, our own John-David Schofield, also for “abandonment of Communion.” Bishop Bill Cox, functioning for bishops of Uganda and of the Southern Cone, has found himself “charged” of late by the Bishops of Oklahoma and Kansas. Canadian Network Moderator, Bp. Don Harvey, has been informed in recent days that he is will face charges of “invasion,” charges brought by none-other than Michael Ingham, the bishop who can be credited with the actual “launch” of the Canadian prologue to the full-blown Anglican crisis brought about by the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire. We are at a crossroads of Church history. What is Anglicanism? What is essential to the proclamation of the Christian Faith? Who will lead in the Communion? Will our whole Communion divide? Who can claim the patrimony? The Archbishop of Canterbury has but a brief window of opportunity – at least for a moral judgment — before the situation in the United States and Canada collapses into the anarchy of high profile ecclesiastical presentments and civil lawsuits, a collapse that may come in any case, but the depth of which may be greatly lessened if he, within the limitations of a conciliar church, can find a way to speak. Part of the kairos nature of this moment is that the Global South Primates meet in mid-September – those who have stood with the Network again and again — and we can be sure that they will not be voiceless on our behalf or on behalf of “the Faith once delivered to the Saints.”
Whatever Canterbury does or does not do – believes he can or cannot do — in response to the Appeal, the Network Dioceses will endure. We are “enduring ECUSA.” That is our claim and that is our legal ground. Consider this: “Innovating ECUSA” went so far as to embrace a symbolic change of name at this most recent General Convention. That part of ECUSA has now asked to be known as TEC (The Episcopal Church). Did not anyone notice? We did…
The second post-General Convention initiative articulated by the Network Cabinet has to do with Network Parishes in Non-Network (particularly Non-Windsor) Dioceses. The Network has always had to operate and plan in two very distinct arenas, the Network Dioceses and the Network Parishes in Non-Network Dioceses. In light of the results of General Convention it seemed clear to the Cabinet that the best path forward in innovating or hostile dioceses is to enable negotiated settlements between “the two churches under one roof” based on fairness, equity and Christian principles. The settlement arrived at between the Vestry of Christ Church Overland Park and the Diocese of Kansas, more than a year ago, was a pre-cursor of this direction. Such negotiations are now underway in many places across the country. Just days ago the vestries of St Stephen’s Anglican Church, St. Charles Anglican Church and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, finalized an agreement with the Diocese of Olympia, an agreement that I believe all would hail as “based on fairness, equity and Christian principles.” In the Diocese of Virginia, a group of parishes and missions, led by the venerable (they date to the period of the American colonies) parishes of Falls Church and Truro Church – a group of congregations larger in number than the number of congregations of at least a dozen American Dioceses – has begun a season of “forty days of discernment” to pray about their future. We applaud these developments. We encourage those Dioceses engaged in lawsuits with their parishes, and vice versa, to embrace this “more excellent” way.
In the short-run these negotiated settlements, as in the case of the Washington State congregations, may lead to rescue and oversight by a Province of the Global South. In the longer run, there is no question that these congregations will form the nucleus of new missionary dioceses in union with the Network Dioceses (“enduring ECUSA”) and in partnership with the jurisdictions of Common Cause, as the vision of a biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in North America – in God’s time – becomes a reality, and as “innovating ECUSA” fades away.
The third work articulated by the Cabinet in the post-General Convention Anglican Communion is the need to take the next steps in building “coherence” among the Communion partners presently overseeing congregations in the United States, congregations now overseen by dioceses or initiatives of the Provinces of Rwanda, Uganda, Southern Cone, Kenya, Central Africa, and Nigeria. As a matter of first importance, I have begun discussions among key domestic leaders of each of these Provinces or initiatives, having first advised the respective Primates, to lead toward a working arrangement that might best be described as an inter-related and provisional “missionary district.” One person who will certainly be present to these developing discussions is Martyn Minns, who upon consecration in Nigeria in the very near future, will necessarily leave the Network’s Cabinet. Martyn, we congratulate you, we pray for you, and we thank you.
Is there a plan? Yes,…to the extent that our God has again moved the cloud of covering for protection by day and the pillar of fire for light by night. Is our God making “a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert?” Yes. Is it some grand, over-arching plan? No, it never has been and never could be, at least not so long as we choose to remain faith-full,… admitting that we are not in control, only that He is. Is it good enough? With Him it is more than enough! Have we not learned that we can trust Him for today, and for tomorrow, and for the end? All this is a part of that all-so-necessary reformation of behavior.
The Business of this Annual Council
The systems of the Network have been fluid, to say the least. That was by design. Our Charter was designed to describe what we could see at the beginning, and to allow us the flexibility to develop as the Lord showed us the way. The Bishops were the first of the dramatis personae. Though often spoken ill of, they have acted decisively at precisely those moments where their mandate to guard the Faith and protect the Unity was on the line.
Then came the Steering Committee, initially appointed by the Bishops. The Steering Committee were the first visionaries for the Network, putting together the structure that became the Charter. They did incredible work in the early months. Then they became the legal “trustees,” holding the authority to act between Councils. They admit affiliates and partners, an ever-increasing stream. They shape budget. They have met monthly by telephone in most seasons. It is time to imagine a more significant role for them again. As we hold discussions in this Council about marriage and holiness and prayerbook and mission, what I am imaging is that the issues and directions we articulate in small groups here will be commended to Steering Committee Task Forces (expandable by additional at-large participants) for work between now and the next Annual Council. We will elect half of the Steering Committee to two-year terms at this meeting. The other half will hopefully be returned for the second year of their two-year term. At the Bedford Council Meeting we worked to achieve a balance between clergy and laity on the Steering Committee. We need to continue that work, and we need to increase the number of women, both lay and ordained (for those dioceses having ordained women), serving the Steering Committee. And in this, as in all things, we need our racial mix to reflect what Revelation tells us we will enjoy in heaven.
I have spoken of the Cabinet, my day-in and day-out advisers, among whom great wisdom abounds. I have mentioned Martyn Minns and his new call. I must also point to Bishop Ed Salmon who is at the point of retirement as Bishop of South Carolina. The time is ahead when the Cabinet will suffer a loss here as well. In the meanwhile, Ed’s work gathering the wider fellowship of Windsor Bishops and at my side in dealings with the whole House of Bishops, as well as with much of the global Communion, especially in the Church of England, has been of incalculable value to the movement which is the Anglican Communion Network.
The Network Deans are my heroes. They have borne the heat of the day and the brunt of the battle: John Guernsey, Bill Murdoch, Jim McCaslin, D.O. Smart, Bill Thompson and Bill Illgenfritz, with Ron MacCrary and David Moyer as predecessors to two of them. They are the creative engine and the battlefield officers of so much that we have become. Reflecting those they serve, they are, today at least, now half “in” and half “out” of ECUSA. I know a great deal about what it is right now to hold two full-time jobs, and so do they. My most extra-ordinary brothers I salute you. John Guernsey, who is fondly known as “dean of deans” (thus serving on the Cabinet), will share the Chair during parts of this Council meeting.
When the Network was chartered, two offices were established, that of Moderator and that of Secretary. The terms specified were for three years. Just as at the Bedford Council we looked at the annual terms of Steering Committee members, and made adjustments to achieve stability and clergy/lay balance, so it would be wise for this Annual Council to discuss its intentions about matters of re-election and of process of nomination. Similarly, we might address the reality of the International Conference of the Network, with its ever-increasing number of congregations under oversight by dioceses of the Provinces of Uganda, Southern Cone (including Recife), Kenya and Central Africa, looking to see whether the International Conference ought to be represented in our Annual Councils in the same way the dioceses and convocations are.
On the last morning of this Annual Council we will give an initial consideration to the Common Cause proposed theological principles and mission commitments. Already much discussion has been devoted to their significance and refinement, both by the Common Cause working group charged with their development and on the internet. We, too, will enter that discussion at this meeting. This, too, is an aspect of our reformation of behavior. Bishop Ray Sutton of the Reformed Episcopal Church will help to guide us as we seek steps to incarnate our shared vision of a “biblical, missionary, and united Anglicanism in North America.”
One of the great miracles of God’s grace and provision has been the funding of the Network. From the almost limitless benefaction of the American Anglican Council in the first eighteen months of the Network’s life to the present day there has always been enough income to sustain and, as appropriate, grow the work. Don’t stop… This Council will look again at the basic funding formula that is recommended to dioceses and congregations, which we have not done together since the early days. My basic advice is that which I learned in the years of ministry in North Carolina: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” There are so many areas in which our God “has made a way through the wilderness and streams in the desert,” and this is one of them. To God be the praise and glory. This, too, has represented a reformation of behavior.
Domestic and Global Mission
The Anglican Relief and Development Fund was another of God’s sovereign provisions. What organization would begin its life by also founding a relief and development agency? With the leadership of Fr. Greg Brewer of Good Samaritan Paoli, and with key leaders of Geneva Global who were parishioners of Good Samaritan, ARDF was born. From the beginning the Network embraced a vision of 50/50 giving, spending at least as much on mission – in all its forms — as we spent on ourselves. ARDF was created to serve the poorest of the poor in special partnership with our Bible-believing Anglican brothers and sisters of the Global South. As an instrument of Jesus’ love, the Anglican Relief and Development Fund’s mission is to see real life change come to the suffering and the poor in some of the most challenging parts of the world.
Since its inception ARDF has approved and funded a multitude of development projects and relief efforts all over the globe. These projects, with durations of 12–24 months, were funded directly to local implementers who are able to facilitate sustainable life change for local residents. In 18 months, $2 million in projects have been funded. This includes 42 development grants, 4 relief projects and 13 tsunami projects. These 59 projects have spanned 20 countries on three continents providing assistance for famine, food security, water and sanitation, healthcare, education, youth at risk, HIV/AIDS, evangelism and Christian leadership. These projects have provided life change not only in living conditions, but also in Christian spiritual formation in areas of the world where the Father is at work in a special way.
Can. Nancy Norton succeeded Dr. Kirk Burbank as Director of ARDF last summer. Nancy will address us during this Council. Can. Norton’s contribution to what the Network is, is immense. What I am very pleased now to announce is that the Rev. Mike Murphy of the Anglican Mission in America has accepted the role of Chairman of ARDF, succeeding Dr. Peter Moore, who has done a magnificent work in our launch. The Rev. Simon Barnes of Geneva Global must also be mentioned as a key, and continuing, bearer of the work and the vision. ARDF’s newest primatial trustee, the Most. Rev. Justice Akrofi, is here among us.
Tonight’s banquet will feature presentations by the Council representatives of Anglican Global Mission Partners. AGMP grew out of the ashes of the Global Episcopal Mission partners after General Convention of 2003. AGMP is the Network’s coalition of mission agencies, both domestic and foreign, that is another key aspect of our commitment to transform the world with and for Jesus Christ. At the Bedford Council the Network also entered into a special missionary relationship with the Province of South East Asia. When this Pittsburgh Council concludes I will be heading out to Cambodia, alongside Archbishop John Chew, to ordain as priest a young man who is a sacrament of that partnership, and who, with his wife, are missionaries of one of the AGMP societies.
Domestic church-planting efforts, bearing fruit everywhere, will also be highlighted during this Council meeting, as will our new initiatives in the formation of children and youth. You will see both Tom Herrick and Jack Gabig as very much present to this meeting, and of the whole national effort that each represents.
Little of what I have reported to you today would have been possible without the incredible staff the Lord has provided to the Network. This, too, has been “a way through the wilderness and streams in the desert:” Daryl Fenton, Wick and Pam Stephens, Nancy Norton, Tom Herrick, Jack Gabig, Lisa Waldron, Jenny Noyes, Jen McDonough. We also need to thank the Diocese of Pittsburgh for their inestimable gift in unselfish willingness to share their bishop for this national and international effort. I want to thank the Chapter and people of Trinity Cathedral, as well, and their Provost, the Rev. Can Catherine Brall, for making this great facility open to us, as it is for the thousands who come in and out its glass doors day by day and year by year, from all over the nation and all over the world. To the cathedral staff and diocesan staff and to the volunteer staff for this meeting I also express our gratitude. All of you are regularly, and at this moment, yourselves at your best.
All of this is about that reformation of behavior that, by God’s grace, has made a good beginning among us.
(As I conclude let us rise and sing Hymn 637, “How Firm a Foundation,” the text of which is, in part, shaped by the 43rd chapter of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, with verses from which this address began.)