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WHEATON, IL: ACNA Provincial Assembly now in full swing

WHEATON,IL: ACNA Provincial Assembly now in full swing
Two major church events bookend a hectic week of activity

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
June 29, 2017

WHEATON, ILLINOIS -- Undergirded in prayer and drawing 1,400 attendees from around the United States, Canada and even the wider Anglican world, including nearly 100 bishops, the third Anglican Church in North American Provincial Assembly is currently underway.

The Provincial Assembly, held at Wheaton College, is bookended by two major events in the life of the Anglican Church in North America.

The first occurred on Monday when the ACNA College of Bishops met to seat and give voice and vote to former Episcopal Bishop Mark Lawrence (XIV South Carolina), making him the newest bishop in ANCA's expanding line of apostolic secession.

However, Bishop Lawrence will not remain the newest ACNA bishop for long. On Friday, Canon Andy Lines, ordained a Church of England priest and now chairman of the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), is slated to be consecrated the GAFCON Missionary Bishop to Europe.

Archbishop Foley Beach (II ACNA) is to be the primary consecrator. His co-consecrators are to be Archbishop Robert Duncan (I ACNA); Reformed Episcopal Church Bishop David Hicks (Northeast & Mid-Atlantic); ACNA Bishop Bill Atwood (I International); and Canadian Bishop Charlie Masters (II Anglican Network in Canada).

Other GAFCON primates and Anglican bishops as well as visiting ecumenical representatives will witness and then give testimony to the consecration and commissioning of Canon Lines as GAFCON's first Missionary Bishop to Europe.

GAFCON and Global South Anglican bishops from around the world have travelled to the Chicago suburb from Africa (the Sudan, the Congo, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Kenya); the Mediterranean (Egypt); Australia (Tasmania and Western Australia); Britain (England); the Caribbean (Cuba); Asia (West Malaysia, Burma and Singapore); South America (Brazil, Chile and Argentina); and the West Indies (Belize).

The ecumenical witnesses include envoys from the Charismatic Episcopal Church, Orthodox Church in America, North American Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Church in Latvia, Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod, the Believers Church of India, the National Association of Evangelicals and Jews for Jesus.

Sandwiched between these two great events in the life of the church are three days of solid biblical teaching, prayer, worship, music, fellowship and the breaking of bread not only at the altar, but also at the dining table, including an old-fashioned Midwest ice cream social. Everything is centered around the theme of "Mission on our Doorstep: Global Family, Local Mission, Shared Gospel."

The various main plenary sessions scattered throughout the week focus on various aspects of mission. The first teaching entitled Local Mission was presented by ACNA Bishop Stewart Ruch (I Upper Midwest) & Canon William Beasley.

The second session deals with the Five Visions of Mission on Our Doorstep. The presenters include: Church of England Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali (the Gospel in Culture); Lisa Espineli Chinn (the Gospel Reaching Students of the World); Pastor Ed Stetzer (Missional Church Planting); Dr. M. Daniel Carroll Rodas (the Gospel & Global Migration); and Pastor Dave Ferguson (Gospel-Centered Apprenticeship).

The final plenary session will focus on the history of GAFCON lead by the various Global GAFCON bishops and the Baroness Caroline Cox, who is the Chair Emerita of the Anglican Relief and Development Fund. The group will focus on the Shared Gospel & the Global GAFCON Story.

When ACNA was founded, it was decided that Provincial Assemblies would not duplicate the style of an Episcopal General Convention where the delegates spend most of their time dispatching business by wading through hundreds of resolutions. Many times, the General Convention runs out of time before all the resolutions were dispatched.

Instead, ACNA quickly takes care of business, such as affiliating the Diocese of South Carolina and seating Bishop Mark Lawrence in the College of Business. The nitty-gritty Provincial business is dealt within one day with the rest of the week being devoted to focusing on the spiritual. In essence, the Provincial Assembly then become a Missions Conference.

"The question of how to shape a movement (as over against an institution) was very much on the hearts and minds of the founders of the Anglican Church in North America. The genius of Assembly is that it is principally a Missions Conference," ACNA explains. "Thus the time spent on the missional needs of a Gospel movement trump the temptations to become a policy-making body."

In addition to the main plenary sessions, there is also a wide variety of other activities going on including various teaching sessions, workshops and networking events.

Some specific networking events are designed to meet the needs of canons to the ordinary ... deacons ... consecrated religious and monastic communities ... church planters ... campus ministers ... clergywomen ... frontier missioners ... church administrators and assistants ... chancellors ... family ministries ...

Some titled workshops include focusing on Reaching Christians in the Culture ... Community Vacation Bible School -- Coming to a Neighborhood Near You? ... Reaching Millennials for Christ: Anglican Roots of the Fellows Movement ... Spiritual Discussions in the Workplace ... Catechesis: Forming Young Hearts in Anglican Families ... The Anglican Realignment Today -- GAFCON and the Way Forward ... Ancient Patterns of Christian Formation in Modern Parish Life ...

Some other activities are hosted by Caminemos Juntos! ... Always Forward United Adoration ... Greenhouse Movement ... Anglican Global Mission Partners ... Anglican Multiethnic Network "AMEN" ... MissioCorps ... Asian & Multicultural Ministries ... Jubilee! ...

There is a little something for everyone: the youth ... Latinos ... Asians ... musicians ... catechists ... prayer warriors ... African Americans ... senior citizens ... church planters ... worship leaders ... bishops ... clergy ... the laity ...

In addition, there is always the Exhibit Hall to explore with its interesting and colorful displays emphasizing Anglican ministries and organizations and schools. Various booths highlight the offerings of Forward in Faith-North America ... Nashotah House ... the Reformed Episcopal Church ... American Anglican Council ... Anglican Frontier Missions ... Rural Church Initiative ... Anglicans for Life ... Anglican Manifesto ... The Church's Ministry to Jewish People ... the Church Army ... Youth With a Mission ... GAFCON ... Ekklesia ... Asbury Seminary ... Uganda University Press ... Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders ... Daughters of the Holy Cross ...

Worship is perhaps the most important component of the Assembly. Participants lift their collective hearts and minds toward God in Morning Prayer and sermon, Choral Matins, Midday Prayers, Family Worship, Prayer & Praise, Eucharist, and, of course, the greatly anticipated consecration of a bishop to spiritually close out the week.

Wheaton has historical significance for ACNA. It was in December 2008, at the Wheaton Evangelical Free Church that the vision of what would became the Anglican Church in North America started to come into sharper focus as 12 Common Cause Partners, under the leadership of then Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, gathered to ascribe to GAFCON's Jerusalem Declaration, hold a constitutional convention, establish the College of Bishops and put into place the rudimentary elements of the emerging Anglican body which would become the historic and faithful expression of Anglicanism in the United States and Canada.

However, it would not be until six months later that ACNA would come into full flower when the first Provincial Assembly was held in Bedford, Texas. At that time, the constitution and canons were officially ratified and ACNA became an entity. Before that first Assembly was over, Bishop Duncan would be raised to the rank of archbishop and he would take the primatial staff as ACNA's founding primate.

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline

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