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ACNA ARCHBISHOP FOLEY BEACH: "We cannot follow Archbishop Welby off the Biblical Reservation"

ACNA ARCHBISHOP FOLEY BEACH: "We cannot follow Archbishop Welby off the Biblical Reservation"

An Exclusive Interview with ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach

By David W. Virtue, DD
July 1, 2019

VOL You are barely 60, one of the youngest Primates in the Anglican Communion, you have many years ahead of you. How do you monitor the danger of burn out?

FOLEY BEACH The way I view this is that my time is the Lord's. I attempt to be sensitive to His leading in my personal life and in my scheduling. I am diligent about practicing the Sabbath -- one day a week for rest and renewal, although sometimes traveling gets in the way of this. My daily time alone with Him is also crucial, praying the Office, and interceding on behalf of those I am serving. I had a football coach in high school who used to say: I would rather burn out than rust out. While I don't totally agree with his statement and its ramifications, I do agree that I would rather my life be spent serving the Lord and His cause in our generation, than doing nothing.

VOL: You now wear two hats: Archbishop of the ACNA and Chairman of the GAFCON. That's a lot of weight on your shoulders. How are you managing that?

FOLEY BEACH: I am sustained by the grace and mercy of the Lord. People are praying for me daily, and I can literally feel their prayers. On a practical level, I am surrounded by incredible and godly people in both the ACNA and the GAFCON movement. My leadership style is not to try to do it all myself, but to delegate and empower those around me to use their gifts for glory of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit. I realize that I have many limitations, and that it is Jesus who is building His Church. I am only his servant.

VOL:Did you expect to become chairman of GAFCON or did that come as something of a surprise to you?

FOLEY BEACH: This was a surprise, yes, and I actually attempted to get out of this. I really believed that the movement should be led by someone from the Global South, not the West who is responsible for so much heresy and ungodliness in the modern Church. However, I was convinced that with Archbishop Ben Kwashi serving as the General Secretary (and now Archbishop Laurent Mbanda as Deputy Chair), those concerns are muted. These men of God are providing extraordinary leadership for the movement.

VOL: I listen to your Daily Devotional which I find personally helpful and uplifting, and the focus is nearly always something practical to do or be in our lives. You don't mince your words. How do you go about selecting passages of Scripture and ideas as you punch out some 365 of these? Do you get help from anyone to make these happen with freshness?

FOLEY BEACH: Actually, A Word from the Lord, is run by mostly VOLunteers who take my teachings and sermons and come up with these one-minute daily devotionals and 90-second video devotional. Deacon Bill Arnold serves as our VOLunteer Executive Director, and we have a professional who actually puts the audio and video together. The Lord uses these in amazing ways in people's lives. I am continually amazed by the stories I hear,but sharing the Word of God is really my heart-calling in ministry. Thanks for listening, and I am glad the Lord is using it in your life.

VOL: You had a very delicate political situation recently with the Archbishop of Nigeria over Nigerian parishes, dioceses and bishops being consecrated for the US and Canada not associated with the ACNA, seemingly going around established protocols. It was handled brilliantly as I watched but it must have been painful. How did you handle that spiritually?

FOLEY BEACH: By inviting the Lord into the discussions and actions regarding this. He is Lord over His Church. Archbishop Okoh and I have a good relationship and trust each other and are committed to building up the Church of Jesus Christ.

VOL: The Culture Wars are ravaging churches, especially over sexuality issues that are tearing whole denominations apart in the mainline denominations. Compromises are being made to keep everyone at the table. (See the Anglican Church of Canada). ACNA is maintaining a hardline on sex and marriage, do you see this lessening in the days ahead, or is (homo)sexuality going to be around, as a Culture War issue for years to come?

FOLEY BEACH: A culture can try to redefine words, but human nature, sexuality, and marriage were created by God and are built into the very fabric of the universe. You can't truly change them. The revisionist experiment in the West isn't capable of succeeding, but it may take more than a couple generations for the failure to be fully recognized. In the meantime, Western culture will continue to produce a lot of confused and unhappy people who will be hungry for the good news contained in the Bible. In the ACNA we love people regardless of their background and all are welcome. However, all of us -- members, priests and deacons, and bishops, we all are attempting to follow the teaching of the Bible and of our Lord Jesus Christ. We believe in the healing power of God, in the restorative power of God, and in the amazing love of God when a person is willing to come to the Father in repentance and faith.

VOL: The ACNA has over 1,000 parishes and more than 130,000 Anglican believers in the US, Canada and Mexico. By any measure that is sterling growth when Millennials and Generations X, Y and Z show very little interest in the gospel. How do you encourage young pastors to reach out to these 'lost' generations?

FOLEY BEACH: 1,062 parishes at our most recent count! By looking next door and around the corner. Who is your neighbor? Who is in your community? Do you know them? Are you ministering to them in love of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit?

VOL: An interesting new study out this past week revealed a significant decline in LGBTQ acceptance among young Americans aged 18-34. In a national survey among U.S. adults called the Accelerating Acceptance Index, the percentage of young Americans reporting being "very" or "somewhat" comfortable with LGBTQ people across seven scenarios dropped from 53% to 45%, marking the second consecutive year that the younger age group has fallen. Is this a good sign? What do you make of it?

FOLEY BEACH: I haven't heard of that survey, but I will say that I don't believe in the inevitability of permanent cultural change. Look at how the pro-life movement is growing in the younger generations. Many in the older generations have assumed abortion equaled progress, and that this change in our culture would go unchallenged. That isn't what has happened. The younger generations are pushing back at those assumptions and the pro-life movement is thriving. We will remain faithful and teach the Word in season and out of season, and by God's grace and in His timing, it will bear fruit.

VOL: You oppose the ordination of women, unlike your predecessor, but you subscribe to the right of each diocese to their own decision on the matter. Is your position sustainable in the long term?

FOLEY BEACH: When I came into the ACNA, this was the accepted understanding by everyone. The sustainability of the Anglican Church in North America rests upon allowing each diocese to follow its conscience on this matter. That's why it was built into the Constitution and Canons from our founding. Everyone would like to have a common mind on this issue, and I hope we will get there, but that will be best done by persuasion and the work of the Holy Spirit, not coercion. That said, we have a special group within the College of Bishops whose task it is to bring this before the bishops regularly for discussion and to work toward a consensus. In the meantime, we are respecting each other's differences and working together to reach North America with the Good News of Jesus. Our call to make disciples and reach this generation with the Gospel is not dismissed just because we disagree on this issue.

VOL: There is clearly no love lost between you and Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Do you see any hope of that breach being healed in the coming years, or are you and he drifting further apart?

FOLEY BEACH: Archbishop Justin and I have a very cordial relationship. He is my brother in Jesus Christ. I do not agree with him on how to handle those who are teaching and living contrary to the Bible's moral theology. His approach actually validates their ungodly and unscriptural practices and invalidates ours. He doesn't realize this. I am sure he is very angry that we in the GAFCON Movement cannot follow him off the Biblical reservation, that we can't walk together with him in this. But to do so is by default acknowledging that this pagan morality is now acceptably Christian. It is not.

VOL: They say a leader's success is the ability to surround himself with able men and women. Have you succeeded in having the people you want in place?

FOLEY BEACH: The Lord has blessed me with great leaders in the ACNA. I could not have asked for a better quality in the bishops, provincial staff and volunteer servants. Our bishops are the real deal. They truly love the Lord and are serving him - not their egos or ambitions. We don't always agree, but the way we don't always agree is very Christian. In the past 6 months we have had some transitions in the Provincial staff, and transitions are always very challenging for me -- orienting, training, repositioning. However, I couldn't be more excited about our team and the plans for the days ahead.

VOL: How engaged should you be on social justice issues as opposed to gospel proclamation?

FOLEY BEACH: This is always a challenge, and of course, the Biblical answer is that you can't do one without the other. All of us tend to lean into one or the other. What we have tried to do in the ACNA is let our actions speak louder than our public words. We have tried to stay out of the politics, and just love - serving our neighbor in the Name of Christ and with the power of His Word. Go to the Matthew25 website and you can see some of the ministries we are engaged with in our communities. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the ministries our folks are doing all around North America. Go to the ARDF website and you can see some of the ministries we have supported in other parts of the Globe. The Gospel -- proclaiming the Good news of Jesus with the message and with compassion; living out the Great Commission and the Great Commandment -- step by step this is what we are trying to do.

VOL: How do you see your role as chairman of GAFCON developing in the coming years?

FOLEY BEACH: I see my role as a servant to the other GAFCON primates. These are great men of God who walk with him through incredible challenges and circumstances. They are the modern heroes of the Faith, and I have the privilege of walking along beside them. Along with Archbishop Ben Kwashi, we have men who lead millions of souls every day, and yet, they are able to keep their eyes on the eternal priorities of the Kingdom of God.

VOL: The push is on for GAFCON to grow in new geographic areas across the globe. In October you go to New Zealand to put in place a GAFCON bishop in Christchurch. Is this a portent of things to come?

FOLEY BEACH: One of the roles of the Global Anglican Future Conference is to come to the rescue of the faithful when their Church has stepped outside the teaching of the Bible and tradition of the Church, and when they ask for help. The failure of the Anglican Communion establishment to discipline and reign in those provinces who have blessed immorality have wreaked havoc all throughout the Anglican Communion. Since Lambeth will not help the faithful in these provinces, GAFCON will do its best to provide lifeboats, shepherding, support, and leadership in order to keep these faithful sheep within the Anglican Communion.

VOL: Thank you, Archbishop.

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