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Anglican Church Planting takes big step forward

Anglican Church Planting takes big step forward

By Tom Herrick
Diocese of Mid-Atlantic News release
August 30, 2016

Photo: The Always Forward Leadership Team gathers following the Denver Church Planting Conference. Left to Right: Taylor Bodoh, Aaron Damiani, Dan Alger, Billy Waters, Shawn McCain, Winfield Bevins, me. Missing: Nate Beasley, Alistair Stern.

Wellspring Anglican Church in Denver, CO, was the place to be last week if you love church planting. More than 100 Anglicans from 30 states and parts of Canada gathered to pray, worship, share stories, and dream together about the churches they are planting or hope to plant.

The conference got off to a great start with a party on the lawn, complete with games, burgers, and beer, and just kept getting better with every session. From its inception, the team organizing this conference intended to create an environment where planters could build relationships, participate in practical, interactive sessions to learn more about their craft, and walk away with real life solutions to obstacles they are facing in the field.

A decision was made early on not to bring in well-known, high-powered speakers just to draw a crowd, but to stay focused on Anglican planters who were faithfully getting the job done day by day. The only exceptions to note were the two plenary speakers, ACNA Bishop Steve Breedlove and Archbishop Foley Beach (whose talk on the supreme importance of prayer was a real highlight). Other than these, there were no "rock star" planters at the mike.

Unlike many conferences where the focus is on plenary speakers, the meat of this conference was found in tracks dealing with specific themes. By spending the majority of their time together as a cohort, the participants got to drill down and examine their area of interest in greater depth with their track leaders.

Prospective church planters spent their time with Dr. Winfield Bevins (Asbury Seminary), considering what it takes to plant a church and how to discern this calling. Current planters spent time with Jay Baylor (Apostles in the City) and me, focused on key issues they are facing as they plant: evangelizing unreached people in their communities; discipling new leaders; and achieving a godly work-life balance so as not to neglect their own families or their personal, spiritual lives as they begin their new churches.

Congregations who want to begin planting daughter churches met to examine this with Canon Billy Waters, pastor of Wellspring, which has already planted two other churches in its short life. Finally, 9 of our bishops and 12 canons joined with other diocesan leaders to hear from Canon Dan Alger, the Provincial Canon for Church Planting, about how to build the 4 Components and 7 Core Systems needed for a healthy church planting ecosystem.

One of the real highlights of the conference was celebrating the Eucharist with these godly men and women. The Rev. Aaron Damiani preached on "The 3 Temptations of a Church Planter," convicting us on all three counts. How glad we were to get to the Confession and Absolution!

The conference was sponsored by Always Forward, the church planting initiative of the Anglican Church in North America. This name was inspired by the memorable phrase from Archbishop Foley's inaugural sermon, "Forward, Always Forward, Everywhere Forward."

Led by Canon Dan Alger and a leadership team of 9 church planting leaders from all over North America, Always Forward is the worthy successor to Anglican 1000, begun in 2009 under Archbishop Duncan. As expressed on the Always Forward website, "What began as an initiative focused on inspiration, education and conviction regarding church planting (Anglican 1000) has grown to also include practical strategies, resources and collaborative work in support of a long-term church planting effort...The mission of Always Forward, therefore, is threefold: Equipping a Movement, Strengthening ACNA Dioceses, and Supporting Local Planters."

This team has big plans to move the Anglican Church in North America into the next phase of its life together. Judging from this event, we are off to a great start and moving full speed ahead.

The Rev. Dr. Tom Herrick is Canon for Church Planting for the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic.

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