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ANGLICAN HOPE: Evangelist Michael Green Calls for Action to Rebuild Church


Bonds of Common Cause must be Strengthened, he says

By David W. Virtue

PITTSBURGH, PA (11/12/2005)--A leading Church of England evangelist, author and church planter urged 2400 orthodox Anglicans at "Hope and the Future Conference" to forge ahead and restore the church despite the constant erosion of biblical teaching in the Episcopal Church, the pressure against orthodoxy and the reality of lawsuits.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Green, a leading British evangelical, presently in the U.S. where he is co-rector of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Raleigh, NC said that despite the wearying reality of the state of the Episcopal Church there was work to be done to restore the church, despite low attendances, spiritual captivity and an anti-evangelism attitude.

Taking his cue from the 49th chapter of the Book of Isaiah, Green said the passage was for our time and offered a threefold clarion call to reach the discouraged, restore the church and to reach the lost.

"I sense that the Lord wants to meet us and remind you very gently that he knows and understands...he has been through it all himself. After years in Babylonian captivity the exiles must have lost hope," said Green.

"We are called to restore the church but that is no easy task when we look at church members. Few have knowledge of the Scriptures, fewer experience its power or evangelism, and most have never seen an adult conversion. The average weekly attendance across the Episcopal Church is 74. It is a tough job to turn things round, but it is being done in Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya and Southeast Asia so why not the USA?

"Evangelism is a bad word in The Episcopal Church. Any advance in this whole area is going to call for intentional planning and fearless proclamation. When did your words last bring a sinner to repentance? There is plenty of talk abut church in ECUSA but not much presentation of our dear Lord Jesus Christ. We are not in the business to make churchman but Christians," said Green

Green said the churchmanship would follow, but it must be no hollow observance. The externals are all in place but there is no picture. The frame of churchmanship will fulfill its proper role as the church preaches the Bible and provides nurture and meeting for corporate prayer.

"In principle we must have the sacrificial courage of our brethren in the Global South. Our riches do not lie in buildings or money it lies in our people. Materialism is the curse of the West and we must be willing to renounce it. We sit here squabbling about church matters when Baroness Caroline Cox has shown us the meaning of suffering in the Sudan and other areas of the world."

"Adherence to property and to money will not win the day. We must be prepared to act. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and his colleagues are happy to talk till the cows come home, only action will changes the scene and we must take it."

Green praised the actions Archbishops Emmanuel Kolini, Moses Tay and Yong Ping Chung for having taken on the formation of the Anglican Mission in America. "If we are prepared to take action the Global South Primates will stand foursquare with us."

"Why should they come to these conferences to a tiny denomination with a mere 800,000 to worship? They come because they love us and stand with us, but the time for talking is over, the time for action has come."

Green praised Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, saying that what he was doing was a matter of principle. "The matter of strategy and timing is in the Lord's hands and I do honor Bishop Bob for the way he has constantly stressed the battle is the Lord's as is the timing."

Green said the strategy and timing may well occur after GC2006 next summer.

"It will not be the Network that walks away if ECUSA refuses the Windsor Report. It will be the ECUSA that has walks away. It is they who have turned their back on the formularies and demands of the primates. The Global South will not do business with a fractured orthodoxy in America. The bonds of a Common Cause must be strengthened and must lead to integration or face oblivion and we will deserve it."

Green said we cannot afford the suspicions between the Network and the AMIA, these suspicions make it ineffective we have got to stand together.

"Must we wait for the structure of realignment? No. Let us work now."

Green said in Raleigh NC where he is helping to plant a church, that it was a lay initiative that funded the church. "Bishops cannot touch laymen and when they decide to fund a church it is independent of the diocese and they can invite clergy to help them and invite a bishop to oversee them. It takes guts, perseverance and a lot of prayer. Lay initiatives could blaze a trail across America but it is not enough to restore the church; we have a call to reach the lost."

"Alas ECUSA has been successful in hiding its light under a bushel. The Church knows little about mission and evangelism it is so incomprehensible it acts like a condom to prevent the life getting out."

Green suggest an eight fold strategy to reach the unreached including staging a debate in the university with an atheist professor. "The entire world and his wife will turn up." Hold an open air Eucharist it in the town center. Minister to the poor with a clear presentation of the gospel. Hold a supper party with carefully planned guest services with each bringing an unchurched friend. Establish an Agnostics Anonymous group. Try open air preaching. Bring in dance teams, they draw crowds. Baptize people in a river. Address life topics...is there a purpose to life, or how can I manage my life and how can I feel so empty when I have so much. Call for a new kind of Anglican layman who is unembarrassed to speak about Jesus."

Green urged the teaching of personal evangelism. "If you don't know how to do evangelism have the humility to ask the Baptists...we need each other."

Green said it was time to clear the barnacles off of the Episcopal Ship and get rid of traditions that do not help. "Gospel preaching with love and joy is dynamic. Send a work team to Nigeria or Sabah. Who will step up to the plate? Who is up for that bold arrow like commitment to mission?"


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