As the 21st century begins to play itself out there is cause for encouragement. I recently attended the annual gathering of the Evangelical Fellowship of the Anglican Communion (EFAC-USA) in Orlando, Florida, of which the Fellowship of Witness was the forebear. Not only did TEC and ACNA Christians gather together for fellowship and faithful reflection, but EFAC is being led and shaped by an exciting younger generation of Episcopalians, many of whom are recent pilgrims on the Canterbury Trail, and strikingly mature.

From Richard Kew, in a recent issue of The Living Church. Three of this younger generation, Zac Neubauer, Philip Ryan and Ethan Magness (for ACNA), were elected to the board of EFAC USA at its recent meeting at Trinity School for Ministry, and have brought new energy and purpose to the board. Work on the next EFAC conference (April 4–7 2018, Canterbury Retreat and Conference Center, Oviedo FL), and several other projects, is in progress. More details on the new EFAC USA web-site soon!

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At the Florida conferenefac-usa-logoce mentioned in the post below, there was general agreement on the subject of reviving and reorganising EFAC USA with a board drawn from both TEC and ACNA. According to the by-laws of the moribund but still existing EFAC USA (some of whose board members were present in Florida), new board members are elected by the membership at an Annual Meeting called for the purpose with one week’s notice.

The Annual Meeting will be held at Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge PA, Room 103 of the Academic Building on Tuesday, June 20th, at 7 pm. Members entitled to vote are those who support the aims of EFAC USA, and have paid dues. The dues of those who attended the conference in Florida were included in the cost of registration; others wishing to be members may pay their dues at the meeting on the 20th. In addition to electing new board members, the location and date of our 2018 conference, and other items related to the organization of EFAC will be discussed.

All members of TEC or ACNA who believe that the Bible is the final authority for all matters of faith, life and worship are urged to attend. Check the EFAC USA web-site (www.EFAC-USA.org) or go to the EFAC-USA Facebook page (Facebook.com/EFACUSA) for information about participating remotely.

Please pray for God’s guidance for those in attendance!

efac-usa-logoAt the ‘Evangelion’ conference of Evangelicals in the Episcopal Church held at Trinity School for Ministry in 2016, three ideas for the future found widespread support: renewing our connection with Evangelicals in the rest of the Anglican Communion through the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion (EFAC); getting together annually; and participation in our events by Evangelicals who are members of the various Anglican churches that have come into existence outside TEC in recent years.

Following discussions among former board members of EFAC-USA, the American branch of EFAC, EFAC-USA will reorganise under a board of directors composed of equal numbers of TEC and ACNA members, and have its first annual Assembly at the Canterbury Retreat and Conference Center outside Orlando, Florida from April 19-21 2017. The theme of the conference is ‘Positively Evangelical’, and speakers include Greg Brewer, Andrew Pearson and Charlie Holt. All Anglican Evangelicals in the USA, whether in TEC or another church of the Anglican tradition, are invited to attend; to register, check the new EFAC-USA website, which will shortly be available at www.EFAC-USA.org, or go to the EFAC-USA Facebook page (Facebook.com/EFACUSA).

More information will be also posted on this blog. Please pray for a renewal of effective evangelical witness to the Episcopal Church and to the other American churches in the Anglican tradition.

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The 2017 conference of Evangelicals in the Episcopal Church will be held at the Diocese of Central Florida’s Canterbury Retreat and Conference Center in Oviedo (just outside of Orlando), Florida, Wednesday April 19th – Saturday April 22nd.

All Evangelicals welcome—clergy and laity, egalitarian and complementarian, high church and low church, Episcopalian and non-Episcopalian.

More details to follow here and here!

Image result for black roseHowever you complete the sentence above, the point is the same—it’s not the name, but the nature that matters. People have been arguing for years that the word ‘evangelical’ is a hindrance to the evangelical cause, and Tony Campolo is one of the most recent, according to Ian Paul at Christian Today. Paul’s comment:

I wonder how much difference it makes to non-Christians for us to say to them “Oh, I’m not a horrible Christian like those miserable evangelicals! No, I am a nice kind of Christian – you can trust me!” I am not sure that those outside the Christian faith find it quite so easy to draw these neat lines – and I am pretty sure that God doesn’t.

Campolo believes Evangelicals would be better Christians if they restricted their attribution of divine authority to the ‘red letters’ in the Bible—to the words of Jesus, which are printed in red in some editions. Paul points out the fatal consequences of doing that, here, and ends by saying

To be evangelical means to see the Bible, rightly interpreted, as the supreme authority in matters of life and faith. If my fellow evangelicals are giving the family a bad name by their misreading, then I need to stay in the family and have the conversation. And, guess what? There are some red letters about that: “If a brother or sister sins, go and point out the fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over” (Matthew 18:15).

To all of which I say ‘Amen.’ The only thing I would change would be to delete the words ‘rightly interpreted’. No one chooses a wrong interpretation, even when they are interpreting wrongly, and since God’s word achieves God’s purposes, those of us who believe our interpretation is right and another’s wrong can trust that God will be at work even in someone who is misunderstanding His word. It’s only when we believe that the Bible, or even a part of it like the part only ever printed in black, is the word of man rather than the word of God that we are no longer interpreting, but editing, and therefore subjecting God’s word to our own judgement.

RuskinThe Mediæval religion of Consolation perished in false comfort; in remission of sins given lyingly. It was the selling of absolution that ended the Mediæval faith; and I can tell you more, it is the selling of absolution which, to the end of time, will mark false Christianity. Pure Christianity gives her remission of sins only by ending them; but false Christianity gets her remission of sins by compounding for them. And there are many ways of compounding for them. We [Anglicans] have beautiful little quiet ways of buying absolution, whether in low Church or high, far more cunning than any of Tetzel’s trading.

—John Ruskin

Discuss.

church_society_logo_140_sans_strapAt the recent conference for Evangelicals in the Episcopal Church, there was much discussion of lay ministry (see this post). An ordinand in the Church of England, Chris Edwards, makes a great contribution to that subject on the Church Society blog:

When we say “the church’s ministry depends on volunteers” we are making a sub-biblical distinction between the church on the one hand and her people on the other. We restrict what we mean by ‘the church’s ministry’ to the corporate projects in which her leaders decide to engage. And our best expectation for everyone else – the ‘volunteers’ – is that they will wholeheartedly throw themselves into the leaders’ plan. The distinction is subtle, but it is a dangerous one, because it makes the church a two-tier place. Yes, of course there must be leadership – and, indeed, submission to leadership. And I am not meaning to undermine the notion of ordination. But drawing a distinction between ‘church’ and ‘volunteers’ does not help people marvel at the wonder of what it means to belong – fully – to the Body of Christ.

Check it out here.