The ACNA Provincial Assembly 2019
Rector’s Weekly Letter to the Congregation for Sunday, June 30, 2019
Reflections on the ACNA Provincial Assembly 2019
The Provincial Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) took place June 17 – 20, 2019, in Plano, Texas.
The theme was discipleship, calling upon the faithful to rejuvenate their discipleship and raise it to the next level. The opening Eucharist on Monday, June 17, was attended by over 1000 people. There was a long procession of vested bishops, priests, deacons, and acolytes. Coupled with jubilant singing, the atmosphere had a feel of heaven. The Spirit of God hovered over the place as Jesus was acclaimed as Lord and Savior, King of kings and Lord of lords to be worshipped by all creatures. The assembly itself consisted of plenaries after which there were breakouts in which different topics were fleshed out.
In his message during the opening Eucharist, the archbishop said that discipleship is following Jesus with all we have, laying all on the line for His sake. He said repentance is a lifestyle and thereafter repentance calls us to live as people who have found Jesus. He told about a friend of his who works with prisoners. That friend told the archbishop that of the men that fill the prisons, 95% of them once sat in church when they were little boys and prayed the sinner’s prayer. The archbishop wondered why that would be so. He asked whether it is because they were discipled neither by individuals nor by the church.
On thinking about this point, I was reminded of what I have always thought to be the case, that we the church have the responsibility not to just do church, but to be real disciples of Jesus who disciple each other and care for each other’s progress. Each member of the church has the responsibility to look out for another, and each member has the responsibility to take hold of the resources available to grow one’s own discipleship.
Another speaker decried the gimmicks and fooleries that we sometimes use in the church in the name of attempting to attract unchurched people and to get them to come to church. He said the Word of God has the power to subdue any heart however hard, that our inventions to decorate the Word of God are uncalled for and that, in fact, they can have the negative effect of misleading a seeker. The Bible is powerful as a light, a fire, a seed, and a hammer. He urged believers to open ears to hear what God is speaking. We must never lose confidence in the Word of God. We do not come to Jesus for health and wealth, but to be returned to Him because we belong to Him and were created to please Him. And we are to treasure the Word of God by reading it, familiarizing ourselves with it, and obeying it. He said we should come to church with expectant joy. Lastly, the speaker urged us to pray for the proclamation of the Word and set the Word as the rule of life we live by. “Allow God to reach you and teach you through the power of the Word,” he said.
It was emphasized that the aim of discipleship is to form each of us into a little Christ, learning to live like Jesus. We are to immerse ourselves in kingdom ways and eternal reality. Formation happens on the inside, but we run the risk of focusing on the external. Our intention is not to get people to simply come to church, but to cause an inner change so as to find it natural, and not strange, to face Godward in every situation we might find ourselves in. Christian formation fills the mind with Christ, so that we develop the mind of Christ, and understand God as Jesus revealed Him, and reject false, destructive narratives about God that might be roaming around in our minds.
Spiritual disciplines were recommended. They were defined as soul training exercises to create opportunities for grace to move and work within us. It was emphasized that spiritual disciplines are not an end in themselves, but a means to an end. Again, the end of the disciplines is to form us into little Christs, not to engender pride or holier-than-thou attitude. “Jets burn gas on take-off, but saints burn grace,” said the late James Willard.
One of the Breakouts I attended was about music in the church. I learned something new which I had never thought of nor considered. But after hearing it I thought it makes absolute sense. It was said that the church needs to be mindful of its music team and not expect them to sing or play a musical instrument each and every Sunday and on all other worship occasions. The ideal, it was said, is to have a good number of people in the music team so that they can take turns to sing and to play instruments, and to rest on other occasions and concentrate on their own worship of the King and taking in of the Word.
It was promised that all the plenaries and breakouts will be availed on YouTube. Already a few videos have been posted. The ACNA app can be downloaded on a cellphone, iPad, or computer from Google Play, App Store, and Amazon App Store. If you search ACNA Provincial Assembly 2019 on YouTube, you will find the videos that have been put out so far.
Catechism: To Be A Christian
An Anglican Catechism (2013:23-24)
1. What is the Gospel?
The Gospel is the good news of God loving and saving lost mankind through the ministry in word and deed of his son, Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 5:15; John 1:12; 1 John 5:11-12).
2. What is the human condition?
The universal human condition is that, though made for fellowship with our Creator, we have been cut off from him by self-centered rebellion against him, leading to guilt, shame, and fear of death and judgment. This is the state of sin. (Genesis 3; Romans 3:23).
3. How does sin affect you?
Sin alienates me from God, my neighbor, God’s good creation, and myself. I am hopeless, guilty lost, helpless, and walking in the way of death. (Isaiah 59:2; Romans 6:23).
4. What is the way of death?
The way of death is a life empty of God’s love and life-giving Holy Spirit, controlled by things that cannot bring me eternal joy, but that leads me only into darkness, misery, and eternal condemnation. (Romans 1:25; Proverbs 14:12; John 8:34)
5. Can you mend your broken relationship with God?
No. I have no power to save myself, for sin has corrupted my conscience and captured my will. Only God can save me. (Ephesians 2:1-9; John 14:6; Titus 3:3-7)
6. What is the way of life?
The way of life is a life directed toward loving and responding to God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, in the power of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit, and leading to eternal life. (John 14:23-26; Colossians 1:9-12; Ephesians 5:1-2; Romans 12:9-21)
7. What does God want to give to you?
God wants to reconcile me to himself, to free me from captivity to sin, to fill me with knowledge of him, to make me a citizen of His Kingdom, and to enable me to worship, serve, and glorify him now and forever. (1 John 5:11-12; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians 2:19; 3:19; Colossians 1:9)