Keynote Speaker Ed Stetzer Discusses the Local Congregation, Our Engine of Discipleship

image

“The Church is not a store that provides consumer religious goods.”

On June 7, the opening day of the Anglican Church in North America’s Assembly meeting, keynote speaker Dr. Ed Stetzer called attendees to ensure the Church is the “engine of disciple-making and sending that God intends it to be,” not a “store that provides consumer religious goods.” Stetzer is Vice President of Research and Ministry Development for LifeWay Christian Resources and has extensive experience planting, revitalizing, and pastoring churches.

Dr. Stetzer first identified a central struggle by citing a study of 7,000 protestant churches in North America that revealed “the majority of people in the majority of churches are unengaged in meaningful ministry.” Stetzer said that if the Church is to be the primary vehicle for discipleship, we cannot have “congregations filled with spectators who haven’t been transformed by the Gospel.” We need a deep and abiding love for the bride of Christ, His Church, in order to recognize where she is and help her become what God has called her to be.

Teaching from 1 Peter 4:10, Stetzer pointed out that everyone has gifts and based on the gifts they have received, everyone should use them to serve others. He also cited John 20:21, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” Stetzer said there is no doubt, “All of God’s people are called to ministry. All of God’s people are sent on mission. The only question is where and among whom.”

Stetzer noted that people are attracted to Anglicanism and to the beauty of the liturgy and worship, but cautioned there’s a danger of ending up with “a room full of people who love how you do church and want to watch you do it.” We cannot pastor churches filled with consumers of religious goods and services rather than disciple co-laborers who are engaged in God’s mission, said Stetzer.

Another issue he cited was the fact that laity in churches are being told to pray and stay out of the clergy’s way. He joked that some think the job of the lay is to simply “lay” around. “We have made it acceptable to sit in church week after week and do nothing, yet still call yourself a follower of Christ,” Stetzer said. However, 1 Peter 4:10 affirms that if you have been redeemed by the power of the Gospel, you have been called to ministry and mission. We are also called to be good stewards of the very grace of God, said Stetzer.

In 1 Peter 4:11, we find that we do these things so that in everything God might be glorified through Jesus Christ, Stetzer explained. “When the Church is seeing transformed lives that are agents of God’s mission, that’s when we’re glorifying God.”

Dr. Stetzer concluded his call to the Church to be the engine of disciple-making, transformed lives and people engaged in faithful mission with a prayer for “the genuine work of God” that the Anglican Church in North America has become and will be.

Bishop Rennis Ponniah of Singapore Leads Assembly Bible Study

image

A Fresh Vision of God (Isaiah 6:1–13)

On the first day of General Assembly today in Ridgecrest, N.C., The Rt. Rev. Rennis Ponniah, diocesan bishop-elect of the Diocese of Singapore, presented a fresh vision of God through an exposition of Isaiah 6:1–13. Ponniah’s teaching at Assembly 2012 is emblematic of the support and encouragement the Anglican Church in North America continues to receive from Anglican brothers and sisters around the world.

“Many of us from the wider Communion are here to encourage you as you contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints,” he said. Praying that God would “reveal His glory,” Ponniah laid out his agenda to explore a fresh vision of God, the Church, and the times over the next three days as he leads the Assembly through the book of Isaiah. “The goal is that through this fresh vision of God, the Church, and the times, we might be renewed,” he said.

Ponniah compared the opening of the book of Isaiah to a State of the Union address from God’s perspective, in which the people of God are in a state of “hardened waywardness.” Pointing to the death of King Uzziah (Isaiah 6:1), Ponniah noted that Israel was left wondering, “Who is going to protect and fulfill the destiny of God’s people?”

The answer comes through a powerful vision Isaiah receives of God as king on His throne. “The vision Isaiah receives leaves no doubt who is the majestic king. The center of power is not Washington D.C., Beijing, or Canterbury.” Presented with this vision of God, Isaiah is “undone by the stunning holiness of God” and acknowledges his sinfulness (Isaiah 6:5). Ponniah called upon the Assembly to follow Isaiah’s example in acknowledging our sinfulness before the “totally unique moral majesty of God,” instead of comparing ourselves to others.

God’s response to Isaiah, according to Ponniah, is also applicable to us today. God cleansed Isaiah from his sin by means of a coal from his altar (Isaiah 6:7), “pointing us ahead to the Lamb of God…to Jesus” who made atonement for the sins of the whole world. Like Isaiah, we are “amazed by the sheer grace of God” because He has cleansed us from our sinfulness.

Isaiah responds to God cleansing him by volunteering to be sent, without knowing what God is asking him to do. This is because he is captivated by the salvation purpose of God, according to Ponniah. “[Isaiah] doesn’t know the task because it doesn’t matter. He is captivated by the salvation plan of God,” he said. “The last word of God is salvation. God’s purposes are always for salvation.”

Ponniah closed by inviting the Assembly to pray, “Here am I, Lord, to be broken, to be cleansed, and to be sent anew to do your will.”

Ponniah was consecrated as an assistant bishop for the Diocese of Singapore in 2005. He has served as a vicar for one of their largest Anglican parishes, St. John’s-St. Margaret’s Church, since 1993. He is widely regarded as one of the leading Bible teachers in the worldwide Anglican family. In October, Ponniah will become the ninth Bishop of Singapore.

RIDGECREST, NC: ACNA Provincial Council Welcomes New Diocese, Plus New Diocese-in-Formation


Both approved unanimously

ANCA News Release

June 6, 2012

On June 6, members of Provincial Council of the Anglican Church in North America unanimously voted to grant admission and full diocesan status to the Diocese of the Carolinas. The Council also granted diocese-in-formation status to a group of congregations brought together under the Anglican Diocese of Christ the King.

The Audit Committee of the Governance Task Force recommended the addition of both after careful review of their applications and supporting documents, including their Constitution and Canons to ensure they are in order and conformity with the Anglican Church in North America Constitution and Canons .

The Diocese of the Carolinas was accepted as a diocese-in-formation at last year’s Provincial Council meeting in Long Beach, Calif. Since then, four additional churches/church plants have affiliated with the Diocese. It is anchored by parishes in Charlotte, Raleigh and Charleston, which will play a key role in planting new churches and developing existing ones. The congregations within the Diocese have also conducted a search and unanimously selected their Vicar General, The Rev. Steve Wood, as their candidate for Bishop. That decision was affirmed by the Anglican Church in North America College of Bishops on Tuesday, June 5.

The Anglican Diocese of Christ the King, which was approved as a diocese-in-formation, is composed of former Anglican Mission in the Americas congregations in the Houston, Texas, area. Since 2010, the seven congregations that made the application for admission have worked together with a focus on mission in their region under the leadership of The Rev. Clark W.P. Lowenfield and the AMiA Trinity Network. The churches have also intentionally begun building relationships with other Anglican congregations in the area, including those in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America and the Reformed Episcopal Church.

We ask for your prayers for this new diocese and diocese-in-formation, that they would be blessed as they seek to spread the transforming love of Jesus Christ.