CHATTANOOGA, TN – This past weekend, from September 1-2, Redeemer Anglican Church in Chattanooga hosted the first Formed conference for clergy. The conference was sponsored by the American Anglican Council. Formed was crafted to deal with the cultural and social issues of the day that are affecting the Church and her leaders. Speakers like Hans Boersma, Stephen Gauthier, Adam MacLeod, Gerald McDermott, Bishop Frank Lyons, and our own Canon Phil Ashey were the keynote speakers. They each presented lectures in 18 minute windows on topics such as body, gender, and sex; the importance of doctrinal formation in the Church; critical theories and the concept of justice; race and the Bible; ecclesial exhortation; and the history of the Anglican Realignment.
Over 100 people showed up from as far away as Jacksonville, FL and Chicago, IL. At least half of those who came, if not more, were young leaders in their thirties and forties and included ACNA clergy, rectors and associates, church planters, and clergy spouses. Formed was designed to address the issues that church leaders are facing in an increasingly secularizing North American culture and to answer some questions on how to deal with them wisely and sincerely. Those issues include body, gender, and sexuality, Christian responses to critical theories, and whether justice is simply about equity (equal outcomes for all) or something much more. The conference answers questions on how the Bible informs those responses.
Canon Phil presented a brief 18 minute history of of the North American Anglican experience, with its headlong plunge into heresy through the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada since the middle of the 20th century. This was the very first talk of the conference, to set the table for asking “What lessons can we learn when the Church itself abandons biblical teaching?” Many of those attending were not aware of the real history behind the Anglican realignment.
Despite each talks’ limited time of 18 minutes, there were still lengthy panel discussions on questions offered by members of the audience. Some of the best discussions came from those questions.
From the standpoint of Ephesians 4:14, we are called to move beyond being like children tossed to and fro by every doctrine and argument of man. Formed intellectually addresses the winds that are tossing us back and forth and keeping us in immaturity. Finding our footing in biblical maturity begs the much deeper conversation on how we get there. What kind of people do we need to be as the Church? These concerns led to interesting discussions on how we make disciples (catechesis) and how we do that around our dinner tables with our children, with practical questions, like whether we should give our children smartphones and how to navigate technology.
We are very thankful to Redeemer, Chattanooga and the Rev. Phil Hanner for hosting this conference and helping to make this happen. They put in so much work to bring us all together for this important event, and we are grateful for our partnership. Our next Formed Conference will be for clergy AND laity. This will take place October 21-22 in Fort Worth, TX at St. Andrews. We hope you can join us there, and the registration page is here for you to sign up!