Remarks from the Rev. Marc Robertson, Rector, Christ Church Anglican, Savannah, GA
On Tuesday evening October 29, the Rev. Marc Robertson, Rector of Christ Church Savannah Georgia, addressed the Nehemiah Society of the American Anglican Council in Atlanta. Marc Robertson has led Christ Church for over 20 years, and is soon to retire. Over those years, he gave testimony to the assistance he and Christ Church have received from the AAC—from their decision to stand firm in the faith of former Rectors John Wesley and George Whitfield against false teaching, to the loss of their buildings, to their relocation and “re-missioning” in the heart of Savannah. Here are some highlights from his address:
“Christianity around the world is besieged by three great forces: The disintegrating dynamics of the West, the violent destruction of radical religions, especially Islam (but other religions as well), and a pseudo-spirituality that feeds off of both of these dynamics like a parasite. These dynamics are found around the world as well as the U.S., and they present a formidable challenge for Christians. At the same time, they offer one of the most promising opportunities for mission the Church as encountered in half a millennia – but such mission will demand courage and mature resolve.
The American Anglican Council is the one ministry I know that addresses these three forces with faith and vigor. Let me address them each briefly….
“…We as Christians need to recognize the importance of the swift disintegration of Western culture from a nominally Judeo-Christian society to a tolerant secular society to an increasingly intolerant pagan society. Until the Church understands this, we will keep relying on categories and tactics of the past generation while watching the Church become increasingly ineffective and superficial. The days before us demand a robust, mature and resolved Christianity. The American Anglican Council gets it.
Today’s culture will not only fail to affirm the faith that is in us (for example, playing Christmas carols in the mall during shopping season), but will increasingly oppose us (try putting up a crèche in front of City Hall – something easily done a generation ago). Christian formation can no longer be assumed. Instead, we as Christians need to tackle tough issues, wrestle with difficult passages of the Bible, become more open and honest with ourselves and one another, and discover the value of endurance and perseverance – two virtues often overlooked in Scripture. Again, the American Anglican Council gets it. Superficial, “paperback” Christians will not be able to bear the weight of living in a post-value, pagan society. We must be made of sterner stuff, and the resources for such training and formation are coming out of the American Anglican Council when they are needed most. (see our new discipleship resources on video at AnglicanTraditions.com)
“Anglican world leaders find themselves penned in by the materialism and greed of the West on one side and the violence and destruction of radical Islam on the other. Such persecution is not limited to Islam. Radical Hindus and Buddhists have raised pressure on Christian minorities in their respective nations and cultures. In today’s world, Christians who hide behind the notion that “those problems are way over there” are not only naive in their thinking but also disobedient in their discipleship. As Christians, we need to be informed, prayerful and supportive in faithful ways to encourage our brothers and sisters throughout the world. The American Anglican Council gets it. Training Christian leaders throughout the world is paramount. Even more strategic is building relationships of mutual love and trust, where these overwhelming issues can be hashed out in honest and safe environments. Otherwise, Satan himself will isolate Christian leaders one by one, exhausting them and wearing them down to ineffectiveness. (See our latest Bishops Leadership Summit [LINK to video])
“Young people are leaving the church in droves because their concerns, their questions, their deep, troubling problems are not being taken seriously by adults in the church who profess Christ as Lord. And I’m guessing we can’t take such concerns seriously because we feel inadequate to the task. The American Anglican Council is one of the best equipping organizations for such a challenge. From clergy to lay leadership to entire parishes, the mission of the AAC continues to be to strengthen and renew the church. “Renewal” in today’s world cannot be reduced to songs we all loved to sing with guitars back in the 70’s and 80’s. “Renewal” today must face the fundamental identity issues of the Western world. No, you don’t have to go get a PhD in philosophy to help, but you do need to know what you believe and why you believe it and be prepared to give an answer. I think the American Anglican Council is one of the best resources for that very task.”
“At the first shockwaves of understanding the depth of our denomination’s departure from the Faith, David Anderson and his staff were there for us. David provided wise pastoral guidance and practical support. Once we were sued by The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Georgia, the American Anglican Council gave us helpful advice and constantly provided us with the bigger picture of things. While the loss of all of our material possessions was a difficult pill to swallow, we now see the amazing providence of God in steering us away from our original site and putting us in a new place of promising ministry…”
“During that time of transition, the American Anglican Council prayed for us, encouraged us, and kept us in touch with Anglicans throughout the world. When you lose all you have, the temptation is to go into survival mode, to shut the doors and windows, and try to save what little remains. Phil Ashey challenged us to continue our mission, to keep our eyes on Christ, and to trust God’s unfailing provision. By keeping us in touch with other Anglicans who were suffering alongside of us, the AAC gave us a perspective that kept our spiritual equilibrium…”
“Now that we have settled in a new place, in a new and rapidly-developing part of the city, the parish leadership has worked hard on a fresh Parish Vision. Mark Eldridge of the AAC has been a great source of affirmation and guidance as we seek to live out this vision in practical ways. Mark has met twice this year with our Vestry and key lay leaders, giving us encouragement and direction as we seek to be salt and light in our new location.
All of this is of God. I know that Phil and Mark would both agree that anything profitable that has come from our relationship with one another has been born of the Holy Spirit and sustained by God’s grace. Nevertheless, the willingness Mark and Phil have shown in taking on the responsibilities of guarding and spreading the Gospel has made the American Anglican Council the only ministry I know that pursues an integrated mission both locally, regionally and internationally. Its breadth of vision, its depth of commitment and its spirit of joyful service is rarely to be found.”
You can find the full text of Rev. Marc Robertson’s remarks here.