Anglican Perspectives

New Wine for New Wineskins

From September 22nd to 25th, the American Anglican Council (AAC) attended the New Wineskins for Global Mission Conference in Ridgecrest, NC, directed by Jenny Noyes. Some 1,600 Anglicans from around the globe attended this triennial gathering focused on global missions. Included were archbishops, bishops, clergy, lay leaders, and many youth and children. It was a wonderful, Spirit-filled, worshipping reunion of Anglicans on fire for local and global mission. 

The greatest benefit was the opportunity to network with old friends and new. There were friends from whom we have been separated during these past COVID years. Archbishops and bishops who we served at our international Bishops Leadership Summits expressed their desire to meet again. They remain eager to rekindle the relationships that were suspended, and they are excited that the Summit is on the AAC’s horizon once again. We listened to their stories of tremendous suffering endured during COVID: days and months of sickness, poverty, and hunger, as well as natural disasters like flooding and locusts. Despite their suffering, their devotion to Jesus Christ and the proclamation of His Word in the power of the Holy Spirit are humbling and challenges us to do the same. 

In addition, the stirring morning devotions that Bishop Thad Barnum gave brought hope to those struggling on the mission field. He encouraged us to stir up the spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit bestows on every person, lay and ordained, for ministry! We believe this challenge is an invitation for us to make our Renew Holy Spirit weekends even more available to congregations across the ACNA as provincial leaders engage the reality of this changing culture in the context of their own communities.

One of the AAC’s core values is catalytic leadership. This is shorthand for not reinventing the wheel but partnering and collaborating with others. When there is opportunity, our various initiatives help midwife such partnerships in mission. The Bishops Leadership Academy, a training and mentoring opportunity for new ACNA bishops, will meet again in January. While awaiting the next international Bishops Leadership Summit, bishops, dioceses, and provinces are tapping into the resources the AAC provides. For example, we were invited to serve in Kenya to teach and train bishops, clergy, and lay leaders of entire dioceses. We are beginning to see the emergence of a leadership pipeline that the AAC can impact by shaping leaders with the resources we offer. 

There was also an unprecedented turnout for our Anglican Revitalization Ministries (ARM) pre-conference workshop led by the Rev. Canon Mark Eldredge. More than twenty people attended the full day workshop during which Canon Mark and Sean Jecko shared principles to grow, sustain, and multiply church health and growth. Canon Mark’s MAP talk on becoming a missionary in your local community attracted over 70 attendees who gathered tips on revitalization and connected with ARM resources. One estimate from PEW research is that by 2070, the now 150 million Americans who know nothing about Jesus will be the majority. People like those who attended the MAP talk are hungry to know how to respond to this growing cultural reality and how to make disciples regardless of the spiritual circumstances around them. 

In addition, the Director of our Daniel Leadership Institute, Bev Mueffelmann, coordinated our AAC ministry luncheon where Canon Mark presented the new structure of our ministries to 85 attendees. The Rev. Marc Robertson who shepherds early-career clergy in the Anglican Missional Pastors program gave a short presentation on this work. Canon Phil then presented how the prophet Daniel engaged the pagan culture around him with confidence, grace, courage, and faithfulness and how we, as Christians, can do the same. From comments we received, we know that the example from Daniel was a great encouragement to those who attended.

Finally, we were blessed by Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba’s observation in his closing Eucharist sermon that he and the bishops of Uganda chose to attend New Wineskins rather than the Lambeth Conference 2022, because they would be welcomed to this biblically-faithful gathering. Strong leaders from both GAFCON and the Global South were present at New Wineskins, so we were able to communicate the message we heard at Lambeth that the future of the Anglican Communion lies in GAFCON and the Global South cooperating to promote both gospel mission and Communion catholicity.

Please pray as we move forward together in mission, that we may see a reformed Anglican Communion emerging— one that is confident in God’s control, faithful to the clarity and authority of God’s Word, courageous in proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of all, and with staying power to transform our various cultures. We envision a global church dedicated to making disciples whose lives commend the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and whose souls are resilient like Daniel. As we look forward to GAFCON in Rwanda, we will continue to partner with these leaders in prayer and in every way we can as they continue to build the Church around the world. 

The AAC is committed to coming alongside both GAFCON and the Global South to reform the whole Anglican Communion based on a common confession of the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3), a commitment to fulfilling the Great Commission to make disciples of ALL nation (Matt 28:16-20), with structures that will deter false teaching and hold us “mutually accountable and interdependent” in genuine communion. Domestically, we look forward to our first full AAC Formed Conference in Ft. Worth, TX, where we will address the cultural chaos around us so that we may all together lead people to Jesus Christ and his transforming love. Here at the American Anglican Council, everything we do ultimately points to and serves the same mission we heard again and again at New Wineskins:

Be the one that brings the light of Christ to dying world;

See the one who has never heard of Jesus–yet; and

Share the One true God who can give hope to a hopeless word—Jesus Christ!

“…and may the grace of the LORD our God be upon us; prosper the work of our hands; O Prosper our handiwork” (Psalm 90:17).

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