Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul
25th January, A.D. 2005
TO ALL THE CLERGY AND PEOPLE OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION NETWORK: Beloved in the Lord,
It has been one year since the chartering of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, now commonly called the Anglican Communion Network. What a year it has been!
I write as Moderator with a word of encouragement. I know these are exceedingly anxious times. Remember, no matter what the appearances, “[He] has overcome the world,” (Jn 16.33) and his word to us is that we are to “Be of good cheer.” Jesus spoke these words to the first followers, just as He speaks them to us. To be sure…their challenges were no less daunting than ours.
That the entire and undiminished Christian Faith has been passed to us has to do with their unflinching stand. We can do no less in our day.
So much has happened in one year. Be encouraged. One layman in the Diocese of Pittsburgh is raising $100,000 to insure the work of the Convocations. His efforts are a challenge to laity of the nine other Network dioceses. We have only just begun to receive word of commitments from parish and diocesan budgets and the news is very good. So far just nine congregations have pledged $155,436 to the Network’s 2005 budget, most of which will be matched by a 1:2 challenge grant from the American Anglican Council. Having said this, another million dollars in commitments is urgently needed from Network parishes and dioceses. Please, vestries and diocesan councils, act now.
This letter brings word that Mr. Wicks Stephens, formerly chief operating officer of Trinity School in Ambridge (and a litigator licensed before the California bar), has accepted full-time appointment as Development Director and Legal Advisor for the Network. (The funding of this position was provided by a special and far-sighted gift of one Virginia parish, dollars additional to the budget figures above.) Alongside of our Network Canon for Operations, Larry Crowell, and new staffing for the Ministry Development Program (the tested ordinations program pioneered by the AAC) the Network’s Pittsburgh office is gaining significance, structure and stability. The AAC (from its new Atlanta office) continues to fund and provide services as Network secretariat, providing for public relations, communications, educational, accounting and secretarial needs.
Anglican Relief and Development has soared beyond our wildest hopes. Announced at Michaelmas (September, 2004), we have thus far funded 13 development projects in 9 nations totaling $460,000. We are targeting an additional $550,000 in grants for the next 6 months, in addition to our best guess of something like $250,000 of tsunami relief enabled by our one-time South Asia appeal in Christmastide. Blessing upon blessing, we have also been notified by the Reformed Episcopal Church that they will consider action to make ARDF their relief and development arm as well.
Extraordinary talent has come forward as the Network’s needs have developed. Six convocational deans – serving the vast areas of our country (including some 200 congregations and 300 clergy) that are in non-Network dioceses – have devoted much of their energies to what has become the creative engine of the Anglican Communion Network. The deans are John Guernsey (Mid-Atlantic & Convenor), Bill Murdoch (New England), Jim McCaslin (Southeastern), Ron McCrary (Mid-Continental), Bill Thompson (Western), and Bill Ilgenfritz (Forward-in-Faith[acting]). A Cabinet system has also emerged – alongside of the faithful weekly efforts of the Steering Committee – whose members are, in addition to the Moderator, Ed Salmon (Bishops), Martyn Minns (International Partnership), Kendall Harmon (Strategic Engagement), John Guernsey (Deans), Larry Crowell (Operations) and David Anderson (Network Secretary). Mary Hays convenes a church-planting task force, with Tom Herrick as church-plant staff. Sharon Stockdale Steinmiller presides over 15 missionary organizations that have come together as Anglican Global Mission Partners.
Committed to “gathering the Anglican diaspora” from our chartering, I am privileged as Moderator to convene and chair a roundtable which brings together orthodox forces inside the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada, as well as significant numbers of those who have moved outside. Included, at this point, in this roundtable are the Network, the AAC, Forward in Faith, the Anglican Mission in America, the Reformed Episcopal Church, the Anglican Province of America, the Network in Canada, the Federation in Canada, and the Anglican Communion in Canada. We are all one river – flowing at this point in different channels – whose source and end are together.
With this letter I am also able to announce “Hope and a Future,” a first-ever national Network conference. On November 10, 11, and 12, 2005, we intend to gather 2000-3000 souls in Pittsburgh to worship, to learn, to hear from our national and global leaders and partners, and to share our resolve to be agents of a renewed Biblical and missionary Anglicanism.
The upcoming Primates meeting in Ireland will have much to say (either in speaking or not speaking) about the future of Biblical, missionary Anglicanism in North America and around the globe. Pray mightily. Consider fasting through much of this season between now and Holy Week. Whatever emerges from Ireland, do not lose hope. God would not – for no purpose -- have given all the blessing to the Anglican Communion Network that this letter describes. He does not waste His resources. And He is faithful even when we are not (I Tim 2.13). Besides, Jesus has overcome the world, so we really can be of good cheer.
Humbly and faithfully in Christ,
+ Bob Pittsburgh
Moderator, Anglican Communion Network
Bishop of Pittsburgh