Archives for February 2014
A hush fell over the crowd at the Hilton America’s Grand Ballroom. One by one, each bishop bowed his head as an exquisite stole was placed around his neck. Each colorful, intricately embroidered vestment was handmade by Gifty Dawson Ahmoah, wife of The Rt. Rev. Edmund Dawson Ahmoah of the Diocese of Dunkwa-on-Offin, Internal Province of Ghana, to grace the necks of the bishops who surrounded Bishop Philip Jones at his installation as Apostolic Vicar at the 2014 Winter Conference.
Gifty, an accomplished seamstress with more than 20 years’ experience in church embroidery, made the stoles to celebrate the installation of the new Apostolic Vicar and the new partnerships between The Mission and its Concordat bishops. She used expensive Kente fabric, a silk and cotton blend native to the Ashanti ethnic group of South Ghana and the best known of all African textiles. This royal and sacred cloth was the cloth of kings, worn only in times of extreme importance, and continues to be held in high esteem with Akans. She adorned the bishops’ stoles with religious designs and finished them with a fringe.
From her home in Dunkwa, Gifty makes and sells liturgical garments to help support the new Diocese of Dunkwa-on-Offin. Six girls work for her and study the art of church embroidery, “something like a school,” Gifty says. As a young woman, she joined her husband at college and graduated in 1988 with a degree in church embroidery. When she began to make sacred garments for her husband in her spare time, she noticed that everyone appreciated them, especially because she used African materials. She began selling them to benefit the church and now the new Diocese. In their province, it’s common to see clergy wearing Gifty’s stoles, chasubles, cassocks and girdles (cinctures), and the beautiful garments are now available for Anglican clergy around the world.
“My dream is to expand this so that our new diocese will grow,” Gifty says.
Contact Bishop Edmund’s Commissary Canon James Kennaugh to place an order for Gifty’s liturgical garments.
Commuters stuck at a residential four-way stop in the South Downtown section of Orlando felt the love on Valentine’s Day as volunteers from St. Philips Anglican Church handed a hot pink carnation, a steaming cup of Starbucks coffee and a goody bag to all who opened their car windows. The church had set up tables in a friend’s driveway near the busy corner as seven volunteers, including the Rev. John Cox and his wife, Cathy, served free coffee and treats from 7:30-8:30 a.m.
John says the idea came from a chiropractic student at their church who offered to buy carnations for a St. Valentine’s Day outreach. The church presented their plan in a letter to the local Starbucks, and the retailer donated 150 full services of coffee to make it happen. A St. Philips team then packed goody bags with sugar and creamer, Hershey’s kisses, business cards and Bibles, and included a Valentine with a gospel message, the church’s information and an upcoming schedule.
“We had the benefit of presenting our emerging homework club and our current ministry to families experiencing addictions, as well as our serious commitment to enrich the community,” John says.
The church put up signs reading “A free gift from Starbucks and St. Philip’s Church.” In an hour’s time, they had handed out all the coffee and carnations as the line of cars crept through the four-way stop.
“One lady I gave the flower to started crying,” Cathy says. “I gave seven carnations to a van of severely handicapped adults, and they were all very happy.”
The following day John received an email from a woman they had gifted. “Dear Pastor John,” she wrote, “I got up yesterday morning and my day was off to a miserable start. I was walking my kids to school and this lady comes up to me with a carnation! It made me weep. It was a huge attitude adjustment for me.”
For the church of 40, the Valentine’s outreach quickly and effectively shared Christ’s love.
“There are a lot of things a small church with an older congregation can do to engage people and enrich the community,” John says. “You’d be surprised at the scale of impact. Our neighbors realize we care about them.”
Learn more at StPhilipsOrlando.org.
A Phoenix parish demonstrated their generous spirit last fall when they collected gift-filled shoeboxes for children in need, through a partnership with Operation Christmas Child sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse.
The Christian organization works with local churches and ministry partners to prepare shoeboxes that share Christmas joy with millions of boys and girls around the world.
Initially, the Rev. John Dyson of Desert Mission Anglican Church set a goal of 20 boxes, asking parishioners to bring them to church on October 27. But in the following weeks, the church went above and beyond his request. They brought a total of 58 boxes they had carefully packed with small gifts and toiletry items for children around the world.
“It was amazing for our small church!” John says. “Our congregation has always been responsive when presented with tangible ways to help others.”
The church had learned about the project through a DVD John showed earlier that fall. Parishioners of all ages were moved to action by the testimony of a woman who had come to Christ through a shoebox gift. Some even wrote personal letters to the children who would receive their box.
“I was especially touched to see my granddaughter help pick out and pack shoeboxes for some young girl her age and to see that not everyone is as privileged as she,” says John’s wife, Barbara.
The boxes shipped in November, and many families have been notified by email that their boxes were shipped to Panama, Mongolia and other locations. They continue to pray for the children who received the boxes.
“I believe our parish will now be a helping agent not only at Christmas but for any outreach opportunity, both at home and abroad,” John says.
Learn more at DesertMissionAnglican.org.
When poinsettias went on sale at Wal-Mart last December, Pamela Sproul had an idea. She and her husband Paul, youth ministers at All Saints Anglican Church in Newport, North Carolina, wanted their youth group, Soldiers for Christ, to do a Christmas ministry to connect older and younger people—more than the Christmas caroling they had done in the past. But so far, nothing seemed right. Until the Holy Spirit gave Pamela the idea of setting up teams of teenagers to visit older people in the church, particularly those in need, sick or who had lost a loved one in the past year. The teens would give them a poinsettia and visit with them for 30 minutes.
“It was such a simple idea that the Lord gave me, and really so easy to do,” Pamela says.
From the beginning, she bathed the Christmas Joy event in prayer. Pamela asked God to lead her to the right people to visit, as well as the right pairings of teens with older individuals.
“The Lord made it clear,” she says.
On the evening of December 11, Pamela and Paul split 12 teens into six teams of two to visit six homes. They prepped the teams with conversation starters like, “What are you doing to celebrate Christmas?” “How did you celebrate Christmas as a child?” The teens were also instructed to pray with their hosts before leaving. Some teens had done street outreach ministry in the past, so Pamela made sure at least one person on each team had previous experience.
A few of the teens expressed concern that they would be depressed by visiting with “sick and sad” people. But Pamela suspected the students would be pleasantly surprised by their mission. They set off, Pamela with one team, Paul with another, and the remaining teams on their own. Later that evening, they reunited at Chick-Fil-A to eat together and process their experiences.
“The teens came in just beaming, tripping over each other to talk, so excited,” Pamela says. “Some of them were in tears of joy.”
Over sandwiches and fries, the teens shared their stories. One teen had visited the home of All Saints’ retired rector. His wife was ill and they have an adult special needs son.
“It’s obvious that they’re hurting,” the girl explained. “But very quickly I picked up—they are so happy. They invited us to stay for dinner and to come back, and they meant it.”
She was bubbling with joy from her encounter, eager to follow up with the rector’s family. She called them the next week to see how they were doing.
Another teen and her friend visited a man who had lost his wife. He clung to them while they were praying for him and confessed he was lonely, saying, “You are like angels to me.” The girls stayed in touch with him and brought him cookies in the weeks that followed.
“The relationships between the teens and the older people are continuing,” Pamela says. “It was such an incredible experience for all of them.”
She also received calls from the hosts, thanking her for the visits.
“It was such a blessing and bright spot in my Christmas season,” one woman in her 80s told Pamela. “Those girls were so much fun.”
Seeing the receptivity from both young and old, Paul and Pamela hope to do a similar ministry at Easter this year.
“I knew the children would be blessed but never knew it would be quite like this,” Pamela says. “And I don’t think the older people have any idea how much they blessed the teens in return. Neither side realized how much they have to offer one another. It was really cool.”
Learn more at All Saints Anglican.
By Ned Harris, parishioner at Christ the King Anglican Church in Campbell, California
When I was on the way to the Order of St. Luke conference near Oakhurst, California, in November 2010, my physical healing wasn’t on my mind at all. I had torn the rotator cuff in my right shoulder four years prior, and had been told by the surgeon who examined it that it had been damaged irreparably—it could not be repaired surgically. I had, by this time, adjusted to the limited mobility and ability that resulted. I couldn’t raise my right hand any higher than the shoulder, and had almost no strength at all in the shoulder. But I had come to accept the situation as it was, and had no thoughts that it might ever change. I was going to the conference (I thought) just to learn more about the Order.
The speaker / teacher at the conference was Mike Endicott, who has a healing ministry in Wales called Jacob’s Well.His teaching was very interesting and entertaining, and there was quite a bit that was new to me, so I listened carefully.
On Saturday night, he asked if there was anyone there in the audience with either a stiff neck or sore shoulder. Although my shoulder was no longer “sore,” I put my (left) hand up, and he invited me to come forward. After a brief discussion of my situation, he began to pray in the manner that he had been teaching us during the weekend—nothing like the “usual” requests for healing at all; just prayers of thanksgiving for what Jesus had done on the Cross, and glorification of God’s kingdom. Less than five minutes later, I could raise my right hand above my head with my arm fully extended! Hallelujah and praise God!
The next morning, during the Eucharist service, we were all holding hands as we said the Lord’s Prayer. The hand that I was holding in my right hand belonged to a lady who had come to the conference after having an X-ray earlier that week that showed an image that the doctor couldn’t identify. She was scheduled to have a follow-up X-ray the next week. Since she is a cancer survivor, this was a definite concern. As we recited the Lord’s Prayer, although I was not aware of anything out of the ordinary, Dorothy felt what she later described as a “tuning fork” sensation that went from her hand, up her arm to her shoulder, and across her chest. I learned from her later the next week that the follow-up X-ray was completely clear! Praise God for her healing!
Later that day, after the conference was over, I went for a walk in the woods by a creek to look at the waterfalls. When I returned to the parking lot, I got into a conversation with a couple there who’d been walking their dog on the trail. When I told them about my experience, the man said that he’d like to meet Mike himself, because he had a “bad knee.” I said that Mike had left, and then I surprised myself by offering to pray for him, thinking that I’d try to imitate what I had learned over the weekend—but also thinking that I really didn’t feel sure that I knew what I was doing. A couple of minutes later, I stopped, and, as Mike had done with me, asked him how his knee felt. He got a strange expression on his face, took a couple of steps and exclaimed, “The pain’s gone!” He continued walking around the parking lot with no difficulty, while I was literally jumping up and down with excitement and praising God!
I’ve been doing exercises that a physical therapist gave me, and slowly regaining the strength in my shoulder. She had worked with me after my earlier injury, and recognized what had happened as “a miracle of prayer”! I’ve been “released” from physical therapy, having passed all of the therapist’s strength tests; my shoulder continues to increase in strength. There are many things that I can do now with my right hand and arm that I could not before! Praise God!
God has continued to work in Ned’s life. In this talk he gave at Christ the King Anglican Church last November, Ned shares his healing from depression and rage.
During the week, the red brick storefront at 401 E. Kennedy Street was a familiar hangout for All Saints Spartanburg. Parishioners used the rented retail space as a parish hall, one night for a healing service, another night for a concert.
But though they did life there, the multipurpose space wasn’t where All Saints held its Sunday services. They met each Sunday for the past five years at the 500-seat Chapman Cultural Center in downtown Spartanburg. With the Spirit’s leading, however, the church of 75 decided to move its worship service into the Kennedy Street building a few months ago, officially making it The Kennedy St. Worship Center.
The parish celebrated this decision at a worship facility dedication service on January 5, at which six people were also confirmed and Bishop Sandy Greene gave a missional charge praising All Saints’ work in the community. Because that work revolved around the Kennedy Street space, not much had to change. The church had made sure to patronize the other shops and restaurants in their shopping center—being mindful not to occupy parking spaces—and also offered The Kennedy St. Worship Center to the public free of charge. Locals don’t have to be Christians or have a religious agenda to use the space, so bands come to record and 30 to 40 people attend a bluegrass jam night every Friday. A tax-exempt 501 (c)(3), All Saints gives this gift to level the playing field with other businesses subject to high taxation and rent.
“Those are the kinds of things we try to do to be a church that’s a little different from the rest,” says the Rev. Charlie Vensel.
The choice to occupy a single building shows the church’s increased focus and cohesion, knowing who they are and what’s important, Charlie says. While they would have loved to fill the Chapman Cultural Center with 500 people, everyone knew they needed a more intimate space.
“In the last number of months we felt the Lord saying, ‘Step back and come into your own place,’” Charlie says. “Here at Kennedy St. Worship Center, we feel really good and intimate. There is more energy and a very bright and optimistic future. From the outside, it can seem like a step back, but on the other hand it’s a tremendous blessing. We’re more sure about who we are and how to express that.”
The building was ready to be used as a worship center, thanks to additions and renovations All Saints completed in the last two years.
“We had started building extra space on it where we could host two groups at one time, places to do children’s ministry or a conference room where something else could go on,” Charlie explains.
Though zoning is often an issue for churches, the favor All Saints had built with the city and community enabled them to overcome zoning challenges and equip the building for assembly. The occupancy of the retail space was 55, but the church raised it to 99. They can now seat about 85 people at their Sunday service and are adding a second midweek service, with plenty of room for nursery and childcare.
Settled into their permanent home, All Saints has an exciting lineup for the New Year. They are walking through the Bible in 2014, partnering with Daily Audio Bible and its founder Brian Hardin, who will be a special guest at the church this month. The journey through Old and New Testaments will replace the Lectionary for the most part as parishioners read through the Bible together.
“We are relying on the Word of God as the conduit of the Holy Spirit that transforms people,” Charlie says.
While in the Cultural Center, All Saints sometimes fell prey to the mentality of “people will come to us,” but the Kennedy Street Worship Center has prompted them not to take any shortcuts.
“Now, we are refocusing our efforts of doing the deep hard work of getting involved in other people’s lives for the sake of the gospel,” Charlie says.
Learn more All Saints.
Enjoy photos from the 2014 Winter Conference at Smugmug.
Winter Conference 2014: Be Strong and Courageous!
A group of archbishops, bishops, clergy, ordinands and laity were encouraged, anointed and filled with the Holy Spirit at the 14th Annual Winter Conference held January 22-25 at the Hilton Americas in Houston, Texas. Uniting around a common vision and a single purpose—to share the good news of the gospel with the lost in North America—The Mission confidently stepped into the future as a Society of Mission and Apostolic Works.
Welcome, Apostolic Vicar Philip Jones!
This year marked a significant transition in leadership for The Mission as Bishop Philip Jones of All Saints Dallas was installed as Apostolic Vicar. He selected Joshua 1 (“Be bold and courageous”) as the scripture for the conference, preparing for the new challenges ahead and the call to advance the Kingdom.
At the opening service on Wednesday night, Bishop Jones was installed as Apostolic Vicar by the College of Consultors and witnessed by a group of partnering bishops from around the world who signed Concordat. Bishop Jones reminded those gathered, “We exist to bring the 130 million unchurched Americans to faith in Christ. Jesus is saying to The Mission, ‘Keep your hand on the plow, know Me and live for Me.’”
The Rt. Rev. Edmund Dawson Ahmoah of the Diocese of Dunkwa-on-Offin in Dunkwa, Ghana, presented each of the bishops with beautiful vestments made and embroidered by his wife, Gifty. All Mission clergy then participated in a Renewal of Ordination vows.
College of Consultors in attendance: The Most Rev. Emmanuel Kolini, The Most Rev. Yong Ping Chung, The Most Rev. Moses Tay, The Rt. Rev. Sospeter Ndenza, The Rt. Rev. Charles H. Murphy III and The Very Rev. Mike Murphy
Concordat Bishops in attendance: The Rt. Rev. Edmund Dawson Ahmoah, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Aaron Kijanjali, The Rt. Rev. Fanuel Emmanuel Magangani, The Rt. Rev Elias Chakupewa, The Rt. Rev. Mathayo Kasagara, The Rt. Rev. Brighton Vitta Malasa and The Rt. Rev. Dr. Todd McGregor
Plenary Session Highlights
Attendees found the five plenary sessions inspirational, challenging and even life changing.
Watch the Plenary Sessions in their entirety on YouTube.
Apostolic Vicar’s Address
Bishop Jones urged recommitment to The Mission’s values set forth over the last 14 years and for newcomers, described what The Mission is all about—a bold and courageous mission, unity in the midst of diversity and three stream spirituality. He described how The Mission is poised to meet Millenials’ hunger for the sacred as it continues changing the face of Anglicanism in North America. Ultimately, he challenged attendees not to forget to love the Lord, as loving Him is the foundation of everything we do. Love creates radical inclusivity of others, leading to belonging before believing in our faith communities.
Quotable: “We are moving forward with God’s grace and anointing, as we move forward in mission. Jesus has shown us the way, it’s often dangerous, risky, but that is the life of the cross.”
(Follow Philip on Twitter @DallasAllSaints)
Amy Orr-Ewing: Questions Jesus Asks Us
Amy, the UK Director of Ravi Zacharius Ministries and a well-known speaker, author and apologist, talked about the powerful art of asking questions that Jesus used to identify the condition of the human heart. She posed three significant questions Jesus asked in the gospels: What do you want? Why do you involve me? Do you love me? She encouraged living all out for Jesus in a way that’s not possible to achieve without the Holy Spirit. To illustrate, she told an incredible story of smuggling bibles to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Quotable: “In the West, we pursue our agendas with no need for God to show up. We’ve got it all covered ourselves. How difficult we find it to step out and trust God in a radical way.”
(Follow Amy on Twitter @amyorrewing)
Brian Hardin: Identity Theft
The founder of the Daily Audio Bible and planter of Four Winds Mission talked about how in our personal lives, we often assume the identity of a slave instead of child of the Living God. We create the reality we live in based on our imperfect interactions with others, and can spend years wandering in the wilderness attempting to “find ourselves.” It’s impossible to know God based on information, outside of relationship. As a church planting organization, we need to get serious about our relationships with God and spending time in scripture every day.
Quotable: “The Scriptures are the North Star that lead us back to the heart of God.”
(Follow Brian on Twitter @realbrianhardin)
The Mission introduced its own version of the outrageously popular TED Talks with a plenary session devoted to sharing ideas about Mission, Outreach and Evangelism.
Don Blair of St. Andrew’s Little Rock shared about church involvement in addictions.
Daniel Lizarraga of Grace Fellowship in San Antonio shared about opening our hearts and minds to what other cultures have to offer us.
Leslie Kingman of Grace Fellowship in San Antonio shared about adopting an elementary school and feeding food insecure children.
Kris McDaniel: Why I Am an Anglican
The founding pastor of Trinity Anglican Mission in Atlanta told the compelling story of how he discovered the treasure chest of Anglicanism as a Vineyard pastor, and how that path eventually led Trinity Vineyard to become Trinity Anglican Mission.
Quotable: “When we as Christians are increasingly unconcerned with power, we become more attractive to a watching world.”
Other Conference Highlights
Many thoughtful components made Winter Conference 2014 an unforgettable experience.
Each morning began with a special devotional led by a member of The Mission’s clergy.
A worship collective from Mission Chattanooga led attendees in uplifting praise and worship.
Attendees could choose from 14 afternoon workshops on topics from Preventing Burnout to Unleashing Beauty for Mission.
In a special ordination service on Thursday, five individuals (Michelle Knight, Daniel Lizarraga, Seth Richardson, Joshua Siu and Nathaniel Smith) were ordained to the deaconate.
The Mission held its first-ever Winter Conference Prayer Walk to bless the city of Houston. Due to inclement weather, participants walked the hallways of the hotel and lifted up prayers of intercession for its occupants.
The annual Clergy Wives Luncheon welcomed Claudia Jones and bid a fond farewell to Margaret Murphy.
New Developments in The Mission
Bishop Jones announced several exciting developments coming in 2014. Follow The Mission on Twitter for updates (@the_AMIA).
- The Mission is working to create a recruitment and assessment system for church planters as well as a “boot camp” experience.
- The Mission is assembling a Presbyterial counsel to provide advice and ideas for Bishop Jones, composed of lay people and ministerial individuals.
- As part of a fresh rhythm, Winter Conference will now be held every other year, and Mission Abbeys will serve as platforms of learning throughout the year. Exciting mini conferences for clergy are already scheduled in Chattanooga (Horizons Conference) and San Antonio.
- Seven to 12 church plants are in the works for 2014 in cities like Chattanooga, Atlanta, Dallas, Little Rock, Vancouver, and San Antonio.
What Winter Conference 2014 Attendees Are Saying
“The Mission Conference 2014 is in the books. Best conference ever. Refreshed. Inspired. Recharged. Excited.”
“I enjoyed and was encouraged by the young speakers and leaders from around the Mission.”
“So much joy, freedom and friendship within the Mission this week.”
“I enjoyed the inspirational message from Bishop Phillip Jones. His words were encouraging and comforting that the Mission is moving forward!”
“I was stretched in faith and blessed by serving on the prayer team.”
“I was extremely inspired by Amy Orr-Ewing’s plenary and her ‘What do you want?’ question.”
“Loved the workshop on creating beauty by Paul Sorensen and Robbie de Villiers.”
“My favorite talk was Amy Orr-Ewing. How exciting to hear how God has used their ministry!”