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A PASTORAL LETTER

From The Bishops of The Reformed Episcopal Church
On Religion and Morality (Continued from last month)
Trinity XVIII
October 1, 1997

RECOMMENDATIONS
Therefore, in order to assist the people of God to develop and cultivate a Christian mind, we recommend the following as normative behavior for those Christians who are members of the Reformed Episcopal Church.

A. Personal Responsibilities

1. Individual Communion with God
Each member is expected to walk personally with the Lord, making regular use of all the private means of grace available to him or her, including regular private prayer (Matt. 6:6); disciplined reading of, and meditation on, the Holy Scriptures (Psalm 1:2); continual maintenance of a good conscience (Acts 24:16); periodic and wholesome self-examination, prayerfully conducted by the standards of Holy Scripture (Psalm 139:23-24); and the careful, faithful and spiritual observance of the Lord's Day (Isaiah 58:13,14).

2. Christian Obedience and Liberty
Each member of the church must be required to live in loyal obedience to all the moral precepts established in Holy Scripture (Romans 8:3-4). If God has not condemned or forbidden a practice in Holy Writ, a Christian is at liberty to participate in it. The exercise of Christian liberty, however, must at all times be governed by an earnest desire to walk in the fear of God and to glorify Him in all things (I Peter 1:17; I Corinthians 10:31); by a loving regard for the consciences of weaker Christians (I Corinthians 8:9; Romans 15:1-3); by a compassion for the lost (I Corinthians 9:10-22); and by a zealous regard for the health of one's own soul (Romans 12:1,2; 13:14; I Peter 2:16).

3. Personal Witness
It should be the joy and responsibility of Christians to labor for the extension of the kingdom of God. Therefore members of this church should recognize and seize opportunities to bear witness to the Gospel by their lives and words (Matthew 28:19-20).

B. Family Responsibilities
The Reformed Episcopal Church is committed to the growth and development of strong families under the guidance of the Spirit of God, as set forward in the teachings of Holy Scripture. The responsibilities of parenthood require that husbands and wives rear their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), setting a godly example before them, and instructing them consistently in the Scriptures by praying with them and for them, and by disciplining them with wisdom, consistency, firmness, and love. (Proverbs 13:24;22:15;29:15; Hebrews 12:7)

C. Church Responsibilities

1. Principled Regular Attendance
While the Canons of this Church permit a reduced standard of church attendance in order to maintain active membership status, we recognize that all members are expected to be regular in their attendance at the worship services of the Lord's Day, unless providentially hindered. We further strongly encourage the members of this Church to be involved in other regular church functions (such as Sunday School classes, small groups, and church-sponsored Bible studies) in an effort to grow in the grace of God, and to build up the body of Christ. (Acts 2:42; Hebrews 10:24,25)

2. Service
Every member of this church has been placed here by God, not only to receive ministry, but also to render service to the church. Therefore, it is important for every member, with the help and guidance of the church, to discover his or her spiritual gift(s) and diligently to search for opportunities to serve. (Ephesians 4:12; Romans 12:4-8)

3. Promotion of Edification and Peace
Inasmuch as the church is represented in Scripture as a body having many members, of which Christ is the Head, with each member having a distinct function, and yet having concern for the health and protection of the whole (I Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 4:4, 11-16); it is only reasonable for this Church to expect that every one of its members will strive for the health and peace of the entire body. Members are therefore encouraged actively to cultivate acquaintance with one another so they may be better able to pray for one another; to love, comfort, and encourage one another, to bear with one another and forgive whatever grievances they may have agaisnst one another; and to help one another materially as necessity may be required.

4. Systematic and Proportionate Financial Support
It is clearly taught in Holy Scripture that the tithe is a symbol of God's ownership of His people. It should be the duty and the joy of all Christians to support financially the work of the Lord by systematic and proportionate giving made through the local parish. (Malachi 3:8-10; 11 Corinthians 9-8). This Church operates all of its agencies on the principle of the tithe (ten percent of one's income); Each parish is asked to tithe to their diocese from their income. Each diocese tithes to the General Council from their income. Thus the tithe is urged upon each member as an expression of worship, and as the biblical norm for basic giving, to which should be added other gifts and offerings according to one's ability, and the willingness of his or her heart. (II Corinthians 8:1-5; Exodus 36:2-7)

5. Support of and Submission to Leadership
All who come into the membership of this Church are expected to support and submit to the authority of the overseers of the church at each level. Supporting the leadership involves respecting them (I Thessalonians 5:12,13); praying for them and for their ministerial labors (Ephesians 6:18-20); and not entertaining false accusations against them (I Timothy 5:19). Submission to those who have been placed in authority in the church as those appointed to watch over the souls of Christ's flock entails heeding their teaching, their counsel, and their godly admonitions from Holy Scripture. (Acts 20:28; Colossians 1:28; I Timothy 3:5; Hebrews 13:17; I Peter 5:1-4).

6. Participation in and the Support of the Exercise of Biblical Discipline
According to the teaching of Holy Scripture, a local congregation must cut off from its fellowship and visible membership those who insist on teaching or holding to an heretical doctrine; those who blatantly and persistently conduct themselves in a manner inconsistent with their Christian profession; or those who, after formal warning, persist in disturbing the unity or peace of the Church (I Timothy 6:3-5; II Thessalonians 3:6; Matthew 18:15-18; I Corinthians 5:1-13). This excommunication is a last resort, to be used only after all other means of reclaiming the offending party have been exhausted. All church discipline is to be carried out in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of the Reformed Episcopal Church, Title V. Canons I-VI (I Corinthians 5:1-5). Christian people should willingly support those in their leadership who strive to exercise this form of biblical discipline. They should recognize that such discipline is entered into in order to bring those who offend to repentance and a better mind, with a view toward their eventual restoration. (Galatians 6:1). Responsible church membership requires all Christians to pray for those who have both authority and responsibility to administer church discipline, and to support the determinations which they make and the actions consequently taken.


EXHORTATION
We call for each pastor of every local Reformed Episcopal congregation to share this letter with the members of the parish, and to reinforce this teaching in the ongoing life of the church.

We furthermore commit ourselves anew to the promotion of a Christian mind and manner among all the people whom God has placed under our care and oversight, and to the identification, confrontation, and defeat of all those forms of evil and wickedness which are counterproductive to that effort, and are therefore injurious to Christ's church.

It is our fervent prayer that the Mind of Christ will dwell in all those who have been baptized into Christ Jesus; and that His Truth will produce in all of us that fruit of good living which will bring everlasting honor and glory to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Parish News
The annual Feast of St. Andrew was celebrated on November 30, 1997. A delicious dinner was enjoyed by all. Evening Prayer was then said in the chapel. Several parents & children from the preschool came to the dinner & service.

We want to thank the following people for decorating the church for Christmas: Steve & Sue Horosinski, Nancy Toomey, Elaine Spencer, & Grant Chessman.

New E-Mail Address
The church has a new e-mail address. It is: AndrewREC@Ameritch.net

Happy Birthday!
Jan. 6 - Elaine Spencer
Jan. 11 - Laura Sutton
Jan. 15 - Linda Zaleski
Jan. 18 - Janet Toomey
Jan. 26 - David Sutton
Jan. 28 - Phil Smith


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