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Facing The Future
by The Rt. Rev. Royal U. Grote

[The following is a portion of Bishop Grote’s annual report delivered to the 94th Synod of the Diocese of Mid-America, which met at Church of the Holy Trinity, Houston, TX,
Feb. 24,25, 2000]

In recent weeks, we have heard a lot about the state of Anglicanism in America and worldwide. The recent actions by some of the conservative Arch Bishops of the Anglican Communion in consecrating missionary bishops for the United States speak clearly to their perception of condition of the Episcopal Church. The recent letter from the Arch Bishop of Canterbury refusing to recognize those consecrations has raised a lot of questions by our people as to what I think our response and posture is to be in light of these recent developments. I would respond to you in this way.

I fully expect that great and serious divisions will occur in the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church in the United States is in its final stages of disintegration. Those who are in it, know it can never recover from its present infidelity. It also seems to be clear that liberal agenda at work in that Church is now getting its support from the Arch Bishop of Canterbury. Such support on his part will put the whole Anglican Communion in jeopardy of disintegration. What will probably replace it will be a return to a fellowship between selected Provinces or Dioceses, much like the relationship we now have with the Free Church of England and the Anglican Province of America.

New organizations are not the answer to the problem. It takes any new denomination or organization 25 to 50 years to reach stability. The history of the Continuing churches in America, and even our own early history, teaches us that truth.

The Apostolic Faith once delivered to the saints lives on in this Church. Fidelity to Doctrine and Holy Scripture is uniformly found among all the Clergy and parishes in this Church. The historic expressions of worship are expressed in our Prayer book. We know where to look for the appropriate expression of Historic Christianity and we have been careful to preserve it. We are the American expression of the English Reformation. We are the Church who has not split in 127 years. We are the Church who has never wavered on Doctrinal matters. And by God’s grace, we are the church who will be obedient to ALL that God has commanded in the New Testament and the Old. Brethren, that makes us unique.

The 127 years of our existence as the Reformed Episcopal Church should serve to remind us that reacting to what the other guy is doing will not serve us well. We have a mission and a purpose for existence and, quite frankly, no one can do it quite like us.

Your Bishops have endeavored over the past years to chart a course for the future of this Church that will position her to be the Anglican Church of the future. We have met with leaders of other Anglican bodies both within this Country and worldwide. We have been working toward unity based on doctrine and fidelity to Holy Scripture. Many of you read of my visit this past October to Bartonville, IL, to meet with the Bishops of a number of the Continuing Churches. It was my privilege to help them craft their first statement of fellowship and to give it my blessing. Perhaps, one day, we will be able to move beyond that of simple fellowship to that of more organic unity.

We were particularly delighted to have six Bishops from the Anglican Church of Uganda visit us this past July and participate in Bishop Sutton’s Consecration. In October, we were pleased to host the Arch Bishop of Uganda at Cranmer House and to introduce him to our Church. We felt the tie strengthening with that 8 million member evangelical Church. On Tuesday of this week, we received an invitation from Bishop Sekkeda for the Bishops of this Church to visit Uganda so that they might formalize a relationship with our Church. I have sent a response back to Bishop Sekkeda through Bishop Sutton. It is clear that faithfulness and fidelity to Holy Scripture will ultimately win out.

Our goal and purpose has to be that of building and planting new parishes and, by example, show a more excellent way to those who are lost and floundering. My heart goes out to those of my brothers and sisters who are in ECUSA at this present time. Many of them are caught by their circumstances and the legalities of their situation. We can help them by being there to spiritually and emotionally support them. We can also help them by being the kind of Church that is so compelling, so gospel oriented, and so Christ Centered that they can see what they must do and where they ultimately must be aligned.

I would remind you that one of our founders said he dared to dream that a Reformed Anglican Communion would emerge which would carry on the heritage begun in the first Reformation in England. The Rev. Joseph Dawson Wilson, in his sermon preached at the 7th General Council of the Reformed Episcopal Church, May 28, 1879, summed up the mission of our Church in just a few short sentences. First, he said: The most powerful among the instruments arrayed upon the side of Christ today is, in my opinion, the Anglican Communion. Powerful because of the energy, determination, versatility and intellectual strength of its men. That communion is in danger. The spirit of corrupt ecclesiasticism is creeping in upon it. That communion is in danger. I fear it will be striking hands with a skeptical worldliness against the Lord.... God has brought the Reformed Episcopal Church into being for the purpose of revivifying the Anglican Communion, out of whose bosom have come the brave, self-reliant, truth-telling, conscientious, liberty loving race of English speaking men, to teach that Church and those men that what made saints of old, makes saints now, a felt Christ in the soul, an alliance with something higher than the earthy, whether gold or mud, an alliance with the super physical and eternal.

The Reformed Episcopal Church exists for the purpose of revivifying the Anglican Communion. We are not like other denominations. Our heritage is that of the English Reformation. Our values and doctrine is unchanged since that time. Our ministry is to the world which is in desperate need of recapturing the Worship of Almighty God and our message is to preach Christ and Him crucified, buried, resurrected and ascended to a world which is lost and dying without him. The way we bring the Anglican Communion to life once again in this Country will be to be busy about the job of evangelization, and winning men and women to Christ. There is a danger in becoming caught up in the political process of Religion. But True Religion is not a political process. It is the worship of a person - Jesus Christ. So to those of you who are wondering what group here or there to join, or where to expend your energies, let me encourage you to expend it in your service for Christ in you local parishes. Teach your people to Worship Almighty God in spirit and in Truth. Faithfully teach the Holy Scriptures. And if you do, in the end, we will continue to see Christ’s Church grow and prosper and His kingdom advance in this World.


Convocations Established

Bishop Grote also reported the following.

When your Diocese is composed of 21 states, you either have to ignore the development of certain states while concentrating on the growth of others, or you have to have a plan for fostering fellowship, mutual encouragement and growth throughout the Diocese. Well, I have a plan, at least the beginnings of a plan, which will help us to encourage one another.

The first part of this plan is to divide our diocese into convocations. There are three active Bishops in our Diocese and each Bishop lives in a slightly different part of the Diocese. This means that, at least for the beginning of this process, we can organize our parishes under one of our Bishops for the purpose of fellowship and mutual encouragement. While our bishops will be making Episcopal Visits throughout the Diocese, regardless of Convocation boundaries, they will endeavor to meet at least twice each year (Spring and Fall) with the Clergy of their Convocation and perhaps even schedule a Convocation-wide event for the parishes. These events can be organized as practicable. Because the geographical territory in some of the convocations is still so vast, I have decided to name the Convocations as follows. Bishop Morse’s Convocation will be called the Convocation the Redemption. Bishop Sutton’s Convocation will be called the Convocation of the Resurrection. Bishop Grote’s will be called the Convocation of the Ascension.

The States covered by these Convocations will be as follows:
Ascension
Bp. Grote
Texas
Colorado
Oklahoma
New Mexico

Resurrection
Bp. Sutton
Louisiana
Mississippi
Alabama

Redemption
Bp. Morse
Tennessee

Ohio
Missouri
Arkansas
Illinois
Minnesota

Parish News

94th Synod
With the addition of seminars on various topics of concern and more social activities the Synod was a great success. We thank Mr. & Mrs. Grant Chessman for representing St. Andrew’s.

Family Seminar

Mr. Donald Albee presented a seminar on Parenting and the Discipling of Children on Feb. 20, 2000. Twenty families attended the seminar. We thank members of the church who volunteered to help with registration, preparation and serving of refreshments, and baby-sitting. We have received positive feedback from the families who attended.

Father/Son Breakfast

Saturday, May 20, 2000, 9:00 a.m.

Missionary of The Month

Rev. & Mrs. William Jerdan (Diane) Stephanie, Daniel, Benjamin, Jonathan. PEROLS, FRANCE.

Domestic Missions

Remember to pray for the Rev. & Mrs. Paul Howden (Beth) and their children, Malachai, Mark, Timothy, and Charissa. St. Luke’s Reformed Episcopal Church, Santa Ana, California.

Happy Birthday!

April 5 - Beth Levi
April 21- Mark Levi

Lenten Dinners & Services

April 5 - 12
Dinner - 6:30 p.m.
Service - 7:30 p.m.

Palm Sunday
April 16, 2000

Good Friday Service
Service in the chapel at 7:30 p.m.

Easter Breakfast

April 23, 2000
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Parish Hall

Easter Worship Service

The Service of Holy Communion begins at 10:30 a.m. We hope everyone can be with us for worship on Easter as we celebrate our Lord’s RESURRECTION!

Notice

There will be no meeting of the Vestry in April 2000.


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