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Letter from Amy: June 26, 2024


Neo-Coptic icon of the Good Shepherd

Dear Incarnation,


Greetings from Provincial Assembly! This is the gathering of our entire province that happens at least every 5 years. A province is a regional communion of churches under shared governance; our province is the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). I’m here as a delegate (an elected, voting representative) from our diocese (a fellowship of churches under a shared bishop), the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic. 


Last week, the bishops of all the dioceses of the ACNA gathered to prayerfully select the next Archbishop, who will serve as the leader of our province. As we announced on Sunday, our new Archbishop-Elect is Bishop Steve Wood. He will receive the transfer of spiritual authority from our current Archbishop Foley Beach at the final Eucharist of Provincial Assembly on Friday. He will then be consecrated (set apart for the ministry of an Archbishop) later this year and will serve a 5-year term with an option to renew for one additional term. I’m delighted by this news, and I hope you will join me in praying for Archbishop-Elect Steve.


Okay, thus ends the Anglican terminology lesson!


Gatherings like this remind me of what I love about the church, and about our particular Anglican expression of the church. There is a beautiful diversity of geography, ethnicity, culture, worship practices, and theological emphases in our province. We are held together across many differences — some of them strongly held and deeply felt — by our common life of prayer, our shared allegiance to Jesus’ kingdom, our love of the scriptures.


But sometimes the church seems less-than-beautiful. Sometimes the church becomes a place of pain. Sometimes shepherds fail to protect and nourish the sheep in their care. Many people, including many in our own congregation, have experienced harm from those who minister in Jesus’ name, making the church feel unsafe and painful.


The American church seems to be experiencing a sort of reckoning with church harm, as documented in the Mars Hill podcast, Hillsong documentaries, and the seemingly unending list of scandals and abuses from church leaders across all denominations. The ACNA is not immune to such abuses.


And yet our God is near to the brokenhearted and vulnerable. He desires to purify his church and heal his wounded people. This is an area of personal calling and conviction for me; in fact, the first sermon I ever preached was in a Healing Eucharist service for those with church wounds. I long to see the church become a place of refuge and healing for wounded sheep, where we can re-encounter the love of God in Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.


So I am grateful that this will be the focus of our next quarterly Healing Eucharist. On July 10, we will partner with the Rev. Bill Haley of Coracle — with whom we share office space and break bread each week at Greenbrier Baptist — to offer a service for those who have experienced harm in the church. I am glad that Bill, Katie, Russell, and I will lead this service together, men and women who serve the church in mutual submission to one another.


And I am grateful for our liturgy, which creates a sense of safety and boundaries within which the Spirit can minister healing. If you’ve attended a “healing service” in a charismatic tradition, this will likely feel different — quieter, gentler, and more liturgical (i.e., predictable). There will be silences and time for reflection. We will pray a litany for those harmed by the church, and for the healing of the institution. The ministers will confess on behalf of the church before we all confess together. Prayer and anointing for healing will be available for those who seek it. And we will conclude our time together at Jesus’ table, asking him to nourish and restore us with his own body and blood.


I hope you will consider joining us, or inviting a friend who may benefit from this service: Wednesday, July 10, at 7pm at Greenbrier Baptist (5401 7th Rd S). If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to me or Katie!


With love,

Amy

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