Planting Congregations
Strengthening
Churches
Raising Up
Leaders
Editor's Note
Welcome to the Gulf Atlantic Diocesan Communique for October 2020. The diocese is gearing up for a busy November! First, the bishop’s letter encourages us as we near the home stretch toward the election. We also welcome two new rectors to our diocese and are excited to see a glimpse of things to come for those two parishes (and a huge thank you to their outgoing leaders- Rev. Marc Robertson and The Most Rev. Robert Duncan). Rev. Mark Eldredge and Marcia Lebhar offer insightful articles encouraging us to strengthen our churches and raise up the next generation in the faith.
 
Lastly, we look toward our 12th Annual Diocesan Synod. This year it will be held virtually. All delegates and clergy registered should have received our delegate guide, with information on workshops and how to vote. If you have not yet registered, you can do so here. At Synod, we will hear reports of how our diocese is ministering through the pandemic, frequently through creative ways to build community. One such way is through encouraging use of the arts. Trinity Thomasville’s own Director of Classical Music, Catherine Miller, has offered an original piece for use at Synod this year. To learn more about her song, “O Great Physician,” please read about it here:
We look forward to seeing you at Synod and remember you in our prayers.

Prayer for the Local Congregation, BCP 2019:
O God the Holy Spirit, Sanctifier of the faithful, Sanctify these congregations by your abiding presence. Bless those who minister in holy things. Enlighten the minds of your people more and more with the light of the everlasting Gospel. Bring erring souls to the knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ; and those who are walking in the way of life, keep steadfast to the end. Give patience to the sick and afflicted, and renew them in body and soul. Guard those who are strong and prosperous from forgetting you. Increase in us your many gifts of grace, and make us all fruitful in good works. This we ask, O blessed Spirit, whom with the Father and the Son we worship and glorify, one God, world without end. Amen.
From the Bishop
Dear brothers and sisters,
What a tumultuous time we are in: pandemic, racial strife, economic struggle, political turmoil, and what might be called “unsocial media” frenzy.

How are we as believers in Jesus to respond?

First of all, we should not be surprised by all the signs of the fallenness of the world. Instead we should be always amazed that the Lord has extended his grace towards us. We are called to always rejoice in the Lord, no matter what (Philippians 4:4).

Secondly, as grateful as we should be for our country and its freedoms, we need to remember that we are only temporary citizens in a far-from-perfect and also temporary Nation. Our primary focus and hope must therefore not be on any kingdom here. As Paul reminds us, “. . . our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).

Along these lines, I commend the letter below that the Rev. David Trautman shared with his parish. Please pray for our Nation and its leaders in this decisive month, regardless of the election results. Most of all pray that we as the Church, whatever our political positions, would remain unified under the Lord Jesus, the only eternal ruler of all things who is worthy of all praise and honor.

May the Lord Jesus bless you all in everything you face, enabling you to rejoice in the midst of all things.

In the love of the Messiah,

+Neil
Welcoming New Rectors
ST. PETER’S CATHEDRAL
WELCOMES NEW DEAN:
The Very Rev. Marcus Kaiser
Fr. Marcus is a Florida native. He is married to Kim (since 1999) and has four boys: James (18), Jacob (15), Sam (9), and Mac (7). He received his Bachelor of Science from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1998 and his Master of Divinity at The Nashotah House Theological Seminary in 2009. He has served as Rector of Church of the Holy Comforter in Sumter, SC since 2014, and Associate Rector since 2009.

Fr. Marcus comes to St. Peter’s with a strong background in leadership and experience. He served in the U.S. Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer from 1998-2006 before going to seminary. He served as an alumni representative at Nashotah House Theological Seminary Board of Trustees from 2012–2015. He serves on the SOMA-USA (Sharing of Ministries Abroad) Board of Directors since 2015 and the ACNA Liturgy and Common Worship Task Force since 2014. In January 2020, he was appointed by the Archbishop of the ACNA to succeed Abp. Duncan as Chairman.

I was raised in a faithful Roman Catholic family, but was never truly a disciple of Christ in my early years. While in college, God gave me the strength to stop trying to run my own life and accept the radical call of Jesus. He then sent me the love of my life, a Pentecostal girl named Kim, and led us both to the Anglican tradition. There we found a place where the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all equally worshiped and glorified. Although I loved the Navy, God made it clear that He was calling me to a different service. After two decades of leadership experience, my deep desire remains to lead and mentor others and to equip the saints for the work of ministry. Only together can God’s people fulfill our call to make disciples of the nations, engaging a lost and wounded world with the saving love of Jesus Christ. — The Rev. Marcus Adam Kaiser, Sr
CHRIST CHURCH SAVANNAH
WELCOMES NEW RECTOR:
Rev. Dr. Craig Stephans
The Rev. Dr. Craig Stephans comes to the Gulf Atlantic Diocese from the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic where he was a parish rector the last ten years. Craig was raised in the Roman Catholic Church but has spent time in a variety of denominations and has developed a deep sense of Spirit-filled hospitality for ministry. His counseling background led him to pursue pastoral ministry and he graduated from Trinity School for Ministry (2009) and received his Doctor of Ministry degree from Asbury (2019). Craig is an established author, having most recently written on the spiritual discipline of silence (2019). Craig’s background also includes work with pregnancy centers, YoungLife, hospitals, recovery programs, and with people with mental disabilities.
 
Craig, and his wife Missy, and their children Madeline and Jack, are excited to be joining our diocese, and shared this word with the parish:
I am thankful to the Lord and to the vestry and search committee of Christ Church for the honor to serve as your next Rector. It is humbling to serve a church where John Wesley and George Whitefield were Rectors, and it is a special privilege to follow the faithful 28-year pastorate of Father Marc. I could not ask for more of a blessing. I am eager to be with you in worship, mission, catechesis and life together as a family of faith. I know the Lord has great plans for Christ Church Anglican, as he continues the good work that he began. My wife Missy and I and our children Madeline and Jack will all see you soon. We can’t wait! In the meantime, we greatly appreciate your prayers for us and the upcoming transition - Rev. Dr. Craig Stephans, Rector
Strengthening Churches
(Discipleship)
Leading a local church during a major time of change is clearly hard. We know this because we’ve all been doing it this year. It’s not just something we’ve read about in a book. A major reason it is hard is that it requires changing the way we do things. It means letting go of ways of doing things we knew and were comfortable with. It means reorienting and adapting to different ways of operating. Nobody likes change, even people like me, who long ago embraced change as a necessary part of having a healthy, growing church.

Considering this, one comforting thought I’ve had during this unfortunate season has been the fact that we’re not the first church leaders to have had to adapt the way the church does things due to changing external circumstances. We are certainly not alone in leading during hard times.
Think about what it must have been like if you were a church leader at other times in church history:
  • Imagine being a church leader in Jerusalem after Stephen’s martyrdom in Acts 7 and the resulting dispersion of the church. Acts 8:1b reads, “On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.” (NIV) They had to quickly adapt the way they did church from the only way the church had ever operated up until that point.
  • Imagine being a church leader in the Roman Empire after the edict of Milan in AD 313 legalizing Christianity throughout the empire. They had to adapt from operating as more of an underground persecuted church to being open and free. I can’t imagine that was an easy transition for them.
  • Imagine being a church leader during the fall of the Roman Empire as the barbarians sacked Rome. They had to adapt from being a church enjoying comfort and prosperity to learning how to suffer and survive.
  • Imagine being a church leader in Europe in the first years after Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. There was certainly much change and necessary adapting for both the new Protestants and the Roman Catholics.
  • Imagine being a church leader in England when all the excitement of the new “Methodists” emerged under Wesley’s ministry or leading the church during the American Revolutionary War or in Germany under Hitler, or, or, or . . .

Since this is a blog not a book, I realize I may be oversimplifying with these examples, but I think you get my point. Being a church leader during times of major transitioning is hard. It always has been, and it always will be until Jesus returns. Letting go of the ways we’ve always known, reorienting and adapting to new ways of how we do church given the new external circumstances is not easy. However, changing what the church does in these difficult times is always easy. It’s easy because regardless of how the external circumstances change, what the church does, never changes.

What the church does has not changed in nearly 2,000 years. How the church does what it does has changed and continues to change as needed. That is a big distinction.


Raising Up Leaders
Is everyone out there brimming with confidence, or, like me, do you find the following exhortations of Paul hard to imagine saying to another disciple yourself?

I urge you to imitate me. (1 Cor. 4:16 NLT)

Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from
those who follow our example. (Phi. 3:17)
 
Our adventures in discipling the young believers under our own roof frequently found us, as their parents, pleading the exact opposite. Some poor behavior or angry outburst would cause us to fervently hope we would not be imitated by our kids!

Context is important here. Paul was a first century rabbi, and what he pleads expresses the difference between Western and Hebrew thinking pretty perfectly. In our context we tend to think of training in the faith as a mastery of a particular content, a set of convictions to be whole-heartedly embraced. For Paul and rabbis in his day, including Jesus, faith was formed as the disciple literally followed his rabbi around, not just to listen to what he said, but to observe all he did and then imitate everything. Our teachers in Israel say that in Hebrew thinking it was more important to notice how the rabbi responded to stubbing his toe in the middle of the night than it was to absorb his theology. Genuine faith was more concerned with mastery of self than mastery of doctrine.

The same is still true for how the faith of the next generation is formed in our homes and in our church communities. Are we living imitable lives?

As a young parent and pastor’s wife, I remember the sobering thought that my girls would learn more about grace from the way I welcomed the unexpected visitor at the door than they might from my overt Bible lessons. I wondered if my son would come to anticipate, or fear, attitudes from a possible future wife which he saw in his mom.

This flows naturally from the principles of obedience and transparency we have already discussed. First, whose examples are we following, and then, who is learning from the shape of our lives? There are a few ways we have seen this principle of imitation work out in practice.


Looking Ahead
Int'l Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians, Global Prayer Call
November 1st 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM EST

Please make plans to join us for the special Zoom call on Sunday, Nov. 1 from 7-9pm ET to pray for those persecuted around the world on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Christians (IDOP). AGMP is co-sponsoring the event with the ACNA's Global Mission Initiative. The info and flyer are posted here on our website. Simply email us at prayercall@newwineskins.org to register and reserve your spot. We are limiting this call to the first 200 that register.
We will be hearing from several people around the world who have experienced severe persecution and remain under threat even now. Pastor Sohail Latif of Pakistan has just been released from 6-months in jail for a false terrorism charge. He will be sharing his story with us along with many others. This will be a powerful time of intercession for our global family and a blessing to all those who suffer for their faith.
Virtual Synod 2020
November 6th 7:30 PM - 9:00 PM EST
November 7th 9:30 AM - 12:30 PM EST

Have you registered for Synod? Please join us! Deadline to register is Thursday, November 5th. Please note you will need to register by this date to receive login information. There will not be any registrations on the day of Synod.
 
Workshops have been pre-recorded and are now posted on our website. On Saturday of Synod, you will be able to attend a live Q&A with a workshop presenter of your choice. Learn more about our virtual Synod and registration:
Matthew 25 Initiative
November 13th - 14th

God's people have always been about biblical justice and mercy, bringing the light of Christ to the broken and dark places of the world, encountering Jesus in places of pain and seeking healing. Anglicans for centuries and around the world have been a people of "gardens and ...springs... repairers of broken walls and restorers of community" (Isaiah 58).
Nov. 13 10AM-1:30PM CST
M25 Gathering

Nov. 14 11AM-1PM CST
Soul Care Retreat
for all Anglicans in the ACNA

Join us as we cast vision, share burdens, and spur on hope as we contend for Shalom:
Operation Christmas Child
November 16th - 23rd

Samaritan’s Purse partners with local churches globally to deliver gift-filled shoeboxes in Jesus’ name, sharing the Gospel and teaching the boys and girls how to follow Jesus through follow-up discipleship. National collection week is Nov 16-23, 2020. For more information on getting involved, talk to your Rector, or visit
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Rev. Dr. Jessica H. Jones Editor-in-Chief, Communique
Canon for Next Generation Discipleship
Gulf Atlantic Diocese of the ACNA
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