On May 10, 2011, The Rt. Rev. Roger Ames, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes in the Anglican Church in North America, laid his hands on my head and prayed a prayer of dedication over me as he ordained me an Anglican priest. The Bishop was aware of my 40-year pilgrimage from Fundamentalism to Anglicanism and of the gifts I had exhibited and the ministries I had been involved in along the way. In his prayer, Bishop Ames asked God to use all my gifts and to draw upon all of my experience in directing me to the area of ministry in which He wants me to serve as a priest.
I have been a pastor, a broadcaster, a ministry executive, and a college professor. While I am perfectly willing to spend the rest of my life and ministry as a parish priest, I’m also aware that I come to this moment in my pilgrimage with a different perspective on life and ministry, and with far broader experience, than most newly-ordained priests. It occurred to me that it might be possible that God had brought me to this place in this time to give voice to a vision somewhat broader and bolder than simply the planting of a new church (the value of which I do not mean to diminish in any way). Is it possible that God might want to use me to articulate a vision for a ministry which could meaningfully serve our diocese and even meet a genuine need that could benefit the entire ACNA? Since I believe God has put such a vision into my heart, I am going to devote the next several blog posts to giving it verbal expression. I will leave it to God to use it as He will in the minds and lives of those who read these posts.
I am convinced that, in the economy of the Kingdom, no institution or organization is more important for the advancement of the Gospel and the growth and nurture of Christians than the church. We err, however, if we perceive the church exclusively as a local assembly or even a denomination. Throughout its history, the church has recognized that its effectiveness could be enhanced and its purposes served by the cultivation and development of ministries with more specialized and focused areas of concern than those which could be profitably and economically pursued by a single local church, particularly in the era before the megachurch. Monasteries, schools, hospitals, mission agencies, and social service ministries are examples of endeavors which have been developed by the church, with accountability to the church, in order to serve a broader constituency than a single congregation and to provide services and meet needs which few local churches would have resources to accomplish on their own. In this vein, then, I propose the development of a ministry I am calling The St. Patrick Center—A Place for Worship, Study, and Spiritual Formation in the Anglican Tradition.
Over the next few posts, I’ll “flesh out” this vision in more detail. Stay tuned.