A Place for Worship—Liturgical worship in the Prayer Book tradition is at the very heart of what it means to be Anglican. I was not very far along the road from Evangelicalism to Anglicanism when I learned the Latin maxim, “Lex orandi, lex credendi,” which means “the law of praying is the law of believing,” or more colloquially, “as we worship, so shall we live.” For Anglicans, our “theology,” i.e. the most basic elements of our belief about God, Christ, humanity, sin, and salvation, are contained in, and communicated through, our worship—notably the liturgy of the Daily Office and, especially, the Eucharist. The St. Patrick Center (SPC) would be a place of regular worship. Morning and Evening Prayers would be said daily, and the Eucharist celebrated often.
In addition, the Center would host special events, such as retreats, conferences, and seminars, where the importance of worship, both communal and individual, would be explored and experienced within the context of other aspects of Christian discipleship such as apologetics, evangelism, charismatic gifts, spiritual warfare, and inner healing. SPC would also be a place where individuals or small groups could come for silent retreats, focused prayer, and spiritual direction. Anyone seeking a place to get away from the frenetic pace of modern life in order to be spiritually renewed in a setting dedicated to worship, and anyone looking for a place to explore and experience what it means to be an Anglican Christian would find it at SPC.
A Place for Study—While it is true that the genius of Anglican theology is its connection to the experience of worship, that does not mean there is no place in Anglicanism for serious study and the cultivation of the life of the mind. SPC would be a place where earnest Christians with intellectual curiosity could engage in the thoughtful examination of subjects such as Biblical history and content, church history, apologetics (defense of the Christian faith), moral theology (ethics), liturgics, and the interface of Christianity with contemporary culture. The Center would provide a setting for individual study (both directed and non-directed) and reflection as well as periodic (or regular) classes and seminars designed to explore “cutting edge” issues with a view to equipping believers to be more responsible, sensitive, and effective as disciples of Jesus Christ in a postmodern culture.
In addition, the Center would offer a curriculum specially designed to serve as the “Anglican component” for Anglican students doing their seminary study in a non-Anglican school or to supplement the theological training of persons from other Christian traditions who are pursuing Holy Orders with ADGL-ACNA. While neither competing with nor replacing similar programs already available through Anglican seminaries, the SPC curriculum would be more limited, less comprehensive, more flexible, and less expensive than those programs. I could have benefited from a program like this as I was preparing for Anglican Holy Orders.
A Place for Spiritual Formation—As I wrote in an earlier post, I believe the primary focus of pastoral ministry should be Spiritual Formation, by which I mean exhibiting, encouraging, and enabling Christlikeness. The Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes, and indeed the entire Anglican Church in North America, could be well served by a place where pastoral leaders (especially deacons, priests, and those in training) could come to experience, and be equipped to facilitate, genuine Spiritual Formation. This might involve participation in some of the programs, opportunities, and emphases available through the Center and already discussed above under Worship and Study. It would also include a specialized learning environment comprising, as desired, spiritual direction, individual and group retreats, as well as courses, seminars, and conferences on themes related to Spiritual Formation.