The Saint Patrick Center

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.

More anon.

Reflections On Clericus

Three or four times a year, the Bishop calls all the clergy of our diocese (priests, deacons, etc.) to meet with him for a day at the church which has been designated the Pro-Cathedral for the diocese, St. Luke’s in Akron, OH. This meeting is called a Clericus. (Anglicans have a special word for almost everything related to the church. For example, did you know that most ex-Episcopalian Anglicans refer to the basement of the church building as the undercroft ? Neither did I.)

The purpose for the Clericus is to provide a time for colleagues in ministry to get together to learn what is happening in the diocese, to build or nurture friendships, to spend some time praying with and for each other, and to share the Eucharist together. This fall’s Clericus was held yesterday, Thursday, Nov. 3. It was a great day.

The Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes (ADGL) is part of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), a new, albeit still unofficial, province of the worldwide Anglican communion. ACNA was formed in 2009 as an orthodox and evangelical alternative to The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the US and its counterpart in Canada. The highest ecclesiastical authority (the Primate) in the ACNA is Archbishop ++Robert Duncan. The Bishop of our diocese is The Rt. Rev. +Roger Ames. When I was ordained in the ACNA, first as a deacon and then as a priest, I promised to regard the Bishop with loyalty and respect and yes, obedience. I took those vows seriously when I made them originally. I still do. Of course, it is no burden to fulfill my vows when the Bishop is a man of godly character and integrity. We are blessed to have such a Bishop in this diocese.

I am still very much a newcomer to this tradition and to this diocese. Although this was the fourth time I have attended a Clericus, it was my first as a priest. Our diocese is growing rapidly as new parishes and ministries, and their respective clergy, are added to our number. In a few cases, clergy from other traditions have taken Holy Orders in our diocese, while the churches they serve continue to work through the process of identifying with our diocese and with the ACNA. These are unusual situations, but they are altogether consistent with the unique character of this “new Anglicanism” which God is raising up in North America.

I am excited to be a part of all of this. (Or as excited as a 61 year-old man, who has devoted his life to Christian ministry and is a bit “frayed around the edges” from the experience, can be.) Even though the ministry for which I was ordained, a new church plant in Columbus, OH, has not yet taken shape, I still feel welcomed and affirmed by my colleagues in the diocese. And I rejoice with them when they report, as so many of them did yesterday, that God is at work in their situations and settings. It encourages me to continue to wait with the expectation that God will soon overcome the obstacles that, at present, impede the realization of the vision for St. Patrick’s Anglican Church in Grandview Heights.

I wanted to use this blog post as a way of saying thank you to all those who have welcomed me into this diocese and have assured me of their prayers for me and my ministry. So, to Bishop +Roger Ames, to Archdeacon Mark Scotton+, to Chaplain Fr. John Jorden+, and all the other priests and deacons with whom I am privileged to serve in the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes… Thank you for making this newbie feel so warmly accepted. And may God bless the ACNA, the ADGL, and all of their efforts to bring glory to His name.