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Established 1999
A Wesleyan-Anglican Church in Boise, Idaho

Pilgrimages

An English Pilgrimage

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Entry 24, Thursday, First Week of Christmas:
En Route Home: What Does This Mean?

As Northwest Airlines flies me over the Atlantic, I now record some preliminary observations on these 24 days, and in doing so I realize that these represent only my own thoughts, not a position or policy of anyone else, including Epworth Chapel on the Green.

1. The Temporary Necessity of Unaffiliation

As I worshiped in church after church which was 800 years old or more, I repeatedly thought about John and Charles Wesley's determination to "live and die an Anglican", and of their intention not to create a new church-which John Wesley then reluctantly did, though, outside England.

In his sermon "On Schism", John Wesley defined "schism" as "A causeless separation from a body of living Christians." He wrote of the "sin of separation" as follows:

[S]uppose the Church or society to which I am now united does not require me to do anything which the Scripture forbids, or to omit anything which the Scripture enjoins, it is then my indispensable duty to continue therein. And if I separate from it without any such necessity, I am justly chargeable (whether I foresaw them or not) with all the evils consequent upon that separation.

Wesley conceived of examples in which separation can be necessary, in which case, he said, the guilt for that "sin of separation" was on those who made the separation necessary, not on those who separated. On the other hand, it has often been the case that God has used the separators to reform the church from which they came, just as it was John Wesley's intention to reform the Anglican Church rather than leave it.

Just as minor political parties in the United States develop a degree of effectiveness and then find their ideas absorbed by the major parties, unaffiliated or separated churches should have it as their goal to be so effective that their separate status will no longer be necessary. More will always be accomplished when the larger entity is reformed. With that in mind, whole denominations should have a strategy to aid in the reform of the churches which gave them birth, and then to re-unite with them.

Furthermore, merely having that long-term objective could very greatly improve the in-the-meantime relations between the parent church and the separating church.

2. Unaffiliated Churches Don't Endure

That's a bald statement, but how many unaffiliated churches do you know, that are 800 years old?

If they do endure to 50, 100 or 150 years, often they become quite unlike what they were at the beginning-which John Wesley feared the Methodists would do.

Because most unaffiliated churches don't endure anyway, I suggest they should plan not to endure, and how to bring that about, consistent with their original reason for being.

3. A Conspiratorial Approach to Educating Clergy

If the beginning of a new church is divinely blessed, then the key to fulfilling its divine mission over the long term is to have a continuing and growing supply of clergy who understand and share the vision for the mission.

That's true for an unaffiliated church such as Epworth Chapel on the Green presently is, but it's even more true for a denomination which has a strategy of reforming, and then re-uniting with, its mother, grandmother or great-grandmother church.

Problem is, most denominations are very proprietary and possessive about the clergy they educate and ordain, when it would actually be in the interest of fulfilling their reforming mission if they were the opposite. Instead of setting things up so that it's very difficult for a denomination's clergy to remain in good standing while leading a church in another denomination, it should be an affirmative strategy to seek openly and cooperatively to place those clergy in other denominations.

4. Wesleyan-Anglican Clergy

For the sake of the future of Epworth Chapel on the Green and others like it to come, a way must be found to educate people to be Wesleyan-Anglican clergy, and then to place them wherever they can be used in the Wesleyan and Anglican traditions.

5. Cross-over Schools for the Clergy

Churches and denominations which seek to reform their mother, grandmother or great-grandmother churches should establish post-graduate education for the latter's clergy, so that they, too, can have the reforming dimension as part of their education.

Take an example: The Church of the Nazarene, which I know well, came from the Methodist Church, which in turn came from the Church of England. Each of the former two denominations regards itself as reforming in one way or another. Suppose, then, that the Nazarene and Methodist seminaries were to welcome Anglican clergy into post-graduate education in Wesleyan theology. Everyone would benefit, and new vitality would result.

Further, this need not be one-sided; the Church of England's seminaries could welcome Nazarene and Methodist ministers for post-graduate education in Anglican theology and Eucharistic worship.

6. Denominational Rigidity or Flexibility about Worship

Some denominations may not be able to hold together, because of rigidity within them with regard to differences over worship, especially whether to worship Eucharistically or "happy clappy". To avoid schism, the two views should choose charitably to encompass each other within the same denomination.

7. Closet Anglicans Everywhere

I've met so many people who hold positions in non-Anglican churches which came from the Anglican Church, and who admit privately that they've become "closet Anglican" out of a sense of divine leading in that direction for them personally. This phenomenon is so widespread that it cannot be a fluke; it must be telling us something.

8. Architecture and Durable Faithfulness

Church buildings can be built only when faith and devotion are strong. When they're built to last, they're an asset upon which future generations draw-an asset, even, that helps future generations be faithful when faith and devotion are not as strong. Many of the churches where I worshiped could not be built by the people now, but because the church buildings are there, worship and mission are enabled to continue.

9. Re-uniting the Various Wesleyan Strands

If the Anglican Church and the churches of the Wesleyan tradition were to re-unite Wesleyan Eucharistic worship, Wesleyan evangelism, Wesleyan holiness and works of mercy, immense energy would be released on behalf of Christ's Kingdom.

10. Faithfulness in Prayer for Revival

Whether revival comes to Britain or America is as much or more up to our prayers as to anything else, according to the prophet Isaiah:

The nations will see your righteousness. Kings will be blinded by your glory. And the LORD will give you a new name. The LORD will hold you in his hands for all to see-a splendid crown in the hands of God. Never again will you be called the Godforsaken City or the Desolate Land. Your new name will be the City of God's Delight and the Bride of God, for the LORD delights in you and will claim you as his own. Your children will care for you with joy, O Jerusalem, just as a young man cares for his bride. Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride. O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray to the LORD day and night for the fulfillment of his promises. Take no rest, all you who pray. Give the LORD no rest until he makes Jerusalem the object of praise throughout the earth.
- Isaiah 62:2-7 (NLT) (Emphasis added.)

- Christopher

Theme Verse

Luke 1:78-79

Scripture Lessons

May 28: Acts 1:1-11, Psalm 110:1-5, Ephesians 1:15-23, Luke 24:49-53

May 21: Acts 17:22-31, Psalm 148:7-14, 1 Peter 3:8-18, John 15:1-8

Prayer Emphases

Nation: Peru

Denomination: Fellowship of Grace Brethren

Congregation: Park City Community Church, Park City, UT, and the Rev. Tracy Hausman

Ministry: Institute for Religious Freedom

Parishioners: Those living on Poplar Street

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