Facing The Future
by The Rt. Rev. Royal U. Grote
[The following is a portion of Bishop Grotes
annual report delivered to the 94th Synod of the Diocese of Mid-America,
which met at Church of the Holy Trinity, Houston, TX,
Feb. 24,25, 2000]
In recent weeks, we have heard a lot about the state of Anglicanism in
America and worldwide. The recent actions by some of the conservative
Arch Bishops of the Anglican Communion in consecrating missionary bishops
for the United States speak clearly to their perception of condition of
the Episcopal Church. The recent letter from the Arch Bishop of Canterbury
refusing to recognize those consecrations has raised a lot of questions
by our people as to what I think our response and posture is to be in
light of these recent developments. I would respond to you in this way.
I fully expect that great and serious divisions will occur in the Anglican
Communion. The Episcopal Church in the United States is in its final stages
of disintegration. Those who are in it, know it can never recover from
its present infidelity. It also seems to be clear that liberal agenda
at work in that Church is now getting its support from the Arch Bishop
of Canterbury. Such support on his part will put the whole Anglican Communion
in jeopardy of disintegration. What will probably replace it will be a
return to a fellowship between selected Provinces or Dioceses, much like
the relationship we now have with the Free Church of England and the Anglican
Province of America.
New organizations are not the answer to the problem. It takes any new
denomination or organization 25 to 50 years to reach stability. The history
of the Continuing churches in America, and even our own early history,
teaches us that truth.
The Apostolic Faith once delivered to the saints lives on in this Church.
Fidelity to Doctrine and Holy Scripture is uniformly found among all the
Clergy and parishes in this Church. The historic expressions of worship
are expressed in our Prayer book. We know where to look for the appropriate
expression of Historic Christianity and we have been careful to preserve
it. We are the American expression of the English Reformation. We are
the Church who has not split in 127 years. We are the Church who has never
wavered on Doctrinal matters. And by Gods grace, we are the church
who will be obedient to ALL that God has commanded in the New Testament
and the Old. Brethren, that makes us unique.
The 127 years of our existence as the Reformed Episcopal Church should
serve to remind us that reacting to what the other guy is doing will not
serve us well. We have a mission and a purpose for existence and, quite
frankly, no one can do it quite like us.
Your Bishops have endeavored over the past years to chart a course for
the future of this Church that will position her to be the Anglican Church
of the future. We have met with leaders of other Anglican bodies both
within this Country and worldwide. We have been working toward unity based
on doctrine and fidelity to Holy Scripture. Many of you read of my visit
this past October to Bartonville, IL, to meet with the Bishops of a number
of the Continuing Churches. It was my privilege to help them craft their
first statement of fellowship and to give it my blessing. Perhaps, one
day, we will be able to move beyond that of simple fellowship to that
of more organic unity.
We were particularly delighted to have six Bishops from the Anglican
Church of Uganda visit us this past July and participate in Bishop Suttons
Consecration. In October, we were pleased to host the Arch Bishop of Uganda
at Cranmer House and to introduce him to our Church. We felt the tie strengthening
with that 8 million member evangelical Church. On Tuesday of this week,
we received an invitation from Bishop Sekkeda for the Bishops of this
Church to visit Uganda so that they might formalize a relationship with
our Church. I have sent a response back to Bishop Sekkeda through Bishop
Sutton. It is clear that faithfulness and fidelity to Holy Scripture will
ultimately win out.
Our goal and purpose has to be that of building and planting new parishes
and, by example, show a more excellent way to those who are lost and floundering.
My heart goes out to those of my brothers and sisters who are in ECUSA
at this present time. Many of them are caught by their circumstances and
the legalities of their situation. We can help them by being there to
spiritually and emotionally support them. We can also help them by being
the kind of Church that is so compelling, so gospel oriented, and so Christ
Centered that they can see what they must do and where they ultimately
must be aligned.
I would remind you that one of our founders said he dared to dream that
a Reformed Anglican Communion would emerge which would carry on the heritage
begun in the first Reformation in England. The Rev. Joseph Dawson Wilson,
in his sermon preached at the 7th General Council of the Reformed Episcopal
Church, May 28, 1879, summed up the mission of our Church in just a few
short sentences. First, he said: The most powerful among the instruments
arrayed upon the side of Christ today is, in my opinion, the Anglican
Communion. Powerful because of the energy, determination, versatility
and intellectual strength of its men. That communion is in danger. The
spirit of corrupt ecclesiasticism is creeping in upon it. That communion
is in danger. I fear it will be striking hands with a skeptical worldliness
against the Lord.... God has brought the Reformed Episcopal Church into
being for the purpose of revivifying the Anglican Communion, out of whose
bosom have come the brave, self-reliant, truth-telling, conscientious,
liberty loving race of English speaking men, to teach that Church and
those men that what made saints of old, makes saints now, a felt Christ
in the soul, an alliance with something higher than the earthy, whether
gold or mud, an alliance with the super physical and eternal.
The Reformed Episcopal Church exists for the purpose of revivifying the
Anglican Communion. We are not like other denominations. Our heritage
is that of the English Reformation. Our values and doctrine is unchanged
since that time. Our ministry is to the world which is in desperate need
of recapturing the Worship of Almighty God and our message is to preach
Christ and Him crucified, buried, resurrected and ascended to a world
which is lost and dying without him. The way we bring the Anglican Communion
to life once again in this Country will be to be busy about the job of
evangelization, and winning men and women to Christ. There is a danger
in becoming caught up in the political process of Religion. But True Religion
is not a political process. It is the worship of a person - Jesus Christ.
So to those of you who are wondering what group here or there to join,
or where to expend your energies, let me encourage you to expend it in
your service for Christ in you local parishes. Teach your people to Worship
Almighty God in spirit and in Truth. Faithfully teach the Holy Scriptures.
And if you do, in the end, we will continue to see Christs Church
grow and prosper and His kingdom advance in this World.
Bishop Grote also reported the following.
When your Diocese is composed of 21 states, you either have to ignore
the development of certain states while concentrating on the growth of
others, or you have to have a plan for fostering fellowship, mutual encouragement
and growth throughout the Diocese. Well, I have a plan, at least the beginnings
of a plan, which will help us to encourage one another.
The first part of this plan is to divide our diocese into convocations.
There are three active Bishops in our Diocese and each Bishop lives in
a slightly different part of the Diocese. This means that, at least for
the beginning of this process, we can organize our parishes under one
of our Bishops for the purpose of fellowship and mutual encouragement.
While our bishops will be making Episcopal Visits throughout the Diocese,
regardless of Convocation boundaries, they will endeavor to meet at least
twice each year (Spring and Fall) with the Clergy of their Convocation
and perhaps even schedule a Convocation-wide event for the parishes. These
events can be organized as practicable. Because the geographical territory
in some of the convocations is still so vast, I have decided to name the
Convocations as follows. Bishop Morses Convocation will be called
the Convocation the Redemption. Bishop Suttons Convocation will
be called the Convocation of the Resurrection. Bishop Grotes will
be called the Convocation of the Ascension.
The States covered by these Convocations will be as follows:
With the addition of seminars on various topics of concern and more social
activities the Synod was a great success. We thank Mr. & Mrs. Grant
Chessman for representing St. Andrews.
Mr. Donald Albee presented a seminar on Parenting and the Discipling of
Children on Feb. 20, 2000. Twenty families attended the seminar. We thank
members of the church who volunteered to help with registration, preparation
and serving of refreshments, and baby-sitting. We have received positive
feedback from the families who attended.
Saturday, May 20, 2000, 9:00 a.m.
Missionary of The Month
Rev. & Mrs. William Jerdan (Diane) Stephanie, Daniel, Benjamin, Jonathan.
Remember to pray for the Rev. & Mrs. Paul Howden (Beth)
and their children, Malachai, Mark, Timothy, and Charissa. St. Lukes
Reformed Episcopal Church, Santa Ana, California.
April 5 - Beth Levi
April 21- Mark Levi
Lenten Dinners & Services
April 5 - 12
Dinner - 6:30 p.m.
Service - 7:30 p.m.
April 16, 2000
Good Friday Service
Service in the chapel at 7:30 p.m.
April 23, 2000
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Easter Worship Service
The Service of Holy Communion begins at 10:30 a.m. We
hope everyone can be with us for worship on Easter as we celebrate our
There will be no meeting of the Vestry in April 2000.