What a wonderful Eastertide we have celebrated together! How good it has been to worship our suffering and risen Lord together.
Back in December I wrote to you about changes occurring within the Anglican Mission, the organizational structure which has been our connection to the Anglican Communion through the Province of Rwanda. Those changes suggested that our affiliation with Rwanda might need to be restructured at some point. That time has arrived, and I’m very pleased at the opportunity before us.
Since December your Parish Council has invested much prayer, research and time on the topic of our Anglican affiliation options, and we believe St. John’s future lies in an orthodox, unified Anglican province on this continent. After investigating several options, the Parish Council of St. John’s has decided to begin the transition into the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).
Church of the Redeemer in Nashville is also pursuing this transition, and doors are opening for a supportive network of ACNA churches in this state. We are eager to begin the work of helping to form the Anglican Diocese of Tennessee within the ACNA. The exact details of how this will take place are still being worked out, but we will be doing this with the help of the Diocese of Pittsburgh—a large, stable diocese with excellent and godly leadership. This association with their Diocese offers us the spiritual covering and support we need. Further, the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh has a spiritual gift (a charism) of helping new dioceses come into existence, which will be invaluable as we seek to launch a new Diocese in our state.
There are additional decisions and paperwork required, so the transition to the ACNA will take some time. St. John’s will need modify our by-laws, which require a congregational vote for authorization. We will schedule a congregational meeting as the details become clearer.
As we enter into this transition into the ACNA, we are not moving forward alone. We are working with a variety of bishops, canons, and other churches across this continent. I am personally excited that this direction will provide for a unified Anglican witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, both in North America and in Tennessee.
Many of our relationships with leaders and churches within the AMIA will be continued as other churches move into affiliation with the ACNA. And we will work hard to honor those within the AMIA who have offered us support in the past. Archbishop Rwaje of the Province of Rwanda and Bishop Todd Hunter have given their blessing to our transition into the ACNA.
If you have questions or would like to have further conversation, please feel free to contact me. I am always available to the members of our church. Please pray for your Parish Council and myself as we listen to God’s leading in this time.
The Reverend Kenny Benge
Pastor, St. John’s Anglican Church