Below is a summary of our Diocesan Council meetings on November 7-8, 2019 in Warminster, Pa. After the end of the article is a link to a summary of Bishop Gillin’s timeline and goals for the next couple of years in the leadership of our diocese. Just copy and paste the address to read it online.
Diocesan Council 2019
Council was held at The Fuge in Warminster on Thursday, November 7, and at St. Mark’s Church in Jenkintown the following day. The Fuge is a former training site for NASA astronauts, where a giant centrifuge taught them about extreme g-forces. Presiding Bishop Ray Sutton led the Council as Interim Bishop Ordinary.
The Council elected Suffragan Bishop Chuck Gillin as its next Bishop Ordinary. The other REC Bishops and Standing Committees have subsequently provided canonical assent to NEMA’s episcopal election. The ACNA College of Bishops, which meets in January, will be asked to do the same. A date will then be set for the installation service, probably in late winter 2020.
Bishop Sutton also presented the Veritas outreach program. Veritas is a five-week outreach system much like the Alpha program, but centered on the church and structured on Anglican precepts. It is already in use in the REC Diocese of Mid-America.
Bishop Gillin’s Exhortation:
The Lord is my helper; I will not fear…(Heb 13:6)
…Christianity served as a revitalization movement that arose in response too misery, chaos, fear and brutality of the urban Greco-Roman world. Christianity revitalized life in Greco-Roman cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationships able to cope with many urgent problems. To cities filled with the homeless and impoverished, Christianity offered an immediate basis of attachment. To cities filled with widows and orphans, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis of social solidarity. And to cities faced with epidemics, fire and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services…-Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity, Princeton University Press, 1996.
The coming of the promised Savior not only dramatically revitalized society, but fulfilled the ancient promise that, “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
The angelic witness surrounding the birth of the Savior was given to dispel fear and to provide hope to a world that would be forever changed:
- …Joseph son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife… (Matthew 1:20)
- Do not be afraid Zechariah, for your prayers have been heard…(Luke 1:13)
- Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God. (Luke 1:30)
- Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great Joy that will be for all the people. (Luke 2:10)
The hymns of Advent and Christmas also reflect this corrective to fear:
- Come Thou long-expected Jesus, Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us; Let us find our rest in Thee.
- The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.
Change often causes fear. In 2019, our Diocese faced new fears. On Easter Monday our Bishop Ordinary, David L. Hicks, tendered his resignation to the Diocese after having faithfully served us for 14 years. The immediate reaction was surprise and concern. But over time the Lord sent his servants to provide assurance and calm. The steady hand of our Presiding Bishop, Ray Sutton, immediately took canonical control of the situation and sent a letter to the churches outlining the way forward. Dean Eric Jorgensen rallied the Standing Committee, which appointed a Search Committee to do the legwork in presenting nominees to the Diocesan Council. Many others stepped up to provide assistance and encouragement during the transition.
So, in less than seven months, the diocesan outlook was changed from surprise and concern to stability and the prospect of an encouraging future. The leadership concerns of 2019 are now hopefully behind us. Once again, our Lord reminded us that He is in control and that He blesses His people in every circumstance. We will still face difficult issues that will take time and energy to address, but we are never alone. We need to continue to trust that our God “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20)
Please continue to pray for our diocese and may the hope and joy of the Advent and Christmas seasons be our continued expectation as we enter a new church and calendar year.
Sincerely in Christ,
Bishop Chuck Gillin
Christianity served as a revitalization movement that arose