Join us at Bethany House for...

Mass on Saturdays - at 5:00pm (casual attire is our style)!

Rosary Prayer Group - at 6:00pm on the first Wednesday of the month!

Bible Study - at 6:30pm on Thursdays (the Life of Jesus - Serendipity Bible Study)!

Come and join us!

Click the picture for directions...

Click the picture for directions...
We’re located at 408 Levee Road in Mount Sterling, across from the MCHS football stadium.

Contact us at...

Saints Mary and Martha Church
at Bethany House
PO Box 502
Mount Sterling, KY
40353

859-404-8374
mamachurch4you@yahoo.com

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Praise the Lord!


Dear friends,

Wow! I'm all keyed up, pumped up, dialed up, and revved up! (Yes, I should be sleeping right now - I'm on the verge of being old, you know!) But I can't help it. What happened tonight at Bethany House has once again got me flying high!

After having pumped as much of his energy as possible into his flock, there comes a time when a priest begins to feed off the excitement and energy generated by his flock. MAMA Church is at that point! I, as a priest, find myself very often exclaiming "Wow!" as I try to keep up with the talent, energy, and love being unleashed through MAMA Church.

Over the last few months, something has been building within and among us - something of the Lord, of his mission in this world, and his desire to proclaim freedom, life, and salvation to a world that's all too often bound, dying, and without hope. Over the past few months - and, especially, the past few weeks - I'm finding it difficult to get to sleep. My mind is racing with all the amazing things the Lord is beginning to do through and with us!

It all comes down to this: Each of us at MAMA Church is being released into the mission of binding up the broken, bringing light to those in darkness, and proclaiming freedom to the captives. We have gone through a season of preparation and the Lord is beginning to release us in the task of shining his love and making disciples. We are being released to make a difference. We are being released to bring God's kingdom to bear in the world around us.

It's like we were created for this (because we were!). It's like the love of Jesus is so filling us that this mission is flowing out of us without effort. It's like his purpose for our lives is really beginning to be lived out!

Praise the Lord!
Father Todd

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Just Because...


Yes!  Amen!

Petition for David Daleiden...


Dear friends,

As you know, the Anglican Church in North America is a body of Christians firmly and steadfastly committed to the defense of human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. Because of that, we are sometimes called to action (even if only by signing a petition) that gives testimony to our beliefs.

David Daleiden, the lead investigator behind the undercover Planned Parenthood videos, faces up to 20 years in prison after a Houston grand jury decided on January 25, 2016 not to charge Planned Parenthood with any wrongdoing and, instead, indicted him for tampering with a government record (a felony) and offering to purchase human organs from the abortion provider (a misdemeanor).  Please read more from the LifeSite News article and sign the petition supporting this brave man (via the link below), and pass it on to as many people as you can!   #IStandWithDavid #DavidvsGoliath

Please read the article and consider signing the petition at SUPPORT DAVID.

Yours in the love of Jesus,
Father Todd

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Making a Difference...Today!


Dear friends,

Today (Sunday, January 24) is one of those days that I'm super-nostalgic. It's a bright, sunny day with the snow on the ground and trees glistening. It's the kind of day my grandmother looked forward to - she and my grandfather would've taken a drive after Church to one of their favorite restaurants and then wandered here or there. How I long for the old, unhurried, stable life - the kind of life that used to be the norm, the kind of life that was infused with Christian principles and lived accordingly.

To a large extent, I think that the creation of MAMA Church at Bethany House is an attempt to evangelize the surrounding culture into a Christ-centered way of living. Our existence as a mission parish is intended to help the culture see another way of living. With families breaking apart, adults acting like children (whether due to addiction, emotional problems, or something else), and life being lived according to dehumanizing schedules, MAMA Church is hoping to bring news of something different.

I hope we can do this. I hope we can make this kind of difference. I hope we can help put Jesus back at the center of daily living - especially for those who've never known this kind of life!

Father Todd

Friday, January 22, 2016

MASS CANCELLED on Sunday, January 24...


Dear friends,

I think it best to cancel Mass on Sunday. I'm not sure that the roads will be safe by Sunday morning (the temperatures on Saturday night/Sunday morning will be in the low single digits). Additionally, we can get vehicles into our parking area with snow on the ground, but we probably won't be able to get them back out - due to the incline at both ends of the driveway.

I'm going to attempt to have "Our Life Together" sent out via e-mail on Sunday - if you're not on our e-mail list and you'd like to receive "OLT", please send us an e-mail request to be added at mamachurch4you@yahoo.com.

Blessings to you!
Father Todd

Participate in the 2016 March for Life from Home...


Dear friends,

Let us join our hearts and minds in the March for Life (even though we may be snowbound in good old Kentucky)!  Go to March for Life for more information!

Father Todd

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Evening Prayer & Discipleship Study Cancelled...


Good evening, friends!

Due to the sudden arrival of Winter (as the snow doth testify!), and the likelihood that we'll be receiving more evidence of Winter's arrival (as the prophecy of more snow and freezing rain doth foretell!), Evening Prayer and Discipleship Study are cancelled for tomorrow night (Thursday, January 21).

Also, because 15+ inches of snow are forecast by Saturday, stay tuned for word about Mass on Sunday. At this point, given that amount of snow (and the likelihood of vehicles being stuck in our parking area), it looks doubtful that we'll be able to celebrate Mass on Sunday. Word about that will be shared on Saturday.

In the meantime, stay warm, stay safe, and spend time with the Lord in prayer!

In the love of Jesus,
Father Todd

Monday, January 18, 2016

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day...


Dear friends,

May he rest in peace, and may his dream not only not die, but be more vigorously sought after than ever before.

Father Todd

Thursday, January 14, 2016

New Ministries at MAMA Church...


Dear friends,

WOW!!! What an amazing time we had tonight at Bethany House!  We came before the Lord together in Evening Prayer and then went into "Action Item" mode! In the coming weeks and months look for announcements from MAMA Church on the following...

1. The "Children's Guardian Angels" ministry at Bethany House - a support and care ministry to the grandparents and other family members and friends who have stepped in to raise the children of people dealing with drug addiction - including, the possibility of classes on budgeting, cooking, meal planning, and grocery shopping, as well as an aftercare ministry of Bible study and ongoing fellowship and support.

2. MAMA Church sponsoring a community meal (in conjunction with the Montgomery County Homeless Coalition), open to anyone in Montgomery County - to be held at the Community Center in downtown Mount Sterling.

The Lord is moving among us (and there's even more that we're not quite ready to share yet)! If you know someone who would benefit from these ministries, please let us know by calling us at 859-404-8374 or sending us an e-mail at mamachurch4you@yahoo.com.

Blessings!
Father Todd

The Primates' 2016 Communique...

Dear friends,

Below is the agreement reached by the 2016 Primates' Gathering in Canterbury, England.  Please continue in prayer for the healing of our Anglican family.

Father Todd


News from Primates 2016

14 January, 2016

Today the Primates agreed how they would walk together in the grace and love of Christ. This agreement acknowledges the significant distance that remains but confirms their unanimous commitment to walk together.

The Primates regret that it appears that the text of this agreement has been leaked in advance of their communiqué tomorrow. In order to avoid speculation the document is being released in full. This agreement demonstrates the commitment of all the Primates to continue the life of the Communion with neither victor nor vanquished.

The Communique from the Primates will be released tomorrow. Questions and further comments will be responded to at a press conference tomorrow at 1500.

The full text of this particular agreement follows:

1. We gathered as Anglican Primates to pray and consider how we may preserve our unity in Christ given the ongoing deep differences that exist among us concerning our understanding of marriage.

2. Recent developments in The Episcopal Church with respect to a change in their Canon on marriage represent a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our Provinces on the doctrine of marriage. Possible developments in other Provinces could further exacerbate this situation.

3. All of us acknowledge that these developments have caused further deep pain throughout our Communion.

4. The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union. The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching.

5. In keeping with the consistent position of previous Primates’ meetings such unilateral actions on a matter of doctrine without Catholic unity is considered by many of us as a departure from the mutual accountability and interdependence implied through being in relationship with each other in the Anglican Communion.

6. Such actions further impair our communion and create a deeper mistrust between us. This results in significant distance between us and places huge strains on the functioning of the Instruments of Communion and the ways in which we express our historic and ongoing relationships.

7. It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.

8. We have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a Task Group to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognising the extent of our commonality and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ.

GAFCON Response to Anglican Primates' Action...

Dear friends,

This has been an important day, but also a sad one. I think that that sadness is visible on Archbishop Wabukala's and Archbishop Jensen's faces (below).  It's sad that the situation has to come to this - the people of The Episcopal Church are our brothers and sisters, separated though we may be by the choice for unsound doctrine.

Even so, there are these kinds of moments in the life of every family.  I pray that this three year opportunity to reflect and repent is fruitful for The Episcopal Church and that reunion will one day be possible.  Please continue to pray for repentance and renewal in The Episcopal Church and for the healing of our family.

Father Todd


GAFCON Statement on the Canterbury Primates’ Communique…

Statement by the GAFCON Chairman, The Most Rev’d. Dr. Eliud Wabukala (Anglican Archbishop of Kenya) and The GAFCON General Secretary, The Most Rev’d. Dr. Peter Jensen (Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Australia)

14th January, 2016

The Anglican Communion is our spiritual home and the GAFCON Primates travelled to England in the hope that godly faith and order could be restored through renewed obedience to the Bible.

We are pleased that Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America has played a full part in the Canterbury meeting of Primates and that sanctions have been applied to The Episcopal Church of the United States, (TEC) recognising the need for mutual accountability on matters of doctrine within the family of the Communion.

However, this action must not be seen as an end, but as a beginning. There is much that causes us concern, especially the failure to recognise the fact that the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) has also rejected the collegial mind of the Communion by unilaterally permitting the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of those in active homosexual relationships. We fear that other provinces will do the same.

Since the beginning of the crisis in the Communion brought about by the actions of both TEC and the ACoC, the Anglican instruments of unity have been unable to guard biblical truth and restore godly order. There must therefore be doubt about the effectiveness of the sanctions that have been agreed.

In particular, it must be recognised that the continuing brokenness of the Communion is not the result simply of failed relationships, but is caused by the persistent rejection of biblical and apostolic faith as set out in Lambeth Resolution 1.10. We are therefore disappointed that the Primates’ statement makes no reference to the need for repentance.

The need for the GAFCON movement is being recognised by an ever increasing number of people and we are encouraged in our conviction that God has called us to work for an Anglican Communion which is a truly global family of Churches. We long to see a united, confident and courageous witness to God who by the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ has given us an unshakeable hope and assures us of his unfailing love.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

You're Not Alone...


Dear friends,

I'm not sharing this to give a subtle hint to anyone.  I'm sharing it because I've "been there, done that".  I know I'm not alone.  If you're going through this, let's get together and talk - sometimes we just need a brother/sister to help us carry the burden.  You can reach me at 859-404-8374.

Father Todd

Monday, January 11, 2016

Day One Update from Canterbury...


First Day Report on the 2016 Primates Gathering in Canterbury - January 11, 2016 - please continue to pray...

by George Conger

The 2016 primates gathering will live to see its second day, with all participants scheduled to return to the Canterbury Cathedral crypt on Tuesday, 12 January 2016.

Sources familiar with the deliberations stated the first business session of the meeting on Monday afternoon focused on setting the agenda for the week long gathering and an address by Archbishop Welby on the issues facing the Communion.

Fears the first day would see a walkout did not come to pass -- to the chagrin of the crew of a BBC video truck parked outside the cathedral in the rain awaiting the capture on film of the departure of the conservatives. At the close of business the primates attended a public Evensong service in Canterbury Cathedral -- with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church of the USA sitting four places down from Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America.

British press speculation and informed sources opined before the meeting that Archbishop Beach would be sent home after the first day. Conservative commentators expected the GAFCON primates to demand the expulsion of Bishop Michael Curry and Archbishop Fred Hiltz as a condition of their continued participation at the opening bell. Neither appears to have occurred -- so far.

In a letter to the clergy of Uganda published on 6 Jan 2016, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali wrote: “If godly order is restored during the ‘gathering’ of Primates, then I will be free to join any subsequent Primates Meeting that may be convened immediately thereafter in Canterbury. If such godly order is not restored, then I will uphold the Provincial Assembly’s resolution and withdraw from the meeting.” The term “godly order” he explained, meant addressing the tear in the fabric of the communion caused by the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada by its unilateral adoption of doctrines and disciplines at odd with the wider mind of the church.

AI has learned the Archbishop of Uganda has not wavered in his determination to address these issues. They are expected to be discussed on the second day -- however the lack of official information from the closed door meeting prevents verification of this claim.

Speaking to Canada’s Anglican Journal in December, Archbishop Fred Hiltz stated the first day would begin with fasting and prayer and with Archbishop Welby offering an address about “who we are, what we are called to be for the Communion, and how we fulfill that vocation together.”

Archbishop Hiltz’s predictions of the first day flow of events appears to have been borne out. AI can confirm the primates spent Monday morning in prayer and the afternoon in hearing an address by Archbishop Welby and in setting the agenda for the week ahead.

AI has seen what purports to be a copy of the archbishop’s address, and has asked the Lambeth Palace press office to confirm its veracity. If the document is correct, then the themes identified by Archbishop Hiltz in his Anglican Journal interview were present in Archbishop Welby’s address. The archbishop’s aides have not responded so far.

Nor can claims that an overnight ultimatum was given by the GAFCON block to Archbishop Welby be verified.

What is known is that it rained all morning in Canterbury, and is likely to rain on Tuesday as well and that Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche community, will address the primates on Thursday and Friday on the subject of Jesus, and attempt to lead the Anglican leaders into a deeper love of the Lord.

The meeting continues.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Into Epiphanytide...


Friends,

It’s time to be “green” again!  Yep, that’s right, “green”!  We started the Church’s year in the “purplish-blue” of Advent, and then we turned “gold” for Christmas and Christmastide and for the Epiphany of Our Lord and the Baptism of Our Lord.  But now, during the Sundays of Epiphanytide, we turn “green” again!

In some parts of the Church, the Sundays and weekdays after the Epiphany and before Ash Wednesday are referred to as the Sundays and weekdays in Ordinary Time.  Anglicans tend to refer to this time as Epiphanytide.  Regardless of the name, this is a season of growth, a time in which we attempt to hear and receive what our Lord has to say to us.  Hence, the color green.

As we make our way from Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan to his transfiguration on the mount, it’s our job to soak up all we can of the “Son-shine” that comes to us in the dead of winter!  It’s our job to take that “Son-shine” and apply it to all the parts of our lives that need holy nutrition.  During Epiphanytide, it’s our job to cultivate spiritual growth within ourselves and the entire body of Christ.

So, green’s the color!  It’s the color that fills the leaves of the trees and the blades of grass during the sunshine of spring and summer.  It’s also the color that reminds us of what “Son-shine” can do for believers in the snow and cold of winter!

May you be blessed with a “green” attitude!

Father Todd

Friday, January 8, 2016

Join Us this Sunday...

Join us for Mass on the Feast of Our Lord's Baptism - Sunday, January 10, 2016 - 10:30am at Bethany House (408 Levee Road in Mount Sterling)!


Now when
all the people were
baptized, and when Jesus
also had been baptized
and was praying,
the heaven was opened,
and the Holy Spirit
descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from
heaven, "You are my Son,
the Beloved; with you
I am well pleased."

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

We Have a Bishop-elect!


Dear MAMA Church family and friends, we have a press release from the College of Bishops...

New Bishop Elected for the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes!

"Vero Beach, Florida - The College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America met on January 6, 2016 (the Feast of the Epiphany) to prayerfully select the next bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes.

Three candidates – The Rev’d. Canon Daryl Fenton, The Rev’d. Fr. Allen Kannapell, and The Rev’d. Dr. Canon Ronald Jackson – had been nominated when the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes met in an
extraordinary Synod on October 3, 2015.

The College, meeting at Christ Church in Vero Beach, Florida, heard the testimonies of all three candidates and had the opportunity to ask them questions about their faith, ministry, and calling.  After a time of prayer, the College selected The Rev’d. Dr. Ronald Jackson.

Archbishop Beach gave thanks for the election saying, “I am very excited about this godly man whom God has raised up to serve his Church.”

The chairperson of the Task Force on the Episcopate, the Rt. Rev’d. Bill Atwood commented: “The Bishops take their role prayerfully and very seriously to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  We
had three tremendous candidates for Bishop of the Great Lakes.  We are pleased to be able to come to
one mind concerning the selection of the new Bishop, and congratulate our brother The Rev’d. Dr. Ronald W. Jackson as the new Bishop.  The Bishops are very pleased to commend him.”

Father Jackson will become the second bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes, taking over the episcopal ministry from diocese’s first bishop, The Rt. Rev’d. Roger Ames.  The consecration of Bishop-elect Jackson will be in Akron, Ohio on Thursday, April 28th, AD 2016.  Details are still being finalized, but more information on the consecration will be available at www.adglsynod.com after January 11th.

Please rejoice and pray with the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes as they enter this new season!"

Yours in thanksgiving to the Lord!
Father Todd

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Why GAFCON Truly Matters...


Dear MAMA Church family,

I'd like to commend some further reading regarding GAFCON (the Global Anglican Future Conference - of which MAMA Church is a part). As we anticipate and pray for the upcoming meeting of all the world's Anglican Archbishops in England, this article comes to us from the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Australia - a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. He writes...

All through the old world the story is the same: The Christian faith is struggling to maintain its identity in the face of the secular challenge. Everywhere there is the sad tale of compromise and cultural enslavement. Everywhere we see the danger of Christians committed to a gospel without salvation, reconciliation without repentance, a Saviour without a cross and a Lord without a word[i].

Furthermore, the Christians of the Global South not only have their own struggles with local religions. The technological revolution and the urbanisation of the world brings the pressures to which the West has so conspicuously capitulated, to their door. In the Christian world, we need each other. We need the skill and the resources and the wisdom of all to be available to all, across denominations and across the world. GAFCON means that biblical Anglicans do not need to stand alone

Truth matters even more than institutional unity. But true unity supports and nourishes the truth. The Evil One rejoices at the division of Christians. Far from being divisive, GAFCON is a great force for unity – it has saved and united Anglicans in the West and encouraged Anglicans in the South to realise that ‘we are not alone’. But it has done more than that, for it is a model too for other denominations and churches around the world and encouragement for them to take their stand on the word of God.

What GAFCON means to me -- Let me speak personally.

I have laboured in and for GAFCON since its inception in 2007. Many times I have sensed the Lord’s hand of extraordinary blessing. By rights, no such movement should exist – It has struggled with the theological and cultural differences, the lack of resources, the total inadequacy of my contribution as General Secretary – and I am not being modest. It has faltered. It has almost failed.

But a world-wide group of ordinary men and women have stood together and by faith refused to allow GAFCON to die or break apart. And there have been moments – the final session in Jerusalem, the roll call of the nations in Nairobi (2013), the wisdom and dignity of the Primates in their meetings – these and others have persuaded me that it is possible that we are seeing something here which could be like a reformation or revival.

The brothers and sisters from all around the world have taught me so much in these last years. They have taught me to trust God. They have taught me the importance of speaking for Christ. They have taught me what courage means. They have offered me fellowship across some amazing cultural and theological divides. They have taught me the transformative power of the gospel.

What GAFCON means to you

We are now walking in a new spiritual darkness. The churches are ill-prepared. But God is thoroughly prepared; he is not at a loss. There is nothing to fear; but we need to work out what new tactics are required for this new context. Without doubt, we will walk by faith; but what does this mean?

At its heart there will be a complete faithfulness to the word of God. This will require, in particular, a fresh commitment to the clarity of scripture – a commitment which the present debate has thoroughly jeopardised. GAFCON stands for that clarity, that truth.

At its heart there will be a new experience of Christian fellowship based on the truth. We will rediscover that we are not alone, that there are many who have not bowed the knee to Baal. GAFCON is a force which delivers fellowship and encourages courage.

At its heart there will be such a commitment to the gospel that we are prepared to dare the new in the cause of re-evangelising the West, to dare to do new things, to set up missionary societies, to create new structures, to abandon the old ways. GAFCON stands for Christian gospel mission.

In the last year two Anglican Provinces have spoken words of choice. In Scotland, the General Synod of the Episcopal Church chose in June to start the process to omit the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman from its canons, thus signalling an acceptance of so-called gay marriage. It is a choice to rewrite the Bible and so the Christian faith. In Ireland, the Church of Ireland House of Bishops, following the referendum held in May, endorsed once more the teaching of the Bible that marriage is between a man and a woman for life. The contrast is stark.

Of course there are those who argue for a middle position, that the two conclusions can be held in tension in a denomination with mutual respect, recognising that sincere people will differ over the interpretation of the Bible. But let me offer a very serious warning: the cost of taking such a position is unacceptably high. It is to say that the Biblical testimony is so unclear that it can be read in several ways, whereas in fact the Biblical position is crystal clear. When the testimony of the Bible is rendered so murky, the authority of the Bible is fatally compromised.

The middle position is a vote for an unacceptable compromise. If worse comes to worse, it may be right to stay under protest in your denomination; it may be necessary to go; but there needs to be a clear confession of the faith and a willingness to pay the price. We cannot limp between two different opinions.

The business of GAFCON is to deliver fellowship to orthodox believers who have to bear testimony in the midst of such confusion; to resource them to teach the truth and to inspire them to preach the gospel. Thank God that he has raised up GAFCON to do this.

I hope it has your keen support.

The Most Rev'd. Peter Jensen
Archbishop of Sydney, Australia

([i] Suggested by famous words from Richard Niebuhr.)

Every 500 Years or So...

Dear MAMA Church family,

Anglican Archbishops from around the world will be meeting at Lambeth Palace (the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury - the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion) later this month. This meeting will likely settle the future of the Anglican Communion - whether it will return (in the West) to its Orthodox roots or continue (in the West) down the road to Heterodoxy (teaching what is not Biblical).

Please pray (and consider fasting) for the Archbishops as they gather. Pray especially that the GAFCON and Global South Archbishops (including our own Archbishop of North America - Foley Beach) will be able, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, to help the errant Archbishops see the truth and light of the Gospel.

Please also take a few moments to read the excellent article below, written by Bishop Bill Atwood. Bishop Bill is, in this article, spot on and to the point. What is at stake in this debate is something far more precious that bragging rights. What's at stake is the heart and soul of the Church, salvation, and the identity of Jesus Christ that the Church presents to the world.

Your prayers are very much needed and desired by those doing battle for the sake of the Gospel.

Father Todd


Every 500 Years or So…

After the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus, the Gospel spread throughout the world, usually as a result of persecution, or at least accompanied by it. The first few centuries saw amazing expansion of Gospel belief. It was a time during which the Church had to figure out what had happened through Jesus Christ. The Council of Nicaea in 325 was one of those amazing points in time in which the church produced the Creed which addresses Who Jesus is and Who the members of the Trinity are. Not too many years later, around 500 AD, Benedict wrote his Rule which dramatically advanced monastic religious life.

About 500 years later, in 1054 AD, the Church experienced the final separation between Eastern and Western Christians. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the chapel door of Wittenberg Castle, which was one of the key factors provoking the Reformation.

Now, about 500 years after that, the world and the Church have undergone a huge assault from Postmodernism, Paganism, and Materialism to the point that much of the Church demonstrate merely “the form of godliness without the power but denying its power.” (2 Tim 3:5) As a result of those factors, many leaders in the Church have begun pursuing a different agenda that is a radical departure from Gospel history. In addition to the lightning rod of removing boundaries of sexual behavior, there has been a departure from the settled historic understanding of the Atonement, the Divinity of Christ, the purpose of the Church, and even dismantling the understanding of sin as a departure from God’s design.

In the midst of that chaos, Churches struggled with how to deal with the changes that society was thrusting upon them. In many places, parts of the Church simply caved in and adopted the same worldview as the fallen world. While there were countless actions of departure from settled Christian teaching and revelation, one of the most dramatic was the the US Episcopal Church’s election, confirmation by General Convention, and then the consecration as a Bishop of a man in an active same-sex relationship. Rather than the Bishop being an example and defender of Biblical authority, a Bishop became an icon of rebellion against God’s Word and order.

Unwilling to participate in the 2008 Lambeth Bishops’ Conference because of the consecration that the Episcopal Church had done, sixteen Archbishops, Bishops, and a few other leaders gathered on the twelfth floor of the Hilton Hotel in Nairobi to pray about what to do. As the group prayed, a series of themes were articulated that all seemed to come from the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134). Those Psalms were ones that were read aloud by pilgrims as they made their way up from the banks of the River Jordan to the Holy City of Jerusalem. Because the route was very dangerous from robbers and thieves, pilgrims would read the Psalms for encouragement and to help them keep pace on their journey so they would not be caught out in the dangerous Judean hills after dark.

As they prayed, the group realized that all the prayers were from the Psalms of Ascent. Someone said, “I think the Lord is calling us to ‘go up to Zion.’ Maybe He is literally calling us to go to Jerusalem.”  At that point, the room became electric with excitement and agreement to gather in Jerusalem as quickly as possible. That turned out to be a Global Anglican Future Conference, coined by Archbishop Nicholas Okoh as GAFCON.

When the conference opened on June 22, 2008, Archbishop Peter Akinola (Nigeria) insisted that we begin with a blank sheet of paper. After every speaker, devotion, presentation, and small group, there were feedback cards available so people could write down what they were hearing, thinking, praying, and what – if anything – was missing. Those cards from the 1100 participants went to a group that organized the information into themes. A drafting group then wrote down what was emerging. By the end of the Conference, The Jerusalem Declaration was read to the assembled body. At first there was just a hush over the room, but then the room erupted in cheers and a standing ovation that lasted for several minutes. I remember thinking at the time, “Dear Lord, this is what happened in Nicaea!”

I had always wondered how people could gather from all over the world and produce the Nicene Creed. This was how. Praying, listening, agreeing, and writing. The Jerusalem Declaration is one of those every 500 years or so events. It is the tonic at this season for what ails the straying church and empty world. It makes clear that the only way to build a future that will be lasting and faithful is to build it on the foundation of revealed Christian truth to which Anglicans (up until recently) were committed.

Now, however, there is a great battle going on for the soul of Anglicanism. The Western industrial nations have pretty well caved to the voice of the times, and it is one of those every 500 year struggles. It is all quickly coming to a head. In January, there will be a gathering of Anglican Primates in Canterbury. There have been many conversations leading up to it. Leaders from GAFCON and the Global South are clear that they know what is at stake. There needs to be clear consensus and commitment to “the faith once delivered” (Jude 1:3) in order for the Communion to survive.

Some liberal Primates like Archbishop Fred Hiltz of Canada have projected great confidence that no decision of substance can or will happen, but privately, word is that many liberal Primates are very concerned about the gathering.

This gathering is a very difficult one because there are two positions that cannot be reconciled. That is not the assessment of a hardliner (well, maybe…), it is the stark reality that either the historic Anglican formularies are authoritative or they are not. Jesus cannot at the same time be Lord and not Lord. What is at stake is not “bragging rights.” Orthodox leaders are well aware that what is at stake is eternal life and redemption. Those who diverge from revealed Christian truth are not just wrong, they are heading toward and leading others to Hell. There is literally no other issue that is as important. No temporal issue can hold a candle to the import of whether or not people are saved.

For more than twenty years, there has been a huge war going on. It has come to a head. The decisive battle will be in Canterbury from January 11th to 15th. It will determine the future of the Anglican Communion. Please pray! This is not just an institutional kerfuffle. It is a spiritual war of epic proportions. Any energy devoted to praying and fasting for this meeting will be well invested.

Bishop Bill Atwood