By email from Fr. Phil Ashey. Give special attention to his points from The Book of Daniel...
A personal message from Rev. Phil Ashey, Chief Operating Officer
"Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to [King Nebuchadnezzar]…'If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods, or worship the image of gold you have set up.'" (Daniel 3:17-18 NIV)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, members and friends of AAC, in TEC, Grace and Peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! With the formation of the Anglican Church in North America, a “Province in Formation,” many of you are asking, understandably, and with some concern, “What is to become of us who choose to remain in TEC?” What about those of us who are stuck in a heterodox Episcopal church? What about those of us who have had to affiliate for the moment with anothersort of church because there is no orthodox Anglican church in the ACNA within driving distance? Is our only option to stay where we are, in the furnace, and make our stand and our witness like Daniel’s friends?
First, on behalf of the AAC, let me assure you that we are here, just as we have been since our beginnings, to serve you. We understand the conscientious reasons why you have chosen to remain in TEC. We honor your decision. We pray for you. More than that, we stand with you, with resources to help you make your stand in Christ.
Secondly, we believe God has a strategy that involves more than just standing in the furnace and waiting for the fire to consume you. Look at Daniel and his friends, who faced a system and authority more idolatrous and lawless than TEC. They did not conform to the culture they were in,but instead they resolved to witness to it:
- - by drawing a firm line in conformity with God’s word and not eating at the King’s table (Daniel 1:8),
- - by learning as much as they could about Babylonian culture (Daniel1:3-4, 17),
- - by being more excellent (“ten times better”) than anyone else in the kingdom (Daniel 1:18-20);
- - by being consistent throughout many changes of leadership (Daniel1:21);
- - by addressing hostile authorities directly, and with wisdom and tact (Daniel 2:14-16);
- - by avoiding isolation, taking counsel and praying together (Daniel2:17-18);
- - by asking God for discernment (Daniel 2:19);
- - by resisting peer pressure, malicious accusations, the temptation to compromise, an unpredictable king, and even a delaying God (Daniel 3:1-18)
By following this strategy, God blessed them in the furnace, brought them out, and used their faithfulness to move unbelieving authorities to proclaim throughout the whole kingdom the uniqueness and sovereignty of our God, “for no other God can save in this way.” (Daniel 3:28-29)
If God has called you to remain in TEC, we believe he has a plan for your time and service, just like Daniel and his friends. And we are here to help you do it.We intend to continue supporting you in every way we can, with resources for mission and ministry at the congregational level, with counsel in regards to TEC canons and other legal issues, and through our presence and activity in the councils of the Anglican Communion.
We will be at TEC General Convention in July 2009, as we have at previous GeneralConventions, to provide a strategic retreat for Biblically orthodox Episcopalians serving as delegates and alternates to General Convention.
We will continue to personally visit our AAC congregations, chapters and affiliates to provide encouragement, equipping, and counsel. (In fact, if you would like a visit, I would be delighted to come to your chapter or congregation.)
If you are experiencing persecution from your bishop and diocese, we will extend our support to you “In Pectore.”
Also, through our weekly e-newsletter and “Salt and Light” column, we will continue to spotlight TEC congregations and AAC members whose ministries witness to a robust Biblical, confessional and missional Anglicanism in 21st centuryAmerica.
If God leads you into the furnace, we will stand with you. And we will discover again, in God’s wonderful saving grace, how God uses that fire to loose us from our chains, and deliver us unharmed on the other side for even greater ministry!
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Phil Ashey