During last month’s Anglican Joint Synods, questions of evangelism were front and center — both at the Continuing Forward-sponsored workshops, and during the rest of the AJS programs. Various speakers offered examples of how Continuing churches can — and should — renew their emphasis on mission and evangelism.
A focus on evangelism — proclaiming the gospel to the world — is the antidote for stagnant, inwardly-focused parishes that seek renewal and growth. Evangelism is what a new church must do when it reaches out to the community and seeks new members. And of course evangelism is central to the historical mission of the church.
As Abp. Chad Jones said in his keynote at our first workshop
To have healthy Churches, we must make our primary emphasis what the Church has always been called to do: to be faithful to the Holy Scriptures and Holy Tradition and to make disciples. Thus, the entire Church, not just the clergy, should focus on baptising new members, reaching the unchurched and those who have fallen away, and building up the faith of those already in the Church.
That same emphasis on mission and evangelism was also a key aspect of the talks at the opening session by Bp. Stephen Scarlett and Fr. Matt Mirabile. (See the video and an outline of the entire session).
Bp. Scarlett addressed broader questions of evangelism in his address to the ACC provincial synod (see text and video). Such questions were also front and center in the 2022 Mission Retreat (co-sponsored with Bp. Chad), and will revisited in the planned October 2024 sequel. In his sermon at Friday’s joint synod mass, he called on attendees to emulate St. Edward the Confessor in his piety and pursuit of holiness.
At our second workshop (text and video), Bp. Paul Hewett talked about his experience of “building parishes with shoe leather.” He exhorted local parishes and parishioners to claim their “part of the world for the kingdom.”
Finally, new paths to mission and evangelism require new ordained and lay ministers to reach the mission field. At our third workshop (text and video) Bp. Chad and Fr. Sean McDermott explained the diocesan strategy of the last 15 years to identify, call, and form new clergy for the mission field.
With our fidelity to Scripture and tradition, Anglicanism can play a crucial role in any “rechurchifying” of America. But this will only happen if our parishes fully embrace to make and baptize disciples in the church, as well as reclaiming the lost.
The speakers at our workshops (and elsewhere during the 2023 AJS) shared their successes in evangelizing their community. The 21st century offers a new mission field, with both new and familiar ministry challenges.