In Psalm 145, King David exults in God’s greatness and declares that people who experience such goodness can hardly keep from telling others:
One generation shall commend your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts (v. 4)
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds (v. 6)
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness (v. 7)
All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord! (v. 10).
When you see the kindness and goodness of God writ large over your personal story, it’s hard to keep silent. You uncover deep roots that God built into your life before you even recognized them. You see his faithfulness through a spiritual landscape that includes every imaginable unexpected up, down, twist, and turn. You stand in grateful awe of his mercy to rescue you from temptation, failure, and fear. You see the beauty of redemptive grace in your life. You reflect on changes in your life, lessons you’ve learned, opportunities you’ve had to serve Christ, surprising ways in which you’ve found yourself in the middle of God’s purposes. Especially you remember the faces of countless people who have been instruments of God’s goodness in your life.
All of this could be said for the entire Diocese of Christ our Hope, many times over. When you’re talking about thirty churches in ten states, a growing number of church plants, and over 5000 people (and growing) . . . well, how can you begin to tell such a story?
Our Diocese had its immediate origins in 2012 in the birth of PEARUSA, the ongoing Missionary District of the Anglican Church of Rwanda. “Ongoing” because there was a Missionary District of Rwanda before that – the Anglican Mission in America.
The AMiA began in 2000 through the sacrificial determination of Rwanda to insure and protect a faithful Anglican expression in North America. Our story began with the miracle of risk and sacrifice – tiny Rwanda reaching into North America to rescue us!
As an intentional missionary effort, the AMiA was driven to plant new Anglican churches to reach those who did not know Christ. Thousands of “evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail” joined a handful of lifelong Anglicans in a dynamic Gospel-centered expression of ancient faith for a new generation. We thrilled to see the power of the Holy Spirit in sacramental, liturgical worship. We rejoiced to proclaim the Good News of Jesus in language and symbol that connected deeply with the spiritual longings of postmodern 21st century America. Many people came to faith.
In the meantime, God was bringing together a much larger river of theologically orthodox Anglicans in North America that led to the birth of the Anglican Church in North America in 2009. The ACNA was largely made up of faithful people, lifelong Anglicans, who found that evangelical, orthodox Christian beliefs and practices were no longer safe within the Episcopal Church-US and the Anglican Church of Canada. In the beginning, the AMiA joined a story that had been developing for decades: faithfulness to God’s word in the face of opposition, at great personal cost.
In 2011, the AMiA began to unravel: the leaders of the movement stepped back, first from the ACNA and then from the Rwandan Church. Suddenly we were in a time of chaos and uncertainty. Seeking God through much prayer, we sensed clarity on just a few steps: stay under the spiritual authority of Rwanda, seek to reunite with the ACNA, make sure that our brothers and sisters – especially the church planters – are fully provided for so that the work of the Gospel doesn’t suffer, and stay utterly faithful to God, his Word, and the faith and worship we had received.
The Lord honored those simple steps. The Rwandans, through Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje, gladly provided ongoing shelter, care, and guidance. The ACNA, through Archbishop Bob Duncan and the College of Bishops, welcomed us as full-fledged members. Together, a way forward was forged, PEARUSA was born, and three networks were formed: PEARUSA-Atlantic Coast, Southeast, and West. “Birthed in Rwanda, planted in North America, bearing fruit in our local communities.”
PEARUSA continued on this path for four years. We walked closely with Rwanda, deepened our collaborative life within the ACNA, and grew in mission and ministry together. The Lord blessed as four new bishops were consecrated to lead this movement: Steve Breedlove, Ken Ross, Quigg Lawrence, and David Bryan joined Bishop Thad Barnum, offering spiritual oversight, pastoral care, and strategic leadership to 70+ PEARUSA churches, 160+ clergy, and 10,000+ congregants.
During this season God blessed our movement with two particular charisms, leadership development and a high commitment to collaboration. Many interested church planters and pastors knocked on the door. Forming new leaders for the greater work of the ACNA became a distinct calling for PEARUSA. This growing family continued in the intentional, highly-relational life we had learned from the Rwandans. We also responded to God’s call to broaden our relational life to include determined, persistent efforts to collaborate in mission and ministry throughout the ACNA. The Lord blessed with deeper Kingdom friendships and expanding Gospel mission.
Gospel. Rwanda. Relationship and Friendship. Sacrifice. Risk. Trust. Prayer. The authority of God’s Word. Ancient-Future Faith. Spirit-Filled Anglican Worship. God’s Relentless Faithfulness. Intentional Collaboration. Next Generation Leadership Development. Kindness. Mercy. Grace. Miracle. “Every good and perfect gift . . .”
These are our roots. This is our story.
We have nothing but what we have received. Thanks be to God!