I read this morning a press release from the Anglican Communion Network, the organizational network of several churches and a few dioceses opposed to the controversial decisions coming out of The Episcopal Church’s 2003 General Convention (basically, the full inclusion of gay people in the life and leadership of the Church). The Network announced their initiative for planting new churches.
As I have written (and said) many times that so much of my life and focus is in agreement with a lot of what the Network holds to, but on some very important and strategic issues we are in disagreement. Regrettably, in those disagreements the division seems almost insurmountable (at least for them – as much as it is possible with me, I will be at peace with all people despite how they respond to me).
Here, in this announcement, I have to say that the Network seems to be doing things right. Time will tell. The Episcopal Church Center has their â€œ20/20 Visionâ€ project to double the attendance in Episcopal churches by the year 2020. From what I can see, despite the good efforts of well intentioned people, the project is going nowhere (which may be unfair of me to say, but that is the way I perceive it). The Network at least seems to have “in its genes” the understanding and desire to expand and spread the Gospel through the pioneering of new churches.
Good for them – go for it. I wish, however, that a more open attitude with less triumphalism was also “in their genes.” Only hindsight will tell us whether their effort will be a success. Much of the leadership of the Network still seems to be more intent on division and “winner take all” then on working together for the advancement of the Gospel to all people. They would disagree, of course.
ACN Announces Church Planting Initiative
Contact: Jenny Noyes
Phone: 412-325-8900 x108
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2006, 12 p.m.
Anglican Communion Network Announces Church Planting Initiative
Pittsburgh, PAâ€” Fifty-four Anglican church planting enthusiasts attended a two-day Visioning Seminar in Southern California March 10-11 led by the Rev. Tom Herrick, National Director for Church Planting for the Anglican Communion Network (ACN). Church planting teams came from Arizona, Oregon, and California to experience a hands-on â€œboot campâ€ designed to move each team, no matter where they are in their development, closer to their dream of becoming a new congregation.
â€œOne seminary student decided to change her major from a masters in theology to an M.Div. degree so that she can become a church planter as a result of attending the conference,â€ said the Rev. Kathleen Adams, Executive Assistant to ACN Western Convocation Dean Bill Thompson and organizer of the event. â€œThere is a ground-swell of interest in starting new Anglican churches and this type of training both equips and inspires.â€
The ACN Church Planting Task Force, which formed in 2004 to coordinatethe Networkâ€™s church planting initiative, plans to use this type of event as a regional training model to help launch teams define and develop their core values, vision, mission, ministry systems and strategic plan so that a firm foundation for the church plant can be established early on.
Another piece of the Task Forceâ€™s plan for Anglican church planting in North America is to develop a network of coaches to assist church planters. A two-day event April 3-4 in Leesburg, Virginia has been designed and organized by the Rev. George Beaven, Task Force member and church planting coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Convocation. Twenty-seven potential church planting coaches will be trained, many of whom will be invited to make a commitment to coach one individual church planter for the coming year.
Jenni Bartling, Task Force member and Congregational Developer for New Churches in the Diocese of Pittsburgh since 2001, will be one of the principal speakers at the two-day event. Bartling worked on the staff of church planting and coaching expert Bob Logan for three years. â€œWe are planning to partner with Bobâ€™s CoachNet, Inc. to provide the best training, resources and certification possible,â€ said Bartling. â€œOther denominations that have incorporated coaching have seen their ministry leaders really accelerate their progress. Thanks to CoachNet, we do not have to re-invent the wheel.â€
The Task Force has been laying a deep foundation over the past two years to support its church planting efforts that includes more than the network of coaches to be birthed in April and the regular hosting of regional church planting boot camps. Herrick is especially excited about plans for the offering of an annual coaching certification, plans for the development of large churches into regional church planting â€˜hubsâ€™ and the hosting of special training events. One such special event is being planned for October 13-14 called â€œAvoiding Planting Pitfallsâ€ to be held at St. Stephenâ€™s Church in Sewickley, Pennsylvania.
Featured speaker, Tom Nebel, Director of Church Planting for the Great Lakes Baptist Conference, has participated in the successful planting of hundreds of churches across America and written several church planting books including his latest Church Planting Landmines: Mistakes to Avoid in Years 2-10. To learn more about the fall seminar, email Jenni Bartling at email@example.com.
â€œThe core purpose of the Anglican Communion Network is to be a biblical, missionary, and united movement of Anglicans in fellowship with global Anglicanism, making disciples who make disciples of Jesus Christ and planting churches that plant churches in North America and to the ends of the earth,â€ said Herrick. â€œIf ACNâ€™s purpose is to be realized, weâ€™ve got to partner with and learn from the best church planting organizations out there. We have worked hard to lay the ground work for effective growth for North American Anglicanism and I believe that with many of the pieces now in place, we will see explosive growth over the next few years.â€
The Anglican Communion Network is a biblical, missionary and united movement of North American Anglicans in fellowship with the worldwide Anglican Communion. The ACN presently represents hundreds of parishes and thousands of clergy in the U.S. The Anglican Communion Network operates under the legal name of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes as a tax exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service code.