Building Communities of Traditional Anglican Christians
To our Bishops, Priest, Deacons, Deaconesses all lay delegate and observers, invited guests, and visitors, we extend a warm and cordial welcome to Atlanta, Georgia and our 49th Synod of the Diocese of the Eastern United States (DEUS) of the Anglican Province of America (APA). Our theme for this year’s Synod is “Keeping the Unity of the Spirit.”
For all of you who serve on the various Boards, Committees, Chaplaincies and various ministries of our Diocese, we are most grateful. Our Diocese is blessed with many talented and generous people, including clergy, deaconesses and laity, who glorify the Lord by their service to this branch of the Church. Among them are our generous host, the Right Rev. Chad Jones, and the Joint Synods coordinators, Jack Wyatt (APA) and Debbie Weaver (ACC), and our APA/DEUS Synod coordinator, Debra Middleton. Anyone who has done Synod coordination knows what a huge effort it involves and this year even more so with the coordination of 4 jurisdictions meeting together. It is truly a labor of love. And to all of you who have taken the time and spent the money to come to this Diocesan Synod, we thank you.
Receptions, Ordinations, Retirements and Deaths along with other Clergy New in Our Diocese.
- The Rev. Mr. Daniel Rieger (Diaconate, St. Mary the Virgin, Delray Beach, FL)
- The Rev. Mr. Peter Joslyn (Diaconate; St. John’s Church, Greensboro, NC)
- The Rev. Brian Oldfield (Priesthood; Holy Trinity, Fernandina Beach, FL)
- The Rev. Mr. Sean McDermott (Diaconate; All Saints, Charlottesville, VA)
- The Rev. Mr. Tyler Phass (Diaconate; St. Alban’s, Joppa, MD)
- The Rev. Bartol Stone (Priesthood, St. Alban’s Cathedral, Oviedo, FL)
- The Rev. Mr. A. Albert Ryan (Transfer from ACA to APA/DEUS; Deacon, St. Martin’s, Ocala, FL)
- The Rev. John Klein (Transfer from ECUSA to APA/DEUS; Priest-in-charge, St. James the Great, Smiths Station, AL)
- The Rev. James Danford (Transfer from CEEC to APA/DEUS; Assisting Priest, Christ the Redeemer, Ft. Valley, GA)
- The Rev. Mr. Brian Oldfield (Transfer from ADOTS, ACNA to APA/DEUS, received as deacon now priested, Curate, Holy Trinity, Fernandina Beach, FL)
- The Rev. James Johnson (Transfer from ACA to APA/DEUS; Priest-in-charge, All Saints, Lancaster, PA)
- The Robert Placer (Transfer from REC & ACA to APA/DEUS; Vicar, St. Peter’s, Kingsport, TN)
Within Dioceses Changes
- The Rev. Lawrence Adams (Priest in residence, All Saints, Charlottesville, VA)
- The Rev. John Lohmann IV (Transfer from DEUS to DMA – to change of home residence)
- The Rev. James Danford (Transfer from St. Matthias, Dothan, AL (PIC) to Christ the Redeemer, Ft. Valley, GA, Assisting Priest)
- The Rev. Scott Koszalinski (Transfer from St. Mary’s, Delray Beach, FL, Curate, to Holy Cross, Knoxville, TN and St. Peter’s, Kingsport, TN, Assisting Priest)
- The Rev. Mr. Daniel Rieger (Change from Deacon to Curate, St. Mary’s, Delray Beach, FL)
- The Rev. Mark Menees (Installed as Rector, St. John’s, Greensboro, NC)
- The Rev. Mr. Alton Witham (Retired July 1, 2017)
- The Rev Mr. James McFadden (Oct. 2016)
- The Rev. Dr. Charles (Gene) Mallard (Dec. 2016)
- The Rev. Mr. Eric Dawson (Jan. 2017)
- The Rev. Richard Blyth (June 2017)
- The Rev. Dr. Robert Peeples (Aug. 2017)
Charge to the Synod
The theme of this special Joint Synod is of course Unity. First a little history. This is a Unity that has been 40+ years in the making. Past attempts to put Traditional Anglicans back together have been disappointing or have failed. Some of you here today will remember the attempt in 1991 to merge the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) and the American Episcopal Church (AEC) into a unified Church forming the Anglican Church in America (ACA). I promise I will not get into the politics of what went in those days and from my perspective why it fell apart. The result being there ultimately were three jurisdictions created. The underlying reason for failure was that it was done dishonestly by those who were the leaders at the time. I will not mention names, but they are all gone now.
Since that time, and out of that failed attempt, the APA was officially formed in 1998 with the DEUS as the foundational Diocese. In time three other smaller jurisdictions joined us. We have become increasingly the strongest Continuing jurisdiction by membership in the U.S. since then. As many of you will recall, another attempt to unify ‘traditionalist’ Anglicans was made when we signed an Agreement of Intercommunion with the Reformed Episcopal Church in 1998. The attempt to merge our two jurisdictions into one over a period of 10 years never materialized as the support on our side never got beyond the 50% level. We remain to this day in intercommunion with strong bonds of friendship with each other and a number of our APA clergy have come from the REC.
More recently, leaders of the APA, during the ACA Synod in September 2011 at Our Lady of the Snows, signed an Agreement of Intercommunion. There was the hope on the part of some on both sides that the two jurisdictions would become one at the Concurrent Synods in 2014 at Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville (St. Louis), Illinois. However, the time was not right based primarily on the experience of those who were involved in the Unity Synod of 1991 which I mentioned earlier. The reality was the people from the two jurisdictions for the most part did not really know each other. It is critical when taking such an important step as merger that each side involved know the personality and culture of the other side. This can only be accomplished through time together and building of trust.
There are a number of factors which make these Joint Synods event so full of strong positive possibilities. The four archbishops have become friends and have been building a strong consensus. This has developed over the past several years with monthly conference calls. There are still some unresolved issues, but most of us have learned patience realizing that resolving issues of concern before actual union is critical to the success of this effort. St. Paul reminds us “…let us run with patience the race that is set before us…” All things in God’s time is so important. We have learned that in spite of the fact that we all use the same or similar liturgies there are internal differences. We have great hope that by our coming together in Full Communion, it will help other Traditional Anglicans, who see the Continuing Church as divided, see us as unified and a real possibility for the future. By the grace of God, we will continue after this Joint Synod to work toward bringing God’s Church together.
A Missionary Spirit
One of the gifts we of the APA/DEUS bring to the Continuing Church is the Missionary Spirit. I must tell you how rightly proud I am of all of you for the sacrificial giving you have made not only to our Lenten Fund for our Global Partners but also to our Domestic Mission Fund. Over the last three years, we have focused on the Domestic side, through our efforts to take a struggling Mission Church and help make it a self-supporting parish. The Board’s decisions are based on demographics, local support and the probability of success. The importance of an energetic parish priest, who has a vision for mission building cannot be over-emphasized. It is critical that the mission and the priest be a good match. It takes a team effort working together toward the common goal of reaching the community for Christ through the Anglican Tradition. I want to thank our two priests who have taken the challenge of building/rebuilding our two Domestic Fund recipient missions, Father Wade Miller at St. Philip’s Anglican Church, Blacksburg, Virginia, and more recently our new priest, Father Robert Placer, who is now Priest-in-Charge of St. Peter the Apostle Church, Kingsport, Tennessee.
For those who are new to the APA, the Domestic Mission Fund was established for a specific purpose; that being acquiring a full time priest for a new or failing mission church. The Diocese and the APA have other funds available for building/building expansion purposes.
I also want to insert at this time a word of thanks and appreciation to those priests of our church who have assumed leadership of an established parishes of this Diocese and moved them on to new levels of success. I will not mention any names for fear of omitting a deserving priest, but they know who they are. It is important that no priest or deacon lose sight of what the great high calling they have in serving our Lord and His people. May no priest of our Church become complacent in the challenging work they are called to do. I encourage each priest who may be struggling to develop an active relationship with a fellow priest, who has experienced success, for encouragement and to partner in prayer over the next year. Some of you I am aware have already done this for mutual support. Our role as Clergymen in the Church can often be an underappreciated and lonely role and only other clergy can identify with this. This is a good time to mention how important it is for parishioners to pray for their parish priest. It is easy to forget that clergymen do not become some type of super-human when they are ordained. We are still human beings and subject to the problems and frailties others suffer from, only sometimes more so. Ordination grace is given to enable him to serve as your priest but it does not make him perfect. When you think about all the areas you believe he is weak, that is a good time to pray for him and also for yourself to be more charitable and understanding. Your parish priest prays for you as part of who he is, remember to pray for him and your bishops also.
Exciting new mission work is going on with our Global Partnerships around the world. Canon David Haines, our Vicar General for Global Partnerships, will be giving a full report to our Provincial Synod of the APA tomorrow with pictures of the Mission Journeys that have taken place in the past year. Fr. Haines is also the Rector of busy All Saints’ Parish in Wilmington, North Carolina.
I want to thank all of our Clergy and Laity for the love and caring extended to Father Kevin Sweeney during his recent illness. I want to thank all of you who have helped financially through the online Go Fund Me which is helping cover some of his hospital and doctor expenses. He is still not out of the woods and needs more surgery but is making improvement. Fr Kevin and his wife, Alice, are both having surgeries this week and I ask for your prayers for successful procedures and speedy recoveries. Fr. Kevin is able to do the Sunday Eucharist at St. James, Church Gloucester, Virginia. This Diocese has always been responsive to the needs of others outside of their own four walls. Either in the area of foreign missions or domestic missions, in times of calamity and sickness the charity of the people is most gratifying. Our thanks to All Saints, Mills River, North Carolina, who gave financial assistance to Fr. John Lohmann, whose entire first floor of his home was flooded following Hurricane Harvey, and to others, including our Joint Synod partner, the ACC, who give assistance for hurricane relief in Texas. May we always reflect this most excellent gift of Charity. At the Joint Synod Pontifical Mass on Friday, the offering will go to help those affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, which has several churches in the ACA under Bishop Garcia. May our Mission-minded focus be carried into our new relationships we will consummate during this Joint Synod. If Traditional Anglicanism is to survive, we must be the instruments through which the Holy Spirit can work to make it possible. May our vision become a reality as we seek to bring together our fellow Traditional Anglicans.
Some final thoughts
In keeping with our theme of unity for this Synod week, I want to emphasize the need for the word ‘vision’ for the future along with it. I need not remind you if you are paying attention to the world around you, and particularly our country, the culture is changing rapidly. The drug epidemic is in every culture and corner of this country as people of all ages are looking for what they think will satisfy their loneliness and emptiness. How are we, as Traditional Anglicans, to meet the challenge of our country which is in moral decline and no longer thinks of itself as Christian? The “nones” or “none of the above” are now rapidly outpacing those who note that they are Christian. So many of those who list themselves as Christian rarely if ever attend church. So many of the mainline churches are closing, because of lack of interest. I know of two cases where our congregations share the building with a mainline church, the host churches are closing and in one case we have bought the building. The answer is not trying to compete with the ‘big box mega churches.’ In Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option, speaking of what seems to be the popular religious trend in the U.S., he states “…too many of our churches function as secular entertainment centers with religious morals slapped on top…Too many churches have succumbed to modernity, rejecting the wisdom of past ages, treating worship as a consumer activity, and allowing parishioners to function as unaccountable, atomized members. The sad truth is, when the world sees us, it often fails to see anything different from nonbelievers. Christians often talk about ‘reaching the culture’ without realizing that, having no distinct Christian culture of their own, they have been co-opted by the secular culture they wish to evangelize. Without a substantial Christian culture, it’s no wonder that our children are forgetting what it means to be Christian, and no surprise that we are not bringing in new converts. If today’s churches are to survive the new Dark Age, they must stop being normal. …By rediscovering the past, recovering liturgical worship and asceticism, centering our lives on the church community, and tightening church discipline, we will by God’s grace, again become the peculiar people we should always have been.”
We, as Traditional Anglicans, have the ingredients already at hand with our Prayer Book as a guide to Daily Worship, Eucharistic-centered congregational worship and the handbook for Christian formation. We must build community with our Parish priest, active laity and an evangelical spirit of reaching out to others and being the vibrant Christian Community. In a world which desperately needs our Lord Jesus Christ, we need to be not just in survival mode but instruments through whom the Holy Spirit can work not only in our own life but that of our family and others whom we welcome to our Community.
God bless each of you as we seek to meet the Challenges before us.
I want to thank all of you for taking and making the effort to be here for this important time in the life of the Anglican Province of America, Diocese of the Eastern United States, and the Continuing Church. The Lord has blessed us over the past years since last we met and increased our ministries. We have much to do in our time together. We will move as quickly as possible to accomplish our agenda. I look forward to a productive and positive time together.
I would like to thank our Standing Committee for their work and assistance over the past year. I will ask Father Gordon Anderson, its president, and all member of the Standing Committee to stand and be recognized. Rotating off the Standing Committee will be Karyn Cozad. We thank you for your service over the past 3 years. I want to recognize our Suffragan Bishops Chandler (Chad) Jones and William (Bill) Perkins who have assisted me in a number of Episcopal functions this past Synodical year, attending some Ecumenical Meetings on my behalf, and for their council and advice. Thanks and appreciation to St. Alban’s Cathedral and the Dean, Fr. Ralph Waterhouse, for his council and support. I would like to give special thanks to Lisa Ulrich, Executive Secretary for the Diocese and Province, who needs no introduction to most of you, for her ability to keep track of the many details of the office; all done in a pleasant manner. I offer my personal thanks to Deaconess Linda Burns who assists in a number of ways keeping track of the Registrar’s File for the APA and making sure that my vestments are prepared for my many travels. Canon Ray Unterburger is the Chairman of the Board of Examining Chaplains (BEC) and I along with all of you appreciate his work and attention to detail as he keeps up with the many men and deaconess candidates who are in different stages of preparation. Would the members of the BEC please stand and be recognized. I want to thank my Bishop’s Advisory Committee members in the Upper and Lower Diocese who do the first review of all applicants for ministry. If the Chairmen Fr. Nick Henderson and Fr. Ralph Waterhouse, and the members would please stand and be recognized at this time. The Anglican Legacy Camp had another successful camp this past June. They had another near full complement of campers. Father Michael Cawthon is the Camp Director. I would like to have those clergy and others who served in various roles at the camp to stand and be recognized. St. Michael’s Church, Charlotte, North Carolina, has played such a large part in sponsoring and supporting the Camp over the years and their efforts are appreciated.
There are so many individuals who give of their time and energy along with their finances to make our Diocese work. Forgive me for not mentioning every one of you by name. I would like to thank our Area Deans. I want to once again thank our Archdeacon Erich Zwingert for the work he does in many areas and am so grateful for his work on the webpage. Our webpage has become more and more critical providing news and information of our Province and Diocese as the world becomes more and more electronic. I hope you have noticed the new and improved website, which allows our webmaster the ability to make changes that previously had to go through an outside source. I also want to mention another important part of our communications for the entire APA, that being our Newsletter, Ecclesia Anglicana. I want to thank Fr. David Conway for reviving the previous Ecclesia magazine and serving as the editor of Ecclesia Anglicana. This newsletter was well-received, but Fr. Conway has retired from this position and his parish. He is battling cancer and your prayers are requested for his healing. Thank you Fr. Dave for your time, enthusiasm and diligence to bring each edition to publication. Fr. Gordon Anderson has volunteered to assume the challenge and become editor of Ecclesia Anglicana.
For those who work behind the scenes and who are absolutely critical to what we do: like D. J. Fulton, Treasurer; Glen Wieland, Chancellor; David Arnott of the Cathedral who provides technical assistance to the Diocesan/Provincial Office, we all thank you. Also, to our Vicar General for Global Partnerships, Canon David Haines, I extend my thanks, along with the Foreign Missions Board Members, Fr. Paul Rivard, Fr. Brad Cunningham, Deaconess Tina Jenkins and Dr. Mary Grundorf. Fr. Haines will give us an update on our Global Partnerships later. Our Domestic Mission Board is chaired by Bishop Bill Perkins with Bishop Chad Jones, Fr. Brad Cunningham, Fr. Nick Henderson and Fr. Wade Miller. Thank you for your thoughtful and consciousness work.
To all of you who volunteer your time, talent and treasure in doing the vital work of our Diocese; to all of you here today, who are in most cases the backbone of your local parish and mission, you are most appreciated. A great thanks to Mr. Rick Watson who volunteered to be the Synod Organist for this year.
I want to thank my wife, Mary, for her love of the Church and her continuing support, companionship and encouragement in the work I do as your Bishop. I thank all of you who welcome Bishop Chad, Bishop Bill and me on our visits to your parishes and missions on our Episcopal duties. May the Lord continue to bless and prosper our Church and Diocese as we keep our faith and commitment to serving our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We have a wonderful banquet prepared for you later with excellent food and a guest speaker Fr. Clendenin one of the original organizers of the Congress of St. Louis in 1977. God bless you for being here for this annual Synod of the Diocese of the Eastern U.S., triennial Synod of the APA, and the Anglican Joint Synods 2017.
Respectfully submitted, The Most Rev. Walter H. Grundorf, D.D.
Bishop of the Diocese of the Eastern United States, Anglican Province of America