Thursday, 31 March 2016

From the ARM Chair

My first Anglicans for Renewal magazine (Spring 2016) message as interim Chairman of the Anglican Renewal Ministries Canada Board.

This is my first “post” from the ARM Chair. As I write I am gratefully conscious of the faithful chairmen who have gone before; all of whom have led wisely and served well; most recently The Venerable Perry Cooper from Central Newfoundland. The seat has been well warmed.

ARM Board Prayer Retreat

We’ve just finished our second annual ARM Board prayer retreat in Okotoks, Alberta, at which we welcomed our newest member, The Reverend Robert Porter, from the Diocese of Ontario. His arrival dropped the average age of ARM board members by a gratifying decade, or two. Welcome Robert.

Both prayer retreats have been valuable opportunities for the Board to focus on the LORD’s promptings and direction for ARM without having to do any “business.” We deal with that at our monthly board meetings and at our Annual General Meeting, which this year will take place in Miramichi, NB, on Friday, May 13, 2015. This time Board Prayer Co-ordinator, Jane Jones, reminded us that at our last retreat we were given the necessary “keys” (Isa 22.22; Mt 16.19; Rev 3.7) for our ministry, now we need to learn how to use and develop them well so the necessary doors will be opened.

Those keys for ARM are three:

  1. Schools of Renewal Ministry—with Jane Jones responsible for content and curriculum
  2. Missionary Outreach Family Nights—an exciting new intergenerational initiative headed up by ARM Board member, The Reverend John VanStone
  3. Social Media and OnLine Presence—the development of which I am responsible.

We enjoyed two special visits during this retreat. The Reverend Chris Nojonen, of Oasis, formerly Lutheran Renewal Canada, joined us for a few hours to share what they’re up to, pray and talk about ways in which we might work together. The Most Reverend Greg Kerr-Wilson, Metropolitan of Rupert’s Land and Archbishop of Calgary also joined us over a meal. He and our Episcopal Visitor, The Right Reverend Fraser Lawton, Bishop of Athabasca, gave us some valuable insights on how ARM might serve dioceses and parishes better.

Bright Wings

Personally, apart from the rich time in prayerful and worshipful community, two things have stuck in my mind. One from the day before the retreat, the other, a phrase from a Gerald Manley Hopkins poem that came to mind a few days after. The first, a passage of Scripture from Morning Prayer on the Sunday before the retreat—The Baptism of the Lord—Acts 19.1-7 in which Paul found some disciples in Ephesus, ‘And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”’ (Acts 19:2 (ESV) We Anglicans say the words Holy Spirit repeatedly during Sunday worship. But saying it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re hearing what we’re saying and who he is. Holy Spirit can all too easily become liturgical background noise as we follow our habitual well-worn path through the familiar words. ARM exists to help open the ears of Anglican hearts so the Holy Spirit can reclaim his rightful place in the foreground, with the two other persons of the Holy Trinity, so we can be reminded of who the Holy Spirit really is and what he is saying to the church. We want every Anglican to hear clearly that there is, indeed, a Holy Spirit, and to be refreshed and empowered by his presence,
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
(Gerald Manley Hopkins, God’s Grandeur)
We came away from this retreat Holy Spirit refreshed, encouraged and with new God-given avenues to explore.

As we continue to seek new opportunities for refreshing, Holy Spirit filling ministry, we’d like to hear from you. What can we do to help you to hear anew that there is a Holy Spirit who helps, comforts, empowers, guides us into all truth and always glorifies Jesus? We’d like to help you experience the refreshing, bright-winged Holy Spirit in your parish, district, deanery or diocese in a new way. Please email me through the ARM website with any requests or ideas and we’ll do our best to help.