Saturday, June 20, 2009

Forward in Faith Breaking News

Forward in Faith took action reshape its mission and witness to the Catholic Faith among Anglicans no matter their jurisdiction or affiliation as the Anglican landscape in North America.

Meeting June 17-19th at Our Lady of the Snows Retreat Center in Belleville, Illinois, Forward in Faith North America (FiFNA) expanded its vision for Catholic mission and witness in the US & Canada. FiFNA has a long history teaching and exhorting Anglicans to look not to just the essentials of Christian belief and practice, but to the fullness of Catholic faith and practice. FiFNA sees the coming decade as age where there is a hunger and thirsting after substantive spiritual growth.

The unity found in Jesus Christ is central to the Catholic mission and witness of FiFNA. FiFNA has been a founding organization for the new province of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). A new province has been a major strategic element of the FiFNA mission. This goal is now being realized, not in the manner first envisioned but as God’s grace and direction has shaped it for the immediate needs of spreading the Gospel. FiFNA will continue to bring a Catholic understanding to this new province in its early growth. FiFNA need to be present as a resource to the whole of the ACNA and FiFNA needs to move from just defending the faith to bold proclamation. President Keith Acker, bishop-retired of Quincy (IL.), said, “We have to have “holy boldness” in our role guiding and teaching “the faith once delivered to the saints.”

FiFNA is re-visioning its mission and witness for its members remaining within The Episcopal Church, where God has called them to continue to strive for the historic Anglican faith and order. Likewise we are in fellowship and increasing strong relationships with other groups of wider Anglicanism (Continuing Churches). FiFNA enters into Communion Agreements with various Anglican bodies who uphold Apostolic faith and order. Some of these groups are organized and established Church bodies, for example, the Anglican Catholic Church who sent Bishop George Langberg as a represent the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) to this FiFNA Assembly. Sometimes the relationship is limited to a parish, which is the case with some congregations of TEC. We will make our case for the faith at every opportunity. “We aren’t overly concerned with borders, but with the salvation of men and women who are hungry for the Gospel,” said one Assembly delegate.

The new reality is most FiFNA parishes are now within the province of the ACNA, not the TEC. However, a very large percentage of individuals are in TEC and look to FiFNA to allow them to continue to be faithful in the midst of a wholesale abandonment of historic Christian faith and practice. FiFNA is aligned with the majority of Anglicans throughout the world. However, we will continue to support and encourage those who are called to witness in the arena of TEC. These missionaries require our support and pastoral care. FiFNA will continue to minister sacramentally to best interest of our members remaining in TEC.

FiFNA has asked ACNA for and awaits final approval of a FiFNA “diocese in formation.” FiFNA has a place and an ecclesiastical home in this new province. Notably, this non-geographic diocese is a missionary diocese. This is a FiFNA based diocese in ACNA. The Reverend William Ilgenfritz of Pennsylvania was elected by FiFNA to head this new diocese. Father Ilgenfritz was nominated 7 years ago! In 2007 the FiFNA Assembly reaffirmed its election of Father Ilgenfritz’. FiFNA has waited these many years in order that this consecration be clearly affirmed collegially. ACNA’s College of Bishops will be presented with the elected nominee and formation of the Missionary Diocese.

Father Bill Ilgenfritz has made it clear that the “mission” of this “Missionary Diocese” means a commitment by himself and everyone of its congregations, all laity and all clergy, to not be a haven of comfortable “chapels of ease,” but to boldly spread the Gospel of Jesus and to bring new men and women and children to Jesus and know Him as Lord and Savior. “This is our Catholic heritage as Anglo-Catholics. The Oxford tradition was more about living the Christian faith and spiritual growth and Christian service than it was about worship. Sacramental worship is essential because of the vitality of our Catholic life of Apostolic faith and order. FiFNA’s witness within the new province is that these all go hand in hand,” said Father Ilgenfritz.

FiFNA is not an organization limited to any group or jurisdiction of Anglicans in North America. We will go and we will proclaim the Catholic faith and teaching to all who will listen, to all who wanting the rich spiritual growth of our tradition. This means we will have an “Episcopal Desk” for those who find themselves witnessing among TEC. We recognize those who at great personal risk are continuing to be proclaim historic Christian belief among those at enmity with the Gospel. Our bishops, clergy and laity will go any place where we are welcomed, sacramentally or otherwise. We will go and proclaim “in season and out of season.” While the majority of parishes and diocese affiliated with FiFNA are now part of ACNA, we are a larger force for Catholic witness among wider Anglicanism. We value and support our members no matter where God has called them to proclaim and carryout the mission of the Gospel.

From here.

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