"The Church of India - CIPBC (formerly the Church of England in India) is the original Anglican Church in India. The Anglican presence in India dates back four hundred years ago to 1600, when Queen Elizabeth I was still on the throne of England. From that time until within living memory British chaplains and missionaries arrived in ever-increasing numbers, and were the first to minister to the expatriate British community, and later to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Indian people themselves...
" In the year 1978 following the Congress of St. Louis, (Affirmation of Saint Louis) the news of the Anglican Catholic Church reached India. The Indian Anglicans appealed for a spiritual affiliation in the Anglican Catholic Church Original Province...
"From 1991 until 1995 the late Archbishop William Lewis held office as Acting Metropolitan of India succeeded by Bishop James Bromley. Bishop Bromley appointed Fr. John Augustine as the Archdeacon and the Metropolitan's Commissary to the Province of India. Bishop Rommie Starks succeeded Bishop Bromley as acting Metropolitan. In 2003 the Right Reverend John Augustine was elected and consecrated Bishop of Lucknow. In 2005 the Calcutta Diocesan Council and the House of Bishops elected the Right Reverend John Augustine as the Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India. The Most Reverend John Augustine was enthroned as Metropolitan of the Church of India -CIPBC on 24th February, 2005 at Christ Church, Lucknow."
I quote this to make the point that our Continuing Church is not necessarily as insignificant as we may allow ourselves to believe. Furthermore, joining us were other ACC members from around the world, including Bishop Damkien Meade from the U.K., The Right Reverend Brian Iverach from Australia, bishops, clergy and laity from Kenya, from the Sudan, from South Africa, Haiti, Colombia. Archbishop Reber and Bishop Robinson of the United Episcopal Church of North America (UECNA) were present as guests.
The truly global presence of orthodox Anglicans in the ACC was something I knew about, but had not had the occasion to experience before this week. The difficulties encountered by our people in foreign lands, due to poverty and persecution, take on new meaning when we meet them. Rt. Rev. Wilson Garang (present at the Synod) and his Diocese of Aweil in Sudan, for example, face a kind of danger in their daily lives that most of us imagine only vaguely. I felt very unworthy, at the Synod Mass, to be preaching a sermon in the company of such true disciples of our Lord; my desire was to encourage with words that might provide edification, exhortation and comfort by the Holy Spirit, something helpful that they could carry with them. But, I felt like John the baptist, unworthy to stoop down and unloose the sandals of Christ himself, as represented by them.
Two priests from South Africa, Fr. Alan Kenyon-Hoare, and Fr. Mahawa, were present to witness the Synod vote on establishing a second diocese in their country, necessary simply because of the vastness of the geography, and the difference of language and culture. The most moving part of the week, for me, was hearing Fr. Mahuawa of the Umzi Wase "Thiyopian" people of the Eastern Cape of South Africa expressing his joy that his people, after over a century of Anglicanism among them, will have their own bishop in their own diocese (and I hope to have more about this for you to read later in the week). The Church of England never gave them what they truly needed for the Church there to thrive, and in recent years other Continuing Anglicans have failed to understand their need as well. He expressed his gratitude to the Original Province of the ACC, and specifically to our Metropolitan, the Most Rev. Mark Haverland. It is expected that bishops for both dioceses will be elected this year, and consecrated by Archbishop Haverland and other ACC bishops in the Spring of 2010.
On a side note, as I saw Fr. Kenyon-Hoare, a white man with a white beard, and Fr. Mahuwa, a black man clearly younger, it was obvious that they share a bond of love that made the difference of color and culture vanish away.
In Christ there is no East or West,
In Him no South or North;
But one great fellowship of love
Throughout the whole wide earth.
It was also quite a joy to see old friends, including Bishop William McLean who received me into the ACC just over a year ago, as well as regular commenting readers, such as Fr. Laurence Wells, Rev. Canon John Hollister, Fr. John Roddy, Fr. James Danford (military chaplain), Fr. Thomas McHenry, and others of you who were there.
Yes, there was the sometimes just plain boring business, that is always proposed, discussed and voted on in synods. Sometimes it is not easy to sit on those chairs at those tables for even a minute longer. But, even then, the manner of Archbishop Haverland was an instructive model of humility and patience, as well as a good amount of humor, much of which was the self-deprecating humor that those who know him have come to expect. The boring synod business may have seemed to be no large matter to those who have long been in the ACC. But, for others it is breath of fresh air. While eating dinner in a restaurant on Wednesday night, Fr. Charles Nalls summed it up neatly to a couple of us: "It was orderly, peaceful, sane and genuinely substantive. It was about things that truly mattered."
Those who are still writing our epitaph, and carving our tombstone as Continuing Anglicans, will themselves be long dead while the work of Christ through our churches grows and spreads. The Canterbury Communion is just about dead, but Anglicanism has its best days ahead.