June 24, 2020 (The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist):
My beloved Via family, today is a milestone for us. Many years ago, I gathered our key leaders
in Vancouver and put 2 key questions before them. First, do we need an ecclesial home –
something bigger than ourselves - to belong to? And if so, what would an ecclesial home need
to look like in order for it to truly feel like home? When those days were finished, I had my
answers. We were in agreement that we DID need a place to call home. And since home is a
place where you can be yourself, we needed a home that was Evangelical (they honor the Word
of God), a place that was Catholic (they honor the continuity of the Church of God), and a place
that was Charismatic (they honor the work of the Spirit of God). That second day of those
meetings I came across a pamphlet on the Anglican Church of North America, written by
Archbishop Foley Beach. In that pamphlet the question was raised, ‘Who is the ACNA?’ The
Archbishop’s response – we are Evangelical, Catholic and Charismatic.
So much has happened over the last 8 years. First, we came to know the bishops in the Anglican Network in Canada – Bishop Charlie Masters, Bishop Trevor Walters, Bishop Stephen Leung, and retired Bishops Don Harvey and Ron Ferris. These men have championed us from the very beginning! Shortly thereafter, Bishop Charlie introduced me to the College of Bishops in the Anglican Church of North America. After a few times as a guest bishop there, Bishop Charlie raised with the College our desire for an ecclesial home. On January 10th, 2019 I was welcomed into the College and what a happy occasion that was!
Still, our status as a group of churches was not yet settled. We considered several options over
the course of a few years. In time, and with input from senior figures in the Anglican Church of
North America (especially Canon Phil Ashley and Bishop John Guernsey), it was decided that
‘Missionary District’ was the canonical category that best suited us. In January of 2020 Bishop
Charlie Masters made a motion before the ACNA College of Bishops: “This College of Bishops
recommends to the Provincial Executive Committee and Provincial Council the establishment of Via Apostolica as a Provincial Missionary District under Canon 12 and recommends Bishop Todd Atkinson be designated a ‘Bishop for Special Mission’ to lead this ministry.” This motion was unanimously approved by the College of Bishops.
This motion was put before the Provincial Assembly only today and was passed. Hence, Via
Apostolica is officially a Provincial Missionary District in the Anglican Church of North America!!
I am directly responsible to the Archbishop in this. Also, since it is Anglican practice that all
practicing clergy be ‘domicile’ within a Diocese, Bishop Stewart Ruch and the Diocese of the
Upper Midwest have welcomed us to be domiciled there and will support us to become a
Diocese ourselves in time, when we reach the numerical thresholds for that.
It seems like no coincidence to me that today, in the church calendar, is the Nativity of Saint
John the Baptist. We, in Via, have, in our own way, acted something like forerunners. Years ago,
some of us belonged to Evangelical churches, some to Pentecostal or Charismatic churches, and some to more historic churches, but never did we imagine that one day we might worship in a church that brought together the Scriptures, the Spirit and the Sacraments, in a manner that displays continuity with the church catholic! Oh, the joy of belonging to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church!!! God himself has led us to this point. And we trust that our following him here will have helped to ‘prepare the way’ for others to come also.
At yesterday’s Provincial Assembly our Archbishop delivered an address that you will want to
listen to (here). In fact, I urge you to listen to it. I think that it powerfully illustrates the two-fold calling of the church, to have both roots (that stretch back to the ancient apostolic beginnings of the church) as well as branches (that stretch towards and speak to the burning issues of our own day).
I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all those who have helped Via arrive at this day:
Bishop Charlie Masters and the Anglican Network in Canada bishops!! Archbishop Foley Beach
and the College of Bishops!! Bishop Stewart Ruch and the Diocese of the Upper Midwest!! Even
more so, I want to thank all of you in Via who have trusted the Lord and followed him so
faithfully along this ‘apostolic way.’