Sunday, January 21, 2007

Impressions of the AMiA Winter Conference from Jacksonville , Florida
by Fr. Robert Hackendorf, Rector of St. Andrews in Syracuse , New York (Day Four)

A few more people have left town—many have a long way to travel before they reach their parishes for their Sunday liturgies. Still, there is a good crowd at the Riverfront Hyatt left to celebrate our final day together.

Exhibitor displays are one of the interesting things about gatherings such as this. This year’s Winter Conference is no exception. We had wonderful tables sponsored by the
Alpha Course, the Lesser Franciscans, the Anglican Communion Network, Dr. Robert Webber’s Institute for Worship Studies and Anglican Global Mission Partners, among many others. Personally, I learned a lot about many worthwhile ministries and renewed my contacts with several already known to me.

Another thing that impressed me were the powerful testimonies of the brave churches, clergy and lay people that came to Jacksonville . Many belong to parishes that simply did not exist 7 years ago. Some come from parishes that have been sued by their former diocese. All of them have a story to tell. And without fail, each story was filled with faith, dependence on the Holy Spirit and courage in the face of adversity. I am humbled to be in fellowship with these good soldiers of Christ.

We were treated to one last Daily Office led by the Rev. Roger Salter, and one last outstanding teaching by Dr. J. I. Packer. Surely, we have feasted on the Word and Prayer Book at this conference!

Greg Bunch gave a good talk on the identity and mission of the Anglican Mission. He gave us a lasting image of the AMiA as a “Missionary Order”. This was a powerful metaphor that I think is valid and useful.

The Rev. Dr. Michael Green, the former Rector of St. Aldates in Oxford , England and Evangelism Advisor to the Archbishop of Canterbury, currently pastor congregation in the U.S. , spoke to us about evangelism and the need for increasing unity in the orthodox Anglican camp. If we remain disjointed and fragmented, it hurts our witness. This was a timely reminder to all of us.

Bishop Chuck Murphy, our Chairman, pointed out that although “Expanding the Tent” was the over-arching theme of our conference, worship was an important sub-theme. Bishop Murphy encouraged us to bask in a time of worship—to allow the Spirit of God to speak to us and minister to us in and through worship. He then invited our worship leader for the week, Andy Piercy, worship leader at Holy Trinity –Brompton for 20 years (the parish that gave birth to the Alpha Course), to lead us in a time of worship. Our time of worship was powerful. Bishop Murphy dismissed with the traditional Eucharistic dismissal and the people responded “Thanks be to God! Alleluia! Alleluia!”. And then we left to love and serve the Lord in the various places the Lord has called us.


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