Partnership is essential in ministry
As missionaries serving the Lord Jesus Christ abroad, it is essential that we not only receive support from our many partners in ministry, but also be accountable to the authority that they bear in our lives.
SAMS-USA is a voluntary missionary society in the Anglican tradition in the United States, linked with five other members of the SAMS family around the world. All missionaries work in partnership with the Episcopal/Anglican diocese where they are serving primarily in the Americas. In the USA, SAMS seeks to work cooperatively with executives of the Episcopal and Anglican churches to coordinate society and national church programs when appropriate.
The Society is dedicated to fulfilling Jesus Christ’s Great Commission to “Go … and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you …" (Matthew 28:19-20a). We seek to develop churches in the areas of service which are firmly rooted in the Gospel and which, while reflecting the indigenous culture, remain faithful to the traditions of the worldwide Episcopal/Anglican communion.
SAMS trains, sends and supports Episcopalians/Anglicans who are called of God to proclaim the Gospel alongside other members of the Anglican communion primarily in the Americas. Missionaries are also involved with social concerns for all sectors of the community through teaching, medicine, youth ministry, and community development, with a special focus on underprivileged and minority or marginal groups.
The Anglican Diocese of Belize goes back to the settlement of the colony of British Honduras by early English settlers. Indeed, the history of the Anglican Church is a rich one and is interwoven with the history of Belize. One cannot even study the history of the country without looking at the Anglican Church. The settlement grew with the influx of logwood cutters and others, without official approval from the British government, and as will happen when any community grows, the elements of a settlement emerged which included institutions such as an administrative structure, laws and regulations, schools and very importantly, the Church.
Every immigrant group brings their traditions, culture and religion with them. Naturally the Church of England (as the Anglican Church was also known) was the first religious denomination which emerged in Belize and was long the dominant one until other denominations and religious beliefs emerged. In spite of this, a permament cleric was not appointed until 1776, in the person of the Rev’d Robert Shaw, who was passing through on his way from Nicaragua, not intending to stay, but was persuaded by the settlers to do so.
The oldest Anglican church in Central America is the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Belize City, which was consecrated in 1826. Belize became a crown colony in 1862, but the Anglican Church was a part of the Diocese of Jamaica until 1883, when it became a diocese on its own. That same year, the West Indies formed its own province in the Anglican Communion, of which Belize continues to play an integral part.
In 1894 the diocese was expanded to include the Anglican and Episcopalian mission stations and communities in the countries of Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. The Bishop of British Honduras and his appointed clergy travelled by boat along the coast and rivers of the region to visit these communities. In 1949 jurisdiction over these countries’ Anglican missions was transferred to the Episcopal Church of the United States.
The Anglican Diocese of Belize encompasses churches and schools across the country and has played a very significant role in the history of the country. In fact, the two oldest institutional structures in Belize are the governmental structure in all its evolving forms (public meetings, legislatures, etc.) and the Anglican Church.
Belize has every reason to be proud of its Anglican churches and schools, and the first and primary mission has always been towards education based on Christian principles. Today, the goal of the Anglican church is to expand its work in education, to grow its outreach ministry to the wider community, and to increase its membership.
The Diocese of Western Anglicans is an Anglican Church in North America founding diocese. It has currently 27 parishes and 4 mission parishes in formation in the American states of California, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Washington and Wyoming. The state with most congregations is California with 14, followed by Arizona with 5. Diocesan headquarters are located in Long Beach, California. Their first bishop was the Rt. Rev. William “Bill" Thompson, who resigned in 2014. He was succeeded as Vicar General by the Rt. Rev. Frank Lyons in June 2014.
The process that led to the birth of the diocese was started when 14 orthodox parishes from Southern California and Arizona, who had left the Episcopal Church and were under the supervision of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America and the Church of Uganda, held a meeting of 60 delegates in June 2007. They adopted the Theological Statement of the Common Cause Partnership and elected an Executive Committee. In October 2007, at the reunion of the House of the Delegates it was decided to launch the Association of Western Anglicans Congregations and the Diocese of Western Anglicans as a diocese-in-formation. They joined the Common Cause Partnership in 2008 and formed the new diocese who was recognized as a member of the Anglican Church in North America in their Provincial Assembly held in Dallas, Texas, in 2009. The diocese had then 21 parishes and an average Sunday attendance of 2,000. Rev. William Thompson was elected the diocesan bishop at the College of Bishops of the first Provincial Assembly of the ACNA in 19-20 June 2009.
On October 10, 2014, the Anglican Church of North America elected the Rev. Keith Andrews as the Second Bishop of the Diocese. He was consecrated on January 25, 2015, at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, in Newport Beach, California.