The Midpoint of Advent

We've reached the midpoint in Advent, and Christmas is now less than two weeks away!

Things went great at Holy Spirit Anglican Church this past Sunday ... it was a joy and honor to be with their growing congregation and to serve alongside my friend and mentor Fr. David Montzingo. My time to share about the mission had to be condensed into the sermon that I gave, but the passage from Matthew 11:2-11 went hand-in-hand with sending out missionaries to prepare the way for our coming Lord.

This week is full of meetings, study, and Lord willing phone calls to follow up about the mission. I am hoping that my voice has recovered enough that I can make phone calls about the mission and actually be understood by the poor person on the other end of the line. My pneumonia is gradually fading, but I'm not quite there yet, and I would ask for your continued prayers for my recovery.

As I prepare to move to Argentina, as I prepare to move out of my apartment, as I prepare to preach and serve at multiple Christmas services on multiple days, and to celebrate happily with good friends whom I will not see for a long time, I am trying to discipline myself to take breaks to rest, to reflect, and to refresh myself in the Lord. May he give me grace to do exactly that in the whirlwind of everything else going on!

With the Holy Spirit and with Fire

Here's a quick little update for you all!

This past weekend went well at the church planting summit, although I was almost completely unable to share about the mission. That was due in part to the rigid schedule we kept, in part to the weightiness of the conversation about church planting, and in part to my exhaustion. I have had opportunity though in the last few days to share about the mission with various individuals, and every day I am making more links and connections.

This coming weekend I am looking forward to being at Holy Spirit Anglican Church (San Diego) to preach and share about the mission. The Rector, Rev. David Montzingo, was a mentor of mine while I was in seminary, and I still consider him to be so. The church has been in existence just under a year, and by all accounts I expect to find a passionate congregation on fire for missions. Please keep me in your prayers!

He will be like a tree

Greetings from Newport Beach and Burbank!

I am currently in the Orange County and Los Angeles area attending our Bishop's summit on church growth and church planting, kindly hosted by St. James Anglican Church (Newport Beach). Clergy and key lay people from all around the Diocese of Western Anglicans and the Southern California area have turned out to hear church planting experts like Tom Herrick, William Beasey, and David Roseberry as they share their insights on church planting.

All the discussion of "planting" brings to mind the biblical imagery of God planting Israel his people as a vine or as a tree in the promised land, established and tended by him. The words of Psalm 1 keep resonating in my ears: "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the council of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and on his Law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree, planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does will prosper." My hope is that this conference will be an instructive time for us all in how to devote ourselves to the Lord, to his ways of being the church and planting churches, and to his promises to establish, prosper, and reign over his church!

This is also a great opportunity for me to meet with people from around my diocese and remind them that the Lord is calling me to be a missionary and is calling them to support me (as the first long-term missionary from the diocese) in some way, shape, or form. Please keep me in your prayers as I seek to communicate God's vision not just for "mission" (in some abstract way to be open to outsiders), but for "missions" (in a concrete, global sense).

De profundis

I am alive, in case you were wondering.

It has been a rocky last couple of weeks, dominated by a hard bout of pneumonia which came on as I traveled from Central Indiana to Southern Indiana and Central Kentucky on November 13th. At first I thought I had contracted a cold, then the flu, but in the end a chest x-ray confirmed that I did indeed pick up bacterial pneumonia.

This came at a hard time. My fever spiked up on Saturday, November 13th just as I was preparing to preach for and share about the mission with the terrific congregation of Trinity Anglican Church (Evansville). The Lord blessed me tremendously as I spent time with them, but my health continued to decline that evening as I headed to Central Kentucky where I planned to spend Sunday morning with Holy Apostles Anglican Church (Elizabethtown). After church that Sunday, during which I was able to meet some fabulous people and share a lot about the mission, I collapsed in my motel room from Sunday to Wednesday, trying to recover.

However, I kept getting worse, and on Wednesday I decided to trust God's protection and head up to Richmond, Indiana, to stay with my parents. I arrived in horrible condition with a raging fever and a worsening cough, and within a few days my health had deteriorated even further to the point that I went to a clinic. Armed with a diagnosis and powerful antibiotics, the Lord quickly helped me to get to the point where I was able to preach and teach Sunday school on missions in Argentina at Christ the King Reformed Episcopal Church (Dayton) and then head down to St. Barnabas Anglican Church (Covington) to meet the good people of that mission and share about what God is calling me to do in Argentina. The rest of the week was spent in part in convalescence, but I also had meetings with potential donors as well as with the leadership of Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church (Mason).

All of this has meant that, though the Lord was gracious and allowed me to keep most of my major commitments during my deputation period in the Midwest, he also through this illness prevented me from sharing about the mission in Louisville, Lexington, Columbus, and to some extent even in Cincinnati. While this comes with some personal frustration, I am absolutely convinced that our heavenly Father is Lord of life, death, health, and sickness, and that this has been his loving visitation. In addition, the One who has called me to serve him in Argentina will be faithful to get me there. He may have shut the door to my raising support in those churches, but he has great plans for me, for our whole missions team, and for his sheep in Argentina.

After Thanksgiving with my family, I am back in San Diego, preached this past Sunday (the First Sunday in Advent), and look forward to a week of continued recuperation and preparation for the mission field. Please keep me in your prayers as I continue to find the balance between healthy, responsible rest and diligence in what God has given me to do in the time that he has given me to do it.

Indianapolis Extravaganza

For the last week, I have been setting up appointments in the Indianapolis area with various pastors, and they have gone very well.

I had a terrific time with a couple of former missionaries with the C&MA to Buenos Aires on Wednesday. We shared about our respective ministries, and in a couple of hours I felt invigorated, confirmed, and challenged in my mission to a culture that so desperately needs the Gospel. Wednesday's lunch was important for me and, I believe, for the work in Buenos Aires!

Thursday I got together with the rector of the AMiA church plants around Indiana, and I left amazed at what God is doing in my own home state, a region which still is only sparsely inhabited by orthodox Anglican congregations. The leadership seem to be thrilled with the mission in Argentina to which God has called me, and they will be looking into ways in which to help spread the word of my need for partners.

Finally today, Friday, I was able to meet with leadership from the Anglican Church of the Resurrection in Indianapolis, a CANA church made up mostly of native Africans coming from an Anglican tradition. I had hoped to meet with the Bishop, but he called in sick. Still I had a wonderful time speaking with the recently appointed archdeacon, and we will be taking steps to insure that this congregation so devoted to worship and to prepare will be upholding me and this ministry before our heavenly Father.

I head tomorrow to Evansville, Indiana to preach at Trinity Anglican Church at 4:30 PM, and from there I will be attending worship at Holy Apostles Anglican Church in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Weekends can be tiring, but I have high hopes for what God will do when his people come together to worship him!

Deputation Amid the Cornfields

I have had an absolutely hectic time during my first week and weekend in the Midwest. There have been ups and downs, but God has been good and faithful during these hectic days, and he's getting all the glory from me and from others!

My time in Chicago last week and this weekend was well spent. I had a wonderful meeting with Fr. George Kacena, the rector of Church of the Great Shepherd (Wheaton), and with the Revs. George Koch and Rebecca Ann Teguns of Resurrection Anglican Church (West Chicago), and I look forward to cultivating a vibrant and growing relationship with them and with other churches in the emerging deanery and possibly diocese-in-formation.

This past Sunday, I had the great pleasure of worshiping with St. Andrew's Anglican Church (Tinley Park), an historic congregation in Reformed Episcopal Church led by the Rev. Frank Levi. It was a tremendous time of traditional Anglican worship with a warm and welcoming congregation. That afternoon I was able to worship with an emerging Anglican congregation of young people meeting in the heart of Chicago, Redeemer Anglican Church. It became quickly apparent that Redeemer is a community of vibrant college and post-college Christians with a heart to serve faithfully God in counter-commitments to vocation and serious prayer. I will be treasuring the relationships that I formed with so many of them! Finally, that evening I was able to visit the Anglican college ministry's on-campus worship service at Northwestern University, and was heartened by their love for the Lord and interest in the mission. All told, it was an exhausting day, but I left encouraged and with the distinct impression that this is what missionary deputation is all about.

Monday I headed down to Indianapolis where, despite some housing snafus, I will be meeting with church leaders but staying in neighboring town of Richmond. The majority of Anglican congregations in the Indianapolis area associated with the Midwest AMiA led by Rev. Tom Tirman, but I have been unable to get in touch with them so far. Despite this, the headline events for this week are a meeting with former missionaries in Buenos Aires (25 years with the C&MA), a meeting with Bishop Amos Fagbamiye of the Anglican Church of the Resurrection, and a visit to Trinity Anglican Church to preach and share about the mission. Please remember all of these events in your prayers.

This may feel like a lot of detail densely packed into an almost short blog post: if it does, it gives you a taste of life recently. May the Lord bless you all and give you grace to follow him in service for the fulfillment of his counsels and the glory of his Name!

The Classy Town of Chicago

Well, after two weeks in San Diego getting caught up on things at home and at work at the Anglican Church of the Resurrection, I am off on my second major deputation excursion, this time to the Midwest. Thanks to amazing help from a member of my core support team who picked me up at 4:45 AM to take me to the airport, I made a great start and arrived in Indianapolis by mid afternoon. From there I picked up a rental car from MATS, a ministry that specializes in linking up people in ministry with inexpensive rates on vehicles, and proceeded to drive up to Chicago where I am staying with friends and meeting with ministry leaders through the weekend.

It has not been easy to make connections church leaders in Chicago, but the Lord has truly shown his faithful  hand and begun providing some contacts for the mission, and I hope to visit a number of churches on Sunday and even Saturday of this week. You can check out my schedule to see what is on the agenda as things develop.

The next two weekends after this are already getting booked up as well, of which I am very excited. Saturday, November 13th I will be preaching and speaking about the mission at Trinity Anglican Church in Evansville, Indiana, and I hope to be able to visit with Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Webster Groves, Missouri the following morning. Then the following weekend on November 21st, I am scheduled to preach and help lead services at Christ the King Reformed Episcopal Church in Dayton, Ohio, a sentimental time for me to be sure since it was at that church that I first came to the Anglican tradition during my junior year of college.

There will be plenty of other churches to visit around these visits, and I hope to make contact with churches in Indianapolis, Louisville, Lexington, Cincinnati, and Columbus, as well as with close friends and pastors in my hometown of Richmond, Indiana. Overall, it will be a jam-packed three weeks on the road, but I am comforted by the words of an old Fanny Crosby hymn:

All the way my Savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

Have a wonderful weekend and a blessed Lord's Day!

New Website Page: My Itinerary

I often have ongoing questions about where I am, what I will be doing, for whom I will be speaking, etc. I love getting those questions, but for the inquiring minds that want to know with more immediate precision what I am up to on my journeys and the broader process of deputation, I have started a new part of this website which details a my schedule of missions-related events and my travel itinerary.

Please understand, I do not necessarily list potential visits: these are only confirmed visits with churches, individuals, and organizations. At the same time, travel schedules can be more on the flexible side. All this to say, my hope is that this webpage of my itinerary and deputation events will be regularly updated and useful for everyone who is wondering where I am and what I will be doing!

One crazy souped-up week

Well, I know that it's been way too long since I've posted an update here, but I finally have a moment of respite and can give an adequate update to what has been a jam-packed week.

My time in Lake Almanor with the faculty, students, and parents of St. Andrew's Academy was fantastic. Not only was I able to preach and share about the mission to Argentina on Monday, October 18th at a service for the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, but I was able to spend time with those associated with the school and congregations and observe how their community lives and their school worships and instructs. I was refreshed and encouraged, and left with the bittersweet feeling of having left behind good friends.

Having left Lake Almanor, I headed back speedily to San Diego, where the following day (Friday) I headed off on a middle school youth retreat for the Anglican churches in our area called FLAYM (Following the Lord in Anglican Youth Ministries). These weekends are encouraging and exhausting all wrapped up together, but I was glad that I was able to be there filling in pastorally and musically.

Very meaningfully, Fr. Russell Martin, the minister on charge during the retreat, asked the youth to lay hands on me after the closing Holy Communion and commission me as I depart for Argentina. I know it meant a lot to me, and I pray that the Lord will burn into the memories of those children the image of a missionary being commissioned joyfully by the body of Christ to go and share the Gospel abroad.

I plan to be in the San Diego area for just over another week ... if anyone around would like to get a hold of me to catch up and/or talk about the mission, give me a call or shoot me an email, both of which can be done through the website here if you don't have my number or email address. I look forward to spending time with you whenever we can manage it!

An Oregon Trail, Part 2

"I will be brief ..."

Today was great. I was able to visit St. Matthew's (Portland) this morning for worship, and thoroughly enjoyed being with the congregation in the Lord's presence, hearing his Word, and getting to know the people of the parish. I was amazed at the sheer number of ex-missionaries and Christian college and seminary professors who are a part of that church. My hope is to continue a strong connection with what is the only ACNA congregation in the state of Oregon.

Immediately after wrapping things up with St. Matthew's, I booked almost 500 miles as I headed from Portland, Oregon to Lake Almanor, California, where I am visiting Christ the Redeemer and St. Thomas churches and St. Andrew's Academy. The drive was hard, but traffic was light on a Sunday evening and I made good time. The very hospitable rector and headmaster Rev. Brian Foos and his wife have kindly taken me into their home, and I am hoping to be refreshed even as I share about the mission to Argentina.

Please pray for me as I preach and talk about my mission this Monday, October 18th, on the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist. Pray that God will open the hearts of the men and women of these churches to partner with me, in prayer and possibly also in finances.