You Did Not Choose Me
I have just arrived home from Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida. Sunday, the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord Jesus, I had the wonderful opportunity of preaching at the Church of the Messiah and spending some time with their Rector and Rector¹s Council and their wives. These men and women are phenomenal leaders and humble servants of our Lord. I am thankful that I had the time in my schedule to be able to be with them and the people of Messiah, Jacksonville.
I want to thank everyone who has sent email and notes of congratulations on my election. I am grateful to be part of such a fellowship of believers. Our Lord is leading us and as the people of God we will continue to listen to the voice of the Lord and when we hear we will obey.
Many have said to me let’s forget the past and move forward. I understand what they are saying and what they mean by that statement. But to totally forget our past would be foolish and dangerous. I want to acknowledge today, and will continue to do so in the future, the faith, courage, and boldness of Archbishop A. Randolph Adler. This man of God was willing to be obedient to the Lord and continues to be obedient. Bishop Adler was chosen by the Lord in the midst of defending the rights of the pre-born to speak the word of the Lord concerning what we now know as convergence or three streams.
Making visible the void was not spoken in the comfort of the pews but in the streets and jails of Los Angeles. Bishop Adler for over three decades has spoken prophetically and pastorally to the good people of St. Michael’s Church and since 1992 has spoken to the nations of the world. He has prayed for us, led us with a spirit of humility, has been a giver and not a taker, and has raised up men and women around the world who will carry on the vision. I am not worthy to step into his shoes and I need each and every one of you to stand with me, in a unity that will be given by the Holy Spirit.
And, I stand today and honor Betty Adler. There are not words that can express our appreciation for this more than gracious woman of God. Few know the sacrifices she has had to make over the last decades. How she had to often stand-alone while her husband was traveling and facing the demands of leadership. How she, along with Bishop Adler, had to face personal sacrifice. How they model faith during the death of loved ones. We honor and love Betty. Our prayers are that after some well-deserved rest they will once again be among us in giving voice to the love, mercy, and forgiveness of the Father. We want the wisdom the Lord Holy Spirit has given to both of them. It is a wisdom birthed not only in obedience but also in suffering.
Our Church is Pro-Life. John Paul II was not only the spiritual father of the Roman Catholic Church he was a spiritual father for a whole generation of believers. He, more than any other, cried out against a culture of death and for life. He was not only a voice for the innocent who continue to be brutally murdered but also a voice for life from conception to natural death. He was a voice for peace and justice. Though we still live in the un-happy state of division in matters of ecclesiology and theology we stand in unity with our Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant brothers and sisters in calling for justice for the least among us, particularly the pre-born. And, we continue to pray and work for a Church that will one day be able to claim a visible unity to the world on all matters of faith and morals. This is the heart and prayer of our Lord Jesus.
It is my plan to join Fr. Terry Gensemer and the youth of our Church on January 20-23 in Washington, D.C. for the March for Life and the annual gathering of CEC for Life. I hope and pray that many of people, particularly leadership will be with CEC for Life and me at this event. Fr. Frank Pavone, in an article on the Priests for Life website, explains to us how we are winning the fight to end abortion in America. Join us on this victory march.
It is hard to believe that it has been four years since we gathered in Manila, Philippines for our second international convocation. Who can forget the wonderful hospitality shown to us by Archbishop Hines, the Bishops of the Southeast Asia Province, the people of the Province, and especially the people of the Cathedral in Manila? Remember the Banquet, the golf outing and boat trip during a double typhoon, and the glorious worship and pageantry of the Cathedral? Cathy and I often look at the book that was published and rejoice at being part of our communion. Now the mantle of the Convocation falls to the people of Florida and Bishop David Simpson.
Bishop Simpson has formed a working group of people around the United States. It is the best of the best that will be putting together this event.
During the Convocation we will hear from Dr. Simon Chan. I have read and re-read his books and am so looking forward to meeting this theologian and teacher. I know this time together will help us articulate more clearly the theological foundation of convergence worship.
On Wednesday evening of the Convocation I will be enthroned as the second Patriarch of the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church. It is my hope that Bishops from around the world will be able to be in attendance to once again express liturgically what is true about our communion. We are an international church! And, my hope is that as many of us as possible will be able to be present.
Thanks to a working group on communication we have two new websites – www.cechome.com and www.idacec.org. As you can see by visiting the sites there will be regular updates from around the world. Very soon you will be able to make your reservations for Convocation on line. We encourage you to do so quickly. Let¹s fill up the Wyndam Resort in Orlando and gather for three days of fellowship, teaching, and worship of our Lord Jesus.
I want to thank Archbishop Hines for his leadership during the time of transition. He made sure that we remained in prayer and fasting. He led us spiritually as only a good father would. He kept us focused and attentive to the task of hearing from God. And, over and over again he assured us that if we trust in the Lord we will be safe and secure. Archbishop Hines is a stellar leader and I am comforted to know that he will stand in the ICCEC and continue to articulate the vision together with all the Bishops.
Please keep our brothers in Kenya in your prayers. Bishop Bernard Njoroge, who is the Secretary General in Africa, has assured us that peace will come to his country. We appreciate the sacrifice he made in leaving not only governmental duties, but also his dear wife Helen in the midst of a dangerous national crisis. The people of Kenya are a strong people who yearn for peace and democracy. They are a people of deep faith in God and are a people of prayer. Join with them in praying for Kenya.
Bishop Prakash Yahanna, the Bishop of Pakistan also left a crisis situation to be part of the election process. I know all of you are in prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters in Pakistan. As I was getting ready to process on Sunday morning at the Cathedral Church of the Messiah, a Bishop from another convergence communion, told us of a priest from his communion who was just this past week executed by extremists in Pakistan. He told us a Œnut¹ was left warning others and demanding that priests and pastor stop evangelizing. Bishop Prakash Yahanna daily ministers in this most difficult and dangerous situation. We pray for peace in Pakistan. Peace is really the heart of the vast majority of the people of Pakistan. We pray for Bishop and his wife Merriam and their children. They trust in the Lord’s protection and provision.
Archbishop Adler and Archbishop Chuck Jones have prophetically spoken of a Tsunami anointing of God’s love coming upon the earth. This word has been spoken not only by them but also by prophetic people throughout the church.
God is pouring out His love and mercy everyday. We are, through prayer and worship, to earnestly seek God as He seeks us. Brazil is evidence today of a spirit of revival and renewal. To sit with Archbishop Paulo Garcia is to be encouraged to press on and see that even in the midst of post modern humanism God still moves drawing people to Himself. I know in the future God will use Archbishop Garcia, and indeed the Bishops of the South Hemisphere, to work with the Bishops of the West in walking close to the heart of God.
There is a spirit of unity and cooperation among the Bishops of the West. I know each of them is eager to get to work and build the Church. It is no longer time to describe our wounds it is time to seek healing for our wounds. The American Church has gone through hard times – much of which we inflicted upon ourselves. We made mistakes, often had poor judgment, and in so doing we not only offended but hurt many. We have asked forgiveness. We intend amendment of life and will implement necessary corrections. But more than anything we will move forward in articulating the vision God has given us. We will move forward with loyal and faithful men and women who have weathered hard times. We will move forward knowing we will make other mistakes and face difficult times. We will however move forward knowing that the Lord will not leave us or forsake us. We will move forward not with political agenda but being led by the Spirit.
I have hit the floor running. I will try to answer as much correspondence as possible. This Friday and Saturday I am in Portland, Maine meeting with the great clergy of Maine. On Sunday, I head of to Washington, D.C. and then the following Sunday-Monday I will be gathering with some administrative types to begin looking at not only the transition of leadership but the creation of an infra-structure for the entire communion. When things begin to get into place I will try, through our website, to keep everyone informed of our progress.
Please pray for me. I yearn to be among you as one who serves. I am humbled by this task and humbled by the love and support so many of you have already offered. I am humbled to follow such a good and godly man. Please pray for the Cathedral Church of the Intercessor, as it becomes the new See of the ICCEC. The faithful people of St. Michael¹s Cathedral will tell you what a difficult job it is to be out front. They did a phenomenal job and our hearts will always be drawn to them. Now we pray for them, as they get about the new phase of their life together as a family. Pray for my family particularly Cathy. Those who know Cathy know you are around a special person when you are in her presence.
Under His mercy,
The Most Rev. Craig W. Bates,