February 1, 2018
St. Brigid’s Day
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
One of the dearest and most beloved Celtic Saints is St Brigid of Kildare, and today is her feast day. She is venerated in the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox churches, and her story is one of strength and unique leadership in all of church history. St Brigid was the Abbess of one of the only double monasteries in Ireland, overseeing communities of both men and women in the 5th century. Born a slave, she lived and worked among druids, though she developed her Christian faith early in life and gave herself to God alone. Stories of her healing and miraculous power followed her, and she exhibited strong leadership with extraordinary skill so that her jurisdictional authority stretched very far.
God seems to raise up extraordinary leaders at times of cultural transition and transformation, as it was in St. Brigid’s day. She was one of those leaders, a model of wisdom and sacrifice for the good of all, especially the poor and needy. Any one of the biographies of Brigid will be a blessing for you.
This is just such a transitional season for our diocese, reflected in a busy schedule of travel and ministry. The ACNA College of Bishops continues to be the most significant gathering of Christian Leaders I’ve had the opportunity and privilege to be a part of; I’m humbled every time I go. Archbishop Foley and his team have written a very good summary of our time in his Communique, and I was privileged to be asked to preach at our first Eucharist together (the sermon transcript can be found here: www.ad-ne.org/from-the-bishop/a-sign-of-union-with-christ/). Archbishop Foley asked all the ACNA bishops to make this a year of teaching, preaching, and celebrating Christian marriage. Further, we will be reviewing with our own clergy the best practices for approaching pre-marital counseling, wedding ceremonies, and follow-up visits with newlyweds.
One of those bishops with whom I met in Melbourne is The Rt. Rev. John Guernsey, Bishop of the Mid-Atlantic, whose diocese oversees the Anglican Summit for Life, coupled with the March for Life, in the nation’s capital. It is always an amazing event in terms of our fellowship and witness, but also in the fullness of teaching and formation that happens for those who gather. Most of the vast numbers there were teenagers and college-age people who call themselves the Pro-Life Generation. I highly recommend an excellent Youtube video by Autumn Lindsey addressing the pro-life issue as a 16-year-old (the link is here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWNNOv6j26I). Another speaker who touched us all with her content and presentation was Stephanie Gray. One of her excellent talks on abortion and how to engage the culture on this contentious topic can be seen here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzzfSq2DEc4&t=3039s.
After the Summit and March for Life, the Standing Committee of the ADNE met for a face-to-face meeting with an increased significance due to the process and procedures for the Committee on Nomination for Bishop (CNB). Canon Susan Skillen and her team have done outstanding work that has already been reviewed by many of our ACNA bishops and all our Standing Committee members. The CNB has met every week since Synod and has accomplished an enormous amount of work. We are now receiving names of suggested nominees from many ADNE churches and missions.
Throughout each of those events, there was this strong sense of gathering momentum, even as we come to the end of a season in the ADNE and the transition towards a new bishop. When we come to endings and transitions in life, it is very important to pause and pray, to assess where we have been and where we are going next. The election of our diocese’s next bishop is one of the most significantly Anglican things we do by providing the structure for a bishop’s election rather than by having one appointed by the crown or even by other bishops. Here we elect the new bishop from among ACNA clergy at the diocesan level, through the vote of the laity and clergy, the results of which are confirmed by the ACNA College of Bishops.
The ADNE is now in a season of prayer and discernment for both the nominations and the discernment of those men by the CNB to become the slate of final candidates for our November elections. We are trying to finish the work of getting the final list of candidates by the first of June; would you join us in a commitment to pray to this end? Please be sure to read our Election News Page on our website, where you will find the liturgy that will help springboard your prayers for our diocese and for the election.
In the Book of Armagh, it is written that “Between St Patrick and St Brigid, the pillars of the Irish people, there was so great a friendship of charity that they had but one heart and one mind. Through him and through her, Christ performed many great works.” In this season of change for us, may we also be of one heart and one mind, pursuing Christ together, that He might perform many great works through each of us.
Bishop Bill Murdoch