Pastoral Letter from Bishop Mark Engel - June 9, 2021
June 9, 2021 Feast of St. Columba Abbot of Iona and Missionary Evangelist
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.” Proverbs 11:30
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Provincial Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America unanimously recognized the newly formed Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes on June 9, 2010. One could say that the “birthday of the ADGL” is on the Feast of St. Columba. This is a fitting day of remembrance and celebration as the evangelistic zeal of St. Columba is recognized in the Preamble of the ADGL Constitution that states:
“The Diocese came into being in 2010 in order to preserve and propagate the historic Christian faith as handed down in the Anglican formularies throughout the centuries in order to spread the Gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ to the Great Lakes region.”
From its inception, the ADGL has been a missionary diocese. It has been and must remain, our foremost concern to preach the gospel, evangelizing the lost, and making disciples of Jesus Christ. Allow me to cite three reasons why I am calling on all of us this day to renew our commitment to the task of evangelism:
1. We are just now emerging from the pandemic of a lifetime, globally and throughout the U.S. The ongoing impacts of this pandemic will be felt in society for years to come. People are just now beginning to process the pent-up grief associated with the loss of life and livelihood. Our friends, family, and neighbors need the hope that comes through new life found only in Jesus Christ.
2. Recent surveys tell us that we are now living in one of, if not the most unchurched generation in U.S. history. Millions of people living around us have no concept of the eternal significance of the crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and imminent return of Jesus Christ. Millions are cut off from the life-giving hope available in the family of God found in the local church. We are living in a post-modern, post-Christian culture, and the example of our Celtic missionary ancestors has much to offer us for our present evangelistic mission.
3. On a very personal note, our youngest son Aaron’s girlfriend/intended fiancé passed away last week from a yet-to-be-determined medical condition. The passing of this seemingly healthy, vibrant 29-year-old has reminded her friends and family of the fragile nature of human life. Any one of those around us could pass through physical death into eternity at any time.
This present reality means that we are standing before an open door of unprecedented opportunity to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Will you join me in a fresh commitment to be about the important and urgent business of witnessing to the saving love of God the Father, through the gracious atoning death of God the Son, in the power of God the Holy Spirit?
Please pray with me: O God, by the preaching of your blessed servant Columba you caused the light of the Gospel to shine in Scotland: Grant, we pray, that, having his life and labors in remembrance, we may show our thankfulness to you by following the example of his zeal and patience; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Almighty God our Savior, you desire that none should perish, and you have taught us through your Son that there is great joy in heaven over every sinner who repents: Grant that our hearts may ache for a lost and broken world. May your Holy Spirit work through our words, deeds, and prayers, that the lost may be found and the dead made alive, and that all your redeemed may rejoice around your throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 2019, #20)
Bearing witness to Jesus with you, +Mark
Pastoral Letter from Bishop Mark Engel - The Reigning Christ - May 10, 2021
Dear ADGL Clergy and Lay Leaders,
“…I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)
“God…the Father of glory…seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:17, 20-23) Jesus spoke at length in the upper room discourse to prepare the disciples for His ascension into heaven, specifically emphasizing the advantage of the sending of the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures assure us that there are numerous benefits that we have received because “Heascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.” (The Creed)
The Feast of the Ascension is a Principal Feast of the Church. Yet, all too often, we fail to properly emphasize the powerful spiritual truths associated with this aspect of God’s saving work through Jesus Christ. (Perhaps this happens because the feast falls on a weekday, gets eclipsed by our Easter season focus, or is overlooked in anticipation of Pentecost?) In the social upheaval resulting from the unsettling events of the past year, we need to be reassured more than ever of the deeply settling truth that “The Lamb who was slain has begun His reign! Alleluia!” (Kenyan Liturgy)
Allow me to draw our attention to three key realities for us to live into in light of the Ascension and Session of the Risen Christ.
First, let us confidently live and minister assured of the sovereign plan of God through the reign of the Risen Christ. The early disciples lived in a time of social and cultural upheaval. Yet, their early preaching and praying exhibit a deeply rooted confidence in God’s unfolding plan. Consider these examples:
“…this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God…Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:23, 36)
“…Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The Kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’ for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, …the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” (Acts 4:24-28)
I call on each of our ADGL congregations to keep the Feast on Ascension Day to strengthen our confidence in our Reigning King Jesus! We plan to post an Ascension Day Eucharist on the diocesan Facebook and YouTube channels as a resource for your congregations as well.
Second, let us continually live and minister in the present fullness of the Holy Spirit poured out upon us. Those same disciples who received the Holy Spirit in fullness on Pentecost were all filled again in answer to prayer. (Acts 4:31)
I call on each of our congregations to observe a special ten-day prayer emphasis from Ascension to Pentecost for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our diocese.
Third, let us commit ourselves anew to our sacred trust to be His witnesses. The reigning Christ has poured out the Holy Spirit to “cloth us with power from on high” (Luke 24:49) to “…be [his] witnesses…to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) While there are many good ministries we give ourselves to, there is one mission that is unique and primary to the Church, namely, bearing witness to the saving grace of our loving Heavenly Father through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
I call on each of us to renew our personal commitment to share the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ as a regular part of our Christian discipleship. I also call on each of our clergy to train and equip the saints for this high calling.