Missions Day 2020

November 1, 2020

Missions day is a dedicated Sunday each year, during which the CEC takes up an offering for the express purpose of funding missions and projects to bless the greater world. Currently 80% of the missions fund is dedicated to Africa and the goal of establishing micro businesses. This one goal currently empowers hundreds to grow small businesses that provide for themselves and their community. These businesses provide jobs for locals, money for the owners, and support to the churches and church schools in the area. When the business owners are awarded by the local church leaders, they are further able to support the church and her mission with ongoing income. It all starts with you. If you give even a little, it is joined by the gifts of others and begins a powerful work for the kingdom of God.

You can designate a gift on our giving page to Missions Fund.

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Two New Deacons!

On Deacons: “They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.”   –  I Timothy 3:9

Saturday, July 11th 2020

The Cathedral church of Reconciliation has been blessed by the ordination of two new deacons, Samuel Foss and Caleb Northwood. The ordination was a limited capacity event attended by the Diocesan clergy and the ordinands family and several friends. Both men have studied and served for years before this point and have been pursuing a call of God to wear a clerical collar and serve the people of God under the authority of the Bishop. They boldly made their vows to preach the word, remain in prayer, to live lives of repute, to serve the church and the Bishop.

The Bishop spoke briefly at the ceremony of the importance of the selection of deacons, by the people. He reminded us that deacons are servants before they are superiors, and that they must be filled with the spirit and ALREADY in service before being put forward by their church family to serve in a clerical order. Acts 6 clearly outlines the selection of deacons and the purpose for which they are given by God to the church as a gift.

Deacon Samuel and Deacon Caleb are excited to take part the in the growth of the diocese and the church of God at large and both covet your prayers as they move under the weight of their vows and the glory of their calling.

How To: Worship From Home

How to: Worship from home
A guide for those limited by COVID -19
By Avery Northwood

It’s Sunday! Time to put on a decent outfit or even business casual. Time to do makeup, prep the kids, consume a hasty breakfast, and hustle out the door for church!

Enter COVID 19.

Many of us are finding ourselves shut-ins, quarantined and handicapped by the Coronavirus pandemic. Cut off from churches, friends, pastors, and workplaces. Our routines have been surrendered or taken by force and we are left to pick up the pieces in all the areas of our daily lives.

In the context of church, many of us find ourselves watching a digital screen on a Sunday morning, whether we’re blessed enough to have a church capable of live streaming the service, or whether we are using this as a “God-given” opportunity to “virtual-visit” the church down the road. (Let’s be honest, you’ve considered it).

Christians of all denominations are being presented, many for the first time, a variety of options for how to “attend” online church. Will it be from bed or from the couch? Will I make pancakes or waffles while the preacher rambles? Will I wear slippers or socks? (maybe both)

So what does worship from home look like?

Step one: Consider what you do as acts of worship on a regular Sunday, and do them as you would. Do you dress up? Do that. Do you pray before the service starts? do it. Do you connect with your church friends? consider reaching out. Do you sing the most loud and the most proud in the service? Wake the neighbors!

That’s it, there are no other steps.

One blessing of Coronavirus is the golden chance to reflect on what you do in your routine and why you do it. Why do we sing? Why do we dress up? Why do we sit in one place for more than an hour? Here’s a hint, it’s not just for us or for others. It is or should be entirely meant to glorify and honor our Creator and Savior God.

We gather on Sundays for fellowship, prayer, teaching, and the Eucharist as in Acts 2:42. Continue to fellowship as you are able, continue to take part in the Eucharist as your church provides, continue to absorb the teaching and preaching of the church, and pray without ceasing.

JUST because you seem alone or are just with your family, doesn’t mean that the same living God isn’t listening and watching! Now, more than ever, you are being given a singular chance to determine what drives your worship. It can be either a devotion to our great God, or it can be some lesser, misguided devotion to earthly distractions.

I can only encourage you to find some new and creative way to expand your acts of worship. Dress nicer, sing louder, set up a space in your house to help you focus on the service, message friends to get their prayer requests, send in your tithe or offering, seek out the sacraments from your priest and church, and no matter what comes, continue to press in with your prayer. May you be made to look more and more like the image of Christ our Lord.

Praying To Saints?

From a Sunday Lesson on March 8, 2020
Bp. Rob began, “I want us to start looking at the lives of some of the Saints in the Church.”  Immediately those from a Protestant background may have some worries or concerns.  They think consulting the Saints in heaven may be “necromancy,” strictly forbidden in Scripture; or worry that it would be false worship or idolizing a spiritual being other than God.

Neither of these worry need concerning us, for they are not true.  “Praying to Saints” is not worshiping them, or trying to get them to speak into this world.  First of all, the saints of God who have died and are in heaven, are alive and not dead.  When we address them we are simply soliciting their help with spiritual battles, in our walk through this life, the same way we ask others here in the Church Militant to pray for us in times of trouble or need.

There are advantages in asking the victorious Church Triumphant to pray for us: they have time (both in the sense heaven’s “time” is different from this world and in the sense they are not encumbered by scratching a living from a ‘weedy’ garden!); And they are on the other side of the ‘veil’ of heaven, and thus are in human terms ‘closer to the Lord Jesus’ than we, who are on this side of the grave.  Hebrews 12:23, 24 addresses the scene in heaven as the “assembly of the firstborn… and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, with Jesus the mediator of a new covenant…”. They are literally closer to Jesus our Lord and Savior.  In addition, they have been through trials and tests in this world (whether they passed or failed).

After the listing of innumerable saints in Hebrews chapter 11, chapter 12 begins: Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) [1] Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, [2] looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

The prayers of particular saints may help us in specific spiritual battles because of their experience (and victories) in similar struggles.  Bp. Rob volunteered that when he is battling evil spirits in a healing service (or exorcism) he often calls upon Elijah who battled Jezebel and her ‘necromancers’; and upon St. Benedict (a leading founder in western monasticism and reformer of the Church) who is known for his battles with Satan and demons.  Bp. Rob shared that the Blessed Virgin Mary is his favorite saint from which to request help.  She is the closest person to Jesus, as any mother would be to her child.  Bp. Rob solicits the prayers of St. Luke the physician when praying for the healing of others.

There was a precious piety lost when the ‘divorce’ between “Protesters” and the Roman Catholic Church took place in the 16th century. We are only recently beginning to recover these losses.

All this is not to say that saints are perfect people!  (Just read the history of Abraham the father of all those who have faith!).  But faith is our hope and assurance of things that are not visible, not “testable” in a ‘scientific’ sense.  The important point is that we do not confine our understanding of reality to that which we can see.  We’re brought up in and constantly bombarded by a hyper-rational world-view or philosophy of materialism.  Yet God is a Spirit and everything in the universe, visible and testable, are made by God having spoken them into existence.  Thus, all that we see, testifies to the Creator, no matter how often or loudly people chant ‘there is no god.’

Living in a world with a hyper-rational view of how everything works may make it harder to believe that just the “word” spoken over a valley of bones would bring life to them.  But it did.  Accounts in the Bible are NOT fables, but reality from the Author of our faith, the Creator of the universe.  If you cannot believe these miracles, then how can you confess that Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead and is living now today?  (To which we attest each week in the Creed.  Be careful, God takes your words seriously.)

What is God saying in all this?  What is the lesson today?  We are all to seek a personal intimate relationship with God, the Creator.  Our physical bodies are important and will be redeemed and resurrected.  Don’t let God’s gift of rational thought limit your faith in what God can do; that which we cannot see.

A word from the writer:
I have tried to faithfully convey as accurately as I can Bishop Rob’s  communication. If something bothers you, or you disagree with what I have written, it may not be Bp. Rob’s teaching that is bothering you! Please understand I am sharing what I myself (Fr. Jeffrey Welch) have received from the Adult Sunday teaching and the experience I had that Sunday
-Father Jeffrey Welch

The Veil Removed Film

This film was made with the intention of using contemporary mediums to glorify God through the revealing of the supernatural realities of the Holy Eucharist. It beautifully depicts the priest in persona Christi (as christ’s representative) and the epiclesis (the calling down of the heavens). We believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. We believe that we join with angels and the saints in singing the Sanctus (Holy Holy Holy). We believe that time does not separate us from sharing in the holy mystery of Christ and the last supper. We believe in the healing power of Christ’s body and blood and in the power of the word spoken.
So watch and enjoy and be sure to check out the project at www.theveilremoved.com

2019 Women’s Retreat Repost

“The fields are white unto harvest…”
John 4:35

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;  therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Matthew 9:37-38

The 2019 Diocesan Womens’ Retreat was themed around the mission of evangelism. Not natural evangelism, but rather supernatural evangelism. The mission given to us by Jesus to go and make disciples, is an impossible task. It is daunting, immense, limitless, and unapproachable without divine intervention. Even the most outgoing individual may find themselves making no headway. There has been more than one top-notch pastor asking themselves “Why don’t the people come flocking?” The ministry of evangelism requires a surgeon’s steady touch and an eagle’s longsighted vision.

The only hope we have of helping the sinner to navigate the obstacles to salvation, is to ask for the eagle eyes and the surgeon hands of the Holy Spirit. Charismatic evangelism is Spirit-led. He decides who we speak to and when we speak. Rather than bombarding the lost with ceaseless invitations and condemnations, we allow the Spirit to speak through us.
Three stream evangelism is fulfilled as we celebrate and inundate the evangelistic with the sacraments. Bringing the lost to the church and allowing the sacraments to flow in and through them. Confession, Eucharist, Baptism, the apostolic office, etc. all have a role to play in the renewing work of the Spirit and the saving work of Jesus Christ alive today and reigning forevermore.

The retreat was lead by the Bishop’s wife, Sarah and several other women from the Cathedral Church. Teaching, ministry, prayer, and praise were the unified practice of the ladies as they came away from their everyday lives to that most noble pursuit, namely seeking God.

God thoroughly blessed this retreat from start to finish. Where there was tension, He released peace, where there was trepidation, boldness, and when He spoke, many heard.  Below are several quotes from women who were blessed on retreat this year.

“Feeling I’m not alone in my struggles and that I can relate with those who’ve been walking with the Lord
way longer than me…gave me even more peace with where I’m at right now and that pressing in will
only strengthen my relationship with (God)!”

“The amount of love, acceptance, and support we all seem to have for one another even without
knowing everyone is absolutely wonderful.”

“Knowing a priest would be available for confession help set the tone up front for getting serious with the
Lord.”

The retreat will be held again in Fall 2020 November 19-21 at Sandy Cove Resort. If you would like to get information as the retreat approaches, please signup for email at www.riversmerge.org

Hagiography I

I sing a song of the saints of God, patient and brave and true
This occasional series is an introduction to brothers & sisters
who have gone on before us.
Who toiled and fought and lived and died for the Lord they loved and knew
A few will be familiar.  Many more will be strangers.
Each has unique graces & perspectives.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
& one was a shepherdess on the green
They cheer us on as we run the Great Race.
I hope you come to love them.
They were all of them saints of God and I mean, God helping, to be one too.

Mary of Egypt was a fifth-century desert ascetic.  She was a harlot beginning from age twelve, leaving her parents and journeying to Alexandria, where she lived completely in accordance with her passions for 17 years.  She sought out sexual relations with any and all available men—even those unwilling–refusing money and making her living by begging and spinning flax. She joined a group of pilgrims bound for Jerusalem, intentionally seducing the men as they traveled.  Once there everyone entered the sanctuary to celebrate the Exaltation of the Cross, except for Mary, who was barred by an unseen force. Shaken, she came to repentance and after finally entering the church, fled into the desert.  

She lived alone, eating what she could find and enduring the open elements, for 17 years fighting her desires and passions before finally breaking through into the peace of God.  Thirty years later the priest Zosima came across her by accident while praying in the desert, seeing a naked thing but not knowing whether she was human or animal or demonic apparition.  With much reluctance and fear she recounted her life story, while manifesting graces such as words of knowledge about him and his life, walking across the Jordan river, and levitating in his presence during prayer.  God alone had known that within this drunken harlot had been hidden the greatest of desert Mothers.

What can we take away from all this?  First of all, Mary fought her flesh with savage fervor, undergoing an incredible purging as she battled her desires for food and wine and lewdness, going from darkness through darkness and misery through more misery until finally breaking forth into the peace of God, constantly praying to the Blessed Virgin for help.  While there was certainly demonic attack, she recognized that her battle was first and foremost against her passions.  

A second lesson for us was her strong reluctance to speak of her past sinfulness.  This was not an aversion to testifying to the mercy of God. She recognized her passions as restrained but not removed, and was terrified lest even speaking of them would bring them to life again.  We sometimes strive for years against besetting sins before one day finding God’s victory. Yet while those old holds are broken, wisdom demands that we always tread those areas with care. They are knives waiting in darkness, sharp and glistening, and we must always walk circumspectly lest we fall again.  An alcoholic is always in recovery. To forget that invites death.  

Finally, note her extreme humility.  She manifested such extraordinary graces as words of knowledge and prophecy, translocation, levitation during prayer, walking across the Jordan river, and surviving for many years with virtually no food or water in the most inhospitable conditions, yet all the while knowing her absolute dependence on the grace of God and relying on Him in a way that few of us will experience.  

Information has been gratefully taken from the following websites:  Orthodox Church of America; St. Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church (there is a wonderful narrative here); CopticChurchNet; Mystogogy Resource Center; Glory to God for All Things; Orthowiki.

 

News From Kenya

A new church flourishes with a new tent! Bishop Chunge sends his thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A fasting and Prayer Event at Esumeyia C.E.C. Church includes young and old alike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below are more videos of fasting and praise events, including a video of two birds that were causing continuous havoc and were killed through prayer. Bishop Chunge thanks the believers in Bel Air for a keyboard that is obviously used to great effect in worship.