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Bishop’s Cross Award Recipient: Mr. Ty Bragg

“From the time I first made a heart commitment to embrace my new life in Jesus Christ I have been called to a prayer life,” says Mr. Ty Bragg, Prayer Coordinator for the Diocese of the South.

Archbishop Foley Beach created a new tradition at the 2019 Mission Matters Conference & Synod: the institution of the Bishop’s Cross Award for outstanding service to the Diocese. The inaugural recipients of this honor are Mr. Ty Bragg and Mr. Chuck Lewis (to be featured in a separate article).

“As a child, my Great Aunt Ida saw that I attended church. She repeatedly told me that the Lord would use me and one day I would lay hands on the sick and see them healed,” says Bragg. “That thought never escaped me even when I was far from [being] a saint. I have had an ever-increasing call to prayer and intercession. The abiding presence of Almighty God has ever drawn me to Him.”

Mr. Bragg’s ministry within the Anglican Church began 15 years ago in Peachtree City, GA, where he was Minister of Music and Worship at Prince of Peace under Fr. Ray Greiner. “It was a very warm, reverent, and praying parish,” says Bragg. “Many hours of intimate prayer and healing were had during our Thursday evening prayer gatherings.” It was also there that he met his wife, Joey Jordan Bragg.

Archbishop Foley Beach presents Mr. Ty Bragg with the Bishop’s Cross Award at Synod 2019.

Then in 2011, he became Minister of Music and Worship at Trinity Anglican in Douglasville, GA. Beginning in 2012, Bragg served as Secretary on the ADOTS Standing Committee, to which he was reelected in 2018. During his current term, he has served on the Nominating Committee, the Ecclesiastical Court, and the Cathedral Dean Search Committee.

“As my first Standing Committee term came to an end, Bishop Foley asked me if I would prayerfully consider coordinating prayer for the diocese. I was surprised at both the request and nod I received from the Lord,” says Bragg. This led to the first Prayer Conference for the diocese in 2014, a second conference in 2017 focused on healing prayer, and coordination of prayer leaders and ministers around the diocese.

“As prayer is learned by doing, I have experienced tremendous personal victories and monumental defeats during my spiritual journey,” says Bragg. “As I trust in the Lord with all my heart I experience victory. However, distractions can cause any of us to easily ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit. We must be vigilant to keep our hearts toward our Master.”

Bragg also currently mentors prison inmates, several of whom he says will spend the rest of their days in state prison. “During my walk with the Lord, He has employed my gifts, allowing me to travel as His ambassador to many nations experiencing many opportunities to guide people into relationship with the Lord to experience the beauty of His salvation,” he says. “I have been and am being used of the Lord. It is a wonderful thing to hear a born-again convict say, ‘It has taken prison and incarceration to set me free.’”

Bragg’s favorite story of prayer ministry goes back to 1976, when he returned home from Europe. He had been playing the role of Judas in a touring production of the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar – at the end of which he made a deeper commitment to his walk with the Lord. He received teaching and discipling from missionaries in Holland, and continued traveling through Europe and the Middle East with missionaries, using his gift for music as ministry. But upon his return home, he found his mother gravely ill.

“Her bones were so brittle that her legs were broken, and she was unable to walk. Doctors had told her she may never walk again. I told her I was going to anoint her, pray for her healing, and for her to do some spiritual business with Jesus Christ,” says Bragg. “I did and she was healed, walked, sometimes faster than she might should have, and did business with the Lord before she went to be with him ten years later.”

He also was able to be reconciled with his father and pray over him before his death. “Those prayer times are my best and favorite memories,” he says. “Closely following are times I prayed for my children to receive the Lord.”

Mr. Chuck Lewis (L), Mr. Ty Bragg, and Archbishop Foley

Bragg was scheduled to hold a prayer workshop at this year’s Synod, but he and his wife both became quite ill with colds. He called the Cathedral office to say he would be unable to attend.

“I immediately received a response that Archbishop Foley said that he needed me there. Well, I mustered myself and made the hour and a half drive hoping not to infect others. To my deep surprise, I was awarded the Bishop’s Cross. Yes, I was surprised and highly honored. I cherish the recognition because I know it is a result of God’s faithfulness as I yield to Him.”

Mr. Bragg gives a beautiful and powerful description of the ministry of prayer:

“Victory is ours to be had for the Kingdom of God is here, now. Each day is new. Each day presents an opportunity for entering the throne room of our Lord Jesus Christ, intimacy with our Heavenly Father, and Holy Spirit-guided divine appointments.”

12 Days of Christmas: Prayers and Lessons

The Twelve Days and the Epiphany are a great time to spend a few moments each day in prayer, scripture, and praise. Prepared by Canon Greg and Rachel Moorman. Download the printable resource below!

Click to view or download!

First-ever joint ACNA/NALC conference, Archbishop Beach Speaking

February 13-15, 2020
Sheraton Orlando North

The Anglican Church in North America and the North American Lutheran Church would both describe themselves as “Great Commission” churches—committed to the Lord’s charge to “Go, make disciples…baptize…teach…” (Matthew 28:19-20). Other Christian bodies in North America share the same focus, but lack the commitment to the key role of Word and Sacrament in forming Christians who will be disciples and followers of Jesus, intentionally, authentically and with accountability. Essential to such forming of disciples is community, and developing congregational cultures which foster and support disciple-making. As simple as they sound, disciple-making and creating congregations with disciple-making cultures are not familiar or comfortable to most Lutherans and Anglicans in the 21st Century!

Join us for this opportunity for biblically-grounded Anglicans and Lutherans to meet together, get to know one another and network for greater mission and ministry in local contexts; and to acknowledge and embrace “small steps” toward disciple-making at the local level—fostering an “awakening toward action,” regardless of the size of the congregation, or the experience of clergy and laity; and to return home encouraged and empowered to get involved, to get motivated and to get moving with regard to being disciples and making disciples!

Find out more and register!

An Invitation to the Evergreen Project from Archbishop Beach

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Ministry,

The Evergreen Project has collected great ideas from other leaders and churches to help you end the calendar year in a financially strong way. I want to you see some of the creative thinking that is already going on in the areas of stewardship and generosity.

Here are two examples:

* One of our young ACNA church planters mailed a year end letter with a well-written appeal for support. He included an envelope. That’s all. He was overwhelmed with the response. He discovered that Christians really do want to give to their church. Sometimes though, we need to ask them!

* Another ACNA church leader got creative during the last days of the last year. The Rector shared some photographs of the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service in an email to his congregation and encouraged people to give during the closing days of the year. They did! That last email added an extra 12% to the annual giving!

The Evergreen Project has developed more methods and ideas that can help you and your congregation end the calendar year financially strong and ready for 2020. We have five of their ideas as a PDF.

You might be interested to know that we are seeing some great results from The Joy of Giving Up, the Annual Program from Evergreen. Over one hundred churches are finishing their Fall Stewardship campaign and I am thanking God for more commitments, greater generosity, and an increased focused on mission.

So, if you like these five resources, there are a total of twelve for you to consider using in your congregation in the closing days of the year. You don’t need to do all twelve of these ideas! At least not this year. But all of these resources are ‘doable’ in the last few weeks of the year.

The resource is called “Ending the Year Strong.” If you already subscribe to “The Generosity Box,” the full edition will be sent to you has a hard copy.

With Great Thanksgiving for your faithful Gospel ministry,

The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach

Celebrating the Legacies of Two Churches

Two churches in the Diocese of the South will make 2019 their last year of services. “We usually get sad about a church closing its doors, but I think we should celebrate the ministry,” said Archbishop Foley Beach at the 2019 Synod meeting. And in that spirit, we will.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Church of Jesus Our Shepherd, Norcross, GA
Rector Rev. Bill DeBardeleben

Church of Jesus Our Shepherd, Norcross, GA

“Jesus Our Shepherd is an unusual church,” says Fr. Bill DeBardeleben. “Our whole focus has basically been on mission.”

Jesus Our Shepherd will hold its final service on Sunday, December 8, 2019. Just the day before on Dec. 7, the church will turn 26 years old. Over these many years, the church has supported dozens of missionaries, sent its own members out into ministries around the country, and supported local ministries to the homeless, children, and those in need – much of which was accomplished by their conviction to forego purchasing a building.

L to R: Archbishop Foley Beach; Founding Rector, Fr. Tom Belt; Current Rector, Fr. Bill DeBardeleben

“We thought we wanted a building, and we raised a good bit of money,” says Fr. Bill. “But we were praying all through this and after we had raised the money for this building, we prayed again and God clearly told us: I’ve got all the buildings I need; I want a church.”

Part of that calling was what they named the “Legacy Project” – supporting Fr. John Richardson in ministry in the Atlanta, area, using part of their building fund to pay his salary for several years. Fr. John served in local church planting and as a chaplain for both Oglethorpe University and the juvenile prison system. “We could see then that someday Jesus Our Shepherd was not going to continue, but we wanted to leave something that would,” says Fr. Bill.

Though the church didn’t take off as they had hoped, “He [Fr. John] has had a major impact on the campus of Oglethorpe University, and now he is working with young people in the juvenile detention center and bringing kids to Jesus like you wouldn’t believe,” says Fr. Bill. “That is a fruit of Jesus Our Shepherd. It wasn’t what we envisioned, but it was what God envisioned – so we’re happy about that.”

Fr. Tom Belt on saxophone.

Jesus Our Shepherd came under Anglican oversight in 2004 with its second pastor, Fr. Tom Belt, who with wife Lucy started Partners in Ministry, offering support to missionaries around the world. After Fr. Tom retired from Jesus Our Shepherd in 2014, Fr. Bill became Rector. Fr. Tom had initially come to Jesus Our Shepherd at the request of its first pastor, Frank Barbian, to help with musical worship.

“Tom is a gifted musician. He has written the most beautiful liturgical music. Everything that you hear in a liturgy, he has put to music,” says Fr. Bill. “We still sing all of this in our service. Almost all our whole service is musical.”

The rich scope of missionary work inspired or supported by Jesus Our Shepherd is almost hard to grasp. They currently support about 20 missionaries worldwide with around 60% of their budget: from overseas work in India, Nepal, Israel, and Pakistan, to work around the U.S. among college students, refugees, clinics, and local food kitchen ministries. The former senior warden of Jesus Our Shepherd now works with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Florida campuses. One of their members left an executive position to work with inner city children in Tallahassee, FL. Another church member works in Clarkston, GA, one of the largest refugee communities in the country.

“We were determined to not go out of business and leave our missionaries with no opportunity to replace the loss of our support,” says Fr. Bill. So while they will have their last service Dec. 8, their missionary support will continue until September 2020.

Moses Woloquelli at a Jesus Our Shepherd service.

One beautiful story Fr. Bill tells is of Moses Woloquelli – a member of Jesus Our Shepherd for the last 20 years, who met church members when they came knocking on his door to spread the news of their worship service nearby. A recent refugee from Liberia and its civil wars, Moses had a place to live but little else. Jesus Our Shepherd helped take care of his immediate needs, but also assisted him in pursuing higher education, and sponsored his wife Oretha’s emigration to America. They’re even making a movie about him to draw attention to his need for a green card – rather than temporary protected status, which requires annual renewal.

“It’s just a glorious story… He’s been through a lot and God has been faithful to him, and he has been faithful to Jesus Our Shepherd.”

JOS founders Evelyn & Ryner Wittgens with missionary to Africa, Gray Plunkett

Fr. Bill invites anyone who has ever attended Jesus Our Shepherd to come back and join in their last worship service on Sunday, December 8, 10:30 a.m. at the Hilton Atlanta Northeast [please note: this is a change from the Pinckneyville Community Center].

“We will have a glorious celebration of the life and victory of the Church of Jesus Our Shepherd. Our Bishop, Frank Lyons will be with us and we will have other surprise guests I’m sure. A big reception will follow. Please come celebrate with us and bring glory to our awesome God.”

Continuing their December tradition, Jesus Our Shepherd will be raising funds to send rice to Liberia – last year’s donations totaled over $2100. Another December custom is gathering wrapped Christmas gifts for children in their partnership with the First Asian Indian Baptist Church. “If you want to be extra blessed, go buy some stuff, wrap it and bring it. You will never have this much fun again,” says Fr. Bill.

“We love what we do, and we love each other, and we love the Lord. And we’ll continue to do that.”

Emmanuel Fellowship, Cleveland, TN
Rector Rev. Mitchell Baker

Emmanuel Fellowship, Cleveland, TN, in their last service on Oct. 5. In attendance was Fr. Jack King, Dean of Tennessee.

“Some of [the] seeds that God planted in our hearts when he called us to plant Emmanuel was that the Holy Spirit would draw the people to the church,” says Fr. Mitchell Baker. “As far as I know there were only a small handful of people who ever came because of advertising. All others came by word of mouth because of what they experienced.”

Fr. Mitchell and his wife Luwana have lived and ministered in the Cleveland, TN area and at Lee University there for the last 16 years. Emmanuel Fellowship had its first communion in 2003, beginning formal services in 2005. The mission of the church, he says, has been to restore the concept of community and relationships with Jesus Christ, relationship with others, and relationship to the community and world.

“We also wanted to instill the idea of Sanctuary,” says Fr. Mitchell. “We wanted them to know that Emmanuel Fellowship was a safe place. When they entered the doors people would love them exactly where they were in life, whoever they were, or whatever had happened to them. [It] was a place of healing for those burnt out, spit out, abused, or felt abandoned by the Church.”

Fr. Mitchell and Luwana Baker

This was evident in their choice of worship time – Saturday nights, to invite any who would otherwise be averse to a Sunday morning church service.

“They would come and God would minister to them, and after a few months they would go back into the world healed and refreshed,” says Fr. Mitchell.

Their work at Lee University allowed them to touch the lives of many students, many of whom are now dedicated to ministering to others.

“One has planted a church in Ames, Iowa and is reaching those who have not entered a church for decades. Another is an associate pastor at a UMC in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and will be doing a church plant in New Jersey in January,” says Fr. Mitchell. “Our first student, who was also our first worship leader, graduated from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis [and] now has a Lutheran parish outside of Buffalo, NY. Of course, many other of our kids are ministering in a multitude of ways.”

The touch of Emmanuel Fellowship and the Bakers is clear in the words of those who have passed through their doors:

“Emmanuel Fellowship is the church we searched for over many years. Under your steady leadership, we found a church filled with love, acceptance, and the strong presence of God. We feel privileged to have experienced this.”

“Your kindness and sincere concern for people – including me – has been wonderfully refreshing. You are the kind of people Paul was describing in I Corinthians 16:18, ‘For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.’”

“Emmanuel Fellowship has been on the forefront of a re-emergence of liturgy on the campus of Lee and the younger community within Cleveland. What you have planted and watered within this community, God is giving up in his timing. I will carry all of these fond memories with me in my heart, but it’s not the services or occasions that make them fond. It’s who you are and the spiritual bond of friendship we share that makes these memories special to me.”

“You both have blessed my life, I am so very thankful we made the decision to walk in that day and start our journey with Emmanuel! I knew I had found my home! I look forward to our monthly visits now as we start our new season together.”

Emmanuel Fellowship held their last service on Saturday, October 5, a time of “Homecoming and Commissioning” of prayers, anointing, and sending forth. Fr. Mitchell will still be serving in the Cleveland community as an Anglican priest, and it’s the Bakers’ desire to have monthly gatherings “for fellowship, food, scripture, and the Eucharist.”

And as a former parishioner said, “He is still ‘God with us.’”

by Rachel Moorman
Communications Associate