Synod 2020 Business Meeting Summary
In a first for the Anglican Diocese of the South, the 10th Anniversary Synod Business Meeting of the Diocese was held virtually via the video conferencing service Zoom. Clergy and lay delegates gathered online for the Saturday morning meeting on November 7, 2020. The event was live-streamed on the ADOTS Facebook page, where it is still available for viewing.
“While we have not been able to gather in person, we have tried to make the most of our situation and hopefully, it will honor the Lord,” said Archbishop Foley Beach during his opening remarks. As part of the virtual event, the Rules of Order were amended to allow for procedures for voting in online meetings – approved by a raising of hands in front of delegates’ screens.
In celebration of the Diocese’s 10th anniversary, Archbishop Foley shared memories from 11 years ago, when people from various jurisdictions gathered in the offices of the American Anglican Council to ask the question: Is it time for churches in this area to form a new diocese in the newly formed Anglican Church in North America?
“We concluded that it was,” said Archbishop Foley, “and congregations who were under Bolivia, Rwanda, Nigeria, Uganda, and some independent congregations began to work together to form what has become the Anglican Diocese of the South.”
Archbishop Foley used this opportunity to look back on his Synod address from ten years ago – and remind us ten years later what the mission of ADOTS was and still is today.
The Diocese is called to:
Exist for the people; the people do not exist for the Diocese. “My whole mentality has been that what we do collectively is to assist us individually in our callings from God,” he said.
Be an equipping agency. For priests and deacons, who have a continual need for training, “one cannot rest on their past accomplishments and their past knowledge to be effective in ministry,” Archbishop Foley said. The diocese will continue to offer them opportunities to grow in faith, knowledge, effectiveness, abilities, and leadership. For congregations, they should be equipped in how to minister to one another, worship, and reach out in the community, to “follow God’s vision for your particular church.”
Fulfill the Great Commandment, Mark 12:29-31. We serve one God, who desires us to love Him, ourselves, and our neighbors. “It is a choice to maintain a love relationship with the Lord, with our neighbors, and who He has made us to be.”
Fulfill the Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20. “You and I are charged with making disciples of Jesus Christ – not with getting people to make decisions or to join the Church. Let us not get lost in doing ministry and providing worship that we forget that we are called to make disciples of Jesus Christ.”
A growing relationship with Jesus Christ. “We need fresh manna every day to have an alive, dynamic, and growing relationship with God. Day by day we walk with him in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Foster personal discipleship. Archbishop Foley references 2 Timothy 2:2: “So here you have Paul discipling Timothy, and Timothy discipling reliable men, who those reliable men or women will then go and disciple others. If we are not making disciples, then what are we doing?”
Evangelism. “Are we even presenting Jesus Christ? Individually? Corporately? If this generation is going to hear about the Lord, it will be because this Church and our contemporaries out there share the Gospel.”
Nurture Congregations. “Depending on the congregation, how it needs to be nurtured will vary. If your church is vibrant and alive, people will find the Lord through your worship, fellowship, and ministry.”
Plant Congregations. “Right now we have two new church plants and two are in the process of starting in the next few months or so. You and I have an incredible opportunity before us to reach thousands of people who do not know the Lord or who have become nominal in their faith and are unchurched.”
Archbishop Foley warned against slipping into “maintaining mode,” and closed his address saying, “It has been a privilege to serve as your bishop, and I hope the work we do together as the Anglican Diocese of the South as we begin this second decade brings honor and glory to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Happy Anniversary!”
Items of Note from Synod 2020
Address from Bishop Frank Lyons
Bishop Frank encouraged us from 1 Corinthians 15:58: ‘Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.’
“We’re living in the victory of Jesus Christ,” he said. “So as we keep our focus on the King who reigns, as we worship each day and praise him and focus on him, we also need to remember that things we do this day will be for the Lord. We will abound in His work, unshaken. Paul is encouraging us in this in-between time to focus on the Lord, to claim the victory. We need to claim that victory and live into that victory each day.”
The Bishop’s Cross
This award is given each year to a lay person “who has served ADOTS with dedication and overflowing commitment to Jesus Christ.”
This year, the awards were presented to R.C. Rover of All Saints in Peachtree City, GA, and Laura Spearman of Christ Church Atlanta.
R.C. Rover was awarded the Bishop’s Cross for his faithful service at All Saints, serving on the ADOTS Standing Committee, and leadership as its Chair. During the online Synod, he remarked, “I want to thank you for the opportunity and thank you for the honor of the Bishop’s Cross. It was a great honor for me to accept that.”
Laura Spearman was presented with the Bishop’s Cross for her strategic counsel in forming the Diocese, her selfless service on the Standing Committee, and leadership as its Chair. In a video shown during the online Synod, Archbishop Foley told her, “Without your leadership, I don’t know what we would’ve done in those early days. You really helped us a lot!”
Laura remarked, “I’m overcome. This is a surprise and such an honor, and it was so important to me in the beginning that the Diocese get off on the right foot. And with Foley’s leadership and the lay people involved, it was not a hard job. And I enjoyed serving and I’m just delighted that we have an Anglican Church in North America today, and that Foley is leading us. Thank you.”
Then and Now
Member and partner congregations:
2010: 25 2020: 42 members and 9 partners
Avg. Sunday Attendance
2010: 2,000 2020: 4,431 (pre-COVID)
Last year, there were 165 baptized and 126 confirmed.
There are now 210 clergy in ADOTS, with new ordinations in 2020 of 10 deacons and 9 priests.
“Let us give thanks to the Lord for all our clergy who have served sacrificially year after year for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Archbishop Foley. “With the onslaught of the pandemic, our clergy and lay leaders immediately began to meet, seek the Lord, and work together for what would be best for our congregations. With so many different state governments and health departments involved, it was quite a challenge to issue specific guidelines which applied to everyone in the diocese. But I am so proud of our clergy and lay leaders who have worked diligently (and are still working so) to minister to their flocks as shepherds caring for the needs of their people.”
Treasurer Chuck Lewis says the financial standing of the Diocese is in “outstanding shape”, with a “very sufficient” amount of funding. ADOTS applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan from the Small Business Administration this year, and in November 2020 received forgiveness of that loan. “We’ve also been especially blessed by all the giving of our churches and I’m sure that’s a good sign that our churches are also doing well financially,” said Lewis. “We appreciate all those gifts. Currently our stead is that our expenses are about $65k less than income for the year.” The vote on the budget for 2021 passed by a show of hands.
Greetings and Prayers for Archbishop Ben Kwashi
The Diocese received greetings from Archbishop Ben Kwashi, who was slated to be the guest speaker for the 10th Anniversary of ADOTS. However, Archbishop Ben is currently undergoing treatment for cancer. The Synod passed the following resolution:
“Be it resolved that the Anglican Diocese of the South and the Anglican Church in North America at its 10th Anniversary Synod does hereby send greetings to Archbishop Ben Kwashi, the Bishop of Jos, Nigeria and the General Secretary of GAFCON, assuring him of our love in the Lord Jesus Christ and prayers for his healing.”
Next year’s ADOTS Synod is scheduled for November 11-13, 2021.