June 30, 2014
At the end of July, Church of the Resurrection has the privilege of hosting an annual national conference called Caminemos Juntos. Here are the five most important things you need to know about this conference:
#1 – Caminemos Juntos means “Let’s walk together.”
¡Caminemos Juntos! as a conference seeks to spark a church planting movement among Hispanics and to unify current Anglican Hispanic churches throughout North America. We have a yearly national conference and a leadership training institute, Instituto San Pablo. Six of these congregations are part of our diocesan family here in the Upper Midwest. But it isn’t just for Hispanic leaders. It’s also for normal Church of the Resurrection folks who want to start ‘walking together’ with the Latino brothers and sisters in our own diocese.
#2 – Walking with our immigrant brethren is a priority for the Anglican church.
People might ask why they should care about this conference. Not only is it an amazing opportunity to begin to truly walk together with our Latino brothers and sisters here in the Upper Midwest and from all over the world, in addition, this past year, Archbishop Bob Duncan sent out a special communiqué challenging the ACNA to a new season of walking together with our immigrant brothers and sisters from all over the world and launched a new initiative called the “Anglican Immigrant Initiative." The purpose of this initiative is to equip congregations at the local level to serve and reach under-resourced immigrants using the unique and timely tool of immigration legal ministry. There are currently 11 million undocumented immigrants who have to navigate a confusing legal system and who are often taken advantage of. In meeting immigrants' practical legal needs, we also hope to meet their spiritual needs through evangelism and the starting of 30 new immigrant congregations. Here in the Upper Midwest we are leading the way by starting the first center in Oak Park.
#3 – Caminemos Juntos is at Church of the Resurrection.
The 2014 conference will be held July 31- August 2 at Church of the Resurrection. With the conference so close, there is no reason not to stop in or get involved!
#4 – You don’t need to know Spanish to attend.
But what better chance to brush up on those 2 years of high-school Spanish? Regardless of your linguistic abilities, all workshops will be bilingual. The conference will also offer workshops on multi-cultural ministry and outreach, church planting, and evangelism. Special guests will include Archbishop Tito Zavala from Chile and the worship band Kyrios Band also from Chile.
#5 – There are many ways to get involved.
June 23, 2014
"You can't go to work like this. You can't start out the day this angry."
"Why not? We have every right to be angry. I don't know how else to be."
"It's not over yet," Sarah pleaded. "Maybe God will still come through for us."
I glared at her. “We're screwed! God hates us," I declared.
Sarah was right: that is not a good way to start your day (or your spouse's day). But I had a point. Six months after the collapse of our adoption attempt (and our 4th miscarriage), we had restarted the process. While waiting on Ethiopia, we were unexpectedly able to adopt a baby boy from Texas. But two months after bringing him home, an answer to our prayers now appeared to be a cruel curse.
Judah’s birthfather had been threatening to stop the adoption as soon as our little boy, then named Jakori, was born. At first, I took it for empty boasting. But he didn’t stop. By Christmas, we were afraid. At the end of the year, we spoke with our agency’s attorney. The birthfather was taking us to court. The attorney made it clear that we would lose – and lose Judah. We were billed $300 for the conversation.
We were defenseless. Neither we, nor his birthmother who courageously carried him for nine months before placing him with us, would ever see him again. And with that, we would be finished – emotional and financially.
Where was God? We previously thought He had forgotten us. Now, He had remembered – and sent us on a suicide mission.
We had always been taught that to connect with God, you should read your Bible and pray. I found the Psalms to be relatable in their raw honesty, but otherwise reading the Bible seemed like an exercise in cognitive dissonance. And when I did pray, all that came out was profanity and outrage. At a class on prayer, Matt Woodley asked, "Why don't we pray?" and I replied, "I feel like I'm standing in front of a 10-story building completely engulfed in flames – and in my hand is a squirt gun.”
But in the weeks that followed, Church of the Resurrection embraced us in ways we had never experienced before. I met with Father Gregory (now serving in Cambodia), and instead of offering trite answers he listened, prayed, and told me told me only what he heard from the Lord. Friends came from all over Chicago to a prayer night for us at the old Ministry Center. Margie Fawcett led a liturgy based upon 2 Chronicles 20, and then – when we couldn’t find the words to pray – Brett Crull led almost two dozen people in praying for us.
Externally, nothing changed. Legal bills rolled in each week. Judah’s blood was drawn for a paternity test, and he screamed as if he knew that it was not only a needle prick, but a key step in tearing our family apart. When I held him, I wondered if he would ever know who I was, or who Sarah was.
By Ash Wednesday, we imminently awaited the order to return Judah to Texas. As we sang, “Lord, Have Mercy,” I couldn’t get the words out without weeping. Scenes from the past two years replayed in my mind, a montage of loss, pain and futility. Now we awaited the end. Father Kevin’s sermon, “The Spiritual Disciplines You Didn’t Choose,” was either written specifically for us or was a product of the Holy Spirit. Listening to his prophetic words, I suddenly recalled the Civil War movie Glory.
A regiment of African-American soldiers (the Massachusetts 54th) is given what amounts to a suicide mission. They realize that they cannot possibly take the fort they have been ordered to attack, and that they will all die in the attempt. But they embrace their mission and fight bravely, proving by their deaths on the battlefield what no one believed of them. If only on that night, I was able to accept my mission as I understood it: to love Judah for a few more days and then say goodbye forever.
Two days later, we received the most astonishing news: there was a zero percent chance that the man trying to take our son away from us was his father! No one had expected this. Some called it a miracle. All we knew was that God had delivered us. Suddenly, we could imagine a future with Judah. We would see him grow up, watch him learn to walk and run, hear his first words. It remains the happiest day of our lives.
And as we rejoiced, we realized something: God had been there, only not in the ways we had been taught to look for Him. God was present to us through the Church. When we couldn't believe, they had faith for us. When we couldn't pray, they prayed for us. The Church literally was the hands and feet of Jesus, embracing us and healing us.
For the first time in my life, I truly believed what the Bible says: that the Church "is the body of Christ." We all profess it, but it couldn’t be literally true – could it? Maybe the Church is meant to be like the body of Christ. Perhaps it's a metaphor, or an ideal for which we should strive? But I know the Church is the Body of Christ because I've experienced it.
Judah-Jakori Douglas Roney was baptized into that Body of Christ on Pentecost of the following year, wearing a white tuxedo that his birthmother chose.