Decades ago the Anglican Renewal Movement in Australia coordinated an effective ministry to both encourage and equip clergy and lay people specifically in the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Cursillo Movement has also provided an effective link into empowering, predominantly lay people, for Kingdom work. In more recent times there was an initiative similar to the New Wine UK, based in Canberra which was sustained for a few years. The only other Anglican organisation with a focus on teaching around the person and work of the Holy Spirit, is SOMA (Sharing of Ministries Abroad) Australia (somaau.org.au). SOMA, which celebrated its 40th anniversary of international ministry in 2019 in Melbourne, had as its focus, the sending small short-term mission teams, across the world at the invitation of Anglican Diocesan Bishops.
As COVID19 brought a temporary halt to opportunities for overseas mission, the SOMA Australia Board, sought God in prayer as to what should be their focus during the lockdown season. The SOMA Board believed that it was called to initiate a new network (not a Movement), to encourage all Anglicans seeking renewal by the Spirit, regardless of tribe. This new network was to be about new wine in new wine skins and not simply a shot in the arm for older charismatics of the 1970’s. Thus the network would have a different purpose and focus than the previous ARMA (Anglican Renewal Movement Australia) and a broader appeal than SOMA. An initial canvas of Dioceses through existing known contacts established a data base of over 200 interested members and parishes.
ARNA Working Group
An ARNA Working Group was established in 2020, the original members being Bishop Ian Lambert, (former Bishop to the Defence Force, current Chair of SOMA Australia , Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn); Archdeacon Helen Phillips (Diocese of Melbourne); Rev Mark McDonald (Diocese of Melbourne); Rev Tim Watson (Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn); and recently, Amy Warren (Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn); Katy Lambert (Diocese of Bendigo); Alisha Moyle and Rev David Perryman (Diocese of Gippsland).
Observers of the Anglican Communion in Australia, have been witnessing declining numbers and in many areas, a greater focus on survival, rather than salvation of souls and transforming lives. COVID 19 has further exacerbated the Communion’s mission. As we know, salvation and transformation, can only be brought about through the grace of God – God’s empowering presence – by his Holy Spirit. We believe that it is time to raise a fresh network of Anglicans who are interested in the pursuit of a spirit empowered ministry for the sake of the Kingdom. By establishing a new network, we would hope to encourage and support lay and clergy who wish to explore this aspect of ministry, which is currently given little attention from the mainstream theological colleges.
The most widespread evangelistic tool currently used, the ALPHA Course, which has been adopted by a huge range of denominations, presumes (as a matter of course) that a transforming personal encounter with the Holy Spirit and the exercise of spiritual gifts are a normal part of Christian life. ALPHA promotes a dynamic, mature and balanced theology of the Holy Spirit, working not just with Anglicans but key Roman Catholic figures such as Raniero Cantalamessa and Protestant theologians of the calibre of Miroslav Volf and Jurgen Moltmann. The success of the ALPHA initiative and the linked ministry of HTB in the UK, points us to the reality that the spiritual intuitions of charismatic renewal, have a vital contribution to make to the renewal of Anglicanism, and are currently ripe for rediscovery.
The Aspirations of ARNA
ARNA would encourage Anglicans seeking renewal in the Spirit to:
- Begin in personal and corporate prayer. There would appear to be certain things that that the Spirit simply will not do unless believers are gathered together in prayer (Acts 2.1). Historically, charismatic renewal began in small, local prayer groups.
- Work across the Anglican Communion intentionally abstaining from participating in culture and doctrine wars, steering clear of the more obvious tribal fault lines, and equipping ourselves theologically to have good conversations and to “disagree well”. A key distinctive of Anglican Renewal generally (and ARNA specifically) is seeking to foster theological maturity, ecclesial loyalty, and deeply Trinitarian thinking that engages with the best contemporary theology.
- Rediscovering our Anglican roots of renewal . “Look to the rock from which you were hewn” (Isaiah 51.1), valuing the deep roots of Anglican theological tradition, especially trinitarian theology, with the aim of broadening the study in pneumatology, and experiencing the person, work and ministry of the Holy Spirit .
- Earnestly seek the leading and grace of the Holy Spirit to assist in bringing new life to ‘dry bones’ and refreshment for individuals which has daily impact on their lives and worship.
- Explore our sung worship. Rather than confining ourselves to either Together in Song or a shortlist of recent hits, we should make full use of the “treasures old and new” (Mt 13.52) in our worship storehouse. In assessing the distinctive worship legacy of the “renewal”, we need both a “hermeneutic of suspicion” about language, and also a “second naïveté” which frees us to sing not just ‘Oceans’, but Wimber, Kendrick, Scripture in Song.
- Explore the convergence between charismatic, liturgical, and contemplative spirituality. Discovering how the Holy Spirit can be encountered in a range of liturgical and contemplative prayer practices, and how these spiritual traditions can enrich our theology and mission.
- Acknowledge the conversation partners in renewal outside our own denomination. This would assist in overcoming the staleness and tribality of intra-Anglican conversations, and avoiding endlessly revisiting fruitless old arguments. As well it would resource Anglicans with the best possible theological conversation partners.
When ARNA starts to hear reports that local churches are growing as they open themselves to the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit; when church leaders, clergy and lay, feel supported and encouraged to continue the hard work of church renewal; when leadership isolation is lessened, connection is increased and people are empowered and confident to lead ministry renewal in their local contexts; when we are sharing better across the Communion, then, ARNA will be achieving its purpose.
How will ARNA achieve its purpose?
ARNA will provide a safe place for conversation and mutual learning, while encouraging people’s spirituality and prayer life. We desire to resource and support opportunities for connection, spiritual formation and ministry development for people from a range of backgrounds and experiences..
Similar to ReSource in the UK, ARNA will provide access to resources to teach and equip people in the person, work and ministry of the Spirit. This will be achieved through webinars, face to face gatherings, on-line blogs and discussions, retreats, and mentoring of young clergy and lay leaders. Regionally, ARNA is looking to establish hubs for prayer and mutual support. The end result will be a more effective presentation of the Gospel to the wider community, and a church ministering in the power and authority of Christ.
ARNA’s on-line presence will be established before the end of 2021, with an e- launch in February 2022. Brief prepared by Bishop Ian Lambert for ARNA Working Group. 11 October 2021