“Evangelism is joining a conversation the Holy Spirit is already having with another person.” -Darrell Johnson:
Today is the anniversary of the Church Missionary Society(CMS) ministry in the Church of Nigeria(Anglican Communion). We are grateful to God for using the CMS as his instrument to spread the gospel and the Anglican tradition in Nigeria since 1846 in Yorubaland and Igboland by 1857.
Every member of this Diocese is a missionary in North America because has called us to salvation and sent us to proclaim his word. This is urgent partly because our culture is no longer Christian, in fact it is openly hostile to the Christian Faith. Our goal is to tell the good news of the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus to our pagan relatives, friends, colleagues and society with gentleness and respect so that they might repent of sin, believe in Christ and be saved. That is the mission of our Diocese. This entails sacrifice and shame and suffering. The CMS missionaries suffered and many died to give the gospel to Africa. Let us be willing to suffer to give this gospel to our nations again. We are not here to spread our version or your version of Anglicanism as wonderful as you may think it is. Rather we are here to spread the gospel primarily and hopefully in the process teach a godly expression of Anglicanism.
Since we are Anglican missionaries sent by God to evangelize North America, it is perhaps wise to ask how Anglicanism understands evangelism. The Primates of the Anglican Communion defined evangelism in this way:
“To evangelize is to make known by word and deed the love of the crucified and risen Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit so that people will repent, believe, and receive Christ as their Savior and obediently serve him as their Lord in the fellowship of his Church.” That’s not bad! And as C S Lewis’s put it, “Christianity is a story of how the righteous king has landed and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.” So join the glorious sabotage!!!!
Here is a very brief introduction to the Church Missionary Society:
“The Church Missionary(now Mission) Society was founded in Aldersgate Street in the City of London on 12 April 1799. Most of the founders were members of the Clapham Sect, a group of activist evangelical Christians. They included Henry Thornton MP and William Wilberforce MP. The founders of CMS were committed to three great enterprises: abolition of the slave trade, social reform at home and world evangelisation.
Wilberforce was asked to be the first president of the Society but he declined due to his workload but took on the office of vice president. Thornton became the first treasurer. The Rev Josiah Pratt, curate of St John, Bedford Row (London) soon emerged in a proto-chief executive role.
The spiritual background to the emergence of CMS was the great outpouring of energy in Western Europe now called The Great Awakening. John Wesley, an Anglican priest and failed missionary, became a key player in the UK version of the story. Not all those influenced by the revival left the Anglican Church to become Methodists. One such was John Venn, the saintly rector of Clapham.
Members of the second and third generation following the revival saw many opportunities to consolidate its effects. Alongside the main Clapham agenda they sponsored Sunday Schools for evangelism and education, founded Bible Societies and much more.
The Reformation and the abolition of monasteries and religious orders left the Church of England without vehicles for mission, especially for outreach to the non-Christian world. This new membership society agreed to be loyal to the leadership of bishops and an Anglican pattern of liturgy, but not dominated by clergy and emphasised the role of laymen and women. Much of what we call the Anglican Communion today traces its origins to CMS work. However CMS today is not confined just to Anglicanism, both in terms of people it sends out in mission or ally agencies and projects around the world.
It was expected that Church of England clergy would quickly come forward to be missionaries. When this didn’t materialise CMS turned towards mainland Europe and the earliest missionaries were German Lutherans. For over a century CMS enjoyed rich work relations with the Churches and seminaries of Western Europe. Sadly this was gradually eroded as the European superpowers vied with each other in the race for colonial expansion. Even so we can say the 20th-century quest for Christian unity began through the experience of mission.” CMS
As we celebrate this anniversary we pray for God’s power to preach the gospel with passion and compassion and establish churches as the Church Missionary Society did and hopefully still does.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Felix Orji, OSB, D.Min, M.Div, DipCS, M.Ed, BA.Ed, DD, ECCK.
Diocesan Bishop | Anglican Diocese of the West
Holy Trinity Cathedral Church
15150 Bellaire Blvd.
Houston, Texas, 77083
“We are justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. True faith always yields the fruit of obedience to one degree or another.” – Dr. R. C. Sproul