The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh partners with many organizations doing gospel ministry in our region, nation and world. We want to highlight their work from time to time and invite our members to join as they feel led.
Church Army USA is an organization of evangelists in the Anglican Church, seeking to express the Gospel of Jesus Christ in tangible ways to bring transformation. They seek to do the work of serving, reaching and loving broken, rejected, sad, disconnected, and hurting people with a message of hope, love and joy.
Every Church Army in the world lives out the calling of our founder, Wilson Carlile, to reach out to those outside of the church with the Good News of Jesus Christ, to serve the poor and to resource the wider church in evangelism. They are an Affiliated Ministry of the Anglican Church in North America and a member of the Anglican Global Mission Partners. The Western Pennsylvania Church Army ministry base is Uncommon Grounds Café in Aliquippa, PA.
Below are excerpts from an email series that began at the beginning of the pandemic called “The UnQuarantined Gospel.” This series explains Church Army’s convictions about ministry in the middle of the pandemic and how those convictions lead to the creative ways their evangelists are sharing the Gospel.
Part 1 – The Gospel Goes Forth in During COVID-19
As the world responds to the COVID-19 crisis, many people find themselves in isolation. The "shelter in place" regulations limit social gatherings, thus making it more challenging to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our Lord, however, is not hindered by these things. During the time in which we are sequestered, Church Army USA wants to encourage you and the church with the fact that the good news of Jesus is unquarantined and is still going out to the whole world. What will follow in the weeks and months ahead are stories of the Gospel continuing to flourish in the unusual circumstances of our day.
Part 4 – Blessing Beaver by Bike
John Bryant is a street pastor in Beaver Falls, PA. His parishioners are the people he meets walking downtown. Some of them are marginalized in our society. John has discovered that people in difficult circumstances appreciate order and structure in their lives. Before the pandemic hit, John was introducing his "parishioners" to the Book of Common Prayer. Now that gathering is no longer possible, John has taken to the streets on his bicycle to visit his flock. When he visits them, he brings his own homemade versions of the daily office in the Book of Common Prayer. He has simplified some of the content to make it easier for his people to follow.
As they digest the scripture readings and prayers, his flock is nourished by the words of truth and comfort found therein. They know God to be a God of forgiveness and love. So, even without John to lead them in corporate prayer, his flock is reading through the daily office on their own. This is another way that the gospel gets around - even in times of quarantine.
Part 11 – Engaging the Elderly
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the population most at risk, and most difficult to reach, has been those in Senior Living Facilities. In Beaver County, PA, over 90% of the COVID deaths were in the one facility pictured above. Access to the facilities was denied to everyone, even family members. We have had to be creative in letting the elderly know that they are not forgotten. We have engaged in prayer vigils, using electronic candles in the form of a cross on a hillside visible to the residents, to let them know we were praying for them.
More recently, as restrictions have been easing, Rev. Capt. Bywater has been able to visit residents to bring them encouragement through the Word of God, separated by a glass partition. In these ways we have been able to let the elderly know that they are remembered by the Lord.
Please continue to pray for the elderly as we come out of the pandemic. They are at risk, but not forgotten.
Part 15 – The Bible is the Answer
During these times of pandemic, racial strife, and political divide, we need to remember that the key for us as Christians is to follow Jesus in thought, word, and deed. Bible study is a means that this can be accomplished.
Most of you have probably participated in an online Bible study during the pandemic. What makes the Bible study unique at Church Army's Uncommon Grounds Cafe is the diversity of the audience. The Cafe's study crosses lines of age, race, denomination, and political affiliation. None of those categories can unite us. As children of God, we need to be careful not to focus too much on the problems that we face--but to face those problems together in Christ as we turn to His Word. The one who truly unites us is Jesus Christ. As we learn about him in the Bible, and as His Spirit fills us, we are made one in Him. That unity helps us to discuss issues together that otherwise can easily divide us.
There is no book like the Bible. It is uniquely living and active, more powerful than any two-edged sword, and it always accomplishes God's purposes. We thank God that we can study it together because our hope is in Him, not in the things of this world.
Part 22 – Church Army Street Walkers
What's that? Church Army streetwalkers? Why would Church Army do that? The answer is that our street walkers are praying as they walk, so they are really prayer walkers. We often say that prayer is the most important part of evangelistic ministry. It is encouraging to put prayer into action and see tangible results.
In West Virginia, Rev. Deb Carr, a priest canonically resident in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, is establishing a ministry to help people trapped in addiction. She has been working in a program called Celebrate Recovery, a Christian recovery ministry, as she seeks to build a leadership team. It has been a difficult task because Satan does not want to let go of people over whom he has addictive power. Recently, Deb went on a prayer walk through her town of Belington. She passed two boys eating lunch on their porch. She felt compelled to return to them and introduced herself. After talking for a while, she prayed for them and they got their grandmother to meet her. Their grandmother works at a local hospital and knows two mothers who could use help for Thanksgiving. Deb is going to connect with them to provide Thanksgiving food in the name of Jesus. In a short period of time, she has met three new people and is going to help two other families for Thanksgiving. That is how the Lord answers prayer when his people turn to Him.
Part 23 – Singing the Gospel
Many churches have stopped in-person services due to the recent spike in COVID cases. Thankfully, going into the neighborhood and caroling is still an option. It's amazing how many people remember caroling with fondness but have thought that it was a thing of the past. Pictured are carolers with John Bryant, Church Army's Street Pastor in Beaver Falls, PA, and carolers from Prince of Peace Anglican Church in Hopewell, PA, bringing in song the good news of Jesus' birth to a hurting world.
"Hark", the herald angels sing. "Glory to the newborn King. Peace on earth and mercy mild. God and sinners reconciled."
Amen and Amen!