Las Vegas, NV, March 4, 2005: Last week the Episcopal Church was formally reprimanded by the leaders of its member Churches at a meeting in Ireland. This week Forward In Faith, an Anglican witness to historic faith and order in the United States, has elected a new president, Bishop Keith Ackerman, a well known supporter of traditional church teaching and practice. Forward In Faith is a missionary organization to promote, ensure historic faith and order and an integral constituent of the Anglican realignment in the USA known as the Anglican Communion Network.
“We are first and foremost an organization that proclaims what the church has always proclaimed along side Christians of all ages. We are to make Christ known,” said the new leader in an interview following his election. Ackerman shared his vision of Forward In Faith leading Anglicans in North America into truth by modeling the catholic faith, with positive teaching of the faith once delivered to the saints and lived out in the lives of holy people. It is a commitment with those who “dedicated themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers.” We have a commitment to provide “pastoral care for those who are discourage or are unhappy with the move away from the historical biblical belief and order of the undivided Church. We have a commitment to bring the message of Jesus Christ to those who have never heard the Word of New Life and embraced the love of the God who would send His own Son to heal the broken hearted. We embrace and holdfast the unchangeable truth of Jesus Christ and welcome all people. We do it that God will be glorified!”
Keith Ackerman has been the bishop of Quincy Illinois for 10 years. He is known for his abundant energy, positive outlook, and encouragement of “timeless Christian spirituality.” His diocese is one of 11 Episcopal Church USA dioceses which has joined the Anglican Communion Network to ensure a continuing Anglican Communion presence in the United States at a time when the Episcopal Church USA appears to be walking away from its historic partnership in the third largest Christian body in the world. The new position of President coincides with the national and international work that Ackerman has been doing the past ten years. It does provide “a visible face for our discussion and participation with the Primates of the Anglican Communion, the Anglican Communion Network, and the “Continuum”. Pastoral care is at the forefront of Bishop Ackerman’s leadership in the Diocese of Quincy (Illinois).
Bishop Ackerman said, “We are committed to remaining in the worldwide Anglican Communion” which holds the Bible as a relevant moral guide for Christians today. “We are continuing and building up our relationship to the historic Canterbury, England.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has suggested this be actualized in the Anglican Communion Network, with the cooperation and “blessing of our brothers and sisters of worldwide Anglicanism.” While saddened by many Episcopal Church leaders choosing to walk apart from Anglican unity, Ackerman sees an opportunity for many to hear the message of the “new life of hope” so strongly proclaimed by Anglicans around the world. “We have to not only hear the Windsor Report and feel the pain the decisions of the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada has caused to Anglicans throughout the world, we need to embrace their words that we have gone astray, repent, and return to the Lord.” Forward In Faith holds dear, in word and action, our continued status, relationship, and future as part of the Anglican Communion.”
The Forward In Faith organization has an important role in this Anglican coalition, gathering many who left the Episcopal Church when the Episcopal Church ordained an openly practicing homosexual to its leadership in 2003, but also many who left during the past three decades when historic faith has been eroding. Ackerman said, “Jesus called us all to be one in Him, and we are working together in partnership to bring together Christians who have more in common belief and practice than those that separate us. Unlike many modern dialogs which water down our belief in the Gospel, we are working at open honest discussion of our belief in God and the saving work of Jesus Christ. We are working together to bring the Christian message of life and hope to people who find that materialism and a self-focused life leaves them unfulfilled.”
Forward In Faith has been gathering Anglicans of a like understanding of historic faith and order. Together these Anglican Christians have joined in common cause as a continuing presence of the Anglican Communion in the United States at a time when the Episcopal Church (with 2 million members) has distanced itself from the worldwide church body of 78 million Christians. Forward In Faith has endorsed, supported, and thanked the worldwide leaders for their statement on unity called the Windsor Report and their statement release from Ireland last week.
Ackerman succeeds David Moyer, who was consecrated a bishop for the Traditional Anglican Communion, a member Church of Forward In Faith. Bishop Moyer will remain a member of the Forward In Faith governing body and furthering the unity of the Church both within the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion, the wider Anglican fellowship, and all catholic Christians.