Renewal groups can be found in many denominations. From time to time, we will take a look at others who adhere to the authority of scripture and resist bringing secular values into theology.
“Gone by 2040?” The stark headline in the January 2020 Anglican Journal was an attention grabber, pointing to the grim conclusion of a new church study which showed that at the current rate of decline – deaths and departures not being matched by birth or conversions – the Anglican Church in Canada (ACC) will actually run out of members in 20 years.
Although dismissed by some observers, the study’s author – an Anglican priest with a Ph.D in sociology – pointed to “five different methodologies that pointed to the same result.”
The finding came as no surprise to the denomination’s spiritual leader, Archbishop Linda Nicholls, who described it as “a wake-up call” that should lead to action.
Time, of course, will tell.
But while the ACC is in precipitous decline in general, it’s not across the board. In the Diocese of the Arctic, the church is growing, the Journal noted. Arctic Bishop David Parsons cited various reasons, but atop the list was his belief that Arctic parishes adhere to biblical authority. “We’re Bible-believing Christians,” he said.
In October 2020, Arctic Fire was launched. It describes itself as “A Vision To Inspire Bless & Encourage People. A Call To Pray & Turn to the Lord Jesus. A Hope For a Spiritual Awakening Across Canada. An Action To Bring Arctic Mission Teams To Southern Communities.”
It was launched not by the denomination but by Anglican Renewal Ministries, an independent grassroots group of lay and clergy volunteers which receives no financial support from the denomination. Its mission “is to offer times of refreshing so God’s people may be empowered by the Holy Spirit through teaching, equipping and fellowship in the love of Jesus. (Acts 3:19-21)”
ARM was founded in the 1980s by charismatic Anglicans who saw a need to renew the church in the power of the Holy Spirit. They’re cut from similar evangelical cloth as Anglican Essentials (which serves those in the ACC) and the Anglican Network in Canada (whose parishes broke from the ACC in 2005.)
Most of ARM’s members are part of the ACC and some are with the breakaway ANiC, says Rev. Canon Gene Packwood, who chairs ARM’s board of directors. Although ARM is fervently orthodox, they’re not political. They describe themselves on their Facebook page as “empowering clergy and lay church leaders to lead parishes into renewal in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
“God still moves through the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit,” the retired priest said in a recent conversation. “We present that in a winsome way. … We pray, we hope, we dream.”
Arctic Fire, whose bold vision is under the oversight of Bishop Parsons and is sponsored by ARM, may have been launched in the wake of the grim statistical prediction of extinction, but its spiritual roots have been alive for some time. Reigniting the faith of Anglicans in southern Canada “arose out of several prophetic words over three decades,” according to Arctic’s Fire’s promotional material. “The concept is simple — bring Arctic teams to southern Canadian Communities to bless, encourage, and inspire AND to seek and glorify Jesus through worship, testimony, ministry of the Word, and prayer. These teams will invite others to a renewed love for Jesus, our Saviour.”
ARM and Renewal Fellowship appear to have much in common theologically and missionally.
Here’s the exciting part: “We will invite other denominational renewal ministries and various intercessory networks to be part of this vision. So this is a call to the Church of Canada to come in a fresh way to the Lord God Almighty Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit Glorify God our Father!”
Come, Holy Spirit.