Anglican Journey- Fr. William L. De Arteaga
It has been a strange journey indeed to have been raised in a devout Roman Catholic family, and arrive at Anglican orders in the Bolivian Church. As a boy I saw my sister enter the convent (she is still a nun, and a charismatic one to boot!) but I unfortunately drifted away from the faith and entered into a period of atheism. This was the evil fruit of the teaching I received at (Roman Catholic) Fordham University, where “Death of God” theology was the rage among the “progressive” staff. I graduated there in 1966, went on to serve in the Army for two years and then acquire a MA in Latin American history. After several years of atheism I was attracted to the metaphysical movement. Thankfully, what I learned about the attractions of the occult has served me well in my pastoral ministry, especially in deliverance ministry.
My reentry into the Kingdom of God was occasioned by a vivid, repeating dream. In it I wandered a cold, nighttime desert (a symbol of my life without God). I came to a tent with a charcoal fire and a table spread with wine and bread. In front of the tent I railed against it and called it a mirage and walked away to be "brave” in a world without purpose. After several nights when the same dream repeated, I decided to enter. I consumed the bread and wine and woke up in tears. Soon I found my way to a Catholic charismatic prayer group. This group often met together with an Episcopal prayer group at St. Phillip’s Episcopal Cathedral led by Dean David Collins, and his wife Ginny. Dean David served for many years as president of the House of Deputies, leading a forlorn battle for orthodoxy in the Episcopal Church, and Ginny has had a nationally respected deliverance ministry. Although still a Catholic I sensed that the teachings at St. Phillip’s were superior to that of my Catholic group, and that the flow of the Spirit was also stronger there.
At this time I was also introduced into the world of non-liturgical charismatic churches and para-church fellowships such as the FGBMFI. I found them extremely attractive. For several years I would attend mass Sunday morning (Catholic and later Episcopal) and go to evening service at Mt. Paran Church of God, one of the leading churches of the charismatic renewal. There I listened to the anointed and biblically saturated preaching of Dr. Paul Walker (now presiding elder of the national Church of God). At Mt. Paran I met a lovely woman who was a Christian counselor, and after a year we were married. Carolyn was divorced (her husband ran off with another woman) but according to the rules of the Catholic Church I could no longer receive communion at a Catholic Church. After a few non-communion Sundays our transition to an Episcopal Church was relatively simple (1981). This semi-pragmatic move to ECUSA was spiritually strengthened in an “ah-ha” moment in the summer of 1982. We were in Miami on a Sunday, and Carolyn and I were going to mass at a nearby Catholic Church. I said to her, “Let’s find an Episcopal church, I really prefer their service.” I had come to appreciate the wonderful liturgy of the BCP.
Our parish church back in Atlanta was St. Patrick’s in Dunwoody (N. Atlanta). The rector at St. Patrick’s was (and is) Fr. Gray Temple, noted as one of the great intellects of the Episcopal Church. He had been educated as a theological liberal, but providentially encountered deep, demonic evil early in his ministry. He prayerfully asked the Lord for an understanding of that evil and was given a hair-raising vision/revelation of the Demonic Kingdom and its intense hatred for mankind. Fr. Gray immediately understood that his liberal theology was sorely lacking in spiritual understanding and quickly devoured the literature of the charismatic renewal. He soon developed and effective healing and deliverance ministry. For several years St. Patrick’s was the hub of the Episcopal charismatic renewal in Atlanta. Fr. Gray brought in distinguished speakers to teach at St. Patrick’s such as Dr. Francis MacNutt and others.
At St. Patrick’s Carolyn and I were active in the OSL (the Order of St. Luke’s). This religious Order has been founded in the 1930s by Fr. John Gaynor Banks to further Christian healing prayer in the Episcopal Church, but soon became ecumenical. After a year at St. Patrick’s I was asked to be its conviener. Among other things I had the responsibility of training the OSL group to be the church’s intercessors and brought in local speakers on healing and deliverance. During the summer and fall of 1987 and 1988 the OSL intercessors went out and did street ministry at a “prayer station” in the occult and hippie section of Atlanta. The ministry consisted of inviting passersby to have prayer for their illnesses and intentions. My article on the prayer station appeared in Acts 29 (Fall 1988) and New Covenant. This ministry has been picked up by other groups, and now WYAM even has a “starter kit” for doing this type of ministry. The WYAM intercessors did yeoman work in New York City after the 9/11 attack with numerous prayer stations.
When I was settled at St. Patrick’s I began theological studies at Emory University’ Candler School of Theology (1982). It was distressing to see that many of the professors dismissed the healing and deliverance ministries as fundamentalist delusions. It took me several years of part-time study to become convinced that it would not be spiritually beneficial to continue at Emory. The experience opened my eyes the tremendously destructive role that the seminaries have had in modern times.
During the mid 1980s I was also working on a book on the history of inner healing. When this project was well under way Dave Hunt’s book Seduction of Christian (1985) appeared. As many others, I was outraged at its broad brush attacks on the charismatic renewal and on inner healing, and wrote a response. Part of this text appeared in the Robert Wise’s anthology The Church Divided (1986). With continued modification this text became Quenching the Spirit (Creation House, 1992, 1996). Ironically my defense of Agnes Sanford and inner healing was edited out of Quenching the Spirit to bring the text to its target size.
After completing Quenching the Spirit I focused on a work dealing with the healing and deliverance prayer in the Episcopal and Anglican tradition. I discovered that the Anglican/Episcopal pioneers and saints had produced the most mature and balanced literature of healing/deliverance in Christendom. (I hope to finally complete and publish this work in the next few years). I now see that the saints and pioneers of the Anglican/Episcopal healing revival, such as James Moore Hickman, Dorthy Kerin, Dr. John Gaynor Banks, Agnes Sanford and Fr. Sam Shoemaker, were ignored and marginalized prophets. Their ministries reminded the Church of the eternal validity of scripture and God’s constant entry into human affairs. Naturally, the seminary elites, which were producing the future leaders and clergy of the church, refused to consider the healing revival seriously because that movement made nonsense out of their de-mythologizing theologies – and their own self-esteem as the “wise and enlightened” leaders of the church.
At St. Patrick’s I also became a Lay Eucharistic Minister. There I observed a vivid but brief Eucharist based revival (described in the introduction to my latest book, Forgotten Power the significance of the Lord’s Supper in revival(Zondervan,2002). But events at St. Patrick did not go well for long. Fr. Gray’s old liberalism surfaced as the AIDS and homosexual issue began to impact the Episcopal Church. In 1987 I was asked by Fr. Tom Belt, the assistant rector at St. Patrick’s, and a noted composer of praise music, to represent St. Patrick’s at the forming diocesan task force on AIDS. I did so and attended its meetings regularly. St. Patrick’s hosted one of several diocesan healing services for AIDS sufferers. Our OSL team played a prominent part in those services, unflinchingly laying hands on all who were ill. (At the time no one was sure laying hands on an AIDS sufferer was safe). After a St. Patrick’s AIDS service I talked with Fr. Belt about holding a conference on the healing of homosexuality through inner healing prayer. The seminal work on this issue, Leanne Payne’s The Broken Image, had just come out, and I was also aware of Agnes Sanford's pioneer work in this field. Fr. Gray gave us reluctant permission to do the conference, but he was convinced that homosexuality was incurable, and attempts at healing only increased guilt.
The people of the AIDS task force were horrified that I believed homosexuality was something to be healed instead of celebrated. The Lesbian priest who chaired the task force was particularly incensed and threatened to bring her lover and demonstrate lesbian kissing during our conference. They put pressure on Fr. Gray to cancel the coming conference altogether. To his credit, he resisted and even dissuaded her from coming. In turn he agreed to have a statement handed out at the beginning o the conference to the effect that we were not condemning homosexuals. Fr. Gray and I had a hard negotiation session as to the wording of the statement. I felt his draft condoned homosexual behavior, but we managed to work out a statement that I could distribute in good conscience (I was learning to be a good Episcopalian!)
Here I also learned something of the extent of liberal hypocrisy. The Atlanta AIDS task force formulated a goals statement at its first meeting which declared that the task force included many diverse opinions on homosexuality, but was united in the desire to offer healing and comfort of AIDS sufferers. I helped draft the statement. But when I acted on it by demonstrating a contrary theological opinion to their pro-homosexuality stand, I was banished from the committee. I never received further notification of their meetings, and was informed I was not welcome. So much for liberal diversity.
As to the week-end conference itself, (August of 1987) Fr. Belt and I gathered an experienced teaching team for this difficult and sensitive topic. It included a former homosexual who led a local “exit” ministry, and an ex-lesbian who had just completed a dissertation on inner healing. We taught and ministered with great effect. The OSL intercessors again did a wonderful job in praying for all who came with inner healing prayer and the laying on of hands. We also had a glorious communion service and anointing with oil at the finale.
Unfortunately the success of the conference signaled the end of my active ministry at St. Patrick’s. Fr. Gray determined to enforce theological conformity within his stasff. The OSL intercessors were divested of their normal healing duties at the church, such as praying for supplicants at the side of the altar during communion, and Fr. Gray raised up a new team of intercessors who would be more amenable to his liberal ideas.
Carolyn and I left St. Patrick’s deeply hurt. We found a new Episcopal home at St. Jude’s of Marietta (1988). The pastor there, Fr. Frank Baltz, solidly orthodox and active in the charismatic renewal. At St. Jude’s we continued as healing intercessors and became home group leaders. Carolyn also served as church counselor. I held many roles in this church including Sunday school teacher and vestry person. Mainly I focused my time in writing and teaching. A high point of my service at St. Jude’s was in helping plan and prepare an afternoon Hispanic service for the Mexican immigrants coming into the area. I preached at the services and doubled as altar prayer intercessor until the church acquired a Nicaraguan preacher as full time staff. Two years later I was asked to serve as full time Hispanic Pastor.
Unfortunately, ECUSA continued to disintegrate into apostasy. I thought that perhaps the Georgia church, especially the rural churches, were more conservative than the national church. That this was a mere wishful thinking was brought home to me when Fr. Baltz asked me to serve as parish delegate to the diocesan convention in 1995. Rather than a joyful fellowship of believers the event was a battleground of competing theologies. NOEL and other orthodox groups vied for the attention of the delegates with such apostate groups as Integrity. Passing the Integrity booth I picked up a pamphlet which advertised the joys of “wild parties.” So much for “committed monogamous relationships.” The book table was a mix of the classics of Anglicanism and the dredges of trendy theology. Among the leftist resolutions that passed that year was one that condemned Fr. Benning’s School of the Americas. I left the convention feeling unclean.
Due to the interest that my book, Quenching the Spirit, had created, I was invited to speak at the 1996 convention of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC). I spoke to them on my then new research topic, the relationship between sacramental worship and revival. The CEC was a new denomination (1992) founded by experienced Pentecostal pastors who felt a desire for liturgy and sacrament in their corporate lives. They discovered the beauty of the BCP, but wisely discerned that the ECUSA itself was mortally wounded by heresy. The CEC founder, Archbishop Adler, was ordained into Apostolic succession through a bishop of the Old Catholic Church. The CEC has attempted to create a renewed Anglicanism that is truly Catholic and orthodox, as well as charismatic in the practice of the spiritual gifts. After an article highlighting the CEC appeared in Ministries Today, they experienced spectacular growth.
The contrast between the CEC convocation and the ECUSA diocesan convention could not have been more dramatic. The CEC meeting was truly a fellowship of believers, joyfully sharing their faith, and exchanging information. Every priest, bishop and lay person was orthodox and truly born again. The book table was a delight filled with the riches of Anglican and classical Christian spirituality. The worship services were an impressive mix of the liturgical and charismatic. It was a joy and refreshment to attend their conference. I sensed that the CEC was on to something very significant in Christendom. They call it “convergence,” the combining of Evangelical passion for the gospel, the Pentecostal practice of the gifts of the Spirit, and liturgical/sacramental worship.
In the following year I directed several priests and enquirers who were dissatisfied with ECUSA to look into the CEC. A close friend at St. Jude’s, David Monroe, was the church’s “master of ceremonies” and a superb liturgist. He had also attended one year of Episcopal seminary at his own expense. However he had been denied ordination because our Bishop believed him “too conservative,” the wrong sex (male) and race (white). When I found out about his rejection to the priesthood I almost left ECUSA, but stayed because of my love and commitment to the congregation of St. Jude’s. I gave David information on the CEC and within six months he had been ordained by them and founded a CEC congregation.
In 1998 I was invited by the presiding Bishop of another Anglican-like convergence denomination, The Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC), to address their clericus conference in Oklahoma City. I spoke on the Wesleyan revival as the original convergence movement. I have come to believe that the Wesley brothers were prophets to the Anglican Church, and had the Anglican hierarchy accepted their message and reforms, the subsequent problems of apostasy and heresy that have plagued Western Anglicanism would have been avoided. (I also strongly believe that whatever form the Anglican “holy remnant” takes in the future, it must repent of the Anglican rejection of the Wesleys, and incorporate the insights and practices of the Wesleyan revival). Like the CEC conference, the CEEC clericus was a joy of fellowship and a treasure of orthodox resources.
The CEEC is smaller that the CEC, and it is distinguished theologically from the CEC in that it allows for women’s ordination to the deaconate and priesthood. It is also more relaxed liturgically. Like Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, the CEC does not allow for ordained women, and overall is authoritative in structure and traditional in liturgy. From my studies of early Pentecostalism and the role that woman played in that movement I felt attracted to the CEEC stand. I was invited to return to the next CEEC clericus (1999) and that year I spoke on the importance of discernment in our current revival times. Carolyn and I had discussed the possibility of my becoming a priest in the CEEC, as I was feeling a call to that station. Two of the Bishops of the CEEC took us out to lunch on the last day of the clericus, and before we even mentioned anything about the priesthood they explained that they strongly discerned that I should be a priest! The bishops invited me into the priesthood because they had read my scholarly works, saw me teach biblically, minister healing prayer, and operate in a prophetic mode during several clericus sessions. In other words I was already functioning in spiritual leadership and they discerned that I needed the added spiritual authority of an ordained ministry. Perhaps this is a more biblical pattern for ordination that the “young-man-to-seminary” tradition.
I have now been a priest four years, and I deeply appreciate the Anglican expression of Christendom. I can see that through providential circumstances I had been prepared for this priesthood. For example, shortly after my ordination I did a ghost release through a Eucharist (as in the ministry of Dr. McAll, Healing the Family Tree, etc.), something a liberally trained seminary priest would not even comprehend.
In August of 2001 I began as full-time Hispanic pastor at St. Jude’s. In this position I was not licensed to do the sacramental office of priest because my ordination was not recognized by ECUSA. At Sunday Eucharist there would always be an ECUSA priest by my side to say the words of consecration. The three years I spent as Hispanic pastor were the most challenging and rewarding of my life. I would have continued at St. Jude’s indefinitely, forging a convergence congregation, but the ordination of Bishop Robinson triggered a “lat straw” reaction among the majority of the charismatic leadership of the church.
In January of 2004 we separated from St. Jude’s and from ECUSA to form Light of Christ Anglican Church. Providentially the Anglican bishop of Bolivia, Frank Lyons, had read Quenching the Spirit as a seminarian and was touched by it. Subsequently we had met in Atlanta and formed a friendship. Bishop Lyons received me as an Anglican priest immediately. Light of Christ became the northern most parish of the diocese of Bolivia! Founding a new congregation from the “faithful remnants” of an old one has not been an easy task, but our new church has many signs of Providential direction. For instance, the healing ministry in the Hispanic congregation has taken a large leap forward and now practically every service we have is a healing service in which people are noticeably healed of minor and major ailments. The very same week we held our first Sunday liturgy I had been installed as chaplain for the North Atlanta chapter of the OSL. That group now meets at our Franklin Rd. office every forth Saturday of the month. This reinforces further the vision the Lord has given us of the LC church as a healing center.
I continue to grieve and sympathize with the cradle Episcopalians who have seen their church degenerate into faithlessness and apostasy. My separation from ECUSA was not particularly painful, as my loyalty had been to specific faithful congregations, and to the tradition of Anglicanism, and not to ECUSA as a denomination. I don’t see any hope for ECUSA, and I believe the present implosion is necessary to separate out the orthodox holy remnant from the apostate majority (“vested Unitarians”). I pray that when the dust all clears there will be some sort of faithful and faith-filled Anglican jurisdiction where those orthodox believers in the continuing churches, convergence churches, charismatic and traditional churches will worship in fellowship and in a united sacramental table.
A glimpse of that occurred in the national charismatic convention, “Celebrate Jesus 2000” held in St. Louis this summer. Fr. Charles Fulton, head of Acts 29 ministries, chaired the “Episcopal tract” of the conference. Most of the speakers were of course ECUSA, but the CEEC archbishop, Wayne Boosahda, was also a principal speaker. The final Eucharist was a concelebrated service which included Arpb. Boosahda, Bishop Cox, Fr. Fulton and Dean Collins, and several priests form the continuing churches. I was invited to concelebrate, but declined as I had not brought my vestments. I did serve as a post-communion prayer and healing intercessor. The service was so filled with the Spirit that many of the participants were slain the Spirit. There was not a whisper of disunion, jealousy or competition or contention in that service. It was all Kingdom of God. Hopefully it was prophetic to where renewed American Anglicanism is destined.