Sour Wine: No Money, No Prayer.

The New Wineskins Missionary Network, was in an earlier incarnation called The Episcopal Church Missionary Community (ECMC). You can read its history HERE. ECMC began as an independent voice for mission that both challenged and worked with the Episcopal Church and its missionary efforts. It's first leaders, Walter and Louise Hannum, provided a vision of education for missionaries, engagement in mission, and support of missionaries worldwide that gave rise to several important efforts in the church: (i) ECMC began a church wide global mission conference that has evolved into the New Wineskins for Global Mission Conference; (ii) it provide the context for a conference on reaching unreached peoples that in turn gave energy to the development of Anglican Frontier Missions and supported other evangelical mission agencies; (iii) it developed a prayer list for missionaries and mission societies and agencies.

They have thrown their lot with the American Anglican Council and the Anglican Communion Network and have adopted the tag line of the Common Cause Partnership. They say, "New Wineskins has open doors to work for a united, Biblical, and missionary Anglicanism in North America and even worldwide!" (tag line in red).

Over the years they have ceased praying for those at the Episcopal Church Center whose charge it is to send missionaries or for Episcopal Church appointed missionaries. They are no longer part of the Episcopal Partnership for Global Mission, an umbrella organization of missionary agencies of the Episcopal Church.

Racked as I am with revisionist leanings and a member of the unclean Episcopal Church, I still get letters from New Wineskins asking for donations. I received their Easter letter today (May 9th).

The letter informed me that "Sharon (the Director) was recently honored with invitations to attend the Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem in June and the South East Asia Mission Roundtable Conference in Bangkok in October." We may remember that GAFCON is by invitation only from a bishop related to its organization. New Wineskins has maintained a level of purity sufficient to be "honored" by an invitation.

While they are hurting for money, they believe that "God will continue to provide, and we are building relationships with churches across the country and forming new partnerships for our future." Good.

They are forming new partnerships. I presume this means among other things that they will migrate from the Anglican Communion Network to the Common Cause Partnership as the venue for their work as the ACN itself fragments and its purist residue forms this new "united, biblical and missionary Anglicanism in North America."

But here is the declaration that stood out: "New Wineskins will not incur debt. Without increased financial support we will be unable to continue to offer prayer support to missionaries around the world, Mission Awareness Seminars in parishes, and the triennial New Wineskins for Global Mission conferences." The Seminars and Conferences require funding, no question. But I wonder who offering prayer support to missionaries requires much in the way of funding? Perhaps it is to keep the list up to date and send it out.

Well, I could help with that. No, wait…The list is kept up to date by, among other things, keeping it pure and undefiled by people like me, you know, members of the Episcopal Church.

I have always had a love/hate relationship with ECMC. The Hannums are wonderful people and they challenged me often to be better at mission work, but I always felt held in prayer by their list and looked eagerly for the names of new appointed missionaries and the names of colleagues at the Church Center involved in mission sending and support. Those names are not there now.

That Wineskin is getting old; the supple material that could contain us all is more rigid. I am afraid their Easter Letter was not for me.

O well.



  1. I am sad too, Mark. I get the sense from reading your post that you feel like you are being left - that the division is against your will. I tried to unpack those feelings in my post on "The Five Stages to Decision" here: http://babybluecafe.blogspot.com/2008/03/five-stages-to-decision.html

    The division is widening - it's not lessening, it's getting worse. 815 has focussed on retaining buildings - not the people. That is a disastrous strategy. There are many of us who may be described as broadminded evangelicals, who feel the pain of the separation, who are told to "move on" but unwilling because we are not ready to give up on the Episcopal Church. But resolve is worsening every day, every time we hear of another deposition, another statement that people don't matter but the buildings do, that the legacy of the Episcopal Church are the buildings, not the people the chasm grows wider. And then we wonder why people flee.

    Some flee openly, they make statements, they are clear. Others do it quietly and close their wallets and purses, a silent revolution. The endowments are huge - but with the global market issues or another catastrophic terror attack, who can say how those endowments will fare in the future? So much has been invested in those endowments, but is that how TEC will survive?

    It may be that TEC just bleeds to death. Your post indicates another example, a very deep one, of the division that Judge Bellows could see so clearly.

    Again, I advocate a legal separation, but not a divorce. There are many on both sides who want a divorce - who want evangelicals expelled from the Church - either we agree with the prophetic innovations or we are belittled as idiots. On the other hand, if we advocate remaining in as close a communion as possible, we are accused of making deals with apostasy and consorting with heretics.

    We were approaching a way here in Virginia but that was destroyed. Is it possible to be rebuilt from the ruins? I don't know. But I share your grief.


  2. babyblue....I think the separation is on its way and the sadness is not so much that it is happening as much as it is that we are not preparing for an ecumenical future with one another in the future.

    For example: to "belittle as idiots" someone like you is really terrible. I agree with about 1/10th of what you say, but I love about 9/10ths of how you write. Your recent poem was very fine, even if I didn't see things cast as you did. For another example: anyone who posts a YouTube video of a day old baby can't be too far from the Kingdom. Great video.

    So in some settled future if you are in a different sort of church thingy and I am in this church thingy, how are we to walk in some ecumenical way that respects the great creative genius that is the Spirit active in the body of Christ.

    I think we need to be clear that we are at odds, but deal with that in such a way that the end of the matter is not total breakdown of engagement, but some way of moving to a new place of mutual respect.

    There will still be time for whatever strange beverage a chai is and a spot of rum. Keep the cafe open.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.