As a matter of principle, NAMS always goes first to the head of the local ecclesiastical jurisdiction before inaugurating any new work. Doing so reflects our desire to imitate the apostolic pattern of first going to the synagogue. We are called to serve with the church “that submits to Christ,” but the responses have varied.
Most church leaders have at first treated our arrival as a delicate matter of church courtesy. We are received. We are given tea or a meal. Sometimes clarifying canonical details becomes a discussion point. Rarely, however, have we been greeted with the joy of the Macedonians. Usually we are seen as somewhat strange “foreign cousins.” When we share our missionary heart, and the reasons behind our coming, the atmosphere frequently changes. Let me give some examples. All true.
In one American diocese the area Dean did not want any new work done, so we were turned away even though the area was exploding with new population growth and we had been first invited in by the bishop. In another diocese, our clear fidelity to the Word of God as written meant we were not wanted. In another, the churchmanship of the diocese did not see our evangelistic heart as compatible with their needs.
Overseas it was sometimes even sadder. One diocese, whose bishop is famous around the world, but whose diocese is in a rapidly deteriorating state, declined to welcome us after three trips to his country at the invitation of people wanting us to do new work there. In another country, we worked—under diocesan oversight—for fourteen years assisting already existing parishes, without getting permission to start one new congregation. This diocese was claiming oversight of multiple nations with millions upon millions of unreached people, but was unwilling to allow NAMS to do new work unless it was under, and conformed to, their diocesan system.
At last we saw clearly the problem. NAMS was considered an alien system. But we are not a system, we are a community of missionaries serving Jesus. We are not enemies of the Cross of Christ. So we have persevered, and in place after place some have received us as servants of Christ. Bishops who recognize that, and who work with us for the sake of the kingdom, have come to be our Advocates. Our ministry footprint is increasing globally, by the grace of God.
We have learned much, but we have not changed our mission. God has called us into existence, and God has allowed us our name. We are the New Anglican Missionary Society, but we are clear that the definition “New Anglican” in the name we bear must be an apostolic one. For NAMS it means someone who is dedicated to the spread of the kingdom of God first. It means someone who is making disciples who are making disciples. It means someone who is willing to help to plant new churches as God calls for them and opens the doors. This is what we understood a “New Anglican” to be when we began. It is what we understand still. We have not changed our mission.
— Jon Shuler
to learn more about NAMS, go to www.NAMSnetwork.com