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BALA CYNWYD, PA: ACNA Diocese of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincies to ... - Virtue Online
BALA CYNWYD, PA: ACNA Diocese of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincies to open June
ACNA Provincial Council expected to approve full diocese in 2014
VOL president David W. Virtue D.D. recently interviewed retired US Air Force Fighter Pilot and ACNA Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Derek Jones, about the newest diocese soon to be on the Anglican scene, the Diocese of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy, a ministry of the Anglican Church in North America, and its astonishing growth.
By David W. Virtue
May 14, 2013
In 2007, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) had one military chaplain, an Army Captain. The ministry become part of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) at its founding in 2009, while continuing to be overseen by CANA. There are now more than 200 endorsed chaplains with 65 percent of them working in the United States Armed Forces, Veterans Administration, and Federal Bureau of Prisons. The remaining chaplains are in endorsed civilian ministries such as law enforcement, hospice, hospital and industrial missions. This is more than double the number of chaplains the Episcopal Church has. ACNA is adding to that number almost weekly.
This chaplaincy ministry has been the brainchild of a feisty, no nonsense former fighter pilot and combat veteran who flew F-111s and F-16.He was considered by his peers to be among the very best of the best winning medals and accolades from the USAF throughout his career. Bishop Derek Jones is a deeply committed Evangelical Anglican who was at one time a priest in the Communion of Episcopal Evangelical Churches (CEEC). He was approached by former TEC Bishop Dave Bena, who is now with the Convocation of Anglican Churches in North America (CANA), about giving oversight to one CANA chaplain in the Armed Forces. Jones prayed over the idea and saw the strong connection CANA had with the Anglican Province of Nigeria and hence into the Anglican Communion. He took on the challenge to develop the vision and task of building a chaplain ministry for CANA. He has not looked back.
Bishop Jones is now entrenched as an expert in chaplain ministry serving on the Executive Board of the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces (NCMAF), with the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty (CALL) and as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) to the Senators and Representatives in Washington DC. He spoke at length with VOL about this emerging ministry and how it is shaping his life, the lives of Anglican Chaplains, and the life of Anglicanism in North America as well as his hopes for the future.
VOL: You are 51, your fighter pilot days are clearly over, now it seems, God has called you to something new. The driving force of your life seems to be a mission for souls in the military. Is this accurate?
BISHOP JONES: Yes, the military in particular, but certainly in all places where chaplains live and work. My entire life has been in and around the military and politics. The military environment involves life and death as part of its mission and work; and we who are bearers of the Gospel message need to be there to minister to those who need it the most - those on the front lines. And, also, as importantly, the families behind the lines that love and support our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. But, this is just part of it... our society at large so desperately needs the message of the Gospel, so the aperture is much wider than simply the military.
VOL: How did all this begin?
BISHOP JONES: Back in 2007, I was endorsing a small group of chaplains for the CEEC when I was approached by CANA Bishop Dave Bena to see if I would consider building a pastoral ministry of Chaplains for CANA (the ACNA did not yet exist). Bishop Bena and Bishop Martyn Minns wanted to cross the Anglican spectrum and not be narrowly Episcopal or Anglican, but to have a ministry by which Anglican chaplains, connected globally to the worldwide Anglican Communion, could evangelize and minister; and they believed I best understood how to get such a ministry going - the right people, the right paperwork, the right experience, and the right credentials.
VOL: How successful have you been?
BISHOP JONES: It's the Lord's work, but we've been privileged to oversee incredible growth and ministry. We now have over 200 chaplains and even as we speak new chaplains are coming on board.
VOL: Tell us a little about your background before the ACNA?
BISHOP JONES: I was ordained in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC). The CEEC was birthed as a result of a more general work of the Holy Spirit among the Christian churches which has become known as the "Convergence Movement", and sometimes referred to as the "Convergence of the Streams" renewal. It is not...