Todd Stepp

Author's details

Name: Todd Stepp
Date registered: March 3, 2012

Latest posts

  1. Wesleyan/Anglican: Nazarene Call For Prayer For the Middle East — August 18, 2014
  2. Wesleyan/Anglican: World Methodist Council Celebrates Church of England’s Decision — August 3, 2014
  3. Wesleyan/Anglican: The Wesleyan-Anglican Society Congratulates New ACNA Archbishop — June 25, 2014
  4. Wesleyan/Anglican: Trinity Sunday — June 13, 2014
  5. Wesleyan/Anglican: Pentecost — June 9, 2014

Most commented posts

  1. Wesleyan/Anglican: Pan-Methodist Full Communion — 1 comment
  2. Wesleyan/Anglican: Wesleyan-Anglican Society/Fellowship In Formation — 1 comment
  3. Wesleyan/Anglican: The United Methodist Church Maintains Its Statement on Sexuality — 1 comment
  4. Wesleyan/Anglican: Does Numerical Growth Equal Spiritual Growth? — 1 comment
  5. Wesleyan/Anglican: No "Archbishop" for the UMC, and No more Guaranteed Appointments — 1 comment

Author's posts listings

Aug 18 2014

Wesleyan/Anglican: Nazarene Call For Prayer For the Middle East

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Earlier this month, the Board of General Superintendents of the Church of the Nazarene issued an episcopal call for prayer concerning the turmoil throughout the Middle East.  Specifically, the General Superintendents have called us to pray for the following concerns:

  • Pray for peace in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, for a just and lasting solution that allows all people to live with dignity and respect in the absence of violence. Pray for the comfort of those who have lost family members and friends.
  • Pray for peace in Syria, for an immediate end to the conflict, and for protection of human life. More than 100,000 people have been killed; there are 6.5 million internally displaced people in Syria and 2.5 million Syrian refugees who have fled to neighboring countries. Pray for their many needs to be met and for hope in the face of long-term displacement.
  • Pray for the persecuted church across the region that is in danger because of faith in Christ, that those who are oppressed would know the strength and courage that comes from fellowship with God. Pray that people of different faiths could live in peace with one another.
  • Pray for the protection of children throughout the region and for all people who have experienced trauma.
  • Pray for local churches that are working in partnership with Nazarene Compassionate Ministries (and other ministries and agencies) to alleviate suffering as they care for the vulnerable in volatile, insecure conditions
I want to encourage my fellow Nazarenes, and all of the readers of this blog to answer this call for prayer.

The full article can be found at this link.

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Aug 03 2014

Wesleyan/Anglican: World Methodist Council Celebrates Church of England’s Decision

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By now it is old news, I realize.  But, back on July 14 the General Synod of the Church of England (John Wesley's church) voted to approve allowing women to serve as bishops.  This was an historic move overturning centuries of Anglican tradition in the Church of England.  (Though some other jurisdiction within the Anglican Communion already have women serving as bishops, the Church of England, itself, restricted the episcopal office to men, only.)

This news was met by mixed reactions.  Even within the Anglican world, itself, there were various responses.  While I have Anglican friends who rejoice over this decision, I also have a number of Reformed Episcopal, Anglo-Catholic, and other traditional Anglican friends who are not happy at all.  The latter are likely ready to give up on Canterbury!

Outside of Anglicanism, the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches look on this with less than favorable eyes.  Undoubtedly, this move by the "Mother Church" of Anglicanism will further strain relationships with Rome and those connected with Constantinople.  -  This is significant because Anglicanism has understood itself as a "third branch" of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, along side of Rome & Orthodoxy.  With these historic churches of the West and the East condemning the idea of women in holy orders at all, and certainly condemning the idea of women as bishops, this move only separates Canterbury even further.  - Of course, it must be said that, even though Canterbury sees itself as this "third branch," Rome and Constantinople have always been less then convinced.  As it stands, neither Rome nor Orthodoxy accept Anglican orders as valid.  But, if they were ever to change their minds, this recent move by the General Synod surely closes that door.
On the other hand (and though this is old news, as well, I just became aware of it!), the response from Methodism has been quite favorable.  -  Upon hearing the news from England, World Methodist General Secretary, Bishop Ivan Abrahams issued a letter to Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.  In the letter Bishop Abrahams said, "The news that the Church of England has voted in favor of allowing women to become bishops is welcomed with open arms by the World Methodist Council.  Our global body has long welcomed, appreciated and been strengthened by our sisters in our faith tradition, and we know that this news will be seen as another common belief that affirms not only the bond between the Church of England and its members, but also within the World Methodist Council's ongoing  ecumenical dialogue with the church."

In reality, the first women to be ordained in modern times (i.e., we see women ordained as deacons in Scripture, itself) were ordained by those in the Methodist tradition.  More specifically, such ordinations took place in the Wesleyan-Holiness wing of Methodism.  In fact, the Church of the Nazarene (for example) was ordaining women as elders a quarter of a century before the United Methodist Church made that move.  However, United Methodism has been much quicker and more consistent in seeing women serve in the episcopal role than either the Church of the Nazarene or The Wesleyan Church.  But, neither of those denominations ever barred women from the office of general superintendency.  The only relevant restriction for serving in the superintendency for Nazarenes was being ordained an elder, and, as I said, elders orders were always open to women. 

Bishop Abrahams went on to say, “As the Church of England acts upon this landmark decision, know that by doing so they are doing it with the blessings and prayers of the Methodists throughout the world who are part of the World Methodist Council."

The full article from the World Methodist Council can be read, here.

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Jun 25 2014

Wesleyan/Anglican: The Wesleyan-Anglican Society Congratulates New ACNA Archbishop

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According to a June 21 news release from the Anglican Church in North America, the College of Bishops of the church has elected Dr. Foley Beach, Bishop of the Diocese of the South to succeed the Most Rev'd. Robert Duncan as their new archbishop.  

“The election occurred Sunday afternoon at the conclusion of the College of Bishops three-day conclave where they met in the crypt of the basilica at Saint Vincent Archabbey,” said the Rev'd. Andrew Gross, Communications Director for the Anglican Church in North America.  The new archbishop will serve a five-year term and is eligible for re-election.

“I am delighted by this election and how the College of Bishops, after much deliberation and prayer, came to a unanimous decision,” said Archbishop Robert Duncan.  “This is a happy day for the Anglican Church in North America, a happy day for the Anglican Communion, and a happy day for the Christian Church.”

According to the news release, the newly elected archbishop served as the Rector and Pastor of Holy Cross Anglican Church in Loganville, GA, from its founding in February 2004, until December, 2013. On October 9, 2010, he was consecrated in Atlanta, Georgia as the first Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the South in the Anglican Church in North America.

Dr. Beach is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, the School of Theology at the University of the South, and Georgia State University. He has served in ministry with Young Life, the Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Church.

The new archbishop will have a formal investiture to follow in the coming months.

It was my pleasure to worship with the new archbishop at Holy Cross Anglican Church in Loganville during the recent Anglican 1000 conference.

Upon hearing of Dr. Beach's election, the Wesleyan-Anglican Society sent a letter of congratulation to His Grace congratulating him on his "election to serve the Servants of God as Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America!"

It is my hope that
 the Society might serve the new archbishop as a point of connection between the ACNA and the various Wesleyan/Methodist denominations and that we might find ways to work closely with the ACNA.

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Jun 13 2014

Wesleyan/Anglican: Trinity Sunday

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This coming Sunday, June 15, the Church celebrates Trinity Sunday. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is one of the mysteries of faith, but the Church, from ancient times, has confessed its faith in the Triune God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The denomination in which I am currently serving (the United Methodist Church) is no exception to the orthodox Christian faith.   Neither is my own denomination (the Church of the Nazarene).  Our very first Article of Faith confesses our belief in the Triune God. Additionally, in our Manual's "Historical Statement," we state that the Church of the Nazarene ". . . receives the ecumenical creeds of the first five Christian centuries as expressions of its own faith." Along side the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed (which, in my local setting, we have made it a practice of confessing alternatingly each Sunday), we find that creed which John Wesley identifies as the best explication of the Trinity he ever saw (cf., his sermon "On the Trinity"), that is the so called Athanasian Creed (or Quicunque Vult) written, most likely within the fifth-century.

The words at the beginning and conclusion of the creed tying the necessity of assent to this faith with salvation have caused much difficulty for many. However, according to Ray Dunning, "Edmund J. Fortman says that it is not suggesting that the 'Catholic faith' is merely an intellectual assent but rather that it involves the 'worship of one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity'" (Grace, Faith and Holiness, 226). Wesley, himself, said, "I am far from saying, he who does not assent to this 'shall without doubt perish everlastingly.' For the sake of that and another clause, I, for some time, scrupled subscribing to that creed; till I considered,(1.) That these sentences only relate to wilful, not involuntary, unbelievers; to those who, having all the means of knowing the truth, nevertheless obstinately reject it: (2.) That they relate only to the substance of the doctrine there delivered; not the philosophical illustrations of it" ("On the Trinity"). - Whether one still has trouble with those lines, even after Fortman's and Wesley's explanation, the Athanasius Creed is still a wonderfully thorough confession of Trinitarian faith.

Although, it has been said that it is far too long for liturgical use, it is used on Trinity Sunday in Anglican and Lutheran churches that I am aware of, and probably others.  (I've not been brave enough to spring it on the congregations where I serve!)

I strongly encourage those who are unfamiliar with the creed to read it by clicking, here.

Please join me in this prayer from the Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, on God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Jun 09 2014

Wesleyan/Anglican: Pentecost

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Yesterday (Sunday, 8 June 2014) the Church around the world celebrated the culmination of the Great Fifty Days, the conclusion of the Easter season, the outpouring of the promise of the Father, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and the birth of the Church. - John the Baptizer had declared concerning Jesus, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Luke 3:16, NRSV).  Jesus assured the disciples that it would be to their advantage that He would ascend to the Father, because, in doing so, He would send the Holy Spirit (the Advocate/Comforter/Counselor/Helper - parakletos ) to them (John 16:7). The Holy Spirit would teach them everything and remind them of all that Jesus had said to them (14:26), and the Holy Spirit would "prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement (16:8).
Further, Jesus told the apostles, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8, NRSV).
On the Day of Pentecost, the disciples saw the fulfillment of the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit as told by John the Baptizer and the Lord Jesus, as well as the prophet Joel.  It is that same outpouring of the Holy Spirit that we enter into by faith and through our baptism, for St. Paul declares, "For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body . . ." (1 Cor. 12:13, NRSV).*  -  And so, for our family, we often take time on Pentecost to watch the videos of when our children were baptized on Pentecost Sunday: my daughter, Sarah, was baptized on Pentecost 19 years ago, and my son, Matthew, was baptized on Pentecost 15 years ago.  Our district superintendent, the Rev'd. Dr. M. V. Scutt, came to our church in Greencastle (IN) on both occasions to baptize our newborn children.
Pentecost is one of the major feast days of the Church, and it should be a great day of celebration for those of us in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. - I recall a conversation several years ago with a pastor from a Presbyterian (USA) congregation. He confessed, he really didn't know what to do with Pentecost. Now, I do not mean to imply that such is the case for all, or even a majority of Presbyterians. I don't know. However, whatever the case for my Presbyterian brother, Nazarenes, whether espousing a 19th century or a classical Wesleyan view (cf. footnote, below) ought to know how to celebrate Pentecost Sunday.
You see, one of the main benefits of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the possibility of having our hearts cleansed of sin. - As the prophet Ezekiel foretold, there was coming a day when God would ". . . sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statures and be careful to observe my ordinances" (Ezek. 36:25-27, NRSV). And St. Peter, referring to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the gentiles, argued, "And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us" (Acts 15:8-9).
It is this heart cleansing that has been at the heart (no pun intended!) of the Wesleyan & Methodist movement, and especially so for the Holiness branches of Methodism. It has been referred to by Wesley in connection with the Biblical doctrines of Entire Sanctification and Christian Perfection. In fact, the spread of scriptural holiness throughout the land was the stated purpose of Methodism, first by John Wesley in London in 1733, and then in America, at the famous Christmas Conference in Baltimore in 1784 at the founding of the Methodist Episcopal Church. It was the commitment to this purpose that gave rise to the 19th century Holiness Movement within Methodism. And Phineas Bresee said of the Church of the Nazarene, that it is ". . . a part of that body of believers raised up to spread sanctified holiness over these lands, and thus that we are a part of that company who are the real successors of John Wesley and the early Methodists" (Nazarene Messenger, July 15, 1909).
And so, we Wesleyan Christians, including those at Centenary & Main Street United Methodist Churches (where I currently serve), enthusiastically join our sisters and brothers in Christ from around the world to rejoice and give thanks to God on Pentecost Sunday for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as we seek to worship God in Spirit and in Truth.
*At this point, those within the Holiness movement will recognize that I take my stand with John Wesley, the Church of history, and those in the classical Wesleyan theological tradition, rather than those who are more consistent with 19th century interpretations. Those debates within the Holiness Movement can be seen in The Wesleyan Theological Journal between 1973 and 1982. Mark Quanstrom discusses it in A Century of Holiness Theology: The Doctrine of Entire Sanctification in the Church of the Nazarene, 1905-2004 (though his bias toward the 19th century view is apparent in his, not always completely accurate portrayal of members of "The Trevecca Connection").

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Jun 07 2014

Wesleyan/Anglican: Celebrating Twenty Years of Ministry

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Today I am celebrating 20 years of full-time, post-seminary, pastoral ministry! 

Upon graduation from Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO, at 25 years of age, my wife (Bobbie) and I arrived at Greencastle Church of the Nazarene in Greencastle, IN.  -  We stayed there in ministry for 12 1/2 years.  (Those poor people!)

It was while in Greencastle that our two children were born.  Sarah, our first born, is now 19 and has just finished her freshman year at our Alma mater, Trevecca Nazarene University.  Our son, Matthew, just finished his freshman year at my high school, Floyd Central.

It was also while serving at Greencastle that I entered into Holy Orders, being ordained an elder (presbyter/priest) at the hands of the Rev'd. Dr. James Diehl, surrounded by the elders of the Southwest Indiana District on July 17, 1996. 

Of course, I was involved in ministry prior to that 20 year mark.  I preached my first sermon at the age of 15 or 16 (I'll have to double check, but I do have a cassette tape of it!).  On October 19, 1986, I received my first Local Minister's License.  I was 17 and a Senior in high school.  The license was issued to me by the Church Board of the Georgetown (IN) Church of  the Nazarene under the pastorate of the Rev'd. Russell Parker.  (A Local Minister's License is the very first step toward ordination, and the holder of such a license is not consider to be clergy.)

My Local Minister's License was renewed the next two years through the New Albany Eastside (now Christ's Community) Church of the Nazarene, under the pastorate of the Rev'd. Dr. Garry D. Pate (who now serves as my district superintendent).  And in 1989, under the district superintendency of the Rev'd. Dr. B.G. Wiggs and the general superintendency of The Rev'd. Dr. Jerald Johnson, I was issued my first District Minister's License by the Southwest Indiana District, Church of the Nazarene.  At that point, though the license must be renewed each year, a person so licensed is consider to be clergy.  And so, I held a district license until I was ordained in 1996.

During college and seminary, I held various ministry positions.  I did pulpit supply in Nazarene and Wesleyan churches.  I directed a Summer Day Camp for the Salvation Army one year.  I worked as a youth pastor at the New Albany Eastside (now Christ's Community) Church for two summers.  I was a volunteer Music Minister at Foster Avenue Wesleyan Church in Nashville, TN.  And I served as the pastor of Gunn City (MO) Christian Church for a year and a half while in seminary.  But my first, real, full-time, post-seminary pastoral position began 20 years ago at the Greencastle Church of the Nazarene.

In 2006, we moved from Greencastle to Grace Church of the Nazarene in Evansville, IN  It was while at Grace that I completed my doctoral work at Asbury Theological Seminary.  We continued in ministry in Evansville for almost four years.

Finally, in 2006, we moved to Greenville, IN.  I took an assignment as the pastor of Centenary United Methodist Church in nearby New Albany.  My Nazarene designation is Special Service / Inter-denominational.  In the United Methodist Church I am designated "Other Methodist" (as opposed to other Christian denomination).

Two years into our ministry at Centenary, that church entered into a two-point charge relationship with Main Street United Methodist, and I became the pastor of two United Methodist Churches.

At this point, my two churches, along with three other United Methodist churches in New Albany, are in the midst of "Vital Merger" talks.  If the vital merger is voted for by the congregations, that means that I will no longer be the pastor in my present setting.  -  What will we do?  Where will we be?  We trust that God knows the answer, and that the One who has been faithful these 20 years (well, really, all our lives!)  will continue to be faithful to guide and direct our paths and supply our needs. 

God has, indeed, been faithful and gracious toward us these 20 years.  And we are so thankful for the good, godly people who have become a part of our family in the churches we have been blessed to serve.

After 20 years, my desire is that the next 20 years will prove to be more effective than the first 20 in Christlike ministry for the glory of God.  -  Thanks and praise be to God!

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