Skip to comments.Light of Christ Anglican Church Lights Up Atlanta Suburb
Posted on 09/20/2005 5:21:01 PM PDT by sionnsar
ATLANTA, GA (9/12/2005)--AT first blush, The Rev. Charles Edward Osborne AKA "Chuck", 52, looks to be an unlikely priest for a mixed race congregation made up of a zealous group of former Episcopalians, with an additional second congregation made up of 70 Hispanics - all sheltering under the wing of the newly formed Light of Christ Anglican Church.
But with the Episcopal Church deep in apostasy, the anomalies that are emerging from the splits, breakups and departures would make a full blown Gilbert and Sullivan opera, except that what is at stake is the eternal destinies of men, women and children.
And there is nothing anomalous about that.
Fr. Osborne is an interesting amalgam of many parts. A former occult dabbler, circuit rider evangelist, baptized by immersion in a Baptist church baptistery, baptized in the Holy Spirit at a charismatic service, later ordained an Episcopal priest, falling in love with the liturgy and high church Anglo-Catholicism, finally settling comfortably in evangelical Anglicanism, clearly at home, and at peace, with a start up Anglican congregation.
He laughs easily at himself and his pilgrim journey, happy to have left the material and spiritual comforts of Grace Church in the Diocese of Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin where he ministered before accepting the call to journey south, in fact a sort of homecoming as his roots are in the South, and to a people he understands, and who, in the crazy patchwork quilt world of North American Anglicanism he now finds himself ensconced.
A few short months ago he was an Episcopal priest, well settled and well liked in a parish and in a diocese for the most part orthodox, but in which he was feeling increasingly uncomfortable as homosexuality was being driven to the fore and which he believes will increasingly tear the diocese apart. The consecration of V. Gene Robinson as the new Bishop of New Hampshire was the final straw for him, coupled with the fact that he saw a high degree of hypocrisy among fellow Anglo-Catholics who winked and nodded at sodomy while raising holy hands of outrage over women priests at the altar. Fr. Osborne still believes in an all male priesthood.
"There is a lot of homosexual activity among Anglo Catholic priests that no one talks about," he told this reporter in the home of former Episcopal lay evangelist Lee Buck.
"They won't talk about it; they won't vote for it, they would never approve of same-sex rites or Robinson's consecration, but it is there, it is being practiced behind closed doors and it is corrosive to their lives and their churches are not growing. God will never bless them and their ministry regardless of all the smells and bells," he said.
Osborne, who has been happily married for 25 years, still loves the whole Anglo-Catholic tradition and happily includes the sung Sursum Corda in a moderately high liturgical service that includes a mostly all-Black praise band. But his sermon on forgiveness that morning was down home evangelical with a strong revivalist note and a call to repentance. There was no mincing of words. In a 45-minute sermon without notes he took the lid off the need to forgive and be forgiven, expounded the Word and preached his heart out. The old revivalist in him reared its head. He was at home. The congregation loved it.
Later I asked a lady what she thought of the sermon. "I'm a lifelong Baptist, and I am just getting used to all this liturgical stuff, but his sermon was better than all the Baptist ministers I have ever listened too. I love Fr. Osborne. I'm staying."
There are people from a dozen nationalities in the congregation and Fr. Osborne is their priest, confessor, friend and confidant. The church has a healthy core of Black and White males that is attractive and drawing in neighborhood families looking for that rare mix of preached biblical faith and an ancient liturgy to go with it.
A few months ago, increasingly concerned at the growing apostasy in his diocese, he heeded the call to Atlanta and the Light of Christ Anglican Church; the core of the congregation had recently broken away from St. Jude's Episcopal Church in Smyrna and from its rector the Rev. Frank Baltz.
"There were few hard feelings. Frank is a godly evangelical and charismatic priest and those who have left still stay in touch with those who stayed at St. Jude's. The problem was not the rector, but the Episcopal Church's stance on moral issues," said Osborne.
The newly formed Light of Christ Anglican Church has come under the ecclesiastical authority of Anglican Bishop Frank Lyons of Bolivia.
Another factor that tipped the scales in their departing was the Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta's pro gay agenda which they saw being foisted on the diocese with little respect for their consciences and for biblical truth.
An interim priest from Canada came in but that didn't work out, and then into the breach stepped "Father Chuck" from Grace Church in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
"The man could preach," said Lee Buck, 82, a former lifelong Episcopalian, businessman and Episcopal lay evangelist. "I've listened to just about everybody who could preach and Fr. Chuck was at the top of the list. The man knows Jesus and can preach it," said Lee, who is no stranger to Episcopal pulpits.
Fr. Chuck confessed that when he got the invitation to Atlanta the first question he was asked was "what is your testimony to God's grace in your life. They didn't ask me where I studied or how many years I had been in the ministry. They wanted to know what I believed and what I would preach. I knew this group was no pushover and when I told them, and then they heard me preach it was a meeting of minds and hearts."
Having wandered through the occult and then being confronted with the real presence of Christ at a Roman Catholic Church one day where he was taken in by a friend, he was hooked. "A French teacher who was a Lutheran said I should study the Reformation and visit other creedal churches. I did and became fascinated with Eucharistic theology and the Real Presence of Christ. I had never heard anything like that. I did not take communion then because I knew it wasn't right."
But on Pentecost Sunday the hunger grew in him, and he wanted know if it was real. "On Sunday May 21, 1972 I went to four services - a Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal and Methodist. At the Lutheran service a friend asked me if I was going to take communion as his church practiced open communion. I took it. I said to myself I am not a Hindu or Muslim even though I was not yet baptized as a Christian."
Fr. Chuck recalls, "Something happened during the prayers of repentance; the Scriptures were read and when I received the sacrament I had the experience of really receiving Christ into my body and life and I knew then that I believed in him. I knew in that moment that I was saved and I had to invest my life in him and get baptized. I was baptized by immersion. Later I met a Charismatic preacher and at a Pentecostal Prayer meeting I spoke in tongues."
It had all come together.
Fr. Chuck felt a sense of calling to preach. I had never preached before. There was a little Pentecostal church down the road. I went down to the West Park Community Church as it was called and the pastor got up and said that God had told him that someone in the congregation should preach that day. I got up and went into the pulpit. I liked it and they liked me, and almost immediately doors began to open up for me." Fr. Chuck was ordained in 1976 in a non-denominational Pentecostal Church and he became a revival preacher.
"I lived poor. I didn't care. I met my wife in a charismatic church in Louisville. I still loved sacramental worship and I visited both Lutheran, Roman Catholic and Episcopal churches. I felt lonely for that. A piece of me cried out for that. I had experienced the historic church and that was missing in me." He became friends with Episcopalians and with a university professor Donald Clark in Boone NC.
"He helped me to revisit the sacramental life of the church. I gave up my ordination and became an Episcopal layman and I was confirmed in 1986 at the Church of the Advent in Louisville KY. Fr. Warren Tanghe was the rector. I ministered as a lay evangelist from church to church till I was ordained a deacon in '96."
In the early 90's the priest in a renewal Episcopal congregation in Louisville, KY. "The charismatic experience was still a big part of who we were. I was ordained a deacon in St. Luke's Church in Louisville and priested in '97 and then stayed on as a curate. The Rev. Michael Pearson was the rector."
Fr. Chuck got the call to Grace Church in Sheboygan which he described as an Anglo-Catholic Church in renewal. "I could do the Anglo-Catholic liturgy, Marian devotions, pray the rosary and get down with strong evangelical, reformed style sermons.
But nearly seven years later as the struggle with the national Episcopal Church began to heat up it sucked all the energy out of the parish. "The congregation became divided. The church had 230 members but only 120 showed up on Sunday. We were the home of the American proto shrine of our Lady of Walsingham. I was the first married priest for decades in that parish."
The orthodox priest said he was spending his energy with traditional fellow churchmen trying to understand the revisionists and trying and get along. "We were constantly told that if everyone held together, truth would prevail. But I fell into compromise and I am sorry I did that."
Fr. Chuck went to a Network conference at Christ Church in Overland Park, Kansas. "It was like an epiphany. The gay issue was the front issue for the abandonment of the apostolic and biblical faith. The real issue was the central claims of Christ and Christianity that was being abandoned for a Unitarian and universalist faith."
"We could no longer straddle the fence and take a stand for truth and those declaring the truth, and that changed the whole thrust of our ministry. I had to speak the truth and try to bring together tradition and revivalism. Their agenda was sexuality. It was the loss of biblical faith. While this battle was being fought and won the exclusive claims of Christ were be done away with forever. That was where it was going to end."
It was then that Fr. Chuck saw an advertisement for Light of Christ Anglican Church in Atlanta and he saw Lee Buck's name and he realized that he longed for a ministry context where he could really be catholic, evangelical and charismatic in one context and where the sacraments were not foreign, and the charismatic experience was acceptable and evangelical preaching the norm. "All of those streams were in me dying to be released."
The small struggling congregation sent a couple of folks up to Wisconsin who did not choke on the incense. "They heard me preach and offered me a call."
In April, 2005 he and his wife moved to Atlanta, a sort of home coming as "I was a Southerner."
His bishop, the Rt. Rev. Russell Jacobus (Fond Du Lac) did not depose or inhibit him, as far as he was concerned Bolivian Bishop Frank Lyons was part of the Anglican Communion. He has promised to send his letters dismissory to the Bolivian leader, who comes under the authority of Archbishop Greg Venables of the Southern Cone.
The small growing church meets at the Everett Manor, a former branch bank building on the northeast side of Atlanta.
The church also has an additional Hispanic congregation of some 70 members lead by the Rev. Bill De Arteaga, a fiery, charismatic renewal preacher and author of "Quenching the Spirit" and a recently published "Forgotten Power - the significance of the Lord's Supper in Revival."
Did you catch the nasty sub-text attacking the Anglo-Catholics as homosexuals?
There are ONLY two Anglo-Catholic churches in town. I wonder if he's accusing their rectors, specifically, of being homosexual? I know one of them pretty well and AFAIK no accusation of this sort has ever been raised against him.
I'm sorry, we are well out of this mess that used to be called the Anglican Communion.
Yes, I saw that. I figured list-members would figure this one out for themselves.
Yeah, but I'm MAD because I know the guys concerned, and for this fellow to slander them like this is just way past too much. I am biting my lip (or my fingers) to stop from calling him all the names I want to - jumped up renegade Elmer Gantry would just be a start . . .
(Call the names privately, perform your contrition privately, pray for this guy...?)
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