For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie [prove false]: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry [delay]. – Habakkuk 2:3
Dear brothers and sisters, family, and friends,
The Word of God does not return void (Isaiah 55:11), and that is being proven true once more in the Scripture that begins this letter. After more than two decades laboring wherever we have been planted, God is bringing to pass the vision He gave us on May 13, 1991: we have been called to St. Stephen’s CEC in London, England.
St. Stephen’s has been faithfully ministering in the heart of London for more than twenty years as an outreach of the Diocese of Asia International Mission. In the body of this church beats the heart of a servant: most of its members are Filipinos, and from this strong base God is calling His people to carry the light of Christ and the historic faith into the post-modern culture of post-Christian Britain.
St. Stephen’s meets in the Guild Church of St. Margaret Pattens, an Anglican church in the center of the London business district that hosts mid-week Communion services every Thursday, and various cultural events on other nights during the week. St. Stephen’s rents the building for use on the weekends: worship rehearsal and other activities on Saturdays, and Holy Eucharist on Sunday mornings.
St. Stephen’s is active on many fronts. It has responsibility for a mission church that meets in the Greenside Parish Church in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is also in the midst of planting a new church mission in Dublin, Ireland, and has begun Portuguese-language Eucharist on Sunday evenings in the London area. These ministries are being carried forward by St. Stephen’s current clergy: Dcn. Andrew Gossage, Dcn. Dado Macasling, and recently arrived from Lisbon, Portugal, Fr. Marco Lopez.
Our Patriarch Abp. Craig Bates, has given his approval for this move, and Bp. Michael Davidson, my current bishop, has issued a letter of transfer from the Central Province of the United States to the Diocese of Asia International Mission. Bp. Elmer Belmonte, who oversees the CEC churches in Europe, will receive the transfer. At some point in the months that follow he will install me as Rector.
St. Stephen’s will provide a stipend for the Jackson family to live on, and it is our intent to live within the means provided by that stipend rather than maintain an American lifestyle. No doubt it will be a learning experience, but having spent the equivalent of four months in the United Kingdom during our travels over the last decades, we are confident it can be done. To that end, we have sold our home in Lovettsville, VA and dispersed or disposed of most of our possessions. Six different families have graciously shared their homes with us, allowing the greater part of my current salary to go toward paying off our few remaining debts. One significant hurdle remains, however: the cost of relocation.
There are two components to the expense of moving internationally: funds required for the immigration process (which are fixed), and the cost of moving ourselves and our goods. By greatly reducing our possessions we are able to fit everything we own into the smallest shipping container available – 20’ long – utilizing less than 2/3 of its capacity. Even so, the resulting costs are significant. We are reviewing the inventory of items to be shipped very carefully, with the goal of further reducing our shipping weight and costs.
We ask that you would pray for us. The road God has led us on has already been long and challenging, and we don’t expect it to get easier as we move closer to fulfillment of all God’s purposes. Please pray for wisdom, for protection, for courage and initiative, for perseverance with joy, and that we would be good stewards of all that God provides. Pray for the clergy and people of St. Stephen’s in London, the mission church in Edinburgh, the church forming in Dublin, and the Portuguese-speaking ministry – that God would continue to fill them and use them for His glory. Pray that God would accomplish all He desires in the ICCEC churches of the British and Irish isles, for the praise and glory of His Name, for the expansion of His Kingdom, and for the good of all His Church.
We know God will provide: He has already done far more than we could ever ask or imagine. We set up this blog to share what God is doing in us and for us during this exciting transition. It will serve to keep you informed of our progress both spiritually and financially, and also communicate prayer needs as they arise.
Grace and peace be yours, in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Dana+ and Edye Jackson