Reflections on Serving as President


By Lawrence Bausch

This July, I completed my second 3-year term as President of FIFNA, and was delighted to see a good friend, Bishop Eric Menees, elected to fill this office. Additionally, I completed 27 consecutive years of serving on the Council in one capacity or another. Our FIC Editor has offered me the opportunity to write an article reflecting on this privilege I have had, and so I am offering a few significant memories. I hope that it will be clear why I am convinced that FIFNA has a valuable role to play in Anglicanism today.

In May 1989, I was able to attend the extraordinary Synod in Fort Worth called by Bishops of the Evangelical and Catholic Mission (ECM), an organization I had joined when it began in the late 1970s. The ECM had a ministry of teaching and producing tracts to teach elements of our orthodox heritage, both evangelical and catholic, to members of the Episcopal Church (TEC) during a season of increased rejection of our historic norms. The Synod was called because of the crisis brought to the Church by the ordination of a woman to the Episcopate. Our very Apostolic Succession was threatened by this innovation, and the Episcopal Synod of America (ESA) was proposed to create an ecclesial body which would be able to retain our Succession in a non-geographical Province in TEC, ensuring that this would be retained until the experiment would come to an end. I felt hopeful and grateful to support and be a part of this worthy cause.

I next attended the teaching offered after the 1992 Assembly in Southern California, which included a fine talk by Professor Rod Whitacre of the Trinity School for Ministry. Having a speaker from an evangelical seminary was a testimony to the breadth of our orthodoxy.

In the Summer of 1994 I served for the first time as a Deputy to General Convention, followed by the ESA Assembly. This was the last convention during which our proposal of a new Province was considered, and once again it could not get out of Committee for consideration. That effort was over. At the ESA Assembly, I was elected to serve on Council. This honor was also a call to work with others in our effort to see and promote a new vision for the future of orthodox Anglicanism.

One of the blessings I received during my first 3-year term was to be a part of a joyful and godly fellowship even while dealing with serious business. There was a clear certainty that God was in charge and would care for His Church and people in all circumstances. This was during the first term of President Bill Clinton, and another great thing I learned was that some of our Bishops and leaders were Republicans, some Democrats, and all enjoyed teasing one another’s positions! This was a great witness, and one which modeled what I hoped to practice in parish life. 

When our Council met after the 1997 General Convention in Philadelphia, where I once again served as a Deputy, we had to deal with the fact that TEC had now ruled that our conviction on Holy Orders could not be acted on at any level in the church, from Vestry to Diocese. As we prayed through our response in preparing for the Assembly, we were led to cast a vision which was to have major repercussions throughout the Anglican world: We produced the “Good Shepherd Rosemont” statement, which, for the first time in print, envisioned “an emerging orthodox Anglican Province in North America.” We saw that the future for our Apostolicity would require an alternative to either TEC or the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC). This vision drew the attention of many in our country and others who had not been a part of ESA previously but who had grown increasingly concerned about the growing deviations from our historic faith.

Between 1997 and GAFCON 2008, the vision we articulated led to such things as the First Promise Movement, the Anglican Mission in America, ESA changing its name to Forward in Faith North America (to underscore our international vision and hope), the Common Cause Round Table, and the Anglican Communion Network. Our public profile, both nationally and internationally, was well known and trusted. 

In 2004, Bishop Keith Ackerman became FIFNA President, a position he would hold for 11 years. This era saw the removal of a majority of FIFNA members from TEC and the formation, with the support and encouragement of orthodox Primates and Provinces across the Anglican world, of the Anglican Church North America (ACNA). When constituted in 2009, the work that our members had done was quite evident, and we were given both ACNA membership as a Ministry Partner and the Missionary Diocese of All Saints. For some, it may have appeared that our working charter from 1989 was now fulfilled: those of our conviction had the assurance that there would never be women in the Episcopate, and our position was not only honored but also held by the vast majority of Bishops in the ACNA.  

However, Bishop Ackerman led us in the work that still remained and remains. First, his large vision for the catholicity of global Anglicanism led to the International Catholic Congress of Anglicans in Ft. Worth in 2015. Working along side Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, they hosted this event, fashioned in the spirit of the great Anglo-Catholic Congresses in the early 20th Century. Primary financial support for this effort came from FIFNA. These two Bishops are currently working on appropriate follow-ups to that event. Also, he and others helped significantly in the development of the Constitutions and Canons of the ACNA and the 2019 BCP. 

During my presidency, we have seen the necessary contraction of our structure due to financial challenges. We were no longer able to have a paid staff. At the same time, our Lord has opened other doors for our ministry. We received a large bequest which has been set up to provide scholarships for seminarians and clergy education, and we have established a fund to be used for Lay Education. In many ways, one may say that our current focus in FIFNA is to continue to practice, teach and promote the fulness of our catholic heritage, both at home and globally. Most of our local work will be in the ACNA, but we serve all Anglicans regardless of jurisdiction. As Bishop Nazir-Ali taught at one of our Assemblies, Anglicanism and all separate identities within the Body of Christ are provisional!

I would like to close these reflections by thanking a few of the many with whom I have served on Council over these past 27 years. This list is not all-inclusive, but knowing that I am leaving some out, I want to at least identify a few of the fine people who have witnessed to me in particular ways. 

Among the laity, I have been particularly inspired by two former Presidents, a Treasurer, and a married couple. Pete Moriarty was President when I came on Council. As a fellow Southern Californian, his contribution was visible for me beyond Council and modeled lay leadership in many ways. Peter was succeeded by another fine layman, Walter Bruce. Like Pete, he was outspoken and courageous in his witness, and had strong international connections which were a great benefit. Sadly, his unexpected death prevented us from some of the forward movement we had anticipated.  

Our long time Treasurer, actually going back to the Evangelical and Catholic Mission, was Karl Sharp. He embodied the consummate servant ministry, and his deeply humble and profoundly competent work helped guide us safely through decades of shifting economic conditions. He continues to exemplify the right relationship to money. When he determined that his time to retire was coming, he was also led to secure our financial future in raising up the man who would become his successor. I continue to cherish his prayers. This leads me to a couple, the Secords: Charles Secord became our next Treasurer, and he carried out this position with the same humble and competent spirit. He helped us to traverse the stormy waters of the loss of staff, as well as the handling of the various bequests we received. His wife, Diane, has been invaluable to me as our unpaid office manager. She has been of great personal help to me as a confidant during difficult years, and has been as skillful as anyone we might have hired.

Among my brother priests with whom I have served, I will only single out a few for brevity’s sake. For many years, we were blessed by the presence of Fr. Warren Tanghe as our Secretary. He was particular, fussy, brilliant, and always right. His skills kept us from getting side-tracked or sloppy in our decision-making. Fr. Gene Geromel was a Council comrade for many years, and continues to be a regular contributor to our magazine, Forward In Christ. He is gifted with both strength and humor, both of which have blessed me, our Council, and our membership over several decades. The late Fr. John Heidt, and now his son Fr. Michael Heidt, have edited our magazine for many years, and this publication has been at least in part responsible for giving FIFNA the reputation we enjoy, both here and abroad. Perhaps because of their respective time in England, and Fr. Michael’s in Canada, our magazine has maintained global relevance. 

During my years as President, and particularly since we no longer had paid staff, I have been particularly indebted to and inspired by Fr. Michael Brooks. He and his late wife Louisa were wonderful examples of faithfulness in adversity, and brought both great perspective to me and others. In particular, with their combination of missional zeal and a sense of humor which never takes oneself too seriously, they have provided both challenge and encouragement simultaneously. Also, Fr. Brooks was always available to me for advice and counsel when I struggled with difficulties. 

Finally, I want to mention several of our fine Bishops on Council over the years. While I am indebted to all with whom I have served, a few stand out in my mind for particular reasons. The late Bishop John-David Schofield helped open my eyes to see that the brothers and sisters with whom we engaged in our work included many I might have overlooked, notably some wonderful evangelicals and charismatics. In doing so he also witnessed to the fact that our work with Anglicans was a small part of larger spiritual warfare. Bishop Ed Mac Burney was especially inspirational when he agreed to come out to California and Confirm people in our parish and that of then Fr. Eric Menees after we had left TEC. He saw this as a part of his mission, and knew that he would pay a price for this outreach - and he did so graciously. Bishop William Wantland has continued to show a remarkable ability to teach and practice the faith in a variety of ways, including his teaching on the Catholicity of Anglicanism at our 2019 Assembly and his recent guidance in revising our Constitution and Ordinances. Having already shared my debt to Bishop Ackerman, I must mention Bishop Jack Iker. He has inspired me over the years for his courage in the face of incredible challenges, protecting and caring for our largest FIFNA Diocese. He was a personal help to me when I stayed on at Our Lady of the Snows following our 2006 Assembly. I asked for his prayers and guidance as I was discerning when and how to proceed in probably leaving TEC, including whether or not I should resign from Council if I did leave.  

As I now become an adjunct member of Council by virtue of being a former President, I will continue to contribute as I am able. I look forward to supporting our efforts, and am privileged to be a part of this godly fellowship and worthy cause.

Faithfully, Fr. Lawrence Bausch.

Forward in Faith thanks Fr. Bausch for his many years of faithful service to FIFNA and the Anglo-Catholic movement.

Forward in Christ

Proclaiming the Faith and Order of the Church, given to us by Christ.