An Ambrosian Moment

This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of bishop, he desireth a good work.”
1 Timothy 3:1 (Authorized Version)

St. Paul encourages St. Timothy as he is discerning appropriate episcopal candidates that should the man desire the position, he is reaching out for it, it is a beautiful undertaking to want. However, St. Paul then explains the qualifications for a bishop. The standards cannot be any higher, as Scripture holds, he must be: 

Blameless, a faithful husband only to one wife, vigilant, sober in an age of addiction, behaving as a Christian ought, prone to feed and house the stranger, a teacher, not struggling with alcohol, not violent and striking others, not seeking worldly riches, instead a patient man, not one to start or pursue a brawl, nor coveting with his eyes and heart, but one who governs his own household well and able to lead his children, not a new Christian who is ripe for Satan to lift “up with pride [and] he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:6, AV). Finally, the man selected must be respected by those outside the church, for the bishop represents the body of Christ wherever he goes and whatever he says or does.  

These qualifications from 1 Timothy 3:1-7 are extensive and disqualify the majority of men from eligibility. Further, these standards require deep reflection and prayerful reflection by the ACNA College of Bishops as they elect the next Archbishop from among their ranks. (Article X, Section 3, ACNA Constitution). Since all the candidates are bishops, theoretically each of the men present is required to meet St. Paul’s standard reflected in Scripture. I pray it is so. However, because we are all sinners it further demonstrates why we must join Archbishop Foley’s request for prayer and fasting as we approach the election. 

My prayer is simple: Lord, grant the electors the wisdom and discernment to see who you are calling to serve as Archbishop. May he reflect the Ordinal’s call to “teach and exhort with wholesome Doctrine, and to withstand and convince the gainsayers” and “banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s Word.” (The Ordinal). 

Perhaps God in His gracious providence is providing ACNA an “Ambrosian Moment” – an occasion in which a man who does not desire the office yet has been called for such a time as this. Again, I pray it is so. 

St. Ambrose’s life is not a model of how the Church normally selects her bishops, but his life is an example of how to serve, live, teach, and preach like one. Ambrose was a Roman civic administrator throughout his life and the local governor when his town of Milan was electing its next bishop. The election was at a standstill as no candidate prevailed with a clear consensus. The blasphemous Arian heresy tore apart the church and city. Who would succeed the Arian bishop? Would orthodox, catholic Christianity be restored? Ambrose, a catechumen, went to the cathedral to keep good order as the Roman prefect. If not a riot, a crisis could break out over the election, and Ambrose spoke to the crowd. Concluding his speech, a voice cried out, “Ambrose, bishop!” and the crowd erupted in agreement. 

Ambrose, for his part, did not seek nor want the bishopric. Instead, he fled and hid at a friend’s home until his friend gave him up to the people, and within 8 days, Ambrose was baptized, confirmed, and ordained to the episcopacy. Despite Ambrose’s unorthodox election into the episcopacy, God used him to defend orthodoxy and confute Arians, and St. Ambrose became one of the four great Doctors of the Church. 

Although Ambrose’s election is atypical and not the normative model for calling one into the episcopacy, I cannot help but wonder if it is the model for the archepiscopacy. Regardless, ACNA is in need of a St. Ambrose, a man who will refute and rebuke false doctrine while reminding and reforming the Church of her duty to preach the Gospel and deliver the sacrament to a North America disenchanted by materialism and post-modernism.  

Therefore, let us pray and continue praying for the man called to serve as the next Archbishop. May he, indeed may every bishop sitting in the College, remember the prayer prayed over new bishops as the Holy Scriptures were delivered into his hands: 

Give heed unto reading, exhortation, and doctrine. Think upon the things contained in this Book. Be diligent in them, that the increase coming thereby may be manifest unto all men; for by so doing thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee. Be to the flock of Christ a shepherd, not a wolf; feed them, devour them not. Hold up the weak, heal the sick, bind up the broken, bring again the outcasts, seek the lost. Be so merciful, that you be not too remiss; so minister discipline, that you forget not mercy; that when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, you may receive the never-fading crown of glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Rev. Andrew Brashier

Rev. Andrew Brashier serves as the Rector of Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd in Pelham, Alabama, and is the Archdeacon overseeing the Parish and Missions Deanery in the Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy. He writes regularly about ministry, family worship, daily prayer, book reviews, family oratories and the impact they can have in reigniting Anglicanism, and the occasional poem at He recently republished Bishop John Jewel's Treatises on the Holy Scriptures and Sacraments ( The second edition of his first book, A Faith for Generations, is now available at Amazon ( and focuses on family devotions and private prayer in the Anglican tradition.

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