— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) November 21, 2018
Category : TEC Departing Parishes
In the 1970s, St. Jude’s in Tehachapi formed after a small group of Episcopalians began meeting in members’ homes within Tehachapi. Eventually, and with the assignment of a full-time priest for the Diocese of San Joaquin in 1977, they began worshiping out of a mortuary on the corner of Curry and C streets. Sunday school was held in the old Spencer Lees’ clothing factory where the Tehachapi Police Department is now located.
Eventually, the congregation desired their own church, so Spencer Lees donated 1.2 acres of land on the corner of Curry and Pinon streets, and the congregation raised the needed funds for the new building. The design, general contracting and much of the construction was accomplished by church members, many of whom are still members. The building was completed around 1985, and services commenced immediately at the new church.
“Our congregation built that church,” said Father Wes Clare, a priest of 20 years who has provided spiritual guidance for St. Jude’s in Tehachapi for 15 years.
According to Father Clare, Tehachapi is home to only five remaining Episcopalians. With no Episcopalian congregation in town to use the abandoned church, the Episcopalian Diocese decided to dispose of the asset.
Said Smith, “A few weeks ago, I noticed there was a ‘for sale’ sign up, so I called up the realtor and asked them how much, and they said it was $415,000.”
[Jeremy] Bonner’s analysis shows how TEC has dramatically declined in recent years. There is a sense that the wider Anglican Communion has not awakened to how far and fast that decline has happened. In significant parts of the United States, TEC has ceased or will soon cease to have a meaningful presence. That said, those who write TEC off are overstating their case. Despite severe decline, it remains a substantial presence in parts of the nation, especially in some major cities.
Estimating the size of TEC’s decline and understanding its causes is complex. Suggesting remedies is beyond the scope of this short article. But a few things can be said.
First, churches need to face demographic realities. If, for example, a city’s or town’s ethnic make-up shifts, wise dioceses and congregations will adapt, not pretend everything is the same.
Second, denominations have to learn to value the local church theologically. If the local church is seen only as an adjunct to some higher good, often called the kingdom, it is not surprising that little effort is made to multiply such congregations or seek their growth. Seeing kingdom as different from, and better than, church is against the grain of the New Testament, in which local churches are integral to the kingdom. The things that we value are the things that tend to flourish. If we want to see growing local churches, we need a theology that values the local church more.
(Gafcon) Stories of sacrifice from the USA – How God sustained two faithful churches through tough times
Indeed, in an almost unbelievable twist, the diocese sold the property for a third of the price Good Shepherd had offered to a local Muslim Group! The building, now no longer a place of faithful gospel witness, stands as an ‘Islamic Awareness Centre.’ Tragically, the diocese preferred to sell to an organisation spreading the message of Islam than to a church who had for years preached Jesus and the true biblical gospel.
And so, the Kennedys (who lived in the rectory) were now homeless and the congregation had nowhere to meet. Game over, right?
Wrong! Following their untimely eviction, the congregation was provided with temporary space to worship by a local Baptist Church. And then, in a stunning example of God’s providence, they were later offered a permanent building that had been vacated in a Catholic parish merger. And so, it was settled; 360 Conklin Avenue would become the new home of the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd.
For more than thirty years now I have been an observer and sometime participant in what I will here call the conservative Episcopalian mess. The departure of more orthodox Episcopalians from an apostatizing mainstream headed by weak and clownish English archbishops and astoundingly aggressive heretics in North America, contained no real surprises, for this is the predictable fruit of religious liberalism hatched upon an ignorant, passive, and venal laity, that we have seen in other major Protestant churches, and from which modern Roman Catholicism, especially under a Nice Pope, is unlikely to be much of a refuge.
What I have found somewhat surprising, I suppose because my knowledge of the ecclesial geography was not very deep early on, was what a hard time conservative Anglicans have had getting their act (literally) together. Now to be sure, my “geographical” knowledge has increased over the years, so that I understand quite well that “conservative” applies to a number of incompatible or barely compatible attitudes….
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
The most significant outcome of that first GAFCON meeting was the invitation extended to conservative Anglicans in North America to form an alternative province: the Anglican Church in North America. The rending of the Communion through the disobedience of Communion liberals had occurred, and the final steps envisioned in To Mend the Net–the suspension of communion and the establishment of a new, alternative province–had become a reality.
In retrospect, the tragedy of this history can more clearly be seen: the painful departure of thousands of North American Anglicans from their church homes, countless millions of dollars spent in litigation. All of this might have been avoided if the three Archbishops of Canterbury under whose watches all this has occurred had provided faithful, godly, unequivocal leadership.
But there is an even greater tragedy: “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? (1 Corinthians 14:8). Of the three great streams of apostolic Christianity–Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Anglicanism–two stand unequivocally for historic Christian faith and morals. Only Anglicanism has equivocated at the highest level.
The churches of formerly mainline Protestantism have embraced the zeitgeist. Too many Anglican leaders have chosen the path of mainline Protestantism rather than biblical, apostolic, and catholic faithfulness. And damage has been done to countless souls through the ambiguous or downright immoral witness of these Anglican leaders and church bodies.
Many count it a sign of God’s grace that, in this week’s meeting of the primates in Canterbury, the GAFCON and Global South primates have finally taken an effective stand to restore godly order and discipline to the Anglican Communion. This is a first step–a baby step–that, though it goes in the right direction, does not go nearly far enough. Will this first step ultimately lead to the restoration of the Anglican Communion to historic Christian faith and morals? For that to happen a lot of hearts will have to be changed.
For more than a half-century, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Monroeville has played an important, if not unique, role in the life of our diocese as a whole, as I know it has for many of you individually. Its visibility along the Parkway provided the means to proclaim to thousands of drivers every day that Jesus is alive. It was a Spirit-charged community, and members of our clergy and lay leaders alike have been fostered by that charism. And, it was the final resting place for some of our departed sisters and brothers.
As I am sure you are aware, there has not been an active Episcopal Church congregation worshiping at St. Martin’s for several years and the diocese now intends to sell the property.
After being without a sanctuary of their own for 2 1/2 years, Trinity Anglican Church members will break ground in December on a new $9 million, 27,000-square-foot complex in the southwest that includes worship space and a preschool.
The ceremony, planned for 1 p.m. Dec. 5 at the northwest corner of Buena Vista Road and Campus Park Drive, will feature a brief prayer service and dedication by Father Karl Dietze, rector at Trinity Anglican Church, and Bishop Eric Menees of Fresno.
It’s just the latest milestone for the congregation, which split from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in a microcosm of the nationwide philosophical schism of the mid-2000s that saw congregations in the valley and around the country leave the Episcopal Church and align themselves with the Anglican Church.
If we needed any further persuading that there is no hope of holding the Church together over this, we need look no further than the history and example of what has happened in the USA, or indeed in the worldwide Anglican Communion. Whatever the scolding of the arrogant, Western, liberal Ã©lite, Gafcon and ACNA are simply not going to compromise or go away. It is clear that if the Church of England goes the way of The Episcopal Church and abandons its historic doctrine and discipline regarding marriage and sexuality a number of both clergy and congregations will secede from the Church here as they have done in the US and Canada.
We feel, and I speak as one of them, that the teaching of Jesus, the witness of Scripture throughout the Bible, and the tradition of the church, is unambiguous: marriage is between one man and one woman, and all expressions of sexuality outside that relationship are sinful deviations from the will of God. Of course, in our different ways, we all fall short of that ideal, but that does not change God’s will and purpose, nor our obligation to maintain our witness to it, both by our doctrine and our practice. We also feel that this is not an issue that can be fudged or relegated to a secondary or minor status, but that it is fundamental to our witness, both for the good of men and women and for the good of society, not least of children.
The only question worth discussing then is how a dignified and respectful separation can be achieved, in such a way that neither side is disadvantaged or penalized.The worst case would be that we repeat the quarreling and litigation that have disgraced the name of Jesus in the USA. Neither would it be sufficient simply to pension off the clergy who decided to leave, as happened over the ordination of women. There are important questions about local church property and funds to be addressed. But perhaps more importantly or more basically there is the matter of honouring the integrity of both sides, however much we may feel that the others are seriously wrong, and leave God to be our judge.
Read it all (emphasis mine).
It would appear that the Revd Rupert Moreton (Letter, 2nd October) has failed to realise the changing reality of the worldwide Anglican family. The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is part of the Anglican family, whether he, or even the Archbishop of Canterbury, approves or not.
I recently had the pleasure of hosting the Revd Ted Wood from ACNA at Holy Trinity, Woodburn, and welcomed the opportunity to fellowship with him and to listen to him preach at our morning service.
“Despite the tendency of new congregations to grow, the impact of these congregations on the level of attendance in the Episcopal Church is relatively small ””simply because there are so few of them.”
Take the time to read through it all.
The new charges will add to his recent woes. After the news came out that Bishop Bruno purportedly had arranged a “sweetheart” private deal with a developer — no bids or listing of the property, but just terms worked out with a single buyer who wants to erect a suite of expensive townhomes on the property — he received a letter from the original developer of Lido Isle (the area of Newport Beach where St. James is located), the Griffith Corporation. That letter informed him something he ought to have known already: that the property on which the church stands was gifted to the Diocese for use only for church purposes. Griffith stated that if he went through with the proposed sale, the property would automatically revert back to it.
The letter caused Bishop Bruno to instruct his attorneys immediately to sue the Griffith Corporation for “slander of title” — a rather heavy-handed response to the donor of one’s most valuable property. You can read the complaint and see the original deed of gift at this link — the deed restriction is for real, and the courts enforce them as written.
It will be interesting to watch this scenario play out — whether the Bishop can remain on top of the situation will require that he first rein in his attack dogs, and begin treating donors and parishioners for the valued assets they are. Meanwhile, some useful information is emerging. According to this letter to the Diocesan Standing Committee, Bishop Bruno told the parish that he was trying to recoup the Diocese’s litigation expenses (incurred in suing four former parishes, including the previous congregation of St. James) of Nine Million Dollars. That is five million dollars greater than I had estimated in tallying up all the costs of Church litigation, as reported in this post.
And now — enter God’s poetic justice. It seems that Bishop Bruno, who is as quick as any Episcopal Church diocesan to recognize a Dennis Canon interest in property when he comes across one, forgot about an earlier reversionary interest in the St. James parish property. It turns out that the original developer of the area, Griffith Company, donated in 1945 the land on which the beautiful St. James building was erected, to the Protestant Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles, upon “the condition, covenant and restriction” that
The property conveyed shall be used for church purposes exclusively and no building other than a church and appurtenances shall be erected, placed or maintained thereon. The foregoing restriction shall be binding upon the [Bishop], his successors and assigns. Upon the breach of the foregoing condition, the title to said property … shall become at once divested from the [Bishop], his successors and assigns, and shall revert and revest in the grantor [Griffith Company], its successors or assigns.
Thus if Bishop Bruno carries out his plans to sell the property to the current developer, the only thing that developer could do with the property is maintain the existing church building on it (or build a brand-new one). And thus there is no way a developer would pay $15 million for land that is so encumbered.
Update: Video added June 1
Over the years, the Diocese of Los Angeles moved in a more liberal, revisionist direction but some parishes, including St. James, remained faithful. After my father retired in 1985, the vestry of St. James called a young priest from South Dakota to be their new Rector. The Rev. David Anderson and his lovely wife and children came to sunny California from a much different place. However they brought with them the same faith my father and the people of St. James held. Under Father David’s leadership, St. James grew and became an even more vibrant place of ministry and gospel witness. Healing ministries continued to flourish. New ministries were birthed””“Discovery (a kind of in house “Cursillo”) to introduce new members at St. James to discipleship in Christ, outreach to local rescue missions and jails, and a focus on evangelism through pre-marital and baptismal preparation. Many members of St. James were encouraged to participate in the life of the Diocese, to engage different points of view, and to share their Biblical faith in Christ with both truth and grace. As the congregation expanded, so did the building and facilities. Even after Father Anderson retired from St. James in 2004 to lead the American Anglican Council, St. James remained a place of faithful gospel witness in one of the most affluent areas of the country.
It’s with these memories in mind that I was saddened when I heard what The Episcopal Church was planning on doing with St. James. Like hundreds of other parishes, St. James voted to leave The Episcopal Church in the early 2000’s and was subsequently mired in a protracted lawsuit with The Diocese of Los Angeles. After years of fighting in court, the Diocese won the property. At the time, Bishop Jon Bruno said St. James was for those faithful Episcopalians in the Newport Beach area. So it was surprising when I read this Monday that Bishop Bruno and the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles had agreed to sell St. James to a real estate developer. It will be bulldozed to the ground to make room for retail boutiques and condominiums, in keeping with the redevelopment of downtown Newport Beach. No provisions have been made for any sacred space for people of faith to replace this sacred space in the heart of the city.
The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles is nearing the end of negotiations to sell St. James the Great Episcopal Church in Newport Beach to real estate developers.
Bishop J. Jon Bruno announced the sale to congregants Sunday, Diocese spokesman Robert Williams said. The sale of the church could bring in roughly $15 million — twice the appraised value of the site, Williams said.
Services at the church will likely continue into the fall, Williams said. No information on where congregants will be moved or whether the congregation may reopen at a different site was available on Monday, he said.
The Episcopal Church (TEC) is a complex and diverse denomination. Only last January I had the pleasure of worshipping at two Episcopal churches in Houston, which was a great experience with some wonderful people. In a broad church like TEC there are people to the theological left and right and everything in between. However, TEC as a whole is typified by a radical liberalism and an authoritative leadership that punishes dissent and persecutes conservative believers (I can provide evidence if you wish!). Bishops in TEC have denied every line in the Apostles’ Creed and there is a flagrant rejoicing in apostasy. I have to tell you that the vast majority of world-wide Anglicans look on TEC with a mixture of confusion and disgust and have broken fellowship with TEC. It is because of TEC that the next Lambeth conference has been indefinitely postponed. The African and Global South Anglican bishops have responded with no shortage of rage and rancor at TEC’s actions and attitudes towards Scripture. Now if the TEC presiding bishop asked you, as something of a celebrity recruit to TEC, to go to Africa and get the African bishops to chillax and to receive TEC back into the Anglican fold, what would you say to them? In other words, should the global south Anglican bishops be in fellowship with TEC?
Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of the national Presbyterian Lay Committee, said that in the same way the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ became inhospitable environments for evangelicals to serve, the Presbyterian Church is becoming much the same way.
“We are seeing the environment within the PCUSA change following the affirmation of this particular vote,” she says. “That environment is changing pretty rapidly. Presbyteries are becoming inhospitable to pastors who hold traditional views not only on this issue but on underlining issues related to the biblical authority of Jesus as the only way to salvation.”
While sexuality might be the presenting issue in this case, LaBerge argues that the real division is rooted in a theological cleansing – fueled by a growing intolerance toward traditional, biblical views.
Sometimes a news story drags on bit by bit, piece by piece, over the years and becomes so tedious that reporters miss the dramatic cumulative impact. It also doesn’t help that long, slow-developing, nuanced religion stories have been known to turn secular editors into pillars of salt.
So it seems with the lawsuits against conservative congregations and regional dioceses that have been quitting the Episcopal Church, mostly to join the Anglican Church in North America, especially since consecration of the first openly partnered gay bishop in 2003.
The Religion Guy confesses he totally missed the eye-popping claim last year that the denomination has spent more than $40 million on lawsuits to win ownership of the dropouts’ buildings, properties, and liquid assets. If that’s anywhere near accurate it surely sets the all-time record for American schisms. And that doesn’t even count the millions come-outers have spent on lawyers.
When Alfred Pinckney strolls the ancient graveyard at St. Philip’s Church, as he likes to do, he steps over earthen paths traveled by his ancestors who have worshipped here since the 1760s.
Beneath the church’s towering spire and a cluster of massive live oaks, elegant grave markers bear their names. Pinckney clutches to his chest memories of their lives and deaths contained in a family history book.
“All these gravestones, they have a story,” he says, gesturing to an expanse along Church Street where at least 20 of his family members are buried alongside names like John C. Calhoun. The name of another Alfred Pinckney, one of several namesakes, is engraved into a marble dedication near the sanctuary, a forever thanks to young Confederate soldiers from St. Philip’s who died….
I read the Sun’s front page article by Doug Donovan regarding Church of the Ascension (“Small church fights Episcopal diocese over land,” Jan. 24) with special interest because just about five years ago a group of some 30 of us left the Episcopal Church and founded our own then small Orthodox Anglican congregation, Church of the Resurrection, in Timonium. Ironically, the writer who wrote an article for The Sun about our experience nearly made the same mistake your Mr. Donovan made here some five years later.
At that time, the writer assumed that we left because of the consecration of a… bishop [in a same-sex partnership]. We were pretty clear with that writer that we left for reasons much greater than one bishop. We left because the hierarchy of the Episcopal Church had left us with its swing to modify, even deny, much of the story of salvation through Jesus Christ. The writer, to her credit, presented our rationale relatively fairly.
The report reveals that in U.S. dioceses, baptisms are down five percent from 27,140 in 2012 to 25,822 in 2013. Similarly, marriages are down four percent from 10,366 to 9,933 (the denomination has seen a 40 percent decline in children baptized since 2003 and a 46 percent decline in marriages over the same period). The losses are not evenly distributed, with some dioceses performing worse than others: in the Diocese of Northern Michigan, where an ordained Buddhist was elected (and later failed to gain consent from other dioceses) to be bishop in 2009, zero children were confirmed in 2013.
Episcopal “renewing” dioceses in San Joaquin and Fort Worth are also continuing to struggle: Fort Worth closed five parishes in 2013 (from 22 to 17), with San Joaquin closing two (21 to 19). Pittsburgh added one new parish (36 to 37). Other diocese closing parishes include Maryland (4) and Massachusetts (3), with most of the dioceses in Northeastern Province 1 seeing the closure of at least one parish.
Despite continuing to claim over 70 parishes and 28,000 members following the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina (DioSC) and the vast majority of its parishes ending their affiliation with the Episcopal Church, the renewing Episcopal Church in South Carolina (ECSC) has posted updated information on baptisms and weddings, showing a drop from 388 children’s baptisms in 2012 to only 135 in 2013. South Carolina reported 170 children and 143 adults confirmed in 2012, dropping to 54 children and 37 adults in 2013.
Behre estimated that the Church in S.C. has about 6,000 members now, down from 29,000 before the split. Messiah and St. Anne’s are two of eight mission churches the Church in S.C. has recognized in the last year.
Diocese spokesman Jim Lewis said that it’s hard to compare the current Diocese with the pre-split Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.
While Grace has joined as a parish mission, at least one other church that was not formerly associated with the traditional church has joined the Diocese, he said.
“The last year has been a sorting out period,” Lewis said.
The Rev. Iain Boyd, chief pastor at Trinity, said his church lost about 30 members immediately after the breakaway and since then some new members have joined while others have gone elsewhere.
“I’m encouraged to see there hasn’t been much acrimony,” he said.
It was not as if these congregations chose the most theologically conservative new homes.
The great majority of congregations leaving the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) chose to join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church or the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. Few chose to join the larger Presbyterian Church in America, which does not permit women clergy.
Similarly, congregations leaving the ELCA overwhelmingly bypassed the more conservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod denominations for the new Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ and the North American Lutheran Church.
Still, the future does not look bright for reconciliation, analysts noted.
“There is an exhaustion factor of having fought for decades,” Thompson said.
Among some denominational leaders, he said, there is a sense, “The bad guys have left.”
And leaders of congregations departing their former mainline Protestant denominations told Carthage researchers they were happy to be in a new place.
When the church leaders were asked if they had any regrets about their decision to leave, “The only thing they’d ever say is we should have left sooner.”
Local Anglican priests gave parishioners an extra helping of good news during Thanksgiving Day services.
The Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a petition by the Episcopal Church to review a lower court ruling that decided contested money and property tied to a 2008 split rightfully belonged to the Quincy Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America, the Rev. Thomas Janikowski, public relations director, said Friday.
He shared the news with parishioners at Trinity Anglican Church in Rock Island, where he’s rector, during his Thanksgiving homily and said he saw several “moist eyes” in people grateful to learn the case finally may be over, he said…
The Supreme Court’s denial was a disappointing decision, according to Episcopal Bishop Jeffrey D. Lee, of the Chicago Diocese, which the former Quincy Episcopal Diocese realigned itself with in 2013.
At some point, young people contemplating a clerical career will have to consider just how long there will indeed be a church for them to serve.
This isn’t meant to be panic-mongering, and infinite extrapolations rarely follow exact lines. But if any church is losing 2.6 percent of its attenders every year ”“ not every decade ”“ it should be deeply alarmed. Why isn’t it?
The church has faced steep losses since the early 2000s with a perfect storm of changing demographics, low fertility and departures by traditionalists.
The 2013 reporting year saw a continuation of the downward trend, with a membership drop of 27,423 to 1,866,758 (1.4 percent) while attendance dropped 16,451 to 623,691 (2.6 percent). A net 45 parishes were closed, and the denomination has largely ceased to plant new congregations.
The new numbers do not factor in the departure of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, of which the church continues to report over 28,000 members and over 12,000 attendees, despite the majority of South Carolina congregations severing their relationship with the Episcopal Church at the end of 2012. If South Carolina departures were factored in, the membership loss would be closer to 50,000 persons.
Wellspring Anglican Church was birthed during the pangs of dissension between the theologically liberal Episcopal Church and its dioceses and parishes whose members held more conservative views. The first and only local congregation to voluntarily leave its former property at the beginning of the conflict, the Wellspring group walked away from a multimillion-dollar campus at St. Paul’s on Oakdale Road in 2009 and has spent the past five years meeting in rented space in downtown Modesto.
Parking has been tight, trains rumbling next to the sanctuary have disrupted worship services, and having people in the area who were vagrants or addicted to drugs posed challenges, but the congregation persevered.
Members finally will have their own home again. The congregation bought a building near the Modesto Junior College West Campus in 2013 and is remodeling the former food-testing laboratory space to make it suitable for a church. Work is expected to be complete in early 2015.
(Michael Carreker was rector of Saint John’s, Savannah Georgia at the time this was written–KSH).
The workings of God’s good providence are never failing and always glorious, but none more so than the events of these last two weeks. This past weekend we hosted a conference of the Georgia Chapter of the American Anglican Council, followed by the southeastern convocation of the Anglican Communion Network, and this coming weekend is the dedication of our newly refurbished building for Christian education, Cranmer Hall.
In the first instance, it was a joy to sponsor these conferences along with Christ Church. An enormous amount of good will was shared between our parishes: extensive preparation and flawless execution. Mostly responsible for this were Patti Victor of St. John’s and Carol Rodgers Smith of Christ Church. While significant differences distinguish our churches – in a very inadequate way we might refer to us as Anglo-Catholic and to them as Evangelical – we stand together now in solidarity with those who claim the essentials of what it means to be within the Anglican Communion and the Church Catholic.
All of this might not have been possible for our churches, if by God’s good providence, Dr. [Marcus] Robertson [of Christ Church, Savannah at the time] and I had not shared in a theological seminar for a year before the chaos of General Convention 2003. That seminar, as does all proper theological thinking, helped to establish trust, charity, and mutual joy.
The meeting of the Georgia Chapter of the American Anglican Council was very encouraging. There were a number of parishes represented from the Diocese of Georgia, and a few from the Diocese of Atlanta, as well as some from outside Georgia. We also heard from a young, courageous priest (an old friend from North Fulton High School in Atlanta), Dr. Foley Beach. His story of the gradual decline in the Diocese of Atlanta away from the Catholic faith was sobering indeed. But the story of how his faithful parish has come under the pastoral oversight of an orthodox bishop, the Rt. Rev. Frank Lyon of the Diocese of Bolivia, was inspiring and hopeful.
On Monday, at the meeting of the Anglican Communion Network, Dr. Beach’s story was put in a much broader context when the Rt. Rev. Alex Dickson, retired bishop of West Tennessee, recalled for us the history of the past forty years and the gradual doctrinal decline of the Episcopal Church, something we have all come to recognize has come full force with ECUSA’s action in New Hampshire.
But what was most gratifying to me was the evidence of providence again, when we had the Rev’d Canon Michael Green, Senior Research Fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, preach for us
at Evensong. Lynne and I attended St. Aldate’s Church at Oxford in the late seventies when Canon Green was the rector there. It was the time of Professor Maurice Wiles and the infamous publication of his The Myth of God Incarnate, to which, in a miraculous six weeks, a volume was published refuting Wiles’ book, entitled The Truth of God Incarnate, edited by Michael Green. He was a defender of the faith then and he is now. His sermon and the most exquisite Evensong of the Choir was another glistening of our Lord’s providence.
The rest of the Anglican Communion Network meeting saw a resolve for us to embrace the recommendations of the Windsor Report. The ACN has as its primary goal to be an orthodox Christian fellowship which holds to the supremacy of Holy Scripture, the historic formularies of the Anglican Church, and is in communion with the worldwide Anglican Church.
As for this coming Sunday, we dedicate our newly refurbished Christian education building, Cranmer Hall. I believe this must be seen within the larger context of what St. John’s has been, is, and shall be.
Our church has been devoted first of all to the worship of Almighty God. It is wonderful when you hear, as I did the other night, people speaking of Bible studies and study groups in which they have discerned through the Bible and elsewhere that the first need that they have is the worship of God. That is why St. John’s has not given herself over entirely to practical concerns, but keeps the focus of worship primary.
Cranmer Hall represents now the commitment to educate ourselves and our children more completely in the orthodox Christen faith. Its Rose window is s symbol of what such teaching means.
At its center is the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, enveloped by the Triune God. From this center, the window moves outward through the symbols of the twelve Apostles to twelve saints and worthies who made a profound influence on the development of Anglican spirituality. It is our intention to live into that heritage more fully and to share and teach it as well.
But more is required. We as a parish must prepare ourselves for greater mission work than in the recent past. We sometimes forget that St. John’s was a mission of Christ Church, and that St. Paul’s (originally St. Matthew’s and later renamed) was a mission undertaken by St. John’s. It is time now for other mission churches to be founded and for greater cooperation with Anglican Churches throughout the wider Communion. The ministry of Elliott House is set and on its way with our fourth theological seminar coming up in January. But now it is important for us to reach out in other ways to establish Christian mission in the Anglican Way. That will not happen unless we live into the theme of the Rose Window, and cultivate our heritage as orthodox Anglican Christians with missionary fervor.
Finally, the work of the Building Committee has now come to a very happy end. We should all be grateful for the many gifts and hours of labor, a labor of love, that the members of the committee have offered to the Lord and to their Church. Our Senior Warden and I have asked George Fawcett to oversee the final interior details of the building, and Martha has graciously consented for him to do so. As George represents a long family history at St. John’s, this too is a remarkable testimony to the good providence of God. And so with our profound thanksgiving, Soli Deo Gloria.
The denomination’s path has not been without conflict: in 2010, the Anglican Mission in America (AMIA), a founding organization of ACNA and part of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, announced it was transitioning to “missionary partner” ”“ a lower level of affiliation with ACNA. Eighteen months later, the AMIA experienced a crisis when its officials unilaterally severed their connection with the Rwandan church, forfeiting ACNA missionary partner status. The dispute was partly resolved when two-thirds of AMIA congregations opted to affiliate with ACNA by directly joining its dioceses or through a new Rwandan-sponsored missionary jurisdiction. The remaining third of AMIA congregations recast themselves as a mission society with connections to the Anglican Church of Congo.
Many ACNA congregations that departed the Episcopal Church have also endured litigation over disputed church properties with their former denomination. While Duncan has acknowledged the pain of the past split for many congregations and the difficulty of contentious litigation, he has encouraged congregations to prioritize evangelism and not to dwell on past disputes.
A property rights battle over the historic St. John’s Parish has ended years after a schism erupted within the Episcopal Church when part of the congregation opposed the church’s acceptance of gay pastors.
Superior Court Judge Roger Ross on April 4 awarded the parish in downtown Stockton to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.
The group that had broken away from the diocese – most of them with a history of multiple past generations in the Episcopal Church – and became aligned with the more conservative Anglican Church of North America was ordered out of the building in the ruling.