Half a dozen years ago, a congregation looked one last time toward the building raised by members’ hands and out across the graves in the churchyard, and wept. Then, the churchgoers turned and left.
This week, they’ll install a new rector, welcome the public to a talk by an Anglican bishop from Rwanda, and play host for the second time to a regional meeting of their new affiliate, the Anglican Mission in the Americas.
“God has blessed our socks off,” said the Rev. Kenneth Cook, assistant to the rector at what was St. John’s Episcopal Church of Huntingdon Valley and now is St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church of Churchville.
“It’s a cool church,” said the Rev. Mark E. Rudolph, scheduled to be installed as its rector Thursday. Rudolph, who was ordained in the Reformed Episcopal Church and served seven years as rector at St. Philips in Warminster, described his path to St. John’s as “circuitous.”
And it was, at least compared to the path walked by members of St. John’s Montgomery County parish ”“ which was decisively away from the Episcopal Church USA. They were among those who broke with the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania over church trends they feared veered too far from fundamental beliefs.
They were not among those who plunged into legal battle with the diocese over “sticks and bricks,” as they call it.
“If we are going to live and die for this property,” Cook said, remembering the agonizing talks, “we might as well admit this is an idol for us.”