World Magazine profile Story of Falls Church–A great divorce

On Sunday, May 13, Yates preached through Romans 8 during The Falls Church congregation’s last service, urging his congregation to be patient during the coming period of inconvenience. “Some of you will find this inconvenience annoying, upsetting, and you just don’t want to mess with it,” Yates told the congregation. “We have to ask the question, ‘Will we be committed to Christ and committed to our church?'” He read Thomas Paine’s famous passage on “sunshine patriots” written during the Revolutionary War. “I don’t want to be a sunshine Christian,” Yates said. “Will you commit yourself now to no complaining? No grumbling?”‰…”‰If we’re going to navigate truly big challenges that we may face one day, let’s face this one without complaint.”

At the service, five babies and one father were baptized. The congregation sang “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” belting the line, “Let goods and kindred go”‰…” One of the clergy prayed for the Episcopal congregation, that it care for “this consecrated place” and preach the gospel. Grown men cried during the last song, “In Christ Alone,” as everyone lifted their arms in the air.

Jim Long, who has attended The Falls Church since 1988, stacked chairs at the end of the service and shrugged when I asked whether he was sad about leaving. One difference he saw was that in these new rotating meeting places, he would have more chairs to set up for the service, and then take down at the end of the service. “Life will go on, we’ll just be in a different building,” he assessed.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia, TEC Departing Parishes

6 comments on “World Magazine profile Story of Falls Church–A great divorce

  1. David Keller says:

    This is a really long article, but you ought to read it. As I move on down the road from TEC I am beginning to realize buildings and possession are an impediment to the Church. We love them and we amass them, but in the end they are just stuff. It was wrenching for us to leave our 185 year old parish, but we are so much happier now. And this from a guy who just raised $1000 in my new church to buy Almy candle sticks and waxless candles for the altar. But, I never said I wasn’t confused, just happier!

  2. Jim the Puritan says:

    As an adjunct to this, thus far our church has made the considered decision that we should not have an endowment fund (although we do have a “rainy day fund” for emergency property repairs and similar needs). Once you establish and fund the endowment, then there is a diminished incentive for both clergy and laity in the church to carry out the gospel, both in terms of preaching the Word and evangelizing new disciples, because folks figure they can just coast and live on the legacy of the prior generations. So the church becomes a closed country club, and eventually dies, or it attracts bad clergy and lay leaders who assume they can just live off the endowment without being obedient to God. Of course, God usually corrects that situation sooner or later, and that is what is happening to a lot of the mainline churches.

    Anyway, my feelings on this are driven largely by a compelling sermon I once heard preached about the Israelites wandering in the desert and the fact they had to be totally dependent on God and collect new manna each day, because the old manna went bad if they tried to hoard it. In a similar way, we need to be continually dependent upon God–if we are in line with His will He will make sure we have the money to keep going. So we have a faith-based budget, totally dependent upon the tithes and offerings of members and attenders each week. Since I have been involved in the financial oversight of the church, God has always provided, sometimes in an amazing way with end of the year revenues being within $1,000 of expenditures for the year.

  3. David Keller says:

    Jim, Very good comment. Thanks

  4. Br. Michael says:

    2, this is also what St. Francis preached and practiced. He was in love with Lady Poverty and begged, not because those thing were good in and of themselves, but because they forced him to be dependent on God. If we truly live the Gospel we are freed from the tyranny of things.

  5. MichaelA says:

    Great to see that this story is being told all over the world. Its not really about the property at all, but about Christian witness in the face of Apostate church leadership.
    [blockquote] That means a congregation of 4,000—who voted to separate from TEC over doctrinal issues—is handing valuable church property to a 75-member Episcopal congregation representing the remnant who want to remain in the liberal TEC. [/blockquote]
    Good to see that this point is being emphasised in the media. As Jim and Fr Michael observe, the property itself has little meaning compared to the greatness of the gospel message – rather, it is the reason why the congregation fought that matters most.
    [blockquote] “The Falls Church story has repeated itself around the country as more than 100 congregations have left the shrinking TEC because of the Episcopal leadership’s increasing distance from orthodox theology. Courts have mostly ruled in favor of TEC, awarding property to the originating denomination after lengthy lawsuits—even as most of its members are moving on, or some would argue holding on, to Anglicanism.” [/blockquote]
    Again, thank God for their witness. By standing up to TEC lawsuits, they have drawn attention to the real issue: TEC’s espousal of non-Christian teachings.
    [blockquote] “But when TEC wins property disputes in court, it sometimes has no parishioners left to use those churches.” [/blockquote]
    If one extends that to “no parishioners or only a handful, so the church building eventually has to be sold to Muslims or secular groups”, then this has been the case most of the time. It is inevitable that most of the buildings awarded to TEC will be sold.
    [blockquote] “…but the Anglican church is growing faster than ever, planting four churches and counting in the last five years.” [/blockquote]
    And Falls Church is not the only one to do this. Thank God that TEC has no input into these new church plants – they are entirely free from the taint of 815.
    [blockquote] “But [the Schism] climaxed at the Episcopal Church’s General Convention in June 2006, when the church elected as its presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who has said that Jesus is not the only way to God. She and other church leaders have called into question basic Christian tenets like the physical resurrection of Jesus, and have supported Robinson’s consecration along with other gay clergy.” [/blockquote]
    That is what it is all about.

  6. MichaelA says:

    [blockquote] “Before the congregation broke away from TEC, the church had to get permission from the denomination to plant churches, and had planted two. In the five years since the breakaway, it has planted four churches in Virginia and is planning to plant another this year in Washington, D.C.” [/blockquote]
    Falls Church is no longer restricted by the need to observe parish boundaries nor diocesan sensitivities. Those things often only serve the purpose of protecting dying liberal congregations from godly competition anyway.

    This latest court decision takes things further – we read how the persecution of the Church in Acts 8 had the effect of scattering the first Christians from their single congregation in Jerusalem all over Judea and Samaria, with the result that they planted many new churches. In the same way, this latest court decision may have the effect of causing TFC parish to break up into many more faithful congregations, each of which is capable of growing and planting off-shoot churches throughout Virginia.