Anglican Church Planting: Anglican Church Planting During Covidtide

September 12, 2021

Anglican Church Planting During Covidtide

The past 18 months have been difficult for American churches. The difficulties have been come from actual health threats due to Covid-19, but also due to associated government restrictions on society, the economy and particularly churches.

At the same time, as with other entrepreneurial endeavors, a time of disruption and uncertainty provides opportunities for new entrants. Here I highlight the success of Anglican church plants that remember that their mission is to be the church.

In the North American Anglican, I reported on four (traditional liturgy) Anglican churches planted in four states during Covidtide. Two were de novo church plants, one was a mother-daughter spinoff, and one was a replant (with a new jurisdiction, priest and worship space). Due to the format limitations of TNAA, the 7,000 word article (entitled "Church Planting in Covidtide: Moral Courage and Sacramental Witness") was split into two parts. A reader suggested that it would be helpful to have a brief roadmap to these two postings.

The four churches highlighted were
  • Christ the King (Marietta, Georgia) a parachute plant sponsored by the REC 100 ministry of the Reformed Episcopal Church.
  • St. Mark the Evangelist (Waxahachie, Texas) a REC replant after the priest of an earlier Anglican church retired during Covidtide.
  • St. Thomas Anglican (Fullerton, California) in the Anglican Catholic Church (one of the major Continuing Anglican jurisdictions): a spinoff of a healthy ACC parish 30 minutes away.
  • Trinity Anglican (Connersville, Indiana) also planted in the ACC, reopening an historic sanctuary abandoned by the Episcopal Church after more than 150 years.
Part I introduces the challenges of Anglican church planting, discusses the REC and its REC 100 initiative, and then presents the case studies of Christ the King and St. Mark’s. Part II discusses the evangelism efforts of the Continuing church (including Continuing Forward) and the stories of St. Thomas and Trinity Anglican.

The latter article then concludes by summarizing what can be learned from these four case studies:
  1. The importance of the relational model of evangelism, sometimes called the "Celtic" model.
  2. The need to create a spiritually healthy church, and that healthy churches can only come from other healthy churches.
  3. Learning (where possible) from previous church planting research, including the central role of an authentic and capable church planter and avoiding obvious mistakes.
  4. The perhaps obvious (but still overlooked) idea that sacramental churches must be sacramental (i.e. that much more is lost with a purely virtual format).

A key question — perhaps the key question — for 21st century church planting is how to create relationships with new members. The article hints at some of the answers: it appears there is no substitute for a tireless presence in the community for the explicit purpose of creating new conversations and new relationships. Interestingly, three of these four parishes create a presence using "Theology on Tap," invented 40 years ago to support a Catholic young adult ministry.

Of course, there have been other traditional Anglican church plants. The Forward in Faith church planting task force (which met from 2015-2019) was led by the founding vicar of Christ the Redeemer Ft. Worth and included the founding vicar of Christ Church Waco; both are traditional theology churches in the Diocese of Ft. Worth that (unlike the above four parishes) use the modern (2019 ACNA) liturgy. While Always Forward supports the broad range of churches in the ACNA, the focus of this blog remains examining Anglo-Catholic church planting.

Picture: header from The North American Anglican articles.

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