January 22, 2021

A New Adventure For Anglicanism In North America


In reflecting on all that has transpired since leaving the Episcopal Church the Rev. David Miller, rector of the parish, wrote the following:

“This press release finds the St. John’s church family preparing to enter a whole new stage of our life together. We stand ready to leave the familiar and historic surroundings of the building at 5th and C, a building that has been the church home to my family since our arrival in Petaluma in 1998; and a building that has been home to many of our members for much, much longer. Many memories and emotions arise as we say goodbye.”

Fr. Miller continues, “However, as difficult as leaving is, two summary statements stand out as defining of the spirit in which we move to our new quarters. First is the recognition that this is not about the property but about the Gospel and the Word of God that we have been charged to uphold and defend. We did not leave the Episcopal Church to keep the property; we left to keep the Faith.

Second is the affirmation that the church is not the building; the church is the people. We are blessed to have a spirit of unity as we move forward.” St. John’s Anglican takes the occasion of this press release to say a heart felt thank you to the many people of Petaluma who have prayed for and encouraged us in so many amazing ways throughout this process.

St. John’s Anglican Church is pleased to announce that beginning Sunday, July 5, 2009, we will be holding Sunday services at 8:30am and 10:30am at the Petaluma Community Center at Lucchesi Park. We welcome any from the community who do not now have a church home or would like to support us on this occasion, to come and worship with us.

New worship location: St. John’s Anglican Church. Meeting at: Petaluma Community Center (Lucchesi Park)
320 N. McDowell Blvd.
Petaluma, CA 94954
(707) 283-1111

Service times: 8:30 a.m. (traditional) and 10:30 a.m. (contemporary)
Administrative office and mailing address: 55 Maria Dr., Ste. 837, Petaluma, CA 94954

Another story in the hundreds of stories that are happening in the wreckage of the ECUSA’s decision to ordain a gay bishop and the defense of that decision among some to the point of forcing men like J.I. Packer out of the church for conscience sake.

I said J.I. Packer. Chew on that.

So here is one more formerly ECUSA church, walking away from the property controlled by the denomination, walking into some community center, and starting over with what amounts to a reconstituted, re-invented church.

It’s happening all over the United States and Canada. Bishops Jefferts Schori and Robinson have accomplished one thing with their insistence that God was responsible for Gene Robinson’s ordination as bishop: hundreds of congregations that were safely going through the motions in their beautiful facilities are now out, loose, blown by the Spirit into a new adventures they would have never experienced otherwise.

A new Anglican denomination has appeared this week: The Anglican Church of North America. It’s fledgling membership is drawn from churches and bishops who have, literally, been on the run for a safe place to be a Biblically serious Anglican since the Robinson ordination and the resulting pushback from conservative Anglicans around the world, especially in Africa.

The Anglican Church in North America unites some 100,000 Anglicans in 700 parishes into a single church. Jurisdictions which have joined together to form the 28 dioceses and dioceses-in-formation of the Anglican Church in North America are: the dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin; the Anglican Mission in the Americas; the Convocation of Anglicans in North America; the Anglican Network in Canada; the Anglican Coalition in Canada; the Reformed Episcopal Church; and the missionary initiatives of Kenya, Uganda, and South America’s Southern Cone. Additionally, the American Anglican Council and Forward in Faith North America are founding organizations.

With the birth of the ACNA, a safe haven with a missionary, evangelistic, orthodox heart has finally appeared for thousands of Anglicans who have been homeless in their own version of the evangelical wasteland.

Most of us can’t imagine what it would be like to convince a large portion of a congregation, especially older members, to walk away from the building. But is there anything more potentially Jesus-shaping for American Christians than exactly that?

I’m excited for these “new” Anglicans. I pray and hope that they experience a surprising, mighty move of the Holy Spirit. There are millions of evangelicals who would be far better off in a healthy Anglican church than in the evangelical wilderness they are slogging through right now. With their future before them, and now finally able to be guided by the Bible without a battle over the clearest of God’s many clear commands- sexual purity and marital fidelity- these churches should grow, plant more churches, renew Protestantism and have an influence many of us thought was long over for Anglicans in North America. Post-evangelicals such as myself are full of hope for our brothers and sisters. What a great week!

God bless all the new Anglicans, and especially Bishop Duncan and the new ACNA. And especially today, St. John’s Anglican in Petaluma, Ca.

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  1. NorCalAnglican says

    I grew up in St. John’s Episcopal Church in Petaluma. When I went back a few months ago, to the building housing the Anglican congregation, I found the same people I’d grown up with, believing the same things, worshipping in the same way. The church was full, with all the people I remembered and with new people who were happy to meet me and welcome me back. The Episcopal congregation meeting offsite was made up of a very few original congregants, and a few more new folks bent on reforming the church.

    The Anglican church that walked away from the property this week is the same church that has been worshiping there for 30 years. The group that walked in is made up of a few folks who have accomplished what they wanted to do; walk into a Bible believing congregation and either change them or chase them out.

    God bless Fr. David Miller and his vestry and his congregation for placing the worth of the Scripture and truth over the worth of a building. Unlike others I cannot wish the Episcopal group well, since their actions were malicious and purposeful and they intentionally dispossessed a body of believers for their steadfast and unchanging profession of faith. I would not have wished them well in that endeavor, I do not wish them well as an example to others on how to lead a church astray. I do not wish them ill, but I cannot pray for their success when their success means the subversion of the Gospel. Instead I pray for their redemption, the removal of the deception under which they live (which, I suppose in opposition to my words, IS wishing them well.)

  2. Please take the following comment from whence it comes and accept my word of faith, that I have thought and prayed much over it. I am not an Evangelical and do not wish to rant, but am unable to let this pass without trying to represent a point of view that is in the minority here but nonethess sincerely held, in the hope that I’m not alone.

    1. As a South African Anglican, I am in full communion with TEC, and our (liberal) Province has close and loving links with TEC. I am personally not comfortable to hear my own faith-description “Anglican” used to identify a group whose recent behaviour contradicts the things our Church has always stood for: tolerance of different viewpoints, focus on Word and sacrament together, respect for science and for scholarship, preaching and teaching through love in action, orderly conduct, and above all refusing to make “windows into men’s souls” – never mind their bedrooms.

    2. As a South African, I have ideas about wastelands and wilderness lands. We have a great deal of such country here, it’s called the Karoo. It appears bleak and dry, though many people are instantly drawn to its wide open spaces, rolling hills and big skies. It’s a country where you can think big, and yet at the same time know your own small place. Those that love the Karoo and those that live there, experience the abundance of its life: the great waters that move under the ground, the vibrant birds and insects, the sweet aromatic fodder which flavours the most delicious lamb in the world, the glorious flower carpets that appear overnight after a rain. Those driving through by contrast, only notice the biomass diversity of the Karoo, by the copious amount that gets cleaned off their windscreens. What do they know of the place, that never took the time to find out? Nothing, and less than nothing.

    By analogy, some correspondents here might consider themselves informed on TEC or Anglican spirituality, and entitled to dismiss leaders such as V. Gene Robinson, without having read a single word he’s written or preached, let alone engaging with him directly (he is a very accessible, approachable person and not a bogeyman).

    3. Bishop Gene IS inspiring to many; and he was not “appointed”. He was freely elected, in terms of canon law, by his own people of New Hampshire who love and reverence him. +Gene has a warm, respectful relationship with his ex-wife, who supports him fully along with his daughters. They know, from living experience, the agony of trying to be straight when you are gay, the mistakes you can make, the roads less travelled you have to find. (Few churches have tried to address these issues with any honesty or practical common sense). I can’t say more without straying into territory prohibited by iMonk, so let’s leave it at that, but it’s nauseating to hear Christians talking as if they’re protective of +Gene’s ex-wife and family, without any personal knowledge of what they’ve been through, never mind what they still have to go through every time he has to wear a bullet-proof vest.

    4. If church growth is the name of the game (not that I think it is), then we’re all in trouble. People are dumping religion, if not spirituality, in ever increasing numbers. Meanwhile researchers say that church conflict drives people away. They hear about our sexuality squabbles, our battles over women’s ordination and all the rest of our wearisome arguments, and it’s a big “no, thanks very much, got things to do”. Meanwhile, the planet burns; millions die of hunger, recession is at the door and war is not far behind. And here are the “Anglicans”, like Nietzche’s mosquito, fully centred in their own little flying universe. Is this the Church of the New Testament, that witnessed so passionately to the Gospel and changed the world through the love and grace of God?

    5. Liberal, gay-affirming, open minded, creedal and ‘via media’ Churches can also grow, and some Episcopalian churches are doing very nicely. Vibrancy, sense of purpose, commitment to social justice, involvement of children and youth, inclusivity across race or ethnic groups, variety in worship styles, being effective with technology, relationship building, sensitive handling of Liturgy, a good balance of gender and age groups, and working respectfully together are important factors. Intelligent, clear and relevant teaching is a factor, “Bible bashing” is not required. Moreover, uniting against a common enemy (the least demanding form of human bond) has never been a foundation for the adventure we call Church, and never will be. When will we ever learn to put God’s priorities first and leave the rest to Him?

    Here’s a fact: People listen to +Gene. When he says “Be not afraid” (a favourite saying), people stretch inside, making room for themselves, for each other, to become more. They grow, and the church grows with them. Robert Duncan, now…maybe it’s not his fault but he sports a Senator McCarthy look. That closed, sour face IS the message, and some of his cohorts have that same look. They’re the ones not to be afraid of, because they’re all so afraid themselves.

    Meanwhile, the rest of us, Anglicans and Episcopalians who have been ditched, can gladly take Shakespeare’s advice: Serve God, love each other, and mend.

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