Skip to comments.Church Planting [Continuing Anglican]
Posted on 12/20/2005 8:53:10 AM PST by sionnsar
Found this on the ACC Diocese of Mid-Atlantic States web site, and thought it might be of interest to those giving thought to planting a church.
The material in this booklet was contributed by members of the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) who were instrumental in the formation of new parishes in areas where previously no ACC parish existed.
Endowed with a spirit of evangelism and a strong loyalty to the historic faith, and trusting in the Holy Spirit to guide them, they set about accomplishing what might have seemed at the outset to be impossible. Today these efforts have come to fruition as three thriving parishes of the ACC.
It is the sincere hope of the contributors and the publishers that this outline will be helpful to others who may have the opportunity to bring the Church into a new area.
Read it all at:
The Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic States EVANGELISM IN ACTION
The material in this booklet was contributed by members of the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) who were instrumental in the formation of new parishes in areas where previously no ACC parish existed. Endowed with a spirit of evangelism and a strong loyalty to the historic faith, and trusting in the Holy Spirit to guide them, they set about accomplishing what might have seemed at the outset to be impossible. Today these efforts have come to fruition as three thriving parishes of the ACC.
It is the sincere hope of the contributors and the publishers that this outline will be helpful to others who may have the opportunity to bring the Church into a new area.
Revised and published by The Diocese of the Mid Atlantic States of the Anglican Catholic Church The Rt. Rev. William McClean, Bishop Ordinary September 14, 2003 The Exaltation of the Holy Cross
St. Paul's in Lexington, Virginia was started in the fall of 1982 when a newly ordained Deacon and his wife saw the need for a traditional parish there. Acting on faith alone, they attracted a small group to an Evening Prayer service in their home. Today St. Paul's owns its own church building and has a roster of over 70 communicants.
St. Mary's in Wilmington, Delaware began as a mission project in January 1988, when a member of an ACC parish in Virginia moved back to her former home state. Finding nowhere to worship as a traditional Anglican, she asked for the help of her Virginia parish and its Priest to start the Anglican Mission Fellowship in Delaware. One year later St. Mary's Parish was received into the Diocese of the Mid Atlantic States, and today it has its own house of worship.
St. Michael the Archangel in Frederick, Maryland, began when Lew and Deborah LaGarde felt called to begin a mission in their area, to provide a place for traditional Anglicans to worship and to extend the ministry of the Anglican Catholic Church into the surrounding community. St Michael's did not start out with its own clergy, but did receive strong support from the Bishop and Diocesan clergy; eventually, it was able to have its own Priest-in-Charge, and was received into the Diocese as a parish three years after its founding. Today, St. Michael's is blessed with a devoted congregation, a strong commitment to its ministry to the poor, and a variety of parish activities.
Jesus said, "Where two or three are gathered In My Name, there am I in the midst of them." These will be the watchwords for anyone who desires to be a part of the Anglican Catholic Church and finds no traditional parish in his area. You might ask "But what can one or two individuals do?" Our Lord answered that question when he told his apostles that they could move mountains with faith as small as a mustard seed. Whether you are a single individual, a husband and wife team, or a member of a group desiring to return to orthodox Anglican worship, you can be a catalyst in bringing a new congregation together.
WHERE DO YOU BEGIN?
The first step deals with a personal assessment. A review of the following questions may be helpful:
1. Am I sufficiently motivated to devote the time and energy necessary to this task?
2. Am I sufficiently strong in my faith to draw others to form a new congregation?
3. Do I have the necessary administrative and organizational skills?
4. Do I know enough about the Anglican Catholic Church to convince others?
5. Am I able to make at least a modest financial outlay to get started?
If you cannot answer each question with a resounding YES...DON'T GIVE UP! These questions were not designed to become stumbling blocks, but rather to help you face realistically the effort that will be required. If you have reached the point of seriously considering your capabilities to do this work, believe that God is reaching out to you. Respond to Him with PRAYER and FAITH and ACTION!
St. Paul's: "PRAY for motivation and a strong faith. PRAY for solutions to difficult problems. PRAY for courage and endurance. Things go better with prayer. Never underestimate the power of prayer or think that you can accomplish much without it. Make God a partner in your effort. Contact the Bishop of the Anglican Catholic diocese in which you live and advise him of your desire to start a mission or parish. He will provide support and assistance in obtaining a Priest or a Deacon to minister to your group."
St. Mary's: "Find a sponsor. Even if you feel you can handle the initial expense, it may be a good idea to try to get an existing ACC parish to sponsor your program. A sponsor parish provides the important asset of credibility and a place to turn for help when problems seem insurmountable. At the same time, it is a most rewarding project for any parish to undertake. Ask your Bishop about this possibility."
St. Michael's: "We began on the foundation of two Scriptural principles: recognizing the authority of the clergy; and ministering to the poor through tithing and personal involvement in local charities-- and everything seemed to sort itself out around this foundation. Even when the work was hard or the results temporarily discouraging, God seemed to be blessing us and we continued to move forward."
These suggestions are really MUSTS. Remember that the Bishop is the Chief Shepherd and is ultimately responsible for the life and growth of the Church in his Diocese. We would not presume to do his work without his knowledge and permission. If you are beginning your missionary project with the help of a Priest or Deacon, he will communicate with the Bishop on your behalf. The advantages of having a sponsoring parish are clearly evidenced by St. Mary's experience. However, don't think that obtaining a sponsor is essential for success. Many parishes began without any such "outside" help.
HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?
If you are already an Anglican Catholic, with membership in an existing parish, you probably have the basic knowledge to tell others about the Church. On the other hand, if you have been an Episcopalian, or a member of a non-Anglican body, you may need more information about the ACC. In your initial contact with the Bishop, you might want to ask for his help in locating the nearest ACC parish. If at all possible, visit that parish, talk with the Priest and, as soon as appropriate, become a communicant. If you are too far away to attend regularly, at least get on the parish mailing list. You will then have a church home until your own local parish is established.
There are several excellent publications that will keep you abreast of the activities of the Continuing Church as a whole. A list of these publications is included in the back of this booklet. Note also the address for the Anglican Parishes Association (APA) which is an invaluable source of information about the ACC.
PHASE I PUBLICIZE YOUR MISSION
After completing the preliminary steps outlined above, you are ready to begin your search for others who, like you, may be seeking a new church home. There may be some local Episcopal and Roman Catholic traditionalists who have stopped going to church. (Maybe a few who are still "hanging on" will be influenced by your dedication and decide to join you.) There are always people in the community who are not affiliated with any church. How are you going to reach these prospective parishioners?
Spread your message by word of mouth in social, job and church situations. When someone asks how you are keeping busy, tell them without hesitation that you are working to form a new congregation. Explain why you're doing this and encourage their interest and participation. Perhaps they will know of someone who is seeking a new church home. It might be helpful to have small cards printed up with your name and phone number as a representative of the Anglican Catholic Church.
Follow up by writing or phoning anyone whose name is given to you. If possible, send literature and brochures which explain the Parish and the ACC. Such materials can often be obtained from other parishes, through APA and possibly through your own Bishop. Be original where you can-prepare flyers and information sheets.
Start a publicity campaign.
a. Contact radio and TV stations and request public service announcements which are usually cost free.
b. Send newsworthy Information on the ACC along with plans of your project in the form of a press release to the local newspapers. This is free "advertising."
c. Advertise in your newspaper in the church directory section.
d. Be prepared for telephone calls, and make sure you have ready answers for the many questions such ads will generate. Again, follow up by sending brochures and information by mail. Through telephone and mail inquiries, you can assemble a mailing list for use whenever you have announcements about your activities. A periodic newsletter can be especially useful.
e. Identify your Diocesan correspondent and send him information about your progress. If the Diocese issues a monthly or quarterly newsletter, ask that your activities be publicized and invite other Anglican parishes to inform you of any persons they may know of whom you might contact. Send copies of your news releases to the Editor of the Trinitarian, the official newspaper of the ACC.
PHASE II ORGANIZE YOUR CONTACTS
Does all of this sound overwhelming? Don't be discouraged. Your initial efforts are bound to result in at least a small nucleus of persons willing to work with you in this exciting venture in faith. Seek out people with special skills and get them involved. Invaluable is someone with journalistic talent for your publicity campaign and general information program. A good typist with some creativity can produce your service bulletin. Of course, access to a computer is a real plus. Someone with a sound financial background can be very valuable as your first treasurer.
PHASE III PLAN YOUR FIRST GROUP MEETING
The initial meeting can be an informal one for the purpose of getting acquainted, or if time seems right, a full blown organizational meeting where you will map out a course of action for the future. If at all possible, hold your first meeting in conjunction with a worship service, either a Eucharist or perhaps Evensong. Continue your publicity program, using all the techniques listed above.
St. Paul's: "When we first began we advertised an organizational meeting, but no one showed up! Undaunted, we advertised the beginning of services to be held in our home. Seven attended, and the number has continued to grow!"
St. Michael's: "We began with heavy advertising for our first service through print ads and radio announcements. Posters with an information number were helpful in getting to know potential visitors personally when they called. It was also critical in building a list of contacts. We were also helped by the support of friends (and clergy) from other ACC parishes, who came to our first service to show visitors that the Anglican Catholic Church was alive and well, and to help answer any questions. Once you begin services, continue them, in one way or another! Even the appearance of inconsistency or discontinuity can seriously impede your efforts to grow as a viable parish."
St. Mary's: "We started by holding one or two services each month, with group discussion at a coffee hour afterward. Attendance was generally good, but it was ten months before a significant number committed themselves to forming a parish."
At this point, several important requirements should be addressed. Which of these planning details you will be able to arrange before your first meeting will depend on your particular circumstances. If your search has brought forth considerable enthusiasm and expressions of commitment, move quickly toward an organizational meeting while interest is high. On the other hand, it may be necessary to work out the following details to attract people and generate interest in your program.
Where to hold the first meeting: Restaurant, school building, lodge building, your home, someone else's home, a local church? All are possibilities. If possible, choose a centrally located site, or at least one easily reached from all sections of your town or city. Parking can be a concern, so try to find a site with adequate off-street parking spaces.
Prospective worship sites can be difficult, but not impossible to find. First, try for accommodations at local churches. Contact Protestant ministers, Roman Catholic and Orthodox priests, as well as rabbis. Don't be discouraged by negative replies. Again, consider schools, lodges, clubs, funeral homes, even motel rooms.
Be prepared to pay a fee, if only in the form of a donation. Motel fees may be too high for a small beginning group. Remember that many congregations started by worshipping in private homes.
Important When contacting prospective hosts, present a letter of introduction from your priest in charge or bishop. This will establish your credibility and may open more doors than if you appear to be acting independently.
Equipment and furnishings. Unless you are fortunate enough to obtain the use of an altar equipped church right from the beginning, you may have to improvise. Whatever is used for the altar should be as nearly as possible 39" high and suitably draped. Simple cloths will do in the beginning. Other items needed right from the start are two candlesticks, candles, a cross or crucifix and the usual communion vessels, including chalice, paten, and cruets for the wine and water.
St. Mary's: "Our first altar was a household ironing board on top of which was placed a rectangular piece of plywood; the entire structure was then covered with smoothly ironed white sheets and a tablecloth of delicate fabric as fair linen."
St. Mary's: "We received a number of items as gifts from our sponsor parish. Our priest supplied the chalice, burse, veils and vestments on a loan basis. Most people attending services brought their own 1928 prayer books, but we were grateful that our sponsor parish donated both prayer books and hymnals."
St. Michael's: "We were helped tremendously by the Diocese and the generosity of other parishes, who provided us with liturgical objects, altar hangings, communion sets, etc. We began by having no music; once we had enough people who knew some hymns, we sang them a capella; after a short while, we used a keyboard played by a member of the congregation; then progressed to hiring an organist, so that when we rented a church building, he was able to play on a real organ. It's important not to get too concerned about perfect music in the very beginning!"
There is an organization within the Diocese of the Mid Atlantic States which acts as a clearinghouse for various items of church furnishings and equipment, making them available to parishes in need. Check with the Bishop's office to see if there is a similar service in your diocese.
Your priest or deacon will probably have his own vestments or may be able to borrow them from another parish. However, a cassock and surplice for a lay reader will be an immediate requirement and these should be purchased as soon as possible, if they are not otherwise available. Lay readers need to obtain a license from the local Bishop Ordinary.
Some new parishes are formed almost from the first gathering of interested persons. How quickly you progress toward your established goal will depend on many factors. Some you will have control over, others you will not.
Here are some additional suggestions:
Right from the beginning, treat your effort as the most serious undertaking of your life. Not only will this enable you persevere in what may be a difficult task, but it will indicate to those you are trying to reach that yours is a legitimate and worthwhile goal. Present yourself as a dedicated and stable Traditional Anglican, and present the Church you have embraced as a viable, authentic province of the one, Holy Catholic Church of Jesus Christ.
As early as possible, seek to "do things right." Under the guidance of your bishop, priest or deacon, promote orderly conduct of worship and church business. Don't be satisfied with "makeshift arrangements" any longer than necessary.
What if you are unsuccessful in getting a clergyman at the start? This will be a true test of your faith and that of the people who have joined with you. It may be necessary to begin with Morning and Evening Prayer conducted by a lay reader, vested in cassock, surplice and hood. (Remember that lay readers must be licensed by the Bishop.) These services can be supplemented with prayer groups, bible study, etc.
You may be unable to find a host church willing to accommodate you on Sunday morning. How about Sunday afternoon or 5:00 o'clock Evensong? If your Priest serves another parish and travels to your area to minister to your congregation, Saturday Eucharist may be the answer.
Finally, try not to worry if your progress is not as rapid or satisfying as you would desire. Place your faith in Him whose work you are doing. Be patient and persevere. Never lose sight of your goal; God will work out the timetable.
St. Mary's: "We were blessed by having the interest and loving care of our priest and the support, both financially and spiritually, of our sponsor parish, St. Margaret of Scotland. They represented a tangible connection with the rest of the Body of Christ which was very important in an area where historic Anglicanism had all but disappeared."
St. Paul's: "Things will not always move forward without trials and discouragement. These will pass. We are dealing with the institution that our Lord established. It is HIS Church and HE will not allow it to fail. Continue to pray, to grow, to prosper, to be a light in a dark world. Experience all the peace, love and Joy that God has for you. "
St. Michael's: "There is a delicate balance to the process of beginning a mission. You must want it to succeed with all your heart, soul and mind; yet in the midst of your utter commitment you must be always aware that it is a work not of your own making, and that God's will-- not your own -- will be done. Remember St. Paul's words about establishing churches: 'Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.'"
In this booklet we have attempted to guide you through the beginning stages of starting a new traditional Anglican parish. Your Diocesan Bishop may have established a minimum number of communicants to qualify as a new parish or as a mission. Once you have satisfied those requirements, you are ready to move forward toward full status as a parish of the Diocese. Your clergyman in charge will direct you in the matters of selecting a name for your congregation, petitioning the Bishop for admission into the Diocese, and electing your Vestry and officers. God bless you and give you joy and success in His service.
A PRAYER FOR CHURCH GROWTH
"Go with us, Holy Spirit, into the world. Mold us, make us, and shape us into the image of Christ; that men may take notice that we have been with Jesus, and so join with us in thy house to glorify thy name; for the sake of Him who died and rose again and ever liveth to make intercession for us, our Saviour Jesus Christ." Amen
[Written by the Most Rev. Dean Stephens, late Archbishop of the ACC]
The TRINITARIAN (Bi-monthly newspaper of the Anglican Catholic Church). Send $20 for a one-year subscription to: 6413 S. Elati St. Littleton, CO 80120
The Anglican Parishes Association
800 Timothy Road Athens GA 30606 706.543.8657
The ACC Information Center
This is an official parish page of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic States, Original Province of The Anglican Catholic Church. Contents and design © 1998 - 2004 by The Anglican Catholic Church. Published under the authority of The Rt. Rev. Stanley Francis Lazarczyk, Chairman, Department of Evangelism.
Date created: September 14, 2003; published on Web site: August 8, 2004
BTTT - to get this higher in my pings list.
I would add that you should set up a web site as soon as possible. There are inexpensive (or even free) options, and it is a great way for folks to conveniently get information. It can also help you look more established than you really feel that you are.
It is easier to plant a new church in an area where folks are moving in than it is in an area with a stable population.
Last spring I did a survey of Continuing Anglican church websites. When a Province's site was under some one person's account, it looked pretty bad for the Province. Almost so for the church -- the latter might get some slack if it was obviously a small mission. But sitting up on a free service with advertising looks a bit worse. It may be better having your church's website on a free server with an obvious Christian element (all the ads are for Bibles, or some such).
Now our church's site is hosted on a paid server, but for all of about $5/month. One family has picked that up as a gift to the church -- it's quite affordable, we have our own domain name (www."ourpatronsaintname".org), and so far the service has been great.
A good design is critical too. I saw one, from our own Province, that I just recoiled from in horror. The background and text colors were horribly ugly (and clashed), they tried to put everything, text and photos, on one page, and it all became a mass jumble I just wanted to leave. I saw another that made you watch something about letting "(somename) the church cat" guide you through the site and the church; maybe that's okay for a bookstore, but for a church...? (shiver) And of course there are those that abuse the patience of those of us still stuck with slow dialup.
The good news is that there seems to be a multitude of attractive designs. I think ours is in that category, and slow-dialup-friendly too, though there are some minor improvements I'd like to see. (Primary major improvement: get that blasted picture of me off the site!)
Good points all.
The worst church sites I've seen belong to the post-modern churches which are trying to be 'super cool'. Usually it's dark text on a dark background, heavy graphics, and little useful information. They'll frequently make you sit through a Flash intro before they'll let you get to content.
The site should say who you are, when and where you meet, and a brief summary of what you believe. A brief history of the group is nice, but not necessary, and I've found it useful if they put up something about worship style. A resource link page adds content without cost or much effort.
I agree. And the who, when and where ought to be quickly accessible; it's nice if it can appear on the initial page. Our site borrows ideas from others: there is a picture or two of "the property", but also some showing the people of the church.
The "brief summary of what you believe" is hard to achieve right up front, though, and where I have seen that done it usually tends to come across rather negatively. We put it on our "Bookshelf" page.
Just use shorthand. For Anglicans, it should be easy. Just say which edition of the Book of Comman Prayer you use, and folks should be able to sort out the rest. Throw in something along the lines of 'true to the historic faith' or something similar, and throw in a link to the 39 Articles, and it should be fairly clear.
We would make a reference to the Westminster Standards and 'the historic truths of the Scriptures' to get the same message across.
I just took a quick look at the web page for your church. It looks nice. It has almost everything it needs. It probably could use a 'welcome letter' from the rector. He could take the first two paragraphs from the stewardship letter, edit them a little, and then add an invitation to a prospective member class or how ever you all do that. (And of course in HTML instead of PDF).
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