All Saints Church, Pawleys Island, SC
All Saints Church which was also known as All Saints Parish, Waccamaw has a history that goes back to the 1700′s. It has a lot of history that includes the lives of many wealthy plantation owners who many of which are buried in it’s historic graveyard. This article is not about the history of All Saints but instead about the mission of All Saints Church for the last decade. This vision of mission was cast by The Rev. Charles H. Murphy who had come to All Saints as it’s rector in 1982.
Rev. Murphy or “Chuck” as he is affectionately called has a big heart for saving the ‘lost’ and the ‘unchurched’. He realized that these people who were young adults as well as many elderly adults would not necessarily darken the doors of a traditional church as we all know. Perhaps they had been hurt or abused by the church in their younger years and had little if any trust of these strucutal organizations with their fine buildings and fancy vestments.
Chuck had brought many well known authors and speakers to All Saints over the years to teach during week end retreats and the like. They taught on 20th century methods of attracting the unchurched to come hear and learn about the Gospel. Courses like Alpha which was first introduced in England were held which included a meal and then a non threatening teaching and discussion about what Chritianity was about.
Many people who were raised in varied church denominations and thought of themselves as ‘Christians’ came, learned and listened only to have their lives totally transformed by a ‘rebirth’ of faith and spiritual awareness of the love of Jesus Christ for them. Non blievers came as well to learn something of ‘Christianity’ and found their live transformed as well as the accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior for the very first time.
Many people learned of the power of the Holy Spirit through miraculous headings and other miracles. It was not unusual to see travelers form as far away as Wilminton, NC, Columbia, SC and Savannah, GA. show up for the Wednesday healing services where miracles were expected to happen as Priests and lay ministers prayed over those seeking individual prayer. The ‘Holy Spirit’ was alive and well at All Saints Church transforming lives, making mature Christians out of new or ‘baby’ Christians and touching lives by the love, death and resurrection of Jesus that was being proclaimed.
For many, there became an urging for a higher calling to reach out beyond the campus of All Saints Church and to spread the ‘Good News’ to those who may not be willing to attend a traditional church. ’Church Plants’ were started in Little Rock, Arkansas, Columbia, SC, Wahington, DC, Mt Pleasant, SC., Asheville, NC, Charlotte, NC and in states like California, Texas, Florida, Michigan. Most of these started as gatherings and teachings in homes. As these’church plants’ out grew a home environment, they expanded into theaters, existing churches buildings which were vacant on Sunday afternoons.
AMIA or Anglican Mission In the Americaswas birthed out of a meeting that was held at All Saints Church in 1999 called ‘First Promise’.
Vision For All Saints Church, Pawleys Island SC
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CLERGY, VESTRY, & WARDENS OF
ALL SAINTS PARISH, WACCAMAW
SEVEN REASONS WHY ALL SAINTS CHURCH SHOULD NOT AFFILIATE WITH THE ACNA NOW
First, thank you for your service to our Lord and His church during these difficult times. I have attended All Saints Church since 1980, before Chuck Murphy became Rector. Although, I and others have been accused of such, I do not idolize Chuck Murphy. If I have an idol, it is the worship and leadership model that is outlined in the second chapter of Acts and that was in place at All Saints during the 1980′s and 1990′s.
One of the components of that model was the Institute for Christian leadership that I and 14 other people from around the country had the privilege of attending from 2000-2004. I was so inspired by my studies at the Institute that I later receivied a PhD in Church Growth from London School of Theology and a Master of Laws (LLM) in Canon (Church) Law from Cardiff University Law School. I did this post-graduate study in order to testify as an expert in the All Saints Church lawsuit with the Episcopal Church, and to help the Institute become a fully accredited satellite of Trinity School for Ministry and Columbia Biblical Seminary. As a part of the field work for my PhD and LLM, I attended:
The Hope and the Future Conference hosted by Bishop Bob Duncan in 2004
I also have served with Bob Duncan and several of the leaders of the ACNA on the Trinity Seminary Board of Trustees for the last six years. As a result, I think that I have a broader perspective about the ACNA than most people at All Saints. I have maintained a low profile in this controversy, but I felt compelled to respectfully submit the following thoughts for your prayerful consideration. If you think that this information is helpful, please forward this letter to other members of the congregation.
1. All Saints Church should not change its affiliation to the ACNA unless and until the Vestry votes unanimously to do so. We are not a congregational church. In the Anglican Church and according to S.C. law, the Vestry approves changes to its by-laws first, and then any changes are submitted to the congregation for approval. In 2003, three vestry retreats were held before the Vestry voted unanimously for All Saints to leave the Episcopal Church. When the Vestry did so, Bishop Salmon vacated the Vestry; so 10% of the membership had to call the congregational meeting. In the present case, the Vestry has not voted unanimously to affiliate with the ACNA. The congregation has circumvented the Vestry, so any change in affiliation now would be premature and divisive, if not illegal.
2. All Saints Church should not change its affiliation to the ACNA until a consensus to do so is reached by a large majority of the congregation, not a simple majority (51%). After the Vestry had voted unanimously in 2003 to leave the Episcopal Church (change our affiliation), two leadership conferences were held, not one, but two. These leadership conferences were attended by the present Vestry members and Wardens, all former Vestry members and Wardens, and more than 50 of the largest financial supporters of the congregation. It took two leadership conferences and much prayer before a consensus was reached. Then and only then was the Special Congregational Meeting called, and the congregation was asked to vote. This consensus model of leadership is Biblical. Issues are taken to the Elders (Vestry) first, then to a larger group of leaders, and finally to the congregation. Taking these steps assures consensus and minimizes discord and division. Since the first two steps of this process have not taken place prior to this congregational meeting, no consensus on the change of affiliation exists. Therefore, regardless of the outcome of the vote, further discord and division are assured, not healing.
3. The ACNA is a three-year-old financially challenged entity. The ACNA has been in existence for only three years. Many of the congregations in the ACNA have lost their property (Pittsburg, Virginia, Ft. Worth, San Joaquin) including many of their largest congregations (the 16 churches in Virginia and the 2 churches in Newport Beach). The ACNA also lost its $10 million plus cathedral in Pittsburgh. I received a letter from the ACNA this week that contained an urgent appeal for financial help. Bob Duncan said on Anglican TV last month that ACNA has 500 congregations (not 1,000 as stated at the Q&A last Wednesday night). According to the ACNA website, the average church in ACNA has 75 Members which means that half of its churches have less than 75 members. Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina told the trustees of Trinity Seminary earlier this month that today It takes a minimum of 75 members to be able to pay a rector and the operating expenses of a typical Anglican Church. Therefore, at least half of the churches in the ACNA have little or no funds to contribute to ACNA. As a result. ACNA is desperately recruiting larger churches like All Saints in hopes that they will make major contributions to fund its re-building program. All Saints should defer any decision about changing affiliation for at least two years in order to make certain that the ACNA will survive its present financial crisis.
4. The ACNA may cease to exist when Bob Duncan retires in 2014. The ACNA is a made up of congregations from the Diocese of Pttsburgh, CANA in Virginia, the Reformed Episcopal, Church (REC), Forward in Faith, and several other small dioceses. Many in the ACNA expect Bishop Guernsey from Virginia to succeed Bob Duncan as archbishop in 2014. Bishop Guernsey is in favor of women’s ordination. The REC and Forward in Faith are not. If Bishop Guernsey succeeds Bob Duncan, the REC and Forward in Faith will probably withdraw from ACNA, just as the Anglican Mission did last year. The combination of its dire financial condition and the withdrawal of these congregations could result in the demise of the ACNA. All Saints should wait to see how things unfold prior to and after Bob Duncan retires. Four churches in Pittsburgh left the ACNA last week. Do they know something that we do not know?
5. All Saints needs to wait and see who the Diocese of South Carolina of South Carolina affiliates with, if anyone. The Anglican Church landscape has changed significantly since the petitions for our vote were filed. The Diocese of South Carolina has left the Episcopal Church. The Diocese of South Carolina existed before the Episcopal Church and will continue to exist as an autonomous Anglican diocese for a season, for at least two years. Its Mission Statement is to Make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age. I am not recommending that All Saints re-affiliate with the Diocese at this time, but I do know and respect Bishop Mark Lawrence as a godly leader, and we would do well to step back and see how this drama unfolds before deciding to change our affiliation.
6. All Saints is the “Mother Church” to over 150 congregations. Since its inception, over twelve years ago, the Anglican Mission has planted over 150 new congregations. Many of these congregations consider All Saints Church their “Mother Church.” Their Rectors return to Pawleys often for Anglican Mission clergy conferences and sometimes simply to worship, not unlike those in the early church who returned to the Temple each year. The day that Rob Graff read Terrill Glen’s resignation letter from the pulpit, I happened to be seated next to Jim Kennaugh, an Anglican Mission priest from Naples, Florida. I noticed a tear in his eye and asked him what was wrong. He said: “I fear that I and the other Anglican Mission priests will not be welcome here this time next year.” He foresaw the divisiveness and discord that we would soon experience. I did not. I feel strongly that affiliating with ACNA now would be the equivalent of abandoning our daughter congregations and their Rectors who were the pioneers of the the Anglican Mission. I am intrigued by the “Abbey” concept that the Anglican Mission is considering. My understanding is that it would expand All Saint’s role in the AM and that All Saints could serve as an “Abbey” that these rectors and Anglicans from all over the world could return to regularly for teaching, prayer, and reflection.
7. The ACNA is not a Province of the Anglican Communion. Bob Duncan describes the ACNA as an “Emerging Province”. The sign on its office in Ambridge, PA reads “Provincial Headquarters,” but it is not a province. Until a majority of the 38 primates (archbishops) of the Anglican Communion vote to make the ACNA a province, it will remain the Anglican Church in North America, not the Anglican Province in North America. Kevin Donlon and I studied under Norman Doe, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s advisor on Canon Law. We have met with John Rees, the Chancellor for the Archbishop of Canterbury. Both of these distinguished men have assured us that the ACNA will not be a Province of the Anglican Communion for a long, long time, if ever. The reality is that the majority of the Primates are liberal. Also, the adage most often used to describe the Anglican Communion is that: “The Africans pray, The Americans pay, and the English make the rules.” As long as The Episcopal Church continues to contribute most of the financial support for the Anglican Communion, the Primates will not vote to approve the ACNA as a Province. Archbishop Bob Duncan and the ACNA are members of GAFCON , a conference made up of 8 of the 38 Primates of the Anglican Communion, far from the majority that the ACNA needs in order to become a province.
Thank you again for your willingness to serve and for prayerfully considering the points made in this email.
Your brother in Christ,
All Saints Church, Pawleys Island, SC November 5th, 2012 Vote
Registration for the vote on Monday November 5, 2012 will open at 6:30 PM in the Acts Building and the meeting begins at 7:00 PM in the Large Sanctuary. Those members who were members on the date of the filing of the petitions to hold this congregational vote will be deciding between staying in AMIA where it is considered the ‘founding church’ and ‘Mother Church’ of AMIA for the last 12 years or leaving AMIA to join ACNA a province in formation of the Anglican Church worldwide.