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Building a Church to Last: The Miracle in Pawleys

Building a Church to Last: The Miracle in Pawleys
A Proven Model for Planting New Churches and Revitalizing Existing Ones

By Ross Lindsay

Reviewed by David W. Virtue DD
December 27, 2011

Despite a recent split in The Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMIA), one cannot help but echo the words of Dr. Luis Pulau, "I love the local church. Big or small, charismatic or conservative, the local church is one of the most important institutions - the only established structure that Jesus left for us on this earth. It is his vehicle for ministry. It is his bride."

The Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMIA) was a wake-up call to The Episcopal Church that she would no longer own the whole Anglican ballpark in North America. That day was done.

Enter Chuck Murphy.

Anglicans had been worshipping at All Saints, Pawleys for over 250 years when the Vestry in 1982 called Charles Hurt Murphy III, affectionately known as "Chuck," to become their twentieth rector and senior pastor. Average Sunday attendance was 75, typical for Episcopal congregations. Twenty years later, average Sunday attendance at All Saints passed the 800 mark. Pawleys became one of the largest Episcopal congregations in the country.

In 1997, as the crisis of faith and leadership was evolving within The Episcopal Church, Chuck Murphy invited 30 theologically conservative Episcopal bishops, priests, and lay leaders from around the country to a meeting at All Saints, Pawleys, in order to discuss the crisis and to discern what if anything could be done to combat it. A new day was about to dawn for Anglicanism in North America. As time showed, it would take many forms. Murphy's philosophy was simple: if transformational growth can occur within a 250 year old mainline congregation like All Saints, Pawleys, it can occur in any congregation anywhere.

It was back to the future for Murphy with First Century Worship and a Leadership Model that would characterize the church for the 21st Century in North America.

Murphy was prepared to look for new ideas for worship and evangelism. He saw a huge pent-up demand in often densely populated communities for new paradigm churches like All Saints, Pawleys, -- churches that would offer multiple services-traditional services for retirees and more contemporary services for young couples with children.

For pastors and priests looking for new models for starting new churches, reforming old ones and thinking outside the box, this book is highly recommended. Ross M. "Buddy" Lindsay, an activist layman has not only outlined what has happened in US Anglicanism, he also offers a way forward and a vision of hope for a culture that is moving further and further away from 'the faith once for all delivered to the saints.'


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