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FLORIDA: Prince of Peace Anglican Church Launches with Joy and Excitement

Prince of Peace Anglican Church Launches with Joy and Excitement

February 8, 2004

By Jay Greener

"This is a fantastic day," exclaimed Rita Taubman, one of several
hundred who gathered to launch a new mission church in Melbourne,
Florida. "There is a lot of life, joy and peace here. It's an exciting
beginning!" Her words seem to echo those of other worshipers who came
together to mark the first day of a new congregation's journey.

Prince of Peace Anglican Church today held its first worship service
since joining the Anglican Mission in America-a beginning that the
congregation hopes will enable it to grow and move forward in the work
of the gospel. 350 worshipers of all ages were welcomed to the
facilities of Our Father's House, a non-denominational church that has
offered space to the fledging mission. As a leader of the host church
was heard to say, "We can't wait to see how the Lord will bless us by
having you here."

The new path chosen by Prince of Peace and its several hundred members
beg an several weeks ago at St. John's Episcopal Church, merely five
miles from the new location. St. John's leadership, including the Rev.
John Miller, ha d become increasingly concerned in recent years by the
direction of the parent denomination, the Episcopal Church in the USA
(ECUSA), a constituent member of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Following ECUSA's decision last yea r to install a practicing homosexual
into the role of bishop-a move condemned by the Anglican Communion-many
at St. John's knew that it would be the last straw.

"A lot of my colleagues in the Episcopal Church have had a hard time
under standing what they call 'impatience'", reflected the Rev. Miller.
"But they are where I was three years ago. We have been teaching for
nearly seven years at St. John's about the real crisis of faith and
leadership in the Episcopal Church. Our people know what is going on.
Following the actions of last fall, if I had said 'let's just keep on
keeping on', I would have had a crisis. My key leadership would have
left and the church would have disintegrated."

In a special parish meeting last month about 80% voted to leave the
Episcopal Church and form a new congregation under the Anglican Mission
in America, a growing missionary movement in the United States sponsored
by Anglicans in Africa and Asia. This affiliation allows the members to
remain a part of the global Anglican Communion, without having to stay
connected to the Episcopal Church-a church that Miller calls "toxic to
the work of the gospel."

This decision, however, meant that the people would have to leave their
well-loved buildings and surroundings and start over. Many of them had
spent decades at St. John's, investing years of their lives in the church.

Patsy Arrouet, a long-time member of St. John's and a key figure in the
church's transition team, was asked about any sense of loss: "Yes, there
is a grief. But I've been grieving about my church for a long time. I
do hate t o leave our beautiful church and property, and also the people
who chose to remain, but we must be continually willing to live where
God is growing us. For that, I'm excited."

'Excited' seems to be the word of the hour. "Excitement, certainly, but
also a lot of freedom," offered John Miller. "I'm not waking up with an
agonizing dark pit in my stomach. And I am totally joy-filled by the
motivation and enthusiasm I'm seeing in those who have decided to be a
part of this new thing." Asked to reflect on those who would stay behind
at St. John's, Miller was sympathetic, "My heart and love remain with
them. These are people I have served in Christ for eight years, and we
have greatly enriched one another's lives. I will miss them, and I
understand that leaving a church as warm and lively as St. John's is an
extremely difficult thing to do. It's been agonizing for me - the
hardest 'yes' I've ever given to God. But I don't see this in terms of
those who left are right and those who stayed are wrong.

It's a matter of God building a new thing. And we're in for something
truly exciting!"

Prince of Peace Anglican Church worships Sunday mornings at 8:30am at
Our Father's House, 535 Cassia Boulevard in Satellite Beach, Florida.
Church offices are: 1360 Sarno Road, Melbourne, Florida, 32935. Their
phone number is 321-253-9102.

Jay Greener writes for the Anglican Mission in America.


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