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TENNESSEE: New Anglican Parish forms in Jackson


By David W. Virtue

JACKSON, TN--St. Luke's, an Evangelical Episcopal parish that was ripped apart by a tornado last May, has suffered another tornado, this time a human one.

Sixty-five of its most active members and 22 young people, including half the vestry, have upped and left to form All Saints Anglican Church in Jackson because of General Convention's twin decisions to approve a homosexual to the episcopacy and same-sex blessings.

St. Luke's became another casualty in the doctrinal and moral wars in The Episcopal Church. "It's painful", the Rev. Chuck Filiatreau told Virtuosity. "Bishop Don Johnson's pastoral letter was the straw that broke the camel's back. An inclusive church has no place for these orthodox people, and now they have gone."

The double tragedy is that the Rev. Filiatreau is thoroughly orthodox himself, making it all the more painful. "When I try to tell him [the bishop] he listens but never says anything", said the Evangelical rector.

"The greatest feeling I have is sadness. The tornado that destroyed us was a piece of cake compared to what General Convention did to our church."

Bob Hudson, a leader in the breakaway movement said that a gathering of eight-five adults and children had left and had begun meeting in a member's home in late November. "Word spread and we increased in size by 75 percent. The moment of truth for many came in mid-November when the Vestry of St. Luke's Episcopal Church voted down the following resolution: "The Episcopal Church has grievously erred in consecrating a non-celibate homosexual as Bishop and has thereby wounded the Body of Christ."

"People could no longer standby and watch their witness go up in smoke. The choices were limited: go to another denomination, or drive 160-miles round-trip to church each week, or form our own Anglican Church. So that is what we did," he told Virtuosity.

The founding members are in the process of establishing their Anglican affiliation, obtaining a worship space, conducting time, talent and treasure surveys, establishing teams to deploy the gifts and talents of the parishioners within the community and all those other necessities of being a church. "We are actively looking to buy a church."

"We have looked at the Anglican Mission in America but we are also considering coming under a bishop in Bolivia or Kenya," Hudson told Virtuosity.

"The National Church (ECUSA) has continued its path toward irrelevance by turning its back on the faith, order practice and discipline of the catholic faith. As a result there are families and individuals that can no longer "wait and see", they are called to action, to step out in faith. I just couldn't stand by anymore and let the church destroy my witness and what I believe," he said.

The ECUSA spiral of tragedy gained speed last summer when the national church chose to depart from 4,500 years of Judeo-Christian teachings by elevating sin to being "good" and "acceptable"; as opposed to that Christian doctrine which has been believed "everywhere, always, and by all" to be against God's Holy Law and desire for his children. ECUSA further held itself above the pleadings and wishes of the world's Primates when it proceeded with the consecration of V.G. Robinson in November, said Hudson.

"Symptoms of the national church malaise are now seen more broadly in West Tennessee in the January 16 Pastoral Letter of Rt. Rev. Don Johnson, and his invitation to the Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen, Bishop of Maine and one of the Co-consecrators of V.G. Robinson, to be the keynote celebrant and homilist at the 23rd Annual Diocesan Convention on February 20."

This was unacceptable, he told Virtuosity.

The founding members of All Saints Anglican Church were all members in good standing of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Jackson, some for as long as 72 years.

"The energy and calling of these individuals in the service of the Lord has been phenomenal. The gifts and the talents include outreach (both local and international), pastoral care, Christian education, Sunday School teachers, bible study leaders, choir and choirmaster and organist, vestry service, senior and junior warden, chalice bearers, lectors, lay readers, acolytes, altar guild, youth advisors, as well as Alpha course team leaders and intercessory prayer leaders."

The parish of All Saints looks forward to sharing the transforming word of God in Jackson and beyond to all of God's people. "Our movement forward is not about us. It is about God."

When someone asks, "Will you all be okay? Will you be able to make it?" We believe our mission statement answers that nicely: Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we will be disciples for Christ, said Hudson.

Fr. Filiatreau noted that the Diocese of West Tennessee had seven of the finest orthodox priests still active in the diocese, four of them rectors, "and they have their heads on the line because they are standing up for the gospel."

The rector said the toll in income will be substantial. We have not rebuilt following the tornado that struck us, and our average attendance is about 200 with some 504 on the roles.

"Our budget will be affected. Because of General Convention we were already down $30,000, now we expect a deficit of $70,000. Overall the budget has gone from $500,000 to $250,000. I expect my salary will be affected. We were looking for an associate but now we can’t fund it."


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