Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Truro Institute: A School of Peace and Reconciliation

Updated Friday afternoon

This situation inside a part of GAFCON may be of some interest to UK readers.

Truro Anglican Church in Northern Virginia is a congregation of the Anglican Church in North America, within the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic. The buildings in which it meets are the property of The Episcopal Church.

Truro recently announced the Truro Institute: A School of Peace and Reconciliation as a joint venture with the local Episcopal diocese.

In this Easter season of rebirth and renewal, Truro Anglican Church is pleased to announce a new ministry of peace making and reconciliation called the Truro Institute: A School of Peace and Reconciliation. The Institute represents the continued fulfillment of God’s work at Truro over many decades and is consistent with our congregational history and DNA. It is also the culmination of our outreach to and discussions with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia with whom we are joining in this exciting initiative. Years after the costly litigation and sometimes on-going animosity with the EDV, we have arrived at a new era of community building and peacemaking.

This new ministry, formed by Truro Anglican, will have equal representation on its board from EDV and Truro, along with representation from the Dean of Coventry Cathedral and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The following is a quote from Archbishop Justin Welby, regarding this ministry:

“I am deeply moved by the establishment of the Peace Centre at Truro, not least because I have looked more closely at it in the days following the terrorism in Westminster, merely 400 yards from Lambeth Palace. The kingdom of God is proclaimed in practices that develop virtues. The Peace Centre will proclaim that reconciliation is the gospel, with God through Christ, but like the Temple in Ezekiel 47, releasing a flood of water that as a mighty river becomes the place of fruitfulness and healing for the nations. Thank you for your step of faith. We too will work with you as best we can.”

The ministry will work with seminarians and other young people to seed our respective denominations with a new generation of peace makers, by teaching them and letting them live into the challenging work of reconciliation. Just the fact of the joint involvement of EDV and Truro Anglican is a living testament to the work the Institute hopes to accomplish…

The Episcopal Bishop of Virginia, Shannon Johnston, wrote about this here.

…As I noted in my Pastoral Address at January’s Annual Convention, members of the Diocese have spent the past three years building new ties of trust and friendship with the Truro ACNA congregation, which is leasing the Truro campus from the Diocese. Those efforts have helped to give birth to an Institute for Peace and Reconciliation at Truro. The governing board of this Institute will have equal representation from the Diocese and the Truro ACNA congregation.

The final pieces fell into place last week when the 18-member vestry of the Truro ACNA congregation voted unanimously to approve all documents related to the creation of the Institute. Our own Standing Committee already had given its consent to this proposal, subject to the final review of documents by our Chancellor and by me. All of this has now been accomplished.

Our agreement provides for an important three-year period of discernment. You will be hearing a lot more about our activities at Truro during this period, as both the Diocese and the ACNA congregation reflect and pray on whether we have successfully launched this important Institute. If both of us agree at the end of three years that we have succeeded, the congregation will be granted a 50-year lease to the property that the Diocese will continue to own. We in the Diocese will not only participate in the Institute, but also will have continued access to the property for office space, events and services to ensure a long-term Episcopal presence at Truro…

The ACNA diocesan bishop, John Guernsey wrote this letter.

…Truro leaders have made clear to me that the heart of this initiative is evangelistic. They desire to build loving relationships and, through them, to win back to the truth of the Scriptures those who have departed from the historic Christian faith. And they desire to lead to Christ those who do not know Jesus as the Crucified and Risen Lord, the only Savior of the world. I certainly support such goals and pray for even more fruit from Truro’s dynamic evangelism ministries.

At the same time, as I have been made aware of the vision for this Institute, I have repeatedly expressed to the Truro leadership my deep concerns over the possibility of their conducting this ministry in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. Because of the false teaching of the Episcopal Church, I asked them not to enter into a joint ministry with the Episcopal Diocese.

The issues that divide us are of first importance and to partner with the Episcopal Church is to give the mistaken impression that these concerns are merely secondary. If I thought that theissues that divide us were secondary, I would never have left the Episcopal Church.

The Truro leadership has chosen to proceed in joint ministry with the Episcopal Diocese in spite of my opposition. I am deeply grieved by this, and I hope Truro will reconsider.

The ACNA archbishop Foley Beach also wrote about it.

I have only recently been made aware of the “Truro Institute,” described as “A School of Peace and Reconciliation” which is proposed to be jointly led by Truro Anglican Church, Fairfax, VA, and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

The idea of a School of Peace and Reconciliation is to be commended. I would welcome the opening of centers with this focus around the Anglican Church in North America if they promote Biblical reconciliation. Unfortunately, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has not been reconciled with the revealed Word of God, and is therefore not an appropriate partner for such a project. Their leadership continues to promote teaching and practice that is contrary to Scripture —teaching that, if followed, would keep people from an eternal inheritance in the Kingdom of God, teaching that has torn the fabric of the Anglican Communion, and teaching that remains a scandal in the Anglican Communion to this day. Therefore, until there is repentance by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, there can be no true Gospel partnership with them.

Bishop Guernsey and I had both made this clear to the leadership of Truro. I have been amazed at the godly counsel, patience, and goodness of Bishop Guernsey in these discussions. I am disappointed that they have not just ignored, but defied our counsel. In doing so they have entered into a legal relationship with the Episcopal Church that makes them unequally yoked. It requires the permission of the Episcopal bishop for me to visit, and it creates an Episcopal Diocese of Virginia center of ministry with a required on-campus presence of one of their bishops. The decision to partner with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia in this way is not in harmony with the Bible’s instruction in dealing with false teachers, and it denigrates the costly sacrifice of the many congregations who had their buildings and assets taken by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

It is ironic to begin a “Peace and Reconciliation” center when you are not at peace with your own bishop and archbishop. Truro has been a leader in the renewal of North American Anglicanism, giving a robust defense of the Gospel, and refusing to peddle any counterfeit. It is my hope that they will uphold that heritage, resist counterfeit versions of “reconciliation,” and fulfill their calling among the leading congregations of the Anglican Church in North America.

Update

Truro has published an additional document: Frequently Asked Questions Regarding The Truro Institute. It’s all worth a read, but here is one item:

…5. Was Bishop Guernsey consulted on the Truro Institute?
Over the course of the past year and a half, Truro communicated and consulted with Bishop Guernsey and his standing committee on several occasions regarding the Truro Institute. Our records indicate that representatives of Truro and Bishop Guernsey met at least eight times since late 2015 to brief him on progress and seek his counsel and advice concerning our work on the Truro Institute. The foundational documents went through several drafts and Bishop Guernsey was consulted on key versions of the Mission Statement for the Institute. The Vestry is thankful for his gracious assistance. Most (but not all) of his recommendations were included in these documents. He expressed concern about our entering into a formal relationship with EDV related to the Institute and his counsel caused us to build in several protections (for example, Truro Anglican is the sole owner of the Institute and we will appoint its board of directors). In the end the Vestry felt it necessary to take the risk of moving forward with what we believe strongly is God’s call for a three-year period of discernment. We certainly do not believe that we have defied Bishop Guernsey’s counsel. To the contrary, we have negotiated for an end to two limitations that were initially imposed on our use of the Truro campus. The lease terms were adjusted to grant blanket permission for Bishop Guernsey to officiate services and facilitate meetings on the Truro campus and for other ACNA bishops to do the same following consent of the Bishop of EDV, which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld.

Truro is, and will remain, a committed member of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic (DOMA) within the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and desires to be at peace with both our Bishop and Archbishop whom we love and respect…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 at 4:16pm BST | TrackBack
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Comments

The Archbishop of Canterbury may be happy with the developments at Truro, but the Archbishop of the ACNA is not, go here:

http://www.anglican.ink/article/statement-truro-archbishop-foley-beach

Posted by: jnwall on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 at 7:58pm BST

If you read the whole article, John, you will see that Foley Beach is quoted in full.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 at 10:35pm BST

Intentional Schism is such a horrid activity

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 at 10:36pm BST

"No wild beasts are such dangerous enemies to man as Christians are to one another." (Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History 22.5)

Posted by: Steve Lusk on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 at 11:52pm BST

My bad for not clicking on the last link, and not following all the way to the bottom.

Posted by: jnwall on Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 2:21am BST

Remind me, why was this obnoxious schismatic invited to a primates' meeting.

Posted by: Jo on Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 6:17am BST

More fundamentalist-like nonsense from Foley Beach. I too wonder why this obnoxious schismatic was invited to a primates' meeting.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Posted by: Kurt Hill on Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 2:55pm BST

The town of Folly Beach is a town located on historic Folly Island, off the coast of South Carolina, near Charleston, in the southern United States.

Every time I hear or read of the Rt Rev. Beach, I think of that town. I try not to, but I do.

Posted by: jnwall on Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 7:29pm BST

Can someone with local knowledge provide us interested outsiders with some information as to how this initiative came to be and/or what is really going on here?
It does seem extraordinary (highly commendable, yes, but still strange)that a church that has set itself outside the Episcopal Church would subsequently enter into a partnership with them in direct defiance of their Bishop and Archbishop.
How should we read between the lines?

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 9:39pm BST

A further update from Folly Beach--er, I mean--Foley Beach: http://www.anglicandoma.org/uploads/BishopGuernseyLetter4-25-17.pdf

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Posted by: Kurt Hill on Friday, 28 April 2017 at 3:15pm BST

Kurt, that letter has already been linked to, in the article.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 28 April 2017 at 3:57pm BST

"Can someone with local knowledge..."

Well, I'm from Northern Virginia where Truro is located (Fairfax, Virginia). It is a suburb of Washington DC, which is not irrelevant. The suburbs can take on the flavor of the administration in Washington and when the brouhaha happened there, GW Bush was in office. Apparently Alberto Gonzales, a legal counsel who helped set out a legal justification for torture, went to Truro.

The brouhaha, of course, is that after the consecration of +Gene Robinson (openly gay bishop of New Hampshire), Truro was one of the churches that decided that TEC had veered from orthodoxy. So they felt justified in breaking with TEC while keeping the property. There was a lawsuit. TEC won. But the bishops of the Diocese of Virginia have tried to set a course of reconciliation. So the TEC bishops worked out a way for Truro to stay in the church, but are sharing the campus and working together on this peace and reconciliation institute.

The answer to the question about why "a church that has set itself outside the Episcopal Church would subsequently enter into a partnership with them in direct defiance of their Bishop and Archbishop" could be answered in one or both of two ways:
1. The TEC Diocese of Virginia is their landlord; and/or
2. They believe in peace and reconciliation.

Take your pick. What I mostly know is that when I was commuting back to Virginia to take care of my elderly and dying parents, I no longer had a church community for support, as I'm LGBTQI, and the closest churches (including Truro), had morphed to the "dark side."

Interestingly, one of those churches came back to TEC. I believe it had a lot to do with the changeover in administrations from Bush (and his neocons) to Obama. I could be wrong. There might be folks with a closer knowledge of events and a stronger grip on the legal elements.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 29 April 2017 at 6:15pm BST

As a member the Diocese of Virginia who writes a monthly column for my parish newsletter on these goings on in the Anglican Communion, I can add a little more context.

As Cynthia notes, Truro was one of the churches that attempted to leave TEC and take the property with it. Its rector at the time was Martyn Minns. That name may be familiar to Thinking Anglican readers, as he later was posted to London by GAFCON as part of its efforts to do to the COE what it had done to TEC.

After Shannon Johnston was consecrated as bishop of the diocese, he began meeting and praying privately with the new rector of Truro Anglican, Tory Baucum. When word of this got out, GAFCON was not happy and ordered Rev. Baucum to cease and desist.

Meanwhile, in January of 2014, the Archbishop of Canterbury named Rev. Baucum as one of the Six Preachers of Canterbury Cathedral. The announcement at the time specifically pointed at reconciliation. Theological liberals in America were not happy.

Now it appears Rev. Baucom and Bp. Shannon have continued to work quietly together anyway.

So to recap: Martyn Minns leads Truro out of TEC. Truro and other churches lose property fight but TEC lets Truro continue to use the property for the time being. New rector prays secretly with new Diocese of Virgina bishop. Rev. Minns becomes a GAFCON bishop and is eventually sent to London. ABC names Rev. Baucum to prestigious preaching position. Rev. Baucum and Truro Vestry decide the cause of peace and reconciliation is worth talking to the Diocese of Virginia and its bishop. Agreement is reached that certainly looks like a win for all concerned, or at least, a win for all those not at one extreme or the other.

Posted by: Don Brownlee on Monday, 1 May 2017 at 11:14pm BST

Thank you Don, for bringing more context to the Truro situation.

For the record, I am on one of the extremes and I rejoice at this agreement. It brings me hope. If my extreme is "radical inclusion," then it has to incorporate conservatives. The extreme, and the tension, is that I don't believe that following Jesus means exerting power to discriminate against LGBTQI people and women.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 2 May 2017 at 5:36pm BST

Many thanks, Cynthia and Don for your helpful background information. It will certainly guide my thoughts and prayers.

I seem to recall quite a few years ago when these separations (and roughly similar ones in Canada) occurred, and the first legal cases were decided predictably in TEC's favour, that I advocated on these pages a generous accommodation in respect of property where this seemed justified. My suggestions were met with a barrage of criticism, with Neville Chamberlain's name being invoked. It is gratifying now to see the outcome of a gracious approach by +Shannon. I think that if I were in Tory Baucum's situation,I would defy my Archbishop as well.

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Tuesday, 2 May 2017 at 8:32pm BST
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