Thinking Anglicans

Nigeria and Virginia: two more articles

First, the New York Times published this news article on Christmas Day (in the paper edition it was a front-page story): At Axis of Episcopal Split, an Anti-Gay Nigerian by Lydia Polgreen and Laurie Goodstein. Lydia Polgreen reported from Abuja, and Laurie Goodstein from New York.

It includes some interesting quotes from Archbishop Drexel Gomez:

…He [Akinola] has been chastised more recently for creating a missionary branch of the Nigerian church in the United States, called the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, despite Anglican rules and traditions prohibiting bishops from taking control of churches or priests not in their territory.

“There are primates who are very, very concerned about it,” said Archbishop Drexel Gomez, the primate of the West Indies, because “it introduces more fragmentation.”

Other conservative American churches that have split from the Episcopal Church, the American branch of the Anglican Communion, have aligned themselves with other archbishops, in Rwanda, Uganda and several provinces in Latin America — often because they already had ties to these provinces through mission work.

Archbishop Gomez said he understood Archbishop Akinola’s actions because the American conservatives felt an urgent need to leave the Episcopal Church and were unwilling to wait for a new covenant being written for the Anglican Communion. The new covenant is a lengthy and uncertain process led by Archbishop Gomez that some conservatives hope will eventually end the impasse over homosexuality…

Second, there is an interesting article analysing the history of the Virginia congregations known as The Falls Church and Truro Church by Dr Joan R Gundersen: How “Historic” Are Truro Church and The Falls Church?

In the last few weeks, we have heard a lot about the two “historic” churches in Virginia whose congregations are among those that have recently decided to withdraw from The Episcopal Church. Both Truro Church and The Falls Church have been characterized as being older than The Episcopal Church. The Falls Church web site suggests that George Washington was once a vestry member of the church. The history on the Truro web site makes the same claim for Truro Church. Somehow, these historical assertions are supposed to make us feel that the decision to leave The Episcopal Church is especially poignant and important.

Let me be clear: I believe that any decision to leave The Episcopal Church, by an individual or a group, is a sad occasion. There is a lot of confusion and misinformation being distributed concerning the actual history of these parishes, however. Neither is the direct descendant of a colonial parish. Neither can claim George Washington as a past member of its vestry or its congregation. Both are “new” church plants from the 1830s and 1840s. In most places in the United States, founding dates in the antebellum period would be quite old enough to justify a claim of being “historic,” but these two parishes have sought the additional aura associated with George Washington and our colonial past. How “historic” are they?

103
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
103 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
51 Comment authors
Priscilla CondyleswilliamCharlesKurtlaurence Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

Thanks for posting the NYTimes article. It is devastating in what it reveals about ++Akinola in his own words, including his estimate about how humble he is. One wonders if some who voted to leave and join CANA would have done so as readily if they could have read this. +Minns is clearly allying himself and his followers with someone who supports legislation that the State Department has declared inhumane,who is so homophobic as to leap away from the handshake of a gay man, who characterizes gay people, by implication, as animals, who has violated diocesan boundaries, and who could… Read more »

Jason Suggs
Guest
Jason Suggs

Regarding the historical statuses of Truro Church and The Falls Church, I say: Petty, Petty, Petty.

For all the talk of “broadness” there is a serious investment in stupidity going on here.

I say this as a Catholic. With so much at stake for the future of your Church why would you waste your time and attention on this crud?

Richard Lyon
Guest
Richard Lyon

That is a most interesting article about the historical antecedents of Turo and Falls churches. The claims of a colonial existence are not just to attract tourist trade, but are part of their legal strategy to invalidate the property claims of TEC. I suspect that much of their efforts to create a rupture in the AC comes from a hope of convincing a secular court that TEC has acted in such a way as to default on its responsibility to maintain the bonds that bound parishes in obedience to the cannons.

Doug Taylor-Weiss
Guest

Just today was reading His Excellency, a 2003 biography of Geo. Washington. Second chapter says he was Vestryman at the Truro Church in the 1760’s. I don’t think there’s much doubt that the parishes are colonial.

Columba Gilliss
Guest
Columba Gilliss

Thank you for posting the history lesson and Joan for writing it. I would like toknow about the more recent history of these congregations and the others who have left with them. To what extent were they involved in the Charismatic Movement? Do any of them have women priests? Did they in the past?
Columba Gilliss

Pluralist
Guest

Regarding the history, I’m not sure how important is a claim to history: many want to find claims in antiquity for legitimacy and authority. As an aside, you know there is a much better claim to episcopal antiquity: http://www.kings-chapel.org/history.html Including: >There was no minister until James Freeman, born in Charlestown and a Harvard graduate, was hired as lay reader in 1782 and became minister in 1783. He introduced Unitarian ideas in his preaching and revised the Anglican Book of Common Prayer along Unitarian principles. The changes in the liturgy were accepted by the congregation in June, 1785. Although Freeman still… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Its clear enough that he has Communion leadership ambition. No way do these views have majority support in the CofE

Leonardo Ricardo
Guest
Leonardo Ricardo

Unfortunately +Akinola has a “staying in the room” problem as well as a recoiling from a queer handshake phobia…he’ seems to have the “heebeegeebees” and cross wiring/tic puritanical problema/sickness real bad. It didn’t come from the olden days/daze in Africa when homosexuality was considered less threatening to the health: (scroll down to) Homosexuality in Prehistoric Africa http://www.bidstrup.com/phobiahistory.htm +Akinola apparently is no Mothera Theresa and although I’m certain he would be welcome to receive Communion at any rail in our GLOBAL CENTER of the Anglican Communion he may rush from the Eucharist if any REAL words/petitions of LGBT TRUTH are mentioned… Read more »

Rick Jones
Guest
Rick Jones

The lede in the NYT article is quite devastating to ++ Akinola’s image in the USA and the story of CANA is increasingly being linked to the most strident form of homophobia. Whether it is an accurate portrait of his attitude or not (and I pray that it isn’t) he still must face up to the political reality that his support for the legislation in Nigeria makes his US supporters look like the allies in the worst kind of bigotry. The fact that the church is in VA doesn’t help. It isn’t too late for him to gracefully get out… Read more »

Joan R. Gundersen
Guest
Joan R. Gundersen

To Doug Taylor-Weis: If you will look at my article you will find out that Truro Parish and Truro Church are two separate things. If in 1765 there was a newspaper called the Truro Times that served Fairfax County, which in 1800 turned into a local printing house known as Pohick Printing, but no longer published a newspaper weekly. Then in 1836 another newspaper editor came along and set up a new newspaper called Zion Press, that served PART of the area covered by the old Truro Times, that would hardly be the old Truro Times, would it? Then suppose… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

“Archbishop Gomez said he understood Archbishop Akinola’s actions because the American conservatives felt an urgent need to leave the Episcopal Church and were unwilling to wait for a new covenant being written for the Anglican Communion. The new covenant is a lengthy and uncertain process led by Archbishop Gomez that some conservatives hope will eventually end the impasse over homosexuality…” I don’t think that TEC’s “liberal” Bishops and hierachy have any intention of waiting for a possible covenant, or for decisions from the Windsor Panel either (remember that? – seems to have taken a long vacation again!). They are already… Read more »

C.B.
Guest

Columba – Truro has been involved in the charismatic movement for the past 30 years. I am not aware that either it or Falls Church has or has had any women priests. C.B.

Richard Helmer
Guest

Since Peter Akinola extols the virtue of a “plain reading” of Scripture: The Gospel according to Peter Akinola: “This man came up to me after a service, in New York I think, and said, ‘Oh, good to see you bishop, this is my partner of many years,’ ” he recalled. “I said, ‘Oh!’ I jumped back” The Gospel according to Jesus Christ: “Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. . . She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I… Read more »

George Conger
Guest
George Conger

I am not sure I understand the argument being made about Truro & co and George Washington. My copy of “The writings of George Washington; being his correspondence, addresses, messages, and other papers, official and private, selected and published from the original manuscripts; with a life of the author, notes and illustrations. By Jared Sparks” dated 1855 and published by Little, Brown and Co of Boston makes several references to Washington and Truro parish… to be precise it makes 7 references. On page 400, for example, there is printed a results of the vestry balloting for Truro parish from July… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Many thanks to Dr. Gundersen for reporting a synopsis of important historical facts. It seems that these orthodox believer claims of utter and complete historic continuity – whether at the local parish, or at the Anglican Communion, or even at the much-touted apostolic and biblical levels – are generally quite similar. The several redactions approach confortable and uncomfortable facts in hugely similar ways. Each person will draw his or her own lessons from this small example. I think it is typical conservative propaganda spin: Do not skew the facts to fit your frames, as a sort of archetypally godly Anglican… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

If I have to choose between the Anglican extremes of Akinola and VGR, which I do not necessarily agree that I must, I would end up picking VGR for any number of progressive believer reasons. One of the things I do like about VGR is his ability to admit that he has made mistakes in life and learned from them. Akinola, by contrast, is so entirely humble that he apparently hasn’t made any mistakes, especially when it comes to people like VGR. Any ninny would then realize that others feel that way about Akinola, and so the difference is that… Read more »

Gillian
Guest
Gillian

I’m so glad ++Nigeria has nothing else to worry about but how North American Anglicans have sex: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/26/AR2006122600176_pf.html LAGOS, Nigeria, Dec. 26 — A gasoline pipeline ruptured by thieves exploded into an inferno Tuesday as scavengers collected the fuel in a poor neighborhood, killing at least 260 people in the latest oil industry disaster to strike Africa’s biggest petroleum producer. …. Such tapping is common in this nation of 130 million people, many of whom live in woeful poverty amid widespread graft that makes a handful wealthy. A pilfered can of gasoline sold on the black market can bring in… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“Regarding the history, I’m not sure how important is a claim to history: many want to find claims in antiquity for legitimacy and authority.”

It’s as someone else posted – it is important in the dispostion of property – and between Truro and The Falls Church, the two properties are likely worth about $25 million. So this is not about nostalgia or museum piece structures. It is about valuable real estate that belongs to TEC.

ruidh
Guest
ruidh

“Just today was reading His Excellency, a 2003 biography of Geo. Washington. Second chapter says he was Vestryman at the Truro Church in the 1760’s. I don’t think there’s much doubt that the parishes are colonial.”

And the historical article says as much. To wit that the Colony of Virginia legally established parish boundaries. The article goes on further to state that there were not legal entities in continuous operation that entire time and that the current organizations have only been in continuous operation since the 1830s.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“Many people say I embarrass them with my humility.”

Groucho Marx, minus the moustache.

Jason Suggs
Guest
Jason Suggs

With all that is at stake here, I’m not at all certain why we are talking about this. The expenditure of time and attention given to whether these parishes originated in the 18th or 19th centuries strikes me a petty at best.

In the case of Truro at least, the claims of Washington’s membership on the vestry are at least decades old so I don’t think they are some kind of Machiavellian attempt to preempt the Diocese’s claims. The claims may be slightly fanciful, but they are hardly important in the grand scheme of things.

Weiwen Ng
Guest

Dear Dave, “(Neither is it surprising that they are suffering ad-hominem attacks by liberals!)” Ad hominem: attacking an opponent’s motives or character rather than the policy or position they maintain. If you’re referring to attacks in the posted articles, I would argue that Akinola’s character, as demonstrated by avoiding Louie Crew and then practically bragging about it to the reporter, is so deeply flawed that it deserves to be confronted. “TEC Bishops seem to be threatening conservative parishes and clergy all over the place and ++Schori has threatened +Schofield via the offices of TEC’s Chancellor…” This is a church with… Read more »

JayVinVermont
Guest
JayVinVermont

Thank you, Joan Gundersen for that insightful article.

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

I wonder why these fundagelical parishes want to claim George Washington as a member? After all, like most Low Church Virginians of his day, old George was a Deist.

JPM
Guest
JPM

Gillian, here’s what our new pope, Peter Akinola, has to say about issues like the one you raise:

“I didn’t create poverty. This church didn’t create poverty. Poverty is not an issue, human suffering is not an issue at all, they were there before the creation of mankind.”

Besides, why concern oneself with matters so close to home when one can fret over how people on the other side of the world have sex?

Dave
Guest
Dave

Weiwen Ng wrote: “This is a church with episcopal polity, and if one breaks the rules, this is what happens.” Dear Weiwen, so is the Anglican Communion… and so is Christianity!!! So why are TEC’s liberals so upset that they are being asked to repent or leave, and why are they so surprised that many Christians will not accept their discarding of traditional christian morality ? If they were half-way realistic and humble they would have recognised that what they wanted to do was extremely unlikely to be acceptable, and would have accepted the consequences generously – not try to… Read more »

Andrew Innes
Guest
Andrew Innes

Simon Sarmiento or Simon Kershaw: As many people have said, this whole “Gay” fiasco is really about the interpretation of scripture. I often wonder if the positions taken by those on various sides of the issue has more to do with what they don’t know and understand that with what they do. For example, Bishop Katharine comes at it from a scientific as well as theological perspective. Bishop Tom Wright of Durham, on the other hand, brilliant though he may be, I rather suspect has a limited grounding in science. I say this because, under the English educational system of… Read more »

laurence
Guest
laurence

‘Hatreds never cease by hatreds
in this world.
By love alone do they cease.
This is an ancient law.’

(Dhammapada)

Jake
Guest

“…but to suggest he wasn’t a member is either silly or shoddy work…” George, as Dr. Gundersen explained in her paper, and in a comment above, Truro Parish and Truro Church are two completely different entities. A colonial “parish” was a geographical division, much like a “diocese.” To be elected to the “vestry” was much like serving on the diocesan standing committee. Each colonial parish had within it a number of congregations. There are no records of Washington having ever worshipped with the congregations we now know as The Falls Church and Truro Church. That is not surprising, since neither… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

George Conger wrote: “Now the buildings have been rebuilt a number of times since the parishes were chartered … and that may be the gist of the argument … that Washington didn’t sleep in a particular pew … but to suggest he wasn’t a member is either silly or shoddy work… “ I understood the actual “pew he slept in” to be located in an entirely different parish, having at least s o m e sort of continuity with “charters” of a colonial past (whatever good that would do to anybody), whereas these True RO and False church people have… Read more »

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

I’m confused about the confusion. The Falls Church building was constructed in 1769 in what was then Fairfax Parish. From 1784 to 1836, the building was effectively abandoned for public worship, and area Episcopalians worshiped at Christ Church in nearby Alexandria. In 1836 a new group of Episcopalians petitioned the Diocese of Virginia to admit them as a new congregation. This group started fund raising to fix up the derelict Falls Church building, which had been unoccupied for more than half a century. Given the fact that George Washington died on December 14, 1799, he could not possibly have been… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Andrew I don’t think knowing peoples’ educational backgrounds will help. God has contempt for scholars and scribes when they fail to mete out true justice and prophesy lies in God’s name. Plus we are also dealing with group think and barricades. Joan. Thank you for that research and your excellent rebuttal in this thread. Over the Christmas break I was discussing the Virginia break with a friend, who commented that Washington DC is in that diocese. Their insight is that employees and service providers to the regime who sponsored the Iraq war based on deceit, and diverting the economy onto… Read more »

Diane
Guest
Diane

Virginia still has geographical parishes. The church we now attend, Emmanuel in Woodstock, is in Beckford Parish. St. Andrew’s in Mt. Jackson is also in Beckford Parish. Also, my former church in Woodbridge was in Dettingen Parish, along with Trinity in Manassas. Actually, I always kind of wondered what that meant, and Joan Gunderson has explained it well.

C.B.
Guest
C.B.

Diane – Similarly, the whole of the State of Lousiana is divided into official parishes (instead of counties). A hold over from the days when the Roman Catholic Church held most of the property in the state.

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

Those two parishes ceased to be Anglican in worship and doctrine many years ago. Unfortunately for them, the property is not so easily turned away from its place in the Episcopal Church and remains held in trust for the national church. It is, in a sense, as if it belonged to every Episcopalian in this church. We should make a point to say that they cannot take this property from the Episcopalians in America like you and me. By letting them argue that they are trying to protect their claims against a mean national church they win too many points… Read more »

Andrew Innes
Guest
Andrew Innes

Cheryl:

I agree that it wouldn’t do much for the debate, intellectual humility being in short supply. To bystanders like myself, however, it could provide a partial explanation for how we have arrived at this impasse.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

At the risk of stating the obvious: the division of the land into parishes is of course also true to this day in the Church of England, and is where the Virginians got the idea.

The Revd Penelope Swithinbank
Guest
The Revd Penelope Swithinbank

I would like to point out that The Falls Church Virginia has indeed had a female ordained priest – I was on staff there until recently and am still NSM Associate Priest.

Weiwen Ng
Guest

Dave, ‘so is the Anglican Communion… and so is Christianity!!! So why are TEC’s liberals so upset that they are being asked to repent or leave, and why are they so surprised that many Christians will not accept their discarding of traditional christian morality ?’ re the Anglican Communion. someone more versed in Anglican polity can explain it better, but the sense I get is that the Communion is a loose confederation of churches. the individual churches have episcopal polity. the Communion as an entity does not (someone correct me if I’m wrong). that said, there are instruments of unity… Read more »

AmyS
Guest

Washington, DC is NOT within the geographic boundaries of the Diocese of Virginia. The Diocese of Washington covers the District and some parts of Maryland. Virginia has 3 Episcopal dioceses: Virginia, which is roughly bounded by the James River to the south and the Potomac to the north; Southern Virginia, which roughly covers the area south of the James River and the Williamsburg/Hampton Roads area; and Southwest Virginia, which roughly covers the area near Blacksburg and Roanoke, and the Tennessee border.

Raspberry Rabbit
Guest
Raspberry Rabbit

One must wonder at all these ‘historic’ Anglicans and Episcopalians – whether in the U.S., U.K. or Canada – champing at the bit under the tedious authority of liberal or broad church bishops. How long have many of these folks been Anglicans? How traditional are they? I’ve had occasion to browse a number of the comments on some of the TradAng ClassicAng ContinuingAng websites and I am constantly coming across individuals who have recently joined a particularly evangelical Anglican congregation and are now lecturing the rest of us about how far we have departed from our Anglican roots. This came… Read more »

Chad Wohlers
Guest
Chad Wohlers

Some 25 years ago a neighboring parish, Trinity, Bridgewater (Massachusetts) attempted to leave the Episcopal Church and take their property with them, this time because of women’s ordination and the then-new Prayer Book. Like the two Virginia parishes, Trinity was colonial (founded in the 1740’s) but fell on hard times after the Revolution. They lost their lawsuit. Trinity, Bridgewater is still an Episcopal parish.

Richard Lyon
Guest
Richard Lyon

There are also remnants of geographical parish boundaries in South Carolina left over from colonial times.

Diana Smith
Guest
Diana Smith

Cheryl writes:

Over the Christmas break I was discussing the Virginia break with a friend, who commented that Washington DC is in that diocese.

Er, no. The Diocese of Washington DC is its own entity although once upon a time it was part of the Diocese of Maryland. The Potomac River is quite wide hereabouts and traveling into Virginia is like entering a foreign country (for some).

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“Over the Christmas break I was discussing the Virginia break with a friend, who commented that Washington DC is in that diocese.” Actually, no it is not. The Diocese of Washington includes DC and some territory in Maryland. The state of Virginia is divided among three dioceses: the Diocese of Virginia includes the Virginia suburbs of Washington, runs south to the JaMes River in Richmond, west to Harrisonburg, including all of the Shenandoah Valley. It also includes territory called the Northen Neck [see a map!]. The Diocese of Southern Virginia is south of the James, includes Williamsburg, runs west to… Read more »

John Henry
Guest
John Henry

Of course, the folks leaving TEC for CANA (i.e., Nigeria) are the “victims” of an ungodly bishop of Virginia whose sole intent is to punish them for their scriptural and anti-gay orthodoxy. Since they are godly people, God has given them the property of TECH the way Yahweh gave Israel dominion over the land of the Canaanites. We hear the same arguments by commentators on T1:9 in conjunction with the dispute between the clergy, wardens and vestry of Christ Church, Savannah, GA, and the Bishop of Georgia. According to the Chapman script, bishops and diocesan chancellors of TECH are the… Read more »

Jim Naughton
Guest

Cheryl, please let your friend know that Washington, D. C. is actually in the Diocese of Washington.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest
Cheryl Clough
Guest

I am so glad that I posted that I was basing my comments on on friend’s suggestion. I blush and apologise. Not the first (nor the last) time I’ve made a mistake. I’ll let my friend know too so they don’t embarrass themselves on a broader scale – you don’t know who they are and I will tell them before they shoot off too quickly elsewhere. So in that sense, we both thank you. Andrew, I don’t know that knowing souls’ academic training will help. If they have a robust legal/philosophical/scientific training; then it will be argued that they are… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Andrew Innes, I’ve had the feeling for quite some time that when it comes to theological training and the ability and desire to argue theologically, conservative “third world” bishops have it hands down over “Westerners”. I think the majority of Western clergy are decidedly uncomfortable with things like the supernatural, mysticism, and spirituality. They don’t mind The Gathering of the Community, but would rather not think too deeply about what it is the community gathers to do. And, Raspberry Rabbit, “only fleeting similarities to anything in the Anglican tradition.” Pretty much sums things up. I was shocked, and I mean… Read more »