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.
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…