A New Anglican Church in Franklin
Here is the letter I have written to my church about a new Anglican church that will begin in the coming months in Franklin, TN.
Dear Church of the Redeemer,
We are approaching the sixth anniversary of the formation of our parish. It has been a remarkable time. The journey from our first conversations in the Moores’ living room to purchasing our home on Caldwell Lane to hosting over five hundred in worship on Easter Sunday this year to digging one another out after this flood has been amazing. By the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of Christ, we have been built up together as one body in the Lord.
The time has come for us to send part of our body out to start the journey again. The Elders of Church of the Redeemer have committed to blessing and supporting St John’s Anglican Church in Franklin under the pastoral leadership of Fr. Kenny Benge. The Anglican Mission in the Americas, our Bishop, and our Network, along with Redeemer and the group that is gathering around Fr. Kenny, join together in celebrating the coming birth of this new church.
One might ask why it is that Redeemer is helping to start a new church. After all, we are relatively small by Nashville standards. Don’t we seek to become a mega-church, or perhaps a church with numerous satellite campuses? The answer to that is ‘no, we don’t.’ While we don’t at all condemn those who are called to such ministries, that is not our calling.
On February 26th, 2006, Redeemer had our first Annual Meeting. At that meeting, I wrote and said “I know that we are called to plant another church. Crazy, huh? But I’m just going to say it: I think Franklin needs a joyous Anglican church.” In the fall of 2005, I revised our vision statement to read in part, “in the spirit of the New Testament Church, and of Iona, we choose to plant daughter congregations rather than grow to a very large size. It is our belief that the Kingdom of God advances through the planting of new churches.”
From practically the beginning of Redeemer we have desired to plant new congregations. It is part of who we are. It is also part of the Anglican way. I was honored to be in attendance last October when Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh was made Primate of the Anglican Church in North America. In his sermon at that event, he challenged the Anglican Church to plant 1000 churches over the next 5 years. A bold commission to an organization that only numbered 700 congregations at the time! “But with God, all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
It is important for you to know that we believe that St. John’s comes from God, and that we are all simply participants in his work. Your Elders, Fr. Kenny, Bishop Johnston, our Network leaders, and I are all in agreement that this is the Lord’s doing. For those who need to hear it, this is in no way a church split. There is no underlying tension or problem. This is a joyful moment that we have prayed about and talked about for years.
I fully expect that people will join St. John’s because they are led by the Spirit. It is said that 80% of adults who come to know Christ do so through new church plants. Many of those early members will be folks who are not presently involved in churches, while others will come from churches in the Franklin area. Some will even come from Church of the Redeemer. If you are a member of Redeemer and feel called to join St. John’s, you will be sorely missed; but you go with our blessing. We are different parishes, but we are one in Christ and in the Anglican Church. We will always be part of one another.
As St. John’s begins, Redeemer will do everything we can to encourage and bless her. We will pray for St. John’s. We will officially send them out. We will provide money, as well as material gifts. We intend to share ministry as we can. We hope to help train and equip their members in everything from Altar Guild to Sunday School to administrative issues.
St. John’s intends to initially meet on Sunday nights. I hope that members of Redeemer will be in attendance at these worship services. Even if you do not feel called to join St. John’s, attending worship as you are able will be an encouragement to the new congregation. I am hoping Fr. Kenny will invite me to minister with him in his new calling, as I will invite him to return and minister with us.
My dear Church of the Redeemer, this is an exciting time. There will be sadness as well. In this time, it is crucial to keep our eyes on Jesus and His Kingdom. We must recognize that St. John’s is being planted not just for the people who currently live in Franklin, but for future generations as well. We plant for the sake of the Gospel, for evangelism and mission, and for the health and growth of the Anglican Church in Middle Tennessee. Over the coming years, I pray that God will give us the opportunity to plant many more churches in our area. St. John’s is the first, but certainly not the last. May it start well, and may it endure until Christ comes again to call us all home.
With deep affection, I am always
Fr. Thomas McKenzie
Pastor, Church of the Redeemer
Priest of the Anglican Province of Rwanda
If you are reading this as a note on facebook, may I recommend you visit www.ThomasMcKenzie.com for the full service version?