Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ.
As you know, yesterday we gathered at 12.15 pm for a Special Meeting of the Parish to consider our way forward. First, let me say how deeply I appreciated the participation of the 722 people who cast ballots. This day and this decision was without a doubt one of the most significant days and decisions in the history of this parish. Thank you for your faithfulness and for your willingness to complete the process we began many months ago.
Today we received the preliminary vote totals from the CPA firm contracted to oversee the balloting process. There were 722 ballots cast. The results are:
Resolution 1 (to amend our Parish By-Laws): 709 in favor, 13 opposed – 98 % approval.
Resolution 2 (to amend our Articles of Incorporation): 707 in favor, 15 opposed – 98% approval.
Resolution 3 (to disaffiliate with TEC and affiliate with ACNA or some other Province of the Anglican Communion): 703 in favor, 19 opposed – 97% approval.
I rejoice and give thanks for both the clarity of this discernment process and the unity of purpose within this parish demonstrated by this vote. Unity and discernment are both gifts worked in our lives by the Spirit. Having said that, I am reminded that at least 19 members of St. Andrew’s may not be rejoicing in this vote and I commend them to you and your prayers as brothers and sisters in Christ. Please commit with me to ensure that St. Andrew’s will remain a parish where all are welcome to gather at the foot of the cross; sinners yet redeemed by the wonderful work of Christ.
The Vestry and I have made arrangements for St. Andrew’s to affiliate with The Diocese of The Holy Spirit, a diocese within the Anglican Church in North America. This affiliation will be effective upon the certification of our vote by the CPA firm at 3.00 pm, 2 April, at the latest.
Our Bishop will be The Rt. Rev’d John Guernsey. Bishop Guernsey is the long-time Rector of All Saints Church in Dale City, Virginia and will be well known to several within St. Andrew’s. I have known +John for over 20 years, dating back to my time at Virginia Seminary. You will discover that he shares many of the priorities that we have as a parish; from our commitment to missions (the Bishop is the Chairman of the Board for SOMA – a well known mission agency) to our passion to see every member equipped for ministry with both Word and Spirit. I have made arrangements for Bishop Guernsey to visit and preach at the Wednesday night service, 28 April 2010, followed by a time of healing prayer led by the Bishop. Please make plans to attend.
Lastly, the departure of this parish from the Diocese of South Carolina was not hastily made nor was it an easy decision. Indeed, this struggle has extended well beyond the past decade costing this parish one well-beloved Rector. Any sense of sadness over our separation is tempered by our joyful sense of the Lord’s forward-looking call upon our lives; by our common love for our Lord and by the common knowledge that our difficulty lay with the spiritual headship of the National Church, of which the Diocese of South Carolina remains, and intends to remain, a part, and not with the Bishop of South Carolina. And so, I must say “thank you” to Bishop Lawrence. From the day I met +Mark in the candidacy process I have spoken with him often about St. Andrew’s costly efforts to remain faithful to the gospel in the midst of the Episcopal Church’s increasing abandonment of the faith as revealed through Scripture and Tradition. These conversations have continued throughout +Mark’s episcopacy and have grown to include the Vestry of St. Andrew’s as well as the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina. I have found in Bishop Lawrence a friend and co-laborer in the ministry of the Gospel. We share a mutual desire to maintain our fraternal relationship and have committed to one another that St. Andrew’s and the Diocese of South Carolina will continue to partner in Gospel ministry as opportunity and circumstance permit. Please remember to pray for the Diocese of South Carolina as we desire nothing less than God’s best for them.
As we continue in the next steps of our adventure together may we hold fast to our Saviour Jesus Christ. May we also with a renewed sense of the Spirit’s presence and power commit ourselves to extending His Kingdom to the ends of the earth by being a blessing to all whom we encounter.
I close with these words of praise from the pen of St. Paul: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Faithfully in Christ,