An announcement from Truro Anglican Church:
This new ministry, formed by Truro Anglican, will have equal representation on its board from EDV [Episcopal Diocese of Virginia] 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 peacemakers, 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.
Along with the founding of this ministry, EDV has signed a long-term lease with Truro Anglican. The initial term is twenty years. There is an initial test period of three years where both parties will discern and evaluate the work of the Institute. This will allow us to determine if the Holy Spirit is truly present in this ministry. If it is determined by both parties that the ministry should continue, our twenty-year lease becomes a fifty-year lease (for a total of fifty-three years). If it is determined that the ministry should not continue, Truro has the remaining seventeen years under its lease to determine its future home.
There may be some who are not comfortable about engaging in ministry with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, but Truro has a long history of joint ministries involving EDV, including Five Talents and the Lamb Center. While we recognize our deep differences on some issues, we have chosen to focus on what unites us as people who believe in the resurrected Lord, rather than on what divides us. With this ministry, Truro is following a long heritage. We also take comfort in the three-year test period which will let all parties determine if we are truly following God’s calling. We have discerned that this ministry is indeed a calling from God, and events have lined up to reinforce that discernment. But if it is not of God, not infused with the Holy Spirit, then it will not produce Godly fruit. Both parties are happy to submit to this testing/discernment period to be sure we are following God’s plan for us.
A letter from the Rt. Rev. Shannon Johnston, Bishop of Virginia:
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.
I am aware that some in our Diocese may still have strong concerns about making long-term agreements with a congregation that left us and holds fundamentally different views on important matters of theology.
But after much prayer and reflection, I feel very strongly that we are being called to live into the Gospel in this way. Building new relationships with the ACNA congregation has helped us to recognize that there is so much to gain and to achieve. Indeed, there is much more that unites us than divides us.
A number of years ago, someone sitting next to me on a plane asked what I did for a living. When I told her, she said, “The Episcopal Church — isn’t that the one with the lawsuits?” Soon, I hope such a person would say, “Isn’t that the one with the peacemakers?”
A letter from the Most Rev. Foley Beach, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America:
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.
A letter [PDF] from the Rt. Rev. John Guernsey, Bishop of the ACNA’s Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic:
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 the issues 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.