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Archive for the ‘Holy Trinity – Chatham’ Category

There’s an interesting article over on the Anglican 100o site entitled Bad Reasons to Plant a Church. It offers an interesting glimpse at a secular perspective on church planting as well as a challenge to examine the real reasons to plant a church.

Planting a church is not an endeavor to be entered into lightly. There are many hazards along the way. There is uncertainty and sacrifice, not least of all by the sending church. It is hard work that demands all that you can give spiritually,  mentally, and emotionally. It is entrepreneurial but for the kingdom of God. I cringe at the thought of it being considered a franchise in some consumeristic way.

In the course of the discernment process to begin planting Holy Trinity, and even now, it has been  important to constantly hold this mission loosely, openhandedly before God and our community. It is vital to earnestly examine our hearts and be skeptical of our motivations. Planting a church is apostolic work. It is noble and it is important. But we do not seek to plant a church for power, authority, or some foolish desire to have it our way. We plant a church, which is the fullness of him who fills all in all, to see Christ glorified and his kingdom come.

As we continue, may we constantly hold before us the reality that this church is not  for us to have a local franchise of faithful Anglicanism. There are people we do not know who will come and encounter the living God here. There are many unknown to us who are being summoned even now to come and encounter the reality of our Lord and his grace at his table.  There are many with gifts and passions we don’t have, who will come and join in with what God is doing here. As we press on in obedience, praying, fasting, and trusting in his grace, we continue to hold this all loosely, knowing it is the Lord who is the Great Shepherd, the maniacal Sower, and the faithful Harvester. May he bless this work and give us joy as we serve him.

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“The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Todd Granger and Jill Martin were wonderful to allow us to come and take over their lovely Chatham County home as we gathered to commemorate The Great Vigil of Easter this past Holy Saturday.

As daylight receded, we gathered outside to kindle the new fire, marking Christ’s transition from death back into life. We lit the Pashcal Candle from the new fire and processed it while declaring to the gathering darkness:

“The light of Christ. Thanks be to God.”
“The light of Christ. Thanks be to God.”
“The light of Christ. Thanks be to God.”

As we entered the darkened house, each was given a taper. It was a beautiful scene. The Exsultent was sung as it reminded us:

This is the night, when you brought our fathers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and led them through the Red Sea on dry land.  

This is the night, when all who believe in Christ are delivered from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness of life.

This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell, and rose victorious from the grave.

How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your mercy and loving-kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you gave a Son.

How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and sin is washed away. It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn. It casts out pride and hatred, and brings peace and concord.

How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined and man is reconciled to God.

Nick and Jill

We then listened earnestly to the record of God’s saving deeds in history. Israel’s deliverance at the Red Sea is described in Exodus 14:10-15:1. Isaiah 55:1-11 describes God’s salvation offered freely to all. And a new heart and a new spirit was described in Ezekiel 36:24-28.

There were no Baptisms or Confirmations so we all joined our voices in The Renewal of Baptismal Vows. Having recognized that in our Baptism we die and are raised to new life in Christ, we then celebrated Christ’s new life by lighting the candles on the altar,  throwing on the house lights, and proclaiming with loud voices and bells ringing, “Alleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.”

We heard powerful words from our tradition in St. John Chrysostom’s “Easter Homily.” Christ is risen and Hell has been embittered, abolished, mocked, purged, despoiled, and bound in chains! We celebrated Holy Communion. We sang. We alleluia-ed. Afterwards, we feasted together. I still lament not having one of Nancy Robinson’s cupcakes!  There was a bonfire and fireworks.

What a wonderful and joyful evening. To Christ be the glory!

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The Table at Holy Trinity

At Holy Trinity-Chatham, we are actively thinking and praying about when to move to Sunday morning worship services, as well as where to hold them. As I was thinking, the thought occurred, “What are the essentials to equip a place of worship for the ministry of prayer, and sacrament?” Having been a part of a church plant that moved into temporary Sunday morning facilities in a school and is now in a rental space, there can be a number of challenges to doing worship well on Sunday mornings. What did Anglican churches do in the days before amplifiers and powerpoints?

From the Canons of 1604, LXXX–LXXXIII, Cardwell, Synodalia, pp. 292–3.

LXXX The church-wardens … of every church and chapel shall, at the charge of the parish, provide the Book of Common Prayer.… And if any parishes be yet unfurnished of the Bible of the largest volume, or of the books of Homilies allowed by authority, the said church-wardens shall within convenient time provide the same at the like charge of the parish.

LXXXI There shall be a font of stone in every church and chapel where baptism is to be ministered; the same to be set in the ancient usual places: in which only font the minister shall baptize publicly.

LXXXII Whereas we have no doubt, but that in all churches within the realm of England, convenient and decent tables are provided and placed for the celebration of the holy communion, we appoint, that the same tables shall from time to time be kept and repaired in sufficient and seemly manner, and covered, in time of divine service, with a carpet of silk or other decent stuff, thought meet by the ordinary of the place, if any question be made of it, and with a fair linen cloth at the time of ministration, as becometh that table, and so stand, saving when the said holy communion is to be administered: at which time the same shall be placed in so good sort within the church or chancel, as thereby the minister may be more conveniently heard of the communicants in his prayer and ministration, and the communicants also more conveniently, and in more number, may communicate with the said minister; and that the Ten Commandments be set upon the east end of every church and chapel where the people may best see and read the same, and other chosen sentences written upon the walls of the said churches and chapels, in places convenient; and likewise that a convenient seat be made for the minister to read service in. All these to be done at the charge of the parish.

LXXXIII A pulpit to be provided in every church.…


The Canons of 1604 spell it out fairly clearly:

  • The Book of Common Prayer and then the Holy Bible. 
  •  A font of stone for baptisms.
  • A table properly appointed, the Ten Commandments displayed to the east, and chosen sentences in view upon the walls.
  • A pulpit.

“The Book of Common Prayer”: The BCP contains the means by which the people of God can pray and worship together. The liturgy is, in large part, mostly Scripture or at least rooted in Scripture. The Psalter in its entirety would have been provided and many would know them and their set tunes by heart. By having the BCP, each church ensured that each participant was just that: a participant in the worship of the Triune God. At Holy Trinity, we make the liturgy available as much as possible in our orders of service. We print the Psalm appointed for that day, the full Gospel passage, and the Eucharistic prayers in their entirety to encourage full participation.

“A font of stone for baptisms”: Yes! It is essential to emphasize the sacramental reality implicit in Christian Baptism and to let your worship space reflect that reality! For reasons I understand, there aren’t many contemporary church planting resources which would encourage one of your first considerations for worship to be a baptismal font. Yet if we believe as we pray that in the waters of Baptism we are both “buried with Christ in his death [and] by it we share in his resurrection,” shouldn’t there be some water in the room when we gather to worship? There is the little water mixed with wine in Communion. But there is something to the making of water available for the faithful to touch, to sign themselves, and to remember their baptism.

“A table properly appointed…”: The table, as the place where our “souls and bodies are quickened to eternal life,”  the apex of each of our services. It should therefore be attired appropriately with the season’s liturgical color, clean linens, and beautiful patins and chalices. One of the things we are more and more convinced of here at Holy Trinity is the call of God to be a local parish church, committed to and standing in solidarity with Christ and this community. We are hopeful to be able to appoint our worship space with locally crafted furnishings and ornaments to reflect our commitment to this place – rather than choosing the convenience of catalog shopping.

“…the Ten Commandments displayed to the east, and chosen sentences in view upon the walls”: Not only does the Decalogue provide the revealed “way of living a God-pleasing life,” but it provides a visible reminder by which you should “judge yourselves, therefore, lest you be judged by the Lord.” The Law reveals our limitations and our inability to live as we should. But for those of us in Christ, it  kindles our dependence upon and our gratitude for grace.

“Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21).

“A pulpit to be provided in every church…”: The pulpit is the place where God’s Word is proclaimed afresh. According to the introduction to “Book I” of the Homilies: “Considering how necessary it is, that the word of GOD, which is the only food of the soul, and that most excellent light that we must walk by, in this our most dangerous pilgrimage, should at all convenient times be preached unto the people, that thereby they may both learn their duty towards God and their neighbors, according to the mind of the holy Ghost, expressed in the Scriptures.” At the moment, we’re content with a music stand. But one day…. When that day comes, I’d like to have inscribed these words from John 12:21, so that every preacher who ever preaches in this church  will be reminded  before they preach:

Sir, we’ve come to see Jesus.
Our Anglican grandparents in  the faith have much to teach us about what to prioritize in our places of worship. If we were to take these canons to heart at Holy Trinity, not only would we major in the majors, but we’d be aligned with some very time-tested practices of the church. We’d likely save money for more almsgiving, as well. There’s much to consider. We appreciate your prayers.

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As mentioned in the previous post, we gathered “at a place apart from the church” for “The Liturgy of the Palms” and the procession. At the Holy Trinity – Chatham service, we gathered specifically at the town center, the Chatham  County courthouse. It was built in 1881 and is unique because it is situated on a round-about at the junction of HWY 64 and HWY 15-501. You may recall the courthouse was severely damaged in a fire last year. You can see it in the background of some of the images below. It has long been a source of pride and a symbol for Chatham. It is currently being repaired and restored – a symbolic renovation of the heart of our community. How fitting it was for the first Holy Week of  Holy Trinity-Chatham to begin from there.

As we walked from the courthouse, we processed down the main street of Pittsboro, singing Hosannas and waving palms. It was a beautiful experience to hear the sounds of praise echoing down the street and reverberating off of the neighboring buildings. I believe the Lord was delighted by the worship of these faithful people!

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Parish and Cathedral

There is always a struggle between two leading conceptions of a Cathedral. One comes from the Monastic period and represents the Cathedral as a worshipping community where all the members of the Chapter should if possible be present at almost all the services … the other is that [of] the Cathedral as the central power station, so to speak, of the Diocese. Some large element of the former conception can be combined with it and indeed ought to be.

William Temple (1881–1944), written as Archbishop of Canterbury, Some Lambeth Letters, ed. F.S. Temple (Oxford, 1963), p. 35.

This quote from William Temple, got me to thinking….

As we are planting a parish church here in Chatham County, I’ve been pondering exactly what the term parish church means. A parish is by definition a subdivision or unit of a diocese or see. In our current structure in the Anglican Mission, where episcopal authority extends to churches across large swaths of the country, the concept of a diocese  or a meaningful relationship with a see (the locale of episcopal authority) is both unrealistic and untenable.

What is possible, it seems, is for faithful Anglican churches to have vibrant and significant relationships with other faithful Anglican churches within their region. Further, I think daughter churches can and should have lively connections to mother churches in much the same way that the monastics understood the term Cathedral. That is, the relationship between Parish and Cathedral being one that is exhibited by worshiping together whenever possible.

Interesting to consider.

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We had a wonderful Advent Vespers service and Eucharist last Friday here in Pittsboro. It was a sweet time to be with friends here in Chatham County, to proclaim the Gospel, and to duly administrate the sacrament! Glory to God!

We met in Martha’s studio. It was fun to hold such a service above the din of the local pub that was having its holiday party directly below us. Seems about right that every preacher worth his salt should grow accustomed to preaching  the Gospel over the noise of a bar!

By God’s grace our service was attended by 50 people. Many who came expressed interest in joining us in breaking new ground for the Word and Sacrament here. A good core of our launch team is forming and growing with great unity in a sincere commitment to planting a faithful Anglican parish in Chatham County. I am astounded at God’s goodness!

Here’s an excerpt from Our Story: If you’re interested in finding out more, just let me know! I’m quite excited to share.

Back in 2006, a small group of Chatham County residents who were commuting to Durham to worship at All Saints Church began gathering regularly in our Chatham County homes to share life together as friends and fellow Christians. Over time, our group grew in numbers and in our conviction that God was calling us to break new ground to plant a biblical, liturgical, eucharistically-centered
church in the Anglican tradition here, at home, in our community.

We have collectively noticed a hunger in ourselves and in our neighbors for Christian worship rooted in the traditions of the church and longings for genuine community, radical discipleship, dependent prayer, and committed mission. It is our sense that God is calling a church into being, by his grace, to directly address these needs.

Last week’s service was a first step in answering this call.

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