New Anglican Parish Birthed Outside of ECUSA

An interdenominational church in Richmond, Virginia, started a new Anglican congregation under the oversight of an offshore bishop. The church plant is one of a number of new congregations external to the Episcopal Church.

Eternity Anglican Church had its first official worship service earlier this month with more than 75 people representing over 25 nations. Its vision is "Many Nations, One Communion" and is now part of the Anglican Communion Network's International Conference under the Anglican Diocese of Luweero in the Province of Uganda.

The daughter church of Eternity Church, the new Anglican parish is one of some 20 to 30 new church plants that the conservative Network has made in the last 18 months.

"We have a lot of church plants that have left ECUSA," said Anglican Communion Network spokesperson Jenny Noyes, who added that the church plants have been reformed as Anglican parishes with oversight from bishops in the worldwide Anglican Communion. "This plant (Eternity Anglican) never was a part of ECUSA."

Although the Anglican Communion Network - now comprised of over 900 parishes apart from the ECUSA - was established early 2004, church plants did not start until the issue of Episcopal oversight was resolved. Once Anglican bishops from overseas such as Uganda began offering oversight, the Network started the work of carrying on their mission and extending God's kingdom.

"A lot of people want to continue to worship ... and carry on the mission of the church faithful to the gospel," said the Rev Tom Herrick, director of the Church Planting Initiative for the Network. "In the Episcopal Church, they feel they can't do that."

"We're just trying to pursue the work of extending God's kingdom," he added.

Eternity Anglican Church is unique in that it shares its lead pastor with the parent church and its facility with two other congregations - one being interdenominational and the other, African-American. And they all consider themselves part of the same family, according to a news release.

The head pastor is the Rev David Singh, an Anglican priest ordained in the Diocese of Madras, Church of South India. Although he started an interdenominational congregation three years ago, Singh wanted to function again within the Anglican Communion, as Herrick said, while bringing different congregations together.

With a desire to plant an Anglican parish under the conservative Anglican Communion Network rather than the Episcopal Church currently wracked over homosexuality, Singh contacted Herrick earlier this year and conversations led to the birth of Eternity Anglican Church months later.

Meanwhile, two parishes are set to vote on splitting from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.