Anchored in Christ: An English Church Plant of the Anglican Network in Canada

Fowey, England: population just over 2,300. The pronunciation is “foy,” rhyming with “soy.” It’s old. King Arthur old. Robert Bridges, the avant-garde poet laureate during the Cubism days, called Fowey “the most poetic-looking town in England.” Georgian and Medieval buildings congregate the hillside at the river mouth, bunched close like a small fortune of sheep. Shoulder to shoulder they stand as if each might be (understandably) elbowing their way atop for a sliver view of the harbor, envious of the little boats with their excess real estate to bob and sway freely atop the water below.

Fowey has served for centuries as a workaday seaport for the larger Cornish county. Being on the westernmost part of the southwest peninsula, she’s bustling in the summer months, much favored today by English holiday-makers and sailors alike. But come the New Year, boats abandon the river like keepers do their shops. Google it. No, go book an Airbnb any Saturday in January and see how incredibly successful you are. The internet presumes Fowey is nothing more than a “getaway.”

So, to be honest, before I traveled there, the town sounded more like superlative sabbatical material, not the next battlefield in the unfolding Anglican reformation.

Era depending, we all learned in school it has been places such as Babylon, Athens, and Rome, along with Paris, London, New York, and Tokyo that are the world’s leading culture transmitters. Vibrant cultural economies accessible to the global network, along with robust capital accumulation mechanize urban centers to dominate societal thought – from the geopolitical climate on out into the rural hinterlands. Yet in recent months it is the modest little Fowey that has taken the lead in England. Perhaps it should come as no surprise to us; if one spends any time in the Bible, it seems the Lord has a historical knack for using the small and unassuming.

Unlike some in the Global Anglican Future (Gafcon) movement, the issues surrounding marriage are not what brought Fowey to the table. It was baptism. The Church of England’s House of Bishops decided to release transgender guidelines in December 2018 offering the church celebratory material for use after one’s presumed transition between sexes. The choice of celebratory material was shocking. They chose the Baptismal liturgy.

Baptism, in its intended form, is a sign of death to sin and a new identity of a life unified and raised with Christ by His blood alone. The vicar of Fowey, the Rev. Philip de-Grey Warter quickly recognized the danger. “The guidance has the effect of denying the gospel,” he explained in August when I sat down with him and his wife, Naomi, at the vicarage in Fowey. “Now, whatever you think about the transgender [topic], folk in that situation nonetheless need a huge amount of compassion and understanding. The issue for me was that the House of Bishops were willing to allow Baptism to be used for something other than what it’s intended. We are a liturgical church, we express our doctrine and belief liturgically. So that’s an official thing. It says that truth is completely personal.”
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So, after 17 faithful years, Philip stepped out of the Church of England on September 30. He is the first Church of England minister to leave with a substantial part of his parish to come under Bishop Andy Lines, Gafcon’s missionary bishop to Europe. In the same way that many North Americans found a temporary ecclesial home in places like Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda, faithful congregations from the United Kingdom and Europe are now finding a canonical home in the Anglican Church in North America where Bishop Lines is resident.

Philip and Naomi’s ministry will continue in Fowey with the planting of Anchor Anglican Church Fowey (AACF). “It’s business as usual,” he said, “seeking to proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ as faithfully and engagingly as I can in partnership with others.” Services will be held at The Mission to Seafarers, a longstanding institution of the port of Fowey. Guy Stickney, one of the four AACF trustees, described it as “a basic portacabin set up for sailors, hidden away on the edge of the town overlooking a public car park. I don’t think it’s been decorated for at least 30 years, but we are grateful.”

Equally appreciative of the space to meet, Philip says, “We won’t be constrained by ranks of pews all facing in one direction. Instead, we hope to create a more informal and relaxed extended-family atmosphere. It won’t matter at all if children want to wander. There will be toys available and an opportunity for them to enjoy a Bible activity of their own.”
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The inaugural service on the first Sunday in October included a visit from Bishop Lines and recorded messages of welcome and blessing from various Gafcon congregations, bishops, and archbishops from around the world. “Our desire is to ensure that the good news in Jesus Christ is available in an orthodox and relevant way to future generations of Fowey residents,” said Dan Leafe, another of the four trustees.

And as for those evangelicals in the Church of England who are not sharing in Philip’s move, he revealed both reasonable frustration and humble appreciation. “There are folks who are determining to be biblical and faithful in their context [by remaining]. And if they are contending for the faith, then I absolutely respect them in that.”

A year prior to Philip’s departure, Archbishop Foley Beach visited the congregation to offer support. Regardless of one’s choice to leave or stay within the Church of England, Archbishop Beach called it a matter of conscience to be taken to prayer. “Gafcon offers hope to all faithful Anglicans,” he said reflecting on his time there. “Philip and his people have had the courage to refuse to compromise with a false gospel. I am excited for them as they seek to follow the Lord’s guidance and move forward in mission.”

Gospel grunt work and Kingdom advancement are coming out of a small holiday-makers town in the southwest corner of Cornwall. Faithful people in Fowey are living out their obedience to God, lured upward, wooed by God Himself to a Kingdom unseen, to bear up their crosses and think upon eternal years. This is a gain that far outweighs the cost.

To hear more of Philip’s story, check out the companion Things Anglican Podcast episode here.

Sharing the Good News in a World of Fake News

“How do Christians move forward in sharing our faith in this environment of fake news, bad news and a general mistrust of claims of truth?”

That’s a question many of us are asking ourselves, and it was the question St. John’s Vancouver, a church in the Anglican Network in Canada, posed to the entire congregation.

“I think every Christian who lives in the West has the sense right now that we are sailing in uncharted waters culturally,” Rev. Canon David Short, the rector of St. John’s, said. “The idea that there might be some sort of truth out there, we [people in our culture] don’t like that idea. And I think the affect for us as Christians has been uncertainty…and some of us, I think, have been silenced.”

This concerned the pastoral team at St. John’s, especially as they observed two specific trends in their city. One was a deep desire for spiritual authenticity. The second was a deepening suspicion that the Christian faith has nothing to offer.

“I think Vancouver thinks that God is, sort of, at best, irrelevant,” said one young parishioner.

“On the one side we have this fantastic good news about what God has done in Jesus Christ. And we know God through this gospel,” said Canon Short. “On the other side we have friends and family and neighbours who we love, but bringing those two things together seems to be more and more difficult.”

So, St. John’s resolved to do something fairly drastic. They paused all their other mid-week events and groups for a month and asked their entire congregation to attend a series of four meetings. They called the series CCQ – connect, content, questions.  image

“We’ve called it CCQ because each week we’re going to do three things,” said Canon Short in a promo video. “We’re going to talk about connecting with others, we’re going to talk about the content of the gospel, and we’re going to talk about questions that people have.

“As preachers, when we apply the Bible, we encourage people to share their faith, but I’m more and more conscious how complicated that is. It’s not a simple thing to do,” he said. “And the whole point of CCQ is to come together to pray, to lean on God, to listen to each other, to see if we can find a way forward to better do this.”

So, for four Tuesday evenings, everyone was asked to come, worship, pray, share, and learn, asking God for a way forward in equipping one another for the great task of evangelism. The evenings began with a focus on connecting with the people around them. Led by Rev. Aaron Roberts, they explored questions like “what’s important to your non-Christian friends?” and “how can we enter into a conversation about the gospel with grace and wisdom?”

“I really hope you will discover that you guys are actually better at this than you think you are,” he said on the first night.

“Because you know how to have relationships. You know how to have conversations. What we want to try and give you are some ideas about how to have these natural faith conversations.”

The second part of each night focused on the content of the gospel and was led by Canon Short.

“Perhaps when we do get to speak about Jesus we get a bit in a muddle and we’re not sure what we should say,” he said. So, they began to look very practically at the primary components of the gospel and the Christian faith, using an easy-to-remember, four-part structure – Creation, Fall, Jesus Christ, Response.

The third part of the evening focused on the inevitable questions we face while being bold with our faith. Led by Tad Inboden, there was teaching not only on apologetics but on growing more comfortable with people who are questioning. Time was given for role-play practice with questions like “aren’t Christians just hypocrites?”, “isn’t loving people all that matters?”, and “how can you claim that Jesus is the only way to God?”

CCQ sparked at St. John’s a renewed focus on being intentional, prayerful, and articulate in their witness for Christ in their city and it contributed needed training towards that task. But leadership at St. John’s is also very aware that it’s the gospel itself that enables and fuels its proclamation.

“When a heart is gripped by the gospel of grace,” said Tad Inboden, “when it is… captivated by the beauty of the gospel, the costliness of the gospel, when it overwhelms the imagination, it spurs us forward and sends us out on mission.” St. John’s has made much of the materials and recordings from their CCQ series available online for other churches.

You can find out more here: www.stjohnsvancouver.org/ccq-content


Scott Hunt is the Communications Director for the Anglican Network in Canada, a diocese of the Anglican Church in North America. He’s a member of St. George’s Burlington and lives in Fergus, Ontario with his wife, Richelle.

New Music Resources Now Available

The Music Task Force was commissioned out of the Liturgy and Common Worship Task Force, the group responsible for the Book of Common Prayer 2019. Now, the attention turns to the musicality of the Anglican tradition.

Mark Williams is the Chair of the Music Task Force. Paraphrasing his parish priest, he explained, “First, we needed a province and second we needed a prayer book and a polity. Now, we’ve got all that, so it’s time to look at the art.”

Williams serves as Pastoral Church Musician at Christ Church in Savannah, Georgia and has an extensive background across various worship styles within Anglicanism. His ministry has taken him all over the province.

“The one thing I hear over and over and over [from parish priests and musicians] is: We’ve got this prayer book, how do we put legs to it through art and music? How do we choose hymns? How do we put a praise or folk band together? How do we make a choir happen?”

To help congregations begin accomplishing these tasks, the Music Task Force has released a new website with various resources for parish priests and music worship leaders. A quick glimpse at the website reveals the various areas for which resources have been and will continue to be released, including Music Leadership Philosophy, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Psalter, Choirs, Praise Teams, Pastor and Church Musician Relationship, and more.

It is a goal of the Task Force that its resources will reach across the diversity of churchmanship and service style within the Province.

“What we are trying to do is equip low church, high church, medium church, inexperienced, and experienced; we are trying to provide resources through the gamut,” explains Williams.

Ultimately, the goal is to encourage Anglican Church in North America churches to celebrate and keep alive the long, rich history of music in Anglicanism and to build relationships amongst worship leaders within the Province. Therefore, these new resources are geared toward priests and church musicians.

“We as Anglicans have the most rich heritage of church music of any denomination in the world. In fact, we have been the envy of many church musicians and church music schools around the globe because of that rich heritage. How sad would it be for us to not pick up that mantle and carry it as Anglicans in North America?” Williams continued, “I really want our music to be high quality, whether it be contemporary or high church. I want it to be singable, something the congregations can do in their work of worship. And, I want the music to fit the liturgy, the time of year, the season. Beyond that, I’m willing to walk in any camp [of worship style and churchmanship].”

In addition to the Music Task Force, a related ministry group called the “Musicians of the Anglican Church in North America” is forming to help build community between worship leaders in the Province.

To learn more about the Music Task Force, Musicians of the Anglican Church in North America, and the resources available, visit acnamusic.org. Check out the Psalter tab for the seasonal Psalm resources released today. The Worship Planner can be found under the Hymns and Spiritual Songs tab.