As far as I can tell, there is only one orthodox Anglican parish in the entire Columbus, OH, metropolitan area of sufficient size to qualify as self-supporting (i.e. generating revenue adequate to provide full-time salaries for clergy and other personnel, purchase and maintain one or more buildings and surrounding property, and underwrite a program of worship and other activities for its membership.) This is St. Andrew’s in Lewis Center, OH, a growing suburban community located north of Columbus in southern Delaware County. St. Andrew’s began in 2008 when the majority of the membership of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Westerville, OH, voted to sever their ties with the Southern Ohio Diocese of the Episcopal Church and realign with what would become the Diocese of the Great Lakes in the Anglican Church in North America. The congregation purchased a building and several surrounding acres in Lewis Center from a church of another denomination which wanted to relocate farther north. St. Andrew’s Anglican Church came into existence when the group which had left St. Matthew’s, along with their clergy, occupied their new property in June 2008.
On the one hand it seems unconscionable to me that an urban area the size of Columbus should have only one self-supporting orthodox Anglican parish (although I am sure there are Episcopal churches which would challenge that appraisal). On the other hand, church growth and the advancement of the Gospel of the Kingdom are, in the final analysis, products of the sovereign will of God. Too many “projects” are undertaken because they seem like a good idea at the time, but they are not part of God’s plan, and they eventually close down when their human organizers run out of time, money, or energy. I once heard someone say (and I fully concur), “I don’t want to undertake a project and ask God to bless it; I want to find out what God is doing, or wants to do, and join it.”
As an evangelical Christian, I want to see the church grow through the baptism of its children and the conversion of those who have not yet believed. And I believe that one of the most efficient means to that end is to plant new churches. New churches grow much faster than established parishes, and their conversion-to-transfer ratio is generally far higher. New churches are the most economical method to achieve significant growth for the Kingdom of God. I would be happy to be involved in such an effort in Grandview Heights, and I think I bring a gift-set to the endeavor which would contribute to the likelihood of its success. But I will not force something to happen when I am not convinced that God is in it. I do not want my legacy as an Anglican priest to be “failed church planter.”