At the dawn of this new year, what are the odds that the vision for a new church, called St. Patrick’s Anglican, located in or near Grandview Heights, OH, just west of downtown Columbus and easily accessible to the campus of The Ohio State University, will become a reality before the year ends? How likely is it that a diverse group of people will come together around the common goal of forming a community of faith, in Ohio’s largest urban area, that identifies with a local neighborhood and yet intentionally seeks to reach college students? Well, let’s see.
First of all, is the vision worthy and the goal reasonable? Yes. Is it consistent with the kind of efforts that God seems to bless in other settings? Yes. Is the motive for undertaking this endeavor wholesome, unselfish, and Christ-honoring? As far as I can discern, yes. Is the proposed location suitable to accomplish the stated goals? Yes. Are there other orthodox Anglican churches already in existence in that area with a vision for mission and ministry similar to that of St. Patrick’s? No. Are there any obstacles to be overcome? Yes; see next paragraph.
Has anybody who actually lives in Grandview Heights expressed a desire to see a new Anglican church planted there? No. Has a core group of people been identified who share the vision for St. Patrick’s, who desire to be part of this new work, and are willing to commit time, energy, and money to the effort? Yes and no. St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, itself a fledgling congregation on the northeast side of the city, has pledged to cover the cost of renting a small office in Grandview in order to give St. Patrick’s its first presence in the community. Scores of people have said they are praying for this effort. But so far, no core group of people, energized by their common commitment to the vision, has come together.
So, where does that leave us? Well, let’s consider, first of all, some other resources which have already been committed to this endeavor. We’ll call this…
Things We Already Have
First, we have a clergy-person and spouse (Shirley and I) who are ready and eager to move ahead with this vision. This may seem relatively immaterial to some of you who are reading this from the free church tradition, but for us Anglicans, it’s a pretty big deal. We need an ordained priest to celebrate the Eucharist, which is the focal point of our coming together for corporate worship, and to administer other sacraments.
Second, in addition to those I’ve already mentioned who pray regularly for this undertaking, we have a small but growing network of people, with expertise in a number of areas, including how to use the internet effectively and efficiently, whose primary attribute is their common desire to glorify God, to lift up Jesus Christ, and to follow Him faithfully as devoted disciples. They provide wisdom, counsel, encouragement, and accountability. This, too, is a pretty big deal.
Third, we have the blessing and endorsement of the leadership of the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes (of which St. Patrick’s will be a parish), including Bishop +Roger Ames, Archdeacon Fr. Mark Scotton+, Canon Fr. John Jorden+, and Diocesan Missioner Dcn. Tom Hare+. This is a very big deal. This is not a rogue operation. We are pursuing this vision under the watchful eye of these leaders who provide spiritual counsel and covering for me and to whom I am accountable for my stewardship of the gifts and authority which I received through ordination.
Fourth, we have a carefully articulated summary of our vision (soon to be accessible online through our website, which is under development), an office, and a tentative schedule (mid- to late January) for a short series of meetings/classes designed to explore the relationship between the gospel, the church, and the Kingdom of God. The goal of this series is to present the specific vision for St. Patrick’s in a way that links it to the larger purposes of God for His church and His Kingdom.
This is a start, but there is much more required to plant a church. Let’s consider some things in this category, and we’ll call this…
Things We Don’t Have (And, Therefore, Need)
First, we need a core group, an “inner circle” of people who share the vision, want to be part of this effort, will commit energy and finances to the task, are willing to meet regularly to pray about what we need to do, and then do it. Second we need an “outer circle” of people who may not feel God calling them to be part of this new work, but will pray regularly for it, providing spiritual and material resources as they are able and feel led.
Third, we need a place in Grandview or near the OSU campus, larger than my office, where we can hold meetings, such as the classes I mentioned above and the Eucharist on occasion. Fourth, Shirley and I need to move to Grandview or someplace close by. We currently live thirty miles away from that community. We cannot plant a church via long-distance.
Now, some of you are saying, “Where does God figure into all this? Haven’t you overlooked the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit in this overview?” Up to this point in this blog post, yes. Deliberately so. I have wanted to frame these questions in practical terms from a human perspective. In all of this, however, I understand fully that, if God wants St. Patrick’s to become a reality, He will provide all the resources—spiritual, human, and financial—that we need. If, for whatever reason, and it may be known only to Him, God does not want this vision to materialize, He will not provide the resources. My concern, of course, is that we wait carefully and patiently on God. Once again I reiterate: I don’t want to undertake a project and demand God to bless it; rather, I want to find out what God wants to do and join it.
So, back to my original question. What do you think? What are the odds that St. Patrick’s will be a reality by this time next year? I would welcome your response, your counsel, and your questions. You can communicate with me by leaving a comment below, but if you’d like to share more personally and more specifically, then I encourage you to write me at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading this. I look forward to hearing from you. And have a blessed and productive year in 2012.