Live from the Investiture of the Rt. Rev’d John Guernsey as the first bishop of the ACNA Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic at Truro Church, Fairfax, VA.
|Bishop John Guernsey and his wife, the Rev'd Meg Guernsey.|
We're here at Truro Church in Fairfax and the church is packed with very joyful people. The new Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) diocese enters the ACNA as the largest diocese. It spans the area of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.
Last May, the Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) Synod elected the Rt. Rev'd John Guernsey as the bishop of the proposed ACNA Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic. In June, the ACNA's Provincial Council affirmed the creation of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic. Bishop John Guernsey who had been overseeing the congregations that had separated from The Episcopal Church and moved under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Church of Uganda before transitioning directly to the ACNA, was confirmed as the first diocesan bishop by the ACNA College of Bishops in June.
Bishop Guernsey was the rector of All Saints, Dale City, VA. All Saints separated from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia in the spring of 2006 in an amicable settlement that permitted them to remain in their property until the completion of the building of a new church. The settlement had been meant to be a prototype for the other congregations to follow in the development of the Diocese of Virginia's Protocol for Departing Congregations. The protocol was abruptly abandoned by the Diocese following the installment of Katharine Jefferts Schori as the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, about six months after All Saints left the Episcopal Church.
All Saints will be officially moving into their new church later this month and will also serve as the office for the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic.
|John Guernsey at 2003 General Convention.|
I first met John Guernsey at the 1994 General Convention in Indianapolis, working closely with IRD President Diane Knippers and Pittsburgh General Convention Deputy Jim Simons. I remember at the Philadelphia General Convention in 1997 I testified at the Evangelism Committee that John was chairing on a resolution that was calling for a doctrinal change on the trinity. I read the resolution and recognized that, as a former member of the Christian Science Church, the new doctrine would have been quite at home in Christian Science. In my testimony I pointed out the similarities between the new doctrinal change and Christian Science and wondered why I had gone through all the trouble of "kneeling before my bishop to become an Episcopalian" only to find myself back in Christian Science right in the Episcopal Church! Why should I have left in the first place?
I also remember going back to my seat when a rather moderate bishop sitting across the aisle from me leaned over and said that he too grew up in Christian Science and appreciated the point. I was still trying to get my heart from stop beating so fiercely, I had been so nervous and close to terrified and the affirmation from an unexpected quarter brought me great relief. I was very grateful to John Guernsey for the opportunity to speak at General Convention. Of course, I had no idea then that it was only the beginning.
Back to Truro: ACNA Archbishop and Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop Bob Duncan is the preacher. He is saying from the pulpit that this is a historic moment in this historic place. I will try to type as he speaks:
We all recall that Anglicanism was brought permanently to these shores not so very far from here … in 1607. We also recall that not quite 200 years later … Anglicanism was organized so that it might be prosper and go forward in this land. And 200 years after that it might be reorganized, much of it in this place. …. God is doing something great, behold all things new …”
This is a historic moment for Anglicanism … throughout the globe. We represent not a little of that in our own persons in this place.
This is also an amazing personal moment. The fulfilment of God’s plan for three leaders. John and Martyn and I were candidates for bishop (NOTE: for the Diocese of Colorado) and it was during that time that they formed friendships that continue to this day.
Twenty-one years later I stand here as an Archbishop, Martyn now resides in the U.K. as Executive Secretary for the Global Anglican Future Conference Movement and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and John here as the first bishop of this diocese.
This diocese represents such a maturing in such a short time of this movement, but as it comes together – it’s the largest diocese in the movement at its birth. That is because of God’s favor and because of the faithfulness of all of you who stood in these days, who stood shoulder to shoulder not just those who are ordained but very much shoulder with the laity in this region.
|Bishop John Guernsey becomes the bishop of the new diocese.|
|A new day.|
In fact, it is exciting to look out and see the young church planters and new leadership rising up, all ready building and rebuilding on the foundations not just of recent years - but on the foundation of those Anglicans who sailed to the Virginia shores four hundred years ago. As those early settlers experienced their own triumphs and great challenges, this new diocese will know such a story as well. What will this next chapter in our lives together bring? How will we discern what should change and what should remain? How will we stand firm for the Gospel of Jesus while making peace with our neighbors? One way comes to mind, which I think was overflowing today and that is in gratitude. Whatever happens, may we be grateful. There is so much to be grateful for, so much.
We may not know what will happen by this time next year, but what comes to mind now is one of the songs we sang at the service today and it becomes a prayer tonight: