Christ Church Anglican in Mt. Pleasant is one of what Bishop Edgar has designated our “Corps of Discovery” churches: those who lost in the court and are thus sent out into uncharted territory, like Lewis and Clark and their great expedition into the American West.
Prior to the adverse court ruling, CCA was not sitting idly by, waiting to see which way the litigation would go: among other things, we invested significant funds and sweat equity in upgrading the parish’s offices and the sound system in the main church. We had moved forward, investing in the infrastructure of ministry, not only because we believed we would win the lawsuit, but also because these were needed investments that affected our ability to do important, ongoing ministries.
To say that it was a blow to receive the court’s April 20 ruling and then subsequent denial of our Petition for Rehearing would be an understatement. All that we have been able to do because of the ministry infrastructure of this 26-acre campus was taken from us. What was also taken was something intangible – our love for our church home, the deep affection for the place we have lived our life with God and each other for so many years.
But what was not taken, and can never be taken, is the life we can live with God and each other and the ministry we can do apart from what is now our ‘old campus.’ Despite a deep grief, we have realized and said to one another that “yet, it was never the place, but the people, that made it special.” We’re keeping (the majority of) the people, and together will make new places special, too.
Our last Sunday on our old campus was August 28 and it was glorious, bathed in and empowered by the Holy Spirit from start to finish. Many cried – so many important milestones in the Lord were shared in this place: our families baptized, confirmed, married, buried, and also taught, built up week in and week out, friendships made, laughter, etc. – But more than tears (much more, as several people commented) there was a call and commitment, a clear sense of being together and sent out for mission. It was not a day of sadness so much as it was a day of power – the power of God to stitch a people together in faith under the promise of a glorious inheritance with all the saints. I so wanted my beloved Christ Church to have such a last Sunday service here, and God granted it: to Him be all honor and glory!
Through all of this we have received the love and care of many. So many clergy colleagues and other friends have been calling, texting and emailing that sometimes when my phone dings again, I jokingly think, “Stop already with the ‘thinking and praying for you’ messages! I’ve got too much work to do to keep answering them!”
In no particular order, here are a few of the graces we’ve been offered or received: St. Peter’s Anglican will let us use their worship space for our weekly Wednesday Eucharist.
St. Andrew’s Church is letting us use office and meeting space until we can find what we need in north Mt. Pleasant; those two and Holy Cross, Sullivan’s Island, will all work with us when we need to do a wedding or funeral. When we went to the school system to secure space for our Sunday morning worship, the person who oversees that for the School District turned out to be a member of Old St. Andrew’s in West Ashley and so knew exactly who we were, what we needed and why, and helped us tremendously. Lighthouse Church (a non-Anglican church here in Mt. Pleasant) is letting us use their facilities for our weekly men’s breakfast/study. East Cooper Meals on Wheels’ Board, which we’ve housed on our campus for years and whose ministry we’ve participated in in significant ways, voted to donate $10,000 to our church with thanks for the relationship we’ve had together. the Church of the Cross, Bluffton, paid for the BBQ we enjoyed during a lunch after our last service on our old campus (we had about 580 attend the service – that’s not a small BBQ bill!). Others came to worship with us: not least, Bishop Fitz and Martha Allison and their family, representing Prince George, Winyah. The Allisons are in their mid-90s but came all the way from Georgetown. They also gave a generous gift, which we have designated to re-start the Parish Discretionary Fund (when you’re kicked out, you have to start everything over from scratch!) so we can immediately have funds to help those in need. We know we are not alone! Many other offers large and small have been made along the way, too numerous to list here. We know that the God of Hosts, through the hosts of God, will pour out more blessings as we move forward. We can’t wait to see.
Of late, when people have contacted me to ask what their church can do to help, I’ve tried to say a couple of things: 1) Be patient, we’re still figuring out what we need. Please be there when we get back to you, 2) Pray, pray, pray!, and 3) When the Bishop and other diocesan leadership put out a call to contribute to the new Jerusalem Fund, a fund intended to support the Corps of Discovery churches now, and then eventually new missions down the road, please advocate for your church to make a significant monetary gift.
Christ Church Anglican thanks you all for your love, prayer, and support.
By The Rev. Ted Duvall, Rector, Christ Church Anglican, Mt. Pleasant