Due to several recent news stories, people are asking about Truro’s ecclesial identity. According to the General Secretary of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Fearon, our denomination, the Anglican Church of North America, is NOT a member of the Anglican Communion because it is not in communion with the See of Canterbury. And equally important, our leaders have not gone through the established process of recognition. The most recent Province to follow this established protocol is the Province of Sudan, which became the 39th Province of the Anglican Communion this past July. The views expressed are consistent with those of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who enjoys unbroken communion with about 95% of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion and an historic emerging communion with the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis.
For many who are new to Truro, let me review some salient history: Truro left The Episcopal Church (TEC) in order to be part of the Anglican Communion; its intent was NOT to leave the Communion. Truro’s vestry wrote in 2006, “Should the Episcopal Church walk apart we will choose to remain within the Anglican Communion.” This kind of quote can be recited repeatedly. When Truro called me to be Rector, I was a priest of the Diocese of London and missioner of Holy Trinity Brompton. I was solemnly assured by the search committee, vestry, and Bishop that membership in the Communion was its ecclesial commitment. Elizabeth and I answered the vestry’s call because we shared that same core commitment to the historic Gospel AND to the Anglican Communion. Given our parish’s long-term commitments to the Anglican Communion and the assurances given to me by Bishops (past and present), I confess to being puzzled. If you haven’t, I encourage you to read the General Secretary’s explanation:
So what practical impact does this have on Truro, if any?
In the long run, I am unsure. But in the short term it should have little effect. This is in part because, though our denomination is not part of the Anglican Communion for now, your Rector and Senior Associate Rector are in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, as are most of Truro’s adjunct clergy. Both Archbishops Welby and Fearon have been long-term friends and advocates of Truro and/or its clergy. We have engaged in mission with them. They have repeatedly upheld Truro’s gracious way of holding the orthodox faith amidst persecution, from both the left and right flanks. So we have authentic Anglican relationships and an historic identity that transcends this painful denominational moment.
Additionally, Truro’s day-to-day ministries will not change: Nuptial Theology, Alpha, Amore, Marriage, Family Ministries, Missions, TIPS, TPK, all our ministries will continue to go from strength to strength as we reach out to our community with the life-giving presence of Jesus Christ. None of Truro’s actual ecumenical marriage ministry, especially with Roman Catholics—that was, in fact, dependent on Canterbury support—will change. More than ever, our calling to marriage ministry and ecumenical peacemaking are required, for they are two sides of the same coin.
Ministry to marriage is especially vital. As we have painfully learned in the past decade, there are no clean breaks in the body of Christ. Church splits reverberate and are eventually mirrored in the lives of couples. We abide in a seamless web of covenant relations, nurtured and sustained by practices of patient fidelity. Truro is not called to, nor will it engage in, further Church splits (neither at the local, national, nor international levels). Schism is a grave moral evil; it must be—and can only be—counteracted in cruciform love (Colossians 1:15-23). Our calling from God is to mend and restore persons, marriages, families, communities, and even the Church itself, making the Triune life of God radiant in all. This is what our vision “to learn to love like God” calls us to do. What a wonderful time to serve the LORD at Truro!