The following Frequently Asked Questions were developed in response to two letters recently released by Archbishop Foley Beach and Bishop John Guernsey concerning The Truro Institute: A School of Peace and Reconciliation.
1. What is the Truro Institute: A School of Peace and Reconciliation?
The mission of the Institute is to build bridges to people of other faiths presenting to them, through our work and our lives, the redeeming love of Jesus Christ and the good news of the Gospel. It is the natural outgrowth of Truro’s “ministry of accompaniment,” most visibly expressed in our Alpha and Amore (domestic church) missional communities. To better export Truro’s DNA we are developing an internship program for young people to learn the practices that “make for peace” in spiritually and socially conflicted situations such as prevail in the greater Washington DC region. The situations we will focus on in the early years of the program will include, but are not limited to, ministry among Muslims, immigrants and at-risk-children.
2. Why is Truro pursuing the Truro Institute?
As in the book of Esther, Truro believes that God has shaped and prepared us over our history “for such a time as this” to bridge differences and “learn to love like God.” We have determined that, in so far as it depends on us, we will live peaceably with one another (Romans 12:18) and pursue peace together in our community, the nation and the world.
3. Why partner with Episcopalians in these efforts of peacemaking?
The Institute proceeded from our conversations focused on improving relationships between Anglicans and Episcopalians in Virginia. Just as we gratefully and humbly partner with Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists on matters of marriage and domestic church strategies, we rejoice that Episcopalians wish to join us in building a peaceable community in an increasingly diverse and dynamic region of the country. We also acknowledge that there is no need for peacemaking and reconciliation with those who fully agree with what we believe/stand for. Truro is trying to build a relationship with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia (EDV) from the position of what we have in common without ignoring, diminishing or papering over what divides us.
4. Is the Truro Institute consistent with our Anglican orthodoxy?
Truro remains true to the teachings of scripture as contained in the Bible, God’s word to us. In John 17, Jesus anticipated the challenges his Church would face when He prayed for His disciples. He asked first that His disciples be sanctified by truth and then that they might enjoy the unity experienced between the Father and the Son. This suggests that truth and unity are not competing spiritual virtues but interlocking ones; truth is foundational for Christian unity, and the search for unity is a core imperative of Christian truth. When we disagree, even profoundly, we should disagree face-to-face, in love, and in hope of restored fellowship.
Speaking the truth in love to one another as brothers and sisters in the wider Anglican family of Christians, we acknowledge that our unity has been broken by principled differences over the teachings of Scripture and the scope and requirements of biblical justice. In light of what peacemaking has taught us in the past several years, we affirm that to live at peace is not co-habiting with differences; rather, it is giving life to adversaries, as the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life, does His quiet work among us.
5. Was Bishop Guernsey consulted on the Truro Institute?
Over the course of the past year and a half, Truro communicated and consulted with Bishop Guernsey and his standing committee on several occasions regarding the Truro Institute. Our records indicate that representatives of Truro and Bishop Guernsey met at least eight times since late 2015 to brief him on progress and seek his counsel and advice concerning our work on the Truro Institute. The foundational documents went through several drafts and Bishop Guernsey was consulted on key versions of the Mission Statement for the Institute. The Vestry is thankful for his gracious assistance. Most (but not all) of his recommendations were included in these documents. He expressed concern about our entering into a formal relationship with EDV related to the Institute and his counsel caused us to build in several protections (for example, Truro Anglican is the sole owner of the Institute and we will appoint its board of directors). In the end the Vestry felt it necessary to take the risk of moving forward with what we believe strongly is God’s call for a three-year period of discernment. We certainly do not believe that we have defied Bishop Guernsey’s counsel. To the contrary, we have negotiated for an end to two limitations that were initially imposed on our use of the Truro campus. The lease terms were adjusted to grant blanket permission for Bishop Guernsey to officiate services and facilitate meetings on the Truro campus and for other ACNA bishops to do the same following consent of the Bishop of EDV, which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld.
Truro is, and will remain, a committed member of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic (DOMA) within the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and desires to be at peace with both our Bishop and Archbishop whom we love and respect.
6. What are the terms of our lease with EDV?
The new lease terms are essentially identical to the previous lease which Bishop Guernsey approved in 2012. EDV has extended these terms to 2037 and potentially to 2070 to allow time for the creation of the Truro Institute. The Truro campus will remain available for ACNA-related events, continuing the practices that have allowed over 400 ACNA and DOMA events since 2012. There has never been any impediment to our various ministries or the ministry of ACNA at Truro, nor will there be.
7. What was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s role in the formation of the Truro Institute?
He has offered encouragement and support but has had no formal role in the project. As part of the church’s missional outreach and evangelization efforts, he recognizes that the church needs remedial work in the basics of Christian orthodoxy and praxis. Truro is establishing the Institute with the hope that it will be a place where young people learn to live out these basic rudiments of missional orthodox Christianity, of which peacemaking is an integral part.
8. What are the next steps moving forward?
Over the course of the next several months, Truro will begin the process of officially incorporating the Institute, appointing Board members and selecting the first interns. Then, for a period of three years, the Institute will undergo a testing process to determine whether it is God’s desire for us to move forward with the ministry. We humbly submit ourselves to the Lord’s leading and covet the prayers of our congregation and diocese as we step forward in faith.