This evening I attended the dedication and consecration of this ACNA congregation in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Archbishop Foley Beach presided along with the Rector, the Rev. Brice Ullman.
The “new” building is an old Presbyterian church. The congregation is about ten years old; it is not a parish type of secession that has occupied this blog, but was started by a gathering of Episcopalians justifiably unhappy with the course of their denomination.
The interior of the church, before the service started. The “Anglicanising” and remodelling process was really nice, although would probably sour an SNP fan (they’ve got a lot to be sour about these days.)
Judge Sheridan Randolph prepares to operate the Provisional Belfry.
Although many came first to the nave, it was necessary to move them outside. The concept behind a dedication is that the Archbishop will dedicate things and places which have not been used before, so the congregation will follow the procession in as he dedicates the nave. After that he proceeded to dedicate the other items in the church, including the baptistery, altar, lectern, pulpit, and organ.
Archbishop Beach (in mitre,) the Rector and other clergy prepare to enter the nave and begin the dedication.
The agenda was definitely full; it included the dedication, Confirmation and reception, the reception of clergy from another Anglican church and the Holy Communion.
It’s been a long time since I’ve actually been to an Anglican service of any kind; some thoughts were as follows:
- I was surprised at the adult acolytes, both men and women. This was traditionally the preoccupation of young people. Part of the reason for that is the demographics of the parish; it struck me as “gap graded,” i.e., with older people and young couples but few in the middle. I think that time will remedy that.
- Having been raised in a 1928 BCP church and spent many years as a Roman Catholic in a 1970 NOM liturgy, getting used to yet another translation of the ancient antiphons is something of a chore.
- Speaking of prayer-book, I was surprised at the absence of same. They had hymnals and Bibles, but no Prayer Book. The ACNA is still in transition on this, and the “missalette” concept Roman Catholics use is always an option. (That’s what they basically did for the composite liturgy they celebrated today).
- I see that Anglicans still do their psalms antiphonally instead of responsorily.
- The sign of peace was the exuberant business that I hoped it would be and wrote about earlier this year.
- The music is really eclectic, ranging from Healy Willan’s “Agnus Dei” (which I was raised on at Bethesda) to a decidedly Charismatic rendition of “I Am the Bread of Life” and a couple of contemporary praise and worship choruses. The church actually has two music groups, one folk and the other traditional with a digital organ. Churches struggle with the issue of music style but this parish seems to have struck a very nice balance.
- Archbishop Beach strikes me as an honourable man without the affected pomposity that has traditionally plagued so many Anglican divines. That’s good; the down to earth approach will serve him well on the “Anglican frontier” he now presides over.
We were invited by the organist, who is an old friend of ours and whose husband operated the Provisional Belfry. They were in the Episcopal Church, and long ago I started to regale them with the strange doings of TEC. Now they are in the ACNA.
I’ve been in the Anglican/Episcopal blogosphere for over a decade now. If what I’ve done has helped to form, nurture and grow congregations like this, it’s all been worthwhile.