Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

A "Continuing" Anglican Congregation: St George's Church, Las Vegas, 22 August 2010, 12th Sunday after Trinity

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

A "Continuing" Anglican Congregation: St George's Church, Las Vegas, 22 August 2010, 12th Sunday after Trinity

Article excerpt

The so-called "continuing Anglican churches" in North America were launched in the wake of die General Convention of the Episcopal Church at Minneapolis in 1976, which admitted women to all orders of ministry, declared that "homosexual person . . . have a full and equal claim . . . upon the . . . care of the Church," and adopted a new Book of Common Prayer. A year earlier, the Anglican Church of Canada had authorized the ordination of women to the priesthood. Unsettled by what they took to be a discarding of fundamental doctrines and practices, and a subversion of the catholicity and apostolicity of the church, two thousand clergy and lay leaders attended a "Congress of Concerned Churchmen" in St. Louis in 1977. They composed and promulgated what came to be known as the Affirmation of St. Louis; it charged "that the Anglican Church of Canada and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, by their unlawful attempts to alter Faith, Order and Morality (especially in their General Synod of 1975 and General Convention of 1976) , have departed from Christ's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church." For reasons that are still debated today, there was born not one catholic, traditional Anglican church for North America but a myriad of predominantly Anglo-Catholic jurisdictions, comprehensively inventoried by Don S. Armentrout ("Episcopal Splinter Groups," Historical Magazine of the Episcopal Church 55 (1986): 295-320). Today there are about twenty continuing Anglican denominational bodies, representing a total of five hundred parishes. This number excludes the hundreds of churches that, in discouragement with the General Convention of 2006, have connected ttiemselves with foreign Anglican provinces in the "realignment" movement, or have joined the Anglican Church in North America which was founded in 2008.

St. George's Church in Las Vegas belongs to one of these continuing Anglican groups, called the Anglican Province of Christ the King (APCK) . This church body began in 1977 as the Anglican Diocese of Christ the King with six parishes. Today it has forty parishes, of which St. George's is a relatively recent member. St. George's began in the early 1990s as a group of families meeting in homes. They moved their worship to space in other churches, and then to a cafeteria in a local school, but found that it was failing to grow. Then, with a loan from a financial institution belonging to the APCK, they purchased a parcel of land in a new neighborhood in Las Vegas (nowhere near the main casinos in downtown or on The Strip) and in 2001 completed Phase I of a long-range building plan. About the same time, they hired a full-time priest, with degrees in history and theology. With its new priest and its attractive worship space, the congregation grew significanüy. Today, according to the estimate of two lay leaders (a lay reader and a vestry member), the parish has 125 members, with a typical Sunday attendance of eighty, and a Sunday school of twenty children.

Towards the end of August 2010, a visitor to Las Vegas, checking the Internet for local churches, happens across a website for St. George's. He calls the telephone number he finds there to ask for directions by public transportation. He is greeted by an answering machine, but the priest soon returns his call and offers to have a parishioner drive him and his family from their hotel. The visitor accepts the gracious offer, and on the morning of Sunday, 22 August, he and his family are picked up at their hotel by a parishioner who, as it turns out, has been involved with St. George's since its formation. The parishioner proves to be a valuable source of information, and his reminiscences and observations will later be confirmed in various details by others at the church.

The visitor arrives at the church in time for 10:30 mass. The building, long and rectangular, has been inspired by the Spanish colonial revival architecture that is common in the American southwest, with flat walls giving an impression of thick adobe and a hipped red tile roof; at one end the wall is shaped like a Spanish mission bell tower, although there is no bell. …

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