a Virginia Mission Parish in the Orthodox Anglican Church
Serving Poquoson and surrounding communities.
A New Kind of Parish Church
We want St. Timothy’s to be something new -and something old. The mainline churches are failing, but we don’t see that the community church model or the house church model has replaced them. Nothing seems to have successfully replaced it. We think we should go (cautiously) back to the parish model and try to fix what may have been broken. We think it gives us what we need, emotionally and structurally. And it does give us a platform from which to move out to the local community with the Gospel. When we drive by the old churches, we sentimentally imagine the parish model, so why don’t we try to recreate it, having learned a few lessons about form and freedom and toleration and humility?
The parish church is like a marriage. Its structure and form allows things to happen (including the wedding ceremony itself!) that are not achievable in a common law marriage (or any other live-in arrangement). But the most important thing is that it makes children possible. It provides for their continuing welfare. The house church rarely lasts five or ten years, but many of the parish models have lasted for hundreds of years. People chafe against the institutional coldness and hypocrisy of marriage and the parish church, but we would rather have the hypocrisy and coldness than have no marriage and no church and no children. We don’t want successive relationships with people we will never fully know. We want one relationship in which we come to know the person as well as we are ourselves known and have children to give things to and who will remember us for having given them. The parish church is all about continuity. And the only reason for continuity is for the children’s sakes.
But on the more practical plane, the parish church provides a truly ecumenical environment to worship God together and to share our God-given gifts more extensively. Whether we are male or female, black or white, left or right, introvert or extravert, there is a place for us in the parish church. The small-group churches are sometimes pressure-cookers of mono-culture spiritualities. And it is sometimes not very easy to fit in. Especially for us introverts and non-charismatics. Besides, the purpose of worship and fellowship is not emotional bonding. Deep emotional bonding can happen in the parish church, but this is a by-product of worshipping God in common (hence common prayer) and giving our gift to the parish (whatever it might be). C. S. Lewis said something like this. He said that if you seek joy, you’ll not find it. But if you seek duty and virtue and honor, joy comes tagging along. More than we can handle.
Are you a thoughtful Christian? Are you somewhat iconoclastic, creative and visionary, but miss the old icons of civilization? We are committed to building a new kind of parish church. But we need help. We invite you to help in this project of re-inventing the parish Church – for the children – and for us.