In 2006, The Falls Church Anglican (TFCA) in suburban Washington began a multi-year process of planting churches, something that it was largely prevented from doing while part of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.
Readers of this blog are likely familiar with this story, which Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra of the Gospel Coalition wonderfully covered in 2019. In Autumn 2020, former TFCA Rector John Yates shared about the parish’s story for IRD’s annual Diane Knippers Memorial Lecture. I wanted to check in with these daughter congregations, each of which I’ve been able to visit.
A small minority of new churches planted in the United States reach their fifth birthday. Remarkably, all seven congregations planted by TFCA as part of its “Timothy” curacy program reached that five year mark, six continue on today. Of those six, two have gone on to plant their own daughter congregations, three purchased or constructed buildings.
All of this took place across a period of significant challenge: separation from the Episcopal denomination, subsequent litigation, property loss, and time in rented and shared spaces.
Preaching before the ACNA Provincial Assembly at Asheville, North Carolina in 2012, Bishop John Guernsey (who serves on IRD’s Board of Directors) presented TFCA’s church planting story as one illustration of how often the Lord will use a crisis to get us refocused, reoriented, and back in line with his priorities.
Guernsey noted that in the early church, the disciples had been sent by Jesus, but they didn’t go until they had to.
“We might say that their missionary strategy was initially motivated more by circumstances than by obedience,” Guernsey assessed, recalling what President John Kennedy said when he was asked, “How did you become a war hero?” He replied, “It was involuntary; they sank my boat.”
“I suspect the same could be said for a lot of us in our movement,” Guernsey surmised. “How did you get involved in church planting?” “I was deposed. I was sued. I was fired.”
“Isn’t it fascinating how the Lord uses hardship and adversity for his good purposes?” Guernsey marveled. “I praise God for the missionary zeal and faithfulness of so many in our movement.”
The Falls Church Anglican resumes its Timothy program this autumn, welcoming the Rev. Michael Weeks to serve as Associate Pastor for Discipleship.
May the Lord use the crises we face to stir us to greater faithfulness to the Great Commission!
Christ The King, Alexandria, VA
Meets at 1801 North Quaker Lane, Alexandria, VA
Service Times: 9 a.m., 11:15 a.m.
Average Attendance of 242 in 2022.
“Our Mission: To exalt Christ in Worship; To grow in Christ as family; And to proclaim Christ by what we say and do.”
Christ The King was the first congregation planted out of The Falls Church Anglican after the latter separated from the Episcopal Church. An early participant in The Falls Church Fellows program (which has been an excellent leadership pipeline), the Rev. David Glade returned as part of the Timothy curacy program.
In 2022, after renting for many years, Christ the King purchased its buildings and grounds from Convergence Community of Faith. The congregation has found success in reaching young families in the neighborhoods of Arlington and Alexandria, but is surprisingly conventional, not attempting to “reinvent the wheel” but instead offer traditional worship that hews closely to the Book of Common Prayer. There is a choir, it’s not uncommon for men to wear ties, and the church regularly hosts speakers for intellectual conversations – each visit, I feel like I’ve nostalgically stepped into 20th Century mainline Protestantism, and everyone’s cool with it. Sometimes there is a taco truck.
“At Christ the King, we want to be nothing more than to be a good and faithful church,” the parish statement explains.
Restoration Anglican Church, Arlington, VA
Meets at 1815 N Quincy Street, Arlington, VA
Service Times: 9 a.m., 11 a.m.
Average Attendance of 495 in 2022.
“Restoration longs to see broken people being restored by grace and finding their place in God’s story.”
Planted in 2009, Restoration is now the second largest congregation in the diocese based on attendance. The church’s abundance of legal professionals launched Restoration Immigration Legal Aid, offering immigration legal assistance to those who are most vulnerable and who have the fewest resources.
Restoration probably has the best small group system I’ve encountered. Small groups commit to meet for three months after Labor Day, New Year, and Easter. Groups dissolve and can reconstitute in a subsequent season, making entry easy for new members based on geographic location, time, or topic of study.
The Rev. David Hanke cultivates a low church vibe, clergy rarely vest, and music is folksy: an accessible entry point for evangelicals considering historic, liturgical Christianity for the first time. The young family sitting next to you in the pews probably has a Presbyterian or Baptist background, reads Christianity Today and is connected to a parachurch ministry like Cru, Young Life, or Navigators.
That said, Restoration (and each of the churches on this list) has Holy Eucharist each week, unlike the Falls Church’s default of Morning Prayer. The Saturday Easter Vigil at Restoration is among my favorite services of the year.
In 2018, Restoration launched its own daughter congregation, Incarnation Anglican Church, to minister along the Columbia Pike corridor in south Arlington (Incarnation meets at Drew Elementary and reported an Average Attendance of 81 in 2022).
Restoration will launch a second campus next year nicknamed “Resto West”, but still within the Capital Beltway in either McLean or the Pimmit Hills neighborhood north of Falls Church.
Grace Anglican Church, White Post, VA
Meets at 14401 Lord Fairfax Highway, White Post, VA
Service Times: 9 a.m., 11 a.m.
Average Attendance of 125 in 2022.
“Reaching the Northern Shenandoah Valley with the transforming love of Jesus Christ by loving the Lord, loving people, and Making disciples.”
Founded in 2009 as Winchester Anglican Church, the congregation purchased a permanent home in White Post, VA, moving into its newly renovated worship space in November of 2022.
As the first “parachute” plant, Grace was formed when the Rev. Patrick Ware relocated to Winchester first rather than start a “mother church” launch team out of TFCA. Grace is an example of God’s surprises, with the church gradually discerning that it had become a regional body of believers rather than a church specific to Winchester. Congregants come from and meet in small groups across five counties in the northern Shenandoah Valley and Eastern panhandle of West Virginia.
The hospitable Ware family can be found teaching and leading worship at retreats and special services throughout the region. Grace has a strong sense of connection to the wider Anglican Communion.
Christ Church, Vienna, VA
Meets at 2500 James Madison Drive, Vienna, VA
Service Time: 10 a.m.
Average Attendance of 192 in 2022.
“Christ Church Vienna is a gospel driven, externally focused, extended family, Anglican mission for Vienna, VA.”
Planted out of The Falls Church Anglican in November of 2011, Christ Church Vienna meets at the Madison High School auditorium. In addition to a Spanish language ministry, I enjoyed meeting parishioners and international visitors from Korea, Jamaica, Chile and New Zealand on a recent Sunday. They have really good coffee, too.
Rector Johnny Kurcina emphasizes Christ Church’s external focus, with a significant outreach presence. The congregation is age diverse, a real asset in a church plant.
Incarnation Church, Williamsburg, VA
Meets at Williamsburg Hellenic Center 4900 Mooretown Rd, Williamsburg, VA
Service Time: 10 a.m.
Average Attendance of 83 in 2022
“Our vision is to restore a vibrant and orthodox Anglicanism to the Historic Triangle.”
Planted in 2013 with the desire for spiritual renewal on the Peninsula, Incarnation began praying and worshiping together in homes, neighborhood clubhouses, and at the Williamsburg Regional Library before arriving at its current location at the Williamsburg Hellenic Center. The congregation has also held worship services at Wren Chapel on the campus of William and Mary.
I was pleasantly surprised by how liturgically serious Incarnation is and – like many of these congregations – I quickly met former TFCA and Truro parishioners who had relocated to Williamsburg.
Incarnation is the first congregation planted by The Falls Church to undergo leadership transitions: founding planter James Swynford relocated to Philadelphia to begin a new church project there. Incarnation is currently pastored by my friend the Rev. Canon Justin Murff.
Redeemer Anglican Church, Richmond, VA
Meets at 2715 Grove Avenue, Richmond, VA
Service Times: 9 a.m., 11 a.m.
Average Attendance of 334 in 2022
“We are a parish committed to Gospel Formation for Missional Presence here in the urban heart of Richmond.”
Redeemer was planted in 2016 and meets at the Tikvat Israel Messianic Synagogue in Richmond’s historic Fan District. Despite being the youngest daughter congregation planted by The Falls Church, it has – by far – been the most prolific: in 2019 it launched Church of the Incarnation in Richmond’s fast-growing western suburbs. In 2022 All Souls Anglican Church was planted in Richmond’s Manchester neighborhood south of the James River. Plans are underway for a third daughter church, Resurrection Anglican Church, to be launched Easter 2024 in Midlothian west of Richmond.
Rector Dan Marotta has an excellent system to empower volunteer staff with titles, cards, and space to give them responsibility over various aspects of parish life. More than any other church on this list, Redeemer has college outreach and church planter residencies. Marotta once suggested that there was ample room in the Richmond area for ten Anglican congregations. I’m glad to see the progress made in forming several of these.