Before we became Christ the King Anglican Church, we were members of Trinity Episcopal Church. Some families had several generations who had been Baptized, Confirmed, Married, and buried from our church. The church building was completed in 1874, and was listed in the Historical Society in Winchester, Tennessee. One woman remembers going to the Easter Sunday service with her mother in 1944. She says the church was heated with a Warm Morning stove in the front and one in the back. The church had a pump organ and for special occasions, someone would be hired to play it. On that Easter Day, there were about six people attending, and the priest of the church was also on the staff of the Divinity School at DuBose on the Sewanee mountain. The woman also tells there was one member of the church who could always be depended upon to pay a bill that was due, to buy linens for the Altar Guild or coal for the stoves or anything else that was needed to keep the church open. Obviously, we have many people who went before us that deserve our thanks for their generosity and sacrifice which kept the church doors open through the years.
In later years, additions were built for offices and Sunday School rooms and also a large room to accommodate the entire parish and guests on special occasions. These rooms were furnished with all the needed appliances and equipment, and we had all things necessary to carry on a comfortable community life and promote fellowship among us. Part of our history at Trinity that was dear to us, was the photo albums and pictures on the wall of the clergy who had served the church over the years.
The last two rectors that served in our parish, Sam Clarke and Bill Midgett, our present rector, brought a new dimension to the practice of our faith. These men had a love and dedication to the Word of God as found in scripture. They believed Holy Scripture was the Word of God, written, and the authority of God for all believers, and they passed this belief on to the congregation in their teaching and preaching and in the way they lived their lives. This was truly an awesome gift to all who received it!
In the last years before we came to be Christ the King Anglican Church, we began to realize the potential power that was ours in the study and practice of prayer. Teams and individuals signed up to pray during the Sunday Services for the leaders of the worship service and for the congregation, that the Holy Spirit would be present and make Himself known to all.
These last years were also times of disillusionment for us. Shock is the only word to describe our reaction to the heretical behavior and actions of the Church leadership. We realized too late, that over the years, we had been too tolerant and trusting that the Church leadership was guarding the faith for us. I think we felt that shameful things which were happening in far away places could never happen here in our Diocese or in our parish. True, they never did happen in many of our towns or parishes, but worse, they were happening at the very center of our church, in the highest level of leadership.
In response, under Fr. Bill’s leadership, information regarding any relevant meetings, such as Primates’ meetings, House of Bishops or Diocesan Conventions, etc., were watched and prayed over. We began to band with other orthodox parishes in an effort to elect people to Diocesan positions and to see that everyone was informed of all developments.
Another important response to this threat was the emphasis Fr. Bill placed on the study and knowledge of the Word of God in scripture. This would be the primary weapon for the believer. It would literally be “a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
Eventually, it became clear to us that if we remained longer we would become complicit with the actions of TEC: so on January 8, 2008, we made a public declaration of our faith by leaving what had been our beloved church home and leaving everything, all the mementos of our church history, our financial security, and all that had been ours to step out in faith to become Christ the King Anglican Church, The Way Forward.
That evening, we gathered in a former insurance building which had been converted into our worship center. We had no Hymnals or Prayer Books, but there we celebrated the Eucharist with our friends and many well wishers from other places and churches. At the service that evening, we learned that twelve acres of prime land had been given to us upon which to build our new church. This was truly a sign that God’s blessing was upon us, and we were getting a second chance to truly be the people of God.
The next week our application to become part of another orthodox Anglican province under the leadership of the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns was approved.
During the next few months we entered a period of healing and spiritual growth. We lost some friends and gained others, but our core group remain faithful. We began to lay the foundation for our future through Bible study groups and Sunday school. We wanted to become known in Franklin County as a church that offered prayer and healing. Small groups met and continue to meet to learn to pray effectively and to lead prayer. We have a group who went through a healing ministry training and who are now available when needed. These endeavors have proven to be a vital part of our ministry. We continually reach out to the community through several mission projects such as Backpacks for Kids, Bears for Kids, Angel Tree, food pantries, etc.
In the summer of 2009, after we thought our temporary headquarters had been sold, we seriously started to plan how best to use our property. We have a building team that has visited several churched, looked over many plans, and have selected an architectural firm to help us with our plans. We are about ready to hear what the team is going to propose for our first phase of development.
Through all this, we have been well supported by all bodies with which we have been associated. Then during the winter of 2009-2010, we received information about the formation of a new southern regional diocese. The vestry felt this would be a good thing so that the churches in the region would have more support for the members, the vestries, and the rectors. We brought the matter before the congregation and explained our choices: full membership, partnership, or to remain as we were. Several Vestry members were able to attend a meeting in Chattanooga to meet with the diocese-in-formation leaders and have our many questions answered. We were then able to bring that information back, and the congregation, with a majority vote, were in favor of becoming full members in the new diocese. The Vestry then voted unanimously to apply for full membership in what had become the Anglican Diocese of the South. We elected a delegate and an observer to attend the inaugural Synod along with our rector, Fr. Bill. What an inspiring two days that was! For those three who attended, it was a transforming time, and we were able to bring back to our church that excitement and commitment. The important thing we as a congregation learned was that we are not as effective if we remain isolated and think we can carry out our mission without the strong support of like-minded churches. We are now committed more than ever to be a mission driven and healing ministry church.
The Way Forward is becoming a reality as we look into the future. The evidence of God’s loving hand among us is here in the gifts of a Godly pastor, priest, and teacher; a land gift for the new church, and the emergence of the Anglican Diocese of the South. The enormity of these wonderful gifts are priceless for they are the work of God. Our challenge is to learn all that the Holy Spirit offers as we continue to develop our discipleship in Christ Jesus.