the Parish

Recently, I have become very interested in the Anglican tradition. Ironically, my former roommate started going to a church called the Mission Chattanooga after going on a backpacking trip with them. I was intrigued by the church (and Anglicanism), but I just thought of it as weird. I had heard of Anglican churches before, but mentally I associated them with Catholicism, tradition, patron saints, and kneelers. A lot of kneelers. Due to unexpected circumstances, my roommate left Covenant the following semester. I learned that half of my hall community either have been attending the Mission or another Anglican church. Other people told me that I would love the night service (Evensong) of the Mission. Furthermore, an Anglican bishop in Africa had visited Covenant in October, and I had also read a Gospel Coalition article on Anglicanism that I liked. And so I went, and I love it. It was nothing like I expected, and it was surprisingly “low-church”, but reverent.

I have found a church community that I l o v e (Sojourn Chattanooga) and plan to stay with while in Chattanooga, but I have found myself researching the Anglican tradition more and more. I love the three streams approach: Evangelical, catholic, Charismatic. They emphasize the authority of Scripture, embrace the sacraments that are upholded by Scripture (Baptism and the Eucharist), and are sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit.

I love the centrality of the Eucharist in the faith. Actually, I’ve been thinking about that recently. We often treat communion just as something we do once a month at church – solemnly examining ourselves, drinking our little cups of grape juice and that weird meager piece of matzo bread. But I am realizing that the Eucharist (which means thankfulness) is so much more than that. Our faith, and church, should revolve around the Eucharist because our lives should revolve around the Cross and around what Christ has done for us. We eat from Him in thankfulness, and expectancy, knowing that we need to keep feasting on Him to be filled on earth, but one day we will be able to feast with Him and be filled forevermore. I think the way the Eucharist is celebrated in the Anglican church is how we should celebrate it. And so most Anglican churches call their worship services the Eucharist, because the whole service revolves around the Eucharist.

Alleluia. Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; Therefore let us keep the feast

That being said, I decided to spent the last few weeks of summer break visiting Anglican churches. Today I visited the Parish Anglican. The Parish Anglican is headed up by Eddie Kirkland, who used to be a worship leader at North Point Community Church. Surprising jump from the non-denom world into Anglicanism, huh! Anyways, according to Eddie’s blog, he describes his reason for starting the Parish as:

Now, when you hear “Anglican” you probably think robes and funny hats. That’s not quite what we’re thinking. In fact, the Parish will find a way to express the richness of Anglican worship in today’s culture, and we’re really excited about finding that balance. Scripture, History, and Spirit, all working together in balance to help people connect with their heavenly Father.

I was very interested in checking out the church. It doesn’t hurt that it only takes 10 minutes to get to the church.

The Parish is located in an office building complex. They have one suite devoted to their elementary kids, and then another suite with the gathering space and the nursery. There are friendly greeters outside the church, and more greeters right as you walk in – all wearing blue “The Parish” t-shirts. There’s a coffee station against the wall (complete with a Keurig), and an information table with name-tags at the back. The room is small, but quaint. There’s about 60 chairs divided in 3 sections, a bar stools, and even a couch that a few congregants sat in during the service. I was greeted by a few people, including Eddie. We made small talk, and I expressed that I had been going to the Mission (to which he said that it is an incredible church) and was interested in an Anglican church in Alpharetta.

The service started by the worship pastor calling everyone to worship, and Eddie played guitar as well in the back. I was surprised that there was no “procession of the cross”, but the website describes the Parish as “a fresh expression of the local church”. I think I was expecting the Parish to be more traditional.

We started out with a song, and then Eddie had us meditate on the bridge (something about ‘come as fire’; I’m off my game, usually I can find the songs after the service). Afterwards, we sang “Come to the River” from a certain lovely church called Grace Midtown. I was so surprised that they knew it and sang it! But God likes surprising me. Ironically, we sang it last week at Grace during the Eucharist; it was so powerful. We then sang a song based off the Lord’s Prayer. I would love to find this song.

Afterwards, we passed the peace (the introvert’s least favorite part of any worship service). We then had announcements. Today was their first morning service! In the past, they would meet at 5 pm every week except for the second Sunday of the month, where they hold dinner groups. In fact, they took a Summer Sabbath in July and this was their first new service in a month. In that time, they renovated and decorated the gathering space. It looked really really nice. Because of the changed gathering time, they are now gathering every week “until they don’t”.

After the Gospel lesson (Scripture reading), Eddie preached on John 2:1-11 on the story we all know about Jesus changing water into wine. No prosperity gospel, but in Jesus there is abundance. Eddie told us the jars were bigger than we would think; they’re not just puny water jars. Also, the purpose of these jars were for the Jews to purify themselves, so that they could be forgiven by God. When Jesus told the servants to fill the jars with water, the servants must have thought that Jesus was punishing them and they needed to purify themselves to be forgiven again. Instead, Jesus was not angry! He was giving them wine, showing how abundant He is. Do we realize how abundant Jesus is?

He then read a long story called “The Sea Lion” from John Eldredge’s book The Journey of Desire.

We then transitioned into a short time of Prayers of the People, which then turned into preparation for the Eucharist. Eddie put on a stole, which he explained is symbolic to him washing the feet of others. The liturgy for Eucharist is shorter than the Mission’s, but I still liked it. We then took communion, coming up to take a piece of bread and dipping it into the wine. I was wondering if anyone crossed themselves afterwards. No one else did, so I didn’t.

We sang one last song, then Eddie thanked all those who worked together to renovate/decorate the place. He then dismissed us with the benediction, inviting us to receive by stretching out our hands.

The Parish was pretty close to what I was expecting; I liked it and I would like to stay here until I go back to Covenant. I also am visiting Trinity Anglican Mission tonight, which I will also tell y’all about. I already know I probably will not be a regular at Trinity, just because of how far away it is (downtown Atlanta). The Parish reminds me of my church in Chattanooga (Sojourn) because of its demographic: 20s and 30s couples with young children, although I did see a few teenagers. I would also like to visit St. Peter’s Place Anglican Church, which meets at a coffee shop near here, but we’ll see.

Is the Father with us? He is.

Is Christ among us? He is.

Is the Spirit here? He is.

This is our God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We are his people. We are redeemed.

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