Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Truro and Falls Church

Joan Gundersen Offers a Historical Review

In all the other news around the Episcopal Church in the last few days, we have neglected to note a significant piece of research written by Dr. Joan R. Gundersen, exploring the history of the Truro and Falls Church parishes that voted earlier this month to secede from the Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican Church of Nigeria.

As Father Jake observes, "It appears both of these parishes are insinuating, if not directly claiming, that their roots go back to before the Revolutionary War, and both seem to be suggesting in their 'histories' that George Washington was a member. In recent weeks, some of the articles in the secular press have affirmed this rendition of their history."

One might surmise that the two parishes wish to claim they predate the formation of the Episcopal Church – and this could surely be a useful claim in litigation against the Diocese of Virginia.

Joan R. Gunderson has published her research, How "Historic" Are Truro Church and The Falls Church? on her website. Dr. Gundersen has a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Notre Dame. She has published extensively on the history of the church in Virginia, and is currently collaborating with Edward Bond on a new history of the Diocese of Virginia to be published by the Diocese of Virginia and the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Dr. Gundersen is also President of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh and a founding member of Via Media USA.

Here is the beginning of the article.

In the last few weeks, we have heard a lot about the two “historic” churches in Virginia whose congregations are among those that have recently decided to withdraw from The Episcopal Church. Both Truro Church and The Falls Church have been characterized as being older than The Episcopal Church. The Falls Church web site suggests that George Washington was once a vestry member of the church. The history on the Truro web site makes the same claim for Truro Church. Somehow, these historical assertions are supposed to make us feel that the decision to leave The Episcopal Church is especially poignant and important.

Let me be clear: I believe that any decision to leave The Episcopal Church, by an individual or a group, is a sad occasion. There is a lot of confusion and misinformation being distributed concerning the actual history of these parishes, however. Neither is the direct descendant of a colonial parish. Neither can claim George Washington as a past member of its vestry or its congregation. Both are “new” church plants from the 1830s and 1840s. In most places in the United States, founding dates in the antebellum period would be quite old enough to justify a claim of being “historic,” but these two parishes have sought the additional aura associated with George Washington and our colonial past. How “historic” are they?

Click here to read the entire essay.

19 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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12/28/2006 5:04 PM  
Blogger Cranmer49 said...

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12/28/2006 9:01 PM  
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12/28/2006 9:52 PM  
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12/28/2006 10:09 PM  
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12/28/2006 10:44 PM  
Anonymous Dennis said...

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12/28/2006 11:16 PM  
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12/29/2006 1:33 AM  
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12/29/2006 10:02 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

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12/29/2006 10:11 AM  
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12/29/2006 2:27 PM  
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12/29/2006 2:39 PM  
Blogger Thomas B. Woodward said...

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12/29/2006 6:08 PM  
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12/29/2006 8:32 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

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12/29/2006 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Dennis said...

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12/30/2006 12:47 AM  
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12/30/2006 7:11 AM  
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12/30/2006 10:35 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

A Word from the Management
This response, while posted by Lisa, comes from the Steering Committee of The Episcopal Majority

Some of you have watched this thread as it was side-tracked by irrelevant comments from an anonymous poster. We endeavored to exercise restraint and Lisa posted a warning here last night that future infractions would not be tolerated. Thereafter, two more anonymous posts were submitted – one of which would have printed out at 22 pages! We have now done as promised, and deleted all the anonymous posts.

In addition, we have deleted some fine and thoughtful posts from those who responded to the anonymous posts. We did so simply because – with the anonymous posts now gone – your replies and rebuttals would seem non sequiturs.

However, we want here to reprint one from Dennis, who said in part: "No one has the right to come into a mainstream Anglican blog and demean and demonize others when there are already places for them to place these demeaning comments." Dennis is correct. We apologize for not deleting the anonymous comments earlier. (And, not that it should matter, but … Dennis, Lisa is one of those gay/lesbian people who felt demonized and needs "safe space.")

Our delay was based on the Anglican principle of tolerance. As TEM member Tom Woodward stated, "Dissent is welcomed, indeed encouraged on this site; the 'indeed' proves that we are authentic Anglicans." If we erred, at least we erred on the side of tolerance – until the anonymous postings became so extreme they could no longer be ignored.

After a fair bit of consultation, the Steering Committee is newly committed to two ground rules at this site.

* First, comments should be related to the topic of the post. Of course, we'll all offer some "asides" and off-topic comments from time to time. But anything that appears intended to derail the focus of the discussion will be deleted without warning.

* Second, we're going to apply the "Adult Forum Principle." In our parishes, we frequently have disagreements during our adult forum sessions; but those disagreements are carried out with good manners, in good taste, and with Christian charity. If you try to post something here that – if said during one of our parish discussions – would be viewed as a breach of manners and charity, we'll delete the comment. If the comment seems more intended to hurt than to build up the body of Christ, we'll delete the comment.

12/30/2006 5:31 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

We now resume our regularly scheduled blogging
A note from the TEM editorial team

As noted above, all comments in this thread have been deleted. But we saved them and now reprint the one that did address Dr. Gundersen's essay.

Phil S. said in part: "I'm not entirely sure how it matters one way or the other that George Washington worshipped at either of the two churches or whether he worshipped on the moon."

We invite further discussion of the research Dr. Gundersen has published.

12/30/2006 5:34 PM  

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