DALLAS, TX: "I turned away from being a defender of faith in the family to proclaimer of the faith to the world"
An interview with the Rev. David Roseberry, rector of Christ Church, Plano, and lead planner of the Global 1000 Summit Conference in Plano, Texas
By David W. Virtue in Dallas
March 8, 2012
This week in Plano, Texas, some 300 church planters affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) met to strategize how they will plant 1000 new Anglican churches across North America, the ecclesiastical dream of ACNA archbishop Robert Duncan. To date, some 215 churches have been planted with many more in the formation stage. It is a herculean task in the face of a morally compromised, religiously listless post-modern world that increasingly eschews doctrinal certitude and express salvation in and through the person of Jesus Christ.
VOL sat down with David Roseberry and asked him about his own faith journey and what he expects from this conference.
VOL: You were an Episcopal priest for nearly 20 years before leaving TEC. How many years has it been since you left the Diocese of Dallas and Bishop James Stanton?
ROSEBERRY: I left with the parish and buildings Sept. 16, 2006.
VOL: Have you had any or some contact with the diocese in these intervening years?
ROSEBERRY: No, no official contact. When I joined the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMIA), I wanted to give Bishop Stanton a courtesy notification and we met for coffee in 2007.
VOL: Do you regret in any way leaving The Episcopal Church?
ROSEBERRY: It was a very traumatic emotional punch for me. The Episcopal Church was the cradle of my faith. I felt I was leaving a dysfunctional family and choosing health over dysfunctionality, but still my spiritual familyand a lifetime building networks and relationships were gone overnight.
VOL: Who is your ecclesiastical authority now?
ROSEBERRY: Archbishop Robert Duncan.
VOL: You did some moving around before you landed with the ACNA. What was the journey for you?
ROSEBERRY: I started first coming under the Diocese of Peru and from there to the AMIA and then to the ACNA.
VOL: Were you ever deposed?
ROSBERRY: I was never deposed. I received Letters Dimissory to go to the Diocese of Peru under Bishop H. William Godfrey. My papers were transferred to AMIA and then to ACNA.
VOL: Why did you leave AMIA?
ROSEBERRY: I left because AMIA adjusted its status with ACNA. They had declared themselves to be a missionary jurisdiction and I struggled with that on two counts. The first was that it was going in the wrong direction. I believed we needed to be unified. The second was over methodology, meaning that their decision was non-inclusive. No one got to have any input into the decision till it had been made. I believe the heart of Anglicanism is collegiality among the bishops and clergy. While we are not a democracy, we do have and should have collegial relationships. I had started ANGLICAN 1000, a ministry embedded in the ACNA, and that put an internal stress on me and the organization made me feel I had two feet in two different churches and they were moving apart. Bishop Chuck Murphy was very gracious about our departure and that made life easy on all of us.
VOL: Are you comfortable with this new ecclesiastical arrangement?
ROSEBERRY: Very comfortable. It is short term, however. Long distance oversight is temporary. Our annual conventions in Pittsburgh don't make a whole lot of sense; we need to be a local diocese.
VOL: You alluded to the split in the AMIA in your opening address yesterday, but you were careful not to elaborate. What is your hope for the AMIA now?
ROSEBERRY: My hope is that through repentance, reconciliation and open arms these bishops would be restored to that ACNA jurisdiction.
VOL: These Global 1000 conferences, all three of them, are the brainchild of Archbishop Bob Duncan, but you seem to be the point man to make it all happen. Is this something you could have envisaged doing if you had stayed in TEC?
ROSEBERRY: No. No. What we have right now with this summit is that we have more energy for church planting than I ever dreamed about in TEC. Between 1980 -1995 TEC planted 360 churches, less than two dozen topped 200 ASA. The only way you draw a crowd in TEC is to talk about things that divide us - gender issues and other hot button issues.
VOL: Does this kind of gathering make you believe you are an 18th Century pioneer in church planting in a way you would not have been had you stayed in TEC?
ROSEBERRY: Yes. I think the fences are down and we are able to go anywhere in the country and raise up churches of faith. There are no elaborate jurisdictional gatekeepers.
VOL: There are some 300 church planters here; that's a lot of potential new churches. Does this excite you?
ROSEBERRY: It tells me that there has been a great deal of pent up energy in Anglicanism to plant churches. It also tells me that there are no open positions. People have to make their own way with buildings and more. Many of the planter/priests are bi-vocational and sent missionaries. Some of them are young and single and don't have the expense of mortgages like a middle-aged couple might have. We have a lot of young leaders.
VOL: What is your stand on women's ordination?
ROSEBERRY: It is a contextual issue for me. It is not a first order issue. We have a woman on staff who is ordained and operates under my headship. She is a full priest.
VOL: Do you have the biggest church in the ACNA?
ROSEBERRY: No, Falls Church in Northern Virginia and Christ Church are neck in neck.
VOL: How big are you?
ROSEBERRY: Worship and Sunday morning attendance is 1900. At Easter attendance is 3600; Christmas is 4000. (NOTE: The average size of an Episcopal congregation is about 70 with the average in the low to mid 60s.)
VOL: Archbishop Duncan set a goal of 1000 new churches in 5 years. In your mind, is that a realizable or even a realistic goal?
ROSEBERRY: I think it is an inspirational goal. It has certainly got everybody thinking about new ways to start new churches along the lines of "this is my opinion". It speaks of a new day. Church planting is and should be the norm in church life and not phenomenal. Church planting should be as normal as an 8am service or youth ministry. Is it realizable in 5 years? Miraculous things would need to happen and miraculous things are happening. My goal is not to have 1000 plots of land but to change the subject of the ACNA to move off and away from the argumentative and litigious. Before ANGLICAN 1000, people were looking in the rear view mirror. Now we have a clear picture of what is ahead. Never look in the rear view mirror; it will only stultify one.
VOL: You have been in Christ Church for 26 years. Do you see yourself staying here till you retire?
ROSEBERRY: Yes I do.
VOL: You have a son in ministry, I understand.
ROSEBERRY: Yes. He is a church planter at Restoration in Addison, Texas. You can find him as
www.restorationchurchonline.com My eldest daughter is married to a worship leader in Houston, Texas. I have two younger kids who are in the art world - one is in NY and the other is in Austin.
VOL: Do you have any plans to plant new churches in or around Plano?
ROSEBERRY: We have planted four congregations in the last 15 years and we are regrouping from the last two. We planted churches in 2009 and 2010, and in the next five years we will plant a few more.
VOL: Do you feel liberated from The Episcopal Church and able to do things without having to lookover your shoulder and ask a bishop?
ROSEBERR: Yes, it is a huge psychological difference being out of TEC.
VOL: How do you see your future?
ROSEBERRY: I do feel very different about my future now. The fences are down and I can do what I want. Duncan is a very permission-giving overseer. In TEC, I was in the middle of a battle for 20 years and I became a hardened warrior and when all that went away, it was difficult to reorient and get a passion for mission back.
I have turned away from being a defender of faith the in family to a proclaimer of the faith to the world.
VOL: Are you travelling to the Global South to get ideas on church planting?
ROSEBERRY: No. I am homegrown within the US.
VOL: How close to 1000 churches has been reached so far?
ROSEBERRY: 211, so far, that we know of.
VOL: How do you see your own future in the realignment of North American Anglicanism?
ROSEBERRY: I am a strategic catalyzer. Any time I can use my experience and gifts I will do so.
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