LONGVIEW,TX: Anglican church sets first confirmation service
By Glenn Evans
March 11, 2017
A young congregation sprouting in Longview marks a milestone Sunday while looking forward to bringing God's kingdom to Earth.
"I was going to another church and got tired of sitting on the back row and doing nothing," Jonathan Calvin said, just days before he and Jamie Simoneau are to officially join Good Shepherd Anglican Church in a formal confirmation service at 10 a.m. Sunday.
This is the first confirmation service for Good Shepherd Anglican Church, which was established a little more than a year ago in Longview.
The occasion is special enough to draw Todd Hunter, bishop of the four-state Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others. Known to members by the abbreviation, C4SO is a part of the Anglican Church of North America.
Anglicans trace their heritage to Henry Tudor's Church of England, which King Henry the Eighth founded when breaking from the Catholic Church at the start of the 16th century Reformation.
Hunter, who lives in California, said he became an Anglican seven years ago. His mission has been to plant churches.
"And I ended up with a nationwide church-planting movement," he said. "And the church in Longview is one aspect to that. I've never been to Longview, although I'll be there on Sunday."
He'll have a front-pew seat to hear Calvin play drums for Music Minister Anna Purdum, who started the local church. The church originally held its services at Hiway 80 Rescue Mission, but services now are held in Community Connections at Pine Tree Road and Loop 281.
"I finally found a place to fit in," said Calvin, who last summer graduated from Hiway 80's discipleship program. "It's not about being Catholic, Anglican, Baptist. It's all about the love of Christ, and that's the key to why I'm here now, is the love of Christ."
The church's first confirmations, and the bishop's participation, will make Sunday stand out in the Good Shepherd annals. Purdum said about 20 Christians are worshipping now with the new congregation, which started with about five people.
"It'll be a big crowd this Sunday, because we have a lot of guests coming," she said.
Furnishings in the sanctuary were donated by other churches. The four pews came from First Baptist Church in Marshall, a projector came from White Oak's Treasure Church and a screen came from Church in the Wind in Longview.
"And we all worked to put that pretty mural in there," she added. "The reception we've had -- there were many churches that were praying for us. There's a Baptist church down the street from my house. They put us on their prayer list. It's been a really sweet thing to have the body of Christ surround us as we're starting this. ... And this confirmation is another big milestone for us, to be able to have our first confirmation."
Hunter said the Longview church is following the pattern of other successful church plants. The Anglican church blends much of the Roman Catholic sacramental and liturgical elements with a focus on helping the humblest members of society, he said.
"We're looking for signs of life, for potential, openness, open doors," he said. "And sometimes, that just means a leader who has a vision. Yes, (Purdum) had a specific burden to marry together these liturgical ways of discipleship. There is a long, deep tradition in Roman Catholicism of marrying together sacramental, liturgical method of discipleship to compassion."
Simoneau said she was attracted to that marriage of physical forms with spiritual realities.
"I felt closer to this church because I was born and raised Catholic," she said. "So, I felt more in-tuned to this church than any out there."
Sunday's confirmation, for her, goes beyond the Bible verses and church traditions she and Calvin learned.
"It's dedicating yourself to the Lord," she said.
Hunter said the kingdom of God arrived with Jesus Christ and spreads by such dedications.
"The good news, according to Jesus, is that the kingdom of God is here," he said. "(Jesus) said, 'The time is fulfilled, the kingdom is at hand.' The kingdom of God is essentially the extension of God's will."
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