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Renewing Anglican Heritage in Rural Virginia

Last week, we posted the video of our April 18 webinar with Fr. Kevin Fife. It is now the most popular video in the history of Continuing Forward, with more than 250 views in less than a week. Thanks to all who watched and shared this video.

Summary of the April 18 Webinar

Fr. Fife talked about his efforts revitalizing St. James Anglican, an APA misson founded in 1980. He was interview by Fr. Mark Perkins of Continuing Forward, who is also a priest in the APA’s Diocese of the Eastern United States (DEUS).

When he took over as vicar in the summer of 2021, he decided to rename it as “St James-on-the-Glebe,” to emphasize its Anglican heritage and unique property. The word “Glebe” refers to the 65-acre agricultural property that supports the parish, while the “Glebehouse” is a 300+ year old parsonage located on that property.

The renewal has been at the physical, spiritual and pastoral level. Fr. Fife and his wife Mary Willis have restored the parsonage using authentic materials, and also created a chapel that (the previous week) was consecrated by the diocesan bishop, Abp. Chandler Jones of DEUS.

Fr. Fife has restored the traditional Anglican worship — the norm in colonial Virginia — with daily office, Sunday and midweek mass. They are using a capella singing, which just requires a priest who can sing in tune and selecting the right hymns.

The goal was to do all things with beauty and excellence. He recalled one new member telling him that “ ‘This church is really extra’ which for her meant ‘you take everything very seriously.’ And you do everything well.”

Serving the mission also meant restoring pastoral care and fellowship. The congregation celebrates on the historic property with a regular meal after the Sunday eucharist, while Fr. Fife is regularly waiting at a posted time for confession or pastoral care, whether or not people happen to come on a given day.

Meanwhile, the Wednesday mass originally targeted at retired parishioners quickly attracted young moms who sought worship and fellowship. From this, the congregation is discussing the idea of possibility of starting a school, which would both leverage their ample property and increase the sense of fellowship and connection with the community.

Overall, Fr. Fife reported that his (and his family’s) efforts over the past three years have been appreciated by exisitng members, and by new members (Sunday attendance has tripled). Their efforts are also getting noticed by the surrounding community.

Our Upcoming Webinar

Our next webinar will be May 16 at noon EDT (via Zoom). Our speaker will be Fr. Michael Vinson, rector of St. Benedict’s Anglican Church in Rockwall, Texas. He will discuss how he has worked to plant and growth this parish over the past seven years, and in particular, talk about his emphasis on integrating into the nearby community.

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