Dear APA Clergy and Lay members,
With our first Lenten Appeal, I asked you to pray, and make a sacrificial gift to the Dalit Project in India; you came through heroically. Thanks to you, while in India this week I will dedicate the school your gifts built. It provides these marginalized children a chance in life they would not otherwise have. Each year since, you have responded with genuine “APA generosity,” furthering the Kingdom of God. Two years ago I appealed to you for our first domestic mission project, to start or revitalize a struggling mission church. You did something that no Traditional Anglican Church had ever done when you responded so generously. The Domestic Mission Board selected Blacksburg, VA, with the mission of St. Philip’s Anglican Church.
Our first mission planting is still a work in progress. Through this opportunity, we have learned valuable lessons about planting a domestic Traditional Anglican Church. We verified that the priest chosen for this project is of primary importance. He must be well educated, highly committed and have a heart for this type of ministry; this is not work for a novice. We were blessed to find the right man in Fr. Wade Miller. Along with his wife Trish and their family, Fr. Wade has breathed new life into St. Philip’s Church. A report from Fr. Wade documenting the progress is below.
As this project has progressed, we have discovered that one of our assumptions proved incorrect. We thought we could get this mission up and running, and self-sustainable, in three years. Unforeseen circumstances at St. Philip’s Church made us realize that 3 years was unrealistic. The lovely old church building, just off the campus of Virginia Tech University, has not been properly maintained for 35 years. Although many of the building’s problems have been resolved, major repairs are still needed. Because of this, the money intended for the vicar’s compensation has not kept up with the 3-year plan. Even with borrowed monies, and out-of-pocket donations from parishioners, the mission is not able to be financially independent. Fr. Wade and the Mission Committee report that it will likely take about 2 more years to complete their building preservation; they expect the parish to be fully self-supporting by August 2019.
Please join me to help finish this wonderful project. Let’s learn from the data and information we have gathered. We now know that each mission plant must be considered on a case-by-case basis when determining how long it will take to become fully sustainable. In this case, we are going to need a total commitment of 5 years (3 in 2015 and 2 this year). We fully expect that it will be Anglican priests and parishes, like Fr. Wade and St. Philip’s Church, who will support the APA, the Diocese and our APA Global Partners.
This Lent I ask you to pray, and to sacrificially give to our Lenten Appeal, to help St. Philip’s Church and Fr. Wade Miller cross the finish line to achieve sustainability. I am asking that we set the Lenten Appeal Fund goal for $100,000, to be administered by the Domestic Mission Board, and distributed to St. Philip’s Church as needed. As the APA support decreases in the coming 2-3 years, the growing Mission will increase the support of their priest. This Lenten Appeal will not only ensure the success of St. Philip’s, but will also add to our Domestic Mission Fund, positioning it for support of our next mission. I know I can count on you to help me, as your Presiding Bishop, to finish the job.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
The Most Rev. Walter H. Grundorf, D.D., Presiding Bishop,
Anglican Province of America
Report for St. Philip’s Anglican Church, Blacksburg, VA
* It has been seventeen months since Fr. Wade Miller took the position as Vicar of this mission
* The average attendance has gone from 6-8 souls to now averaging in the mid to upper 30’s.
* The average giving has gone from $450 per week to over $1,400 per week.
* When Father got to St. Francis (now St. Philip’s) there were zero Virginia Tech and Radford students. There are now around eight students that come on a regular basis.
* The added services in addition to Sunday Eucharist are Morning Prayer on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday mornings, and a weekly Mass on Wednesdays at 12:00 PM.
* We have added three new Vestry members all under the age of 40.
* In terms of repairs, St. Philip’s has new flooring due to mold issues in the nave as well as a new floor in the chancel area. Carpets have been ripped up in Rutherford Hall to get rid of the smell and the original hard wood floors have been restored. The kitchen flooring and new cabinets have been installed as well as new chairs. We have a new church computer that was donated by a parishioner. We have a new sign, website, and our front doors were stripped and repainted. We have had moisture in the basement so new drainage was put down as well as repairs to the front portico. Walls have been painted and many from All Saints Anglican Church in Charlottesville helped with clean up. Thanks to special contributions, we purchased new 1928 Prayer books, a dossal curtain for the altar, and new Bibles. We have had to spend about $40,000 for renovations. Another $12,00 was used as Memorial or Special designations for these various projects.
What new activities and programs has St. Philip’s implemented?
* Theology on Tap – Meets once a month at a local pub to discuss a book that relates to Christianity and Culture
* St. Philip’s is now involved in local festivals such as Steppin Out and Gobblerfest.
* Volunteers work at the local food bank and the parish collects food and alms to assist those in need.
* Life Together is a midweek gathering on Wednesdays that consists of a meal, Evening Prayer and a catechetical study on Scripture and Anglican practice.
* St. Philip’s joined the local Walk for Life to support the local Pregnancy Center.They also had representatives go to this year’s Walk for Life in Washington D.C.
* St. Philip’s is helping in starting a classical school in Blacksburg called Valley Classical School and is looking to house the Logic and Rhetoric Schools where Father Miller will be teaching a History and World-View class.
* Private Confession has become a regular discipline for those in the parish that have found this to be an important Christian discipline.
Background to the Miller Family:
* Father Miller is a graduate of Cedarville University and Concordia Theological Seminary.He spent time studying at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL and Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia.Fr. Miller has four years of teaching experience as well as five years in Youth Ministry and Christian Education.Prior to his ordination as a Priest, Father Miller spent over nine years as a Lutheran Pastor, spending almost six of those in Brooklyn, New York.
* Trish Miller is the wife of Father Miller. She has been a Registered Nurse for twenty years. She is currently a Clinical Team Leader Nurse in the ICU at Carilion Hospital in Radford, VA. She helps cook and do whatever is needed at the church. She and Father Miller homeschool their four children and have been married for almost 23 years.
* Father Miller’s four kids are Owen (14) Aidan (12) Ava (10) and Annie (9).They are all homeschooled and participate in the community choir.The boys join their father to participate in boxing classes and all the Miller kids do archery and shooting.
Future Projects and Activities:
* The beautiful building of St. Philip’s was built in 1947 by the Roman Catholic Church, St. Mary’s.The electrical wiring has never been updated, which makes it a hazard.The church is having the electrical wiring and outlets brought up to code as well as providing outside lighting on the building for safety purposes.The church was vandalized with someone throwing a large rock through one of the stained glass windows this past fall.New energy efficient windows will be installed as well as an HVAC system to deal with moisture issues.The church is taking out a mortgage of $75,000 to cover costs of these projects as well as tree and root removal that threatens the foundation of the building.
* We ordered door hangers and hope to distribute this information to at least 3,000 homes by September.
The Goal for 2019:
* To be a self-supporting parish by August of 2019.
* To be averaging at least 60 people by 2019 with at least 40 active members,
* To see our giving go from its current level to $2,000 a week.
* To have no less than 12 college students by 2019.
* To have a greater supporting role in the diocese through giving, and eventually helping train future deacons and priests.