A History of Church of the Apostles
By Mrs. Alice Buck, founding member
Thirty-seven people attended the first service of he Church of the Apostles on March 3, 1968 in the Fairfield Elementary School in Fairfax, VA. Eighteen were former members of Truro Episcopal Church and been praying together for two years in their search for that “something more” that seemed to be missing in their spiritual lives. Their vision was for a church like the one in the Book of Acts, self-supporting, with a full-time congregation and a part-time minister. They were content to stay in the school for the next ten years, believing that a church is a group of people and not a building. A few years later most of those in the slowly growing church found that “something more” for which they had been searching. The Rector of Truro, while serving as a supply minister, invited the congregation to attend a week long mission at Truro in February 1971. This proved to be a life changing experience for those who received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Members took advantage of the excellent teaching available in the area and the gifts of the Holy Spirit began to be manifested in healings, prophecies, miracles and also in music.
At a church retreat led by a Roman Catholic priest, a prophecy was given that God wanted us to have a full-time Rector and that when we found the man God had called we would all recognize him as our shepherd. This prophecy was confirmed at a later conference, and when the Rev. Renny Scott came to visit the church in June 1977 we knew immediately that our shepherd had been found. During his entire first year he preached on the fruits of the Spirit, beginning with love. And with another young pastor he began a ministry to youth called “Saturday Night Alive.” Dozens of high school students gathered at a local school for Bible teaching and worship. In less than two years more than 600 young people attended every Saturday night and many brought their parents to church the following day. The church was growing steadily and so by 1979 when we received notice that we would have to vacate the elementary school by December 31, we knew that the time had come to forego our pride in being a “church without walls” and begin to build. God provided the right team and the right men for the job, and with much help from members of the congregation, the first service was held on September 28th. The building was referred to as “The Meeting Place,” affirming our belief that a church is not a building but a group of people. In 1970, with the help of a dowry provided by Truro Church, we had purchased a piece of property from the Diocese on Pickett Road. Continued growth soon required two Sunday services and eventually a move into the 1300 seat auditorium of Fairfax High School. It was not until 1989 that services were held again in an enlarged Meeting Place.
During a retreat in May 1980 Renny shared his vision for a “Three Streams-One River” church, a concept we still proclaim in our Sunday bulletin. Psalm 46 says “There is a river whose streams make happy (whole in Hebrew) the people of God.” And I John 5:8 declares that “there are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water and the blood, and these three agree.” Renny explained that some of us come from the blood stream which is sacramental, and some from the water or washing of the Word which is Protestant or biblical, and some from the Spirit, or the Pentecostal stream. And each stream has its own kind of music, as Paul said in Ephesians 5:9 “Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” Renny also reminded us that John, in the Book of Revelation, saw that the trees along the riverbank had leaves “for the healing of the nations.” Although Renny Scott left in September 1983 to accept a call as Rector of St. Phillips in Charleston, S. C., this was a theme highlighted by the Rev. David Harper of New Zealand when he became Rector in January 1986. During his first year David shared his vision for us to be “a people with a kingdom focus,” where God is honored as King and obeyed as Lord. A huge banner across the front of the chancel reminded us of this each Sunday.
“OUR GOD REIGNS - ALLELUIA”
David also supported our first mission church, Church of the Word in Manassas, which began in September with the Rev. Ken MacGowan, one of our “founding fathers” as the first vicar. Outreach has always been a significant part of the vision of the Church of the Apostles with a large part of our income going to missions both at home and abroad. Following a sermon from Revelation 22, David Harper emphasized, as Renny Scott had done earlier, the verse that says “On each side of the river stood the tree of life … and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” This became a significant part of our concept of being a “Three Streams-One River church. As a result mission trips were soon made to East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Rumania. Through remarkable coincidences God indicated those to be visited in each country and as a result a week long European Festival took place at the Church of the Apostles in October 1990 with two leaders attending from each of the four countries. The conference was highly successful in opening doors and creating opportunities for us to carry out our new vision: “The Church of the Apostles: A church with a Kingdom focus, called by God to be an instrument for the healing of the nations.” And as part of that vision we seek to be ready to fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission, for as He said: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
As we looked to live into Jesus’ Great Commission ( Matthew 28:18-20) built on His Great Commandment (Luke 10:27), it became increasingly apparent to us, that denomination we had been a part of all our years was drifting further and further from the traditional Biblical truths as the Church had known them since Jesus established His Church some 2000 years ago. While at first, we tried, with other orthodox churches within our denomination to speak the truth with love to heal the growing divide, it became clear to us that in terms of belief and practice, doctrine and discipling, the divide was growing ever wider and that we could no longer live into our mission while being a part of The Episcopal Church, USA. So in 2006 we voted to remain in the orthodox wing of the World-Wide Anglican Communion that still held fast to the traditional teachings of Holy Scripture and lived into being a Great Commission Church. Doing that meant withdrawing from The Episcopal Church, which we did cooperatively with a number of other Anglican churches in the region, aligning ourselves with the Church of Nigeria and becoming one of the original churches of the then newly formed Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) a missionary diocese of the Church of Nigeria, which led to the formation of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), in the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic (DOMA), under The Right Reverend John Guernsey, Bishop.
As a consequence of leaving the Episcopal Church, we were forced to surrender all our assets and property to them in 2012, and we started fresh as a church without walls or buildings or material assets, but strong and committed to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are thankful to The Reverend David Harper for leading us through this difficult season before his retirement in late 2012.
In November of 2012 we welcomed our new spiritual leader, The Reverend Joseph Acanfora to lead us in the next chapter of our life as a missionary outpost in God’s Holy Church. He is leading us forward in mission and vision as we look to God’s better future and purpose for us. We remain committed to our Lord and Savior Jesus, and living into being the 1 River/3Streams church He ordained for us while stretching ourselves outwardly into the new context he has place us in. We are grateful to our dear friends at Whole Word Fellowship and Truro Anglican Church, for providing safe places for us to worship, meet and be the church God has called us to be for this time of transition as we strive to: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”- Ephesians 5:1-2
To God be the Glory, in the name of Jesus, and in the power of his Holy Spirit. Amen.