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The Falls Church Anglican: The Long March to Healing Ministry Excellence

But as the agreement was being completed, a new presiding bishop was elected, Katharine Jefferts Schori. Among her first actions was to mandate that all negotiations between separating congregations and their dioceses be terminated. She insisted that every exiting congregation vacate its property and lose its assets. Her policy led to long and costly litigation throughout the United States which drained much of the cash reserves of the Episcopal Church. This litigation of course violated the clear Biblical injunction that Christians should avoid legal fights among themselves (1 Cor 6:5-7). This was to be expected of a leader who believed so little in the mandates of the Bible. Eventually the national Episcopal Church won, and orthodox congregations all over the United States were evicted from their properties.

When all the litigation was over in 2012 for The Falls Church, Yates and three thousand or so orthodox members left its buildings and its other assets, including almost $2,000,000 in cash. They arranged to worship and continue their multiple ministries at other venues. But there was real joy felt by the majority of those leaving, as they knew they were obedient to God’s word and direction.[8] About sixty members remained as a rump congregation to keep the lights on and the original The Falls Church going. The Falls Church Episcopal grew very little in the following years.[9]

The separating church, The Falls Church Anglican, found temporary episcopal oversight from the Anglican Church in Nigeria. Before long, however, it joined with other key withdrawing congregations in the U.S. and Canada to form the new Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Pastor Yates had good relations with many of the other churches in the local area, and many allowed The Falls Church Anglican to worship or conduct ministry activities at their facilities. Most often used was the gym of Bishop O’Connor Catholic High School for its Sunday services. Staff worked out of their homes until affordable offices could be leased. In this situation spiritual community grew out of discomfort and trial, as relations between the host churches and the people and ministers of The Falls Church Anglican became even stronger.

Chuck and Nancy Cook, Wednesday Evening Healing Prayer.

Soon a building fund was begun, and by 2015 a large office building with sufficient property to build a sanctuary next to it was purchased. To this day the church itself occupies the entire third floor and most of the lower level; the remainder of the office space is leased. Finally, in 2019 a new and beautiful sanctuary was completed.[10] To the Rev. Yates must go much of the credit for leading his congregation through this difficult period. Just before the new sanctuary was completed, Yates began his long-postponed retirement following forty years of service, and handed over the reins to the Rev. Sam Ferguson.

Sam Ferguson came to The Falls Church under the Timothy program as a new seminary graduate in 2011. He went to Gordon–Conwell Theological Seminary and then Cambridge University. Previous to attending seminary, he had begun in ministry working with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in inner-city Philadelphia. During his time at The Falls Church, Ferguson was ordained to the diaconate and then to the priesthood. At the completion of the three-year Timothy program, he felt called to pursue a doctorate but remained connected with The Falls Church Anglican on an official basis, returning periodically to teach and preach. Throughout that time, he impressed the congregation with his abilities and learning. In 2018, he earned a Ph.D. in New Testament at Southeastern Seminary in North Carolina, with a dissertation in the area of biblical anthropology. In fact, the Rev. Ferguson has proven to be a brilliant preacher and scholar, and he fully supports the church’s healing and deliverance ministry.

Let me go back to retrace Yates’ achievements in the area of healing ministry. As we mentioned above, an attempt to start a viable healing ministry petered out in the early 1990s. In 1999, Yates went on retreat and there the Lord spoke to him with the prophetic message that The Falls Church had a healing ministry. When he returned he preached on healing and expressed his frustration that a healing ministry had never gotten off the ground at The Falls Church. He ended by saying that he believed the Lord had a healing ministry for the church but that it would come out of the laity. The response was positive, and several persons, including Chuck and Nancy Cook, stepped forward to bring this ministry to reality.

 

A Lay Couple and a Priest

Chuck and Nancy Cook had experienced the Baptism of the Holy Spirit back in the 1960s. They had attended many retreats and Order of St. Luke meetings and were regulars at the Shrine Mount CFOs[11] and had been on its governing council ring. Before they came to The Falls Church they were attending a Presbyterian church, but were frustrated there by its lack of the Holy Spirit’s activity and healing power. A friend invited them to attend The Falls Church, and they accepted as a trial. They both appreciated its faith-filled atmosphere, its fine preaching and liturgy and they stayed. Yates’ call for the laity to lead the creation of a healing ministry was, literally, an answer to their prayers.

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Category: Ministry, Spring 2020

About the Author: William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include Quenching the Spirit: Discover the Real Spirit Behind the Charismatic Controversy (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015), and The Public Prayer Station: Taking Healing Prayer to the Streets and Evangelizing the Nones (Emeth Press, 2018). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He continues in his healing, teaching and writing ministry and is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations. Facebook

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