A Call to Arms to Restore TEC: The Mission of the Episcopal Fellowship for Renewal

The decline of mainline Protestantism has been covered ad nauseum from Christian news sources and literature to American “mainstream” media.[1] In 1975, mainline Protestants comprised 31% of Americans, whereas only 21% of Americans identified as evangelical Protestants. Since then, mainline Protestantism entered a steep decline, landing at a meager 11% of Americans in 2018.[2] Two reasons explain why this phenomenon is occurring, (1) mainline Protestants, and particularly white mainline Protestants, are aging and dying out, or (2) mainline Protestants are defecting. In 2016, Pew Research released an article stating that the median age in The Episcopal Church was 56, with 66% of its members being over the age of 50.[3] Baptisms are expected to plummet to 2,500 by 2050, down from around 56,000 in 1980.[4] Annual attendance, which was around 856,000 in 2000, is predicted to freefall to 150,000 by 2050.[5] And these latter two predictions were calculated pre-COVID.

While there’s a million statistics out there evidencing the decline of mainline Protestantism and opining on the reasons, there’s no secret that mainline Protestantism is on a death march to dissolution if it stays on its current course. This is especially true of America’s mainline Anglican denomination and its largest, The Episcopal Church. Many readers of this publication will wonder why waste time in sounding the trumpeter’s call to arms to save The Episcopal Church, and I’m sure many will write at stupendous length in the comment section below calling such call to arms foolish and, well, too late. What is there to save in The Episcopal Church? Is it even worth saving? Why do you not let it just die out? It deserves assured destruction for its sins, its heresies, its apostasy just like Nineveh deserved God’s wrath.[6] I know many here were burned by the decisions made by The Episcopal Church in retribution for having fought for the faith once delivered, whether it be departing parishes who lost their church buildings for voting to join the ACNA, or aspiring priests who were denied ordination and placement because their orthodox faith clashed with those of worldly-minded bishops. I get it. In fact, after God brought me to a conservative Episcopal parish, I considered several times whether I should just pack up my suitcase and lodge with an ACNA or Continuing Anglican parish. It was not until I discovered the Reconquista Movement, and made rewarding connections with other young, conservative Episcopalians hungering for the redemption of The Episcopal Church, that I felt the call to reach this modern-day Nineveh.

Despite the vast multitude of apostate progressives in The Episcopal Church, there is silent band of conservative exiles pining for the days of redemption of America’s original Anglican province. Fellowships such as Communion Partners and the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion USA (EFAC-USA) exist within The Episcopal Church, praying for and working towards renewal. No matter if theologically you are evangelical or Anglo-Catholic, no matter if liturgically you are low church or high church, no matter whether you are ACNA, in the Continuum, or the REC, all Anglicans in the United States find their ecclesiastical and theological ancestry in the Protestant Episcopal Church founded at America’s birth, with roots going back almost 200 years before that. It was the Protestant Episcopal Church that gave you Continuing Anglicans and Reformed Episcopalians the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. It was the Protestant Episcopal Church that inspired the 2019 Book of Common Prayer for you members of the Anglican Church in North America. It was the Protestant Episcopal Church that gave you seminarians and alumni, Nashotah House. It was the Protestant Episcopal Church that planted Anglican churches all across this land and sent American Anglican missionaries abroad to save countless souls.[7] It was in the Protestant Episcopal Church that many beautiful, sacred ACNA and Continuing Anglican church buildings were constructed and it was Protestant Episcopal Church priests and bishops that served God’s faithful in these buildings. Is this institutional legacy not worth saving? Are the existing cathedrals and churches remaining in The Episcopal Church not worth retaking?

OPERATION RECONQUISTA

After posting several videos on his YouTube channel and drafting a list of grievances in the style of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses for his own Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA), Redeemed Zoomer (his social media alias) launched Operation Reconquista as a call to all conservative mainline Protestants, particularly Generation Z and Millennials, to join a grassroots movement with the mission of restoring biblical orthodoxy to mainline Protestant denominations. While starting out on a Discord server designed to disseminate information and create a private forum for hundreds of mainline Protestants to gather in community, denominational chapters quickly formed in an effort to tailor strategies to the circumstances and institutional structures of their mainline denominations. In adopting Redeemed Zoomer’s mode for initiating the salvo against the PCUSA, the Episcopalians in the group drafted its own version of the 95 Theses to begin the struggle for renewal and created the chapter and brand, the Episcopal Fellowship for Renewal.[8]

While still nascent, the Episcopal Fellowship for Renewal is growing and expanding membership into more and more dioceses across The Episcopal Church. Currently, the group is exclusively composed of members of the Millennial Generation and Generation Z, ranging from ages 15 to 29. I have interacted with members both within the Episcopal Fellowship for Renewal and members without in the other denominational chapters, and I am truly marveled by the amount of young Christians hungering for revival and renewal of America’s oldest Protestant denominations.[9] Our chaplain advisor, the Rev. Jake Dell from the Episcopal Diocese of New York, published an article in The Living Church introducing Episcopal and Anglican readers to this grassroots movement and inviting supporters to link arms with us.[10] We need allies both within The Episcopal Church and outside in the Anglican Church in North America, the Reformed Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Continuum to join or support our cause. The Episcopal Church restored to biblical orthodox teachings, as passed down from Christ through the Apostles to the saints, is critical for the health of American Anglicanism and benefits all Anglicans in the United States no matter what ecclesiastical body one is a member of. The loss of America’s largest Anglican body, the loss of historic churches as beacons within cities and the country alike, and the loss of the institutional legacy in American society only diminishes the presence of the Christian witness expressed through the Anglican tradition in the United States. We are all brothers and sisters in Anglicanism, and more importantly, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

A CALL TO OUR ANGLICAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS

As mentioned earlier, I know many readers may scoff at this mission to reclaim The Episcopal Church as a fool’s errand. I know that some readers who fought in the trenches in the decades from the 1960s to the 2000s will remark, we tried this, and it failed, why on Earth do you think it will change now? I know some readers were burned unjustly by the actions of more than a few Episcopal bishops and priests during the breaking away and formation of the ACNA and Continuing Anglican churches. I know some, perhaps most, readers are comfortable in their new conservative ACNA, REC, or Continuing Anglican homes. The goal of this article is to spread awareness of our fight to our fellow orthodox Anglican brothers and sisters and ask that they support us in any way God leads them to in this battle. As the Apostle Paul taught to the Church of Ephesus, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.”[11] It is indeed not heterodox clergy that we are fighting in The Episcopal Church, but the evil spiritual powers influencing them and crumbling The Episcopal Church, that we are called to fight. I urge ACNA, REC, and Continuing Anglican parishes to seek out and partner with conservative Episcopalians and conservative Episcopal parishes to bolster the ranks through partnerships and fellowship. I call on ACNA, REC, and Continuing Anglican parishes to organize Daily Office prayer meetings with conservative Episcopal parishes, to engage in joint evangelistic outreach and missions, to form pan-Anglican Bible studies, and to host nights of corporate worship. Conservative Anglican A. Hugh Blankingship, Jr. in his historical sketch of the ACNA wrote in his conclusion that “there is still hope for the Episcopal Church.”[12] Indeed the dream for all American Anglicans should be one, united Anglican church in the United States where The Episcopal Church is restored to biblical orthodoxy, and Anglicans in the ACNA, REC, the Continuum, and the revived Protestant Episcopal Church are praying together, singing together, listening to the sermon together, and consuming the Eucharist together in the same parish.

NOTES

  1. While there is no official definition of “mainline Protestant”, the consensus holds that the following churches in the United States are considered mainline: (1) American Baptist Churches USA; (2) Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); (3) The Episcopal Church; and (4) Evangelical Lutheran Church of America; (5) Presbyterian Church (USA); (6) United Church of Christ; and (7) United Methodist Church.
  2. Ryan P. Burge, “Mainline Protestants Are Still Declining, But That’s Not Good News for Evangelicals,” Christianity Today, July 13, 2021, https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/july/mainline-protestant-evangelical-decline-survey-us-nones.html.
  3. Michael Lipka, “Which U.S. religious groups are oldest and youngest?” Pew Research Center, July 11, 2016, https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2016/07/11/which-u-s-religious-groups-are-oldest-and-youngest/.
  4. David Goodhew, “The Episcopal Church in 2050,” Covenant, The Living Church, January 11, 2021, https://covenant.livingchurch.org/2021/01/11/the-episcopal-church-in-2050/#:~:text=Predictions%20are%20circulating%20that%20the%20Episcopal%20Church%20will,deep%20decline%20might%20be%20slowed%20and%20even%20reversed.
  5. Goodhew, “The Episcopal Church in 2050.”
  6. Jonah 3:9-10
  7. This exists today in the Anglican Frontier Missions. Founded by Rev. Tad deBordenave of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, AFM holds that, “Christian mission is rooted in unchanging biblical revelation.” For more information, please visit their website at anglicanfrontiers.com.
  8. Currently we are building the external face of our Episcopal-focused group, but for now we can be found on Instagram.
  9. It should be noted that Operation Reconquista is not limited to the United States, but to the entire Western world. There is an Anglican chapter devoted to members of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Church of England, the Anglican Church of Australia, and other Western-world Anglican provinces. There is also chapters devoted to European Reformed and Lutheran denominations.
  10. Jake Dell, “Return of the Exiles: A How-To Guide for Restoring Faithfulness to Mainline Churches,” Covenant, The Living Church, July 27, 2023, https://covenant.livingchurch.org/2023/07/27/return-of-the-exiles-a-how-to-guide-for-restoring-faithfulness-to-mainline-churches/.
  11. Ephesians 6:12 CSB
  12. A. Hugo Blankingship, Jr., Reflections on the Anglican Church in North America, 78.

Wes Morgan

Wesley Morgan is an attorney from Virginia and Anglican layman. He attends a conservative-leaning parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and works towards Anglican unity in the United States. He is a member of the Episcopal Fellowship for Renewal, a grassroots movement predominately composed of older teens and young adults with the main goal of restoring The Episcopal Church.


'A Call to Arms to Restore TEC: The Mission of the Episcopal Fellowship for Renewal' have 20 comments

  1. October 9, 2023 @ 11:20 am Paul Erlandson

    I do very much scoff at this mission. It is, indeed, a fool’s errand.

    Reply

    • October 16, 2023 @ 4:32 pm Wes Morgan

      Hello Paul, thank you for taking the time to read my article. I find it unfortunate that you feel that way, but I hope you can join us one day.

      Reply

  2. October 9, 2023 @ 1:55 pm Columba Silouan

    Please refer to and read an article by Raymond Ibrahim of PJ Media entitled The Abstraction of Christianity in PJ Media. We now have bases to operate out of: All ACNA, REC, Continum, Western Rite Orthodox and Ordinariate Christians commited to the BCP and the Hymnal and Christian Sacred Art and Architecture should indeed launch this Reconquista of TEC. The buildings were indeed more important than many Christians realize. They are Holy Sites and need to be taken back in our own Long March through the TEC Institution. Even if it takes 100 years, it will be worth it. Don’t Cede the Ground! And this means The National Cathedral as well. These are the Holy Sites of Christians. Non-believers and Apostates have no long-term right to them! If we don’t make the attempt, all these places will eventually be sold off as Mosques, Nightclubs and Apartment Buildings. God Forbid!!

    Reply

    • October 16, 2023 @ 4:35 pm Wes Morgan

      Hello Columba, thank you for taking the time to read my article. I’m glad to hear you agree with us that we need to reclaim our Episcopal churches and institutions. It’s disgraceful how TEC has defiled them with unbiblical theology or has sold church buildings. I’ll have to check out that article you referenced.

      Reply

  3. October 9, 2023 @ 9:24 pm ZD

    Where does this movement stand on women’s ordination?

    Reply

    • October 10, 2023 @ 6:52 pm Avery. L

      Why do you care so much about that, we should care a lot more if this group affirms the deity of Christ then women’s ordination.

      Reply

    • October 16, 2023 @ 4:38 pm Wes Morgan

      Hello ZD, thank you for taking the time to read my article. There is some disagreement among us about how we want to approach this issue. We have members that are against female ordination and some that find it acceptable.

      Reply

      • November 1, 2023 @ 10:39 am Daniel S

        I’ve read your 95 Theses and appreciate your zeal. As to the specific question about women’s ordination: a preaching of pure biblical theology seems fundamental to your efforts, so I am curious how your group deals with a text like Romans 16:3-7, where two women are clearly prominent leaders in the Christian community to whom St. Paul is writing. Prisca is listed first and thereby given prominence before her husband Aquila (16:3), and more important, Junia is clearly listed as “prominent among the apostles” (16:7). From a biblical theological perspective, as I understand Episcopal Fellowship for Renewal to use the term, I understand where, say, opposition to LGBTQ+ issues comes from. It is less clear to me how a biblically focused group reconciles a figure like Junia, who is undeniably a prominent apostle according to St. Paul, with something like 1 Timothy 2:12. Is it a matter of emphasis? Or is there some shoehorning of other ideas into Romans 16? It seems a straightforward endorsement by St. Paul of her authority.

        Reply

  4. October 10, 2023 @ 9:17 am John Walnut

    Mr. Morgan,

    I would not go quite so far as to call an attempt to reconquista the Episcopal Church a fool’s errand. It is encouraging to hear that there may be enough young, conservative members of TEC to sustain a Fellowship dedicated to renewal. However, the dismissiveness with which you preempt the concerns of those who were “burned…in retribution for having fought for the faith” by saying simply “I get it,” leads me, with respect, to believe that you do not. The veterans of the Episcopal wars are not simply bitter about the wounds they received at the hands of that church, and only require fresh energy from young people who were not there in order to continue the fight. They are those who tried, and tried, and tried again; who learned the hard way the strategies that the progressives use; and who came to the conclusion after exhausting their options that the solution was to form the ACNA.

    This is not to say that retaking the Episcopal Church is decidedly impossible, or that it is not to be desired or pursued. I myself, whenever I see the National Cathedral from my office, pray that I would see the pure Gospel return there in my own lifetime. However, the experiences of those who were present and fighting twenty years ago and more mean that any proposed attempt to revive TEC from within needs a clear and informed plan. And unfortunately, this call to arms does not appear to present one. You propose, in the end, few concrete actions, and suggest generally greater fellowship between ACNA members and TEC parishes, to include worship meetings, bible studies, and joint evangelistic endeavors. These things are indeed worthy pursuits; but how, concretely, are they going to renew the Episcopal Church? Is the ACNA to offer spiritual encouragement to those conservatives within TEC whose bishops are hostile? Is the ACNA to offer legal counsel (whether civil or canon) when TEC bishops decide the garden needs a more thorough weeding and turn their sights upon them? How will the ACNA, in partnering with parishes in TEC, publicly ally with the orthodox while clearly delineating themselves from the heresy of the national church, so as not to confuse new members or unbelievers (a needle which, in my first-hand experience, has been tried and found extremely difficult to thread)? This is not intended to be a barrage of rhetorical questions; you may have answers, and I would greatly desire to hear them. But they are questions which *must* be answered if an effort such as this is to have a hope of succeeding.

    I have been blunt, but I hope I have not come across as disparaging. All things are possible with God, and hope is a gospel virtue. It is good that there is a group of people desirous to see the dry bones of the Episcopal Church restored to life, and I would be overjoyed to see it come to pass. But that cannot be done by ignoring the experience of the elders in this fight who have indeed struggled long against the principalities that have taken over TEC. Your zeal is to be commended; let not that zeal be naive.

    Yours in Christ,

    John Walnut

    Reply

    • October 16, 2023 @ 4:46 pm Wes Morgan

      Hello Mr. Walnut, thank you for taking the time to read my article. I apologize if I came off too flippantly towards the pain and suffering borne by conservative Episcopalians who fought the good fight and later joined the ACNA. While I was in a different Christian tradition at the time, I have talked to numerous conservative Episcopalians and ACNA Anglicans and have heard their testimonies about those painful conflicts. As someone in the Diocese of Virginia, I know about the terrible lawsuits against departing ACNA-bound parishes. I appreciate the points you made and I think they’re significant for us to consider. This article was not meant to spell out our strategy, which is not something we’re going to put out on the Internet before we implement our plans, this was only meant to introduce our Fellowship to ACNA, REC, and Continuing Anglicans, and ask they consider partnering and fellowshipping with us. Currently, our goal now is to introduce ourselves to American Anglicans and forge partnerships both within TEC and without.

      Reply

  5. October 10, 2023 @ 12:41 pm Christopher Cox

    Dear Wes,

    I certainly hope you have some success, but may I ask what the actual strategy is for getting traditionalist priests ordained and installed in the first place? You talk big about hope, but I don’t see anything actionable here at all, and the trad laity are so turned off the the term “Episcopal” that there won’t be a mission field anyway.
    Have you seen or done anything to prove me wrong?

    Regards,
    Chris Cox

    Reply

    • October 16, 2023 @ 4:51 pm Wes Morgan

      Hello Chris, and thank you for taking the time to read my article. As I mentioned in my reply to Mr. Walnut, this article was meant to make our presence known to non-TEC conservative Anglicans and work towards such partnerships. We are currently building an online presence (see my comment below for a link to our website) and forging partnerships within TEC with conservative organizations and clergy. I don’t mean to be coy or cryptic, but we don’t intend to share our strategy on the Internet pre-emptively. We would love to have you partner with us if you’re in the ACNA, REC, or Continuum, or join us if you’re a conservative member of TEC.

      Reply

  6. October 11, 2023 @ 11:10 am RonH

    I’m an older GenX-er and the father of some young Zoomers. I love the energy and enthusiasm of this project… It feels to me often like faithfulness and orthodoxy have been in retreat from “secular” culture (and the churches that have thrown over their own tradition in favor of “secular” culture) for my entire life. Seeing young people stand up and say “No! What you’ve done to this heritage is wrong and we’re going to take it back!” is a real encouragement.

    That said, there is something important for these young warriors to keep in mind. As they start having children themselves, those children will be growing up in the churches they are trying to reconquer. Those churches may not always be good places for the formation of the next generation. Kids need a solid and grounded home, to be sure; but the school and church communities a kid grows up in can influence him as much (and sometimes even more) as home. What doth it profit a Zoomer if he gain a whole church but lose his own offspring? I’ve known a number of sincere warriors who, while trying to fight a good fight, put their children in spiritual danger for which the warrior parents didn’t account until it was much too late. I’m not saying it’s inevitable, and I’m certainly not trying to dissuade any would-be Reconquistadores. But producing faithful Gen-Alphas (or whatever) to occupy the reconquered mainlines will be essential for the project to endure. That’s a long term objective that bears thinking about even now.

    Reply

    • October 16, 2023 @ 4:56 pm Wes Morgan

      Hello Ronh, and thank you for taking the time to read my article. Thank you for the applause you gave us. I think raise some excellent points, points we need to continually keep in mind. The last thing we want to do is for Gen Z or Gen Alpha (etc.) to join progressive TEC parishes and be fed with false teachings. We encourage current and prospective members to only join conservative or moderate/conservative parishes and become involved. We certainly still welcome partnership and help from those where there are no orthodox TEC parishes within a reasonable distance.

      Reply

  7. October 11, 2023 @ 5:25 pm Ben

    As a progressive Episcopalian millenial, I know plenty of people who will stand against this nonsense you are proposing and I will be happy to join them so long as I live. Mind your own views in your own churches just as we do. This is a free and pluralistic country so be happy with your own spaces if you can’t tolerate what the majority of the TEC wanted. Stop this non Christian talk of “conquering.”you don’t see TEC churches talking about cOnQuErIng aCNA. Enough.

    Reply

    • October 12, 2023 @ 9:07 pm Avery. L

      As a conservative Episcopalian Gen Zer, I know plenty of people who would stand against heresy and nonsense of you and your associates and I will be happy to join them so long as I live. No we will not mind our own business, Truth is Truth deal with it.

      Reply

      • October 12, 2023 @ 9:08 pm Avery. L

        Also I’ve still been waiting for my paycheck from Putin, he must be taking his good sweet time.

        Reply

    • October 16, 2023 @ 7:17 pm Wes Morgan

      Hello Ben, thank you for reading my article. It’s a shame you feel the need to make veiled threats. Let me ask you this, a part from the bad theology of it, how is the secular and progressive experiment exactly working in TEC? If TEC were a for-profit corporation, the shareholders would fire the board of directors and CEO for such a massive decline of church members, regular attendees, baptisms, and weddings. TEC would be growing if its social justice experiment were truly God’s plan, would it not?

      Reply

    • January 5, 2024 @ 2:15 pm anglican skywalker

      One of the prerequisites for membership in EFR is to be a member of The Episcopal Church USA. TEC IS the church of these theological conservatives. Your response makes no sense, Ben. How can we mind our views in our churches when we are Episcopalians?

      If you are indicative of the average intellectual level of our ideological enemies in the Church, I am now even more confident that we will be victorious.

      Reply

  8. October 16, 2023 @ 5:00 pm Wes Morgan

    Hello everyone,

    Our website is now officially active, you can access it here: https://www.episcopalrenewal.org/

    Wes

    Reply


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