By Alfred T.K. Zadig, Jr.
On a late October evening, Bishop Mark Lawrence called me to see if St. Michael’s would be willing to help re-plant a church in North Charleston. He explained that in 2013, St. Thomas Church North Charleston split when the Diocese of South Carolina left the Episcopal Church. Those supporting the orthodox movement under Bishop Lawrence left St. Thomas and started a new church simply called Resurrection. Thanks to the generosity of Water Mission in North Charleston, Resurrection uses their facilities for worship rent free!
In 2013, Bishop Lawrence assigned Resurrection a priest from the diocese who has since accepted a call in Minnesota. So, Resurrection was faced with no priest and feeling a bit isolated. Bishop Lawrence called to ask if as a church we could walk with Resurrection sharing our ministries with them and kind of adopting them. He also asked if the Rev. Mark Avera could lead them as their Pastor, while staying connected to St. Michael’s. The bishop recommended Mark serve Resurrection 30-35 hours a week and remain connected with St. Michael’s between 12 and 15 hours a week.
Thus began a conversation with the vestries of St. Michael’s, Resurrection as well as the Rev. Mark Avera. Initially, Mark went out and sat in the back of the congregation to experience the people, then he preached there on Christmas Eve. Experiencing affirmation along the way, our vestry discussed this opportunity to share mutual ministry and the idea was received with excitement. This led to Saturday, January 7, where Bishop Lawrence brought together the wardens of St. Michael’s and Resurrection, as well as Mark and me in our first ever joint conversation at Water Mission. The excitement in the air was palpable and we came out of that meeting with an agreement going forward. That following Tuesday, January 10, we held a joint vestry meeting in Buyck Chapel here at St. Michael’s, followed by dinner. We shared our hopes and dreams together. Some of those include having a:
- Joint day of Healing prayer with Resurrection
- Doing Alpha at Water Mission, but first inviting the congregation of Resurrection to the winter session at St. Michael’s
- Inviting St. Michaelites to worship with Resurrection at Water Mission
- In addition to Mark, inviting the rest of the clergy of St. Michael’s to preach at Resurrection.
So, as this plan goes forward we are thrilled about this new historic and important partnership. This is most impactful because North Charleston is now the third largest city in South Carolina and there is no Anglican Church there! What a mission field for a re-plant! To be clear, the Rev. Mark Avera will remain on the staff of St. Michael’s and keep his office here as he splits his time between the cities of Charleston and North Charleston. His role at St. Michael’s will change to suit the hours given to serve here. Starting Wednesday, March 1, Mark will officially begin at Resurrection. Each week, he will serve there in the morning but will remain rooted here by leading our 6 p.m. service in the evening. Mark will also serve on the team of our mission ministry. Stay tuned for more details.