Church reshaping ancient faith

Published 12:41 am Friday, November 4, 2011

Brett Hedgepeth, minister at Christ Church in Washington, mixes tradition and modernism into his services. (Contributed Photo)

Why does Washington need another church?

According to Brett Hedgepeth, the minister at Christ Church in Washington, one of his biggest challenges is answering this question. Luckily for him, he’s got an answer.

Hedgepeth, 40, said that as part of the Anglican Mission in the Americas, Christ Church brings a mixture of tradition and modernism referred to as “ancient and future.” He feels the tradition has something to offer today’s culture, lending a rhythm to life in times during which things are hectic for most people.

One example of how AMIA achieves this blend is by taking traditional hymns from the Book of Common Prayer and doing them in new ways.

“It’s taking ancient faith and recasting it for modern times,” Hedgepeth said.

Another thing that Hedgepeth feels helps set Christ Church apart is what the AMIA calls the “three streams.” The “three streams” are pillars of the AMIA movement, representing the authority of the scriptures, the gift of tradition and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

With a congregation of roughly 30 people, the church’s plan of necessity is bringing in new members. Hedgepeth said there are about 130 million “unchurched” or “dechurched” people in America, and Christ Church makes a special point to go after that demographic. The church is particularly interested in people who have become disillusioned with churches, denominations or even Christianity in general. He claims many people who don’t go to church don’t know what they’re rejecting.

To Hedgepeth, educating such people is important.

Christ Church has been given an opportunity to expand into an open space next door, and Hedgepeth is hoping this added space will lead to growth in the size of the congregation.

Referring to the size of the congregation, he said, sometimes, “It’s a challenge. Unfortunately, if people go out of town, it makes a big difference. … That’s why we focus on being a group.”

Hedgepeth and his congregation work together on issues and try to grow closer. People are encouraged to offer their prayers during the service in addition to having the clergy pray on their behalf. It’s a more-involved kind of service, he said.

AMIA is a mission movement out of Rwanda, and as a result, the church has strong ties to the African country. There are more Anglicans in Africa than in Britain and America combined, Hedgepeth said.

“The challenge every Christian has to deal with is ‘Are my priorities right? How do I grow as a Christian with the demands of modern life?’” he said.

Under his leadership, Hedgepeth said, his congregation tries to seek answers to questions like those by cultivating a “deeper Biblical understanding, deeper purpose and deeper commitment to loving the world.”

Christ Church, formerly called Inner Banks Anglican Church, is located in the Ashlan Shoppes in Suite 400, 2289 W. Fifth St., Washington.