ACNA and AMiA joint church plant underway in Arkansas

On November 20, the Rev. Seth Richardson, a priest in The Anglican Mission, will begin his role of senior pastor at a growing C4SO church plant. Accepting a call from Christ the King Anglican Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, means that Richardson, a gifted leader raised up by The Mission, will undertake the work God began in a C4SO congregation—thus birthing a missional collaboration between The Anglican Mission and the ACNA.

“I am grateful for the way I have been shaped as a ‘missionary priest’ in The Mission,” Richardson says. “So I’m excited personally about the opportunity to be shaped under a sister organization with a different charism. I’m also excited about how Christ the King Fayetteville can be a tributary through which resources, ideas, and practices flow in order to benefit each organization.”

The agreement stems from the reality that the ACNA and The Anglican Mission share the same vision and mission, but have different organizational structures.

“Christ the King will be nurtured under the structure of the Diocese of C4SO and at the same time break fresh ground under the flexibility and global connections of The Anglican Mission,” Richardson says.

Concretely, that means Christ the King will operate fully under the vision and structure of C4SO. Richardson, as rector, will serve under the leadership of Bishop Todd Hunter but continue to have regular contact with leaders in the The Anglican Mission and with Apostolic Vicar Philip Jones. The Anglican Mission will support and encourage Richardson and Christ the King whenever it seems helpful and appropriate.

“I also plan … to curate conversations where leaders from both organizations can share ideas and discern together best practices for mission,” Richardson says.

When Christ the King issued a call to Richardson, who previously served as Discipleship Pastor at St. Andrew’s in Little Rock, they weren’t sure how the partnership would work. But they were confident Richardson was the right person for the job. To their delight, Archbishop Foley Beach, Apostolic Vicar Philip Jones and Bishop Todd Hunter quickly negotiated the terms of the agreement.

“It was a great joy for me to work out a partnership with The Mission,” Bishop Hunter says. “These were easy and collegial conversations focused on what was best for the kingdom of God and each stakeholder: the church, Seth, C4SO and The Mission. I think it was a win for everyone, and I look forward to seeing how Seth and the church announce, embody and demonstrate Jesus’ Gospel of the Kingdom.”

Mike Blanchat, Rector General of The Anglican Mission, echoes that affirmation.

“This collaboration recognizes—and emphasizes—that The Mission and C4SO exist to raise, release, and support leaders and communities of faith to reach the lost for Jesus Christ in North America,” he says. “We take great joy in serving in this mission field together.”

At Christ the King, a thriving congregation of young families awaits the pastoral care and vision of Richardson, his wife Caralisa and their daughter, Ruth. The church started by accident in 2013 when a lay couple, Nicholas and Angela Sammer, were looking for an Anglican church in the Fayetteville area with no success. When a friend suggested they host a meal and evening prayer in their home once a week, they agreed—with no idea of taking it any further.

“There was never a five-point plan on how to plant a church,” Nicholas Sammer, an advertising executive, explains. “But over the next two years, we kept growing, and we’ve known for a while now that we needed to get a priest or shepherd.”

Christ the King meets on Sunday mornings in a nearby Methodist retreat center, but with Richardson’s hire, Sammer says they’re ready to look for their own space.

“Our desire is to come alongside a small church that is declining and partner with them,” he says. “We could come in and do services there, support them financially, and make a transition where we could buy the building. We are exploring several of those options.”

The theme of partnership continues to be central in the story of Richardson, Christ the King, The Anglican Mission, and the ACNA—a narrative that’s exciting, empowering and reflective of the gospel.

“In this partnership—this act of mutual surrender under the peace of Christ—we become what we proclaim,” Richardson says. “That’s why this partnership is needed. This hard work of partnership, and the self-giving it involves, hits at the heart of who we say we are.”

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