Easter will mark the emergence of Holy Cross Anglican Church in Crozet under the leadership of mission pastor Rev. Blake Johnson.
The 50-member congregation, which has been meeting in private homes, expects to meet in a barn under construction on Fidelis Farm off Jarmans Gap Road for its regular Sunday services.
During the week the barn will house three start-up businesses under farm owner Randy Caldejon’s leadership. On Sundays at 10 a.m. it will transform into a chapel.
“We hope to be here Easter Sunday even if it’s not finished,” said Johnson, who will also have an office in the barn.
“As pastor I’m interested in being in shared space. We’re very excited to have the barn to use. We’ve been in living rooms.”
Holy Cross belongs to the Anglican Church of North America, which formed in 2009 in the aftermath of the Episcopal church’s controversies. ACNA is a province. Holy Cross’s diocese is Christ Our Hope, which covers parts of Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland with about 30 churches in all.
Johnson was raised a Baptist but was attracted to Anglicanism by its tradition and liturgy, he said. He went to grad school for Classics but got redirected to Anglicanism and the ministry.
His first post after seminary at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Wisconsin was as curate at a D.C. plant church, Church of the Advent. “It was full of young people, 95 under age 30. They were seeking something transcendent. The liturgy gives a sense of order to it.
“We’re planting here with a really positive vision. We seek the flourishing of Crozet—and doing that through establishing a community rooted in the Gospel, the historic Christian faith. The ancient Gospel has amazing relevance for today and how we raise families. We’re not in reaction to something, but hopeful. Crozet is our center of gravity. This is where we’re doing it.
“We worship in the Prayer Book way. But our first focus is on the ways that Christianity has worshipped at all times. About half of our members don’t have a background in Anglicanism. We welcome seekers who want a space to explore their faith. While we are liturgical, we want to be warmly liturgical and show hospitality.
“Hospitality, eating together, will be the life blood of Holy Cross,” Johnson said. “Our goal is to build a strong ministry through relationships. If we get the opportunity to get our own space in the future, that’s something we would certainly consider.
“Crozet has experienced a lot of growth. It has a strong sense of place. Having new churches is a net good. People connect in churches. New churches—studies bear this out—are best at reaching a newer resident.
“We’re not here to say ‘we’re it’. We want to do our part in Crozet in the ways we can. Easter will be us going public, so to speak.”
The church’s 50 core members range from children to empty nesters, Johnson said. “We’re a mission church until we meet certain benchmarks. Then you become a parish.” Church of the Incarnation in Harrisonburg, which formed in 2010, is Holy Cross’s mother church. “They’re going really strong,” said Johnson.