Peter Johnston is the Founding Pastor of Trinity Anglican Church in Lafayette, Louisiana. A graduate of Yale College and Yale Divinity School, his pastoral training includes ministry in churches, in schools, to the homeless, in hospitals, and in the military. He is married to Carla, who grew up in Acadiana. They live in Broussard with their daughter Elsie and their son Horatio. We recently asked Fr. Peter, newly ordained as a priest in the Diocese, to tell us about his church planting experience and what he sees for Trinity Anglican-Lafayette for 2017.
DWGC: Why did you feel called to plant a church, and specifically, an Anglican church?
Fr. Peter: Each Sunday, more than 200 million Americans are not in church, including more than 100 million self-identified Christians. I've long felt a call to church planting in order to help such people renew a relationship with the Lord. Anglicanism is well situated to revitalize churchgoing because it has solid biblical theology, substantial public worship, missionary energy, and international fellowship. At Trinity, our mission is to live the gospel through worship, friendship, and scholarship.
DWGC: What has the church planting process looked like for you thus far?
Fr. Peter: Trinity Lafayette had four major milestones in the second half of 2016. First, we incorporated in the state of Louisiana, selecting the name "Trinity" so as to emphasize the relationship each Christian can have as children of the Father, friends of the Son Jesus, and temples of the Holy Spirit. Second, we formed a mission partnership with a local Presbyterian church, who have given us space for an office and allow us to use the sanctuary on Sunday mornings at 9AM. Third, Bishop Clark ordained me a Priest and we began Sunday services. Fourth, twenty-eight people signed the "Trinity Covenant," agreeing to join our community through 2017.
DWGC: What have you enjoyed about the church planting process?
Fr. Peter: It is a privilege to spend time studying the scriptures and learning God's truth. I also enjoy meeting people and learning from them. The deepest joy of church planting, however, comes from recognizing a loss of control. Because the pastor of a church plant has little control over the success of his efforts, he is put into a place of dependence and reliance upon God. As I began to live into this deeper level of faith, I discovered anew the adventure of following God, where each day is exciting, surprising, and full of wonder and awe.
DWGC: What are the challenges in church planting where we can support you through prayer?
Fr. Peter: Church plants are naturally concerned about growth, especially in Sunday attendance. This can turn into an anxiety which colors the worship of the church. Please pray that as we work for growth we will remember that the Lord builds his house, and take heart that Christ is in the midst of us even when our numbers are few.
DWGC: What does 2017 look like for Trinity Anglican-Lafayette?
Fr. Peter: In 2017, we will pursue our mission of living the gospel through worship, friendship, and scholarship. In the first few months we are developing our lay leadership and connecting with a local non-profit that supports individuals who seek to rise out of poverty. During Lent we will be sharing in a pattern of daily home devotions, and holding Friday afternoon fish-frys at the church. Throughout the year we will be researching Classical Christians Schools with the thought of starting our own in the coming years. In all we will rely upon our Lord Jesus, receiving him in word and sacrament by the power of the Spirit, sharing in his risen life and the love of God our Father.