By the Reverend Chad E. Jarnagin, founding Rector of Luminous Parish in Franklin, TN, an AMiA Church.
Today more than ever, we are in need of The Table. Not just any table. A great big table with plenty of room for everyone. Our society seems to be disoriented, fatigued and misunderstood. What better space than a feast to regain our composure, health and bearings? Enter Luminous Parish, an Anglican mission to Nashville/Franklin and Middle Tennessee.
Greater Nashville now has 2 million people and a growth rate of 100 people per day. Over the next six years another million people are expected to move to the area. Cities as far as 45 miles south are growing. These are exciting times to be around Nashville. The music scene is better than ever, and country music is one of the last things you think about once here. (Thanks be to God.) These are also exciting times for parish life.
Isn’t it interesting and beautiful to think about how Christ himself gave us his body and blood to reorient his Church? Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding feast where he turned water into wine. Hallelujah! On the night he was betrayed, he broke bread and drank wine with his brothers/disciples. After his resurrection, he wasn’t even recognized by some of the same brothers until he was known in the breaking of the bread. In times when our identity can be hijacked by our broken world, Jesus is still known to us in the breaking of the bread.
From observing the unsustainable pace that our culture is operating at, it shouldn’t take us long to realize that we are fraying at the edges. We are divided and at odds over the smallest issues. It has been said that “when you have more than enough, build a bigger table, not a higher fence.” What if the Anglican Way flourished into our true Via Media? At Luminous, we believe that is precisely what we should be doing.
Through Anglican history and even back to Celtic spirituality, we see that belonging can lead to believing. So many in our society don’t feel they have a place to belong. A friend of ours mentioned that she was too conservative for liberals and too liberal for conservatives. Take that in addition to far too many having a turbulent past with the Church, and it is no wonder that the number of professing Christians in the U.S. is shrinking. If we continue to major in minors, we will continue being distracted by games instead of being about the work of the people and the way of Jesus. As Anglicans, we practice the liturgy so that we become the liturgy.
The case for three-stream church planting has resonated with many of us for years. Over time, we had to patiently process the ideas to learn what it would begin to mean for us. Scripture, Sacrament and Spirit is more Anglican than many would have ever imagined. There are layers to the tethering that bring us together. When one-third of your parish comes from a liturgical background, another third from charismatic movements and the last third from Methodist or Baptist traditions, you have a healthy collection of families finding a home within three-stream Anglicanism. That is what we have found to be the reality of Luminous Parish.
From the first time I met anyone affiliated with AMiA, I quickly learned that they were people hoping to pay attention to what God was doing here in the U.S. and around the world. Though we all tend to gravitate toward others who are like us, the way in which AMiA fills the need for diverse perspectives is one of the things that makes it distinctive.
In Middle Tennessee, we Anglicans aren’t simply “playing nice;” we are actually serving with one another. We find rectors, assistant priests and deacons serving in one another’s churches. We watch as our children join one another for Creation Care Camp during the summer. And these are just examples—the list goes on. We hope to build on this posture of cooperation.
From an Anglican mission in Middle Tennessee, we have begun to communicate with one another and continually hope to open more opportunities for formative connection and support. There are leadings for future church plants, apostolic efforts and community integration. We’re collectively encouraged about the presence and stirrings of AMiA in Middle Tennessee. It has given Luminous a place of belonging. The work of the people seems to be building momentum in deep, rooted and meaningful ways.
The Reverend Chad E. Jarnagin is the founding Rector of Luminous Parish. He is an ordained Anglican priest. With a passion to introduce, curate and develop catechesis, ancient spirituality and contemplation, Fr. Chad respects intentional pace for spiritual formation. Fr. Chad has a master’s certificate from Berklee College of Music and is pursuing more higher education with Veritas College, seeking to earn a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies. He has been a recognized musician, songwriter, liturgist and communicator while being on mission for over 20 years. Chad+ is also the founder of Luminous Project and Luminous CITY.
He and his wife Jennifer, a Montessori educator, have three sons and live in historic Franklin, Tennessee. He continues his family’s heritage by coaching baseball in the local youth league with his oldest son.