Perfect God. Imperfect Community.
Village Church is a community of faith from all sorts of backgrounds united under God’s love, within his unfolding story, and for his loving purposes in the world. Our community is connected to an ancient faith through long-held expressions that ignite the mind and the senses to worship. God has intentionally designed faith to be experienced in the imperfection of community, which challenges and changes us.
A Brief History
We began in 2014 as a group of 18 people meeting in the home of the vicar / church planter, The Rev. Seth and Ashley Cain in the Woodside Textile Mill Historic District on Greenville's west side. The "Village" in our name speaks to our ministry context, where old mill villages make up the majority of our surrounding neighborhoods, many of them suffering economic hardship since the decline of the textile industry in the Upstate. Over the years, we've built strong relationships with ministries and leaders serving the west side, as well as friendships with our mill community neighbors. Many of our original "seed group" and newer members live on the west side. As the worshipping community took shape, we launched a vital neighborhood ministry that serves transportation and mentoring needs - Village Wrench.
We began public worship in November of 2014 in the cafeteria of Legacy Charter Elementary on West Washington St. and, after two years, our congregation of roughly 60 moved to Bethel United Methodist Church in the Sans Souci, a mill village that served two nearby mills, American Spinning and Poe Mill. As of late-2017, we are a growing fellowship of about 200 regulars worshipping God and loving our neighbors on the west side.
Why We Are Here
Only roughly 45% of Greenville residents have a church family, so there is great opportunity for the Gospel and for a worshipping community like ours to foster deep faith and hospitality. Anglican worship is an expression that taps into two millennia of belief and tradition practiced worldwide by virtually every race and language. So, it's diverse. Historic Anglicanism is a Protestant, orthodox faith, holding fast to the teachings of Jesus, the authority of Christ in the canonical Scriptures, and the well-worn traditions of the millions of faithful believers who have ensured that a vital, Biblical faith be available to every generation after them. So, it's rooted. And there is great opportunity on the west side to love our neighbors in tangible and transforming ways - to meet the needs of the poor, the broken-hearted and the marginalized who suffer not only from the systemic power of sin but also from unjust structures in society. These realities matter to us greatly and they are vital to being faithful not only to our tradition, but to the Gospel.
If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions,
and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the last half of the 20th century, Anglicanism in America began losing its connection to Christian history and core Biblical beliefs, moving unilaterally against the unifying principles of the worldwide Anglican Communion and her history. This led to several initiatives (missions) on the part of African bishops in Rwanda and elsewhere to present an alternative to the trajectory of the Episcopal Church, which remains on a path to abandon orthodoxy and deconstruct the identity of the Church in the West, syncretizing with cultural voices while muting our heritage and trivializing the history of Biblical interpretation. There are some dioceses in the Episcopal Church who remain committed to orthodoxy, but not in our region.
Our Mission: The Five Marks
God does not give a mission to his Church. He gives the Church to his mission. The Five Marks of Mission are an important statement on mission which expresses the Anglican Communion’s common commitment to, and understanding of, God’s holistic/integral mission.
- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom;
- To teach, baptize and nurture new believers;
- To respond to human need by loving service;
- To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation;
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
The following has to do with the way we understand the God revealed in Holy Scripture and communicate his Gospel. We are...
LOVED & LOVING
God loves us as a Father. This is what Jesus means to humanity. The Son of God’s humble life, sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection demonstrate the staggering extent of God the Father’s love for us in spite of our flaws. Every single person needs help, hope, grace & forgiveness. Every single person needs good news. This is the story of love the Bible is telling. This is the story we are telling.
God invites us to come to him - to love him in return and to make him the center of our affections. This is what worship is. It is humble boldness to express our love for God with our voices and our bodies. It is freedom from our egos. Worship - for who God is and for what he is doing in the world - happens in everyday life and as we gather.
Jesus came to serve. He came to people in need. He met physical and spiritual needs, which are interwoven. And he calls us to do the same. He calls us to care about suffering, poverty and injustice. He calls us to love, which is not sentiment, but action. He invites us to join him in what he’s doing in the world, and he promises to be with us in strength and wisdom when we do so.
We are telling our imperfect stories without fear of judgment and with the expectation of grace. None of us have arrived. None of us are the standard. But we all have a story to tell even as it’s unfolding - even as we are experiencing joy, pain, success, failure, beauty, ugliness, hope and despair, Jesus is present with us through it all by his Spirit. He is suffering and rejoicing with us. He is comforting, equipping and enlightening us as our story keeps unfolding.