As the music worship leader of Andy Stanley’s evangelical mega-church outside of Atlanta, Georgia, Eddie Kirkland had an influential and powerful platform from which to grow and share his ministry. And he left it all to plant a church. An Anglican church.
The son of a Florida pastor, Eddie grew up with worship music in his DNA. As a young man, it was a privilege for him to lead worship and be on staff at Andy Stanley’s North Point Community Church for more than five years. During that time, Eddie took strides toward his dream of creating a presence in the Christian music marketplace. Yet, as that dream was coming to fruition, he was surprised to realize that it was not what he wanted. He enjoyed the music, but what he truly loved was working with people and helping them find freedom in Christ.
Overwhelmed one day by a sense of God’s calling, Eddie went home to tell his wife and two young kids that it was time to leave his comfortable position and venture out into the unknown. His wife, Danielle, responded with support and wisdom, “I’m behind you 100%,” she said, “But you need to talk to Jesus, because I need you to have a plan.” And so his journey to becoming an Anglican church planter began.
During his college years, Eddie had taken a semester to study in England. While there, he worshipped at several Anglican churches, including Christ Church Cathedral. The liturgy stirred something deep in his heart. Even as he returned to his evangelical roots and began his work at North Point, Eddie continued to feel the pull toward Anglicanism. He purchased a Book of Common Prayer and began practicing the Daily Office.
The day after he told his wife about his call to leave North Point, Eddie had a meeting with prolific Christian songwriter, Graham Kendrick. As it turned out, Graham had just come from a meeting with Anglican worship leaders in Pittsburgh and they bonded over their shared interest in Anglican worship. Immediately following their meeting, Eddie received a response email from a member of the church planting team at Churches for the Sake of Others (C4SO). As it turned out, that person had grown up in Atlanta and wanted to meet. Shortly thereafter, a close friend stopped by Eddie’s office in order to set up an introduction with friends he’d wanted Eddie to meet for some time. Incidentally, those friends had planted an Anglican Church in Atlanta.
All along the road, God continued to confirm his calling while drawing Eddie to the Anglican Church. And what attracted Eddie so strongly to Anglicanism, was the freedom and simplicity found in the sacraments. As an Anglican priest, he was still a worship leader, but now in a very different framework. The fact that the “success” of the worship service did not sit on his shoulders was incredibly liberating. The Gospel would be preached through the Word, the liturgy, the sacraments, and God’s grace poured out. There was no dependence on Eddie’s musical performance or otherwise.
Eddie planted a church just outside of Atlanta in Alpharetta, Georgia with the Diocese of C4SO in partnership with the Diocese of the South. It is known simply as, The Parish, and primarily attended by young families from the local suburbs. Most of his members do not come from an Anglican background and many have been “de-churched” in the midst of the fast-paced lifestyle of the local community. But there is something about the simple and deliberate nature of the Anglican liturgy that appeals to them. Just as it did to Eddie.