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Justin L. Gates

The Rev. J.L. Gates was born in Oxford, MS. He began preaching at the age of 14 in the Methodist and Baptist churches. While in college (and pastoring a Methodist Church), Justin discovered the Anglican tradition and heritage of the Methodist Church. Struggling with the division within the Methodist faith and the acceptance of ALL people regardless of sexuality, Rev. Gates cut ties with the Methodist and became ordained a Deacon in the inclusive and affirming Anglican Church. Rev. Gates currently holds a Bachelor of Ministry degree and is pursing a Master of Sacred Theology. Rev. Gates has a ministry in funeral service, skilled nursing facility residents as well as a wedding ministry. In mid 2022, Rev. J.L. Gates was asked to become the new leader of St. Francis Old Catholic Church. Acceptance was made under the condition the church return to its former name of St. Francis Anglican Church and fully embrace the traditional Anglican-Catholic faith. In April of 2024, Rev. Gates will be ordained a Priest and officially become the second vicar of St. Francis Anglican Church. Rev. Gates holds to two “life verses”; Micah 6:8 and Colossians 2:2. In the past, Rev. Gates has served as a volunteer Firefighter, first responder and Fire Chaplain. In his spare time, he enjoys playing the piano, organ and picking around on the guitar. Currently, Justin lives in Tennessee with his partner, Caleb, their fur babies that include a dog Daisy (Daisy Lynn when in trouble), and cat Bougie with outside cats Daisy, Matilda, Socks and Fiskars.

St. Francis Anglican Church began in 2009 under the director of Fr. Tommy Sheppard in Memphis, Tennessee. The church had many ministry opportunities to the inner city and tried to make its presence known. The name of the church was changed to St. Francis Old Catholic Church and then St. Francis Community Church, in hopes to reach more people. While in Memphis, the parish never had a facility to call its own. A few area churches were very gracious to lend us their facilities to hold mass in. Covid hit the mid[1]south in 2020, and as a result, St. Francis was forced to closed to public worship for a while. Once the church closed, it was difficult to regain members to attend, as well as find a place to hold services in. As such, the church went completely online, and ultimately closed. Not wanting the mission to lose its non-profit status and discontinue to offer a place of hope to those that seem hopeless, Fr. Sheppard reached out to Rev. Gates. After much prayer and consideration, Rev. Gates agreed to take over the mission and with God’s help, breath life once again into what seemed dead. As a result, many have reached out to assist in this work! The church was moved to Trenton, TN and the name was changed back to St. Francis Anglican Church. St. Francis is the FIRST and ONLY Anglican church in this area! At St. Francis Parish, we believe that faith is more than just a set of beliefs; it’s a way of life. We are hoping to have our first public mass in June. Our vision is to create a spiritual community that is welcoming, inclusive, and empowering while laying aside denominational barriers. We strive to be a place where individuals can connect with others, explore their faith, and find guidance and support along the way. Our core values are rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ, and we seek to live out these values in everything we do. We believe that love, kindness, and acceptance are essential to a meaningful spiritual experience, and we work to create a space where marginalized and oppressed groups feel valued and respected. In early 2024, the vestry and clergy of St. Francis petitioned to join the Free Anglican Mission Society. Our newly called Rector will be ordained as a Priest in April with the Free Anglican Mission Society. We invite you to visit our website to learn more about the church.

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