THINKING ANGLICANS

under cover of darkness

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times this week about a church planting in West London: Beating the bounds into the bishop. He writes:

…the Vicar of All Saints’, Fulham, the Revd Joe Hawes, was hopping mad at the leaflet popped through his parishioners’ doors last week. Bearing the C of E logo, it proclaimed “a new church for Fulham”. The back of the glossy flyer had a map showing half of his parish.

It was the first he had heard of this new church. He phoned the Area Dean, who also hadn’t heard that any service was starting. He phoned the Central Fulham Churches forum. It was completely in the dark, too. We are always being told that church-planting requires extensive consultation. This one was parachuted in under the cover of darkness.

As usual, the story is complicated. It seems that Fr Hawes’s neighbouring parish — St Etheldreda’s, a small Anglo-Catholic outfit — has made room for a church plant from the Co-Mission Initiative. This is a nominally Anglican organisation that has proved itself indifferent to parish and diocesan boundaries.

It is the same team that secretly flew over a bishop from the Church of England in South Africa to perform its own ordinations, because it refused to submit its candidates to the diocesan selection procedures (News, 11 November 2005). The imported bishop wasn’t even in communion with the C of E. It’s the same lot that goes in for lay presidency. And will they pay a parish share? It looks unlikely.

“I believe this initiative seriously undermines the Church of England’s ministry in this area,” said Fr Hawes. He is right to be concerned. Despite the fact that he runs a growing church, with more than 600 on the electoral roll, the Co-Mission Initiative wouldn’t regard him as a proper Christian. He is a liberal Catholic, and therefore fair game for poaching…

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Davis d'Ambly
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Davis d'Ambly

Well, well it’s come to the CofE now – shades of Truro & Falls Church.

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Hmm. Maybe realignment = poaching. Simple. No need to treat sinners or heretics fairly then in a larger public square or marketplace where we are all entitled and welcome. Simple.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Read Ndungane’s speech – it refers to CESA’s formation in South Africa. We are not dealing with new patterns, just more overt forms of existing patterns.

Pluralist
Guest

I would not be too worried. After all, people church shop now, and an extra supplier does not mean extra demand. And it could be that if such new plants attract, that they, with their definition, leave others with a greater definition (and definition can include definition of breadth).

In other words, more and more Chinese restaurants do not threaten an Indian restaurant, so long as the Indian grub is good.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Well said, Pluralist. I love a good vindaloo or paneer.

Tim
Guest

“In other words, more and more Chinese restaurants do not threaten an Indian restaurant, so long as the Indian grub is good.”

But people only have a finite number of meals in a week.

We recently instituted a new rector at my church up here in Scotland. A lot of the Licence read out sounded like “no-one else is allowed to practise on your turf”. Don’t they say the same kind of thing down south too?

Pluralist
Guest

_But people only have a finite number of meals in a week._

That’s my point: too many chinese restaurants and they, some or all, go bust. The one Indian can do nicely. (This analogy does not stretch too far.)

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

I offer the following cut-out-and-keep instant justifications for unauthorised church planting: 1) “We are justified in planting a new Church here. The parish into which we are going is growing by accommodating the Gospel to the values of the World, and we need to offer an uncompromising message. ‘Narrow is the way that leads to life and few are they who find it'” 2) “We are justified in planting a new Church here. The parish into which we are going is in numerical decline through its faithlessness, whereas we preach the true Gospel, proved by our rapid growth in numbers.”… Read more »

Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Pluralist: in case you hadn’t noticed, they’re opening another Indian in Fleetgate (for readers of the ‘Dandy’ the street where the ‘Desperate Dan’ artist lives. The smith’s forge in DD’s cartoon is based on that run by a guy across the green.). What ecclesiological implications are there in this?:-)

Dennis
Guest

the important part here, it seems to me, is the bit about “bearing a C of E logo” people can start churches wherever and whenever they want. I’m sure that Fulham has seen Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christian Scientists and Mormon missionaries hard at work beating their own drums before without any problem. But false advertising is the real problem here. The so-called “traditionalists” and “orthodox” are active in American, and now it seems in England, to steal away portions of the church through deceit. Claiming to be the “real” Anglicans. I am sure that they feel justified in their lies… Read more »

Jon
Guest

The one Indian restaurant only does fine if there is a significant population that specifically demands Indian Food. If it is more accurate to describe the population served by restaurants in that area as only demanding A Meal Out, then any increase in restaurants in the area will wind up hurting the Indian restaurant becuase, as Tim said, people only have a finite number of meals in a week. That’s one of the challenges of running a parish in the US, the sorts of people who are most likely to show up in an episcopal church are more likely to… Read more »

Stephen H Smith
Guest
Stephen H Smith

I attend one of the Co Mission churches that led the plant (The Bible Talks at Christ Church Mayfair).

The church plant is with the full backing of the Bishop of London, Bishop of Kensington, the parish vicar and the PCC. Consultation has been taking place for the last 18 months.

So thankfully it is neither unauthorised nor covert, nor indulging in false advertising. Does that allay fears?

Pluralist
Guest

We are dealing in minorities, here. Most people eat at home and rarely venture out. When they do so, they look for something compatible with taste. It may be that Chinese food is more popular than Indian, but on the supply side there is (in my analogy) planting of more Chinese restaurants. Back in the real world I keep discovering just how complex people are. This person I chatted to Sunday morning has had involvement in Alpha, does not like happy-clappy services, goes to the Forest Sangha when down south, and names his house using the Pali for Loving Kindness.… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Stephen

“So thankfully it is neither unauthorised nor covert, nor indulging in false advertising. Does that allay fears?”

It doesn’t answer the question why the local vicar and the area dean didn’t know about it. I would expect extensive consultation to include these people.

NP
Guest
NP

for all the whingeing…..does the fact that the plant is in total compliance with the rules make any difference?

(of course, it won’t – because some love a good moan and to create straw men to knock down)

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Who is right here? – Stephen Smith, Giles Fraser, or a bit of both?

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

It’s perfectly simple. This is an initiative that the Bishops of London & Kensington have backed and brokered with the full co-operation of the parish. Fraser is just doing his usual moaning on behalf of the disaffected liberals.

It’s offical, it has episcopal backing, the leadership is duly licensed. Get over it.

Phil Craig
Guest
Phil Craig

Erika: the local (i.e. parish) vicar did know about it. The vicar in Fraser’s story is in a neighbouring parish.

And I’m not sure what an area dean is, but if the two local bishops are involved, it sounds like the planters have been above board.

Rev'd Joe Hawes
Guest
Rev'd Joe Hawes

Just to clarify. There may have been backing from the Bishops in London but no one consulted Central Fulham clergy in advance, and that’s not just a whinge: what we’re about in Fulham is trying to work collaboratively, break down barriers, build up the church locally. A co-Mission initiative coming into Fulham with an agenda that has very conservative boundaries about who’s in and who’s out in the Kingdom continues to concern us deeply. What is disappointing is how the infrastructure of the local church, carefully built up over the past few years is being disregarded. The initiative has been… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Phil,
If I understood the article correctly, The “vicar in Fraser’s story” discovered that half of his own parish boundaries were included in the church plant’s territory.

And if “no-one has consulted Central Fulham clergy in advance” (the vicar in Fraser’s story, I believe), then there has been no full consultation. Not to mention an astonishing lack of courtesy, to say the least.

Because, Pete, just because some are liberal doesn’t mean they can rightfully be brushed out of the picture. Or do you think they can?

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

Nobody’s brushing anyone out of the way. Notice how carefully Giles Fraser’s stuff is worded. The map showed the neighbouring parish. He doesn’t say that the map claimed that All Saints was part of the deal. It’s quite hard to draw a map of an existing parish and not show the next door parish as well – parish boundaries aren’t square. But I don’t think that the biggest church in the deanery, with an electoral roll of 600 plus and a superb parish school has anything to fear from a conevo outfit planted next door. I’m more interested in bringing… Read more »

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Pete:
just to clarify, which parish has offered ‘full co-operation’? Fraser seems to make it clear that the originating parish was in favour. Did Hawes’ parish have any say in being included in the plant area? To me, THAT seems the core issue. Could you expand, please?

cryptogram
Guest
cryptogram

Hmm. Has a raw episcopal nerve been touched?

The problem is that some consevoes will do what they want to anyway. The track record of the Co-Mission lot (irregular ordinations, rumours of lay presidency) suggests that this is part of their mindset.

Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Pete: with respect, that is a little evasive. For starters, if I were intending a maildrop in the next parish, I’d feel honour bound to inform the incumbent, and, for that matter, the local council of churches. And it’s not quite answering the concerns by saying ‘everyone knew there were plans afoot’ – there was a similar case in Lincoln where a Reform church suddenly started a programme of aggressive evangelism in the partnership of parishes in which it was involved. Everyone knew that there were plans to tackle mission in parish x. No-one knew it involved an unagreed cross-border… Read more »

Anglicanus
Guest
Anglicanus

Will the Bishops of London and Kensington be offering a public apology to the Parish of All Saints, Fulham? Will the Co-Mission initiative also offer an apology and ensure that they are careful in future to recognise the boundaries within which prior consultation gives them permission to act? Will they leaflet the area to clarify the situation?

I have a fear that the answer to all my questions will be ‘No’.

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

I may be wrong, but my understanding is that this is a plant internal to one parish. All Saints is the next door parish, and is not included. Hence no need to consult them.

There’s a diversity of approaches needed to revitalise churches. One matter of regret to me is that we have very few catholic parishes who are willing to be planters, which tends to mean that planting is a very one-sided business. It doesn’t have to be.

flabellum
Guest
flabellum

Whatever happened to “New ways of being Church”? General Synod has already decided that the parochial system no longer meets the needs of the age, so Fr Hawes is just going to have to put up with it. I’m sure his large parish and congregation keep him busy, why does he have to worry about other labourers in the vineyard?

Andy Woodward
Guest
Andy Woodward

I am dismayed by the hostility conveyed here towards the ‘Co-Mission lot’. I have been brought back to the gospel by the Balham Co-Mission plant and thank God for that. During the year since, great preaching and small groups have hugely increased my love and understanding of God’s word – in fact my first ever study Bible arrived in the mail today and I can’t wait to go get stuck into it. I have heard nothing sinister or conspiratorial in my time at Balham, but only a sincere desire to save more people in South West London – surely a… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Andy
I’m amazed how often people’s loyalties become so entrenched that they no longer seem to be able to see what “their own side” might be doing wrong.

Of course there can be many wonderful things about Co-Mission. But why should that stop anyone asking whether they have behaved appropriately in this particular case?

Neil
Guest
Neil

The problem about the ‘backing’ of Bishops Chartres and Colclough re Co-Mission is that all other parish priests are in fact sharing the cure of souls with them. Who exactly is Richard Coekin sharing the cure of souls with – whose man is he? Bt his actions he seems to be accountable only to himself (presumably saying that anything Co-Mission does is justified by the Gospel imperative). And if he truly is the Bishop of London’s man, then the other dimension missing is working in partnership with his fellow priests in the deanery.

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

This isn’t being led by Coekin.

NP
Guest
NP

Erika – what do you want Co-Mission to do???

They have got the permission of 2 bishops and the parish in question…..so it seems they have done all that could reasonably be expected of them and Fraser is trying to make something out of nothing

What more does Co-Mission have to do? Be reasonable, please! Coekin will not do a tango with VGR….

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

There are several reasons why this is a non-issue: (1) Most non-contrary Christians would (one imagines) warm to a vision such as that of the Redeemed Church of God, ie to have a group of Christians on (the equivalent of) every street corner. In other words, the more congregations the better. (2) The Church originally met in homes, and of course still does. (3) It is contrary to direct one’s fire at precisely the initiative which is reaching people and growing. (4) There are going to be some areas where the existing leadership[s] or assembly/-ies are ineffective. I have no… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

Pete, I think you will find that Co Mission is indeed led by Richard Coekin, even though the priest nominally leading this plant is somebody else. They have regular elders/leaders meetings and ultimately he both directs and is in charge of the various outfits. The point still stands – with which Bishop is Rupert Standring sharing the cure of souls?

Andy Woodward
Guest
Andy Woodward

Erika – I have no problem with this issue being discussed but more with cryptogram (above) slating the ‘Co-Mission lot’ per se. They are not an enemy of anyone seeking souls for Christ. Regarding this particular issue, I’m not in possession of all the facts. I do, however, believe our pastor when he states that all due consultation took place and the full backing of the relevant bishop was received. And if anyone in Fulham is saved as a result of this plant then hooray for that all round! Anyone who currently enjoys worshipping in a large congregation and splendid… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Andy
I accept your point.
The crux is that no-one appears to be in possession of all the facts, and yet we seem to be judging this issue along well known lines of theological affiliation.

You believe your pastor, others believe there would have been no surprise if true consultation had happened. Before I judge, I would just like to know a few more facts and hear a little less of predictable defences on both sides.

My questions in that respect had not been rethorical.

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

The cure of souls is that of the Bishop of Kensington. That’s why we license people. That’s why the leadership of the plant is official and Anglican. A priest from Co-Mission is trusted with the leadership of this initiative within the parish. No doubt the Bishop of Kensington will in due course evaluate whether the initiative has been successful. This is London, not Southwark.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Ah, yes. There is always the track record to consider…

NP
Guest
NP

Tragic how disappointed some are not find any error or rules broken by Co-Mission!

Phil Craig
Guest
Phil Craig

Letter in the Church Times today from the vicar of the parish in which this new church is meeting. Worth reading. Very much in favour of the new church meeting.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

NP wrote: “Tragic how disappointed some are not find any error or rules broken by Co-Mission!”

Ah, but we didn’t get to know that one, did we?

All we got was “pedantic smokescreens” ;=)

Evasion…

Joe Hawes
Guest
Joe Hawes

I take Pete Broadbent’s point about parishes other than evangelical not being good at ‘planting’: it just depends of what model of planting one uses. All Saints is preparing to start working with another local parish, offering support, learning from, building up networks, doing mission, but very much under the direction of the parish priest and in accordance with how she wants to build up the life of her church and parish, so yes, Liberal/Catholic, whatever, we need to do more of this, which is exactly why I was surprised and disappointed to find that ‘St Ethels at 4’ was… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“All of that having said, now that ‘St Ethels at 4’ are in, it is up to me and other local clergy to try to work with them, build up links, see what common ground we can find etc. I live in hope.”

What an inspiring and most gracious comment! I only hope they will return the sentiment!

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Looks more like “preemtive war” to me…

NP
Guest
NP

Goran – I always have my doubts about your grasp on reality but you are surpassing your normal standards here…….you do realise that this plant has the permission of the parish and 2 bishops concerned???

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Quite so NP. Admittedly what has been said here is a little thin around the edges, but that’s the impression I get, both from the original Church Times article “The back of the glossy flyer had a map showing half of his parish. It was the first he had heard of this new church.“ and in the comments to this tread “It’s perfectly simple. This is an initiative that the Bishops of London & Kensington have backed and brokered with the full co-operation of the parish. Fraser is just doing his usual moaning on behalf of the disaffected liberals. It’s… Read more »

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

Goran – you seem to have an amazing gift to misunderstand what is being said. See Joe Hawes’ very gracious and helpful post a few places up this thread. This initiative does not involve All Saints parish (i.e. Fr Hawes’ parish). He would have liked to have been consulted, but it doesn’t directly affect him. The initiative (not really a plant, I’m told) is in St Eth’s, and has the backing of the Vicar, the PCC, and the Bishop. Now which bit of that don’t you get? It has nothing to do with Surbiton or anything like it.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

So, Mr Broadbent,

This “initiative” is “not really a plant”, you have been told, and “this is London not Southwark” – nor is it “Surbiton or anything like it”…

It seems to me that something is missing here. Please fill me in!

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

1. It’s not really a plant because it’s an additional service within an existing parish structure, and the vicar would not consider it technically to be a plant.

2. It’s London not Southwark because these are two different dioceses within the Church of England, with very different cultures.

3. It’s not Surbiton because it involves no incursion into the Diocese by other churches with whom we are not in communion, but is entirely legally authorised by Bishop, Vicar and PCC. It therefore bears no resemblance to the Surbiton ordination, which was uncanonical.

NP
Guest
NP

Goran – the only thing missing is your basic comprehension.

Sorry to disappoint you but the facts of the matter are that no CofE rules have been broken and also all CofE rules have been kept……I am sure you would prefer to be some strife and wrongdoing in the situation but, sorry, there is none.