Thinking Anglicans

Southwark takes action

Update Wednesday
Ruth Gledhill has more about this on her blog at Southwark acts against unorthodox ordinations.

Unauthorised Service at Christ Church Surbiton

Press Release from Southwark Diocese

The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Rev Dr Tom Butler, has written to the clergy in his Diocese explaining why he has revoked the licence of the Revd Richard Coekin. This follows the unauthorised ordination of three members of Mr Coekin’s staff team which took place at Christ Church Surbiton on November 2nd. Writing “We do not do schism in the Diocese of Southwark” the Bishop points to Church tradition and law that bishops from outside the Diocese have no authority to perform ordinations within it without the express permission of the Diocesan Bishop.

The case was made more complicated by the bishop concerned being a bishop from the Church of England in South Africa, a church not in communion with the Church of England nor a member of the Anglican Communion

Mr Coekin had earlier threatened to take action of this sort unless the Bishop of Southwark dissociated himself from the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships.

As well as revoking Mr Coekin’s licence the Bishop of Southwark made it clear that the three people involved in the unauthorised ordination, Andy Fenton, Richard Perkins, and Loots Lambrechts have no legal authority to claim to exercise ordained ministry in the Church of England in the Diocese of Southwark.

Ends

The full text of the bishop’s letter appears below the fold.

Letter to Clergy in the Diocese of Southwark

8th November 2005

Dear Colleagues,

You will, by now I am sure, have heard about the unauthorised ordination at Christ Church Surbiton on November 2nd. In the light of this, I have written to the Revd Richard Coekin revoking his licence. I am writing to you now with some necessary detail.

As many of you also know Richard has been the Assistant Minister of the Proprietary Chapel of Emmanuel, working out of Dundonald Wimbledon, and has spear-headed the planting of several congregations in the Diocese of Southwark. Parish clergy, Archdeacons and Bishops alike have been involved in an ongoing exchange with Richard concerning the necessity for such church plants to occur only with the agreement of the vicar of the parish in which the plant is set. This has not always been the case, and evangelical parish clergy in the diocese have been particularly concerned when such plants have seemed to oppose their own witness and mission. For this reason, we were not prepared to support the selection and training of further ordination candidates from or for Dundonald unless future church plants followed our Diocesan Guidelines.

The recent Pastoral Statement from the House of Bishops concerning Civil Partnerships occasioned a further exchange of letters. Richard informed me on October 25th that unless I dissociated myself from this statement he would regard himself as being “in temporary impaired communion” and would no longer be able to accept my oversight; he further indicated that he intended to proceed with the ordination of “eligible staff” by a visiting Anglican bishop. No details of the time or place were given, but the service took place at Christ Church Surbiton on November 2nd without my having been further informed. The Bishop, a Bishop Martin Morrison, was from the Church of England in South Africa, a church not in communion with the Church of England nor a member of the Anglican Communion. (The Church of England is in communion with the Church of the Province of South Africa).

I had alerted Richard to the “Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967” which states that bishops from overseas may only perform Episcopal duties in a Church of England Diocese by commission in writing of the Diocesan Bishop and with the consent and licence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. None of the clergy concerned were given this authority. There may, therefore, be further consequences to the action of November 2nd.

In the meantime Richard’s licence has been revoked (although I am told that he has twenty-eight days to appeal to the Archbishop), and you should be aware that none of the ‘eligible staff’ involved in the service – Andy Fenton, Richard Perkins, and Loots Lambrechts – has any legal authority to claim to exercise ordained ministry in the Church of England in the Diocese of Southwark.

I am sorry to burden you with all of this, but the matter is basically quite straightforward; by long standing Church tradition and law, bishops from outside the diocese have no authority to perform ordinations within it without the express permission of the Diocesan Bishop. We do not do Schism in the Diocese of Southwark.

With best wishes,

Grace and Peace,
+Thomas Southwark

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Merseymike
15 years ago

A clear, concise and entirely appropriate response.

Tim
Tim
15 years ago

By the sounds of it, I can’t disagree with this +Tom Butler chap. I thought the “ordination” was highly suspect, being born our of rebellion without due process or respect anyway. Glad to see appropriate action taken to sort things out.

Wade Bond
Wade Bond
15 years ago

I love that last comment. I hope it will gain popularity here in the ECUSA.

“We do not do Schism in the Diocese of Southwark.”

I think it is a phrase that several ECUSA bishops would be wise to use in the near future.

J. C. Fisher
15 years ago

“We do not do Schism in the Diocese of Southwark.”

. . . and, I fear, a phrase the General Convention of ECUSA may have to use *with* certain dioceses/diocesans (*cough* Pittsburgh *cough*).

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05309/601172.stm

Loving God, bring us reconciliation!

Alan Harrison
Alan Harrison
15 years ago

The immediate circumstances seem clear enough, and +Southwark’s response can’t be faulted. This dodgy experiment in church planting seems to have got completely out of hand. BUT… perhaps someone should gently explain to the right reverend prelate that we “did schism” long before Southwark diocese was dreamt of. (Perhaps Fr Harris of Carshalton could come and haunt him, reading from Yelton’s marvellous new book on Anglican Papalism!) I’m also a bit concerned by the statement on another thread (by a person entirely sympathetic to +Southwark if I remember correctly) that the diocese doesn’t accept ordinands from Oak Hill. The religion… Read more »

John Henry
John Henry
15 years ago

At last a sane bishop who has the courage to stand up to the insane neo-Puritans who are hell-bent on destroying the Anglican Communion. Let them leave, as did the Puritans in the 1660s. No loss, really.

steven
steven
15 years ago

Aaaaah. Nothing like pouring oil on water and then igniting the oil. Here we have demonstrated once again the same relentless failure of vision that seemingly bedevils every part of the Anglican Communion: Blow, counter-blow, counter-counter blow, and so on ad infinitum–or at least until the combatants have decimated each other. I think there is a definite visceral satisfaction in the “WHACK” that has just been given to Coekin et al. that will resonate with almost all of the liberals posting here (JCF may be an exception). All human beings relish a feeling of schadenfreude–but, to what end? Will it… Read more »

Barry Lee
Barry Lee
15 years ago

I suspect that the bishop decided to overlook “long standing Church tradition and law” when he refused to disassociate himself from the pastoral statement from the House of Bishops concerning Civil Partnerships.

Jimmy
Jimmy
15 years ago

Finally, a bishop with real courage.

David Chillman
David Chillman
15 years ago

Given that the list of those “supporting” the ordinations contains so many people from Oak Hill College, I would suggest that there may be a case for removing the college from the “official” list of recognised Anglican training establishments in the UK.

It seems bizarre that a college training people for the Anglican ministry is so involved in moves to undermine the Church of England.

Alan Marsh
Alan Marsh
15 years ago

No courage at all! The diocesan bishop holds all the (apparent) cards. But it won’t make the slightest difference in this case since the congregation, not the diocese, pays the stipends. Now if this had been a slightly cleverer bishop, the situation would not have developed in the first place. As it is he has managed to contrive a cause celebre all of his own making, in his own diocese, by excluding people from ordination without good cause. Even now it is not too late, but that requires Dr Butler to get round a table with people and find a… Read more »

Neil
Neil
15 years ago

One man’s courage is another man’s lack of wisdom.

Ecclesiastical order asserted at the expense of Christian charity and gospel imperative.

Those who saw the ordinations as a tragic escalation will presumably be in no doubt that this is a tragic counter-escalation.

Roddy
Roddy
15 years ago

Yes David it seems strange. Some kind of review, at least, is called for at Oak Hill.

Peter O
15 years ago

This is a really disturbing development because there is no right side here. If I’m honest, I think the action of the ordination was highly precipitative, and unnecessary. Why the men in question couldn’t just carry on pastoring the congregations I don’t know. And let’s be honest, if they really wanted to stir, why didn’t they bring in a bishop who *was* part of the Anglican Communion? But Tom Butler can’t come out of this smelling like roses either. There are questions as to whether he is really willing to support mission in the diocese. And then, to top it,… Read more »

Peter
Peter
15 years ago

Only three members of staff (that is one quarter I think of the current staff) at Oak Hill College have signed the list. There is no evidence of any official approval from the council, staff or principal of the college. The others are presumably students who may have been friends with the two new (illegally ordained) CESA deacons. And even these could only be a small proportion of the whole number of students at Oak Hill College. This hardly seems sufficient warrant to justify David’s suggestion that “there may be a case for removing the college from the “official” list… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
15 years ago

Peter O:
“that thing about him breaking collegiality himself over the Pastoral Statement”

Sorry, what have I missed? Tom Butler said something to distance himself from the CPA Pastoral Statement? Where? When?

Kurt
Kurt
15 years ago

“At last a sane bishop who has the courage to stand up to the insane neo-Puritans who are hell-bent on destroying the Anglican Communion. Let them leave, as did the Puritans in the 1660s. No loss, really.”–John Henry

Right on, John!

Peter O
15 years ago

Some really good stuff from Ruth Gledhill.

As for Tom Butler and the Bishop’s Statement, yes, my mistake (for some reason I confused him and Worcester as I was typing away). Regardless, there are still the issues to face about the stance towards mission in the diocese.

Bottom line though (and you know where I stand overall) at the moment I wouldn’t like to be asked which side I backed on this particular situation as I might upset some people I’m friends with…

Aahh, the joys of being free of ties. One can speak one’s mind.

Lorna
15 years ago

sad all round, me thinks

David Chillman
David Chillman
15 years ago

So far I count 23 Oak Hill names. Even discounting the possibility that there may be some signatories from Oak Hill who have registered under their home churches, 23 is still a very high number, especially as I can’t see any signatories from other colleges.

If I were responsible for the training of ordinands, I would certainly want to investigate further at the very least.

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
15 years ago

One thing puzzles me: the way that we are being asked to believe that the church leaders with growing churches, church plants etc are the least orthodox. Because, by definition, they are the most representative. Poor Mr Coekin!

Peter
Peter
15 years ago

David said:
“If I were responsible for the training of ordinands, I would certainly want to investigate further at the very least.”

I don’t see what there would be to investigate. One sixth of the student body and one quarter of the staff have expressed their support for two former students of the college.
Good for them.

Tim
Tim
15 years ago

steven does some of us a disservice: > I think there is a definite visceral satisfaction in the “WHACK” that has just been given to Coekin et al. Not really. If any satisfaction there is, it’s not in the whacking but rather in the start of restoration, through the statement `we do not schism’ (however historically inaccurate that may be). I’m so tempted to suggest that those who would rebel without trying to iron things out with their bishop could indeed get lost, but that’s not really the right attitude either. Sure it would be nice to see everyone perfectly… Read more »

Vicky
Vicky
15 years ago

Before passing judgement on things, look at the history. The three men concerned were all fully-trained, qualified and experienced to be ordained, yet the Bishop of Southwark had refused to do so, for no apparent good reason. As ever there is a lot more background here than you will read in the newspapers which inevitably aren’t really interested in the truth of a matter over sales. There’s a bigger picture than just reacting to the first side to get a press statement out. As for tradition in the church – if you care to actually look at the 39 Articles… Read more »

Anna
15 years ago

I don’t understand this argument that “they’re fully qualified; why not ordain them?” I have an excellent degree from an excellent school, I’m an active participant and leader in my church, and I’m interested in the priesthood. Some of the commenters seem to be arguing that my bishop has no right not to accept my candidacy and must eventually ordain me. But that’s not how a vocation works. I don’t get to decide that I have a vocation. God calls me and the Church affirms that call; or the Church in its wisdom decides that in fact, what I’m hearing… Read more »

Merseymike
15 years ago

Exactly, Anna. I believe that two of these men had actually been turned down for ordination?

Either we are an episcopal church or we are not, and if it is the former, then congregationalism is not on.

This church is not Anglican.

Sean Doherty
15 years ago

Vicky: ordination in the CofE doesn’t only take place because of qualification but also because the candidate in consultation with the bishop agrees to serve a particular parish. In the CofE as it currently operates this is not up to the minister alone nor to the congregation. They have some say in it but it is the bishop’s decision. If you don’t like that, fine – but one cannot reasonably be surprised and cry foul since it’s hardly an innovation. AFAIK Tom Butler hadn’t agreed that these people should serve these churches so why should he ordain them? Indeed, it… Read more »

Liam
Liam
15 years ago

“We don’t do schism.” Not just historically inaccurate; also unwise! Remember Richard Hooker’s words: “That which they call schism we call our reasonable service unto God.” The bishop of Southwark is not nearly as Anglican as the people from Dundonald, who seem much more thoroughly committed to the Prayer Book and the 39 Articles. Scripture and tradition are against the Bishop, because Scripture and the tradition of the Church of England is against the liberal catholicism he espouses. Perhaps, given the success of the church planting initiative, reason could be marshalled against his position, too. It might even be argued… Read more »

Neil
Neil
15 years ago

Good grief Merseymike: The question mark doesn’t do a thing to cover for the throwing of more mud. 🙁

And your repeated assertion of what is and what is not Anglican in your opinion is nearly as boring as it is wrong. These men’s claim to be Anglican is infinitely stronger than yours.

Seeking to demonise and polarise debate may be in your interests but it is transparent and unpersuasive as well as being in opposition to the gospel.

Ian
Ian
15 years ago

Anna, don’t confuse the issue… the reason the Bishop refused the ordination of the three does not appear to have had anything to do with training or ability or calling but everything to do with conviction… in other words, they wetre Evangelicals and the Bishop is a Liberal. It’s that simple!

Ian

Augustus Meriwether
15 years ago

Vicky, specifically which of the 39 Articles is Rt Revd Tom Butler ‘breaking’ by what ‘teaching’ of which ‘doctrine’ exactly? Exactly please, mind you – I want to confirm that this is not another instance of ‘reasserters’ resorting to vague defamation.

I’m sure that can’t be the case.

Merseymike
15 years ago

Goodness, watch all the consevos crawl out from under their stone!

Tom Butler is absolutely right and should be fully supported – its about time someone stood up to these bullies who want to recreate the CofE as a protestant fundamentalist sect.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
15 years ago

Vicky has an odd idea about the legal position of the 39 Articles in today’s Church of England (e.g. Declaration of Assent) — isn’t she aware of the debates and changes re subscription that took place in the 1960’s and 70’s?

Peter Török
Peter Török
15 years ago

I am a member of Dundonald Church where Richard Coekin is the senior pastor. It really disheartens me to read comments from fellow Christians in which Richard is pictured as the villain. I wish all those judging him first took the trouble to actually work out what is going on. Only very few of those commenting seem to be aware of the full picture. For example, I would certainly be much interested in the reasons of Merseymike (strange name!) in calling our congregation, or leaders, “bullies” or claiming that we are not Anglican. I regularly listen to Richard’s preaching and… Read more »

steven
steven
15 years ago

“Goodness, watch all the consevos crawl out from under their stone!”

C’mon Merseymike, why insult. The rest of your comment is clear enough and makes your point without comparing conservatives to snakes.

Steven

Kurt
Kurt
15 years ago

“…its about time someone stood up to these bullies who want to recreate the CofE as a protestant fundamentalist sect.”–Merseymike

Right on, Mike! Most American Episcopalians and Canadian Churchmen/women support you in your resistance to these fundamentalists! Every century or so they try to take over the Church. This time around, it’s up to us to stop them!

SiB
SiB
15 years ago

hmm, well, i read the comments here with interest. I’ve been to Oakhill, i’ve been to Wycliffe and i’ve been to Ripon Cuddesdon. Across the board of tradition really. I’m an evangelical, but i appreciate the diversity we’re blessed with. Things are not clear cut. One thing that disturbs me is the use of this board as a place to slander and attack fellow brothers and sisters. As regards the evangelicals being a fundamentalist sect trying to take over the church – come on, be nice please. Un-neccesary, and unwise. You don’t agree with me, i don’t agree with you… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
15 years ago

Your point is well taken, SiB, I have allowed some comments to slip through that are not as civil as they should be.

Please, everyone, keep trying to avoid all personal attacks on individuals.

Kurt
Kurt
15 years ago

“As regards the evangelicals being a fundamentalist sect trying to take over the church – come on, be nice please.”

Okay, maybe it’s over the top in the UK. Sorry. But from our perspective in the USA, that’s exactly what Duncan et al appear to be trying to do.

David Chillman
David Chillman
15 years ago

“As regards the evangelicals being a fundamentalist sect trying to take over the church – come on, be nice please.” The problem is not with evangelicals as such, but with a small subsection of evangelicalism, who are indeed very close to being a fundamentalist sect and who do show every sign of wanting to take over the Church of England. One of the things I like about the Church of England is that it can (in theory at least) hold together evangelicals, liberals and anglo-catholics. If an evangelical (or anyone else) wants to say “this is what I believe” –… Read more »

Alan Harrison
Alan Harrison
15 years ago

I keep hoping that we might get a bit of light rather than heat on this thread. I’m still flummoxed. There’s no doubt that the ordinations in Surbiton are irregular, but the situation leaves me asking several questions. Two of the ordinands, it appears, had been. accepted for, and had completed or nearly completed, their training at Oak Hill. At this stage they would be looking for a title (first job to anyone who might be unfamiliar with the term!). It seems that they had potentially found such a post at Surbiton. The diocesan bishop was unwilling to ordain them.… Read more »

Neil
Neil
15 years ago

I don’t think Richard Coekin sounds “hardcore”, mighty frustrated and well principled perhaps:

http://www.churchnewspaper.com/news.php?read=on&number_key=5794&title=No%20option%20but%20to%20ordain

Barry George
Barry George
15 years ago

Is there only one Oak Hill College? We should pray for 100 more, as it seems to be one of the few places still producing ordinands who believe the Bible.

Simon Sarmiento
15 years ago

Alan Surbiton is merely the place where the service ocurred. As far as I know, no action is planned against the incumbent there for allowing this. Dundonald, and its further church plants, is where these men are going to work. I think Bp Tom’s letter explains why he refused: “Parish clergy, Archdeacons and Bishops alike have been involved in an ongoing exchange with Richard concerning the necessity for such church plants to occur only with the agreement of the vicar of the parish in which the plant is set. This has not always been the case, and evangelical parish clergy… Read more »

John Foxe
John Foxe
15 years ago

I’ve been trying to get my head round this conundrum. Tom Butler quotes canon law preventing bishops from overseas carrying out episcopal functions without diocesan permission. He also states that CESA is not part of the Anglican Communion. I assume that canon law only bites on the Anglican church. For example, Tom Bulter is hardly going to inhibit the parish priest of Chumley because a bishop of the Ruritanian Orthodox Church carries out confirmations in Chumley parish. Thus to revoke Richard Coekin’s licence implies the CESA bishop is an Anglican bishop under canon law and that the ordinations are thus… Read more »

Bob Marsden
Bob Marsden
15 years ago

Just published on the Church Society website. Happy thinking! http://www.evangelicals.org/news.asp?id=247 Mission ordinations – were they illegal? Since the ordinations last week in south London questions have been raised about the status and validity of the action, not least by the Bishop of Southwark in a letter addressed to clergy in the Diocese. The Bishop makes reference to the Overseas Clergy Measure and appears to argue from this that the ordinations were illegal. Section 4 of the Measure does two things: First, it permits certain bishops to perform episcopal acts on behalf of an English diocesan bishop. If Martin Morrision had… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
15 years ago

I’ve posted a couple of follow-up comments on another thread, here
http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/001408.html#comments

James Jack
15 years ago

I’m an Anglican from the Sydney Diocese in Australia and I heard Richard Coekin speak here a couple of years ago – I was mightily impressed by his clear and faithful explanation of the Scriptures. There seem to be many claims and counter-claims here about what actually constitutes “anglicanism”. Bishop Butler has appealed to Anglican traditions in claiming the ordinations are illegal, and Rev. Coekin has claimed he has a higher authority to appeal to: the 39 articles, centuries of church tradition and, ultimately, the Bible. The question is: what defines us as Anglicans? Is it a faith in the… Read more »

James Jack
15 years ago

Augustus Meriwether asked which of the 39 articles Bishop Butler had controvened. Since I can’t see a response yet, I thought I’d respond: Article VI states that the Holy Scriptures contain everything necessary for salvation and are upheld as the Word of God. Butler seems to be teaching things unscriptural when he claims that homosexual sex is not sinful (do I really need to quote the passages?) Article XX states that the church does not have authority to “ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s written word, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be… Read more »

Thomas Renz
Thomas Renz
15 years ago

The Puritans believed that you can be a Christian in England without being a member of the Church of England. I think by now few of us within the Church of England would disagree with them on this particular point. The “neo-Puritans” (not their self-designation as far as I know) believe that you can be an Anglican in England without being Church of England. Depends on one’s definition of Anglican – obviously. (By the way, if Anglican is defined as “in communion with the Sea of Canterbury”, there are three ways of being Anglican in Germany: Diocese of Europe, ECUSA,… Read more »

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