Thinking Anglicans

Coekin appeals to Canterbury

A press release has been issued today about this. The full text of the release is below the fold.
Two letters accompany the release, and can also be downloaded:

appeal letter to the Archbishop dated 18 November
letter to Bishop of Southwark dated 3 November
(the latter also in Word format – the headers of which show who really wrote it)

The documents can also be found here.

EVANGELICAL CLERGYMAN APPEALS TO ARCHBISHOP

The Anglican clergyman whose licence was removed by the Bishop of Southwark following legal but irregular ordinations by a South African Bishop, has exercised his right of appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams.

Rev. Richard Coekin, Senior Pastor to the fast-growing “Co-Mission” churches of South-west London, claims that although his relationship with Bishop Tom Butler has been “impaired” by the House of Bishops’ recent statement on Civil Partnerships, which led him to seek help from a foreign Bishop, this does not legally or morally justify the removal of his licence. He still does not know of any valid reason for his licence being revoked.

This dispute has erupted over the authority of the Bible in the modern Church of England. Rev. Coekin said: “We were forced to seek valid but irregular ordinations for the staff of our growing congregations after more than two years during which our Bishop persistently refused to do so and because we are now distanced from our Bishop since he refuses to uphold basic Biblical principles of sexual morality. We did so with the wide support of both local and national “Mainstream” Evangelical leaders. I still haven’t been told why this can legally or morally justify the removal of my licence. I am now being included with those who have been proven guilty of gross immorality or heresy because of my loyalty to the Bible and traditional Anglican doctrine.”

In his appeal, he makes four main points. First, that the Bishop has formalised “schism” by removing his licence rather than accepting “impaired communion” over theological differences; secondly, that the Church of England report, “Issues in Human Sexuality” has already clarified that in the Bible, “Sexual activity of any kind outside marriage comes to be seen as sinful” and therefore, he is obliged, like all clergy and Bishops, by their ordination oaths, to oppose this controversial House of Bishops statement on Civil Partnerships as contrary to Holy Scripture; thirdly, that his previous “planting” of new congregations, which have never undermined other parish churches, should be welcomed rather than regarded as grounds for removing his licence and fourthly, that the South African Bishop who performed the ordinations is specifically excluded from church rules in this area and that no-one is guilty of organising anything illegal or improper.

While the Church of England proudly claims to tolerate a great diversity of doctrine and practice, this orthodox Evangelical is being targeted for his loyalty to traditional Anglican and Biblical doctrine by those intent on removing politically incorrect pages from Scripture. Rev. Coekin’s appeal to Dr. Rowan Williams comes in the context of questions raised by Archbishops of the global south, representing the majority of Anglicans world-wide, about the Archbishop’s ability to defend traditional Church of England doctrine because of his personally more liberal views.
[ENDS]

NOTES

The appeal letter to the Archbishop is attached, along with the letter to the Bishop of Southwark which forms part of the appeal.

For more press information please call Charlotte Flint, 07813 187362

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Augustus Meriwether
Guest

“I trust this enclosed letter speaks for itself” Why didn’t he finish there then? “publicly seen fit to attack my reputation.” Oh, the irony! Bishop Tom’s reputation has gone unscathed because of your valiant attempts to safeguard it. “homosexual agenda” What’s THAT about? “However, I did not want to go down the “juridical” route that the Bishop of Southwark is now taking by removing my licence; for this is the way to formalized schism. Rather, we believed that we needed to admit “impairment of communion” as dealt with by the Eames Commission Report of 1994 and a situation that “can… Read more »

Marshall
Guest
Marshall

The letters are certainly detailed and well written. Being in the American church, I cannot comment on the various Canons of the Church of England or their relationship with statute law. It does seem The Rev. Mr. Coekin has done his research. On the other hand, to suggest that a CESA bishop is more in line with the teaching of the Church of England than is a CofE bishop seems brash arrogance. That said, I have two thoughts. The first is that the phrase “grounded in Scripture” need not necessarily mean “interpreting Scripture literally;” but that’s a continuing part of… Read more »

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Marshall, There has been impaired communion within the Church of England (and in the Anglican Communion) for a considerable length of time over unbiblical ordinations. A number of Church of England members do not receive communion from bishops who ordain women, or from women clergy, or from clergy in provinces with women bishops. Nothing new here. The decision by the Bishop of Southwark to align himself with a statement giving tacit approval to gay marriage is equally divisive. It has not been approved or debated by the Church synod but is simply announced by the House of Bishops. It runs… Read more »

Tim Stewart
Guest
Tim Stewart

“. . . following legal but irregular ordinations by a South African . . .”

legal?

I’m certainly not familiar with English law, but while they are “valid” they wouldn’t seem to be “legal”

Am I missing something?

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Alan

As every single member of the House of Bishops of the CofE has aligned himself in an identical way with the CPA Pastoral Statement, what is special about the Bp of Southwark?

Neil
Guest
Neil

Augustus: “…..everyone in the universe, including that missing dust that scientists keep going on about, KNOWS that that is what you wanted to to get him to do…” When you were checking with everyone in the universe, including the missing dust that scientists keep going on about, you must have overlooked me – and countless others I suspect. But your point is that the poor Bishop of Southwark – knowing what the universe and the missing dust knows – complied with Richard’s wishes because …..??? It seems we’re in the land of the fairies. It will be interesting to see… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Marshall, I for one, would not say that Mr Coekin has “done his research”. Note that he does not quote anything from the central Canons, only gives their numbers… It is very strange, the way he mixes Canons, Articles, History, Lambeth tea and cakes with the Third Trumpet from the South, Civil Partnership legislation and “the Homosexual Agenda”. If this is how he reads his Bible, it explains a lot. What amazes me is the idea that a bishop from a foreign church would be able to do “legally” behind the back of the diocesan Bishop, what an Anglican Communion… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

To Alan Marsh,

As far as I know no ordination is ever “biblical”.

They are Church; Tradition, not Scripture.

Peter O
Guest
Peter O

Now isn’t that interesting. We can surmise that David Holloway at least saw a copy for comment. Of course, if I had been involved silly little IT things like that would have been covered!!!

Peter O
Guest
Peter O

Furthermore, let me add another observation. Despite my personally thinking that Coekin’s actions were wrong, getting out my copy of the Canons, I think he has a very strong legal case for saying the revocation of his licence was an unlawful action. I think this is going to have some serious implications in the next month or so. If Canterbury rejects the appeal, Coekin may very well appeal to the Panel of Reference. He will force a referal and that will mean that the panel, which has so far appeared to be impotent http://www.australianchurchrecord.net/ACR_1888_Nov_2005.pdf read an interesting article here, will… Read more »

Mish
Guest
Mish

“If the Bishop is able to act in this way in this case, anyone else who wants to disagree with their Bishop had better watch their backs – anyone of any theological persuasion that is.”

Didn’t you know, Neil, many already do – when the shoe is on the other foot, but i guess that is OK?

😉

mish
Guest
mish

Actually, thinking about it, it is a very clever strategic move – and one being played straight into. If the ArchBishop does not intervene on their behalf, it escalates the whole thing – shifting the focus from the Bishop of Southwark onto Rowan Williams (the probable target in the game-plan). If he does intervene, he shoots himself in the foot, as he can then be undermined in the same way using this as a precedent – for his views on the same issue. Parachute in some Nigerian Archbishop and hey-presto – a whole load of illegal bishops to undermine and… Read more »

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Dear Simon The House of Bishops seems to operate collectively without a mind of its own, but at least one bishop (Worcester) has publicly indicated his dissent from what he has collectively agreed to. And it is unlikely that many of them will actually interview their clergy to ask what they do in their bedrooms. So far as Rev Coekin is concerned, he has to deal with the bishop of the diocese, not the House of Bishops, and Dr Butler has refused to ordain or provide clergy to lead the growing congregations which he (Coekin) and others have planted. In… Read more »

J. C. Fisher
Guest

Well, just a comment from “the land of the fairies” . . . 😉 I have now made it my personal mission to underscore *each and every time* someone here at TA connects the words ***”plain” or “clear”, with Scripture*** (e.g “plain teaching” “clearly states” etc, etc). It means the writer of same has *volunteered to do your thinking (inc. your Bible-reading) for you*. Wouldn’t every “Thinking Anglican” prefer to think for themselves? (As one’s Reason is formed by Scripture and Tradition, and in dialogue w/ the decision-making bodies of their national church?) In the case above, it is Alan… Read more »

Augustus Meriwether
Guest

Re the letter to Bp Tom: Coekin says, “I am not clear what I have done that gives you cause to revoke my licence” and “there seems no evident ground for you to revoke my licence under Canon law” He gives the answer to this in the last paragraph when he says, “I have been driven to… supporting the valid but irregular ordination of my staff.’ (knowingly against the express wishes of the Bp of his diocese). The third item of the Canons says: Canon 1.3 “the inferior clergy who have received authority to minister in any diocese owe canonical… Read more »

Counterlight
Guest
Counterlight

“There are evidently many on this blog who approve of simply coercing or expelling minorities, but some, like Rev Coekin, are prepared to stand up for their faith, and in the diocese of Southwark that means asking the bishop to decide where he stands.” In my experience, it is precisely the “embattled faithful remnant” with their noses buried in The Book who wish to coerce or expel people; specifically people who belong to sexual minorities. Unlike certain international bishops, I have no qualms about sharing an altar rail and a chalice with those who consider me and my kind to… Read more »

mish
Guest
mish

Countreligh wrote:

‘I simply pray that God may turn their heart of stone into a heart of flesh; and that they might look up from their Bibles long enough to see their neighbor.’

Amen.

Chris
Guest
Chris

This ordinary member of the CofE is absolutely sick of the pride and self-indulgence of people like Richard Coekin. (Which is of course dwarfed by the pride, arrogance and hypocrisy of Akinola.)

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

“citing canon law, is just silly” – as you have just done, AM. A bishop can only require a cleric to obey the ecclesiastical law. The oath of obedience, according to well-established principles, is not an absolute undertaking to obey any and every direction from the bishop. (“I was only obeying orders…..”) It is an undertaking to obey canon law of which the bishop is the local administrator. The bishop does not make canon law. As there is no offense in English law of receiving ordination from a CESA bishop (or RC bishop, or orthodox bishop, etc etc) none of… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Alan Marsh,

Surely, the fact that the Church of Sweden has always been a majority church and the Church of England a minority church (The Tory Party at prayer ;=), can have little to do with the present outburst of congregationalism, anarchy and schism in the Diocese of Soutwark.

Or does it?

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Dear JCF, by all means illuminate plainly and clearly any instance of anyone who thinks that the bible has something to say. Just don’t rule out the possibility that those who have studied and thought about it for decades might have reached some conclusions. Unfortunately for your assertions, it is plain and clear that the great majority of Anglicans, let alone Christians, do not share your church’s preference for its own authority rather than the consensus of faith, and that is why it is impaired and embattled at the moment. It is not a matter of opinion: it is the… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

A curse of the modern age is the tendency to define words however one pleases (a situation which makes it pointless to use words at all). If the bishop thinks he can define ‘wholesome doctrine’ any way he pleases, he’s incorrect, just as the abortion doctors who think they can define diminished mental health as social inconvenience are incorrect. This much is obvious enough.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Marshall- Just a thought. You say ‘grounded in Scripture’ does not necessarily mean interpreting Scripture literally. Let’s forget the problematic term ‘Scripture’ and propose that ‘grounded in the text does not mean interpreting the text literally’. In certain genres of writing (history, biography, the majority of letters) that is precisely what it does mean. Interpretation is genre-dependent. This is a separate question from whether what the text says is actually true. It is merely the question of whether it is what the writer means. In history, biography and letters, writers generally mean what they say. (You may say that ‘mean… Read more »

RMF
Guest
RMF

Being in the American church myself, I find it useful when this discussion arises, to look at the wording of the statement itself (below quoted from CoE release on the matter). “The statement reaffirms the Church’s teaching on both marriage and sexual intercourse. ‘Sexual intercourse, as an expression of faithful intimacy, properly belongs within marriage exclusively,’ the statement says. Marriage, it states, ‘is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of his grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, is central to the stability… Read more »

Sean Doherty
Guest
Sean Doherty

Counterlight your rhetoric is as unhelpful as the rhetoric so frequently used by those on the conservative side of this debate. Recognsing one’s neighbour does not entail blanket endorsement of everything they might choose to do. Rather church discipline (of which exclusion from communion is the ultimate part) is meant to be grounded in the love command of Jesus – that you might bring an erring brother or sister back to the truth (Matthew 18). Obviously it isn’t always done with this motive but you have no more right or ability to judge the motives of everyone who disagrees with… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest

It was clear from the off that this was a carefully laid scheme and needed a thoughtful response. My first thought was (and remains) for the three new Deacons in the Church of God and that nothing should be done to harm them or make their position more difficult than was already the case by the method of their ordination. I continue to rejoice in their presence and to pray for them and their families and the people they minister to. The newly ordained are three clerics of CESA and so have no need of a licence from Bishop Tom.… Read more »

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

“It is very strange, the way he mixes Canons, Articles, History, Lambeth tea and cakes with the Third Trumpet from the South, Civil Partnership legislation and “the Homosexual Agenda”. If this is how he reads his Bible, it explains a lot.”–Göran Koch-Swahne

Right on, dude!

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Goran, I don’t quite know what you mean by a majority church. The Swedish church attendance figures make very grim reading.
http://www.evl.fi/kkh/ktk/norden.htm

“Although the vast majority of the population in all the Nordic countries remain members of the church, the overall degree of commitment to the church is very low. According to the new findings, the proportion of highly committed members is … lowest in Sweden (3%). Sweden also has the highest proportion (24%) of those who do not regard themselves as being at all committed to the church.”

Tim
Guest

>> We did so with the wide support of both local and national “Mainstream” Evangelical leaders.

Perhaps this is why a licence to be a minister in the CoE is inappropriate, then? 😉

Martin Reynolds
Guest

and BTW …… I find it strange that Mr Coekin should appeal this decision to Rowan Williams a bishop he (and Reform) believes to be a False Teacher …..

David Walker
Guest
David Walker

Like others I have no problem with a Christian denomination setting up in South London and ordaining its ministers in whatever way it sees fit. CESA is free to do that (though it needs to think about what to call itself – The Church of England in South Africa in England hardly rolls off the tongue) and we should afford it such ecumenical fellowship as appropriate. There is a competitive market for conservative protestant religion out there and it is entitled to compete on a level playing field. What it may not do of course is pretend to be, or… Read more »

MartinLuther
Guest
MartinLuther

Revoking a minister’s licence is a serious matter. I appreciate RC is in a different situation, but for most minister’s that would mean their salary is terminate with immediate effect. That has an obvious massive impact upon the minister, his spouse and children. Terminating a minister’s licence without first having a hearing/meeting seems against the principles of natural justice. Whatever theological position we take, terminating a ministers licence should be reserved for those who have departed from the faith or who place others at risk. Out of interest, what is the mechanism for bringing a complaint generally about the conduct… Read more »

J. C. Fisher
Guest

“Dear JCF, by all means illuminate plainly and clearly any instance of anyone who thinks that the bible has something to say.” The Bible has *many* things to say: different things to the different people who (prayerfully) read it. “Just don’t rule out the possibility that those who have studied and thought about it for decades might have reached some conclusions.” I rule out the possibilities of “conclusions” for the *living* Word of God (to “conclude” is the shut the book up, saying “All done now!”). Days, decades, millennia: if the Scriptures are *alive*, there can never be final conclusions,… Read more »

Rodney
Guest
Rodney

Quoting other posters out of context, and then misrepresenting their argument is a barren exercise, and one which I hope not to see repeated here. An incumbent or other minister in the Church of England, and in every other Anglican church I expect, swears to obey his or her bishop “in all things legal and honest”, or words to that effect. If I’m not mistaken, Mr Coekin has the right to challenge the actions of the Bishop Southwark in the Consistory Court where the legality or honesty of the Bishop can be judged by an independent Judge (who forms part… Read more »

Marshall
Guest
Marshall

Christopher: I’m not arguing with your statement about Paul. Whether he meant what we mean by homosexuality or not, I presume he meant what he said, or thought he said. However, many of us would agree that interpretation may be “genre-dependent.” Thus, we would appreciate the words of Jesus differently from the Lament Psalms, or the Wisdom Literature differently from the histories in the books of Kings (even without entering into discussions of historicity). Certainly, we as Christians interpret Torah in such a way that we don’t practice Levirate Marriage (if the older brother marries and dies without leaving a… Read more »

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Rodney,

You ARE mistaken. Canon C12 allows the bishop to send a written notice revoking a Licence summarily. He is supposed to allow the minister an opportunity to put his side of the case, but the canon does not require any kind of judicial hearing. The consistory court is not involved at any stage.

There is a right of appeal to the archbishop within 28 days, who may hear the appeal himself, or with another bishop, or with a legal adviser.

From 2006 there will be new rules which WILL require a formal hearing in any disciplinary case. Long overdue!

Martin Reynolds
Guest

Bp Walker is wise to say that the position in Dundonald would have required agreement for a Local Ecumenical Project to bring it within the structures of the Church of England, while Martin Luther is correct in saying that withdrawal of a licence should only be used as a sanction for those who have had due process. One cannot help thinking though that the fact Mr Coekin did not suffer deprivation of salary or home in this case played a part in the bishop’s mind. How glad I am that in the UK, at least, we are far more circumspect… Read more »

Chirtsopher Shell
Guest
Chirtsopher Shell

Marshall-
I agree- but there are already two ways of distinguishing between categories of OT laws which are barometers as good as we are ever going to get (though by no means clear-cut): namely,
(1) Is it mentioned in the NT as still applying after the crucifixion and resurrection?
(2) Is it moral or merely ritual, depending on a ritual system which has now come to an end?

Augustus Meriwether
Guest

Thank you Rodney, I wasn’t going to bother with reacting to it – well put. I must say though, it’s a bit more than quoting out of context; it’s actually hacking a sentence in half to deliberately change its meaning entirely. But, there you go, that’s the sort of obfuscative tactics that often happen in online forums – I class it as a form of trolling and usually try to avoid engaging with those pursuing such tactics. Debate doesn’t seem to be possible with them and attempting it also becomes a ‘barren exercise’. Canon 1.3 “the inferior clergy who have… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

JCF – Your point about Paul not recognising the concept of ‘homosexuality’ is, I think, central to your overall stance. Paul’s world and our world had plenty of similar phenomena, and plenty of different. The similar would congregate at the anthropological end of the scale, and the different at the sociological end. Whatever it was that Paul was talking about, it seems to have quite a lot of overlap, both in referent and in semantic range, with what we call ‘homosexuality’. The overlap is far from complete, but why would one expect that? Different societies split up the world differently… Read more »

Martinluther
Guest
Martinluther

I fear it’s easy to miss the wood for the trees. The CoE has a mandate to take the Gospel to the furthest corners of England. That includes South London. Bishops shouldn’t get delusions of grandeur. It’s not “their” patch or Diocese. They are not princes – they are servants. Their role is not to hinder Gospel ministry but support and enable it. They shouldn’t allow personal dislike of their ministers to cloud their judgement. The question which should be asked, is what has +Tom done to support the Gospel initiative emerging from Dundonald. The answer seems to be to… Read more »

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

AM, no doubt in ECUSA you take the view that clergy must obey every instruction handed down by the bishop, whether or not he has any right to impose it. People have long tried to use the excuse, “I was only obeying orders” and some in authority expect them to do so. The recent summary depositions in ECUSA illustrate this attitude perfectly. English law is different. Those in authority (including bishops) can only demand that people obey the law as it stands. The law is made by Parliament (by the Synod and Parliament for the Church) and by judicial decisions.… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

If RC wants to remain within the CofE, then he shouldn’t have brought in bishops from outside the CofE to carry out illegal ‘ordinations’ (into what I am not sure – certainly not the Church of England!)

However, should he wish to remain in the CofE will require him accepting the authority of his Bishop, just in the way that liberal clergy accept the place of evangelical Bishops.

As he clearly cannot do this, he has removed himself from the CofE, and hence Anglicanism, by his actions.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Two points.

First, Alan Marsh is almost right about Canon C12. It does, however, allow the archbishop to delegate the appeal hearing entirely and not participate in it himself. The other bishop must come from outside Southwark diocese and from within the Southern Province.

Second merseymike is quite wrong to say that Mr Coekin has excluded himself from the Church of England. Holding a License under Seal is quite separate from being a clergyperson, never mind being a member of the CofE.

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

But he appears to be setting himself up as a minister of another denomination – or is he claiming to be both in the CofE and in this ither unnamed denomination?

Unless, of course, he has withdrawn althogether from that ministry.

So, whilst he may remain a Church of England clergyperson, he is in fact opting to be a church leader in another setting which is not part of the Church of England.

Sounds a bit like leaving it to me, although strictly speaking yes, you are right.

Marshall
Guest
Marshall

Christopher Shell writes: I agree- but there are already two ways of distinguishing between categories of OT laws which are barometers as good as we are ever going to get (though by no means clear-cut): namely, (1) Is it mentioned in the NT as still applying after the crucifixion and resurrection? (2) Is it moral or merely ritual, depending on a ritual system which has now come to an end? Christopher, I find those standards less helpful than you do. First, regarding your first category: I don’t deny that Torah standards might be mentioned as retained after the Resurrection, but… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

I want to hear more about those clergy in Southwark diocese that [Richard Coekin claims in his letter] are living in homosexual partnerships. They ARE disobeying Scripture (as interpreted by the HoB) AND Canon Law AND the House of Bishops instructions.

Maybe Coekin or someone else in S. London will ‘Out’ them ?! I would love to see +Southwark tested on his claimed commitment to discipline !

John D
Guest
John D

Dave,

I would hope Mr. Coekin (or “someone else”) would have the rudimentary decency to be as repulsed by your cynical suggestion as I am.

Augustus Meriwether
Guest

“I want to hear more about those clergy in Southwark diocese that [Richard Coekin claims in his letter] are living in homosexual partnerships. They ARE disobeying Scripture (as interpreted by the HoB) AND Canon Law AND the House of Bishops instructions. Maybe Coekin or someone else in S. London will ‘Out’ them ?! I would love to see +Southwark tested on his claimed commitment to discipline !” So the hunt has started already. How exhilerating for the reasserters. I’m sure it will be done with warm smiles, much talk of love and prayer. It’s inevitable, of course. but it chills… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Augustus- The reason I don’t understand your stance is that truth (no less) would be the casualty. Who would seek ministry from anyone not truthful or transparent? This ‘turning a blind eye’ is a killer. For example, the abortion law is broken daily by doctors choosing to make words mean what they want them to mean. Again, we are supposed to collude with the blatant untruth that in all divorces there is ‘no fault’ or that there are *always* more or less equal faults on both sides. We all know that these things are not true. We all know deep… Read more »