Updated and republished Wednesday morning
Tuesday 5th July 2011
The announcement of the creation an ‘Anglican Mission in England’ prompts concern for a number of reasons. New mission initiatives are, as such, always good news; and the declared intention of the spokesmen for this new initiative to remain faithful to the structures of the Church of England is welcome.
However, it is not at all clear how the proposed panel of bishops relate to the proper oversight of the diocesan bishops of the Church of England. Nor is there any definition of the issues which AMiE think might justify appeal to such a panel rather than the use of normal procedures. Furthermore, the ordination of three English candidates to the diaconate in Kenya with a view to service in England is problematic. It is not clear what process of recognised scrutiny and formation has taken place and how, in the absence of Letters Dimissory (the relevant formal letters from the sponsoring bishop), they have come to be recommended as candidates for ordination by the authorities of another province.
The issue is one of episcopal collegiality. There needs to be some further discussion of this development between those involved and the diocesan bishops of the Church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury has had the opportunity to speak with the Archbishop of Kenya about the situation: the good faith and fraternal good intentions of our Kenyan colleagues are not at all in question, but it seems that there were misunderstandings of the precise requirements of English Canon Law and good practice as regards the recommendation of candidates for ordination and deployment in mission. It is hoped that an early opportunity will be found to clarify what this new initiative seeks to achieve if it is truly to serve God’s mission in the most effective and collaborative way.
AMIE has responded. The full text of the response, currently at this URL, is below the fold.
6 July 2011
AMIE (formally the Saint Augustine Society) is grateful for the statement from Lambeth Palace of Tuesday July 5th. We are very pleased to note the welcome given to new mission initiatives and also the recognition of AMIE’s desire to remain within the Church of England.
Those recommended for ordination had already been through due processes of selection and training and were recommended after a thorough process of discernment.
According to a report at a recent conference, half the serving clergy of the Church of England will retire in the next ten years, a little acknowledged fact with no apparent strategy to address it. Meanwhile there are delayed candidates offering, parishes willing to sponsor them, and others eager to receive their ministry, congregations wishing to remain within the Church but not receiving recognition, and missional church plants needing authorisation. Many senior clergy are concerned about the quality of ministry that may be available in the future.
AMIE has come about precisely in order to retain within the Church of England those who share passion for gospel mission and wish to minister within this Church despite some problematic issues.
New problems are not being raised. Discussions on these issues have taken place with Lambeth Palace and its representatives over a period of four and half years. They were again rehearsed over the last year with three bishops appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to meet with those now forming the panel of bishops and steering group of AMIE. They were fully communicated to Lambeth Palace in a document presented in July 2010.
Significant challenges face those called to minister in England at this time. Its ordained clergy need oversight and encouragement from those who believe in their work and ministry and who will walk with them step by step both theologically and missiologically. Such encouragement has been given by the Primates Council of GAFCON.
Episcopal collegiality within England needs to be matched by both Episcopal collegiality with the wider Anglican Communion and Episcopal integrity in upholding and teaching the truth of the Christian faith as found in the Scriptures.
We warmly welcome the invitation to meet to clarify the goals of AMIE which are to preach and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is the standard for Episcopal integrity and collegiality in upholding and teaching the Christian faith.
Paul Perkin (Chair) on behalf of the Steering Committee