Thinking Anglicans

British Anglicans meet to plan ‘faithful ecclesial future’

An open letter has been published on Anglican Mainstream by a number of clergy and laity. The full text and list of signatures is copied below the fold.

British Anglicans meet to plan ‘faithful ecclesial future’
Jul 18, 2017
To the Anglicans of Great Britain:

Many will share our dismay at the recent decisions of the General Synod of the Church of England and the pursuing principles, values and practices contrary to Holy Scripture and church Tradition.

Given the persistent failure of the majority of the House of Bishops to fulfil the God-given duties which they have sworn to discharge these tragic developments were, sadly, not wholly unexpected.

Accordingly, and in preparation for such eventualities we, as some of those committed to the renewal of biblical and orthodox Anglicanism have already started to meet, on behalf of our fellow Anglicans, to discuss how to ensure a faithful ecclesial future.

We now wish that we have done so to be more widely known.

Our number is drawn from bishops, clergy and laity, from across Great Britain and from a breadth of traditions. Much more importantly, however, we meet joyfully united by a shared endorsement of the terms of the Jerusalem Declaration.

We will meet again, as planned and with external facilitation, mediation and episcopal advice, in October.

It is our intention to welcome on that occasion an even greater diversity of contributors.

We would value your prayers and any expressions of interest from those who feel they might be able to make a valuable contribution to our deliberations.

Anyone desiring to contact us can do so through any of the organisations or churches listed.

Revd Dr Gavin Ashenden, Former Chaplain to the Queen
Mrs Lorna Ashworth, General Synod of the Church of England, Archbishops’ Council
Revd Nigel Atkinson, Vicar St John’s, Knutsford and Toft
Revd Andrew Bawtree, Chair of the House of Clergy, Diocese of Canterbury
Revd Mark Burkill, Chairman of Reform
Rt Revd John Ellison, Anglican Mission in England Executive
Rt Revd John Fenwick, Bishop Primus, Free Church of England
Rt Revd Josep Miquel Rossello Ferrer, Free Church of England
Ven Dr Amatu Christian-Iwuagwu, Vicar St Mary’s Harmondsworth & PiC Anglican Igbo Church of the Holy Trinity, London
Rt Revd Paul Hunt, General Secretary, Free Church of England
Canon Nigel Juckes, Incumbent, Llandogo, Monmouth
Mr Daniel Leafe, Gafcon UK
Mrs Susie Leafe, Director of Reform
Rt Revd Andy Lines, ACNA Bishop with Special Mission
Revd David McCarthy, Coordinator of the Scottish Anglican Network
Revd Lee McMunn, Mission Director, Anglican Mission in England
Revd James Paice, Trustee, The Southwark Good Stewards Trust
Rt Revd Jonathan Pryke, Senior Minister Jesmond Parish Church, Anglican Mission in England Executive
Revd Dr Peter Sanlon, Convenor of Anglican Partnership Synod
Ven Dr Will Strange on behalf of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales
Revd Andrew Symes, Executive Secretary, Anglican Mainstream

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Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

The tl;dr is “we’re going to scream and scream until we’re sick”.

Jonathan Clatworthy
Guest

Simon, does this crowd really deserve your publicity?

Choirboyfromhell
Guest
Choirboyfromhell

Another big nothingburger. Mail them a “dummy” and send them on their way.

Cathy
Guest
Cathy

When are the Archbishops going to do something about these so-called members of the Church of England who are sitting in dioceses undermining their properly consecrated Bishops and preaching of a bigoted God who bears no relation to Jesus Christ? Rouse up sirs!

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Deserve publicity? Why not?

If people want to leave, they should.

And the general public might appreciate the CofE more, if such departures were better known.

One wonders, however, whether Mrs Lorna Ashworth is acting in accordance with her fiduciary duty of loyalty to the Church of England? Ditto Revd Andrew Bawtree and his fiduciary duty to his diocese?

This question in and of itself is good reason for their announcement to be publicized.

And one more: Given the announcement, what is the duty of the Archbishops?

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Given the announcement, what is the duty of the Archbishops?” That’s a very good question, but not one with I suspect the answer you imply. The people signing this letter are opposed to pretty well every improvement in attitudes to same-sex relationships since 1967, and I suspect not a few of them would be quite keen on a return to the pre-1967 status quo ante. They are associated with Gafcon, which is quite happy to condone and, indeed, encourage violent hatred towards gay people. So, what makes you think that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York wouldn’t support them? Neither… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Jonathan Clatworhy asked “Simon, does this crowd really deserve your publicity?”. In my opinion this is a significant posting and it needs to be noted. For many years the fault line in the church has been between two extremes. At each end of the spectrum of opinion on LGBTQ issues there were a small percent of churchgoers who felt strongly enough to be actively engaged in the debate. In the middle were the vast majority of Anglicans who had various views, but who kept quiet about it. Both groups of activists assumed that this broad centre-ground (the silent majority) were… Read more »

Duncan Swan
Guest
Duncan Swan

i wonder why there is facilitation and mediation planned? Are they falling out already? It is also interesting to see who is not party to this letter. No +Maidstone or any Evangelical in the CofE hierarchy as far as I can see.

Adam Armstrong
Guest
Adam Armstrong

A read through of the armours affiliations of these people “Anglican Mission in England”, “Reform”, “Free Church of England”, not to mention “Jesmond” makes one wonder how many of these people identify at all with the actual Church of England or have any loyalty to a diocese or a bishop. It’s rather sad to see this kind of threat and blackmail, and even sadder that it’s all about keeping those nasty gays away. Catering or capitulating to these people will only make things worse. We’ve heard it all before and they should just continue to pool their ignorance and keep… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

I’m sad to see Will Strange on this list. When he was teaching at Wycliffe he always used to hammer home the importance of ‘balance’. That’s a long while ago now….

John Wallace
Guest
John Wallace

How sad and negative all this is. Yesterday I was at a brilliant conference at CMS Oxford on Pioneer Ministry on Housing Estates – multi-denominational and and a wide churchmanship. We heard stories of Christians engaging right at the edge, with other Christians, other faiths and no faith. This is what the Gospel is all about, not the gnat-straining of these self-appointed guardians of ‘truth’. Perhaps the sensible clergy in the Canterbury Diocese will have a vote of no confidence in their chair? Similarly will members of the Archbishop’s Council censure Lorna Ashworth? I hope so. It really is time… Read more »

Paul Johnson
Guest
Paul Johnson

I totally agree with the above comments. I hope the sensible voice love and compassion will come over strongly and that common sense will prevail. I wonder if the anti slavery movement had the same conservative backlash in times gone by?

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

I think the game’s up. The Free Church of England disapproves.

I know they’re not part of the Anglican Communion and went into schism (and obscurity) in the 19th century, but hey…

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Interested Observer, in this context I am not asking about agreement or disagreement as to political/moral questions. My question is based purely on fiduciary duties to the Church of England. Two of the signatories to the above letter are officers of Church of England entities. Mrs Lorna Ashworth is a member of General Synod and also of the Archbishops Council. Revd Andrew Bawtree is Chair of the House of Clergy, Diocese of Canterbury. In those capacities, these two individuals owe duties of loyalty to the organisations of which they are officers. Isn’t a basic aspect of the duty of loyalty… Read more »

Susan Cooper
Guest
Susan Cooper

Where is Mrs Andrea Minichiello Williams? I would have expected her to sign this type of document.

Paul Waddington
Guest
Paul Waddington

It does seem that the break-up of the Church of England is beginning. This looks rather similar to what happened in the USA ten years ago. I expect we will end up with an Anglican Church in England modelled on ACNA, and the residue of the Church of England which will always be mired in controversy.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

This appeared on Facebook: from the Free Church of England: Some responses to the letter have focussed on the possibility of a new Anglican jurisdiction being formed. In fact there is nothing new about the idea of an alternative Anglican jurisdiction in the British Isles. Such a jurisdiction already exists. The Free Church of England has maintained an orthodox Anglican witness here since the 1840s. There is nothing secret about it. The Church of England has had dialogues with us from time to time and recognises our Orders. The Free Church of England’s witness has recently been augmented by the… Read more »

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

I think Jeremy is being a bit naive. If I want to show interest in this amazing initiative, do I contact the bishop of Newcastle or the curate of Jesmond who thinks he’s the real bishop? Obviously, these self-important people are suffering from delusions of grandeur but are, in fact, irrelevant and have no authority within the Church of England.

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

“In fact there is nothing new about the idea of an alternative Anglican jurisdiction in the British Isles. Such a jurisdiction already exists. “ Excuse me, are you the People’s Front of Judea? 20 churches in England. 20 churches abroad. If the English churches have half the membership that was estimated for the FCE four years ago, that will be a sum total of 450 people in total, in England which is almost certainly very generous estimate. I suspect more people are members of your local bowls club. I don’t wish to be down on the small guy, but to… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

I believe that Andrea Minichiello Williams is a barrister and therefore that she may understand how self-incriminating this letter is. I’m not being naive, FrDavidH; I’m simply pointing out how the signers themselves have invited inquiry to Church of England entities that should have nothing to do with this process. Bishop Fenwick says, “The precise form those jurisdictions might take is one of the areas of discussion.” So, we now have it from one of the people involved. It’s not just the “faithful ecclesial future” that’s being discussed. More specifically, it’s a “faithful ecclesial” _alternative_. And that has, or should… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Isn’t a basic aspect of the duty of loyalty the obligation not to plan an alternative to the organisation you lead?” it is. For example, people have been thrown out of the Labour Party not merely for membership of proscribed organisations like Militant, but for the rather more banal “crime” of discussing electoral pacts with Greens at constituency level. It’s quite clear that you cannot be a member of the Labour Party if you flirt with, never mind anything more substantive, other parties. But the “right sort” of opposition to Labour is looked on more benignly. Ken Loach has recently… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

“As South Carolina showed, the foxes must not be left in charge of the henhouse for long.”

Fun rhetoric, but

Not relevant and confusing analogy within CofE.

robert
Guest
robert

“It is our intention to welcome on that occasion an even greater diversity of contributors.” diversity??!! maybe they mean more than 2 women; diversity of views – now that is unlikely!

Marshall Scott
Guest

“I wonder if the anti slavery movement had the same conservative backlash in times gone by?” Brother Paul, it certainly did in these United States – justified at length from Scripture. “In fact there is nothing new about the idea of an alternative Anglican jurisdiction in the British Isles.” Bishop Fenwick, that is a matter we across the pond will know less about. There are in North America any number of ecclesial communities identifying as Anglican or Episcopal in heritage, and most have some claim to the historic episcopate (albeit some quite dubious or at least convoluted; and hardly ever… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Simon Dawson, the recent Synod motions are significant progress, but we should remember that advocates of LGBT rights haven’t yet won the argument: every single diocesan’s signed up to the official position that all sexual relationships outside hetrosexual marriage are sinful, and all LGBT people must be celibate for life. Pressure’s certainly building to overturn this odious doctrine, but with not a single diocesan willing to speak out against it, and any new teaching document not only delayed until at least 2020, but almost certain to reaffirm the position, it appears a long road ahead. (Unless it suddenly collapses, which… Read more »

Adam Armstrong
Guest
Adam Armstrong

The Paul Waddington comment seems to be saying that there will be two Churches in England: One will be aligned with ACNA and the other will be the “residue of the Church of England, which will alwasy be mired in controversy”. In other words “The ACNA Church will be a glorious edifice of true faith where all are of one mind and will go from strength to strength, excluding and judging the unworthy sinners, while the residue, the small insignificant remainder, or the detritus of the CofE will survive in a perilous, fractious, and conflicted state. The Church of England… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“every single diocesan’s signed up to the official position that all sexual relationships outside hetrosexual marriage are sinful” In the same way that every Catholic is signed up to the idea of using no contraception, presumably. The Anglo-Catholic T S Eliot wrote, in The Hollow Men, “This is the way the world ends // Not with a bang but a whimper.” And at the moment, the CofE is heading that way. No explosion, no implosion, no dramatic schism, not a gentle fading into irrelevance. The Catholic Church in Ireland still has a lot of residual power, but same-sex marriage was… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“an openly homophobic church would become a quaint, but rather nasty, cult”

The Church of England would have been all that, but for Synod’s actions this year.

Episcopally “led,” but synodically governed. Thanks be to God!

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

“Our number is drawn from bishops, clergy and laity, from across Great Britain and from a breadth of traditions. Much more importantly, however, we meet joyfully united by a shared endorsement of the terms of the Jerusalem Declaration.”

Note that a political rump often employs grandiose rhetoric.

“Rump, n. 1. The hind part of a mammal esp. the buttocks 2a. a small remnant of a parliament or similar body….” (The Canadian Oxford Dictionary)

Richard Grand
Guest
Richard Grand

What I and many have learned about Christianity in general and a portion of Anglicanism is that nothing matters more than treating gay people as filth. The whole GAFCON/ACNA “movement” will make many other excuses for its existence, but excluding and hating gay people is what actually drives them. It’s a sad caricature of Christianity that many see as the real thing. What does it say about the Gospel of love and compassion when large numbers of people see it instead a licence to exclude with absolutely no regret or concern. It seems to be a kind of homophobic sickness… Read more »

John Bunyan
Guest
John Bunyan

From past experience, I know it is risky saying anything here in support of “traditional marriage”. Judging by the present comments, one risks being condemned for “vile bigotry”, “treating gay people as filth”, “encouraging violent hatred” and at the very least guilty of homophobia. A letter in last week’s Church Times referred to the intolerance displayed by some “liberals” in General Synod and that intolerance seems to be growing. As for some of the remarks made on this site, I only know of gafcon representatives here in my Diocese of Sydney and they certainly have never encouraged “violent hatred”. Gafcon… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

James Byron. You are right to say that although the centre ground of opinion within synod, and within the membership of the CofE, has shifted significantly in a liberal direction on LGBTQ issues, we have not yet won the argument. The House of Bishops and those at a senior level of Church management have not yet caught up with that change, although they seem to be aware that they have lost control, and lost authority, in this area. That as why I wrote “Those of us in the more liberal end of the church should note [this change] with care,… Read more »

Laurence Tibbet
Guest
Laurence Tibbet

Simon Dawson – “Some major opinion surveys have reported that the majority of churchgoing Anglicans are now comfortable with same sex relationships and even same sex marriage”

Where are these opinion polls? I only saw polls that included vast numbers of non-churchgoing Anglicans…

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

The signatories are of course free to dissent from the line taken by Synod, and take whatever action they see fit; there have of course been many people over the centuries who have found the Church of England to be ‘pursuing principles, values and practices contrary to Holy Scripture and church Tradition’ but then often got into a lot of trouble for challenging it. This is only the latest in a whole host of doctrinal disputes, many of which are still around, but rarely discussed these days! The Church has usually accommodated profound social changes, not just in relation to… Read more »

Fr John E. Harris-White
Guest

Simon, My first reaction to this post was , let them go boil there heads, here they go again, sound and fury signifying nothing.. But today have just read your post. All credit to Whitehall and the Military in doing the sensible thing, and seeking your views and advice. Yes it would be positive if the ‘management’ of the Church of England did a similar thing. But they are afraid so to do. Even more so when they now look north across the border, and see the results of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Brought about by meaniful cascade conversations, where… Read more »

Richard Grand
Guest
Richard Grand

@John Bunyan: I am aware that the phrase “treating gay people as filth” seems extreme. But it is accurate and it may help to be blunt in telling the truth.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Andrew, that is well put–though many would say that the theological work has already been done, many times over. The bishops want to temporize, but as you point out, with each round the CofE just keeps painting itself into a smaller corner. There’s a lot of distinctly unattractive archiepiscopal and episcopal virtue signalling at work here. And the signals are designed to be received not by anyone in England, but by the Global South. Naturally this leads to a widening gap, in England, between church and society. As you rightly say, each round of signalling–and each passing year–has a human… Read more »

Andrew Lightbown
Guest

I think that over the long haul episcopal leadership tends to react and is shaped by the church as a whole and the direction it is moving in. The notion that bishops can impose a view doesn’t hold water. They also know that subsidiarity if not granted will ultimately be claimed. There is now a clear direction of travel, led and endorsed by the North Western bishops (Bayes, Walker but not yet the +Chester). The road will be bumpy. A lot also depends on the course of action that the very conservative evangelicals take. If the bishops can’t hold them… Read more »

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest

In the light of a reference to my case in Andrew’s comment it is perhaps worth reminding TA readers that this case is not yet over. It comes before the Court of Appeal early next year.

rjb
Guest
rjb

This vision of a “faithful ecclesial future” rather reminds me of the old medievalists’ joke about the Holy Roman Empire: an entity that notoriously was neither holy, Roman, nor an empire.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Andrew, the current Bishop of Chester is now 67 years of age and has been in office for 21 years. He has less than 3 years to go before he reaches his three score years and ten and may well wish to complete a quarter of a century as Chester’s diocesan. My guess is that he will be replaced by someone of a more liberal outlook, someone who holds views not dissimilar to those of the present bishops of Liverpool and Manchester. In the 1960s we used to talk about Southbank Christianity. In the 21st century there appears to be… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse (Fr William)
Guest

I regard myself as socially and theologically radical, and liturgically conservative. It’s the liturgical aspects of what goes on in the contemporary C of E that give me a smidgeon of sympathy for these people. I think liturgy matters: common actions, choral speech, ritual of some sort, whether flag-waving, censing, or whatever. Liturgy held the C of E together for centuries. BCP collects taught people in the absence of a magisterium. Both have gone to varying degrees—almost entirely in some places. So what is left? My psychopathology is such that I like reading profiles of parishes seeking priests. Many give… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Laurence Tibbet, thanks for your question about opinion polls questioning the views on homosexuality and same sex marriage amongst Anglicans. I agree that it can be difficult to determine whether those who define themselves as Anglican within the survey are active churchgoers or not. It is very clear that a majority of self defined Anglicans (whether church goers or not) are now sympathetic to same sex relationships. For example: http://www.natcen.ac.uk/news-media/press-releases/2017/february/half-of-anglicans-believe-there-is-nothing-wrong-with-same-sex-relationships/ Of the surveys I am aware of, only Linda Woodhead attempts to separate out church going from non church going Anglicans. She reports that in her survey “Despite the churches’… Read more »

Froghole
Guest
Froghole

@rjb: Excellent point, but I think the old medievalist was Voltaire.

Laurence Tibbet
Guest
Laurence Tibbet

@ Jeremy: “Here’s to more leadership from below”.

But the House of Laity voted *for* taking note of the bishop’s report…? When have the bishops and laity been on opposing sides on sexuality motions in Synod this year?

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Couldn’t agree more about ignoring the semi-schismatic ultra-conservative rump, Simon. They don’t hold the keys to change in England (and with it, the wider communion): as you rightly say, it’s the bishops. Good point about convincing them that LGBT-affirming groups are the experts here. With the carrot needs to be the stick that, if they refuse to budge, they’ll be bypassed. Evangelicals leave bishops under no illusions about who runs the church, and don’t hesitate to use cash and numbers as incentives. The affirming camp must be every bit as unflinching, and make clear that the cowed, ashamed people who… Read more »

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

Heres some additional facts..the free Church of England ( which had a thousand members and about 22 churches) split after John Fenwick became a bishop….he was too high church, and there are now two Free Church of England’s and neither side can afford to sue each other.The evangelical faction against Fenwick has a bishop who is former Roman Catholic priest.

The Free Church of England only acknowledges 37 articles of religion.

RPNewark
Guest
RPNewark

Thank you for that Jeremy. I had been wondering ever since Justin Gau’s reference to it in a recent address in Cambridge (Thinking Anglicans 31 May 2017). May it go well for you.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re Stanley Monkhouse, “The liturgy is there, the preaching is sound, and the magisterium is what it is. I can take or leave bits of that.” Just like most Roman Catholics, so you will blend into the cafeteria very nicely. Re Robert Ian Williams, “The Free Church of England only acknowledges 37 articles of religion.” Which is way more than acknowledged by most Anglicans. It is unfortunate to see good people become so obsessed about one issue that they would join a marginal break away entity. It would be much better if they invested in therapy and/or joined one of… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Laurence Tibbet, you are correct in terms of numbers but not I think in terms of energy.

And of course in the take-note debate it only took one non-episcopal House to show the leadership from below that was required.

Perhaps I am optimistic, but I do believe that the House of Laity is persuadable.