Telegraph: Anglican parishes to ordain own clergy

Dozens of conservative parishes will start ordaining their own clergy in an open revolt against their bishops if the Church of England continues its liberal drift, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.

Dr Rowan Williams was told that evangelicals would increasingly defy Church rules and their own bishops by parachuting in outsiders to carry out irregular ordinations of “orthodox” candidates.

The warning came from Reform, a 1,700-strong evangelical network, which is setting up structures to allow it operate as a resistance movement within the Church.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

14 comments on “Telegraph: Anglican parishes to ordain own clergy

  1. Bob from Boone says:

    My first thought is that the spokesperson was getting his rhetorical hyperbole from the AAC, then I realized that the British have long been better at it than we Americans.

    If they carry out their threat, then they are obviously intending to create a separate (ultra-)evangelical church. I doubt C of E bishops will tolerate or accept clergy ordained by flying bishops in their own dioceses.

  2. Br. Michael says:

    I doubt they can do anything about it Bob.

  3. Larry Morse says:

    Guess who has brought this on himself and the CoE?
    The war is spreading, clearly. The issue, in spite of what all the rational voices are saying, is homosexuality and the power of its lobby to control what a church thinks and does. Will they suceed?
    If they do, what will the effect be, not simply on the Anglican church but on society broadly? Or is the war already over in society and we don’t knnow it? Larry

  4. JonReinert says:

    As nearly everywhere in the communion, the growing church is evangelical. Slowly the evangelicals are waking to the power this gives them. No Bishop can afford to alienate the only part of their dioceses which are growing.
    Jon R

  5. badman says:

    The Church of England has already taken action against a clergyman arranging irregular ordination by an outside bishop without the consent of the diocesan. It let him off with a slap on the wrists, but, if Reform clergy go ahead with their strategy of canonical disobedience, they will lose their places. They can carry on as another church, of course, but they won’t be part of the Church of England.

    Someone is bound to ask about property! Well, the answer is it depends. The parish church always belongs to the established church and it is impossible for it to be severed from the national church by an act of secession, whether by clergy, churchwardens, congregation or anyone else. However, the evangelicals represented by Reform (who have fewer than 2,000 members in the whole nation) often worship in more recently acquired structures, or even in buildings used for other purposes, which don’t belong to the Church of England. They could probably keep those, but they would not be parish churches; they would be more in the nature of chapels. They would be no different from other chapels in Church of England dioceses, such as those of non conformists.

  6. naab00 says:

    Badman, you need to check a few facts before pontificating.

    The constituency that Reform represents in England is huge. Fewer than 2000 paid up members. But a good number of allies amongst the Clergy, and a very significant number of sympathisers in the pews.

    I would not be too quick to write Reform off.

  7. badman says:

    Thanks for the correction naab00. I’ll take your word for it. Can you quantify the good number of allies and the significant number of sympathisers? Are these allies and sympathisers simply in tune with Reform on male headship and human sexuality, or will they also support the break up of the Church of England? Some indication of the source of your facts would also be interesting.

  8. Bill C says:

    The loss of even 500 evangelical parishes, all of them strong evangelical parishes, will bring disaster to the CofE, since it is the evangelical parishes who bring the most income to a CofE already strapped fr cash. More importantly these churches are churches which show the most growth in the CofE.

  9. naab00 says:

    Difficult to put stats on the numbers badman. Reform is in many senses simply the mainstream evangelical voice in Church of England. Those who believe in “ordinary”, traditional, biblical Christianity, are basically on the same side as them. Reform are often pilloried and criticized because when they speak they speak the truth in love but clearly – that their first allegiance is to the Lord of the gospel and not actually to “the Church of England” or the ABC. Amongst those who are into religion and whose first allegiance is to the organisation, that is not popular. Reform does not want to see the Church of England break up. But is growing in confidence and courage to stand firm and risk that – if the gospel requires it.

    You are right to ask about male headship. Reform does believe in that and, because the liberalisation of the Church of England has gone a long way, they are in a minority about that. But members of Reform (which is a network not an authority structure or organisation) are on a spectrum; most would be opposed to a woman leading a church and many would question the concept of a woman teaching men – but that is not anti-women (in my view) or anti-women’s ordination.

    As far as sympathisers are concerned, on the sexuality debate Reform speak for the vast majority of the laity of the Church of England in my understanding. The majority of the clergy would also be in support and would therefore be allies but thec lergy are much more mixed – and some of them really do hate (lovely and Christian eh?!) Reform because they are prepared to rock the boat on issues where they deem it matters. There is a radical liberal edge, esp amongst the clergy, which is also growing in confidence and so is increasingly vocal. (I am giving personal perspective – I am in no way a spokesman by the way.)

  10. rugbyplayingpriest says:

    Whats daft is that they can easily do this anyway by passing Resolution C and using the established flying bishops!

    So what is so revolutionary?

  11. naab00 says:

    There are no flying Bishops in the Church of England who are evangelical.

  12. Dale Rye says:

    Re #11: Because the faction within the CofE who were both evangelical and implacably opposed to women presbyters was rather small at the time the flying bishop scheme was created. The growth of the evangelical faction and shrinkage of traditional Anglo-Catholicism has altered that balance. Reform (although not to the same extent as the Church Society) defines itself as Protestant as against Catholicism, so the existing Provincial Visitors are just as objectionable to them as the regular hierarchy. If they want an uncompromised bishop who is both evangelical and traditionalist, they have to go outside England.

  13. Dale Rye says:

    An interesting sidelight on this comes from The Rt. Rev. Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willisden in the Diocese of London, via the Fulcrum website:

    A few days before the first rumors of this started circulating, Bp. Broadbent and the other Evangelical bishops of the Church of England had a meeting with the Reform Council, who told them specifically that they did not want to seek oversight outside the province. In fact, when the story first broke in the English papers, Bp. Broadbent publicly chastised those who were circulating the story as having essentially made it up. Imagine his surprise when Reform issued this statement announcing that they would call in the Global South primates if the C of E does not come their way voluntarily. The bishop concludes,

    [blockquote]So we’re back to a situation where we’re trying to be helpful to, and have dialogue with, a group who feel disenfranchised in the Church of England, but where it’s very difficult to know what they really do think or want. And my great fear is that the overseas solution will simply cause even people who might have been sympathetic to Reform’s concerns to turn against them. Which will increase their sense of alienation. So, my plea to Reform is – please do not go down the overseas road. Stay within the Church of England, and seek to work within its structures.[/blockquote]

    So, it seems that reappraisers do not have a monopoly on making misleading assurances.

  14. naab00 says:

    Dale, thanks for this. It is of course SPIN as you know.
    First time I’ve heard of mainstream orthodoxy described as a faction.

    If readers would like to follow the whole of the Fulcrum thread, it can be found here: