Read it all and there is also an Anglican Mainstream Press Release
Mmmm? I imagine this filled with joy the heart of the Bishop of Sheffield?
The real issue is not what Pete Jackson does (he is entitled to seek ordination anywhere, if he chooses) nor what Christ Church Walkley does (it is not part of the Church of England and can call who it likes to be a minister).
Nor is it various other red herrings (I note one complaint posted on Thinking Anglicans that this congregation advertises “Holy Communion” which was alleged to be a breach of the CofE’s intellectual property – Roman Cathollics and several other denominations might have something to say about that!)
The real issue is that the Anglican Primate of Kenya has ordained yet another person to serve a congregation in England. The congregation is Anglican, established as a new church plant by a CofE congregation (Christ Church Fulwood) but not itself part of the CofE.
But, driver8, surely the good bishop is happy – did he not found Fresh Expressions, a joint initiative of the Methodists and CofE to promote new ways of doing church outside traditional boundaries?
Interesting that the parent church, Christ Church Fulwood, has a stated goal of founding one new congregation every two years.
My impression, derived largely from those who have been in the Diocese longer than I, is that Bishop Steven’s priority is church growth. If a congregation of whatever theological stripe is growing, by whatever means, he generally approves. Since the Diocese is in a poor way financially, it has little leverage over congregations that are self-supporting, even if it wished to do so.
I gather that there are a couple of established Evangelical congregations (the person who told me this didn’t mention their names) that have – to all intents and purposes – dispensed with episcopal oversight (not because of Croft personally, but as an expression of distrust in the overall trajectory of the Church of England).
Going the other way, I see that Holy Trinity Brompton has just quietly planted a daughter church in the Washington, DC suburbs. I can’t imagine the TEC bishops of Washington or Virginia are terribly happy about that.
When three of my favorite commenters chime in on a thread (driver8, MichaelA, and Dr. Bonner), I can’t resist adding a long comment of my own. Please bear with me as I give vent to one of my pet themes, how this portentious event is indicative of the inevitability of what I like to call The New Reformation.
I regard this ordination in Kenya of an Anglican church planter in England to be highly significant indeed. In large part, that’s due to the fact that it was ++Eliud Wabuka who ordained the new priest, since he is one of the most respected leaders in the Global South (GS), and more importantly, the head of the GAFCON Primates’ Council. He’s not the sort of chap who acts like a Lone Ranger, but he typically acts in a collegial fashion, and can be presumed to have gained the consent of the rest of the FCA primates for this provocative act. That’s in notable contrast to the highly independent way that ++Kolini and ++Tay acted back in AD 2000 when they ordained +Murphy and +Rodgers and thereby started AMiA.
Let’s face it. The harsh reality is that it isn’t just the worldwide Anglican Communion that’s breaking up these days. It’s also all the official Anglican bodies in the Global North (GN) that used to assume that they had a monopoly on the Anglican brand. They are being torn apart as well in the relentless Tug of War between two competing gospels and the incompatible worldviews they represent. Given the special circumstances of the Mother Church in England, that fateful process of disintegration may well take longer and be even more bitter in the venerable old CoE than elsewhere, but it’s doomed to happen nonetheless.
May I remind regular readers of one of my favorite lines by the late, great doctrinal historian Jaroslav Pelikan? He famously quipped (back in his Lutheran days) that the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century was “[i]a tragic necessity.[/i]” He would add that Catholics tended to forget or minimize how necessary it was, whereas Protestants tended to fail to recognize (or were loathe to admit) just how terribly tragic it was. I’m in hearty agreement with Pelikan’s balanced assessment.
Personally, I think it applies just as much to the sad breakup of Anglicanism in our own day. Yes, it’s tragic all right, heartbreakingly so. But it’s also utterly necessary, if the truth of the authentic gospel is to be preserved, which it must be, at all costs. The ancient catholic fathers at Nicea in AD 325 and again at Constantinople in AD 381 would’ve agreed. Rank heretics simply have to be expelled. The gangrene or cancer of some kinds of theological and moral error simply must be cut out and dealt with ruthlessly, or the whole body will perish in the end.
Maybe as an American I have no proper place in the debates over the fate of the CoE. Maybe it’s presumptuous of me to voice any opinion about the legitimacy of starting new Anglican congregations and even dioceses in England that are outside the structures of the venerable old Mother Church, the CoE. But I don’t think so. For these are matters in which all Anglicans have a vital stake. The very future and survival of Anglicanism depends on how we resolve this great matter.
For better or worse, whether we like it or not, I’m confident that this sort of ordination, and the startup of new Anglican churches outside the CoE, is going to happen more and more. This is something like the thin end of the wedge, and it will inevitably become more common in the years ahead.
I admit that, while I have mixed feelings about this momentous and portentious development, I regard it as another “tragic necessity.” More than that, I see in this ominous but also promising development yet one more indication that we’re living in the early stages of what I love to call The New Reformation. And I’m fully convinced that this Second Reformation of the 21st century will eventually surpass the original Reformation of the 16th century in scope and significance. I’m fairly sure that it will someday surpass the European Protestant Reformation in both how deeply and bitterly divisive it is, and in how life-giving and renewing it proves to be. And the reason for that will be entirely due to the drastic change from a Christendom social context in 16th century Europe to an emphatically post-Christendom context throughout the GN today. The Fundamental Fact of our time for Christians is the sea change from a pro-Christian culture to an increasingly anti-Christian one. And that fact literally changes everything. Not least for those traditions with a state church heritage, like us anglicans.
This year marks the 1700th anniversary of Constantine’s epoch-making Edict of Milan. But the Christendom/Constantinian era is truly over, and it’s not coming back. Not even if we double or triple the number of converts in the next generation or two. But I’m not dismayed by that. For like the pre-Imperial Church, we too can not only survive but flourish, if we are willing to pay the same high price for following Jesus at all costs that they were. So be it!
#5 — where is that story?
I haven’t seen a story anywhere, I just happen to have been told about it. I haven’t visited. From the website, it appears to be Alpha course-based, which seems natural enough. Their website is here: http://www.htchurch.us/about-htc/welcome
# 8 — thanks. It appears to be an independent church (without link to TEC or DC Diocese) yet with clergy who were ordained in the CofE. Typically, one in this category would have sought a license to officiate (in TEC) or a permission to officiate (in CofE), but this does not seem to be what was sought.
Dr Seitz, interesting also that the web-site of HTC-DC claims that:
[blockquote] “HTC has that same flavour, as well as the same relational links to HTB and also the Bishop of London, spiritual father to Jamie and Andy.” [/blockquote]
Now for all I know, Bishop Chartres might be right behind this – but it doesn’t strike me as his style. He is meticulous about following form.
And when I read that quote again, I notice how vague it is – what is a “relational link” after all? And what does “spiritual father” mean?
Whatever the truth is, +Chartres name has been brought into this, and that would carry considerable kudos with many Anglicans.
The question I have is: was +VA asked and did he sign off on this? Haven’t we been told of negotiations between Truro and +VA, and would this have been in the mix?
Peter Ould is whingeing about the Sheffield ordination: http://www.peter-ould.net/2013/02/20/more-on-the-sheffield-spat/
Peter+ is concerned that this will make life more difficulty for him and other orthodox in CofE. Perhaps that is so, but then, how does he know he won’t end up exactly like the orthodox in TEC – marginalised and eventually driven out – regardless of whether ++Kenya ordains some Englishmen as priests?
I do think that Peter+, for all his erudition and wisdom, still hasn’t grasped the nature of what is happening. There are quite a number of church plants like Christ Church Walkley in places where CofE diocesan authorities either now or in times past discouraged evangelical church planting. As a result, the people in those church plants do not feel much affinity with the CofE hierarchy. But they see themselves as Anglicans, they call themselves Anglican, and there is nothing anyone in England can do to stop that, as long as they don’t say they belong to the Church of England.
And there is another group who may be relevant to this – nobody knows how many Kenyans, Ugandans, Nigerians etc are in the UK. But there are more than a million of them, by any account, and many will be Anglican. It would not be difficult to form congregations which are “Anglican” but not CofE, and the African archbishops can send clergy to them – so long as those clergy don’t want to officiate in CofE churches, the CofE won’t even know about it.
The next major escalation will come about when there are enough Anglican (but not CofE) congregations in England to require local episcopal oversight. That will be fascinating to watch.
Prof Seitz, very good point.
One more thing:
In about 2000, Charles Raven, the vicar of Kidderminster in the Diocese of Worcester, England, had a spat with his bishop. The vicar wanted the bishop to publicly commit to orthodoxy, and against liberal teaching, particularly concerning the ordination of practicing homosexuals. The spat became heated and in 2002, Revd Raven and much of his congregation walked out and formed a new church nearby at Wyre Forest. The new church declared itself to be Anglican but not CofE, and so it continues to this day.
Revd Raven is now the “Officer for Anglican Communion Affairs” to ++Wabukala of Kenya. He also heads the Centre for Anglican Studies in Nairobi which provides advanced training to clergy.
[i]There are quite a number of church plants like Christ Church Walkley in places where CofE diocesan authorities either now or in times past discouraged evangelical church planting. As a result, the people in those church plants do not feel much affinity with the CofE hierarchy. But they [b]see themselves as Anglicans, they call themselves Anglican,[/b] and there is nothing anyone in England can do to stop that, as long as they donâ€™t say they belong to the Church of England.[/i]
Isn’t David’s point that one should at least try to work through a structure first? That, after all, was the rationale by which ACN evolved into ACNA. The present diocesan of Sheffield appears to take a fairly pragmatic approach when people have the energy to start a church plant, so little would have been lost by at least discussing the matter with the Diocese first. If they had received a flat negative, [i]then[/i] looking to the FCA would have been the logical next step.
Jeremy, I probably didn’t convey it very well in my posts above (which ramble a fair bit!) but having read the factual points made on Peter Ould’s blog I can see that my initial view of this situation was mistaken – this congregation (CC Walkley) has probably never felt any connection with the Diocese of Sheffield. CC Walkley is an offshoot of CC Central, which was established by CC Fulwood back in 2003, in the days when +Nicholls forbade church plants. So CC Central learned to get on without the diocese. Then when CC Central established CC Walkley, there just wasn’t any connection between the new plant and the diocese at all. That is just my theory, but it fits with the facts reported by Peter Ould.
I agree with you, that +Croft has taken a different attitude to his predecessor (despite my flippant comment above). +Croft works together with the evangelical churches. So CC Fulwood, which once established plants in opposition to the diocese, now works in respectful co-operation with the bishop and other parishes in the diocese, and everyone is happy. But the granddaughter church, CC Walkley, is long gone and I doubt that CC Fulwood has any control over it, except some mutual respect.
So, if I am right, telling CC Walkley to speak to the diocese first is meaningless to them – you might as well ask them to talk to the Methodists or the Baptists. Its not a reaction against the diocese, its more that the diocese has never had any relevance to this congregation. At least that is my read on the reports.
What +Croft is doing is sensible and godly, even if he is not my cup of tea doctrinally. But I suspect it is too late – there appears to be a series of churches in England that broke away from CofE back during the confrontative period of 1998-2005, or have been planted since, and they have lost any connection with CofE. They are calling ministers from each other (note how Charles Raven’s old congregation in Worcester has just called its new rector from Christ Church Durham), they will get new ordinations done by Gafcon when they need them, and its only a matter of time before they get their own bishops consecrated.
And despite the connections of Reform and FCA, I doubt that they are “in control” of this movement – by now it has a life of its own.
I am still rambling – sorry if this is not very coherent but I am trying to put pieces together.
That makes very good sense to me, but it also seems to point to a different future from that which some of the founders of GAFCON may have initially envisaged.
Rather than a simple bi-polar expression of Anglicanism, we are likely to see increasingly independent – in fact if not in theory – missional networks, whose attachment to [i]any[/i] global Anglican entity may not not be that different from the relationship of Baptist churches to the World Baptist Fellowship. One can like or dislike such a prospect but it will make for a very different sort of global ecclesial structure.
I wonder if, as the African provinces develop economically, we may begin to see the same thing happen there, not over the cultural issues besetting the West, but over, say, the extent of charismatic worship and practice permitted.
I don’t know why anyone would have asked the TEC bishop of Virginia (or DC – it is in Virginia, but given its location seems likely to draw just as much from DC) since looking at the website, it is officially independent. It may look like an ACNA church plant aimed at Alpha/seekers, and given the longstanding ties between HTB and the Virginia ACNA churches, I suspect the ACNA Virginia churches support it and their members may have supported it from early on, but I also doubt that the ACNA church planters have any thought that such a seeker church has a strong need to be officially Anglican, even their part of it, and are fine if not being officially Anglican (or ACNA) helps it in its mission. (Perhaps if “reconciliation” by the ABC were to mean including orthodox churches instead of excluding the ones that won’t submit to TEC, that could change and these things cleaned up, but I haven’t seen that.)
#16. I agree in general terms. However, I recall discussions emanating from Truro Church about cordial talks with +VA. The name of HTB was part of that. That was the point of my comment.
#19. Good point. I had forgotten that both the TEC bishop of Virginia and Rector Tory Baucom had been reported as attending a conference together at HTB when they met with Chartres and Welby. I suppose it was possible that the rector of Truro was not in the know about the new plant, but I would certainly think folks at HTB would have been. Perhaps this means the DoVA is fine with it as long as it begins as an independent church. Though I don’t imagine Lee would have been.