Category : * Anglican – Episcopal
As the Council of Forward in Faith, North America we have discussed with the six FiF NA bishops who have just returned from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, where they met in Conclave, the implications of the Message from the College of Bishops. They have been very clear that the agreement of the College is that individual statements, and, in particular, attributing to individual bishops, their comments cannot occur. Moreover, any comments that would appear to suggest some form of “victory” would be highly inappropriate. The College understands that the January meeting in Melbourne Florida will be the next opportunity for them to meet and prayerfully proceed. We acknowledge that the College of Bishops met, often in Silence, for the purpose of receiving the excellent Report of the Task Force on Holy Orders. We give thanks that one of our FiF NA bishops served on the Task Force, and that one of our bishops served on the four-man team which produced the Statement. We also acknowledge that the Statement was unanimously endorsed, but that this endorsement does not imply that Traditionalist Bishops have reached any conclusion other than the one that has been articulated for 2000 years. By now we are certain that everyone has read both the Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Church in North America and also the Task Force Report, and that with these in mind, have evaluated the Statement from the College of Bishops. This Conclave was designed and reported to be the very first time that serious theological conversation has occurred regarding the nature of Holy Orders as an innovation in the Episcopal Church in 1976. Since the formation of ACNA, we have endeavored to study and discuss the Three-Fold Ministry as a Received reality and mystery, and then to study and discuss the reality of who may be ordained, based on their sex, their marital status, and their moral character among other considerations. We must add that Forward in Faith, North America is comprised of numerous Anglican jurisdictions, with the ACNA representing the largest percentage of membership. We note that, with the exception of the Episcopal Church, none of our other jurisdictions ordain women. Forward in Faith is comprised of numerous jurisdictions, all of whom have signed our Declaration which maintains all elements of the Historic Faith.
Forward in Faith welcomes the report on the nomination to the See of Sheffield and related concerns by the Independent Reviewer, Sir Philip Mawer, and his recommendations. As the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have said, the report is ‘detailed, thoughtful and authoritative’. Like them, we shall read it carefully. We look forward to the more detailed response that the Archbishops promise.
We welcome Sir Philip’s statement that ‘there is no doubt that Bishop North’s nomination was consistent with the House of Bishops’ Declaration and the Five Guiding Principles’ (para. 130).
Sir Philip finds that ‘not nearly enough’ has been done to inform and educate clergy and laity about the 2014 Settlement (190). We welcome his recommendation that the House of Bishops provide resources to help dioceses, deaneries, parishes and training institutions to engage in further consideration of the issues and to ensure that ‘mutual flourishing’ is achieved (191).
We note that Sir Philip does not believe that Professor Percy’s ‘view of what constitutes “mutual flourishing” is consistent with what the House and the Synod had in mind in espousing the Declaration and the Five Guiding Principles’ (167). He comments, ‘The challenge posed by Professor Percy and some others… is in effect a fundamental challenge to the 2014 Settlement’ (132). We welcome Sir Philip’s recommendation that the House of Bishops give further attention to this theological challenge to the Settlement (198). It is the House of Bishops’ Declaration, so the House of Bishops needs to defend it.
As Sir Philip says, the Settlement was a package. We note that the Measure and Canon which permit the ordination of women to the episcopate form part of that package. As Sir Philip comments: ‘Try to unpick the package and the basis for the settlement is immediately called into question’ (16b)….
A report of the review of nomination to the See of Sheffield by the independent reviewer Sir Philip Mawer has been…[recently] published….
The report and appendices set out the findings of a review requested by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in March this year following the announcement that the Bishop of Burnley, Philip North, was to withdraw from nomination to the Diocese of Sheffield….
Summary of findings and conclusions:
Sir Philip finds that Bishop Philip North’s nomination to the See of Sheffield was entirely consistent with the terms of the 2014 Settlement which enabled the consecration of women as bishops in the Church of England. However:
- The nomination of Bishop North – a bishop who would not ordain women as priests – came as a surprise to many, indicating a failure to inform and educate people that such a nomination was possible under the terms of the Settlement.
- There is scope for improvement in the processes leading to the nomination of candidates to the Crown for appointment as diocesan bishops.
- Events surrounding the nomination also raise some fundamental theological and pastoral issues relating to the 2014 Settlement and its operation.
- They also point to a failure to anticipate the likely reaction to Bishop North’s nomination and to plan for handling it.
According to [Bishop Festus Davies]… the Church today had abandoned its first love, as it now emphasises prosperity preaching over and above the salvation message. “The challenge the Church is facing today is that the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries stood for the undiluted word of God, but the present generation is diluting the word of God to the extent that everybody is now preaching what he/she likes. “Everybody preaches what suits him/her and not what Christ stood for. Healing and prosperity in the Bible are good but that cannot be our major emphasis. Once they get the gospel right, there is healing, deliverance, and breakthrough…but Christ first and all other material things will be added to you and not the other way round.” Continuing, he asked: “How can you talk about healing when Christ has not been preached; where do you get the healing from? Until we go back to the old time religion we will not get ourselves right,” he maintained. The bishop noted that the Church has lost its respect in the society, because preachers now preach to please politicians for what they would gain from them.
The Global South Primates are meeting their promise. It is a promise, not a threat. But as faithful members of the Anglican Communion, they can no longer wait for the Archbishop of Canterbury or the status quo structures to cure themselves. In fact, at least three of the four Communion structures or “instruments” are at war with each other! Consider the Anglican Consultative Council’s repudiation of the authority of the Primates over matters of doctrine and order at their April 2016 meeting in Lusaka (Zambia), and Canterbury’s deafening silence.
Since the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican status quo cannot heal the wound, the Global South will apply healing balm through a recovery of “enhanced ecclesial responsibility.” What will these new structures look like in keeping with “faithful Anglican membership”? How will the intensification of relationships around these new structures impact relationships around the current broken Instruments? What charm offensive will we see from Canterbury to disrupt this work by the Global South?
Finally, the Global South Primates comments about the Church of England are also pointed. They rightly praise Bishop Julian Henderson of the Diocese of Blackburn for coming over and reporting on “the challenges facing orthodox Anglicans in the Church of England.” But it is noteworthy that they not only call upon faithful Anglicans to stand firm, but also to “speak up” for the central place of Scripture in the life of the Church. Bishop Henderson came over and did so – but where are the other Bishops in the Church of England? What does it mean to be an “evangelical” bishop in the Church of England these days if not to boldly speak up for the clarity, authority and centrality of the Scriptures in the life of the Church? What challenge have the Global South Primates laid down to the Bishops of the Church of England in these carefully chosen words?
Oh, and by the way, who is “failing to walk together” when, as the Global South Primates note, the conditions for “walking together” were nullified by the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, in his failure to see that the restrictions on The Episcopal Church were observed and respected?
As the Canterbury Primates meeting October 2017 draws near, how many more Primates will say, in the same spirit as Nehemiah did when facing dilatory meetings, “My work is too important to stop now and go there. I can’t afford to slow down the work just to visit with you.” (Nehemiah 6:2-3)
The survey of 8150 British adults was conducted by ComRes in March and published this week. Just over half (51 per cent) of those responding to the survey defined themselves as Christian. This compares with the latest British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey, published last week, which found that 41 per cent of 2129 respondents identified themselves as Christian (News, 8 September).
Of the Christian respondents in the ComRes survey, 32 per cent were over 65 and just six per cent were under 24. Fifty-six per cent classified themselves as Anglican, once again, a higher percentage than the BSA finding. Almost two-thirds of the Christians said that they had become a Christian aged 0-4. Just 14 per cent agreed when asked whether they were an “active Christian”; 28 per cent agreed with the definition: “follower of Jesus”.
Asked about how often they read or listened to the Bible, 55 per cent of Christians answered “never”; 14 per cent said at least once a month. Twenty-nine per cent said that they never prayed; 40 per cent at least once a month; 18 per cent daily.
The annual meeting of the College of Bishops of the Church of England was held in Oxford from 11-14 September with the theme of “Telling the Gospel of Salvation in Every place”, exploring how the Church ministers to every community in the country.
Over the four day meeting, a wide ranging agenda was discussed, including, Renewal and Reform, Simplification, Mission and Theology, Church Planting and Minority Ethnic Inclusion. Reflections and discussions took place in group and plenary sessions.
Members of the College were joined this year in the first two days of the meeting by a number of BAME clergy to help bring additional perspectives on how the Church of England can reach more effectively into every community.
As with all meetings of the College of Bishops, the considerations of the College took place in private and its conclusions will be subsequently referred to the House of Bishops.
(Christian Today) Should the Church panic at the latest statistics on religious affiliation? Why Bishop Stephen Cotrell says ‘no’
The survey conducted by the National Centre for Social Research showed that 53 per cent of adults have no religious belief. It also revealed there was a decline in the number of people who identified as Anglican. Out of the 2,942 adults asked, 15 per cent said they were Anglican.
Responding to the figure that 71 per cent of 18-25 year olds have no religious affiliation, Bishop Cottrell said young people are more comfortable describing themselves as spiritual rather than religious, but this often means an openness to the possibility of God ‘and often a deep attraction to the person of Christ’.
He admitted it is impossible for any Christian or any Christian leader to look at the figures ‘without a certain amount of despondency’.
But it was not something to panic about and Britain had not suddenly become ‘a nation of atheists’.
He said: ‘It awakens us yet again to the great missionary challenge we face.’
Twenty-three years ago, when I was in my first pastoral appointment, there was an 11-year-old boy who started coming to my church at the suggestion of a teacher at his middle school. He was an isolated, disconsolate figure who didn’t mix easily and took a greedy share of the cookies after worship. After he had been coming a few months, funds were found for him to participate in a parish weekend retreat.
By Saturday morning, the complaints were raining down. He was rude. He was grabbing food. He was bullying the younger children. The adults finally had to talk to each other about it; it was one of those parish conversations where the pastor doesn’t get a casting vote. The teacher through whose influence the boy had first come to church pointed out that, being brought up solely by his young and temperamental father, he was a troubled boy looking for security. Allowances were made, patience was maintained, and gradually the lad began to find his feet.
Nine months later at a special evening service he was baptized. His father was not there. His mother and brother, living across town, weren’t there either. But about 40 people were, and each member of the congregation was invited to describe what they most valued about being members of that church. One said friendship, another said acceptance, a third said trust. When the boy was asked the same question his narrow, fixed frown broke, for once, into a smile, and he replied, “You didn’t throw me out after that weekend.”
(Telegraph) Priests-in-training to be given glossaries because they struggle to understand the Book of Common Prayer
Priests-in-training are to be given glossaries to help them understand the Book of Common Prayer for the first time because they struggle to decipher the language.
The Prayer Book Society, which gives out free copies of the 17th century book to first-year students in theological colleges, will this year also include a key to some of its more old-fashioned words and phrases.
The list includes definitions for words such as “eschew” meaning abstain from, “concord”, for an agreement between people, and “froward”, meaning perverse or contrary.
I always used to think that no political party would be prepared to give disestablishment the time and effort that it would require. But Prime Minister Corbyn might just be the man to do it. And far from being a fusty move for constitutional committees, disestablishment could be framed as an attempt to rationally redesign a Britain fit for a global role beyond the EU. After all, who needs Christian morality in the age of human rights?
Don’t get me wrong. I do not warm to the state of affairs that I have just described. Indeed, I feel profoundly alienated from such a country. It is just that I think something like this is unavoidable and that the established church has to get ahead of the situation by transforming itself, rather than play a continuous rearguard action against the inevitable.
But there is opportunity here for the church, as well as loss. What we give up is our traditional role as courtiers. Good, I say. The banners of the New Model Army would proudly proclaim that there is no king but Jesus. And to say that Jesus is the supreme authority is to say that no one else can be – not the Romans, not the pope, not the House of Stuart or the House of Windsor. The Church of England was specifically designed to soften that thought, to make it less dangerous. Christians were to be housetrained. We were to give up all our revolutionary talk of bringing God’s kingdom to earth and settle instead for a warm vicarage and being nice to our parishioners. That settlement is about to be ripped up.
I do not believe that disestablishment will revive the numerical fortunes of the church. Looking at our disestablished cousins, I think it may well mean we will decline at an even faster rate – at least in the short to medium term (and that means centuries in church terms). But please, my fellow Anglicans, we need to go before we are no longer welcome. And go in the knowledge that, as people of the resurrection, we do not fear death – either personally or institutionally.
I am outraged by the recent S.C. Supreme Court decision that strips the title of 28 churches in the Diocese of South Carolina and awards them to the national Episcopal Church. As acting Justice Jean Toal wrote in a dissent: “The First Amendment prohibits civil courts from resolving church property disputes on the basis of religious doctrine and practice.”
In an act of mutual submission at the foundation of the Anglican Church in North America, it was agreed that each Diocese and Jurisdiction has the freedom, responsibility, and authority to study Holy Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition of the Church, and to seek the mind of Christ in determining its own convictions and practices concerning the ordination of women to the diaconate and the priesthood. It was also unanimously agreed that women will not be consecrated as bishops in the Anglican Church in North America. These positions are established within our Constitution and Canons and, because we are a conciliar Church, would require the action of both Provincial Council and Provincial Assembly to be changed.
Having gratefully received and thoroughly considered the five-year study by the Theological Task Force on Holy Orders, we acknowledge that there are differing principles of ecclesiology and hermeneutics that are acceptable within Anglicanism that may lead to divergent conclusions regarding women’s ordination to the priesthood. However, we also acknowledge that this practice is a recent innovation to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order. We agree that there is insufficient scriptural warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood as standard practice throughout the Province. However, we continue to acknowledge that individual dioceses have constitutional authority to ordain women to the priesthood.
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) September 10, 2017
We express our sadness for the decision taken by the Scottish Episcopal Church to change its doctrine of marriage and are thankful for the faithful remnant of the Scottish Anglican Network that continues to contend for God’s Word. We are also saddened by the decisions of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada to allow same-sex marriage. If this decision is ratified it will further tear the fabric of the Communion.
We invited Bishop Julian Henderson, President of the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), to address us about the challenges facing orthodox Anglicans in England. We commend the recent CEEC statements reaffirming the biblical definition of marriage. We encourage Anglicans in England to continue to stand firm in defence of the Gospel and to speak up for the central place of Scripture in the life of our Church, particularly in this 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
We are saddened that the 16th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka, Zambia, did not unequivocally accept the decisions of the last Primates Meeting. While we expressed a desire to walk together as a Communion, this was contingent upon our decisions regarding The Episcopal Church being respected and upheld. Unfortunately, this agreement was not enforced and The Episcopal Church has been allowed to take part in decision making regarding “matters pertaining to polity and doctrine.” They have also represented us in ecumenical meetings. This has led to a further breakdown of trust and confidence.
In light of this reality, we discussed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation to the upcoming Primates’ Meeting. The conscience of some does not allow them to attend. Some intend to go in defence of the Gospel and some are continuing to discern what the Lord is asking of them in this hour. We have all agreed to pray that the outcome of the upcoming meeting will be decisive and lead to coherent and responsible action regarding the issues which continue to tear apart the fabric of the Communion, issues that have eternal consequences.