Speaking for the C of E on sexuality

“There was a bit of a furore last week, caused by the publication of a letter sent by William Nye, who is General Secretary to the General Synod and the Archbishops’ Council, to The Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC).

The letter had been written and sent last October, in response to a request from TEC for reactions to their plans to revise the liturgy of their Book of Common Prayer removing gender references in their marriage rites.

The publication of the letter provoked a strong reaction in a letter to the Church Times from 126 clergy and laity, as well as two further letters from Giles Goddard and Anthony Archer.

It is worth reading carefully what William Nye actually says, since it is not obvious from the responses that everyone has done so. …”

– Ian Paul does take a closer look at the letter.

Among other things, he also answers the claim, by critics of the letter, that the ‘majority of Anglicans’ want the Church’s doctrine changed. He says, “in order to make the numbers work, it turns out that you have to allow people to self-identify as Anglicans, rather than ascertain whether they actually participate in Anglican worship or are members of their local Anglican church.”

Lee Gatiss on learning from Christians of the past

The Australian Church Record has published part 2 of Steve Tong’s interview with Church Society Director Lee Gatiss.

A tribute to David Wheaton — former Principal of Oak Hill

At Church Society’s website, Gerald Bray pays tribute to David Wheaton, former principal of Oak Hill College and sometime vice-president of Church Society.

Lee Gatiss on Church Society and Anglican evangelicals in the UK

Over at The Australian Church Record, Steve Tong interviews Lee Gatiss, Director of Church Society in the UK.

Read Part 1 here.

Wait not for the bishops!

“It’s remarkably easy to criticize the bishops for their inertia and timidity when you’re in the parish, but if you become a bishop the shoe is suddenly on the other foot! Ryle saw at first hand the heavy constraints upon evangelical episcopacy in the Church of England.. …”

– At Church Society’s blog, Andrew Atherstone, editor of J. C. Ryle’s autobiography, shares some of the fruits of his research. Ryle himself learned that evangelical laity and clergy should not sit back and wait for others to fight for the truth.

Call for a new newspaper for the British Church

“It is now time for a new newspaper for the British Church, employing professional journalists whose news coverage will investigate the truth without fear or favour, preventing the new publication from being a mere echo-chamber.

Its comment columns should be robustly and persuasively orthodox, putting the revisionist agenda under rigorous intellectual scrutiny. …”

– Julian Mann, who recently explained why he can no longer write for the Church of England Newspaper, calls for a new newspaper.

Reactions to the Church Society, Reform, FWS merger

Church Society has posted several video reactions to the announced the Church Society, Reform, FWS merger – on their Vimeo channel.

Church Society, Reform UK and Fellowship of Word and Spirit ‘joining forces’

[Also see the Update further below.]

Church Society’s Director, Dr Lee Gatiss, has issued this statement via his Twitter account

“This is my comment on the well-founded rumours that , , and the Fellowship of Word & Spirit are joining forces.

‘I rejoice greatly and am so grateful to God that Anglican Evangelicals are at last beginning to combine their strengths to stand firm and contend together in the Church of England.

This is a hugely positive story and counters the fiction that orthodox groups and fragmenting and leaving. We’re not. Conservative evangelicals are coming together like never before, as the times demand.

This is the biggest thing to happen in the Anglican Evangelical world here for 25 years, and I see it as a cause for celebration. There is much still to pray for.’ ”

– We await further details.

Update – this announcement has now been made:

Contending for the Gospel: Time for a New Approach – Church Society –

“We are delighted to announce that the Church Society Council, the Reform Council, and the Trustees of the Fellowship of Word and Spirit have all agreed to pursue a merger. It is in the light of our shared Biblical, Reformed, Anglican faith and common goals that we have decided that the challenges of the present time require us to unite our efforts so that we are better placed to harness the energies of evangelicals in contending for the gospel. …” – Announcement from Church Society Director Dr Lee Gatiss.

Also,

“The need for unity of fellowship and purpose with bodies like Church Society and Fellowship of Word & Spirit is urgent and overdue. …” – Canon David Banting.

“Our new context means that we need to focus our efforts, unite our endeavours, and ensure we maximise the usefulness of our resources. …” – Bishop Rod Thomas.

“At a time when our nation is rapidly rejecting its Christian inheritance, and the Church of England is in a crisis about its convictions and influence, there has never been a greater need for those committed to biblical truth to unite together, enabling our message to be heard with greater clarity and power. …” – Dr Rob Munro.

Read the full statements at the link above.

Relevant websites: Church Society, ReformFellowship of Word & Spirit.

Challenge for new Oak Hill President in avoiding ‘Good Disagreement’ trap

“With the leadership of the Church of England increasingly expecting its future ministers to be enthusiastic about theological diversity, the new president of the one distinctively Reformed Anglican training college, Oak Hill in north London, faces a demanding task.

The Revd Jonathan Juckes took up the newly created role of college president last month at the age of 56. This was after the college council decided to appoint a president to work alongside the academic principal following the sudden death last year of former principal Dr Michael Ovey (1958-2017).”

Julian Mann’s opinion piece is a good reminder to continue to pray for Oak Hill College – and to give thanks for the great blessing that college has been for so many.

And continue to pray for Moore College, of course, as the ministry year begins.

Photo: Jonathan Juckes at Oak Hill College.

Archbishop of Canterbury asked — Is it OK to attend GAFCON 2018?

Is it OK to attend GAFCON 2018? And will those who want to attend from the Church of England be encouraged to do so?

That was the gist of the question asked by Susie Leafe, former Director of Reform, at the Church of England’s General Synod yesterday.

Here is the question, and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s answer:

Mrs Susie Leafe (Truro) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops: Q10

In the light of the view taken by the World Mission and Anglican Communion Panel that international relationships “contribute to the development of discipleship and mission in the Church of England” what plans have been made to support and encourage those bishops, clergy and laity who plan to attend Gafcon, probably the largest international Anglican gathering taking place this year?

The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply as Chair of the House of Bishops:

A We strongly agree with the view of the Panel that international relationships contribute to the development of discipleship and mission. I am personally pleased that every diocese has some link to Anglican Provinces across the world, and we are keen to continue developing these relationships. The recent Primates Meeting underlined the importance of such relationships. I have had conversations with, and listened to, the views of those planning to attend the Gafcon conference, and am keen to increase attendance at any event that encourages the flourishing of the whole Anglican Communion.

Source: Church of England General Synod website  – Page 7 of the PDF document.

Transgender liturgies?

“Recent headlines reported: ‘Church of England bishops have blocked the introduction of a new prayer celebrating a transgender person’s change of sex’.

It became clear, however, that matters are regrettably rather more complicated than that. …”

Church Society’s Tim Edwards responds to the Church of England’s House of Bishops’ advice on welcoming transgender people into church using the existing Affirmation of Baptism service.

House of Bishops seeking to change Church of England doctrine by stealth — Reform

Some background:

“In July last year the Church of England’s General Synod passed a motion brought forward by the Blackburn Diocesan Synod. This motion declared,

‘….that this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.’

In advance of this February’s General Synod the House of Bishops has responded to this motion in GS Misc 1178, An update on ‘Welcoming Transgender People.’”

– from Anglican theologian Martin Davie. (Read it all.)

In the document, the House of Bishops also states,

“The motion also called on the House of Bishops to consider whether the recognition of a transgender person’s new identity was a moment which should be marked in a particular way in worship. …

the House notes that the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith, found in Common Worship, is an ideal liturgical rite which trans people can use to mark this moment of personal renewal.” (emphasis added)

Read the House of Bishops document here. (PDF)

Reform comments on the what amounts to a repurposing of ‘Affirmation Baptismal Faith’ –

“Liturgy and doctrine cannot be divorced. … to use ‘Affirmation of Baptismal Faith’ in the way envisaged in this document is to change Church of England doctrine by stealth.

Read it all.

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