Russian Patriarch concerned about liberalisation in Church of England

abp-welby-patriarch-kirillOn October 18, 2016, His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, met with Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury at the Lambeth Palace in London. …

Patriarch Kirill drew Archbishop Justin Welby’s attention to the Russian Orthodox Church’s concern over the liberalization of the Church of England’s teaching on church order, particularly, the ordination of women as priests and bishops and on the family and morality. His Holiness Kirill expressed hope that the Church of England will oppose challenges of the modern world and seek to preserve the Gospel’s teaching. …”

– from The Russian Orthodox Church. Photo: Lambeth Palace.

The Open Letter from Evangelicals to C of E Bishops: a commentary

The Rev Andrew Symes, Anglican MainstreamOn Wednesday 12th October a letter was sent to the College of Bishops, signed by nearly a hundred evangelical leaders, making it clear that “further changes to practice or doctrine” on sexual ethics would result in serious damage to the Church of England. The letter isn’t titled. There was no sophisticated media strategy involved in getting it out, other than asking signatories to make it more widely known.

There was initially some confusion about whether it was meant to be kept ‘in house’ among the evangelical constituency, or publicised in the wider media. The organisers, led by John Dunnett of CPAS and some of the committee of the Evangelical Group on General Synod, then let it be known that it is a public letter.

The issue is considered to be of sufficient urgency that it can’t just be a private communication with Bishops, but must also be a signal to the wider church. …”

Andrew Syme at Anglican Mainstream, provides some commentary about that letter.

Letter to the Church of England’s College of Bishops

Church of EnglandI am publishing here, with permission, a letter that has been sent to all members of the College of Bishops prior to their next meeting to decide what proposals to bring to General Synod in February.  …

First, this is not a PR exercise. Although the sending of the letter has been reported in Christian Today, it has not been circulated to media outlets, unlike some other previous letters. It is intended to be an honest communication to the bishops of the concerns of the signatories and others like them.

Secondly, it attempts to give a clear outline of the major theological reasons why this is felt to me such an important issue. …

Thirdly, it is striking that the signatories come from the whole range of the evangelical constituency, including ‘open’, ‘charismatic’ and ‘conservative’ evangelicals. These are people involved in key initiatives in the Church at the moment, and although they do not claim to represent the groups they work for, there will be many others who share these concerns. 

The Church of England is at a crossroads in her calling to bring hope and transformation to our nation. The presenting issue is that of human sexuality, in particular whether or not the Church is able to affirm sexual relationships beyond opposite sex marriage. But the tectonic issues beneath, and driving, this specific question include what it means to be faithful to our apostolic inheritance, the Church’s relationship with wider culture, and the nature of the biblical call to holiness in the 21st Century. …

We do not believe … that it is within our gift to consider human sexual relationships and what constitutes and enables our flourishing as sexual beings to be of ‘secondary importance’. What is at stake goes far beyond the immediate pastoral challenges of human bisexual and same-sex sexual behaviour: it is a choice between alternative and radically different visions of what it means to be human, to honour God in our bodies, and to order our lives in line with God’s holy will.

At this crucial juncture, as our bishops pray and discern together regarding how the Church of England should walk forward at this time, we urge them not to depart from the apostolic inheritance with which they have been entrusted. …”

Read the full letter, with its eighty nine signatories (our readers will know many of them), reproduced by Ian Paul at Psephizo.

The letter has now also been published at GAFCON UK’s website.

400 attend Renew Conference in Northern Powerhouse

renew-logoThe rector of a plant into an Anglican church which began in 1961 with a congregation of one plus the organist, and who is only its second rector in 55 years chaired a 30 hour Renew Anglican conference of over 400 in Leeds on September 19-20. Many of the participants were vicars, curates and ministry colleagues from over 200 churches whose average age was in the early 40’s.

William Taylor of St Helen’s Bishopsgate told the Conference: ‘I am sometimes asked whether our constituency is planning to leave the Church of England. We are not. We are, however, putting in place spiritual relationships that enable us to pursue our ministry goals of pioneering, establishing and securing Anglican evangelical local churches.’

The Renew Conference has grown by 100 people a year and moved for 2016 from the Midlands to Leeds to find a big enough venue and to support the work of Anglicans in the north of England…”

– Report in The Church of England Newspaper, via Anglican Mainstream.

(The ReNew conference is organised by Anglican Mission in England, Church Society, and Reform.

Anglican Mission in England Pioneering Plan

amie-pioneering-smHere’s an encouraging video on AMiE’s plans to plant 25  churches in England by 2025 and 250 by 2050.

Science and the Bible, debates about committees, hope and courage in mission

The Rev Andrew Symes, Anglican MainstreamAnother week, another revisionist Church Times leader article penned by an academic heavyweight.

This time a consultant psychiatrist and Professor of Theology insists that we need to allow the latest scientific findings to inform our understanding of Scripture…”

Anglican Mainstream’s Andrew Symes comments the state of the Church of England.

Related: GAFCON UK Statement following the appointment of a ‘Bishops’ Reflection Group’ on homosexuality.

Archbishop of Canterbury expresses sadness at death of Bishop David Jenkins

Bishop David JenkinsThe Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has expressed his sadness at the death of the Rt Revd David Jenkins, the former Bishop of Durham. …”

– Report and photo from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s website.

For some background about Bishop Jenkins, see also:

Anglican sets off a Theology storm”, The New York Times, 28 October 1984.

A new theological storm brewed in the Church of England today after the new Bishop of Durham, Dr. David Jenkins, compared the Resurrection of Jesus to a ‘conjuring trick with bones.’…

There was no immediate reaction from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, spiritual leader of the 65-million member Anglican Communion.

and “July 9, 1984: Wrath of God the prime suspect as lightning bolt sparks York Minster blaze”, BT.

On this day in 1984, a lightning bolt set fire to York Minster’s south transept, destroying its roof and causing £2.25 million worth of damage. …

Some believed that the lightning bolt was nothing less than fiery retribution for the installation, on July 6, of controversial clergyman David Jenkins as Bishop of Durham under the very roof which now lay in ruins.”

First Church of England Bishop ‘to declare he is in gay relationship’

nicholas-chamberlainThe bishop of Grantham has become the first Church of England bishop to publicly declare that he is gay and in a relationship. … 

Nicholas Chamberlain said there had been no secret about his long-term – albeit celibate – relationship with his partner. …

In a statement, [Archbishop of Canterbury Justin] Welby said: ‘I am and have been fully aware of Bishop Nick’s long-term, committed relationship. His appointment as bishop of Grantham was made on the basis of his skills and calling to serve the church in the diocese of Lincoln. He lives within the bishops’ guidelines and his sexuality is completely irrelevant to his office.’…”

– Story from The Guardian. Photo: Diocese of Lincoln.

See also: GAFCON Statement on the Appointment of the Bishop of Grantham.

We note with prayerful concern the revelation that Nicholas Chamberlain, Bishop of Grantham, is in a same sex relationship.

Our understanding is that the nature of his relationship conforms to the guidelines set out by the Bishops, and that he has not been campaigning publicly for a change in the church’s teaching on sex and marriage. We do not doubt that he has many gifts as a leader and pastor.

However there are aspects of this appointment which are a serious cause for concern for biblically orthodox Anglicans around the world, and therefore we believe that this appointment is a major error.

In 2003, Jeffrey John’s candidacy for the post of Bishop of Reading caused deep divisions within the Diocese of Oxford and beyond, and this news about Nicholas Chamberlain will exacerbate the same divisions within the Church of England and throughout the wider Anglican Communion.

In this case the element of secrecy in the appointment to the episcopacy of a man in a same sex relationship gives the impression that it has been arranged with the aim of presenting the church with a ‘fait accompli’, rather than engaging with possible opposition in the spirit of the ‘shared conversations’.

We remain opposed to the guidelines for clergy and Bishops, permitting them to be in same sex relationships as long as they publicly declare that the relationship is not sexual. This creates confusion in terms of the church’s teaching on the nature of sex and marriage, and it is not modelling a helpful way to live, given the reality of our humanity, and temptation to sexual sin.

The Most Rev. Peter Jensen

General Secretary of Gafcon Global.”

and also: Gay bishop: Appointment of Nicholas Chamberlain ‘major error’ says Gafcon. BBC report.

GAFCON UK responds to Archbishop Nicholas Okoh’s August Letter

gafcon-logo-00GAFCON UK welcomes and is very encouraged by the Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council’s recent August Letter. In it Archbishop Okoh states that the ‘greatest cause for concern continues to be the British Isles’. We share this analysis and hear Archbishop Okoh’s call on GAFCON UK and the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) to ‘demonstrate that they have the necessary courage and faith in a context which to a large extent they alone can grapple with’.

GAFCON UK has recently been reconstituted precisely to meet the challenges that Archbishop Okoh outlines and is committed to grappling with the departure from orthodoxy in the UK. The AMiE is about to launch an ambitious plan for pioneering church-planting in the context of the ReNew Conference in September, where the aim is to encourage regions throughout England that pioneer, establish and secure healthy local Anglican churches.

Andy Lines

Chairman of the GAFCON UK Task Force.”

– via GAFCON.

Statement from the Task Force of GAFCON UK in response to John Bingham’s article in the Daily Telegraph 29/8/2016

Peter SanlonGAFCON UK warmly commends the initiative of Rev Dr Peter Sanlon and others from a number of parishes in the Home Counties to set up a ‘shadow synod’ as stated in John Bingham’s article ‘Parishes begin Church split’.

This is a grass-roots initiative by local congregations which is representative of the views of many across the country, and is in line with the concerns of Anglicans from the GAFCON movement worldwide…

A statement from the GAFCON UK Task Force – via AMiE. (Photo: Dr. Peter Sanlon, St Mark’s, Tunbridge Wells.)

And here is the online version of the article by John Bingham in The Telegraph.

The Rev Dr Peter Sanlon, Vicar of St Mark’s Church in Tunbridge Wells, who is hosting this week’s meeting, said: “If senior leaders of the Church of England water down the teaching of the Church of England on key issues like homosexuality, then this synod could easily evolve in to a new Anglican jurisdiction in England.

“The Archbishop of Canterbury has signalled that he is aware of the possibility that a significant proportion of the church will not accept a change in the church’s teaching.

“This could be the beginning of that playing out.”

The C of E: Limits to diversity and the inevitability of separation?

The Rev Andrew Symes, Anglican MainstreamIs the Church of England basically orthodox in its beliefs, and if so, is this a good thing for the Church’s mission to the nation and in fact its very survival? …”

– At Anglican Mainstream, Andrew Symes asks what is the future of the Church of England if so many in its leadership see orthodox belief as a stumbling-block to connecting with the nation.

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