By Paul Perkin
At an open meeting on 26 April the Bishop of London joined us in welcoming delegates to the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. During the meeting the chairman of the Panel of Bishops of the Anglican Mission in England and I shared our concerns about the future of the Church of England and our commitment to secure biblically faithful witness to Jesus Christ in the Church of England.
The next few months will increasingly reveal the direction being taken by the Church of England regarding two matters: its position regarding issues of marriage and sexuality, especially in the light of the Church’s response to the government consultation on “equal marriage” and the outcome of new commissions on Civil Partnerships and Sexuality, and secondly the nature of the provision for the inclusion of those who hold to traditional understandings of the Bible on matters of ministry.
We face a determined drive from a new hegemonic “liberalism” that is ideological and disrespectful of orthodoxy. It is seeking to shape the Church of England and the Anglican Communion in its own image. This is far from the traditional Anglican liberal understanding that retains respect for orthodox Anglican doctrine and sees it as still normative for the Church.
At the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans held at St Mark’s, Battersea Rise, in April we established the principle that orthodox Anglicans who, despite repeated efforts, cannot receive oversight in the Church of England can continue to belong together with other orthodox Anglicans and minister with recognition within the global Anglican Communion.
The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in this region is a fellowship of those anywhere in the UK and Ireland, including the Diocese of Europe, who can affirm the Jerusalem Declaration. Within it the Anglican Mission in England is not an institution, but a framework that is taking shape as it responds to those needing to receive help in their own dioceses. These include Anglicans from evangelical, charismatic and Anglo-catholic traditions.
The Mission is set up, unlike other Church of England networks, with a panel of bishops, to provide the possibility of proper engagement with church structures and church order. It is determined not to separate from the Church of England but to remain within it. The focus is to proclaim and defend the gospel through Anglican churches, encourage church planting, secure the calling and training of people for faithful orthodox ministry and enable faithful church order. As we respond to needs as they arise so the structure will become more defined.
AMiE has two particular features:
It is a registered Mission Society dedicated to support growing and planting churches, and providing ministers and oversight for those churches, and secondly;
It has a Panel of Bishops authorised by the FCA Primates’ Council to provide that oversight
The Primates of the FCA have assured us that, through instruments now available in this country, including the panel of bishops of the Anglican Mission in England and the FCA UK, those who might otherwise have been under pressure to leave the Church of England can remain within the family of global Anglicanism and be recognized by that body as faithful to the Church of England itself.
At the FCA Leadership Conference, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala reported in his Chairman’s keynote address: “Last year, it became clear that provision needs to be made for England too. The Anglican Mission in England was formed last June after four years of discussion with senior Anglican leaders in England had failed to find a way in which those genuinely in need of effective orthodox oversight in the Church of England could receive it.”
The AMiE has already acted to request the ordination of some ministers and has provided oversight to some churches. For the future it is ready to extend this ministry, and to expand its panel of bishops accordingly. Parish Incumbents who affirm the Jerusalem Declaration have been invited by Rev Rod Thomas to meet on Wednesday 27 June to pray and make progress together.
We pledge our support for all those who are orthodox in faith, who are experiencing pressure, and who wish to continue as Anglicans with international affirmation from within the worldwide Anglican Communion. A clear identity is offered as Anglicans through our common commitment to the affirmations contained in the Jerusalem Declaration.
The Rev Paul Perkin, the vicar of St Mark’s, Battersea Rise, is chairman of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (UK and Ireland)