FIVE BISHOPS to invade the Church of England

 
 

 

 

 

 

UK: Group names five bishops ready to defy diocesans

by Ed Thornton
Church Times
July 1, 2011

Plaque unveiled: the Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala (left), and Dr Williams, with the Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, at the site of the country’s first Anglican university, at Kanyuambora, last week LAMBETH PALACE

A NEW conservative Evangelical group, the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), already has three newly ordained clergy waiting to minister in the UK.

The Society, launched at the end of last week, offers alternative episcopal oversight when diocesan bishops “are failing in their canonical duty to uphold sound teaching”.

The three unnamed clerics were ordained in Kenya on 11 June by the Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, who chairs the GAFCON Primates’ Council, formed after the Global Anglican conference in Jerusalem in 2008. All three come from the diocese of Southwark. The diocese said on Wednesday that it had received no request for permis­sion to officiate there.

Dr Williams was in Kenya last week. A Lambeth spokeswoman was unable to say this week whether the two had discussed this development.

The Revd Charles Raven, the dir­ector of the Society for the Prop­agation of Reformed Evan­gelical Anglican Doctrine, wrote on the organisation’s website on Thursday of last week that the three men had gone to Kenya to be ordained “be­cause the English diocesan bishop con­cerned had refused to give any assur­ances that he would uphold bib­lical teach­ing on homosexual practice”.

The chairman of the AMiE steer­ing committee is the Revd Paul Perkin, Vicar of St Mark’s, Battersea Rise, and the group’s secretary is Canon Chris Sugden.

Dr Sugden said that the group was awaiting a response from Dr Wil­liams to Dr Wabukala’s request that the three clergy be granted per­mission to officiate under the Over­seas Clergy Measure. The chairman of Reform, the Rt Revd Rod Thomas, said that “episcopal oversight” of the three men “has been delegated to the AMiE bishops”.

The AMiE has appointed its own “panel” of five bishops “to pro­­vide effective oversight in collaboration with senior clergy”. The panel consists of one serving bishop, the Bishop of Lewes, the Rt Revd Wallace Benn, and four retired bishops: Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the Rt Revd John Ball, the Rt Revd Colin Bazley, and the Rt Revd John Ellison.

The Church Times twice contacted Bishop Benn’s office asking for com­ment, but did not receive a response.

The AMiE held its inaugural event on Thursday of last week at the Evan­gelical Ministry Assembly (EMA) meeting in St Helen’s, Bishops­gate, London. A statement released the same day by the AMiE said that it had been “established as a society within the Church of England dedicated to the conversion of England and biblical church-planting.

“The desire of those who identify with the society is to have an effective structure which enables them to remain in the Church of England and work as closely as possible with its institutions.”

The statement said that churches and individuals “may join or affiliate themselves with the AMiE. . . Some may be churches in impaired com­munion with their diocesan bishop who require oversight. Others may be in good relations with their bishop but wish to identify with and support others.”

Mr Thomas said in a message posted on the group’s website that the formation of AMiE was “the first major practical step the FCA [the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans] has taken in this country to help churches which are in impaired or non-existent communion with [Church of England] bishops”.

Fulcrum, a more liberal Evangel­ical group in the Church of England, expressed its “very serious concerns” about the Anglican Mission in England.

In a statement issued on Monday, it said that the “seemingly secret” ordinations in Kenya represented “the authorisation of ministry apart from the Church of England, and the irregular ordination of clergy to minister within the Church of England under the jurisdiction of another province of the Anglican Communion. It is thus a further escalation from the earlier and regrettable Southwark ordinations” (News, 11 November 2005).

The chairman of Fulcrum, the Revd Stephen Kuhrt, said: “What is sad is that most of these things are unveiled suddenly, almost always in secret. It usually turns out there has been a huge amount of planning, and something is unveiled to almost create facts on the ground.”

The AMiE, however, was formed out of frustration at the lack of progress in talks with the C of E hierarchy, Dr Sugden said. “We have been in discussion with Evangelical bishops and other senior Anglicans for four-and-a-half years, seeking a way forward. . . We had a year of meetings with representatives of the Archbishop [of Canterbury], and submitted to him a long paper indicating the issues and options and trying to find a way forward. [These meetings] have produced no result.

“The Archbishop was requested by many Evangelicals to appoint a conservative Evangelical as one of the Provincial Episcopal Visitors, and regrettably he did not see that as the way forward.”

Fulcrum said that the name of the society “clearly echoes that of the breakaway Anglican Mission in America . . . inviting the conclusion that this is the true purpose of the new society”. It said that the panel of bishops “represents the creation of a structure of alternative episcopal oversight apart from the Church of England”.

But Mr Thomas said: “There is still much work to be done on exactly how AMiE will operate in future — in particular, on how its bishops will in future be selected, the role they will perform. One possibility is that they will look to local deans of mission to engage with individual congregations.”

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Here, at last. is the invasion of overseas ordained faux-Bishops that GAFCON has been promising now for some time. With the explicit permission of the Primate of Kenya, 3 of these bishops have been recently ordained in Kenya – to undermine the authority of local Church of England Bishops in the U.K..

How the Church of England will deal with these interlopers from the GAFCON sodality will profoundly affect the relationship of overseas Provinces of the Anglican Communion with the C.of E.

The official ‘Covenant’ process deals with what are called ‘Border-Crossings’ within the Communion that have been cited as a cause of division already within the Communion. This further extension of border-crossing – no longer external to the Church of England – might now affect the C.of E.’s understanding of such incursions into the Provinces of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada.

There will be those in TEC and the A.C.of C. who will say to the C.,of E.: “Don’t say we didn’t warn you!”. What will happen once these espicopi vagantes reach the home shores of the C.of E. will be interesting to all Provinces of the Communion. The irony is that the Archbishop of Canterbury has recently been in direct contact with the Archbishop of Kenya. in situ! One wonders what the talks were all about!  Watch this space for further developments.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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2 Responses to FIVE BISHOPS to invade the Church of England

  1. Brother David says:

    Father Ron, I think that you have misread the article. They have not consecrated bishops, they have ordained priests. Three men, from within the boundaries of the English Diocese of Southwark, have traveled to Kenya and have been ordained clerics by the primate of the Anglican church there. One would assume that they were ordained priests, but the article is not that specific.

    • Father Ron Smith says:

      Thank you David. As I have said before, I look to you to monitor my misreadings on the internet! So. The danger then to the Church of England may not seem quite so great. This is obviously not now a matter of bishops duelling on equal grounds, but rather priest coming in from Kenya to undermine the local episcopal scene. Perhaps even the Primate of Kenya stops short of providing episcopal oversisght, which I thought was actually involved

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