CHURCH TIMES report, by Muriel Porter, Australian Correspondent
JENSEN SLATES TRADITION
The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, who retire(d) on his 70th birthday on 11 July, has told an ABC radio interviewer that an aspect of traditional Anglican worship that offends him is the form of consecration service for bishops.
In these services – although not in the Sydney diocese – the new bishop is given “about six things”, he said, including “a funny hat” and a Bible. But, in the Book of Common Prayer, the bishop is given just the Bible. Giving the bishop the other things as well is saying that the Bible is just one among all the others, he said.
Dr Jensen defended the position of the ‘Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans’ (FOCA), claiming that it was a “reconciling movement” that had maintained the highest level of communion that was possible in the Anglican Communion.
Rejecting the suggestion that it was divisive or schismatic, he said that the creation of the ‘Anglican Church of North America’ (ACNA), for example, had meant that 100,000 orthodox Anglicans in North America had been able to remain within the Anglican Communion. This new Church, though not recognised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, was nevertheless recognised by the majority of world Anglicans, he said.
He also defended the mission that he launched at the beginning of his time as archbishop, which sought to see 10% of the Sydney population attending Bible-based churches within ten years. Although it had not been as successful as he would have liked, it had fulfilled one of its aims – “waking us up” – and breaking out into the community.
The Sydney synod will elect a new archbishop at a meeting commencing on 5th August (News: 7 June). A final list of candidates will be released on 27 July.
The retirement of the Sydney Archbishop, Peter Jensen, will be hailed with mixed feelings by the Australian Anglican community. In his archiepiscopate, during which Dr Jensen has raised contentious issues: such as his opposition to women clergy; his leadership of GAFCON and FOCA; and his support for Lay Celebration of Holy Communion; he has set the tone of the Sydney Archdiocese as the continuing heart of fundamentalist evangelicalism within the Australian Anglican Church of the Province.
There can be little doubt that, with Dr Jensen’s retirement, there will be no departure from the strong evangelicalism that has marked the Sydney Anglican community as distinctly different from the more broadly-based middle of the road and catholic dioceses of the Australian Church of the Province. Dr Jensen’s alliance with, and contribution to, the Anglican Communion split between conservatives and moderates in the Church has been exacerbated by his active militant opposition to the ordination of women in his own province; the ordination of Gay Bishops and the Blessing of Same-Sex Couples in The Episcopal Church in the U.S. and Canada; and by his leadership in GAFCON: the emerging ‘loyal'(?) opposition to Canterbury in the world-wide Anglican Communion.
What will be interesting to the rest of us in the Communion will be the direction in which the new Archbishop of Sydney will be taking his large archdiocese of the Australian Province, in the event of GAFCON (and its fledgling provincial partner in ACNA in the U.S.) separating out from the world-wide Communion and setting itself up as the new focus of ‘Orthodox Anglicanism’
Father Ron Smith, (in England), of Christchurch, New Zealand – ACANZP