Jesmond curate’s breakaway consecration surprises both diocese and conservative Evangelicals
by Tim Wyatt – CHURCH TIMES – Posted: 08 May 2017 @ 07:20
THE authorities in Newcastle diocese still seem to be in the dark after an assistant curate of a conservative Evangelical parish church in the diocese was reportedly consecrated bishop through the action of a breakaway Church in South Africa.
The curate, the Revd Jonathan Pryke, has served at Jesmond Parish Church since 1988. He was consecrated by bishops from the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa (REACH-SA) at a service in Newcastle earlier this month, several sources told the Church Times.
But a spokesman for the diocese simply said today: “The Bishop of Newcastle is aware of reports concerning this matter and is seeking clarification.”
The Church Times has repeatedly attempted to contact both Bishop Pryke and his Vicar, the Revd David Holloway, but neither has responded.
The news also appears to have surprised GAFCON UK and the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), who agreed last week to appoint their own missionary bishop for conservative Evangelical parishes in Britain (News, 5 May), even though the new bishop is a member of AMiE’s executive committee.
In a statement put out this evening, AMiE said: “We can confirm that the consecration of the Revd Jonathan Pryke was a gospel decision taken independently of AMiE. His consecration was never discussed at our Executive meetings.
“Jonathan is a valued member of the AMiE Exec and we are thankful to God for his abundant gifts and wisdom. We will be praying for him in this new season of his ministry.
“The AMiE Executive Committee recently requested that the GAFCON Primates support the consecration of a Missionary Bishop. We were overjoyed when they agreed to do this for the sake of gospel growth.”
It was unclear whether Jonathan Pryke, who was ordained priest in 1986, had formally left the Church of England. He is still listed on the Jesmond Parish Church website as a “senior minister” in the parish.
REACH-SA, formerly known as the Church of England in South Africa, split from the Anglican Church of the Province of Southern Africa soon after its founding, in opposition to the Anglo-Catholic Archbishop of Cape Town.
In 2008, Jesmond Parish Church was listed as in impaired communion or seeking alternative episcopal oversight, by the Revd Rod Thomas, the then chairman of the conservative Evangelical network Reform.
The “impaired communion” was in fact first declared by the church in 1997 just before the Rt Revd Martin Wharton became Bishop of Newcastle, because of disagreements over homosexuality. Jesmond Parish Church was also accused of breaking canon law in 1998 when it appointed an unlicensed assistant priest to its staff.