Former Queen’s chaplain Gavin Ashenden consecrated as ‘missionary bishop’
Gavin Ashenden, the former chaplain to the Queen who earlier this year resigned from the Church of England over its ‘liberalising’ trend, has been consecrated a bishop.
Ashenden has been consecrated as a missionary bishop to the UK in the Christian Episcopal Church, one of the continuing Anglican churches that emerged in the United States in the ongoing disputes in The Episcopal Church over the ordination of homosexuals and women.
In the UK, he will work closely with Bishop Andy Lines, also recently consecrated a missionary bishop to work with conservative evangelical churches.
Ashenden told Christian Today that he believed the Philip North affair, where North withdrew as Bishop of Sheffield after a row over his opposition to women bishops, showed how difficult it will be for traditonalist Anglo-Catholics and orthodox evangelicals to ‘flourish’ in the Church of England.
‘You can only function as an Anglican if you have bishops you can trust,’ he said. He said the Church of England had ‘not been very generous’ in providing conservative or traditionalist bishops.
He added: ‘I will oversee anybody who asks. I have a trail of people coming to my door asking for support, spiritual direction and advice. Obviously my oversight will be informal, it will have no legal basis at all.’
He said he was approached by the Christian Episcopal Church, which regards it as a ‘duty’ to help traditionalist Anglicans across the globe.
Although working in the UK, he is technically under the canonical authority of a Canadian bishop in the Christian Episcopal Church.
The popular blogger, Archbishop Cranmer, was among those who congratulated him, wishing him ‘richest blessings’ for his new ministry.
The Most Rev Theodore Casimes, Archbishop of the Christian Episcopal Church, said in a press release that Ashenden was consecrated in Vancouver, Canada, during the course of an Episcopal Synod.
He said: ‘Bishop Ashenden is charged with the responsibility of working as closely and collaboratively as possible with those Anglicans who are committed to remaining faithful to orthodox Christianity. In particular with the Free Church of England and the “Unity Forum” that has been created to achieve that unity of purpose and action in the UK.’
The Unity Forum is a new body that aims to bring together traditionalist Anglo-Catholics and conservative evangelicals who find themselves outside the established Church of England. It is similar to ACNA, the Anglican Church in North America.
Bishop John Fenwick, convenor of the Unity Forum, said: ‘Gavin’s stand for orthodoxy has been an encouragement to Anglicans in the UK and beyond. We look forward to working closely with him as we face the challenges that lie ahead.’
The Christian Episcopal Church is a traditionalist Anglican denomination that emerged from The Episcopal Church in the United States in the 1980s and claims apostolic succession of orders from both Anglican and Roman Catholic successions.
Casimes added: ‘As the Church of England is in the process of abandoning Christian teaching on culture, sexuality, marriage and the uniqueness of Christian revelation, the Bishops of the Christian Episcopal Church believed that it was their responsibility to offer a renewed episcopal oversight and encouragement to those Anglicans in the UK and Europe who had become distressed and disillusioned by the changes of direction and the adoption of secular values by the Church of England.’
Ashenden who trained originally in law, and was ordained as an Anglican priest in Southwark Cathedral in 1980, was a member of the General Synod for 20 years.
‘I will oversee anybody who asks. I have a trail of people coming to my door asking for support, spiritual direction and advice. Obviously, my oversight will be informal, it will have no legal basis at all.’ – G.A. –
Does this sound like a proclamation from an ‘orthodox’ bishop of the Church?
Well, it is a statement made by a former Church of England Chaplain to Her Majesty The Queen of England who has left that Church in order to take up the ministry of an Episcopus Vagantes – a Wandering Bishop of the U.S. Continuing Anglican Church which calls itself ‘The Christian Episcopal Church.
However, despite this being a North American congregation, Mr Ashendon’s ministry seems to be towards anyone who seeks it – but especially to disaffected members of the Church of England, whom he seeks to champion in his new quasi-episcopal role – that he says, himself, has no legal authority in the U.K.
It will be interesting to see how he and Andy Lines – another ‘Epicopus Vagantes’ in the UK – will get on in their schismatic ministry of recruitment in the territory of the Churches of England and Wales and the Scottish Episcopal Church.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand