Background to AMiE ordinations which took place on 7th December
The first ordination service of the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) was held on Thursday 7th December 2017 at the East London Tabernacle Church. This was led by Missionary Bishop Andy Lines, who was consecrated as bishop by the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) on 30th June 2017, (see Press Release).
Parts of the AMiE Press Release are reproduced below [emphasis added]:
“AMiE is a growing network of churches who are Anglican by conviction. They are not part of the central structures of the Church of England but are connected to the global Anglican family through GAFCON.
We were delighted when Andy Lines was consecrated as Missionary Bishop to Europe, on 30th June 2017, by the Anglican Church in North America. One of Bishop Andy’s primary responsibilities is to give oversight to the current congregations of the Anglican Mission in England, and to make provision for future growth. A new generation of ordained leaders will be essential if AMiE is to achieve its gospel desire of planting 25 churches by 2025 and 250 by 2050.
Up until now, AMiE’s clergy have either come from the Church of England, or have been ordained by overseas Bishops. Now, for the first time, nine men will be ordained together by an English Bishop who can give them regular oversight as they begin their ministries.
The ordination service on 7th December will be a celebration of the commissioning and sending out of new ministers of the gospel, who have gone through a process of rigorous discernment and training. We are praying that these newly ordained leaders will be used by God to grow his church both in number and maturity. Some will serve in existing AMiE congregations, while others will lead teams engaged in planting new churches”.
The announcement is augmented by FAQ about AMiE ordinations concerning the nine men to be ordained, eight as deacons and one as presbyter. All currently work in AMiE churches. The FAQs contain information on their selection, training, and the future priesting of the deacons in a year’s time. Details of their ordination include:
- The form of liturgy has been agreed in consultation with Bishop Charles Masters, the Diocesan Bishop of ANiC; this satisfies the Canons of both the ACNA and ANiC, and draws on liturgy mainly from the English Prayer Book and the ACNA Ordinal.
- The ordinations will be conducted by the Rt Revd Andy Lines;
- During the service each ordinand will: make the Declaration of Assent; swear an Oath of Canonical Obedience to Bishop Andy Lines and his successors); and Swear an Oath of Conformity.
In advance of the ordinations, the Church Times published ‘This is not a threat’: breakaway Anglican Mission in England defends its first ordinations, in which both the Revd Lee McMunn, Mission Director of AMiE, and Bishop Lines emphasised that they did not want to confront the C of E [emphasis added]:
“’This is not a threat to people in the structures. This is to cater for those who are already outside’, Bishop Lines said. He has given assurances to the Archbishop of Canterbury that he will not minister to those within the C of E. There were plenty of ‘orthodox Anglicans’ who were content to stay in the C of E, he said, and he had no desire to draw them away into another organisation. ‘We are keen to be seen not to be hiding: sensitive, but not secret’.”
In contrast to the 2013 consecration of Gavin Ashenden which was not announced until this year, attendance at Thursday’s ordinations is open to all and will be livestreamed on the AMiE website.
In February this year, it was announced that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York had recognised the Orders of the Anglican Church in North America, S3 Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967. With regard to their mission in the Church of England, the canonical position was summarized by the Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Christine Hardman, following the irregular consecration of the Revd Jonathan Pryke of Jesmond Parish Church by bishops of the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa (REACH-SA):
“No overseas bishop may exercise episcopal functions within the Church of England without the express permission of the Archbishop of the province and a commission from the Bishop of the diocese in which they wish to minister…
“It is the clearly established law of the land that no one can exercise ministry in the Church of England without either holding office or having the permission of the diocesan bishop.”
The recognition of orders is not a statement of being in communion with the CofE, which includes all the churches of the Anglican Communion. Churches whose orders are recognized by the CofE, such as the ACNA, REACH-SA and the Roman Catholic Church, are distinct from those with which the Church is in communion, and are not members of the Anglican Communion.
AMiE and the CofE
Although the congregation of Christ Church, Harris has recently announced that it seeks the episcopal oversight of Bishop Andy Lines in place of the Bishop of Argyll & the Isles within the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Anglican Mission in England has indicated that its primary focus is the Church of England. The four basic categories of those that it seeks to serve are listed as:
- Anglicans within the structures of the Church of England whose mission is constrained by their bishop or diocese.
- Anglicans within the structures of the Church of England but who are in impaired communion with their bishop or diocese.
- Anglicans outside the structures of the Church of England.
- Anglicans within the structures of the Church of England who are currently experiencing few constraints but who wish to express solidarity with those under 1-3 above.
Within these groups, it “seeks to advance the Christian faith for the public benefit mainly within Anglicanism in England” and identifies its role in relation to mission; appointments; fellowship; money; and oversight. With regard to oversight, it intends to [emphasis added]:
“[Provide] faithful leadership to God’s people in promoting and defending the Christian faith, especially where bishops who preside over doctrinal disorder lose the confidence of orthodox clergy and congregations“.
“Becontree Church is an off-shoot of a Church of England parish church(Dagenham Parish Church). That’s why we’re referred to as a ‘church plant’. Because Dagenham Parish Church closely supports us, it is understandable to think Becontree Church is another CofE church. However as the area already has a CofE church, we are not one.
But Becontree Church IS an Anglican church. The ‘Anglican church’ is an umbrella organisation the CofE belongs to. It has a missionary section, and ‘Crosslinks’ is a recognised Anglican mission agency. Mike & Debbie, the team leaders, are Crosslinks missionaries.
Becontree Church is also linked to the Co-Mission network of churches through a strategy called ‘The Antioch Plan’. This partnership aims to keep planting new churches in London. This is exciting because it shows new life growing in areas where the older denominations are in decline (often hidden because African members of those denominations have moved into that area and ‘swell’ the numbers).
Becontree Church is also closely supported by the ‘London City Mission’ which exists to fire up a love for the Lord Jesus Christ in areas of London unreached by middle class white churches.
Becontree Church is also linked to other like-minded local churches through the ‘East London Gospel Partnership’ (ELGP). Many of the pastors meet every week to pray together, and we combine to put on high-quality bigger events for outsiders to hear about Christianity”.
Links to various reports and comments on the AMiE ordinations have been collated by Anglican Mainstream, including: the Revd David Baker’s post, These breakaway Anglican ordinations are a wake-up call (Christian Today UK), Harry Farley’s Rival Anglican church ordains new clergy in challenge to Justin Welby (Christian Today); and Julian Mann’s Anglican Mission in England comes of Age(VirtueOnline). Also David Ould’s blog post Anglican Mission in England announces first ordinations in which he comments [emphasis added]:
“For many disenfranchised Anglicans in the England, Wales and Scotland this will be seen to be ‘the real deal’. Previous actions (such as the consecration of Gavin Ashenden or Jonathan Pryke) have been perceived by many that davidould.net has spoken to as uncoordinated or merely local solutions. The AMiE action, however, comes with the implicit backing of the GAFCON movement (through Bishop Andy Lines) and presents as the genuine beginnings of an ecclesiastical framework that includes an ambitious programme of church planting and evangelism”.
Within the present structure of the CofE, Rt Revd Rod Thomas, Bishop of Maidstone, was appointed in order to provide a bishop who takes the Conservative Evangelical view on male headship, i.e. similar to, but not necessarily identical to, those of the AMiE. Unlike other Provincial Episcopal Visitors (a.k.a. “flying bishops”), his activities are not restricted to one Province and he may act by invitation as an Assistant Bishop in both. In May 2015, Premier reported that he estimated there were 300 congregations who could still not accept the authority of women bishops. However, this has not yet crystallized into requests for alternative oversight under the House of Bishops’ Declaration; in his Newsletter in September 2017 Bishop Rod noted that whilst “the PCCs of 107 evangelical CoE churches” had considered passing a resolution, “in just under 50 cases [had he] been asked to supply ministry”.
In June this year, the Archbishop of Canterbury sent a letter to the Primates of the Anglican Communion & Moderators of the United Churches expressing his concern at “cross-border interventions” and the planting of “missionary bishops”, whom he did not consider to be necessary. Following the consecration of Canon Andy Lines as a Missionary Bishop, on 28 July it was suggested that the Diocese of Southwark had signalled its opposition by not renewing his permission to officiate (PTO). However, the report in the Church Times indicates that Canon Lines had allowed his PTO to lapse; this is clarified in an extract from the Church of England Newspaper in VirtueOnline:
“A spokesperson for the Diocese of Southwark told The Church of England Newspaper this week: “All PTOs in the Diocese of Southwark fall due for renewal on 30 June each year. Andy Lines wrote to explain that he had moved his canonical residence to the Anglican Church in North American and in view of this change in circumstance his PTO has not been renewed.
“This is a Provincial matter and would need to be dealt with at a Provincial level.”
Bishop Lines’ assurances to the Archbishop of Canterbury that he will not minister to those within the C of E are compatible with the constraints imposed by ecclesiastical law identified by Bishop Christine. However, we need to wait and see how in practice this will align with AMiE’s aim to operate “within the structures of the Church of England” in relation to its target audiences 1, 2 and 4, listed above.