Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand.
Promoting Faithfulness. Providing Fellowship.
UPDATE TWO: An Extra-Provincial Diocese –
a new expression of Anglicanism
8 November 2018
The second hui for the formation of an Extra-Provincial Diocese (EPD) was held in mid October. This meeting prayerfully continued the work started in August seeking to provide a structure for churches who had disaffiliated from the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia because of Motion 7. The meeting rejoiced in God’s faithfulness as we heard of disaffiliated congregations who have started as new churches, parishes who are in the process of disaffiliating, and clergy who are planting new congregations. There were two central features of the time together.
First, there was clarity on the seven core principles upon which the EPD is centered. The new expression of Anglicanism will be, firstly, grounded on an authoritative Bible. The prayerful proclamation and preaching of, and living in accord with, the Scriptures will be a priority. This is because these Scriptures declare to us Christ and his Cross – the second core principle. It is Christ and him crucified which will be at the heart of the mission and ministry of the EPD. This drives the third core principle: that evangelism is essential. Love for God and love for others compels us to share the great news of Jesus in every way possible.
New churches and new methods and new ministries will be employed to reach all people groups with the gospel. And as God is faithful to his word, we long for and humbly expect God to grow his people. That is why deliberate discipleship is the fourth core principle of the EPD, where we want to see people growing in their love for the Lord and for each other and seeing the fruit and gifts of the Spirit being exhibited in their lives. The breadth of the EPD means robust relationships (the fifth core principle) will be vital to our common life as we seek to express the unity we have in Christ, speaking the truth in love. This will be expressed within an ecclesial structure which is authentically Anglican, building on the foundations of our faith entrusted to us and seeking to express appropriate breadth and generosity under the godly leadership of a bishop. Undergirding all this will be persistent prayer – God’s people humbly and expectantly seeking him to work in and through us by the power of his Spirit for the glory of his Son.
Second, the hui also saw robust conversations on a range of important or difficult issues that need to be addressed in the formation of the EPD. These included liturgical forms, property ownership, complementarianism and egalitarianism, church planting, as well as many others. Some areas need more work, others required compromise in order find a position that all could live with, while others were unanimously adopted. The seven core principles shaped and guided these conversations, and we give thanks to God for the clear direction and exciting future we trust awaits us.
The decisions made, and the general directions agreed upon, have been fed back to the five-person Constitution and Canons Working Group. This group is advancing well in its work on the required draft Constitution and Canons. In the coming months these draft documents will be circulated in preparation for our next hui in March. This hui, comprised of representatives of churches who have disaffiliated (or are in a process of disaffiliation), as well as new congregations that have been established, will gather to finalise the Constitution and Canons. We also expect that at this meeting we will finalise a name, and establish a board of nomination to begin the process for selecting a suitable candidate for bishop.
As my own Diocese of Christchurch (ACANZP) is already in the process of dealing with the problem of beneficed clergy leaving the Anglican Church in order to form another quasi-Anglican ‘Extra-Provincial Diocese’; I have taken the trouble to find out what is actually taking place in Christchurch and the wider Provincial Anglican Church here – from the latest available information provided on-line by this new organisation (EPD).
From the above, it would seem that the new organisation has set itself the target of forming new congregations that will come together under the authority of a local bishop. The local Chair of this organisation is the Revd. Jay Behan, formerly Vicar of the Anglican Parish of Shirley, in Christchurch, so one supposes he could be in line for this leadership role. However, as FCANZ is already linked with the Diocese of Sydney – through its Archbishop Glen Davies’ association with GAFCON – (the ‘Province’ most likely to contain the new Extra-Provincial Diocese (EPD) with which FCANZ is now proposing to be linked) it seems likely that the episcopal ordination of FCANZ first bishop will take place in Sydney, Australia. There may be problems with this new bishop being ordained in New Zealand, as s/he will be seen to be operating under a polity which is unrecognised by ACANZP.
Nevertheless, GAFCON has not observed such a discretionary reluctance to ordain its new ‘bishops’ within other Provinces of the Anglican Communion – North America being a case in point; where ACNA (the new ‘Anglican Church in North America’) was raised up there in competition with The Episcopal Church (TEC) in North America and the Anglican Church of Canada.
It needs to be said that the GAFCON/FOCA movement is a deliberate attempt to form a rival Anglican Communion in Churches around the world, claiming to represent a more ‘traditional Anglicanism’ than practised by most Global North and other liberal Anglican Churches linked with the See of Canterbury and its Archbishop, which have embraced the membership and ministry of LGBT+ people into their congregations.
Based on a ‘Sola Scriptura’ theology – rather than the recognised Anglican: ‘Scripture; Tradition; and Reason theology; which admits of a more up-to-date understanding of the issues of gender and sexuality – the (mainly African) Provinces of the Communion that comprise the GAFCON/FOCA movement have distanced themselves from the mostly Western Provinces of the communion by raising up their own paradigm of theological propriety in what they have called their ‘Jerusalem Statement of Faith’. This precludes any treatment of LGBT+ people as anything other than disordered and. ultimately, non-Christian – an attitude which many of us in other parts of our Church feel to be unconscionably judgemental, and lacking in pastoral sensitivity at best.
There still remains the problem of what will happen to the remnants of the congregations that the departing clergy will leave behind in the parishes they have abandoned. What will happen to the properties that have been built up by faithful Anglicans in the past? Will our Church be sued by the departees – like what took place in North America and Canada? Or will there be some local agreement that will mitigate against the alienation of property? These matters are still to be worked out – between the dioceses concerned (Christchurch is not the only one); our National Church; and the departees (who, I understand from a recent article from the Sydney Diocese in Australia, can expect to be supported financially and structurally by that conservative Evangelical diocese).
Naturally, those left behind in parishes here will need to have some continuity in their life with the rest of us in ACANZP. I understand that clergy have already been appointed to look after the pastoral and spiritual needs of those remaining loyal to our Church. All of this means that there will be an added burden incumbent upon our new Bishop-elect, The Revd. Peter, Carrell. However, he has the prayers and the goodwill of us who believe our Church is moving in the right direction, with its Gospel policy of radical inclusion of ALL
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand