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Fulcrum Statement on the Anglican Mission in England

Monday, June 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm
Fulcrum has very serious concerns about the launch of the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), the latest in a number of initiatives in recent years by the same group of conservative evangelicals.

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Fulcrum has very serious concerns about the launch of the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), the latest in a number of initiatives in recent years by the same group of conservative evangelicals. These have included the irregular Southwark ordinations (2005), the Covenant for the Church of England (2006), GAFCON (2008), FCAUK (2009) and the St Augustine Society (2010). Fulcrum has often responded to these past actions [in addition to various writings by members of the Leadership Team and Bishop Tom Wright, there have been official Fulcrum responses to the covenant, to GAFCON’s final statement, a Fulcrum PCC Briefing Paper on GAFCON, and a response to Charles Raven on Fulcrum and FCAUK]. Sadly, concerns we have raised in the past appear to be confirmed and heightened by this new development.

We affirm

• the fundamental vision of working “within the Church of England dedicated to the conversion of England and biblical church planting”. But we believe that the latter must be conducted with a biblically based respect for order and hence proper regard to the authority of Church of England structures

• the concern to continue the pressure for maintaining the Anglican Communion’s conservative view on sexual ethics within the Church of England and

• the desire to find appropriate Church of England processes for episcopal oversight for particular parishes, in extreme cases, where bishops do not abide by the House of Bishops’ report ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’

We seriously question and challenge, however,

• the creation of a new mission society whose clientele seems to be restricted to conservative evangelicals and whose agenda appears much broader and more political than mission and evangelism

• the trajectory being set by this development in relation to AMiE’s relationship with the Church of England as a whole

• the name of the society which — unlike that of the St Augustine Society or the proposed Anglo-Catholic Society of St Wilfred and St Hilda — clearly echoes that of the breakaway Anglican Mission in America (AMiA). Fulcrum fully and unambiguously supports the full establishment of women bishops whilst also supporting the creation of a society for conservative evangelical opponents which will not compromise this crucial development. The nature of this society, however, is radically different.

• the creation of a panel of bishops who “aim to provide effective oversight in collaboration with senior clergy”. This represents the creation of a structure of alternative episcopal oversight apart from the Church of England. In the words of one of its supporters, Charles Raven, who himself left the Church of England some years ago — “in what sense will churches and clergy who are under the oversight of the AMiE’s panel of bishops rather than a diocesan bishop be ‘within the Church of England’?”

• the seemingly secret ordination of three unnamed English ordinands which recently occurred without public announcement in Kenya. This represents the authorisation of ministry apart from the Church of England and the irregular ordination of clergy to minister within the Church of England under the jurisdiction of another province of the Anglican Communion. It is thus a further escalation from the earlier and regrettable Southwark ordinations.

AMiE would appear to be lumping together a number of important issues including conflicts over church-planting, disagreements over homosexuality, difficulties with bishops over ordinations and the concerns of evangelicals opposed to women bishops. All these do need to be addressed. To address them with integrity, however, they need to be treated separately and by working through consultation among evangelicals and with the Church of England rather than by unilateral actions.

We therefore call upon those evangelicals who have started down this new path to talk with Fulcrum and the full breadth of evangelicals who share many of their concerns but who question their strategy. We believe that only in this way can those who have launched AMiE hope to secure what they claim they wish to find, a goal to which Fulcrum is also committed — a way forward together in mission as evangelicals within the Church of England.
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