New Anglican Bishops for England and Europe

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Andrew Atherstone writes: It was a great privilege to journey from Oxford to Yorkshire last Friday (21 October) to witness the consecration of two of our distinguished Wycliffe Hall alumni as new Anglican bishops. There was a buzz of excitement in the air at the inauguration of their new ministries, and exhilaration at the gospel bonds which draw together the global Anglican family. In a variation to the usual liturgy, the new bishops were doffed on the head with a Bible and exhorted, “Remember that you are always under the Word of God.” We weren’t gathered, however, in the Gothic glories of York Minster, but in a converted warehouse on an industrial estate in Hull, lent for the occasion by a local Vineyard church. This was not the Church of England, but a much younger ministry, the Anglican Network in Europe.

Global leaders in the Anglican Communion, associated with Gafcon, gave the consecration their full backing. Archbishop Laurent Mbanda (primate of Rwanda) preached the consecration sermon, on the Great Commission in Matthew 28, while Archbishop Henry Ndukuba (primate of Nigeria) presided at Holy Communion. They both declined invitations to the Lambeth Conference in summer 2022, but believed this event sufficiently important to make the long trek to Hull. There were also video greetings from Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba (primate of Uganda), Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit (primate of Kenya), and Archbishop James Wong (primate of the Indian Ocean), among others. The chief consecrator was Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), chair of the Gafcon primates’ council. Other bishops joining the consecration were Jay Behan (New Zealand), Julian Dobbs (USA), Charlie Masters (Canada), and Owen Nwokolo (Nigeria). These are impressive Anglican leaders, people of wisdom and stature. The platform was a wonderful global array.

The Gafcon movement brings together a multiplicity of Anglican theologies, from high church catholics to low church evangelicals. On this occasion, Archbishop Beach agreed to tone down the usual ritualistic frills, for the sake of evangelical sensibilities. There were no large pectoral crosses, or episcopal rings, and not a mitre in sight. The liturgy was taken not from ACNA’s 2019 prayer book but from Church Society’s 1994 English prayer book, though Beach did smuggle in one sacerdotal ritual during the Veni Creator Spiritus, by anointing the new bishops’ hands with oil – likely to give English evangelicals palpitations, and not in the published liturgy! Clergy in the congregation were asked to wear their dog collars, which was visually impressive, though it was strange to see Church of England evangelicals in collars that they would never normally wear on Sunday. Gafcon celebrations often embrace this incongruous mix of theological cultures from different sides of the globe, jostling together in kaleidoscopic union.

Unity in Diversity?

The Anglican Network in Europe (ANiE, pronounced ‘Annie’) was created in 2020 as a proto-province, and currently has two proto-dioceses, the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE, pronounced ‘Amy’) and the Anglican Convocation in Europe (ACE). It is an embryonic work, quickly growing, seeking to build a viable model for a full provincial structure. At the moment both dioceses are very small – AMiE has 23 congregations (all in England) and ACE has 11 congregations (3 in Scotland, 3 in Wales, 2 in Portugal, 2 in Germany, and 1 in England). Some of the new congregations are still so much in their infancy, newly born, that they don’t yet have websites. Most meet in village halls, primary schools, or community centres. 

The bishop currently overseeing both dioceses is Andy Lines, former director of Crosslinks, a Church of England mission agency, consecrated by ACNA in 2017. Each diocese has now elected two suffragan bishops – Tim Davies (Sheffield) and Lee McMunn (Scarborough) for AMiE; alongside Stuart Bell (Wales) and Ian Ferguson (Scotland) for ACE. Bell was absent from Hull because of ministry commitments at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, so is due to be consecrated in Wales in spring 2023. Five bishops for just 34 congregations seems massive episcopal overload by Church of England standards, a top-heavy structure, but it is designed to enable a more personal, relational model of oversight than is feasible in bigger dioceses. It is also deliberately laying the groundwork for future growth. New congregations are joining every year and Bishop Lines has a steady stream of clerical enquirers seeking admittance.

In recent negotiations, a network of Nigerian Anglicans in England – the Anglican Missionary Congregations (AMC), headquartered in Manchester – have petitioned to join ANiE as its third diocese. But when Archbishop Ndukuba discovered the plans, he issued Lines a stinging rebuke (in a letter dated 14 October 2022), that these conversations are “a complete breach of protocol and disrespect and undermining of our authority as the Primate of the Church of Nigeria. It is completely unacceptable, and we take serious exception to this approach.” The archbishop insists that the AMC is a missionary arm of the Church of Nigeria and may not leave without its approval. This letter has been leaked to Virtue Online, who has remarkably good spies within the inner working of the Gafcon machine. Just a week later, Lines and Ndukuba stood shoulder to shoulder at the Hull consecrations, but their correspondence reveals that all is not easy behind the scenes.

The new province is like an experimental laboratory, where ecclesiological innovation is encouraged. These pioneers might make many mistakes along the way, a process of trial and error, but are attempting to create a functioning ecclesial operation from scratch. As one ACE clergyman puts it, “We’re building the aeroplane while we’re flying it”. The voyage of discovery can be thrilling and terrifying in equal measure. But from the cauldron of experimentation emerge new ecclesiological possibilities for 21st century Anglicanism.

Most strikingly, even though AMiE and ACE have ‘England’ and ‘Europe’ in their names, they are operating as overlapping, non-geographic, dioceses. They are breaking free from Anglicanism’s obsession with geography, which derives not from the New Testament but from the ancient rivalries of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. As this new province grows, AMiE and ACE would rejoice to have church plants in the same town, in happy gospel partnership but under different diocesan bishops. They champion the principle of subsidiarity, devolving as many decisions as possible to local congregations. AMiE’s Articles of Association affirm: “The fundamental unit of mission and ministry is the local Church.” Congregations are self-financing, and are given maximum freedom to move from one diocese to another, or to leave the network altogether if they wish.

There is evident danger, however, of sowing the seeds of divisions into the soil of the new province even at its birth. The two dioceses have written their own sets of canons, reflecting their distinctive theological cultures. AMiE is explicitly conservative evangelical; its canons forbid Anglo-Catholic vesture, take a strict approach to remarriage after divorce, and set subscription to the Apostles’ Creed as the minimum bar of church membership. ACE’s canons are much looser, permitting broad theological variation, and encompass Anglo-Catholics and charismatics. ACE’s bishop-elect Stuart Bell has been a prominent leader in charismatic renewal in Wales for many decades. As rector of St Michael’s, Aberystwyth from 1988 to 2013, he grew it to be the largest Anglican congregation in the principality. Likewise, at Christ the King Anglican Church in the Algarve, southern Portugal, the ACE minister until recently was Mike Clarkson, another Wycliffe alumnus and well-known charismatic. He served his curacy in the HTB network at St Barnabas Kensington under John Irvine, and in 1993 planted Oak Tree Anglican Fellowship in Acton, west London, outside the parish system. ANiE is not the conservative Reform movement reborn outside the Church of England, but a remarkably broad community.

The clash of cultures between the two dioceses is seen especially in their contrasting approaches to the ordination of women. AMiE is a so-called ‘complementarian’ diocese – the ordination of women as deacons is currently being debated, but their ordination as presbyters and bishops is explicitly forbidden – the position the Church of England held before 1987. It offers a theological defence of this position, affirming the equality of men and women as “created image bearers of God”, and the ministry of men and women as “equally valid, valuable and necessary in God’s eyes”, and yet “only godly and gifted male candidates” will be admitted by AMiE to the presbyterate. ACE takes a different approach. It permits the ordination of women as deacons and presbyters, but not as bishops – the position the Church of England held between 1994 and 2014. Instead of defending this biblically, however, ACE simply offers a pro tem rationale – that their bishops must be male “out of respect for the diversity of views within global Anglicanism, and for the sake of unity”. This question is contentious within the wider Gafcon movement and some of the most conservative provinces have begun to consecrate women as bishops – Elizabeth Awut Ngor in South Sudan in 2016, and Emily Onyango and Rose Okeno in Kenya in 2021. There are pitfalls ahead for ANiE. Will a woman ordained presbyter by ACE be recognized by AMiE, for instance? Will they be able to plant churches together? Perhaps ANiE will soon be looking for help from the Church of England’s Five Guiding Principles.

Whether it is possible to maintain the unity of an Anglican province where each diocese has its own set of canons, time will tell. It is certainly an innovative approach. Canons are living documents, constantly evolving, but they create particular theological cultures, and those cultures can quickly grow apart. In some very obvious ways AMiE and ACE need to coordinate better and seek a common mind. For example, in AMiE the minimum age of ordination as deacon and presbyter is 23 and 24 respectively, but ACE has raised this to 24 and 25. Presumably this quirk will be ironed out soon. More seriously, the Declaration of Assent for ordinands is different in each diocese. Both assent to “the faith which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds”, but then they diverge. We were treated at the Hull consecrations to the oddity of the ACE bishop affirming “the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion”, but the AMiE bishops affirming “the Articles of Religion agreed in 1562”. But there were only 38 Articles in 1562, of course, because Queen Elizabeth struck one of them out, and the full 39 were not promulgated until 1571. Why not simply agree one Declaration of Assent for the whole province, as a public sign of theological agreement and common cause between the dioceses? Otherwise, these fissures will deepen as movement grows, especially as further dioceses are created, all overlapping geographically and all with unique canons.

Missional Urgency

One of the strongest ties which binds both dioceses together is an enthusiasm for church growth, especially through planting new congregations. This is particularly obvious in AMiE, prioritized in its Articles of Association: 

AMiE is a fellowship of faithful Anglican Churches committed to gospel mission by planting Churches, strengthening Churches and partnering with other gospel-centred Christians for the salvation of many and the glory of God.

When, in 2016, AMiE announced its desire to see 25 new churches by 2025 and 250 by 2050, it was greeted with incredulity as over-ambitious. But it is already well on the way to meeting the first target, ahead of schedule – though admittedly some of that rapid growth is by transfer from the Church of England rather than by planting. AMiE is now redoubling its efforts with its “10:20 Planting Plan”, aiming for 10 more new churches by 2025, and a further 20 new churches by 2030. Its recruitment drive for potential church-planters, lay or ordained, appeals: “We’d love to know what place is on your heart. Is there a town, village or city that urgently needs a new gospel church? We’d love to hear!”

To focus the mission, AMiE has identified 50 English towns which do not have enough churches to serve the current population, and which “urgently need another Bible-teaching Anglican church”. Many of these are post-industrial communities in the north and midlands. AMiE lists these places alphabetically, but they are re-ordered here by Church of England diocese:

  • Bath and Wells diocese: Taunton
  • Birmingham diocese: Solihull
  • Canterbury diocese: Folkestone, Maidstone, Sittingbourne
  • Chelmsford diocese: Basildon, East Ham, Southend-on-Sea
  • Chester diocese: Altrincham
  • Chichester diocese: Crawley
  • Coventry diocese: Nuneaton, Rugby
  • Derby diocese: Chesterfield, 
  • Durham diocese: Darlington, Hartlepool, South Shields, Stockton-on-Tees, Sunderland
  • Guildford diocese: Farnborough
  • Leeds diocese: Bradford, Halifax, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Leeds, Wakefield
  • Lichfield diocese: Cannock, Tamworth, Telford, Walsall
  • Lincoln diocese: Grimsby, Scunthorpe
  • Liverpool diocese: St Helens, Widnes
  • London diocese: Ealing, Hayes
  • Manchester diocese: Bolton, Salford
  • Oxford diocese: High Wycombe, Milton Keynes, Slough
  • Peterborough diocese: Peterborough, Wellingborough
  • Rochester diocese: Dartford
  • Salisbury diocese: Weymouth
  • Southwell and Nottingham diocese: Mansfield
  • St Albans diocese: Luton, Hemel Hempstead, Watford
  • York diocese: Middlesbrough, York

This is obviously only a beginning, and the number of English towns in need of new Bible-teaching churches could be multiplied many times over. Planting congregations is always good for the health of the church, from whatever denomination, so AMiE’s initiatives deserve enthusiastic support from friends in the Church of England.

If, however, any in the Church of England are unsettled by the existence of a new Anglican province on British shores, let us remember the “Roman Catholic test” when it comes to ecumenical relations. Some Church of England bishops and archdeacons have recently been guilty of behaving like bullies when clergy in their dioceses transfer out of the Church of England and into AMiE. These seceders have been threatened with CDMs and pressurized to relinquish not only their licences but also their orders. Archdeacons have also dissuaded schools from allowing their premises to be used by these new Anglican churches. Whatever happened to gracious ecumenism? Would we treat someone in this disdainful way if they transferred from the Church of England to Roman Catholicism? Canterbury and Rome are not in communion and disagree over major doctrines (including the ordination of women), and yet we happily work together in common mission, speak respectfully, participate together in events, and pose for photographs in friendly embrace. Far more Church of England clergy depart for Roman Catholicism every year than for AMiE, including four Church of England bishops in 2021 alone. Therefore, anyone in the Church of England who claims to be ecumenically motivated should measure their response to AMiE by this “Roman Catholic test”. Bullying, browbeating, and cool hostility must be expunged from Christian relationships. The urgency of Christian mission in secular Europe demands an end to ecclesiastical squabbles. One of the first practical steps is for the Church of England to officially recognize the validity of ANiE orders, as they did for ACNA orders in 2017.

Trans-denominational friendships are a two-way street, of course. The ACE canons assert that ACE clergy are “are unable, in conscience, to minister in churches not represented on the [Gafcon] Primates Council”, and may not do so more than four times a year without episcopal permission. This is a remarkably short-sighted restriction, which damages Christian cooperation across denominational boundaries, and should be struck out at the next revision of the ACE canons. There are plenty of evangelicals working in non-Gafcon provinces, like the Church of England, and common cause should be encouraged, not forbidden. Archbishop Beach’s explicit advice to those wondering whether they have a future in the Church of England, is to “Wait for the Lord”, a repeated refrain in the Psalms. He urges no one to leave the Church of England for ANiE without being compelled by the Lord’s prompting – for some that may be now, for others it may be some years hence, for others it may be never. A great deal hinges on the moral decisions that the Church of England takes in 2023 and whether it remains faithful to the Scriptures. But those who leave and those who stay behind must avoid mutual recriminations and suspicions. Evangelicals on opposite sides of the Anglican divide need to build prayerful, missional partnerships, not trenches. 

This new Anglican proto-province for Europe and the British Isles is no panacea. Like all Christian societies, it is troubled by personality clashes, rivalries, misunderstandings, divergent vision, weakness and sin. Evangelical clergy in the Church of England should not naively assume that the grass is greener on the other side. And yet the Lord is on the move in this new network in a remarkable way. AMiE declares:

Our desire is not simply to exist for ourselves and for now. We are passionate about the future. We aim to be a haven for orthodox Anglicans and a home where rescued sinners can know and love their Saviour. The task before us is both glorious and enormous. But, with the help of God, AMiE will play its part in proclaiming Christ faithfully to the nations.

The Anglican Network in Europe is quickly gathering momentum and maturity. The Hull consecrations are a watershed moment for the development Anglican ecclesiology in the 21st century, in the very country where Anglicanism was born. The initiative is small and fragile. But as the prophet Zechariah exhorts, it is foolish to despise “the day of small things” (Zech 4.10)

Revd Dr Andrew Atherstone teaches church history and Anglican studies at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He is a member of the Anglican Consultative Council and the General Synod, and served 2016-22 on the Church of England’s Council for Christian Unity.

Canterbury and Rwanda: A Correction and Apology

In the original article, I criticised the Archbishop of Canterbury for his 2019 letter to the Archbishop of Rwanda – in particular for the hand-written postscript informing Archbishop Mbanda that the obligation for overseas clergy to receive permission before ministering in England is “a matter of actional law”. But this is an embarrassing misreading of the document, which actually says, “a matter of national law”. I am sorry for perpetuating a misinterpretation, and have deleted that section from my review, with sincere apologies to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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140 thoughts on “New Anglican Bishops for England and Europe”

  1. “[I]t was strange to see Church of England evangelicals in collars that they would never normally wear on Sunday.” Cheeky of Andrew! I wear a collar on Sundays, just as I did last Friday.

    On a serious point, though, Friday’s consecrations made for a wonderfully joyous occasion. I minister within the CofE in Hull and we as a church family are delighted to have three AMiE congregations in the city and pray for more. We happily pray for them and with them, and we will partner with them just as we would with any other like-minded church.

    • Stagnant or keen? David. Keen for the Gospel, it all seems to be, the proclamation of Jesus seems to be the unifying motivation and substance, of planting, sowing and reaping. Kingdom, not empire building and defence, not outward form. It is there, where human competition withers and Christian encouragement grows and is sustained.

    • In other news, Notts County, Oldham Athletic, Scunthorpe United, and Wrexham football teams have announced that they are forming an alternative Premier League. “We refuse to use VAR, so we are forming a pure Premier League of our own. VAR was never part of the Football establishment at the beginning, and we regard its use as heretical. Our target crowd numbers by 2030 are 100,000 per match. Mohammed Salah, Harry Kane, and Erling Haaland may be joining one of our clubs before 2050.

      In further news, five neighbours in my village have invited me to be a Bishop. It is joyous news, I’m sure you will agree. I am Anglican, enthusiastic, and the six of us are holding the enthronement on the village green on Guy Fawkes night. Please address me as Right Reverend in the future. The Archbishop of Canterbury has been invited to attend, to further ecumenical relations. It will be a disgrace if he does not bother to attend. He wouldn’t snub the Pope like that.

      And finally, Lundy Island has declared independence, and requests a seat on the United Nations Security Council. They expect the President of the United States will attend their independence day celebrations, and so he should.

      Less satirically, AMiE can of course do whatever it wishes, but it has no bearing on the Church of England, which will continue to be the main Anglican Church in this country. That’s not going to change. And anyone on the far reaches of conservative evangelicalism can of course depart the Church of England, depart their Church of England building, and join AMiE any time they wish (though it would be sad), but it is fantasy to imagine that most parishes and most people (even most evangelical congregations) will want to make that move. They really won’t.

      Evangelicals have a continuing, valuable and welcome place in the future Church of England, and besides, apart from a handful of (mostly male) Ministers and deeply conservative members on the fringes of the C of E, most parishes, churches, priests/ministers will prefer to continue in the main Anglican Church of England, rather than migrate to AMiE. These new bishops are about as fantastical as Scunthorpe playing in the Premier League, or Lundy Island joining the UN Security Council, and I am somewhat surprised this ‘fantasy diocese’ has been afforded webspace here. It looks (to me) a bit like an advertisement and recruitment drive for jumping ship. If a few people do schism from the C of E, I pray God blesses their daily life, like every other Christian’s life, I really do, but it’s surely not front page news or a serious contribution to the future of the Church of England being worked out in the coming year! It has no bearing on the LLF process. It is a footnote, relevant only to those who can’t bear to co-exist with others with different views. A few may chuck the toys out of the pram if they can’t get their way. By far the greater number won’t. We need grace and grown up accommodation of the reality that here in the Church of England, some people oppose gay sexuality, but most members today almost certainly don’t. We need to LOVE one another, and accommodate differing views within the C of E, respecting one another’s right of conscience, not trying to impose one conscience on everyone else, which is political unreality in our autonomous Church of England, where most people are okay with gay and lesbian devotion, and are not going anywhere.

      What we need to do is talk seriously about how accommodation WITHIN the Church of England is going to get worked out. But some people seem in denial about that, speculating about leaving for some fantasy, self-appointed alternative Anglican organisation, a bit like Pep Guardiola deciding to leave Manchester City to manage Dorking Wanderers. There is serious, grown up work to be done about how we love one another, and co-exist together in a Church of England which has very differing views on sex within it. Because it does. That’s just the reality. The real grace is how we transcend our differences, and that’s what is being worked out in the Church of England, even now. Or you can go with religious fantasy…

      Anyone wishing to join my new Anglican diocese, please write to:

      Diocesan office,
      Nowhere land.

      • ‘What we need to do is talk seriously about how accommodation WITHIN the Church of England is going to get worked out.’ I don’t know what this means. Issues around sexuality have divided every church on this planet, and it is not really possible to agree contradictory position on the theology of marriage.

        A good accommodation within Anglicanism would be for those who don’t agree with the doctrine of the C of E to ask for oversight from CiW or SEC. Why couldn’t that work?

        • For someone like me who affirms gay sexuality between devoted partners, I don’t need ‘oversight’. I already have a bishop. What I need is for my priest to be able to affirm and bless gay and lesbian couples publicly in church, for my PCC to support that, and for my church community to openly accept it (as it does).

          The point is: I am willing to accept the same right of conscience to people like you not to bless in that way. I am willing to accept two different views in the Church of England. If the Church ‘accommodates’ both views, or even just informally ‘allows’ them, then I can live with that, and I would not need any external ‘oversight’, thanks!

          But you bypass the problem here: which is people (like yourself? I don’t know. You tell me, Ian) who are unwilling to share the Church of England if two very real divergent views are held by the membership of the C of E. If you refuse to ‘accommodate’ the views and practice of others, then you create the problem. If you insist on ‘imposed uniformity’ when half the Church of England disagree, then you need to take responsibility for your own intransigence and ‘own’ it.

          In which case, the Church of England needs to work out some structure of ‘oversight’ for you, along the lines perhaps of those who opposed women’s ordination.

          Frankly, the mistake is to demand ‘uniformity’ is imposed on other people, and to suppose that ‘uniformity’ = ‘unity’. It doesn’t.

          We can just all be grown up about the reality that half the Church of England has one view, and half the Church of England has the other view, but with grace we can all live our lives, and serve our communities.

          As it happens SEC is fine, and as a Scot I have often worshipped in the SEC (though my family were Church of Scotland), but living in England in an English parish in an English diocese… no thanks. I will be happy with a Bishop of my own diocese.

          I don’t need any oversight beyond my diocesan bishop in the future Church of England.

          It’s not me who has a problem with ‘Unity in Diversity’.

          Most people won’t.

          • “In which case, the Church of England needs to work out some structure of ‘oversight’ for you, along the lines perhaps of those who opposed women’s ordination.” (I’m pro)

            That’s not going too well though, is it? Philip North was badly treated in this “accommodation” agreement… It has the flavour of accommodation in name only. So what trust in further “accommodations” can there be? It might look just like yet another cuckoo’s egg in the best, the original chicks tossed out one by one.

            So why not a parallel structure for “you” and leave the original vine as it is?

          • Susannah, that means that practically every Christian in history until 5 minutes ago was ‘the problem’. And (incriminatingly for your stated position) that all the recognised saints one can think of were ‘the problem’. The Deuteronomist was the problem for saying there were 2 ways. Jesus was the problem for saying that there was a broad and a narrow way. Paul was the problem for asking what fellowship light has with darkness.

          • The CofE already has a ‘view’ on marriage does it not? In fact it has a whole doctrine of marriage which affirms it to be only to be between a man and a woman. It is people like you who have created, and are driving the division seeking to change the the historic and established doctrine of marriage. AMiE and GAFCON are simply reacting to this as they see their adherence to the historic doctrine being completely ignored by the established hierarchy.

            Your so-called Unity in Diversity will be nothing of sort as Ian Hobbs as demonstrated with the Philip North debacle. I cannot see that the Ozanne Foundation for example, would ever support such notion for which any opposition to SSM is an axiom of homophobia and in fact believe should be characterised as ‘hate speech ‘ and criminalised.

          • ‘For someone like me who affirms gay sexuality between devoted partners, I don’t need ‘oversight’. I already have a bishop.’

            You clearly need an alternative, since the bishop who currently oversees you upholds a doctrine which you disagree with.

          • Ian,

            I repeat: I don’t seek any alternative oversight. I am content with my bishop, and the Church of England bishops generally.

            It is more extreme conservatives who say they couldn’t co-exist with bishops in certain circumstances. I’m happy to co-exist with the reality that in the Church of England, we are decent people but just have different views.

            I’m a born again Christian. I am also a Christian, baptised as an infant, in the Church of England. I am confirmed in the Church of England by a Church of England bishop. I sang in my church choir. I was immersed in the liturgy and the creeds. I knew the wonderful Bishop John Taylor as a friend and a really inspiring human being. I of course know and love my cousin who served as a Bishop, the most decent of men. I regard you as a brother-in-Christ. I have strenuously argued, online and in private correspondence with many of our Bishops, defending the conscience and validity of conservative evangelicals on sexuality, and the importance of their continuing presence and inclusion in the Church of England. In fact, I have made myself unpopular with some ‘liberals’ for defending the right of conscience of people I disagree with. I honestly do pray for you and the flourishing of your teaching ministry because I believe you are gifted.

            The thing is, it is you, not me, who seems to be unwilling to accommodate differing views in a Church of England where members have differing views on sexuality. See, I don’t have a problem if my Bishop has a different view to me. I am willing to live and co-exist with people with different views. We ARE a Church with clearly different views, but we can still love each other, and still live Christian lives to the best we can in conscience. I don’t want ‘out’.

            You haven’t answered my question about what you yourself would do, if the Bishops decide in the coming period to follow Justin’s line expressed at the Lambeth Conference: to “accommodate differing views on sexuality, both of which can be held with theological seriousness”. What would you do, Ian, if the Bishops decide to ‘allow’ two positions and practices in the Church of England, on the principle of conscience? Are you willing to co-exist? Are you willing to accept oversight by a Bishop who actually affirms gay sexuality?

            If you are willing to co-exist with differences, then you take my line, and there is no problem. But if you absolutely insist that you cannot do that, then it’s you who needs the oversight, not me.

            You make assertions about the ‘doctrine’ of the Church of England on sexuality. But that’s a historical and perhaps outmoded doctrine. Possibly more than half of Synod, and much more than half of Church membership, no longer agree with that doctrine. It might still face a logjam over the 67% rule, where a minority can block change sought by the majority. But the reality – in truth – is that the ‘mind’ of the Church’s members today don’t predominantly condemn gay and lesbian sexual tenderness and devotion. They are sincere and committed Christians, and their more liberal views and consciences need to be accommodated in the future Church of England.

            I believe the Bishops increasingly see ‘Unity in Diversity’ as the best way of us all living together in grace, not least because there seems no other way ahead, and things are now unsustainable under the outdated doctrine.

            My own Bishop knew about my wife and I having our marriage blessed in a large public service, in a church where the community loved us… and chose to just let it go, in other words chose to allow it. See, that’s the thing: the 67% rule on doctrinal change becomes an obstructive device, imposing arguably a minority position on the whole Church of England. In those circumstances, unless at least 51% in the General Synod vote to ‘keep’ the past doctrine, the Bishops would be justified to ‘allow’… to ‘accommodate’ two integrities (knowing that perhaps more than 50% in Synod no longer accept the old doctrine.

            So they could do what my Bishop did, and what Justin surmised… and ‘allow’ churches to decide their on consciences on the matter, and ‘accommodate’ them… and we could all live happily together.

            Otherwise you may have a situation where the minority claims the ‘mind’ of the Church and imposes it on the majority. And that’s non-viable.

            We live in changed times, and people in the Church simply don’t all believe what you call (correctly) the present doctrine of the Church. It may not be the future doctrine, in a society and Church where we now have gay marriage, gay and lesbian relatives, colleagues, neighbours… and most people are okay with that and indeed affirm it.

            Like I say, I strongly defend the right of social conservatives – on conscience grounds – to stay in the future Church of England and to be valued. They are part of the whole. Besides, they are family. Should we not just love ach other, accept we have different views, and each in our own way work to serve our communities? Isn’t that grown up and reasonable? We can do that with grace.

            So no, I don’t seek alternative episcopal oversight. Like all other members in our family, “I am Church”. There is room for us all. I am content with our Bishops.

            Rather than flagging up the rude incursions of AMiE/ANiE, I suggest – if we are committed to staying in the Church of England, we join the Bishops in working hard on a structure which will ‘accommodate’ all of us… including, I’d argue respectfully, the minority in the Church of England who still hold your own views. It’s a sizeable minority, and it matters, but then I’ve always argued that the evangelical part of the Church is precious. In many ways I am formed by evangelicalism myself, and leading evangelism and housegroups and youth groups has been part of my journey in the Church of England.

            I want us ALL to pray and persist in prayer, for a Church which has space for evangelicals, catholics, liberals, contemplatives, convents, monasteries, social action groups, new plants… with a plethora of views and expressions.

            I seek no oversight other than our own Bishops. I hope you would not, either.


          • Susannah, your saying ‘we live in changed times’ shows how faulty is your basis.
            This is another way of saying we should all adapt to the times.
            Never test the times.
            However faulty the times are.
            So if for example the times are a dictator’s regime, we should just go along with it. After all it is the times.
            What more do we need?
            Which is precisely where the term ‘spirit of the age’ comes from. (A synonym for transience, the sort of passing insubstantial vapours that James spoke about, that have no steadfastness or staying power or endurance or eternity.)

          • Thank you Susannah. You once again express all I want to say on this thread and to my friends who hold more conservative views. And as always you do it with grace I can only aspire to. I too am fortunate to be completely at home with episcopal oversight .

          • David, can I check what you mean by ‘grace’?

            Susannah has asserted the following things:
            a. that those who believe the current actual doctrine of the C of E are ‘extreme conservatives’
            b. that she is happy with her episcopal oversight, despite her bishop having taken a vow to teach and uphold a view she does not accept
            c. that the teaching of Jesus that marriage is between one man and one woman is ‘historical and perhaps outmoded’
            d. that anyone who does not believe that this doctrine of marriage is a ‘thing indifferent’ is ‘unreasonable’
            e. that, without any actual justification, it is fine for people to both hold to and disagree with a key doctrine of the Church
            f. that her view is the ‘majority’ despite lack of evidence (interesting that, according to CT this week, only 1000 out of the 20000 licensed ministers in the C of E would conduct same-sex marriages)

            I am afraid I don’t recognise this as ‘grace’ as exemplified by Jesus in the gospels and the story of Scripture. The idea that doctrine and ethics are a ‘thing indifferent’ and that we should happily live with complete contradictions in what we believe seems quite alien to the teaching of Jesus.

          • So David, when Susannah says that times have changed and therefore so should we, do you underwrite that?

            Bear in mind that a large philosophical error is contained therein.

          • Oh Ian, please.

            I am sure I am no more gracious than anyone else. I know my own past, my own actions. I have done things in my life that I deeply regret. I can be selfish, I can be neglectful of others.

            To your long list:

            (a) Your re-framed quote: ” those who believe the current actual doctrine of the C of E are ‘extreme conservatives’”. I didn’t say that. Those are your words not mine. A person can believe the present doctrine and NOT be extreme at all… I am always defending that, it is a legitimate theological view. Those I term at the extremes (in other words, at the further wing of conservatism) are a subsection who in a future church would refuse to accept bishops they disagree with, and who don’t want to co-exist with other Christians in a future church if it accommodated both views on sexuality. That’s NOT what you claimed I said: you re-frame my word ‘extreme’ to make it seem I think opposing gay sex is an ‘extreme’ view. I don’t. It has a place in the future church. I’ve defended those conservatives so many times, against the tide, over at ‘Thinking Anglicans’.

            (b) Yes, I’m fine with my bishops. Is that a lack of graciousness. I live and let live, and get on with trying to be an admittedly fallible and imperfect Christian. I’ll be fine if they change things as well. I am just a Christian. People will have different views.

            (c) is a matter of different theological views of what Jesus was actually trying to communicate in addressing people back then like that. Would he use the same words today? I don’t know. But *you* know that the Church of England is divided down the middle on whether Jesus, in today’s society, would condemn gay and lesbian marriage. I’m simply part of that and part of the actual Church of England. There simply ARE different theological views. But we are ONE Church.

            (d) Ian, I didn’t use the word ‘unreasonable’. Once again, you put words in my mouth. If you think it is ‘reasonable’ to leave the Church of England if gay marriage is allowed and accommodated, then I accept you may have your reasons and God bless you. I referred to the belief I have that we can co-exist with different views as ‘reasonable’. I believe for many in the Church of England, there is a more moderate way in the middle, where we just accept we have different views, and get on with everything else, and that there is ‘reason’ for co-existing for the sake of everything else. That’s what I said was reasonable. My ‘reason’ does not negate your right to have reasons as well. I was speaking for the people who place unity before uniformity, and are willing to compromise (which I think most people will).

            (e) You criticise me for thinking “it is fine for people to both hold to and disagree with a key doctrine of the Church.” Well yes, I do think it’s fine. You are free to disagree. It’s already the reality in the Church of England: some people agree with the doctrine on sexuality, some people disagree. That’s the Church. I can’t do very much to help you there. You just need to understand how to cope with it. It’s frankly your problem and challenge, not mine, because I’m fine with the Church accommodating both views. I’m keen to support people who oppose gay sex, inside the Church. I do that already. Evangelicals belong in the Church, but so do so-called liberals, and what you struggle with is actually a reality. We all just hold different views on sex. So do we smash everything up, or do we seek grace and love to co-exist and keep serving God in our communities? I don’t think it’s ungracious to suggest we co-exist, and love each other INSIDE the One Church of England, with different views. It’s called tolerance.

            (f) Are a majority in the Church of England now okay with gay sex in loving and devoted partnerships? You’re right, I can’t prove it. I’m suggesting it. It is perfectly possible now that more than half are now okay with it. I suspect they are. I’d be glad to see a vote. Acceptance of gay sex has grown and grown over the past 25 years, and that’s been happening among the members of the Church of England itself. Of course, General Synod was ‘packed’ with advocates of the different views – both groups tried to drum up candidates to stand. But even so, I suspect you’d probably get 51%+ of people there accepting gay sexuality as acceptable. Whatever the %’s the reality is that, on grounds of conscience, the ‘mind’ of members is deeply divided. It’s not winner takes all (or shouldn’t be). But there is urgent pastoral need to recognise the reality of those different views, and I don’t think it’s ungracious to try to find ways to accommodate both groups, because we are all Christians, and we are part of ONE Church of England, and speaking personally I really don’t want to see people and churches torn apart, so some kind of accommodation is needed.

            I want the Church to hold together, and though there are some people at either end of the spectrum who say “It has to be what I believe, and nothing else can be accepted”, I just believe there are more people in the middle of the spectrum who simply want to get on with all the other pastoral work and witness of the Church, and I support that view of a ‘broad church’. I think it is one mature way to proceed, throwing us on the need for grace towards each other, and respecting the reality of different opinions, without crushing one another’s consciences.

            I believe, as Justin insinuated at the Lambeth Conference, that both views on sexuality can be held with theological integrity and seriousness. I uphold them both as coherent. I believe they should both be accommodated in the Church of England. It’s who we are.

            Thank you for engaging, as you have.

            Let us pray for our Bishops with the decisions they need to make.

          • Susannah, it is really impossible to engage with these massive, lengthy, repeated posts.

            It is not possible to simply assert that two conflicting theologies can live alongside one another. You have to do the work to explain why sexual ethics is a ‘thing indifferent’.

          • Ian, where does the term “thing indifferent” appear in the Bible.

            Sexuality is not mentioned in the Creeds.

            You seem to be asserting that there is a category, plucked out of somewhere, of ‘things that are not indifferent’, and then you place sexuality in the basket.

            On whose authority?

            Respectfully, you say I have “to explain why sexual ethics is a ‘thing indifferent’.”

            I don’t, because that phrase is your term not mine. To me sexuality is just sexuality, and people may have different views on it, but still love one another and be ‘Church’ together.

            So I don’t have a problem with people holding different views on sexuality.

            If the Church of England decides to accommodate two different views on sexuality, I believe most people will go along with that.

            Out of mutual toleration.

            The impending question may be: what would *you* do if the Church did decide to go that way? I have asked that question before. Your term ‘things indifferent’ appears to be a stumbling block for you, and if you set a bar, what are other people to do with you… except offer you friendship and inclusion in a Church that may not want the exclusionary bar you set it. Shouldn’t we just be real, and say we clearly disagree on this specific issue, but we are all ‘Church’?

          • The notions of ‘adiaphora’, meaning ‘things indifferent’ has been central to Christian debates in this area, and arise from Paul’s discussion of disagreement in Romans 14. It is an idea that David Runcorn and almost all those arguing for change appeal to. It is a more technical term for ‘things on which we can agree to disagree’.

            The reason why you need to make the case is that Scripture is so consistent in its theological description of marriage, and because of that, the Christian Church has been too. As Darrin Belousek says in his recent book Marriage, Scripture, and the Church:

            The creational-covenant pattern of marriage…is a consensus doctrine of the church catholic. Until the present generation, all Christians everywhere have believed, and every branch of the Christian tradition has taught, that marriage is man-woman monogamy’ (p 52).

            It is not enough for you to assertthat we can accommodate two different views; you need to explain why Scripture is wrong, and why the consistent view of the church catholic is also wrong.

            It is not the idea of ‘thing indifferent’ that is a stumbling block for me; it is the idea that the C of E should on this important issue detach itself from the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.

            And it is worth noting that no church anywhere in the world has found a way of having two conflicting views on this within its polity.

          • Thank you for that coherent response, Ian, and taking the time to write it.

            Clearly there are many in the Church of England who do not share your views on sexuality, and the differences of view is what LLF has been trying to navigate. I don’t think it falls to me to start all the theological debate all over again, when it’s already been done to death.

            I absolutely agree that at a very literal level (which is also the way fundamentalists tend to handle scripture)… the original authors of the Bible were not okay with man-man sex. I have said that many times, which is why (on liberal platforms) I defend the ‘conscience’ and belief of many evangelicals, and why they must be welcome in the Church to hold those views (but not impose them on others).

            However, many Christians today recognise that real life experience today indicates that same-sex attraction is real, that gay people can live in devoted and stable relationships, and that the Holy Spirit speaks to conscience on this issue, rather than leaving us legalistically clinging to the cultural traditions of the past.

            The whole controversy is unnecessary if we just respect the ‘mind’ of Church members is deeply divided on this issue. We can indeed live and let live, and no, people with my view do not regard the love of two gay people as a ‘salvation issue’. The creeds don’t demand it should be.

            The question is: what should the Church of England do? Accommodate or kick out? And if so, who ends up leaving the Church, because we are *ALL* ‘Church’, we are ALL Christians, and much of your insistence on imposing your view on others seems to drive a logic that the members of the Church can’t live together. I disagree.

            With Unity in Diversity, you can carry on with your set of beliefs, carry on your ministry, and remain in the Church of England. Nobody should stop you doing that. What you can’t really assume is that your views should be imposed on another half of the Church (or some near %) for whom gay sexuality does not lead to Hell, and indeed can be gift for the Church.

            I take the view that we should get on with our own Christian lives, and co-exist as ‘Church’, and it seems intransigent for one group to insist that only their reading of the Bible, and way of reading it, should be allowed… and then imposed on everyone else.

            I see that approach as driving schism and in general terms (not personal to any individual) pretty immature. We need grace. We need love. We need tolerance. Above all, we need to get on with all the other pressing demands of Christian life – as ‘Church’ together – because there are such pitiful needs in our communities. I think most parishioners across the country would agree with that.

          • Romans 14: “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls.”

            That is pretty much a recipe for Unity in Diversity, and of accepting different views may co-exist.

            If some people get blessed or even married in the Church of England, what is that to you? We are not to look down on the other person’s views or condemn each other.

            And in this whole chapter, where is the reference to sex?

            There’s none.

            If you wish to say that some things are ‘salvation’ issues for you, then live by your principles, but don’t become a stumbling block in your brother or sister’s way.

            You may be right, they may be right. To our own master we stand or fall. The ‘mind’ of church members is divided like this, so the early verse of Romans 14 are particularly apposite.

            We just have different views in the Church of England. “Who are you to judge?”

            But we can agree to disagree on some matters, and that’s fine. It’s mature, in fact.

            You have a view that gay sex should be a deal-breaker for salvation? Then don’t have gay sex. A lot of people disagree and believe that – beyond the social context of the Bible’s authors – we can now recognise (as the country does in law) that devoted and tender gay relationships are a blessing, and are decent, good and fine.

            I’m afraid you impugn our relationships, which is your prerogative, but like it or not, we are Church. And if we like it or not, so are you. As I happen I do like it. I’m not the one raising problems with co-existence. I’m fine with tolerance, and respect for conscience.

          • ‘That is pretty much a recipe for Unity in Diversity, and of accepting different views may co-exist.’ Only if you rip this verse out of context, and ignore Paul’s actual teaching on sexual ethics.

            ‘And in this whole chapter, where is the reference to sex?’ There is none. That’s the point. You are claiming that we should agree to disagree on sexuality, when Paul doesn’t.

            ‘To our own master we stand or fall.’ But Jesus is not ‘our own’. You are operating with a radical postmodern individualism that the NT rejects. Jesus is Lord of all, and he teaches unambiguously that marriage is between one man and one woman.

            “Who are you to judge?” I am an ordained minister, who made a public vow to teach and uphold the faith as the Church of England has received it. And I am my brother’s keeper, with a responsibility fo protect him from erroneous teaching which will lead him astray.

            ‘I’m fine with tolerance, and respect for conscience.’ Except you will not tolerate dissent from your view that sexuality is a ‘thing indifferent.’ Scripture, the doctrine of the C of E, and the teaching of the church catholic oppose you in this.

        • It might work for you, Ian – with your Sola-Scriptura, 39-Articular form of religion, but it wouldn’t do for most justice-focussed Anglicans, outside of the ‘Confessional’ GAFCON aficionados. The sooner the ABC exposes this farce for what it is, the better for mainline Anglicans – at home and abroad.

          • ‘Mainline Anglicans’? Are you referring to those who *don’t* accept the historic position of the C of E as ‘mainline’?

            That does look like a power grab with words…

    • In the nineteenth century there were several Evangelical schisms from the C of E like the Western Schism. And there is still the Free Church of England. At the other end we had here in Canterbury the Anglican Catholic Church in a converted shop in Best Lane one of 7 congregations I gather in England. It has since migrated to a cemetery chapel. Let’s see where we are with all this in ten or twenty years.

      • “Let’s see where we are with all this in ten or twenty years.”

        A very sensible approach and one with which I totally agree. There will always be schisms and there are plenty of options for those who don’t wish to belong to any particular church for any particular reason. The AMIE/ACE grouping is just another side show which we should carry on discussion with and note with passing interest.

  2. Careful now, you Anglicans are in danger of making the former Soviet Union look streamlined and efficient. 😉 I think I follow you, just about, but this is all very impenetrable. Overlapping spheres of a authority and non-geographic structures existing simultaneously with the current system does not do much to make the church look unified….

    Me, “Oh, so you worship in that new CofE church?”
    My friend, attending the AMiE plant in Rugby: “well yes, but actually no”.
    Me, *visible confusion*

  3. I’m sure that Dr Atherstone understands that a major reason for ACE restricting its clergy from ministering in Canterbury-aligned churches is that ACE has no intention of ordaining clergy for jurisdictions its own clergy have just left for reasons of conscience. To provide clergy for SEC, CiW, CoE etc to replace those who felt they had no choice but to leave would be to suggest that they didn’t necessarily have to do so when instead we wish to agree with their principled stand and honour their sacrifice. Of course there are other reasons of good order for the Canon too. I can’t see the Canon changing any time soon.

  4. It is absolutely right that ecumenical relationships are encouraged and allowed to flourish on the ground. What Andrew Atherstone omits to spell out is the reason for these new ventures. It is, sadly, a kind of homophobia which has no place in ecumenical relationships. Many of those mentioned in this piece, and especially Foley Beach, have recently stirred up that homophobic element over the appointment of the new Dean of Canterbury who is in a Civil Partnership with his partner. That arrangement has clearly been allowed by the C of E and even a bishop of the C of E is openly in a same sex partnership. You can read their response here:

    These new dioceses seem keen to use the word Anglican. They are not, however, Anglican. They are not in Communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. They don’t use approved forms of service. Andrew will know all of this full well.

    So it is all rather opaque and does little but confirm the ‘con’ in Gafcon.

      • Oh there was. I was there. Praying, worshipping, studying scripture daily with an amazing range of faithful worldwide believers and across real differences. It was amazing. I will never forget the experience.

        • Fair to say ‘There was limited Communion at Lambeth’. When leaders representing something like a third were not there, and those represented another third dissented in some form, then whatever good there was (and there was clearly a lot of good) is inherently limited.

          • Dodgy to make any assumptions from numbers of absent bishops when the reason they were not there is because their archbishops simply banned them from attending (Nigeria and others). And hardly a Christian approach to personal faith, fellowship or theological engagement.

          • I think it is only dodgy if you take a very modern and individualist approach to discipleship, and assume there is as little discipline in other churches as there is in ours!

          • (and I always find it odd when those who aim to stand up for the poor and marginalised find it harder to do when the poor and marginalised, as these churches clearly are, take a different view…)

    • That’s the obvious contradiction in the CoE. It claims to believe and teach that same-sex sexual relationships are sinful, but then authorises the appointment of leaders in such relationships. Very odd.

  5. To clarify, as I don’t know the names and people, did any Bishops of the Global South, who didn’t attend Lambeth, attend or send support?

  6. Incidentally, the photograph at the top of this page.

    Can anyone spot something missing?

    Yes… I am sure all the women in evangelical Church of England parishes are going to jump ship to join this crew!

    Wow, words fail me (which is unusual). Ian, are you thinking of joining the patriarchy?

    • What an odd question.

      a. Don’t you read *anything* I publish on this question?

      b. Didn’t you notice that I wasn’t there, I am not a member, and I didn’t even write this article?

      • Ian, I am well aware of your support for women’s ordination, and I affirm your views on that. That is exactly why I make the point that it seems strange that your site gives space to an organisation like AMiE which says: “we are convinced that it is God’s good plan, for the health of the church, that only men should be ordained as presbyters”.

        Why are they relevant in any way to the Church of England? They are external to the Church of England. They have no bearing on the serious decisions the Church of England is in the process of making. I realise that you are not a member at the present time. Will you stay in the Church of England if it decides to ‘allow’ the blessing of gay partnerships, or indeed in due course the celebration of gay marriages?

        I’m just surprised you gave space/prominence to an article like this one, about an organisation that is not relevant to the Church of England, is external to it, excludes women from presbyter roles, and generally is operating in the Anglican Provinces in this country, frankly uninvited by the actual Church of England, and at odds with its already established diocesan organisation.

        Structures for Anglicanism in this country need to be initiated by the leaders of the Church of England.

        My question to you was ironical, because why would you seem to promote and give space to an organisation that excludes women, when you’re well-known for supporting women’s ordination. AMiE is most certainly not a ‘get out’ option for people who want to jump ship and leave the Church of England if gay sexuality gets accommodated within its organisation and future practice… not if you believe in women’s ordination (and hopefully you choose to remain in the C of E permanently).

        • ‘strange that I give space to’ someone? Goodness! You are right! I should be much more exclusive!

          (You appear to be projected a whole raft of motives to me; how odd.)

  7. “Planting congregations is always good for the health of the church” – this is not self-evident. In a town with (say) 20 churches of 60 members each, would 30 churches – now with 40 members each – be obviously better? Why would the unbelievers be more effectively reached by the 30 churches than by the 20 churches?

    And if you tell me that 14 out of the 20 are not “gospel churches” then you still have 6 gospel churches with 60 members each. And again, why is 9 gospel churches, each now with an average of 40 members, obviously better?

  8. Someone who teaches church history should know better than to claim that the Church of England’s ‘obsession with geography’ derives from the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. In fact, it comes from the early church’s understanding that there should not be multiple bishops with oversight over the same geographical area. That whirring sound we can all hear is Cyprian turning in his grave.

    Alas that the CofE has already undermined itself on that front by appointing provincial episcopal visitors…

  9. There’s a certain amount of talking yourselves up a la Johnston in this article. There are no AMiE churches in Ealing or Hayes (to take an area I know just a little bit about). And to assert that Ealing (for example) lacks (new) Bible-teaching churches is simply risible. The list of CofE parish churches plus those of other denominations, of that description, in W5 and W13 would run into double figures. If planting is needed, it is needed in places which are not already well blessed…

    • Just for clarity – I don’t think that Andrew is part of ANiE, so this article isn’t them talking themselves up.
      My impression is that he’s an interested, gently critical obeserver from the Church of England who wants to be generous and is concerned that other observers aren’t being generous – including people he respects.

      • It’s their list of churches that he quotes – and it’s their list on which I was commenting. I love and support church multiplication by planting and grafting. What I don’t think is helpful is planting or planning to plant in places where there is already orthodox church provision and alleging that there are few churches which are “bible-teaching” in that place.

        • Orthodox church provision?

          You are mistaken – any church which continues to accept the leadership of Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell – and ALL their bishops (of whom you are one) – none of whom have expressed public objection to sexual immorality being welcomed in the C of E (as for example was the case at Lambeth when bishops with same sex lovers were welcomed) – none of whom act in compliance with the verses I have listed below which explain how to respond to primary false teaching – is compromised – is not orthodox. Such a church is in that failure not under biblical governance (the only difference between a church and any old gathering of Christians being governance).

          You speak of orthodox churches – is being orthodox about saying the right thing – or doing it?

          Why do you continue to serve as a bishop in the Church of England instead of honouring the teaching of the bible in respect of primary false teaching (below I list two passages which say how to respond to primary false teachers/teaching – and I give two reasons why man and woman and practising homosexuality must be primary false teaching)? Are you unwilling to obey God because you don’t wish to lose your pension? Or do you imagine that there is some way to justify your waiting it out as part of seeking to ensure that an orthodox person is appointed Archbishop?

          There isn’t a single orthodox bishop in the Church of England – not if your actions are to be our guide (and they must be).

          If I am wrong about you – if you have spoken PUBLICLY in support of orthodoxy – and in criticism of C of E leadership – why is it that you continue to be a bishop? Staying amounts to ACTING as if man and woman – and sexual immorality related to man and woman – is secondary doctrine. As it does for the churches you say are orthodox.

          I don’t understand why the crushing weight of responsibility that is currently yours doesn’t overwhelm you and other so called orthodox bishops. When did your serving God HIS way instead of your way become merely desirable when possible? 1 Samuel 15:23 reveals that presumption (your wrongdoing here) is no lesser sin to God than rebellion. Your remaining in the C of E reflects a belief that God needs your help to run his church – instead of your simple obedience. Why do you imagine that he needs you to make worldly choices either so that your future be provided for – or so that there are enough so called orthodox bishops to appoint someone faithful? What is the difference between your doing that and a pastor sleeping with every woman in his congregation in the hope that each woman will continue to come to church? Nothing (in spirit). When is accommodating or doing wrong (as you do in either remaining silent – or in remaining a bishop – or both) EVER the means by which right is done?

          Here are bible verses showing how to respond to primary false teachers/teaching:

          2 John vv10-11 ESV
          If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

          Romans 16:1-17-18 ESV
          I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

          Below are two proofs that man and woman – and practising homosexuality – are primary doctrine – not something over which one is free to agree to disagree:

          1. The plan of God is for a two fold revelation of himself – the God human man Jesus – and the God human woman church (the church being in dwelled by God’s spirit – and being the bride). The egalitarian – in saying that men and women are not functionally different – is saying that in terms of revelation God need only have given us Jesus – or the church – but not both. The egalitarian (logically) believes that the church could be made up of men – or women – but not both. In believing this the egalitarian has no explanation for why marriage must be between a man and woman (Genesis 2) and why practising homosexuality is sin. These logical conclusions reveal that support for practising homosexuality must be primary misbehaviour.

          2. Romans 1 directly links turning away from God with practising homosexuality. And 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 directly links turning away from practising homosexuality with being saved (in saying that it is a sign of not being saved). The sinfulness of practising homosexuality relies on there being meaningful difference in man and woman. This proves that man and woman must be primary Christian teaching. And practising homosexuality is primary doctrinal error.

          Repent – speak – leave – act.

          • Dear Philip, how may times do I need to say to you that these massive long comments, basically assaulting the position of someone else, are not helpful?

            Please stop it. If you are going to comment, do it briefly, and stick to the point. Thanks

          • Let any failings in my post be mine alone – not any failure of the forum host. (I do not believe he should be held responsible for what he called “assaulting the opinion of someone else” since this is all that people do here. Or for the length of my post if that is a failure – since he has tried more than five times to get me to post shorter comments.

          • I realised my post to Pete Broadbent is incomplete – and I very much hope that he will see what I realise to be missing.

            In commenting on this forum you show sir that you have an understanding of what it means to be a bishop – you are behaving as one with the people. I honour you for this – you have no idea how much this is important to people on this forum. We post away day after day hoping that what we say will move people to right action without any higher level people engaging.

            You showed in the past as bishop that you were willing to speak up on what you believed to be a matter of principle – holding a position which wasn’t held by others. It led to your being stood down and then reinstated. Setting aside whether your opinion about the issue about which you spoke up was correct or not correct you showed in that event that you are willing to show courage in your role – you showed that you understand that it is the obligation of every bishop in the Church of England to belong to God ahead of the institution.

            How can I say it but this – NOW is the time for you to do what you have shown yourself capable of doing – this is the very purpose for which you have been appointed. In as much as you so act you have my prayers and the prayers of those on this forum who receive the teachings of Jesus as laid out in scripture – and as held by the church for now thousands of years.

            “Understanding is a three edged sword – your side, their side, and the truth”. The Church of England has heard ‘their side’ – and ‘your side’ – but now it’s time for the truth. The truth affirms all that is good in people’s views (one should honour the egalitarian by affirming his or her wish that women are honoured as men are – and the ‘complementarian’ is not wrong to point to particular verses of scripture and say “you see?”) but places people into a larger container – the container living DEEP WITHIN the heart of God – this surrounding people with the change that is required of them on every side – providing no means of escape.

            But most importantly of all – and this is where the authenticity of our faith is tested – the truth must die to itself – becoming an agent of grace – that ALL may be redeemed. The cross is the message, but crucially at this hour – also the model and the method. Twas ever thus – and ever shall be. It PROVES itself to be the only means of redeeming people – the only way of bringing healing to the Church of England.

  10. I am a bit confused by Welby’s June letter, as it is routinely claimed that AMiA and its affiliates are not Anglican. When an Anglican Bishop chooses to support the ‘non-Anglican’ entity, in England, to be sure said Bishop is an Anglican. But his choice to recognize, as Anglican, by his association, this entity is itself the main point, surely. It might have been clearer for the ABC to say that, and otherwise to simply ignore the visit, rather than speaking of legal action. So fast forward and now we have Bishops from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Indian Ocean, Canada, Nigeria New Zealand, all involved. Five Provinces of the Anglican Communion and their non-AC Anglican colleagues. One wonders how long the word ‘Anglican’ will continue to be self-evidently ‘those the ABC declares to be sure.’ Lambeth Conference just past has posed this question. But alongside that are increasingly vocal voices within the CofE wanting to detach Canterbury from ‘Communion baggage’ for the sake of the established church and its culture. So, something will have to give.

    • Christopher yes these relationships are not clear cut by any means. (Rather reminds me of the unclear relationship between your little Anglican Communion Institute and the Anglican Institute actually!).
      What is absolutely clear at the moment is that being in Communion is a complex matter BUT it does involve being in a relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and not the Archbishop of the ACNA.
      These new churches in England are tiny in number currently. And they won’t really increase in size much because neither ACNA nor Nigeria – or any of the other places you mention – because they are not sufficiently understanding of the distinct English culture. As Pete Broadbent notes here, the idea of planting further churches in Ealing and Hayes – two areas I have also ministered in – is quite risible. As another Pete once said, ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’.

    • “But alongside that are increasingly vocal voices within the CofE wanting to detach Canterbury from ‘Communion baggage’ “
      Oh and this idea – which you have mentioned many times before – has little evidence. I think you are confusing your idea with the voices that say we must not be dictated to by the homophobic voices from abroad that try, for example, to force the newly appointed Dean of Canterbury to stand down. Quite a different thing. Much of the communion baggage you refer to – ACNA and Gafcon and the so called Global South fellowship is not even part of the communion anyway.

  11. You have an interesting opinion on this, which I regard as self-serving. I have indeed heard many voices question the ongoing role and the possibility of detachment. Obvious distaste for the way the next ABC is to be chosen. Same for the ‘Communion creep’ associated with the new episcopal appointment for Communion (running about 10 to 1 at ‘Thinking’ Anglicans). The ABC plotting to bring his role further into conjunction with the AC, to the neglect of the CofE. And on it goes.

    You know all this, but just don’t like it when it is pointed out. Goes against the ‘all is well’ copyright.

    The ACI has nothing to do with any of this. But you know that too. It is your OCD side showing. One might have hoped that would be leavened by covid or some other more important development. I know it leavened my household.

    • Oh dear Chris. The ACI/AI had everything to do – or at least tried to have everything to do – with this as even a cursory search with Google will show.
      You don’t seem to understand the English cultural factors in all of this. Most English parishioners would need something like the Hubble telescope to locate their interest in the Anglican Communion. But when it comes to would be Anglicans parking tanks on their lawns, don’t expect a green and pleasant response. And don’t mistake that for a yearning for what you call detachment.

      • My Oh my, we are rattled, aren’t we. How quaint, how twee, more tea vicar.
        Out of interest, and precision is needed here which I don’t have on the point: hasn’t the ABoC said something along the lines that he has no authority to exclude or discipline non doctrinally compliant Providence’s? Yet at the same time, communication comes to light, that points out that unless approved by the ABoC de facto communion as has just taken place would be legally actionable.
        If that is correct, at law it would be what is known as a ” letter before action”, which would be I’ll advised by a lawyer, unless the plaintiff/ complainant were prepared to follow through with the claimed cause of action.
        There seems to be a deep fissure of contradiction, lurking in camouflage in this whole idea of indisciplined , CoE, Anglican Communion.

        • But of course this is all a matter of *indifference*, yet indifference sculpted in quick-mix concrete, prominently plinthed against extant doctrine.

        • Indeed, what would the remedy sought, be? An injunction, prohibition, against otherwise freedom of lawful association and assembly which is unrestricted at common law or by statute, so far.

  12. “Most English parishioners would need something like the Hubble telescope to locate their interest in the Anglican Communion.”

    Te Deum.

    You are completely correct, and of course it has been said repeatedly to you. Thank you for at last being clear. I am grateful.

    Now, your job is to tell your ABC that. And the new Commission. And his new appointee. And the AC itself.

    Little England parochialism is not my suit. But it is yours. Bon courage.

    • Ah yes Chris but you only read the first part of that paragraph, the part which suits your strange idea. (A trait which has been noted many times before). You need to read that which follows to get the point.
      And also note that the word parishioner has been used to indicate all those who live in a geographical parish, not the 1 or 2% who attend the Parish church. Anglican is an English brand, and not just a Church of England brand. Hence both Houses of Parliament take an interest in what goes on in Nigeria and ACNA etc ….

      • “Anglican is an English brand, and not just a church of England brand”??
        Could you please explain exactly what this means to those of us who see this statement as just a tad meaningless?

        • Hello Colin. The word Anglican means English at its root. I don’t think the vast majority of English parishioners relate to anything other than their local Church of England. When they seek baptism or marriage or a funeral they relate to their local Church of England as of their legal right. They don’t relate to the ‘Anglican Communion’. They just go to their local church.
          I suspect that the CofE being a national Church presents a cultural as well as a constitutional problem to any one who thinks that the CofE can somehow detach itself from the Anglican Communion. It is unlikely to happen without disestablishment and I don’t think anyone is really prepared to support that with anything more than a passing breath.
          I also suspect that those so called Anglican Churches, like the ACNA, have little grasp of the complexity that comes with establishment. It’s a peculiar part of English history but quite a potent cultural one.
          I imagine that most church goers in other actual Anglican Provinces really think of their local church as the unit to which they belong as well. No different from the English church goers. But historically they will be aware of the connection between that church and the English tradition which is Anglicanism. Whilst I have no interest in the old notion of Empire, I do think that detaching England from the Anglican Communion, as Christopher proposes, would actually be a step that most Anglican church goers would not wish to countenance. It is only the rather fanatical – of which all of us on this discussion board are – who care theologically about the Communion. I think that for most church goers it’s simply a cultural thing. It is connected to English culture. And as I commented earlier, culture eats strategy for breakfast.
          Hope this helps!

          • When did I propose that? It is a matter of little moment in the great scheme of things, but I don’t recall proposing it.

          • However Christopher is right – getting too precious about the world’s 3rd or 4th biggest denomination without putting it in its wider context of Christendom and even wider context of the body of Christ, church militant etc is no way to spend one’s one lifetime. Plus doing so ends up in the inhouse type of discussion we now witness, and a good test is to measure exactly how distant it is from the talk of Jesus and the apostles.

          • James Barr’s etymological fallacy in pure form.

            And thank you, Christopher Shell. Your comment of 1.22 identifies the parochial character of the discussion (in the proper sense of that word…).

          • And when did I propose it?

            My comments are about observing calls for detachment from within the CofE, given developments that are not wanted (see above), or from blocks of the AC concerned about competing interests.

          • No discussion could be more parochial (in the proper sense of the word) than the one about homosexuality.

          • Given the plague of parochiality, please can we see an end to the phrase ‘that isn’t very Anglican’? There are so many things simultaneously wrong with it:
            (1) It is parochial, small-town.
            (2) It is a non sequitur if followed by ‘QED’, because it is taking for granted that things should be Anglican. Why on earth should they? And worst of all they never explain *why* things should be Anglican.
            (3) It is putting the cart before the horse. That being Anglican is best is precisely what needs to be demonstrated. Which is exactly what they do not even attempt to do.
            (4) It is assuming that people jump to conclusions without ever doing the work needed to justify and warrant those conclusions. But how could anyone of integrity do *that*?
            (5) It is circular. If Anglican is always the answer, then what need to ask any questions or indeed do any thinking?

          • “My comments are about observing calls for detachment from within the CofE,”

            Oh please do name and quote any *official* such calls Chris. It would be most interesting to read them.

  13. Actually it doesn’t! I am a lifelong Anglican – but not English! I must be lacking somewhere. It must be my “roots”! Or maybe I’m simply a “brand”.

      • Andrew – When you return to planet earth I’ll help you to see it’s one of those “brands” which sent bishops to the recent Lambeth Conference. And some of them are liberal in theology.

        • Colin could you please explain exactly what this means to those of us who see this statement as just rather meaningless?

          • Andrew – I suspect you are the only one who can’t get the drift: what exactly does “Anglican is not just an *English* brand” and later “the word Anglican means English at its at its root”? Anglicanism developed in 16th century England , but over the centuries evolved into a world-wide movement – the Anglican Communion! Sorry, but your attempted identification of Anglican with “Englishness” only serves to highlight one idiocyncratic aspect as to why the current C of E is all over the place. Trollope, were he alive now would have had a field day.

          • Colin you said “I’ll help you to see it’s one of those “brands” which sent bishops to the recent Lambeth Conference. And some of them are liberal in theology.”

            What does any of that mean? Which brand sent bishops to the Lambeth Conference? Which are liberal in theology? I have no idea what this is supposed to refer to because I simply don’t know where in the world you are!

  14. Perhaps the next Archbishop of Canterbury will be a Hindu?

    Link is from a tabloid newspaper, but following the points that Andrew Godsall was making above, I thought the sentence

    “However, he couldn’t completely disentangle himself from the Church of England. For example, he would still be an ex-officio Church Commissioner under the Church Commissioners Measure 1947.”

    was intriguing.

  15. Hello Ian,

    I find it appalling that a member of the ACC and a colleague member of General Synod of yours should find it exciting that these priests are being consecrated to become rogue “anglican” bishops.

    I take a similar line as Susannah Clark on this one Ian. You give space and attention to these “anglicans”. You have a known view on sexuality issues which doesn’t stray terribly far from the GAFCON position. You also do not comment on the article as written. Therefore it is not unreasonable for your readers to assume you are broadly in agreement with your General Synod colleague.

    In fact by giving space on your blog (including your tongue in cheek comment to oversight by the CiW or SEC), one might assume you are encouraging further overlapping of unofficial “anglican” and official Anglican jurisdictions. On the continent of Europe we have enough official overlap already, which many of us do our best to bridge. I certainly do not welcome an unofficial “anglican” distraction. Woe be the chaplain who wants to align his chaplaincy to ACE (a name which is oddly similar to TEC’s organisation here).

    You commented “…I wasn’t there, I am not a member, and I didn’t even write this article?” However, Susannah is right it does not help your inclusive stand on women’s ordination by giving space to a group of “anglicans” who do not – although perhaps you have changed your view since we first started disagreeing with each other (except on the issue of women’s ordination) when we first met in 2011.

    Perhaps you’d like to simply and succinctly (note your comment to Philip Benjamin above – which I agree with) comment on your view on the worthiness of GAFCON setting up these church plants where, as Pete Broadbent succinctly puts it, there is already orthodox provision.

    • Gosh, Bruce, what an odd comment, if you don’t mind me saying so. Who is finding the whole thing ‘exciting’? Andrew has reported this carefully, noted some positives, but also highlighted some of the issues.

      By ‘giving space on my blog’ you think that I am signing up to GAFCON? How odd!

      I don’t have an ‘inclusive’ stand on women’s ordination; I aim to be true to Scripture. Isn’t that the only measure for any Anglican?

    • I would have thought from Ian’s writings that he has a position on ‘sexuality issues’ that does not stray far from the Cof E’s official doctrine and teaching position on marriage being between a man and a woman, not GAFCON’s.

      Does yours?

  16. Goodness me, there are a lot of TL:DRs on here now!

    A few things come to mind:

    1. There’s nothing in the formularies of the CofE that defines an Anglican as someone who is in communion with Canterbury. That seems to me to be a much more recent innovation. Perhaps it’s got something to do with power, I don’t know.
    2. The CofE has around 850k active members among a total English population of about 59 million – 1 in 69 people. The Anglican Church of Nigeria (whose Primate was presiding last Friday) has 18 million members among a population of 206 million – 1 in 11 people. The Anglican Church of Rwanda (whose Archbishop was preaching) has 3 million members among a population of 13 million – almost 1 in 4 people. Those provinces recognise ANiE as Anglican. Perhaps we should listen to them.
    3. This Canterbury-centric understanding of Anglicanism is rather surprising in a church that says it wants to decolonise. I should think our Anglican brothers and sisters living in countries from which people were stolen to be slaves would far prefer us to decolonise our ecclesial attitudes before we decolonise our ecclesial buildings.
    4. I was there. Along with my wife and very many other women who don’t find anything lacking in AMiE’s theology.

    • I don’t think the word Anglican appears in any declarations or oaths a clergyman makes. They talk about the Church of England. The Anglican Communion has come about when this form of liturgical Episcopal Christianity spread outside England and has grown ( especially in Africa) since the 1960s. I suspect a Church of England worshipper doesn’t necessarily feel they have to worship in an Anglican Church ( if they can find one ) when they go abroad. People seem to use the word Anglican far more than they used too. I think a lot of older people ( and the more occasional churchgoers) still think of themselves as members of the Church of England in the same way most Danes would say they were members of the Church of Denmark ( though they might well have a stronger sense that this has a connection with Martin Luther) Communion as in AC isn’t the same as koinonia for the RC church or sobornost for the Orthodox. The AC isn’t a federation nor in the strict sense a confessional family.It is a product of historical circumstance. It is now very divided: Provinces and bishops are not in communion with one another; priestly ministry is no longer accepted every where; liturgy is very diverse as is moral teaching. Outsiders must find it difficult to locate among the forms of Christianity because of its diversity. It is increasingly difficult to see what it’s peculiar vocation is. But interestingly the 1948 Lambeth Conference made much of its provisional ity and Michael Ramsey famously wrote 90 years ago how it couldn’t commend itself as the best form of Christianity and spoke of travail in its soul.

  17. I watched the consecration service at home and was very comforted by the good old-fashioned Anglican Evangelicalism on show. The Bible and communion table central, rather than the band and all the bishops properly dressed in rochet, chimere and scarf, so much more dignified than either open-necked shirts or hugely decorated old lace curtains – which put off so many people today.
    It was great to see the powerful words of the 1662 liturgy in modern English, although BCP2020 is more faithful to the original text in the Exhortation.
    The main thing for which we must thank the Lord again and again is that new freedom to encourage local initiatives in taking out the Gospel of Jesus and building churches where they are most needed. No parish boundaries or recalcitrant clergy to stifle energy and enthusiasm.
    I think AMiE and ACE will grow much faster than anyone has anticipated – praise the Lord for that!

  18. “In Communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Its not a simple personal loyalty test or one without” conditions “.

    Would a reasonable question be “Is the AB of C” in communion with established Anglican doctrine and theology?

    It’s a question not a conclusion.

  19. The calls for detachment are no more official than any of your opinions, Mr Godsall. Just read the comments at Thinking Anglicans. No one has called them ‘official’ — whatever that might mean! Life on the ground is ‘calling’ for the CofE to ‘cease empire,’ to reject new commissions on how the ABC is appointed, for the ABC to be strictly in the CofE and not augmenting his role vis-a-vis the AC. You speak of establishment like it is some kind of Biblical charism, and yet inside the broad reaches of the AC it is eccentric if not a hindrance to an ecclesiology properly framed. With one mouth you go on and on about the cultural particularities and specialness of its species of ‘Anglican’ and yet at the same time you want this unusual polity to somehow be the point of reference for the Anglican Communion. Why bother? Just get on with being the special CofE vis-a-vis the vastly differently configured Provinces of the AC. You have said that the CofE doesn’t know about or care about the AC. Was that ever in doubt? I have a PTO in the CofE. I don’t need one to know that what you describe is the state of play in what remains of the small population of active church-goers in England. You write as though you intend to inform us of things already manifestly clear. Clear your throat and just get on with being the CofE you declare as ‘Anglican’ within its now self-circumscribed reality on the ground. That is far simpler than all this to-ing and fro-ing and jostling for points in a game that does not matter in the big picture of Christian life and mission. And, have a good day!

    • Oh Chris I think we know what official means. It means not a pressure group like your little Institute or any other website with a few fervent individuals. It’s a group like the Archbishop’s Council or the General Synod, or a particular diocese.
      As there are no examples of calls for detachment from such bodies what you claim is simply tittle tattle.
      I am glad that we agree – wholeheartedly in my case – that this to-ing and fro-ing and jostling for points in a game that does not matter at all in the big picture of Christian life and mission. Please do tell that to Foley Beach and the gang. But from the way that you went on and on about the proposed Anglican Covenant that wouldn’t seem to have been your own thinking.

  20. My thinking is that the Global South Fellowship is headed in a good direction.

    I do not know “Foley Beach and the gang.” I do know the AC, the CofE and TEC.

    When the direction of the vast Anglican Communion is determined by the “Archbishop’s Council, General Synod or a particular diocese in the CoE” we will be in very odd straits! But you know that is nonsense thinking.

    I am sorry that being hoisted on ones petard is painful, but so it has ever been. That’s what it means to get what you want in the end. “The A Godsall very special Anglican CofE.” Well, so be it.

    • Chris: your claim was that the CofE wished to detach itself from the Anglican Communion, but you can’t actually produce any evidence for such a claim. You then try to shift the discussion to a quite different topic. I don’t think I’m the one being hoisted here.

  21. No, I said it was obvious that facing the issue was unavoidable given the 1) numerical and financial collapse of the CofE as an established entity, 2) its unusual polity vis-a-vis the AC, 3) the resistance to the kinds of communion wide ambitions the Canterbury incumbent has, now far more vocal. All this has come to a head, as the CofE faces these challenges in an erstwhile stable condition vanishing rapidly. The petard you are hoisted on is the desire to claim an English Anglican patrimoine and copyright, that is not fit for present purpose for the AC. ++Welby is trying mightily to be Chief Instrument in a Communion for a CofE that doesn’t like that on the terms it would require. And so the seams are beginning to tear.

    You should know this. That you don’t is called in its classical form: ‘denial.’ No one is dancing around the truth of the situation. Save youself.

    Be well. God knows what He is doing.

  22. Chris precision is important in debate so let’s just be clear exactly what you said. I quote:

    “My comments are about observing calls for detachment from within the CofE,”

    It turns out that you say these calls are just a few individuals on a website. We don’t even know if they are ‘within the CofE’. And we don’t know if anyone else has seen such calls. I can’t recall seeing or hearing any such calls and you can’t produce any.

    It’s best I think to leave it there and note our current agreement – whatever either of us may have said in the past – that the to-ing and fro-ing and jostling for points in a game does not matter in the big picture of Christian life and mission.

  23. There is widespread comment along the lines I have (precisely) stated. Only someone in denial could miss this trend (which was nowhere on the scene even 5 years ago). Rowan Williams was the force behind the covenant process. He was the ABC. No one said that the problem was his involvement in the AC — and his involvement was a globe-trotting one during the season of frequent Primates Meetings, before and after the consecration of +New Hampshire. No one stated in public fora, with the resolution and frequency we see today, that he ought to be the ABC for the CofE only. Altering the composition of the committee to nominate the next ABC would not have come to mind, given the already very busy Rowan Williams on just this front. Why concoct a special Bishop for the AC when RW was one in clear form. What was the reaction to this appointment–relentless negative comment and concern about the role of the ABC in the AC. Why you have decided to put your head in the sand and make cute comments says more about you than the realities being noted. Surely you did not tune out the reporting on the Lambeth Conference just past. The one a third of the AC did not attend — something RW never experienced. The one where the Global South Fellowship provinces that did attend clearly raised the question as to future leadership (hence the reaction to appoint a special Bishop to be in conversation with them). All of these developments, and more, inside the CofE and outside of it, are obvious to all, are recent, and are increasing in force. The decline of the CofE only adds fuel to the concern. Saying the present aging population of the CofE does not know or care about the AC only makes the point.

    I’m sure you’d like to move to another topic. If I were you, I’d ‘think it best’ as well. Just another version of hiding from reality.

    • And yet still you don’t point to evidence of what you claim.
      Chris, it is well known that you like to change topics mid conversation to suit yourself.
      And if you wish to talk of denial…..It is well known that you like to deny that, for example, your Anglican Communion Institute (whatever happened to it I wonder ?) was once the Anglican Institute.
      We are aware that you favour a particular form of Anglicanism. I’m delighted you have found what you are looking for and that you won’t need to have to do with places like Canterbury Cathedral which is about to become so grievous a place to the so called ‘Global South’ – a grouping which mysteriously also has bits of North America in it when it suits.

      • I see you have the denial apparatus fully engaged. As well as your continued specious OCD re: ACI. There is medicine for that. Please avail yourself of it and spare the rest of us your obsession with the irrelevant.

        You fail to produce anything of substance that counters what I have written. I take that as cowardice, sloth, or complacency. Yes, and that being the case, one can fully understand your previous comment about bringing things to a close. Time to move on, indeed.

        • All you need to do Chris is produce some evidence of your claim
          “about observing calls for detachment from within the CofE,”

          Please just copy and paste exactly where you observed such a call.

          The suggestion that someone needs to take medication is a particularly unpleasant personal attack which is not worthy of you but not untypical, I understand.

        • C R SEITZ. for a non-Anglican here (Baptist) who is trying to understand all this, may I ask if it is your contention that the AC in its present form with the ABC at the centre and as an instrument of communion, is slowly ceasing to exist rather like a star that has burnt up most of its fuel?

          If so, in the coming years, what is likely to replace it? (assuming that it doesn’t disappear into the ecclesiastical equivalent of a black hole).

          • Yes, that is my view. And it may well be the view of the incumbent as well. The status quo is under significant strain.

            Various proposals have been suggested in the past, and more recently. Let the Primates appoint a rotating Chair. Hold what has been called “The Lambeth Conference” in a different setting. Figure out a way to have the See of Canterbury retain a role due to historical significance, but alter the present Instrumentality.

            There will be pressure for change–there already is–from portions of the AC itself. You can see the recent statements of the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches. There are the recent developments within the CofE itself (A Bishop for the Anglican Communion; a new process for appointing the next ABC) that indicate awareness of the complexity of the present arrangement, for a host of reasons, some of which I have stated.

            Grace and peace.

  24. It is not going anywhere.

    I can only imagine how tedious this is for the readers of this blog.

    My wife died of covid last year after a long struggle with LAM disease, and a lung transplant in France (where I served the CofE parish in Fontainebleau). I have no idea what relevance the Anglican Institute has to this thread (I believe it was the creation of Michael Marshall and Ed Salmon; I was not involved in it).

    I moved to France in 2015 for expert care and the ACI was closed down around that time. I have been a Senior Professor at the U of Toronto since 2009. I am finishing my 30th PhD supervision. I am running my wife’s business in France since her passing.

    I have found the constant haranguing, for many years now, from Mr Godsall about ACI rude, impertinent and irrelevant to the thread. It is 2022. We are, I thought, discussing affairs at present. To the best of my knowledge the AI was formed decades ago, and was the brainchild of a CofE and an Episcopal Bishop. I couldn’t say when it was closed as I was not a part of it.

    I apologize to all who are following this thread. It was a mistake to enter.

    • My goodness the things you have been enduring are huge. There are of course no words except my hope that God meet the trials you are enduring with great grace. May his comfort be yours.

    • Well that’s one version of events re AI/ACI. They were always involved in this particular ‘argument’ as you well know Christopher. It was their speciality. And you were its President for goodness sake. Your whole entry into this debate is linked to that history because this debate is what ACI was ever about. It is highly relevant to your views.
      Sincere condolences on the death of your wife. And every good wish for your continued life in the beautiful country you have chosen to make your home.

    • Setting aside all the contentions above, please may I express condolences, Professor Seitz, for your loss and for what must have been a harrowing and very difficult time. I am so sorry.

      • Very kind.

        She thought Anglican communion debates were pointless and injurious. Thank God we were provided a home and Christian friends in the Catholic Church in France. Pure gift of God.

        I apologize for reentering this domain. God bless you.

        • Graciously accepted Chris and thank you. My apologies to you also. Your dear wife was entirely correct. These debates achieve nothing. There needs to be some lasting settlement.
          It is sad too that the Roman Catholic Church in France is also dwindling so perilously but I am glad you have found hospitality and a home there.

  25. Mr Paul. Could you please assure that no further misinformation be circulated. I am not and never was the President of an AI/ACI as just stated the AI was its own entity. Going back decades. I was the President of the ACI and have just stayed the timeline. My wife was diagnosed with LAM disease in 2011. We moved to France in 2015 when the NIH could not do anything further. The ACI saw the stepping down of Rowan Williams as the turning of a page. And I had my hands full with my wife and my writing and supervising.

  26. Dear Mr Paul, could I request that space not be given to misinformation? I have never been the President of an ‘AI/ACI.’ The Anglican Institute goes back decades. I was not involved in it. I was the President of ACI. My wife was diagnosed with LAM disease in 2011. She was a patient at the research facility, the National Institute for Health (NIH), and when they could do nothing further, we moved to France, in 2015. At this time, now years ago, ACI saw the stepping down of Rowan Williams as a turning point in the AC. I was paying attention to my wife, my students, and my writing. The ‘AI/ACI’ is a fiction and it has nothing to do with this thread. ACI has been moribund for many years now. I’d like this to stop, please.

  27. Dear Mr Paul:

    I’m not sure what is wrong here. I just wrote that I was the President of the ACI. I just explained when it wound down. Rowan Williams stepped down in 2012. I moved to France due to my wife’s health.

    I have never been involved in the Anglican Institute and I do not recall its remit. I have never been the President of AI/ACI as there is no such entity.

    Surely this has gone on long enough. I do not know who Mr Godsall is or why he is creating these stories.

    • What is wrong here Chris is that you claim there are voices in the CofE wanting to detach themselves from the Anglican Communion. I have repeatedly asked you for evidence and you don’t produce any. It’s a pretty important claim on a very significant subject that is entirely related to this thread and the work you were personally involved in. It’s that simple. Produce the evidence or withdraw the claim .

  28. I commented tongue-in-cheekily on Monday that this was all rather impenetrable.

    I now return, 48 hours later, and find 80+ additional comments only serving to make things more opaque than they were before.

    Maybe I’d be better off crossing the road from Regent’s Park to Wycliffe Hall and asking Andrew directly, perhaps over a strong coffee. Maybe I can write my ecclesiology paper on it. 😉

    • Thank you for bringing a smile to a grim discussion Mat.
      Why would a Baptist wish to have such a detailed interest in the way the Anglican Communion works, I wonder. (I ask this as someone who was born into a Baptist family but chose a rather different path once I was of age).

      • I don’t really wish to have a detailed understanding. But I do think that structures that can’t be made clear why they exist and what they’re for (and who they’re answerable to) can risk being dangerous tools for control and/or manipulation..

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in any way saying what’s described in the article is crossing that line, but I think a great many people enemies of the church benefit from making Her look as fractious/fractured as possible, and if I (an admitted outsider, but one who does try to follow the internal workings of the CofE) can’t get to grip[s with what’s going on or why, there’s a serious problem.

        Someone explain it to me like I’m an idiot please.

        • Stephen Neill wrote a book quite a few years ago now called Anglicanism Mat. It’s by no means an idiots guide but it’s still one of the most easily read and most enjoyable ways into understanding the formation of the CofE and then the Anglican Communion.
          Diarmaid MaCulloch is still probably the academic authority on the history of it all, and writes in a very accessible way too. And of course he is in Oxford.

      • As for why this is interesting to me as a Baptist, well, two things:

        1. Because, and I’ve argued this before in comments, the CofE does somewhat set the tone for national faith conversation, and remains the natural ‘go to’ for people’s preconceptions and assumptions about Christianity and the larger ‘denominations’. It is in everyone’s interest to know what those are, and we have more in common than we often appreciate.


        2. Because there is a part of me that feels, and I chose this word carefully, resonance with the CofE. I, perhaps surprisingly for a Baptist, love liturgy (done properly), old churches, stained glass, and there are a great many appreciable things about the power of the rural churches that have them being the center of community life. The very resources that slow and restrict so much of CofE life are also an amazing treasure and heritage that many free churches, were they to admit it, would look upon with jealousy.

        When I first started working for the church, I seriously considered ordination in the CofE and even went on a retreat weekend at Launde Abbey to discern some things. I came out of that with reasonable certainty that God wanted me in the Baptist church, and I have followed that since.

        But, there is only one church, and I may in future be called elsewhere.

        • Thank you Mat. That’s really helpful to understand and I wish I was nearer Oxford so that we could meet over coffee to discuss very similar approaches from Baptist to being interested to ministry and beyond. I always appreciate your contributions here.

      • I think Andrew, that while we are Baptists with our own history, the Cof E is still the most dominant expression of what the people of the UK perceive and understand as ‘christianity’ and as the ‘church ‘ in this still green and pleasant land despite the decline of christianity in the west generally. Most villages and towns across the country have a church with a spire that is easily recognisable – our Baptist church building resembles an aircraft hanger!

        Many people’s ancestors are buried in your churchyards and have linked histories across generations. I have obtained a faculty plot that enables my wife and I to be buried in the Anglican churchyard that contains many of her her ancestors which for reasons I cannot fully explain, find somewhat comforting.

        The BCP is still IMV, the best expression of human responses to God that most people can understand, says all that needs to be said, and has endured in a way that other more recent emotive expressions of faith have not.

        So as a Baptist, I think if the CofE declines and becomes insignificant or forgotten in the psyche of the British people then all non-Anglican denominations will be diminished.

        If the current form of the AC is passing away and replaced with something else then I would be interested to know what things might look like 20 – 30 years hence – although I will probably have gone by then.

        • Thank you Chris, and I have always enjoyed and been challenged by your contributions as well. I too doubt I shall be here in 20-30 years to see what will happen. The Church in the West is declining at a fast rate and it is concerning.

          I think you may enjoy some (though not all) of what Rosie Harper has to say about her reasons for moving from non conformity to the C of E.

  29. There is no religion outside the CoE or RC in England, at least in 2006 when I was a hospital in-patient they were the only two on offer, outside other faiths. An answer of “Christian” brought about nonplussed bafflement! No one else needs to apply for admission.
    Maybe they are the two *religions* on sickbeds with some regional variation.

    • Geoff – of course, you mean ‘religion’ in a bad sense – you’re referring to people who think that their transition from this life to the next will be a more enriching experience if someone from a spiritual A-team dunks them with oil or magic water or something like that and performs something known as `last rites’.

      The CoE and RC are probably the main exponents of this sort of thing.

      This sort of thing doesn’t exist in Christianity.

      • Yup, Jock. I do mean that.
        But it is more. Society, as demonstrated by my illustration sees Christianity *as* the CoE *as* RC.
        And what this volcanic eruption does is to sideline the unique Gospel of Jesus, of who we are for.
        I was a member of the Methodist church for a number of years. Both Wesleys were gripped by Christ and Wesley J described his before and after conversion life, after meeting the Moravians, his motivations and ministry transformed, along with social transformation, through establishing *classes* to stimulate literacy, primarily to enable reading of scripture, and while he fell out with Whitefield over doctrine, God mightily used both men in the furthering the Kingdom. Wesley J, considered himself to be *Anglican* all his life, despite being ostracized, I understand, but * the whole world was his Parish*. That, as the Hull(ing) of th CoE system by the recent ordinations, put noses out of joint.
        You mention Charles Wesley. My, how he knew his God and ours as he penned numerous hymn s. Nationally, at the Queen’s funeral the UK has been treated to to one transportational song of his, though sadly only part of it: Love Divine, All loves excelling.
        Equally sadly, we sing it at the human, horizontal level equating that as divine, when it is the Love of God, in the cross of Christ Jesus, that excells, is sublime none other. A higher love, a greater love: none other. Fixed, immovable in eternity, in Christ
        Jesus our Lord, alone, beyond the death.
        Romans 8:37 -39
        There is no greater love.

        • Geoff – thanks for this – yes – I agree with all of this and I often find myself on the same `wavelength’ as you on these threads.

  30. Andrew Godsall – in your dispute with Christopher Seitz, I certainly don’t have the sort of written documentation that you’re looking for – and the people whom I’m going to write about probably don’t count in your world; they’re probably not ‘voices’ (in the sense that they are not vociferous enough or qualified enough in your world) who wanted to leave the C. of E. (and eventually left).

    I spent two years in England (1988 – 1990) and attached myself to a nice non-conformist church there, which had a good expository ministry, sang the hymns by Charles Wesley and Isaac Watts that I liked (being English, they unfortunately didn’t use the Scottish metrical psalms, but that was a minor detail).

    One of the members told me of how the church was created in the first place – it was by Anglicans who were deeply dissatisfied about what they were getting in their local Anglican churches. Somehow they were able to network (the group who started it came from a variety of different Anglican churches in the area), communicate with each other and when they reached sufficient numbers of people who were sufficiently enthusiastic, they left the C. of E., started their own church, called a pastor – and now they seem to be reasonably large and doing very well.

    You won’t find anything documented – and this was `grass roots’ – i.e. people sitting in the pews, who had not done theological training and had not been ordained.

    So I imagine that Christopher Seitz is aware that what he is saying is true, but probably doesn’t have the documented evidence that you are looking for. I know from my own experience that this sort of thing has existed for over 30 years.

    I kept in touch with people in that congregation even after I went abroad – and they were the ones who persuaded me to keep going to church for a lot longer than I would otherwise have done so (when I was in situations where every single worship possibility felt worse than having teeth pulled at the dentist). They pointed out that they stuck with their Anglican churches until they were sufficiently large to break away and start their own group – even though sitting through their Anglican services felt worse than having teeth pulled at the dentist. They thought that church-going was an important witness and that one could do good even in a `bad’ church if there were no good options available.

    The issues that caused them to break away had nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with the fact that they wanted to sing decent hymns (e.g. those by Charles Wesley and Isaac Watts) and wanted to listen to good learned sermons and – more importantly – they didn’t see good possibilities for evangelising and spreading the word in their (prior) Anglican churches.

    As I said, if you want ‘documentary evidence’ and if you restrict yourself to ordained people then I can’t provide this. I do know what I saw with my own eyes.

  31. “Planting congregations is always good for the health of the church, from whatever denomination.”

    Really? Even when the result is a reshuffle of the christians and no one new comes to faith? There has been a wealth of plants in the last couple of decades. The church is still in decline.

    • Research shows very clearly in the C of E that, though there is some reshuffling, church plants engage with ‘dechurched’, attract ‘unchurched’, and create an effective culture of invitation which often leads to continued growth.

  32. Really appreciated this piece, celebrating what is good and raising what needs to be worked on. One question I’d ask the author is what in the canons of ACE and AMiE suggests that “ACE’s canons are much looser… and encompass Anglo-Catholics and charismatics”? I’ve looked through both and can’t understand why he says that but may have missed something.

  33. Ok well I’ll give a wild guess here – I’d assume that Colin McCormack is a member of the Church of Ireland and thus finds the characterisation of Anglicanism as inherently English a tad problematic. Of course he could also be a member of the SEC or CiW – who also have a fair share of liberal bishops and send them to Lamberth – but I think my first guess is probably right.


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