Synod Edition September 2014.
My Dear Friends,
In this edition of the Clarion, you will find several most informative articles written by Canon Geoffrey Andow which I am sure you will all appreciate.
This year’s Synod is of particular significance; we will witness the installation of our new Canons in the Cathedral before beginning our Synod meeting. As some of you may be aware I have held a series of Area Deans’ meetings both here in Lincoln and in Oxford to begin a process which in turn I hope will lead to significant renewal and growth for the Church.
We have all known for several years that our original Interim Canons were defective in many ways not least in the lack of a workable procedure for electing a Bishop. A major priority therefore has been to examine in detail the provision of a set of Canons to be placed before Synod for consideration. I am deeply indebted to Canon Andow who has produced a draft set of proposed Canons and Father Michael Gray for his advice and assistance with this most important matter.
In addition to our own internal affairs, the TAC College of Bishops has been reviewing limited aspects of the Traditional Anglican Communion Concordat.Their revision has concerned itself with the position of the Office of Primate within the Communion. This is as a direct result of the actions of our former Archbishop / Primate in the context of the existing provisions. Along with the review of the Canons we will also have an opportunity to debate the amendments to the Concordat.
Of interest and again for open debate and consideration will be the question of a Constitution. Whether we need one or not is something that must be decided and I pray that as with all matters, we allow ourselves to be guided in Love by the Holy Spirit.
Again, we need to look carefully at Growth, Evangelism and Diocesan Finances as a part of our busy agenda on the day because to my mind there is now a real sense of urgency in the country over the plight of Christianity in general and the Continuing Anglican Church in particular. If we are to grow we need to be sure about what we stand for as a Church. Our Canons, Concordat and possible Constitution need to be very clear indeed, so that people can see exactly what and who we are and claim to be.
Christianity in Europe at least is under threat and in retreat. Islam it is claimed, is the fastest growing religion in the West today, hardly surprising when you consider how little Christianity is now taught in our Schools and how the Christian Church in general has been marginalised by the constant and bitter infighting that we have witnessed over the last forty years. Some commentators have suggested that certainly in the Middle East, the Faith will have disappeared altogether within a generation if the persecution of Christians does not stop. What is even more shocking is that non-Christian minority groups are trying to be protected and to have their plight highlighted, whilst the persecuted Christians receive little or no support even from the so-called mainstream Churches.
Our Communion is still the fastest growing Continuing Communion in the world today, with two new dioceses being created in Africa and South America respectively. In 2015 as matters stand today, four new Bishops will be consecrated, possibly here in Lincoln, to meet the growing needs of the Church.
We are now a stable and growing worldwide Communion of Continuing Anglicans leading the way in healing divisions from the past and building bridges with other authentic Continuing Anglican Churches. In the United States for example, our sister Church the Anglican Church in America (ACA) is entering into the final stages of its conversations with the Anglican Province of America (APA). If their joint talks prove in the end to be successful, full Communion status may be agreed. This will in effect double our presence there and because the APA is a global communion the impact will be felt throughout the world.
Having said this, we have to look to our own position here in Britain. At our last Area Deans’ meeting we formed an ecumenical committee to examine every option where it might be possible to engage in meaningful dialogue and possibly greater co-operation. We must remember though, that there are stringent safeguards and protocols in place to protect the integrity of our Communion. No national agreements can be finalised without the full consent of the College of Bishops.
I was going to write ‘the United Kingdom’, but with the referendum vote due within the next few weeks there remains a degree of uncertainty over the future status of Scotland. However, we now have a permanent presence there since Canon Andow and his wife Margaret move to Mallaig on the West Coast earlier this year. I also with gladness noted from correspondence received from Canon Geoffrey that the welcome afforded to him from the Church of Scotland minister and his Roman Catholic counterpart has been very cordial. What a stark contrast to our relationships with the Roman Catholic Church and Church of England south of the border.
It also saddens me that many who have left for the Ordinariate, so belittle the Heritage they have left behind. It is almost as if they are now in denial of their former Orders. To join the Ordinariate is to become a Roman Catholic with certain Anglican provisions – hardly what we thought we were voting for back in 2009.
We will always seek to be a unifying Church and look at every opportunity to unite and not divide. This is a Command of Our Lord; Unity as One with Him. I am determined to try to seek cordial relationships wherever possible. We are open to conversations with all Christians and would urge those who face complete betrayal within the Church of England by the Consecration of women to the Episcopate to join our global communion of Continuing Anglicans.
I think it now very fair to say that ecclesiologically we really do occupy the ground now vacated by the State Church, but that is not a reason to become complacent. Nobody knows of our existence and we are still not able to provide priests and resources in many cases for those who do enquire. We cannot do this on our own.
We have to be brave and share our own joy and gladness that having been freed from the chaos of the past and arriving at this safe place we can proclaim not only our existence but the Saving Message of Redemption by our Blessed Lord and Saviour. Our Church is made up of a great many faithful and extremely talented people, both Clergy and Laity, so in His strength and by His will anything and everything is possible. Let us be bold at this decisive point in our own short history.
The question has been asked, What of our future? and a very good question it is.
Within the context of our Communion, we are viewed exactly as all other member Churches as, subject to the Concordat, sovereign and independent. Therefore to a very large extent our future is in our own hands. Only we ourselves can determine within reason our own fate and future, but one thing to point out is that we have the support and love of several hundred thousand members of our Traditional Anglican Communion willing us forward on our journey, a journey in which we must not fail to achieve our shared aspirations for our Blessed Church.
All doors are open, all visions shared. We welcome friends both old and new alike to join us. We look to build healing bridges with other Christians wherever and whenever possible. Almighty God has equipped and prepared us for the task ahead; I pray that together we prevail and succeed.
My Prayers and Blessings to You all
In His Love