A new society to safeguard the orthodoxy of the church
By Richard Bewes, Church of England Newspaper July 1 2011
I’m glad – on behalf of this Anglican Mainstream column – to report, support and comment on the event last week when the Anglican Mission in England (AMIE) held its inaugural event on Wednesday June 22 during a conference in central London at which I was present.
Anglican Mainstream – being a network that embraces a broad range of orthodox Anglicans – includes both those who favour women clergy and bishops, and those who have principled objections; but we all strongly support a legally secure place for the latter. We have no declared blueprint for securing orthodoxy in the Church of England but welcome all approaches to securing orthodoxy.
AMIE stated in its press release that “it has been established as a society within the Church of England dedicated to the conversion of England and biblical church planting. There is a steering committee and a panel of bishops. The bishops aim to provide effective oversight in collaboration with senior clergy.”
Thus AMIE (the feminine of ‘friend’ in French) takes its place among the many voluntary societies in the Church of England which are a feature of its life.
The press release continues: ‘The AMIE has been encouraged in this development by the Primates’ Council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GAFCON) who said in a communiqué from Nairobi in May 2011: “We remain convinced that from within the Provinces which we represent there are creative ways by which we can support those who have been alienated so that they can remain within the Anglican family.”
‘The AMIE is determined to remain within the Church of England. The desire of those who identify with the society is to have an effective structure which enables them to remain in the Church of England and work as closely as possible with its institutions. Churches or individuals may join or affiliate themselves with the AMIE for a variety of reasons. Some may be churches in impaired communion with their diocesan bishop who require oversight. Others may be in good relations with their bishop but wish to identify with and support others.’
We must trust that comment on this development will focus on what has actually been said and done – the strategy, and the commitment to remain in the Church of England – rather than base its evaluation on conjured-up hypothetical suppositions about what might or might not happen in the future.
The Press release notes that ‘at the London conference three English clergy who have been ordained in Kenya for “ministry in the wider Anglican Communion” with the support of the GAFCON Primates’ Council were welcomed and prayed with by bishops and church leaders in support of their ministry.’
‘The launch of AMIE follows four and a half years of discussions with senior Anglican leaders in England about ways in which those who are genuinely in need of effective orthodox oversight in the Church of England can receive it.’ ‘ In addition to these discussions senior bishops and others have also been pressing that proper provision be given to conservative evangelicals as well as those catered for under the PEV arrangement. A panel of bishops who are mostly members of the Steering Committee is willing to exercise oversight of the work of the mission society. There is a current discussion about how clergy can be recognised under the Overseas Clergy Measure – and their oversight delegated to a panel of bishops.
The release concludes that ‘AMIE will continue to encourage church planting and all forms of Christian witness in accord with the Jerusalem Statement of the GAFCON Conference in June 2008. ‘
Are we encouraged? We should be! There is a clearly-growing prayerful momentum building up – to ‘guard what has been entrusted to our care’ and to re-energise the whole Church of England in its world-wide Gospel drive.
(Prebendary Richard Bewes is former Rector of All Souls, Langham Place, and is a member of the steering committee of Anglican Mainstream)