The Anglo-Catholics have a home to go to in the Ordinariate once women bishops are appointed in the Church of England. But what about conservative evangelicals in Reform?
Once a single
clause women bishops' measure is enacted, as seems almost certain after
the next General Synod elections, will we as a constituency knuckle
under and accept the unbiblical innovation or will we be moved to take
The reality is that for us women
bishops are not an isolated departure from biblical truth in the Church
of England. The allowance of clergy and now bishops in civil
partnerships is a concern on top of the heretical teachings the
institutional Church has been tolerating and indeed promoting for
If the Church of England becomes like TEC,
large evangelical flagships could leave the institutional structures and
carry on proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ in their local communities
as confessing Anglican churches. Yes, it would involve leaving their
buildings, which is a messy and tiresome business. But there are recent
precedents for this. St George's Tron in Glasgow - now The Tron Church
out of the Church of Scotland - did it before Christmas. Orthodox
Anglican congregations in the United States and Canada have been doing
it for several years now. A whole diocese is doing it in South Carolina.
It's do-able for the large and well-resourced churches.
what about smaller conservative evangelical churches? In the Church of
England, conservative evangelical succession for smaller churches is
difficult to secure even without women bishops. With the worsening
financial situation in many dioceses, churches are increasingly being
amalgamated across the traditions making it very difficult to guarantee
that Christ's sheep in a small church will not be thrown to a liberal
wolf or wolfess.
Could conservative evangelical church
planting networks provide sound biblical ministry for such smaller
congregations? This type of network, originally deriving from an
established evangelical flagship but developing outside the
institutional structures of the Church of England, is a growing
phenomenon in cities. Could they act as minster churches for small
ex-parish churches leaving the Church of England?
their buildings for a congregation of 40 or so adults would actually be
quite liberating, They would be spared the expense of maintaining them.
Meeting in a school or a community centre would be a lot easier and
Under this scenario, a nearby church plant
would provide a Bible teacher from their staff team who would travel
into that community on a Sunday or on some other day of the week when
the church family chose to meet. He would not be resident in the local
community, which is arguably not ideal. But that is better than a wolf
with a lair in residence. The sound man could teach the Scriptures and
train leaders in the small church but the day to day ministry and
outreach would be the responsibility of the resident congregation.
it to work, church planters would need to resist the temptation to
poach committed Christian people from those congregations who would
benefit their church plants. A servant-hearted vision for
community-based ministry would be the spiritual key to the success of
Can our church planters rise above the
temptation to empire-build? If they can, then our constituency has a
fighting chance of perpetuating Reformed Anglican ministry outside the
We could have a home to go to.
Cranmer's Curate wishes the youth group a Happy New Year. Wasn't the Collect for the Epiphany a corker? -
God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only-begotten Son
to the Gentiles: Mercifully grant, that we, which know thee now by
faith, may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.