Thursday, 4 November 2010

Chelmsford FCA Meeting: Anglicans, by Accident or Design?

About 80 clergy and laity gathered for second public meeting of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in St.Peter’s Church, Harold Wood.

The vicar there, David Banting, emphasised the meeting began with lunch to stress the ‘FELLOWSHIP’ side of our unity. So time was given to a great lunch as friendships were formed or deepened.

Our unity as a group ‘confessing’ shared orthodoxy was then fostered by 3 speakers that represented the Anglo-Catholics, Charismatics and Conservative Evangelicals.

Ed Tomlinson described his move from an Evangelical position into Anglo-Catholicism. His Father was SAMS missionary, but his convictions took him towards Rome. His decision to join the Ordinariat will complete that journey. Ed hinted he thinks the differences between Anglo-catholics and others are too great (in areas like sacraments, authority and priesthood) to allow unity. He sees the only future for Anglo-Catholics is to join him and leave the Church of England.

Simon Coupland’s father was an URC minister. Simon was attracted to the CofE because it was more ‘congregational’ (in every-member ministry)! He also loves the ‘connectedness’ of churches within the denomination (esp ‘New Wine’ networking), and the way it encourages a commitment to others (i.e. everyone in the parish). He sees the need for involvement in politics, but personally prefers to
leave that to others.

Jonathan Fletcher spoke of his conversion to Christ and of his subsequent choice about what sort of Evangelical he would be. He wanted to be an Anglican one because of Cranmer’s clarity on the authority of Scripture, and on penal substitution. He said the 39 Articles avoid fudge. He urged those who hold onto our historic faith to simply call ourselves ‘Anglican’.

Overall it was a day that reflected the strengths and weaknesses of this new Fellowship. Ed’s hopes that all Anglo-Catholics will go with him will not suit everyone. Even if some wanted to change, their churches would not. The strength of CFCA is that it will provide a place for catholics to be valued. Jonathan said they’d been treated awfully in the past. Simon’s awareness that joint action is important, is a boost to a Fellowship that is
setting up for team work. But a ‘let someone else do it’ approach can also be a weakness. Jonathan’s encouragement to ‘pray for the impossible and to plan for eventualities’ puts fuel into the engines of this fellowship. We may next need to consider how to draw together a membership (as opposed to a mailing list). We can then continue to enjoy fellowship (meals with everything), and furthering orthodoxy to the glory of Jesus.

Mike Reith

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