Visit to Rochester

Forward in Faith Council members, Fr Geoffrey Kirk and Fr Sam Philpott, accompanied by the Director, visited Rochester last month. Not the cathedral city in Kent, of course, but a meeting of the Bishop of Rochester’s Working Party on Women in the Episcopate. They were invited in order to answer questions on Forward in Faith’s written submission to the Working Party and all three were struck afterwards by the warmth of their welcome, the seriousness with which members of the Working Party engaged in debate on the submission and the receptiveness they showed to what Forward in Faith was saying. Our hour and a half flew by and such was the range of our discussion that, when Geoffrey Kirk set about writing up his responses to their questions afterwards, he filled eight closely-typed sides of paper! Those written replies have been sent to the Bishop of Rochester, in the hope that they will be of assistance to him and his colleagues in the months ahead. All members of Forward in Faith will want to thank Bishop Michael and his team for the warmth of our welcome and to assure them that they we are holding them in our prayers, as they address their challenging task.

Our Submission …

Copies of Forward in Faith’s submission to the Bishop of Rochester’s Working Party are still available from the Forward in Faith Office at Faith House, price £5.

… And Your Submissions

We still would like to have copies of any submissions made by Forward in Faith parishes and members to Bishop Michael’s Working Party. It is hoped that a volume to be published early next year will contain quotations from a number of individual and parish submissions, along with some of the weightier submissions reproduced in full and other essays on the subject. The more material the editor of this volume will have to choose from, the better, it will be for all of us!

What we do in Church and Why

Many readers will have enjoyed this series of tracts, written by Forward in Faith member Fr Edmund Straszak SSC, Vicar of All Saints’, Chorley, in the Diocese of Blackburn. He now tells us that he has written some follow-up tracts: a series entitled Church Services Explained, a series called Holy Week Services Explained, and two tracts In Defence of True Religion: 1) Incarnation & 2) Resurrection.

What is so very different about these tracts is that they can be had for free, by going to where they can be downloaded, printed and distributed. For those that don’t have access to the internet, they can be purchased at modest cost direct from Fr Straszak on (01257) 265665.

The Agreed Statement on Communion & Code of Practice

Where were you on Saturday, 17 September, 1994? Well, several hundred of you were in Central Hall, Westminster, attending the first Forward in Faith National Assembly. And to be more precise, several hundred of you were debating the Forward in Faith Statement on Communion and Code of Practice. It was one of the most – if not the most – significant days in the whole history of Forward in Faith, for it was at the end of that debate that we defined Forward in Faith’s relationship with that majority of the Church of England who had opted to embrace the innovation of women priests. Whether you were at Central Hall that day or not, whether you attended one of the regional consultations which were held earlier in the year or not, you were – as a Forward in Faith member – profoundly affected by what happened.

What was good for 1994 still holds good today, but the certainty that, one day, women bishops will be upon us, means that we would be failing ourselves and each other if we did not begin to look at the Statement on Communion and Code of Practice, to see what amendment it will need in the light of that further innovation. To this end, we have begun a process of revision and consultation. We have sought the advice of the Catholic bishops and a sub-committee of the Council will presently be meeting a number of them face to face to listen to their views; we will again be engaging in a process of regional consultation, hopefully later in the year, but what we want now are the views of ordinary members, Forward in Faith Parishes, Clergy Chapters and Diocesan Assemblies. Tell us what you think about the Statement on Communion and Code of Practice and tell us how you believe it should be amended, ready for the change when it comes. Please write to Prebendary Sam Philpott, at Faith House, 7 Tufton Street, London SW1P 3QN. Forward in Faith is a democratic organization, which listens to its members. But it can only listen to those members who speak up!

Eight years on …

Who would have thought, sitting in Central Hall in September 1994, that eight years on, we would be planning the Ninth Forward in Faith National Assembly? It takes place at the Emmanuel Centre, Marsham Street, SW1 on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 October, 2002. It might be too early for you to send in the names of your delegates for the autumn, but it is most emphatically not too early for Forward in Faith Diocesan Assemblies to start thinking about who their delegates might be and what subjects they might hope the Assembly will address. That way, you may be ready to respond, when we decide we do want to hear from you!

And finally …

… some dates:

Fr Geoffrey Kirk is booked to speak at Forward in Faith meetings in the following dioceses during the early part of this year:

Manchester 4 March

Norwich 16 March

Winchester 23 March

Stephen Parkinson will be in:

Chester 18 May

Details in each case from the Chairman or Secretary of the relevant Forward in Faith Diocesan Assembly.