Anthony Kilmister on the origins and history of the Association and its determination to support orthodoxy in Anglican thinking
012 promises to be quite a year! The Queen and nation will be marking her sixty years
as our monarch, the Olympic flame will be burning brightly, the Book of Common Prayer will pass its 350th anniversary and in July Synodical innovators of a revolutionary persuasion will be promoting women bishops. Before anything unexpected arises let me hurriedly extend my New Year greetings and those of the Anglican Association.
The Anglican Association was founded in 1969 at a time of widespread concern at the prospect of an Anglican-Methodist merger. It was not that we were antagonistic towards Methodists but, rather, we wanted to halt the jettisoning by the Church of England of its doctrine, ethos and catholic order. These, over the centuries, the Established Church had received and cherished.
The Church of England (Worship & Doctrine) Measure 1974 conferred upon the General Synod wide powers for the interpretation of doctrine. The Anglican Association (in concert with others) did not hesitate to condemn the Measure as giving to the Synod the power to change doctrine by interpretation.
Radical theology accelerated its pace during the Sixties. ‘Tescospeak’ was about to take the place of traditional liturgical expression and every new doctrinal concept was being embraced. That era was not called the ‘Swinging Sixties’ for nothing. Those who view with horror the happenings today in America’s Episcopal Church should realize that the Americans have had a few years start on us and, unless we are very careful, all the horrors that have been seen on the other side of ‘the pond’ (not just some of the excesses) will be repeated here.
Of crucial importance this year will be the outcome of the General Synod’s debate when it meets in July to determine the possibility of ‘women bishops’. The concept is, of course, anathema but if sufficient members can be made to see reason then ‘provision’ could be seen as a way forward. This is a minimum requirement for those who cannot, and never will be able to, accept women bishops. If the Archbishops can see the crying need for this then the innovators will need to see the point also.
In a period exceeding four decades the Anglican Association has constantly sought to uphold traditional values and, in particular to promote the Catholic Faith as Anglicans have received it and, as loyalists, have cherished it. The founder, the late Francis Moss, was a scholar-parson of the old school and in his country rectory Fr Moss viewed with increasing alarm the outpourings of such people as John Robinson (Bishop of Woolwich in the ‘Swinging Sixties’ before moving to Trinity College, Cambridge). Fr Moss was horrified by Robinson’s Honest to God and found that there were other clergy and laity (myself included) who agreed with him and were demanding action. This resulted in the birth of the Association.
Promotion of writing
The Association made a very significant financial contribution to the election campaign of the General Synod’s Catholic Group at the last ‘general election’ and has also supported the evangelical promotions of Anglican Mainstream in the last few years.
The main concern is to support orthodoxy in Anglican thinking. For example, the Association’s determination to seek a way out of the Church’s malaise was reflected in its promotion of writing by its committee members. As a case in point Canon Arthur Middleton of Durham was given every encouragement in his writing of Restoring the Anglican Mind. Published by Gracewing, the book has achieved worldwide circulation and acclaim.
The period ahead is clearly going to be massively important. Pray God all will go well. ND