This was the theme of the bi-annual Diocesan Conference, or General Assembly, of The Traditional Anglican Church, held at Minsterworth, Gloucestershire, on 5th October 2002. It has always been the wish of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) to have closer links with all other orthodox Continuers, and The Traditional Anglican Church (TTAC) in Britain, in the same way, has been eager to establish friendly relations with all true orthodox Anglicans in this country.
As we gathered together to discuss the future, it seemed a long time since we had experienced the earlier difficulties after withdrawing from the established Church. Then the future looked bleak indeed and only a handful of people here in England were prepared to hold fast to the faith in the TAC as led by Archbishop Falk. But lessons had been learned and rebuilding began. At the very beginning it was decided that a firm constitution and a set of canons had to be laid down so that in future there could be no doubt as to what we believe.
We are Anglicans who believe the ancient faith of Christ and accept the Affirmation of St Louis and all that that entails. As a consequence, in May 1996 we were welcomed into the worldwide international fellowship of faithful Anglicans constituting the Traditional Anglican Communion. (As members of Forward in Faith will know, this means that we are also members of the Concordat drawn up in 1994 between FiF and the TAC which provides mutual recognition between us, and permits intercommunion between that body and our own Church.)
Gradually, our numbers began to increase although there were still difficulties on the way. From time to time, there would be people who would join because they hoped to change us into something different from what we are, or simply wanted to use us for their own personal agendas. Sadly, when they failed to get their own way, these would leave us again. But others began to join and stay, and gradually we were recognized by numerous independent observers as being a church worthy of respect.
Particularly over the past twelve months, there has been a small but significant surge forward. A number of new congregations have come to us from various sources, and more men are beginning to consider ordination, or offering themselves as Readers. Then, almost out of the blue, the United Anglican Church (UAC), another Continuing Anglican Church, formally united with the TAC. Although their main strengths are abroad (including Europe), they have a small presence in England as well, and must inevitably have an impact on us. This was the situation which faced us as we met in Minsterworth, and which was to dominate the proceedings.
The Assembly started with a sung Eucharist, the hall having been transformed into a church – an activity many of our members are well acquainted with – and a sense of reverence, love and expectation settled on us all. We were delighted to welcome as the celebrant, the Rt Revd Bishop Sean Larkin, a very welcome guest, and the man who has been recently consecrated as the UAC bishop for Europe.
Uniting in England
There were a number of important motions passed at the Assembly. Among them was a motion saying that, although in the past we have had the best of episcopal oversight from overseas bishops, the time has come when we wish to have a bishop of our own.
Another motion was concerned with the two TAC jurisdictions (TTAC and UAC), which at present are acting separately in England. We expressed the wish to work closely with the UAC, and look forward to the day when total integration can take place.
Associated with this was another request that letters be sent to the various Orthodox Churches in England and to the Roman Church in England and to the CofE, with greetings and expressions of our good will.
In addition, an official website will be set up in the near future, so that those seeking us on the Net will be able to do so.
In a very warm atmosphere, it was clear that the TTAC has got its priorities right. We want to serve God in his Church as best we can, and no personal prejudices must be allowed to get in the way. We seek friendly relations with all who uphold and take seriously the Faith ‘once delivered to the saints’, and we look forward to the future with confidence.
The Assembly ended with Evensong.
Fr Robert Aird is the Vicar General for the Traditional Anglican Church.
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