Church as communion

From the Bishop of Guildford

I was grateful to Fr Ernest Skublics for his excellent, though succinct, article on ecclesiology [ND Feb]. He is absolutely right in drawing attention to the danger of immediately applying the notion of universal communion, hammered out in ecumenical theology, to the communion, impaired or otherwise, which exists between the churches of the Anglican Communion. Having remarked on this, huge advantage can be taken of the ecumenical texts for an ecclesiology of communion.

It is a matter of some regret that the ARCIC statement of 1990 Church as Communion has received so little attention. Here, again succinctly, is worked out a sacramental understanding of the Church, which should be no point of contention between Anglicans and Roman Catholics – or indeed other classical churches.

With this, I would commend the newly published Orthodox Anglican statement on the Trinity and ecclesiology, The Church of the Triune God. I would also add to the theologians mentioned by Fr Skublics the important name of Fr Jean-Marie Tillard op, whose death just a few years ago still leaves a gap among great ecumenical theologians who have worked for Anglican Roman Catholics reconciliation.

+Christopher Hill Willow Grange, Jacobs Well, Guildford GU4 7QS

Staying friends

From the Rt Revd John Fenwick

I read with interest Alan Edwards’ article on the Free Church of England in your March edition. As I am mentioned by name in the article, may I make a couple of points.

It is true that there is no ‘concordat’ between the FCE and the Church of England, but the FCE has been, since 1992, a ‘Designated Church under the Ecumenical Relations Measure. It is therefore a church to which the Church of England’s ‘ecumenical canons’ B43 and B44 apply. FCE clergy and laity may therefore already perform within the Established Church the range of liturgical acts permitted by those Canons. Personal relations between members of the two churches are often cordial, and FCE bishops have been official guests at the Enthronements of the last two Archbishops of Canterbury.

While it is true that most FCE worship is currently 1662-based, it should not be assumed that this will continue indefinitely. We already have a drafting group preparing modern English liturgy. One advantage of coming rather late to liturgical renewal is that it is possible to learn from others’ mistakes!

Our experience shows that it is possible to maintain a Reformed Catholic identity as an indigenous Church in England.

John Fenwick 16 Windsor Crescent, Ulverston, Cumbria, LA 12 9NP

We’re here too

From the Revd Tom Parsons

The article entitled A free province’ in the March issue contained the story of the FCE, a body of which I was totally ignorant. While reading the story, I could not help comparing FCE with the many continuing churches in this country. Beginning with the Congress of St Louis in the late Seventies, wherein the ACC (Anglican Catholic Church) was born as the Anglican Church of North America, several legitimate jurisdictions have served in the front lines in defending Anglo Catholic faith and practice. Among these are the ACC, APCK, and APA along with some independent diocese organizations such as the DHC While they do not represent overwhelming numbers, they have been a persistent, faithful remnant in maintaining the ‘faith of the fathers’.

We have been the voice of orthodoxy in opposition to a seriously deficient prayer book revision, ordination of non-celibate homosexual men, ordination of women and lesbians, denial of the basic tenets of the faith by bishops and clergy, abandonment of the sanctity and nature of marriage (divorce of clergy and bishops), and other departures from Scripture, tradition, and reason.

I wonder if your readers in the UK and around the world are even aware of our presence and witness. Those leaving TEC seem hellbent on joining African or South American bishops without even glancing our way, even though it is unclear where these bishops stand, beyond the homosexual issue. As I tell my parishioners, we are called to be faithful and God will take care of the numbers. However, it constantly amazes me that we get almost no notice from magazines like yours, with whom we share common cause.

Tom Parsons Christ Church Anglican, Pinehurst, NCUSA

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