In a passage in the second book of the Kings Jezebel tells the gathered band to cheer up r This time of year and in our ecclesiastical situation it can seem difficult to be of good cheer. And yet we must have Christian hope. It is to be hoped that after the July General Synod the fog that seems to be surrounding our movement will have lifted. We must hope that the fog is a fog for good weather and, when it lifts, the sun will shine and we can continue with the mission of the church.
Now is not the time to give in or lose hope and we trust that our General Synod representatives and bishops will remember that now is also the time to stand firm to defend the Catholic faith. We trust that they will vote against the measure to allow women to be ordained to the episcopate. To abstain, or worse yet to vote in favour of the measure, is not a Catholic option and would be to betray the trust of this constituency. It is clear that the majority if the Church of England desire to have women bishops and that all of our concerns are to be put to one side. It is highly likely that the measure will passed and we trust the assurances that suggest the Synod and House of Bishops are seeking to find a way for us all to flourish in the Church of England. At NEW DIRECTIONS we will be watching closely to make sure this is the case.
It is to be hoped that when the results are announced our constituency will be treated with care and respect; much pastoral care will be needed. We will need to support one another as we move forward into uncharted territory. Now is not the time to desert or to surrender; it is the time to regroup and to work on a way forward that will bring about the proclamation of the Gospel. The ecumenical journey may have been delayed but it is still in progress. Forward in Faith is dedicated to promoting the truth of the Catholic faith and also for seeking after unity. We must refocus ourselves on the question of unity. The ordination of women to the episcopate will raise a barrier between the Church of England and other churches and we must do all in our power to see that the barrier is not raised too high. We must continue to work to bring down the barriers of division. We must continue to seek deeper unity and fellowship with our brothers and sisters in other churches, many of whom will be concerned and worried for us. From them we can find mutual enrichment and care.
If you are like me you will already have many things in the diary for after the ‘big day’ (14 July) when the order of the Church of England will be changed. We must focus on our constituency and on strengthening ties together and with others. Now is not the time for us to be divided; we need to work together to forge our common future together for our children and grandchildren. The future will not be easy but together we can work on finding ways forward.
We are part of a long line of Anglicans who have sought to witness to the Catholic faith against all the odds. We must not falter in this task, nor must we lose sight of our Lord’s command for unity. We are charged with recalling the Church of England to her Catholic inheritance and thus into a deeper relationship with the Universal Church which she once vehemently claimed to be a part but now doesnot seem so bothered about. We must witness to this truth in our words and actions; we must not be afraid of doing so. As we move away from 14 July we can begin to regroup and to refocus our energies on mission and evangelization, so much good work is already being done — let us now focus on that.
I end with words from Raymond Raynes CR, words that never fail to inspire as we seek to work for the good of the Church we love so much and wish to serve: The true Anglican Church — the Church of this land since the days of Augustine — will prevail if it maintains unflinching the Catholic Faith and practice, because it rests upon the promise of Christ that the powers of hell shall not prevail against it: This is our charge to remain true to the teaching of the Apostles, to spread the Good News of the Gospel with an unflinching zeal and to work for the conversion of England.