A message from the Officers of Forward in Faith
For many loyal Anglicans, 11 November 1992 was a dark day. The General Synod’s vote for unilateral innovation in a fundamental matter of faith and order concerning Holy Orders and the celebration of the Eucharist placed the Church of England’s commitment to catholicity in question. However, it also gave the impetus for the decision five days later to found the organization that on 25 November 1992 was named Forward in Faith. In November 2017 Forward in Faith celebrates the 25th anniversary of its inception.
Significant moments in our first 25 years have included Christ our Future, the millennium Eucharist which filled the 10,000-capacity London Arena in June 2000; the publication in 2004 of Consecrated Women?, a substantial theological contribution to the debate on women in the episcopate; and the defeat in November 2012 of the first women bishops measure, now widely recognized as a blessing for the Church of England as a whole.
Forward in Faith is not a single-issue movement, nor is the sacrament of Orders the only sacrament under threat. We shall continue to defend, for the Church of England, Baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; the Eucharist as requiring the presidency of an episcopally ordained priest; Confirmation as integral to Christian initiation; Marriage as ‘according to our Lord’s teaching… a union… of one man with one woman’; the inviolability of the Seal of the Confessional; and Anointing as a priestly ministry. Events earlier this year pointed to another reason why Forward in Faith is still needed.
The ordination of women to the episcopate has resulted in 420 resolution parishes – more than ever before – being formally committed to the oversight of catholic bishops. In the last four years these bishops have ordained over fifty men to the priesthood – the majority in their twenties or early thirties. They have formed The Society as a structure of full communion – not with a view to separation, but in order to enable Anglicans who are faithful to catholic tradition to live with confidence in the Church of England and contribute to its wider life. One of Forward in Faith’s principal tasks is to support The Society’s bishops in their task of leading their parishes, clergy and people in mission.
All of this would hardly have been possible had Forward in Faith not existed. For this we owe an immense debt of gratitude to those who founded Forward in Faith in 1992 and led it over the next two decades. The current Officers had an opportunity this week to express this gratitude personally to our predecessors.
Above all, we are grateful for the faithfulness and providence of God.
† TONY WAKEFIELD
The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Wakefield
Dr Lindsay Newcombe
The Revd Ross Northing