Welcome the FCA – Andrew Carey

Jul 3, 2009 by

Church of England Newspaper July 3

So why should anyone support FCA and why should it be launched now? Firstly, it’s a way of supporting Anglicans in North America who are struggling to remain Anglican in very difficult circumstances.

Secondly, it’s a direct link to the Global South provinces.

Thirdly, this is hardly a time to be wringing your hands about who you want to mix with. The urgent need is to be organised now, not leave it far too late, as it was in America.

For myself, the Rubicon was crossed in the Church of England when the Bishops’ guidelines accepted civil partnerships among clergy. Despite the pretence that these conformed to the 1991 document Issues in Human Sexuality, it opened the door to the acceptance of non- marital sexual relationships. While these had been anomalous before hand, their acceptance meant that the teaching of the Church of England was now muddied and confused.

Fourthly, liberal Anglicans are lobbying the government through measures such as the Equalities Bill to ensure that the exemptions previously guaranteed to the churches are narrowed dangerously. Freedom of speech, freedom to employ those who conform to the teaching of the church in key positions, could be affected. In opposing efforts such as these, the FCA will be working with the church’s leadership, not adopting an outside strategy.

So why FCA, and why now? In the American Church too little was done by conservatives, much too late. Sniffily holding the FCA at arm’s length, as Fulcrum seems to want to do, is to repeat the mistakes made by Americans.

Read the whole article below.

In a time of worldwide recession we can be grateful at least to the Anglican Communion for one growth industry — the multiplication of new acronyms. In recent times we’ve had WCG, JSC, ECUSA became TEC, ACNA, GAFCON and now FCA.

As an Anglican anorak I know what they all stand for but I suspect the average parishioner wouldn’t have a clue about any of them.

Nevertheless, FCA (Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans) is to be launched next Monday at Westminster Central Hall. There have been concerns expressed primarily on the open evangelical website, Fulcrum, that FCA has had problems attracting numbers at its launch meetings in England, that it’s a separatist or schismatic group and that it’s not representative of all the evangelical streams within the Church of England.

Andrew Goddard, perhaps the best-informed and most thoughtful critic of FCA, argues: “There is, at present, no widespread sense that this new initiative is a necessity for Anglicans to be faithful and maintain fellowship within the Church of England and with the churches of the Communion.”

He argues that those committed to traditional teaching in the Church of England will have greater numbers outside the new movement than inside it. While he accepts the assurances from FCA that they are not ‘separatist’ he nevertheless raises questions as to the extent to which the new group will pursue an ‘inside’ strategy in the Church of England and Anglican Communion.

To align with FCA is “self-consciously to distance oneself from the structures of the Church of England and the Instruments and to view FCA as one’s primary ecclesial identity,” he writes.

The new Bishop of Sherborne, Graham Kings also entered the fray against FCA: “The authentic Anglican way forward is not through the autonomous setting up of rival churches, like ACNA; nor through autonomous blessings of same-sex
unions and the consecration of people in such unions, like TEC; nor through inflated claims and opportunist alliances, like FCA UK: it is through the glacial gravity of the Covenant process.”

To some extent, the proof will be in the pudding. The first thing to do is to learn from the mistakes made by conservatives in the United States.

Over recent decades there was a growth of evangelical and Catholic groupings formed to wage cultural warfare within the American Church. The alarming trajectory of The Episcopal Church towards heterodoxy was not always obvious to insiders and protests against divisive, controversial leaders like the über-liberal Bishop Spong were disorganised and fragmented.

Personality differences and impatience led to fragmentation. Many churches and leaders left The Episcopal Church altogether leaving the conservatives and orthodox weakened. It came to a point at which valiant attempts to regroup at the 1998 Lambeth Conference, and the 2000 Denver General Convention, though
largely successful, were already doomed to failure.

The resulting formation of a new province in North America became almost inevitable in the light of the fact that conservatives were so divided and fragmented in the early days that their rearguard actions were ultimately ineffective. Although my own sympathy is with those who don’t give up and continue trying to reform The Episcopal Church, I recognise that will not always be possible.

So why should anyone support FCA and why should it be launched now? Firstly, it’s a way of supporting Anglicans in North America who are struggling to remain Anglican in very difficult circumstances.

Secondly, it’s a direct link to the Global South provinces.

Thirdly, this is hardly a time to be wringing your hands about who you want to mix with. The urgent need is to be organised now, not leave it far too late, as it was in America.

For myself, the Rubicon was crossed in the Church of England when the Bishops’ guidelines accepted civil partnerships among clergy. Despite the pretence that these conformed to the 1991 document Issues in Human Sexuality, it opened the door to the acceptance of non- marital sexual relationships. While these had been anomalous before hand, their acceptance meant that the teaching of the Church of England was now muddied and confused.

Fourthly, liberal Anglicans are lobbying the government through measures such as the Equalities Bill to ensure that the exemptions previously guaranteed to the churches are narrowed dangerously. Freedom of speech, freedom to employ those who conform to the teaching of the church in key positions, could be affected. In opposing efforts such as these, the FCA will be working with the church’s leadership, not adopting an outside strategy.

So why FCA, and why now? In the American Church too little was done by conservatives, much too late. Sniffily holding the FCA at arm’s length, as Fulcrum seems to want to do, is to repeat the mistakes made by Americans.
 

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