400 attend Renew Conference in Northern Powerhouse

Sep 28, 2016 by

Church of England Newspaper September 30 (reprinted with permission).

The rector of a plant into an Anglican church which began in 1961 with a congregation of one plus the organist, and who is only its second rector in 55 years chaired a 30 hour Renew Anglican conference of over 400 in Leeds on September 19-20. Many of the participants were vicars, curates and ministry colleagues from over 200 churches whose average age was in the early 40’s.

William Taylor of St Helen’s Bishopsgate told the Conference: “I am sometimes asked whether our constituency is planning to leave the Church of England. We are not. We are, however, putting in place spiritual relationships that enable us to pursue our ministry goals of pioneering, establishing and securing Anglican evangelical local churches.”

The Renew Conference has grown by 100 people a year and moved for 2016 from the Midlands to Leeds to find a big enough venue and to support the work of Anglicans in the north of England. Reports were given of new initiatives to plant churches in council estates, UPAs and rural communities. One new church in a UPA reported 4 new ordinands from their community.

Rev Dr Peter Sanlon of St Marks Tunbridge Wells clarified that the recent ‘synod’ of 11 parishes in Rochester and Canterbury was the development of regional co-operation along the lines that William Taylor outlined and was in no sense a ‘split’ as some had over-interpreted the meeting.

Renew is a collaboration of Reform, directed by Susan Leafe, member of General Synod, Church Society led by Rev Dr Lee Gatiss, and Anglican Mission in England led by Canon Andrew Lines, the general secretary of Crosslinks.

Together they stand for the complementarian view of gender, though attendance at the conference is not thus restricted. Bishop Rod Thomas reported that following his visits to dioceses he was now an assistant bishop in 10 dioceses which allows him to minister beyond the needs of those who take the complementarian approach.

It was stressed that “AMIE represents a genuine twin-track Anglican approach – both within and outside CofE but at the heart of Global Anglicanism because of its confessional approach. “ Canon Lines said: “AMIE is not encouraging people to leave the CofE . AMIE provides an option for those who for different reasons are unable to fulfill their ministries within the structures.”

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria sent a video message to the conference: “I am so glad AMIE exists – it has the full support of the GAFCON movement.” Canon Lines noted that the newly formed GAFCON UK, successor to FCA(UK) subscribed to the Jerusalem Declaration of 2008 and represented the commitment to the Anglican Communion, covered a broader churchmanship and would serve all orthodox Anglicans. Free Church of England senior bishop, Bishop John Fenwick was also present.

The mood of the conference was serious. Susan Leafe warned: “We are facing a moment of crisis in the Church of England – what happens will affect our grandchildren’s ability to hear the gospel – and a society that is legally and culturally hostile to the gospel.” Hugh Palmer, rector of All Souls Langham Place prayed at the opening: “Forgive us when we have been too full of or too sure of ourselves.” Dr Sanlon said: “We are in a time of crisis where church leaders must do something that in the ordinary run of business would not be done. We must do our best to respect historical Anglicanism. Things which look radical at first, with wider consultation and in time look to be wise.”

William Taylor ended by noting: “God deliberately works to keep his servants self-evidently weak so that the power and glory may be seen to be his and his alone. “

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