Anglican realignment moves forward as AMiE conducts first ordinations

Dec 11, 2017 by

By Andrew Symes, Anglican Mainstream.

The focus for the first ordination service conducted by Gafcon missionary Bishop Andy Lines on 7th December was on the universal scope of Christ’s authority, and his commission to make disciples across national and cultural barriers. Taking Matthew 28:16-20 as his text, guest preacher Rico Tice reminded the ordinands and congregation of how Jesus’ victory deriving from his cross and resurrection, and his authority over the nations, derives from his identity: divine Son and co-creator of the universe. The command to those who believe in him remains the same as it was to his first followers: to go, communicate the good news and make Jesus known. This is difficult and involves suffering, partly because many of those who hear refuse to repent and believe, but Jesus promises an eternal close relationship: “I will be with you always”.

In the lead-up to the ordination of 8 deacons and one presbyter for ministry in congregations of the Anglican Mission in England, Bishop Andy Lines and AMiE Mission Director Lee McMunn had stressed that contrary to some earlier headlines, the core identity of this emerging ministry is found not in opposition to certain cultural trends or schism from the Church of England. Rather it’s a way of providing local Episcopal oversight from ministry which already exists and is growing, wants to be Anglican but is not part of ‘official’ structures. And the motivation is the need for new patterns of mission, given the spiritual situation in Britain, where only a tiny percentage know Jesus and worship in church regularly.

The service took place at East London Tabernacle, a Baptist church in Mile End, and was attended by friends, congregants and family of the ordinands, as well as several dozen supporters from within the Church of England, including well-known names. It followed the liturgy of the Anglican Church in North America, the Province under whose auspices Bishop Andy was consecrated in June. Bishop Trevor Walters from the Anglican Network in Canada, and Canon Dan Alger who heads the ACNA church planting initiative, were present and gave greetings and prayers, as did four Gafcon Primates via video link.

It was noticeable, and encouraging, that most of those ordained serve new churches in the north of England. All have completed theological study by various means; all are already fully involved in pastoral and evangelistic ministry, and most are helping to support themselves and their families by working part time.

This model of church planting does not involve expensive up front investment before the work has even started; nor are there concerns about parish boundaries. The groups meeting in school halls, cafes or front rooms, often not in the smartest neighbourhoods, may at first sight look independent rather than Anglican, or to use terminology from a previous generation, ‘chapel’ rather than ‘church’. But now, because of Gafcon, communities of mission-minded disciples like this can emerge under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, with the flexibility of light structures, the doctrinal stability that comes from a clear confessional basis, and yet Anglican: episcopally led and globally connected.

So while the focus at the ordination was on biblically faithful local church ministry, the implications are wider when such ministry aligns with a global movement which seeks to build fellowship around the truth of God’s word. While the primary ministry of the Bishop and the newly ordained clergy may be pastoral and evangelistic, the new alignment of which they’re a part has a clear prophetic role in giving a godly alternative to false ideologies in the broader culture.

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