A Covenant for the Church of England - from Anglican Mainstream

13 December 2006 - Print Version

News & Views

Source: Anglican Mainstream

A small group met with the Archbishop of Canterbury on Tuesday December 12 and presented A Covenant for the Church of England on behalf of a wide group of Evangelical and Charismatic members of the Church of England with the support of a number of Anglo-Catholic leaders. The Covenant is the fruit of an ongoing process reacting not to a few local or immediate difficulties but responding to widespread concerns in the national and global church. The group were listened to carefully and as a result of the meeting it was agreed that there would be further discussion of the issues raised in the Covenant to find a way to maintain the unity of the Church of England.

Rev Paul Perkin
Canon Dr Chris Sugden

——

A COVENANT FOR THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

At this time in the life of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, faced with a faulty view of revelation, false teaching and indiscipline, we believe that it is necessary to set out where we as orthodox Anglicans stand, and to invite others to join us.

OUR IDENTITY

We are members of the Church of England, part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, who share with others throughout the world a commitment to the biblical truths on which the Anglican Communion is based. This is what guarantees our fellowship with Anglicans historically and globally. We pledge ourselves to strengthen this fellowship.

The love and grace of God in the gospel saves and converts individuals to a relationship with God, introduces people to life in the Spirit, and draws members into the Body of Christ. It produces holiness of life, unity in the Spirit and life-giving and life-transforming mission. Therefore in dependence on God, we are committed to spreading the unchanging gospel of Jesus Christ, to making disciples who make disciples of Christ, and to reviving existing and planting new churches. We wait for heaven to belong to a pure and perfect church – indeed, we confess our own guilty part in the church’s present failings. Nonetheless the gospel challenges the church to faithful obedience.

We are committed to faithful biblical orthodoxy as defined by the classic formularies of our tradition. Canon A5 states: “The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal”. The Preface to the Declaration of Assent declares that the Church of England professes “the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds.” This is what the Church of England confesses and true unity belongs in this common confession. It is departure from this common faith that is responsible for causing schism.

Commitment to the gospel has the following implications for action at this time.

OUR ACTION

Mission Jesus’ Great Commission to “Go into all the world and make disciples” has renewed force for us in our post-Christian society. As is being increasingly recognised, the historic focus on the traditional patterns of parishes, clergy and ecclesiastical buildings is now inadequate by itself to meet this great challenge and must be transformed by one that is dynamically evangelistic, committed to using every available means to reach the unchurched. “Existing ecclesiastical legal boundaries should be seen as permeable”. This means there cannot be any no-go areas for gospel growth and church planting. Best practice will always involve appropriate consultation, including with non-Anglicans. We will support mission-shaped expressions of church through prayer, finance and personnel, even when official permission is unreasonably withheld.

Appointments The local congregation is the initial and key seed-bed for recognising, authorising, raising up and releasing new leaders. We affirm the need for the wider recognition and authorisation for leaders. We recognise the vital importance of biblically orthodox training both regionally and nationally. But many parishes have lost confidence in the institutional centre to discern and train suitable ministers, and fund and deploy them in sufficient numbers and appropriate contexts. Local churches must in future also play a major role in the selection, training, funding and appointment of ministers. This means that we can no longer be constrained by an over-centralised and increasingly ineffective control that is stifling the natural development of ministry. If the local Bishop unreasonably withholds authorisation, we will pay for, train and commission the ministers that are needed, and seek official Anglican recognition for them.

Fellowship Fellowship is based on the faith “once delivered to the saints”. Global Anglicans observe that the Church of England is increasingly polarizing into two churches: the one submitting to God’s revelation, Gospel-focused, Christ-centred, cross-shaped and Spirit-empowered; the other holding a progressive view of revelation, giving priority to human reason over Scripture, shaped primarily by western secular culture, and focused on church structures. We reaffirm the Church of England as a confessing church, built supremely not on administrative or human structures but on biblical authority, belief and behaviour. This means that we can no longer associate with teaching that is contrary to the clear teaching of the Scriptures either doctrinally (for example, on the supremacy and uniqueness of Christ) or morally (for example, on issues of gender, sex and marriage), or church leadership which advocates such teaching. We will therefore encourage new informal networks of fellowship, augmenting where necessary the institutional geographical groupings, and will respect and support those who cannot in good conscience maintain Christian fellowship with neighbouring Anglicans who do not uphold the authority of Scripture.

Money
Money is an aspect of gospel partnership in the New Testament. It is entrusted to church leaders by church members who generously and sacrificially give to Christian ministry. Under charity law there is a responsibility that those who handle the church’s money steward those resources with integrity. Funds are expected to be directed towards the churches and causes in line with the beliefs and expectations of those who give. To direct the church’s giving elsewhere is a dereliction of duty for which leaders will be held accountable by God. This means that we can no longer support ministries or structures increasingly marked by the doctrinal and ethical heterodoxy outlined above. Our congregations will seek actively to become self-sustaining when and where we can, to donate a reasonable yet modest amount to support the administrative centre, to be part of mutually accountable financial partnerships, and to give generously to gospel ministries, at home and abroad, that share the same values.

Oversight Christian leaders are servant leaders, servants of the gospel. As Anglicans, we affirm Episcopal oversight for the sake of God’s mission. But it must be ordered for the church’s well-being. This means having biblically orthodox oversight that will teach the apostolic faith, refute error and discipline the wayward. We can, therefore, no longer accept churches being denied such oversight. Ensuring that such biblically orthodox oversight is available for the health and well-being of the church is more important than arguments about jurisdiction. The immediate crisis is over the fundamentals of revealed truth. We are aware of those who justifiably consider that their communion with their bishops is impaired, and will support and help them to find alternative oversight.

We are committed, as authentic Anglicans, to praying, believing and working for a restored, reformed and renewed Church of England, holding its traditional convictions: confidence in the truth of God in his Word, in the sacrificial death of his Son for his world, and in the power of God’s Spirit to fulfil his mission.

The Covenant was drafted by a group under the following leadership:

Rev David Banting, Chair of Reform
Rev John Coles, Director of New Wine Networks
Rev Paul Perkin, Member of General Synod
Rev David Phillips, Director of Church Society
Rev Vaughan Roberts, Rector of St Ebbes’ Oxford
Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Executive Secretary, Anglican Mainstream
Rev William Taylor, Rector of St Helen’s Bishopsgate
Rev Dr Richard Turnbull, Chair of the Church of England Evangelical Council
Rev Dr Simon Vibert, Chair of the Fellowship of Word and Spirit

8 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. mccabe Says:

    Interesting. However, The Bishop of Rome would never agree with this statement nor would the majority of Patriarchs of the Eastern Orthodox Churhes. Perhaps those 1.85 billion Christians in the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Churches should be taught a good old fashion evangelical lesson.

  2. Graham Kings Says:

    Fulcrum has just published a critical response to this document and a further article in depth is being prepared:

    http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/page.cfm?ID=170

  3. PhiltheBear Says:

    Well, hopefully all the people who believe that this is the way forward will start paying the wages of their clergy and build their own churches. Then the majority of church goers can proceed to live life without these dreadful hate mongers pretending to be Christians. These are the very people that the Church of England can well do without. The only cause of schism in the CofE are self centred evangelists.

  4. mccabe Says:

    Philthebear,

    Welcome to the suffering we have had to endured for decades in the Episcopal Church from these serpents.

    The evangelical gang is the troubled sea that has no peace in them. They will not leave peacefully nor will they act in an honorable manner. They are hate mongers in my own church and yours. If they had an once of interity in them they would leave quietly and quickly and follow Christ in whatever fashion they desire. May Christ, in His neverending mercy, bring them all peace and understanding in time.

  5. Tuquita Says:

    mccabe:
    How misguided you are by calling those who believe in Scripture “hate mongers”, just by doing so, you show the error that is in your heart. May the Lord have mercy on you before it’s too late.

  6. Tuquita Says:

    mccabe and all of you who think alike:
    It would do you well to read Scripture, the ONLY WAY to follow Christ is to “die to self” not “to do your OWN thing” and expect to be accepted by a HOLY God.  By the way, if you want to call yourselves Christians, which means to be FOLLOWERS of Christ, you either believe and accept as FACT who He claimed to be, or you don’t, and if don’t, please call yourselves by any other name, for Christians you are NOT.

  7. mccabe Says:

    I didn’t say: “those who believe in Scripture “hate mongers”. Why would I say that about “those who believe in Scripture” since, I myself believe in inspirational power of the scriptures?


    I said: “The evangelical gang is the troubled sea that has no peace in them. They will not leave peacefully nor will they act in an honorable manner. They are hate mongers in my own church and yours.” For example, your personal attack on me is hate mongering. Your attack on me is based entirely on my refusal to see the authority of Scriptures by your personal definition of evengelical correctness.

    It makes no difference to me since, I have no more in common with you and your kind then I do with a Hindu worshiping a statue of Indra. I do not worship books but, I do worship the living God of all things as taught by Christ Jesus.

  8. lolworld Says:

    When we pray the Lord prayer, we are asking God to let us have the privilege to participate in His own salvation plan and time as revealing to us in His Holy Scriptures. May God forgives our pride to pick and choose from the Holy Scripture on those fit our own fleshy desires. May God opens our hearts so that we are understanding that the glory of God - His characters, attributes, creation, love, and just. May the Holy Spirit enpowers us to have courage to put up our cross to follow Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord; whole heartly with love and just.