An anonymous clergyman accused the Church of England of ‘institutional opposition to the gospel’ at the launch of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) in London today.
He told the conference at Westminster Central Hall how his church plant had been hounded out of several venues by the Area Dean, accused of being a ‘cult’.
A recording of the nameless priest was relayed to the audience of 1600 Anglicans during the afternoon sessions.
FCA has emerged out of the Global Anglican Fellowship Conference in Jerusalem in 2008, and is being described as ‘a movement for renewal’ rather than a ‘church within a church’.
Denying it has any intention of forming a new Province of orthodox Anglicans, as has happened in the States, it is nonetheless based on the Jerusalem Declaration drawn up by the bishops who attended the alternative to Lambeth 2008, the international gathering of Anglican primates that meets every ten years.
FCA requires members to affirm the Jerusalem Declaration, and get involved in mission locally and globally.
The explanatory addresses by luminaries of the GAFCON process such as Archbishop Greg Venables, Primate of the Southern Cone, and Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney and others were intended to be put into the context of mission.
Robert Duncan, inaugural Archbishop of the Anglican Church of North America which formed in protest at persecution by American Episcopalians, said mission was the secret of staying together. ‘When people have no mission, they focus on each other.’
Delegates were appalled to hear how the Area Dean of the anonymous parish had described church plants as ‘a cancer on the body of Christ’.
He had put pressure on a school head and publican to evict the church which had been meeting in rooms they had let to it.
Despite that, the church had grown from 35 adults and 25 children to 100 adults and 60 children, in a parish where only 5% of the population had any connection with the church. It now offered a ‘full service ministry’ of crèche, mission partners in Africa and Europe, a growing youth work and provision for mums and toddlers. Yet, he said: ‘We are not recognized by the diocese.’
The priest said this ran counter to Fresh Expressions – a mission initiative sanctioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury who had expressed the desire to see non-traditional forms of church in every parish in the country.
‘Yet we have been resisted at every point. It’s hard not to conclude that we have faced institutional opposition to the gospel.’
Messages of support were relayed by letter, CD and DVD from former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, and Primates in Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda.
The Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury also sent messages acknowledging the event.
Bread and wine were shared in an act of thanksgiving by the entire assembly, which was addressed by the Bishop of Rochester Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, Lapido Media’s Patron. He earlier denied at a press conference that he had any role planned in the FCA. ‘I am just continuing to be a foot soldier’ he said.
He is to relinquish his seat in the House of Lords in September in order to ‘work for the persecuted church’.