Christianity Today reports that so-called ‘orthodox’ Anglicans in North America are inviting priests in the Church of England to make a show of solidarity by taking part in a clergy exchange (or swap as they charmingly describe it). The exchange is being proposed following the consecration of Bishop Mary Glasspool last Saturday.
The Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) has said the clergy exchange would be an opportunity for Church of England parishes and clergy to express their solidarity and friendship with ACNA churches. Participating clergy will serve the pulpit for a period of three to four weeks in January and July or August next year. This was expressly forbidden in a motion passed by General Synod last February.
Synod debated Lorna Ashwoth’s motion expressing the wish to be in communion with ACNA. An amendment was rejected that expressed “our desire that in the interim, the orders of ACNA clergy be recognised and accepted by the Archbishops subject to their satisfaction as to such clergy being of good standing, enabling them to exercise their ordained ministry in this country, according to the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967”. The final text recognised the desire of those who have formed the Anglican Church in North America to remain within the Anglican family and invite the Archbishops to report further to the Synod in 2011.
The letter of invitation to Church of England clergy has been sent jointly by Paul Perkin, Chair of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in the UK and Ireland and Secretary Chris Sugden. The letter says: “Institutionally the CofE seems to be sitting on the fence. The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that the consecration of Mary Glasspool in TEC is ‘regrettable’; yet the CofE has not fully embraced ACNA. An important contribution at this stage will be for parishes and clergy to express solidarity and friendship with clergy and parishes in ACNA.”
Chris Sugden and Paul Perkin have been disloyal to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of England in their quest for an orthodoxy and tradition which is not Anglican. They are both members of General Synod.
Chris Sugden and Paul Perkin’s letter to C of E clergy invites them to disobey the rule which expressly does not allow ACNA clergy to exercise ministry in parishes in this country. Anglican Mainstream and ACNA want a free-for-all in the Anglican Communion, having advocated the crossing of Provincial boundaries for some years, and now telling priests to ignore the will of General Synod.
I happily ignore the will of General Synod as expressed in Tony Higton’s 1987 motion and of the House of Bishops as expressed in ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’ and the House of Bishops’ pastoral statement on civil partnerships, but I am not a member of General Synod.