AN APPEAL by the Revd Richard Coekin against the revocation of his licence
by the Bishop of Southwark, Dr Tom Butler, began on Tuesday at St
Dunstan-in-the-East, Fleet Street, in London. It is presided over by the Bishop
of Winchester, the Rt Revd Michael Scott-Joynt.
Dr Butler revoked the licence of Mr Coekin, Minister of Dundonald Church, a
church plant in Wimbledon, and leader of a group of church-plants in south
London known as the Co-Mission Initiative, on 7 November last year (News, 11
November 2005). His action followed the irregular ordinations of three men on 2
November by Bishop Martin Morrison of the Church of England in South Africa
(CESA), a Church not in communion with the Church of England.
The ordinations, arranged by Mr Coekin, were done without Dr Butler’s
knowledge. The three men, Andy Fenton, Richard Perkins, and Loots Lambrecht
were to serve as ministers within Mr Coekin’s congregations, all of which are
self-financing and operate independently of the diocese and of the C of E in
general. Dundonald’s candidates did not go through diocesan selection
Church-planting in Southwark without the consent of other Evangelical clergy
in parishes concerned has been a bone of contention since 2001. The Bishop had
refused to ordain any more clergy for Mr Coekin’s congregations unless he was
prepared to work collaboratively and within diocesan guidelines. Thirty-six
Evangelical clergy in the diocese signed a letter of support for Dr Butler’s
Lawyers adjourned early on Tuesday to see whether agreement could be reached
without the necessity of a hearing, but to no avail. It was revealed that the
Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, was prepared to fly over to the UK to be
called to speak by Mr Coekin’s counsel. Dr Butler’s counsel indicated, however,
that he wanted to hear only from Mr Coekin.
It will be judged whether Mr Coekin breached Canons C3 and C5 governing the
ordination of priests and deacons, and whether the ordinations are in
accordance with the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordinations)
He was licensed as Assistant Minister at Emmanuel Church, Wimbledon, but has
rejected the Bishop’s authority in Southwark. The appeal is to the Archbishop
of Canterbury, who could either confirm, vary, or cancel the revocation of Mr
Coekin’s licence. The hearing continues.