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Algarve congregation signs up bishops from Africa

26 June 2008

by Pat Ashworth

THE CONGREGATION that describes itself as “All Saints’ Anglican Church Algarve” is the first in the diocese in Europe to receive episcopal oversight from bishops in Africa.

A concordat was signed at the Gafcon meeting in Jerusalem on Monday by the Archbishop of Rwanda, the Most Revd Emmanuel Kolini, and the Archbishop of West Africa, Dr Justice Ofei Akrofi. The third signatory was Bishop Frank Retief, Presiding Bishop of the Church of England in South Africa, a body that is not part of the Anglican Communion.

The troubled history of All Saints’ dates back to 2001, when the Revd Eric Britt, Chaplain to the Algarve, initiated an Archdeacon’s visitation. The Archdeacon, the Ven. Alan Woods, concluded there had been a breakdown in pastoral relationships, from which there was no chance of recovery (News, 16 March 2006). The diocese removed Mr Britt’s licence, after he accepted an invitation in July 2006 to lead an independent congregation that had broken away from St Vincent’s chaplaincy.

Mr Britt, who has since retired to Britain because of ill-health (News, 11 April), told the Church Times in July 2006 that he did not subscribe to the view that the issues were about a perceived persecution of Evangelical priests in the diocese in Europe. Episcopal oversight was first sought from the Bishop of Recife in Brazil, the Rt Revd Robinson Cavalcanti, but the Bishop is said later to have withdrawn his acceptance.

A spokesman for All Saints’ said on Wednesday: “We believe that this is just the start of the winds of change blowing through the Anglican Church. Other Anglicans throughout Europe are looking with interest at how this initiative will develop, and we are already in discussions with some of them.”

Two delegates from All Saints’ were invited to attend the Gafcon meeting, at which the signing took place. Archbishop Kolini has already ordained a former Reader at St Vincent’s chaplaincy, Jackie Neville, into the priesthood at a ceremony in Kigali, Rwanda. She will become assistant priest at All Saints’.

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