THE Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), a group formed in June to provide alternative episcopal oversight for conservative Evangelicals (News, 1 July), has compared its formation to the Arab Spring in the Middle East, and has told “the Church of England Establishment” that it “will not be robbed of its Anglican identity”.
Writing on the AMiE website, Canon Chris Sugden, secretary of the Panel of Bishops of AMiE, and Canon Vinay Samuel, a member of the Steering Committee of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, describe the formation of the new society as a “game changer”. It indicates that conservatives will “no longer play the game of the Church of England as defined by the Church of England Establishment”.
The group, which procured the ordination of three clerics from the diocese of Southwark in Kenya in June, speaks of a “wall of silence” from the C of E in the face of its grievances about homosexual practice and the draft legislation for consecrating women bishops. It also complains of a lack of support for church-planting.
The authors compare AMiE to the initial protesters in Tahrir Square, Cairo, earlier this year. The formation of AMiE is, they say, “a standing together that demonstrates a different way of doing things. It has a different view of mission through planting churches and organising for growth. . . It . . . embraces a global Anglican identity based on the Bible rather than a technical institutional identity.”
The authors say that AMiE has a different view of women in ministry, which “does not seek to compete as though it is a matter of power and status”, and a different view of marriage and sexuality, “which is not based on the interchangeability of the genders”.
AMiE views “the current malaise as a gradual process of destabilising biblically faithful Anglican witness and ministry”. It seeks to enable “orthodox biblical mission”.
The launch of AMiE is a process of moving “to the public square” and saying: “We will not be robbed of our Anglican identity. We will not be marginalised. You are the usurpers.”
Responding, the Revd Colin Coward, director of Changing Attitude, a group campaigning on behalf of gay Anglicans, criticised the “extreme” comparison of the Bishop of Southwark’s actions with “the actions of tyrannical leaders in Egypt, Libya and Syria”.
He suggested that Canon Sugden should resign from the General Synod, and that the Bishop of Lewes, the Rt Revd Wallace Benn, should resign his see. “I don’t expect either of them to take such action, because AMiE has too much invested in power and authority and in their campaign to force the Church of England to adopt their narrow, sectarian, schismatic pattern of faith.”
The Revd Jonathan Clark, who chairs Affirming Catholicism, described the statement as a “tendentious misrepresentation” of the C of E. “It’s not just that they want to set up a Church based on the myth of doctrinal purity, nor that they seem to want to do so from within the Church of England, rather than doing the decent thing and leaving. It’s that they have the temerity to claim that they are the true inheritors of Anglican identity. We’re a Church full of diversity, for a diverse nation.”
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