A LAMBETH Palace statement has criticised the foundation of the Anglican Mission in England (AMIE), and the ordination in Kenya, last month, of three men from the diocese of Southwark (News, 1 July).
The statement said that Lambeth was “not at all clear” how the panel of five bishops, appointed by the AMIE, a new, conservative Evangelical group, “relate to the proper oversight of the diocesan bishop in the Church of England. Nor is there any definition of what the issues are that might be thought to justify appeal to such a panel rather than the use of normal procedures.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury had spoken to the Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, the statement said, about the ordinations of the men, who are members of the AMIE.
“The good faith and fraternal good intentions of our Kenyan colleagues are not at all in question,” it said, but: “It seems that there were misunderstandings of the precise requirements of English Canon Law and good practice as regards the recommendation of candidates for ordination and deployment in mission.” It was “not clear what process of recognised scrutiny and formation has taken place and how, in the absence of Letters Dimissory. . . they have come to be recommended as candidates for ordination by the authorities of another province.
“The issue is one of episcopal collegiality. There needs to be some further discussion of this development between those involved and the diocesan bishops in the Church of England.”
The statement said that it “hoped that an early opportunity will be found to clarify what this new initiative seeks to achieve if it is truly to serve God’s mission in the most effective and collaborative way.”
The chairman of the AMIE steering group, the Revd Paul Perkin, issued a statement on Wednesday, saying: “We warmly welcome the invitation to meet to clarify the goals of AMIE which are to preach and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Episcopal collegiality within England needs to be matched by both Episcopal collegiality with the wider Anglican Communion and Episcopal integrity in upholding and teaching the truth of the Christian faith as found in the scriptures.”
Mr Perkin said that the three men who were ordained in Kenya “had already been through due processes of selection and training and were recommended after a thorough process of discernment”.
He said that “a report at a recent conference” suggested that “half the serving clergy of the Church of England will retire in the next ten years”, and there was “no apparent strategy to address it”.
“Meanwhile there are delayed candidates offering, parishes willing to sponsor them, and others eager to receive their ministry, congregations wishing to remain within the Church but not receiving recognition, and missional church plants needing authorisation.”
The Revd Richard Perkins, the senior minister of Christ Church, Balham wrote on his blog last week that the three who were ordained in Kenya were staff of the Co-Mission Initiative in the Southwark diocese, of which his church is a member.
He said that “on the presenting issue of homosexual activity”, the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, “has not been able to reassure us that he believes and will teach that the only God-approved context for sexual activity is within heterosexual marriage.
“What this means for those Anglican congregations within Co-Mission . . . is that the situation of temporarily impaired communion remains unchanged. We do not . . . recognise his spiritual authority over us.”
Mr Perkins said that the “key players” behind the formation of the AMIE included the Revd Richard Coekin, senior minister of Dundonald Church, in Raynes Park, the Revd Rico Tice, associate minister of All Soul’s, Langham Place, the Revd Vaughan Roberts, Rector of St Ebbes, Oxford, and the Revd William Taylor, Rector of St Helen’s, Bishopsgate.