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Dr Podmore commissioned at St Alban's

19 April 2013

by Rachel Boulding


Celebration: servers and clergy process out at the end of the Forward in Faith commissioning service at St Alban's, Holborn, on Monday

Celebration: servers and clergy process out at the end of the Forward in Faith commissioning service at St Alban's, Holborn, on Monday

IT IS a paradox that Forward in Faith is perceived as "a pressure group with a negative and backward-looking agenda", despite its being "deeply committed to the widest, most inclusive vision of unity and catholicity", its chairman, the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, told a packed St Alban's, Holborn, in London, on Monday. The occasion was the commissioning of the organisation's new director, Dr Colin Podmore.

Dr Podmore is leading Forward in Faith, which describes itself as "an association of Catholics and Evangelicals . . . seeking to renew the Church in the historic faith", after nearly 25 years on the staff of Church House, Westminster. His work there - on ecumenical relations, liturgy, and finally as Clerk to the General Synod - was reflected in Monday's service, which was drawn from Common Worship, using its traditional-language options.

A number of his former colleagues were present, including senior staff of both Church House and the Anglican Communion Office, among a congregation that included many from outside the membership of Forward in Faith, and a handful of women priests. At the end of the service, Dr Podmore thanked those who were not in sympathy with the organisation for attending, and urged them to "continue the conversation".

But most of those at the solemn pontifical mass were supporters of the Anglo-Catholic network, including 12 bishops and more than 40 concelebrating priests. They joined in rousing hymns such as Charles Wesley's "O Thou who camest from above", Stuckey Coles's "We pray thee, heavenly Father", and, to finish Edward Plumptre's, "Thy hand, O God, has guided".

In his sermon, Bishop Baker also urged the congregation to "keep going joyfully, and to keep on in love", on what was a "rocky path".

"Let us never give anyone the excuse to suggest that we are simply another churchy pressure group. . . At every turn, we must abide in love." He acknowledged: "No doubt blame, like gifts, can be distributed across the whole Body [of the Church]."

In a note in the order of service, Dr Podmore also referred to the breadth of the Church of England, and how "our presence together speaks of our commitment to the 'mutual flourishing' of its diverse traditions". He particularly thanked members of Fidelium, "a growing network of young Anglo-Catholics, focused on evangelism", who acted as stewards at the service.


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