Conservatives take on their bishops in North and East

30 June 2017

PA

‘Deep-rooted relationships’: the Bishop of Stockport, the Rt Revd Libby Lane

‘Deep-rooted relationships’: the Bishop of Stockport, the Rt Revd Libby Lane

TENSIONS between bishops and con­servative Evangelicals have con­tinued to surface. In particular, two women bishops have faced chal­lenges to their authority.

Earlier this month, the Bishop of Newscastle, the Rt Revd Christine Hardman, wrote to clergy and lay chairs in the diocese to confirm that she had written to the Revd Jona­than Pryke, an Assistant Curate at Jesmond Parish Church in New­castle, who was consecrated a “bishop in the Church of God” by bishops from the Reformed Evan­gelical Anglican Church in South Africa on 2 May (News, 12 May).

She had told the cleric that, “while he remains a Clerk in Holy Orders in the Church of England, he has no authority to act as a bishop, whether within the diocese of New­castle or anywhere else. Having received legal advice, I have also issued him with a direction not to carry out ordinations or confir­ma­tions or to exercise any other epis­copal function and I have sought assurances from him that he will not do so.”

She expresses the hope that “even now he will be able to find ways to work together with his brothers and sisters in Christ within the Church of England to promote the gospel”.

In Stockport, Jon Cawsey, a minister at Em­­man­uel Community Church, Heat­on Moor, and Matt Thompson, a former minister at the church, have been accepted as church-planters by the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE). Emmanuel is not a sending Church, and Mr Thompson said this week that the plant was “a completely new initiative from the ground up”. 

An arti­cle on planting “Christ Church Stock­port”, published on the AMiE website, said that Mr Thompson would be meet­ing the Bishop of Stockport, the Rt Revd Libby Lane: “CCS likely holds to a different theological position to Libby, but the hope is that we might be united around the need for gos­pel energy to be poured into Stock­port. . .

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“Our prayer is that we wouldn’t be seen as a threat to ministry in Stockport but a partner in reaching the town with the saving gospel of Jesus.”

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the diocese of Chester said: “Stockport is a priority area for the diocese, and is one of the urban hubs identified in the diocesan strat­­egy for missional growth. . . There are significant plans to refurbish and redevelop key church buildings. There is also a commit­ment to con­­tinuing clergy presence and lay training for future ministry and mission.

“We have excellent, longstanding and deep-rooted relationships in the town and borough which has led to transformative relationships with the local authority, local politicians, statutory and voluntary bodies, and other churches and faith communities. The Church of England is an important part Stockport’s story. . .

“The diocese had no formal ap­­proach by AMiE before the web­site announcement of a speculative in­tention to church-plant. The decision appears to lie outside their own terms of reference, and takes little account of the work which the diocese is currently involved with.”

In a letter to the Church Times this week, six priests in the diocese of Chelmsford write in support of the vote of no-confidence in the leadership of their diocesan Bishop, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell (News, 23 June).

“Calls to our Bishops to main­­tain orthodoxy publicly have not been heard,” they write. Clergy had been provoked into “good and necessary protest”, and “a bishop who departs from the orthodox faith defined in scripture contradicts the very basis on which he is a bishop.”

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has written to all the Australian bishops to tell them that he will be participating in the con­secration of Canon Andy Lines as a “missionary bishop” in the UK on Friday (News, 16 June), adds Muriel Porter. The Bishop of Tas­mania, the Rt Revd Richard Condie, will also take part.

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