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Beware C of E free-for-all, new Gafcon bishop to Europe Andy Lines warns

07 July 2017


New ACNA bishop: the Rt Revd Andy Lines, in Chicago

New ACNA bishop: the Rt Revd Andy Lines, in Chicago

THE Rt Revd Andy Lines, con­secrated “Missionary Bishop for Europe” within the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), has warned against a “free-for-all” in the Church of England.

Speaking on Wednesday, Bishop Lines, formerly an honorary canon with permission to officiate in the Church of England, said that he ex­­pected a “small number” of churches in England to seek his oversight. He rejected the Archbishop of Canter­bury’s description of his move as a “cross-border interven­tion”.

The consecration took place last Friday on the campus of Wheaton College, near Chicago, which was hosting a conference, “Mission on Our Doorstep”, attended by more than 1400 Anglican leaders, a GAFCON press release said. Among those from outside the United States were 11 Primates, three archbishops, and 13 bishops.

The president of the standing committee of the ACNA Diocese of the South, the Very Revd Don Hutchens, confirmed that Canon Lines had been received into the diocese on 5 June. The secretary of the College of Bishops of ACNA, the Rt Revd Steve Wood, then certified that, on 26 June, the college had elected Canon Lines to be “Bishop for Special Mission”. The appointment was announced by GAFCON last month in Scotland (News, 16 June), after the vote by the Scottish Episcopal Church to per­­mit same-sex marriage in church.

During the service, Bishop Lines, who was ordained in the Anglican province of the Southern Cone in 1997, made the ACNA “oath of conformity”. He swore to “pay true and canonical obedience in all things lawful and honest to the Archbishop of this church and to his successors”. In a film on the ACNA website, he said that his remit included looking after churches “in Scotland, England, and the rest of Europe”.

On Wednesday, he said that he was “definitely working outside the structures of the C of E”, but hoped to retain “close links” with those in the C of E who shared his theo­logical convictions. For those who were unable to affirm GAFCON’s Jerusalem Declaration, however, there were “questions as to whether we are in fellowship together”.

He will continue as CEO of the international mission society Cross­links, and believes that his new position is contiguous with it. Since 2003, Crosslinks had engaged with churches who felt that there was no provision for them in the C of E, he said. This was a “provisional solution in times of turbulence”.ANGLICAN CHURCH IN NORTH AMERICAHands-on: Archbishop Foley Beach and bishops affirm the Rt Revd Andy Lines as the GAFCON missionary bishop to Europe at the consecration in Chicago in July

Some, he said, were discussing the possibility of Bishops’ Missions Orders, particularly through the Bishop of Maidstone, the Rt Revd Rod Thomas. Some had “lost pa­­tience” and become Free Churches. Others — about ten — had re­­mained under the Crosslinks um­­brella, a handful of whom had signed up as members of the Angli­can Mission in England (AMiE), which Bishop Lines chairs.

It was “difficult to predict” how many of these would seek to benefit from his episcopal ministry, he said. One church had just joined AMiE on learning of his consecration. “But it is a small number, and the majority of the people with whom we share common convictions are within the Church of England.”

There was a “huge need” for the gospel in Europe, he said; but he was conscious of the complexities of “multiple jurisdictions” that he might work within.

He will continue to receive a sal­­ary and accommodation tied to his Crosslinks post and has already received “very generous donations” from individuals and churches, in addition to a collection at the con­secration. “I don’t think we in England should be expecting the continued significant investment from America,” he said. “It would not perhaps be healthy.”

His permission to officiate in the diocese of Southwark is up for re­­newal, and he has written to the Bishop, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, promising not to seek to minister within the Church of Eng­land without permission, but hop­ing to be able to continue to do so, al­­though not in an episcopal cap­acity.

Bishop Lines said that he was supportive of the Rt Revd Jonathan Pryke, consecrated a “bishop in the Church of God” by the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa (formerly CESA) in May (News, 12 May). Bishop Pryke’s consecration was “a classic case of what happens in a Church where there is a failure to provide gospel leadership”, Bishop Lines said. “Therefore, you would expect local initiatives like his to be taken. So I support him. I believe he is a godly man.”

There was a differ­ence between them, he said, in that Bishop Pryke was “very clear that he is a member of C of E structures, and will seek to serve within that”.

After the announcement of Bishop Lines’s preferment, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke against “cross-border interventions and ordinations”. Canon Lines argued that ACNA was not a member of the Anglican Communion “and there­fore it cannot by definition be crossing borders. . . Bishops have always sought to meet needs where other bishops have been heterodox, and that overrides our structures: the gospel need.”

It was the Scottish Episcopal Church that had broken com­mu­nion, he argued. While he did not foresee a change in doctrine in the C of E soon, he was con­cerned about changes in practice: “What is being allowed is kind of a free-for-all.”

A message from two C of E bishops — the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Julian Henderson, and the Suffragan Bishop of Birkenhead, the Rt Revd Keith Sinclair — was read aloud at the consecration: “We pray for you today, especially for Canon Andy Lines, consecrated as a Bishop in the Church of God. It has been good to meet and pray with Andy over recent years and to know his heart for the gospel and the wit­ness of the Church. Please pray for us in the Church of England for faith­fulness and fruitfulness in these days.”

Among dignitaries at the con­secra­tion were the Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Revd Glenn Davies, and the Bishop of Tasmania, Dr Richard Condie. They argued that their attendance was an act of “solidarity”, but the Australian Prim­­ate, Dr Philip Freier, said that he had “deep concerns” about their participation.

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