NINE men were ordained this week as the first deacons and priests of the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), the breakaway conservative Evangelical movement that seeks to plant Anglican churches in England but outside the Church of England.
The nine were ordained by the Rt Revd Andy Lines — who was consecrated missionary bishop earlier this year by the GAFCON-aligned Anglican Church in North America (News, 7 July) — on Thursday, at a service in a Baptist church in east London.
Until now, every clergyman associated with the AMiE has come from the C of E, or been ordained by Anglican bishops overseas. Bishop Lines, who is mission director of Crosslinks, a mission agency, had permission to officiate in the diocese of Southwark until he allowed it to lapse in June.
The nine men — eight have been ordained deacon, and one as priest — are the first not to have been trained by the C of E. All work in AMiE churches.
The newly ordained priest was the Revd Peter Jackson, a pastor at Christ Church, in Walkley, an AMiE church plant in north-west Sheffield.
Those ordained deacon were Kenny Larsen, the associate pastor in Walkley; Jon Cawsey and Matthew Thompson, who together lead Christ Church, Stockport; Alistair Harper, from Grace Church, Bude; Christopher Houghton, from Christ Church Central, in Sheffield; Martin Soole and Christopher Young, who are senior minister and student worker respectively at Trinity Church, Lancaster; and Robert Tearle, assistant minister at Trinity Church, Scarborough.
The AMiE said that it expected to priest the eight deacons in a year’s time. Many of the nine have studied, or are currently studying, theology at non-Anglican colleges such as Union School of Theology, in South Wales, as well as Oak Hill College.
The first AMiE church, Trinity Church, Scarborough, was planted last year by the Revd Lee McMunn, who was previously Assistant Curate of St John’s, Newland, in Hull. At the time, the AMiE announced that it planned to plant 25 new churches by 2025, and ten times than number by 2050 (News, 30 September 2016).
This week, Mr McMunn, who is also the mission director for AMiE, said that, while many “faithful Anglicans” remained within the C of E, others were finding their route to ordination “blocked by liberal clergy who do not believe orthodox Anglican teachings”.
STEPHEN CRAVEN/GEOGRAPH/COMMONSVenue: East London Tabernacle church
One of the men — only men are eligible to be ordained by the “complementarian” AMiE — who were ordained was not recommended for ordination by his diocese because of his conviction that other C of E clergy who did not preach Christ as the only route to salvation were false teachers, Mr McMunn said at a press conference on Wednesday.
But he and Bishop Lines both emphasised that they did not want to confront the C of E. “This is not a threat to people in the structures. This is to cater for those who are already outside,” Bishop Lines said. He has given assurances to the Archbishop of Canterbury that he will not minister to those within the C of E. There were plenty of “orthodox Anglicans” who were content to stay in the C of E, he said, and he had no desire to draw them away into another organisation.
“We are keen to be seen not to be hiding: sensitive, but not secret.” The ordination service was to be open to the public and streamed live on the internet.
The nine due to be ordained had gone through a “process of rigorous discernment and training”, a statement from the AMiE said. “Some will serve in existing AMiE congregations, while others will lead teams engaged in planting new churches.”
One of the new deacons, Mr Larsen, said: “There is a real element of the connectedness [that ordination] brings with the wider Anglican Communion. I’m hoping that will be stronger for us reaching out.”
Mr McMunn said on Wednesday that the ordination service would “put credibility on our map. . . People will see that we are actually serious about Anglican ordination, and doing it with an English bishop. This may be the first, but it will not be the last. It will encourage more people to come and talk with us, and things will grow.”
There are currently ten AMiE churches in England. The group will not be drawn on membership figures; but its website says that a “significant number” of C of E congregations also support their enterprise and are informally under the oversight of Bishop Lines.
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