A NEW organisation representing Anglicans in Wales “united in their common commitment to upholding orthodox faith and practice” is necessary because the Church in Wales has embraced “a thoroughly this-worldly message”, the Archdeacon of Cardigan, the Ven. Dr William Strange, has said.
The organisation Anglican Essentials Wales (AEW) will hold its first conference — “Missional Anglicanism: Proclaiming Jesus in a post-Christian Wales” — in Cardiff, in March.
Last week, Dr Strange, who chairs its steering group, said that it had about 300 members. Both Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics are involved.
“The Church in Wales, though now concerned about evangelism, seems in its official pronouncements to have embraced a thoroughly this-worldly message: focusing on social issues rather than a call to repentance, personal faith in Christ, and holiness of life,” he said. “AEW wants to ensure that the life-changing gospel of Christ is at the heart of our Church’s life.”
While the organisation included both those against and in favour of the ordination of women, it had concerns about provision for those with theological objections.
“When women’s ordination was accepted by our Governing Body, and again when women’s consecration to the episcopate was voted through by GB, undertakings were given for those who could not in conscience accept these measures. Less substantial than in England, but even these provisions are now under threat.”
Another issue was a policy opening up communion to all baptised people in the Church of England, from infancy (News, 23 September 2016). Those supporting AEW were “concerned both about the process by which this policy was brought into being — by episcopal fiat — and its potential to separate eucharistic participation from personal faith”.
All six of the Church’s diocesan bishops were in favour of changing pastoral practice on same-sex relationships, he noted, “and perhaps even our doctrine on these matters. Without a voice at that level of our Province’s deliberations, orthodox Anglicans in Wales have to become more organised and vocal.”
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Church in Wales said that it was “committed to proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God, and this includes both a call to personal faith and commitment, and bearing witness to God’s call to justice and peace in society.
“All major policy decisions are, and have been, taken either by its Governing Body, which is made up of elected representatives from across the Province, or in consultation with it. This is a fair and democratic process, representative of the whole church, and we believe it is the best place for people to express their views and seek to bring in change.
“We do not recognise the criticism expressed by Anglican Essentials Wales as a fair description of our common life.”
The website of AEW states that it has adopted the Jerusalem Declaration produced by GAFCON with the exception of one clause, which states: “We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.”