Comments: Jesmond's episcopal consecration: more links

From the REACH statement:

"The consecration by the REACH-SA bishops took place in response to a personal request from the Jesmond Parish Church leadership."

If this is true, I'm afraid that is an act of 'exodus' from the Church of England, and departure from its authority.

As such, the Jesmond Parish Church leadership has to understand that such an exodus includes an exodus from the Church of England's structures and properties, and it is inevitable that the Church of England must clarify this, because the churches of the Church of England, as a national Church, are a resource for all people including LGBT people, and all future generations of people.

If - as is posited for example in the 'Credible Bishops' document elsewhere - evangelical conservatives seek oversight from 'The Anglican Communion', instead of 'The Church of England', then they are effectively leaving the Church of England and its structures and properties.

They are of course fully entitled to follow their consciences and ally with the Church of Nigeria or anywhere else, but in England, the Church of England properties exist for the people of England, including LGBT people, now and in perpetuity (for all the future generations).

Exodus from the Church of England's authority = exodus from Church property. What they do after that is entirely their own affair, but they do need a reality check because exit means exit.

Meanwhile, I believe that the majority of evangelical church members in the Church of England do not want an exodus, but want a continuing Church of England where they continue to serve in the community alongside diverse fellow Christians, to meet the needs of local people who live alongside each parish church.

Most Church of England members do not want schism and exodus based on the dogma of a fringe minority.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 13 May 2017 at 1:58pm BST

All the main office bearers of the 'Anglican Church League' are male, as are 35 out of 37 vice-presidents.

So... yeah... very inclusive.

Or in this day and age, bizarre.

And that's before you even get to LGBT which to them is of course anathema.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 13 May 2017 at 2:22pm BST

Susannah, as I think most realise, a JPC Bishop isn't assuming he won't be disciplined for holding a license and acting thus. But JPC also know it will be very hard to have that happen if the CofE isn't to do the same with those holding licenses and being at odds with church canons re marriage.

Posted by crs at Saturday, 13 May 2017 at 2:54pm BST

Mark Thompson: "We must not copy the tactics of coercion used by others and insist on a uniformity of opinion."

Yet that is precisely what conservative evangelicals have been wanting - uniformity of opinion.

That principle has been pursued, not by liberal/progressives but by more conservative evangelicals:

The Anglican Covenant.

The Primate's Statement.

The marginalising of the Episcopal Church in the US.

That has all been a desire to impose a uniformity.

And when 'unity in diversity' has been proposed, it has been repudiated.

The intransigence (and the repeated threats to 'leave') - they have come from conservative evangelical sources that insist that their 'right' conscience should be imposed on everyone else's (divergent) consciences - with the threat of sanction and ostracism for those who dissent.

So it is a bit rich for Mark Thomson to paint conservative evangelicals as the ones being forced into a uniformity.

For bishops like Rod Thomas here in England, unity in diversity is unacceptable because on doctrinal issues like gay marriage, there can only be one way inside the Church... their way.

This bluff really needs to be called, and all the threats and 'blackmail' that have been voiced - by GAFCON, by some evangelical voices in England.

Personally, I suspect that most evangelical Anglicans in the Church of England want a place INSIDE the Church... want respect for their (diverse) views... but do NOT want to leave.

Jesmond (and here, Mark Thompson) is wanting the Anglican Communion to morph into a worldwide Church. It isn't. It is a loose collection of national churches who have shared an historic past and can seek fellowship into the future too. Our Archbishops are not leaders of a global Church. They are leaders of the English Church, and maybe now they are seeing what the Anglican Covenant entailed, in their own front yard. You can't placate a group that demands everyone else must believe their views, and threatens and blusters in the hope of their own vision of uniformity.

There has to be two-way respect for conscience, and that means diversity not uniformity, even if we share eternal unity in Jesus Christ.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 13 May 2017 at 2:57pm BST

crs wrote: "JPC also know it will be very hard to have that happen if the CofE isn't to do the same with those holding licenses and being at odds with church canons re marriage."

I'm sure JPC hope this, but that doesn't make it true.

Synod's refusal to "take note" suggests that the CofE has had enough of discrimination.

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 13 May 2017 at 3:47pm BST

Mark Thompson:

“...for decades the structures of the Church of England have proven resistant to reform in the light of the Scriptures. Unbelief and immorality are not challenged but excused and, more recently, embraced. When the faithful are attacked for seeking to live out the same quiet, biblical faith as the sovereign, they find little support from the hierarchy of the Church of England, and whatever support they do receive is heavily qualified. The leadership is powerless or unwilling to act. When the faithful have cried out for protection against the predatory liberalism within the Church of England, which masquerades as tolerance and sophisticated broad-mindedness, little or nothing is done. Quietly the stranglehold of unbelief on the structures of the Church of England gets tighter and tighter.”

Several passages from Richard Hofstadter’s famous essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics”, Harper’s Magazine Nov. 1964):

“The paranoid style is…an international phenomenon. Studying the millennial sects of Europe from the eleventh to the sixteenth century, Norman Cohn believed he found a persistent psychic complex that corresponds broadly with what I have been considering—a style made up of certain preoccupations and fantasies: “the megalomaniac view of oneself as the Elect, wholly good, abominably persecuted, yet assured of ultimate triumph; the attribution of gigantic and demonic powers to the adversary; the refusal to accept the ineluctable limitations and imperfections of human existence, such as transience, dissention, conflict, fallibility whether intellectual or moral; the obsession with inerrable prophecies . . . systematized misinterpretations, always gross and often grotesque.”"

“Perhaps the central situation conducive to the diffusion of the paranoid tendency is a confrontation of opposed interests which are (or are felt to be) totally irreconcilable, and thus by nature not susceptible to the normal political processes of bargain and compromise.”

“…one of the most valuable things about history is that it teaches us how things do not happen. It is precisely this kind of awareness that the paranoid fails to develop. He has a special resistance of his own, of course, to developing such awareness, but circumstances often deprive him of exposure to events that might enlighten him—and in any case he resists enlightenment.”

“We are all sufferers from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well.”

Posted by Froghole at Saturday, 13 May 2017 at 5:09pm BST

Very few of the thousand people attending Jesmond actually live in the parish. Some are not even confirmed members of the Anglican Communion and some do not even have their children baptized.

Posted by robert ian williams at Saturday, 13 May 2017 at 5:26pm BST

Isn't it a bit premature to compare Mr Pryke to Martin Luther?

Posted by Richard Ashby at Saturday, 13 May 2017 at 10:16pm BST

The Martin Luther bit is really important. This isn't a group saying 'return to our denominational purity' (such groups exist in every denomination from Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice to the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing)). It is an essentially Puritan group saying we need a new re-formation. See, for example, how far its own definition of faith in scripture (' their intended literal sense as the inspired and unerring Word of God, the sole sufficient and perspicuous rule of Christian faith and practice...') differs from even the XXXIX Articles ('Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation') or scripture itself ('All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness' and 'Paul’s letters contain some things that are hard to understand').

Posted by Peter Mullins at Sunday, 14 May 2017 at 8:30am BST

Perhaps pace Mark Thompson above ( quoted by froghole) this site should be renamed "Predatory Liberals"!

Posted by Perry Butler at Sunday, 14 May 2017 at 8:36am BST

Yeah, as a transgender female my predatory liberalism really stalks the street when I go out. No wonder I get shouted at, threatened, jostled. Sheesh! I am such a predator! I should be ashamed of myself.

And when a hospital chaplain who is kind and helpful to sick people gets fired, well why not? He's a predatory liberal, wanting to love his partner like that. Got to protect the patients, you know?

Froghole identifies the paranoia... the besieged stockade mentality... of the 'faithful remnant'... or is it a cultural cul-de-sac and an entrenched dogmatism... with the whole world orchestrating against them?

Or is it simply justice and the Christ who lived among the marginalised, who cries out 'Come unto me', along the fringes of the world?

I apologise if I am a predatory liberal. Though I'm a little surprised at the idea. I'm a champion of 'unity in diversity'. I want respect for divergent consciences. And I'm not trying to dominate anyone. Just trying to exist.

My life, my identity, my love... seems to be a predatory threat to Mark Thompson. It's my presence and existence in the Church that is unacceptable. It doesn't compute.

Maybe the 'Gay Conspiracy' is real after all? Maybe we will never be content until all heterosexual people are hounded from the Church? Or forced them to be gay? As a trans person, and a lesbian, I am not only vilified on the street. I am vilified in Mark Thompson's church. I am to blame.

I guess that makes me a 'predatory liberal'.

In a way, I think Jesus was a 'predatory liberal'. After all, how could he associate with foreigners and women? And those that society shunned? And yet he did. He was shameless. No wonder he was crucified. It was his own fault. He was a threat to the religious. His ideas provoked visceral feelings.

Conservative evangelicals probably do feel beleaguered (some of them). And so they entrench and dig in deeper.

Or else they are predominantly headed by men, and privileged, and safe on the street, and thank God that they are 'not like those people' who they condemn. The ones who are 'other' and 'sinful' and who provoke attacks on the street, and only have themselves to blame for existing.

Predators for wanting to live ordinary and decent lives, for wanting to love, for not fitting in with someone else's dogma and intransigence.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Sunday, 14 May 2017 at 10:46am BST

Re: Thompson . . . three things:

1. Thompson: "the same quiet, biblical faith as the sovereign"?

Really? Does Her Majesty have a view on same-sex marriage in the Church of England? Or on women's ordination? The Queen certainly seems to be appointing women as bishops.

2. More generally: Good catches by Froghole and Perry Butler. With them, I think we need to call out Thompson's use of language.

"Stranglehold of unbelief" is a murderous metaphor.

Similarly, the word "predatory," as applied to people, is usually used only in certain criminal contexts. Thompson's use of "predatory" to justify the JPC bishop may suggest a real source of the insecurity (or paranoia).

3. Then we have this: "There are even a few biblically faithful, godly, evangelistically-minded bishops in the Church of England. The picture is certainly not uniformly black."

That second sentence is also suggestive in a troubling way.

Am I the only one who thinks that the JPC ordination may have occurred because some people would have a problem being led by black (i.e., GAFCON African) bishops?

This is, after all, CESA we are talking about.

Posted by Jeremy at Sunday, 14 May 2017 at 1:00pm BST

Happy to be corrected but weren't there a lot of black clergy in CESA? Like the Reformed Episcopal Church in the USA as well.

Posted by crs at Sunday, 14 May 2017 at 2:11pm BST

What is "the Reformed Episcopal Church in the USA?" The AME churches? Which are predominantly black?

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 14 May 2017 at 9:36pm BST

REACH...has a revised prayer Book which has taken the word Catholic out of the creeds, any whiff of baptismal regeneration and you would choke if you read their revision of the prayer of humble access. The Church sanctions lay presidency.
They spent a hundred years fighting the CPSA in the courts ..sound familiar?

Posted by robert ian williams at Sunday, 14 May 2017 at 9:55pm BST

"weren't there a lot of black clergy in CESA?"


"Retief and CESA were small in number but showed considerable growth as conservative whites left the Anglican Church and flocked to them when the Anglican hierarchy publicly joined the struggle against apartheid. They became an ideological haven for whites trying to escape or resist the processes of change."

From Terence O. Ranger, ed., Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in Africa, at p. 219 (Oxford UP)

Posted by Jeremy at Monday, 15 May 2017 at 3:20am BST

Cynthia, As I get older I am surprised what basic church history people don't know.

The Reformed Episcopal Church emerged from the debate over tractarianism -- hence the comparison with the situation in South Africa.

One of its hallmarks was evangelisation and in that spirit it was concerned to have ordained african-american clergy. PECUSA did not permit this at the time.

The majority of congregations were in SC and LA and were predominantly african-american. Their main seminary, Cummins, is in SC. Their BCP is essentially the 1928.

Another way to put it is that they were like most american episcopalians until the oxford movement and modernity altered the landscape. If alive, George Washington and all the episcopal bishops of the 18th century would recognise the REC but not the TEC of today.

For many of course that is a good thing!

Posted by crs at Monday, 15 May 2017 at 6:55am BST

Harry Farley's report of the talk at the Jesmond Conference beggars belief. If these people really think that Abps Welby and Sentamu are heretics because they are not homophobic enough, then they are so far beyond the reach of reason as to make one despair of any hope of an accommodation with them. All the evidence suggests that both Abps are personally deeply opposed to any change in their church's attitude to same-sex relationships, but have reluctantly had to display a slightly less hard-line attitude because of pressure from the wider church.

What has happened here is, as Philip Jones and others have pointed out, so far out of order in every possible way that it cannot possibly be tolerated in the interests of 'muddling along together', and requires urgent action. Mr Pryke is certainly not a bishop in the CofE, and he must not be allowed to masquerade as one, or to ply his trade in any of its buildings. Furthermore, such has been his monstrous hubris in agreeing to go along with this charade, that he should already have been deprived of his licence. Why the delay?

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Monday, 15 May 2017 at 10:52am BST

The Reformed Episcopal Church is a denomination that split from the Episcopal Church in the 1870s because of two major disputes. First, the REC founders disagreed with the drift in the Episcopal Church toward more catholic practices and insistence on catholic theological views in the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the church. Second, the REC founders wanted to engage more effectively in mission with evangelicals in other Protestant denominations. The refusal to accommodate this second view is regretted by some leaders of The Episcopal Church today. These days, the REC is part of the ACNA.

The REC had early success among African-Americans in South Carolina. Myra Thompson, one of the victims of the shootings at Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, was the wife of the vicar of an REC (ACNA) church in Charleston.

Posted by Caelius Spinator at Monday, 15 May 2017 at 11:26am BST

While Caelius Spinator has given a generally good thumbnail of the origins of the REC, the Evangelicals of that era were challenging more than “the drift in the Episcopal Church toward more catholic practices” in ceremony and doctrine. They were challenging the historical ethos of Anglicanism as such. British historian Nigel Yates has pointed out that the complaints of these Evangelicals “were on weak ground. Many of the principles that they wished to defend had been rejected by the leadership of the Church of England in the early seventeenth century.” (See: Nigel Yates, “Chapter 9. Walsingham and Interwar Anglo-Catholicism” in Dominic Janes, Gary Fredric Waller, (Editors) “ Walshingham in Literature and Culture from the Middle Ages to Modernity”. Ashgate Publishing Limited (Farnham, Surrey, 2010) page 134.

To understand Yates’ point more clearly take, for example, Franklin Rising book, “Are There Romanizing Germs in the Prayer Book?” published in New York in 1868. The work starkly demonstrates just how estranged from their own Church’s traditions many Episcopalian Evangelicals had become by the mid-nineteenth century.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Posted by Kurt Hill at Monday, 15 May 2017 at 7:27pm BST

I appreciated Andrew Goddard's recognition of the consecrations that led to AMiA in 2000 (in which, in addition to the Primates of Southeast Asia and Rwanda, two retired bishops of the Episcopal Church participated - which still didn't lead to acceptance by the Episcopal Church). I would, though, go back further. In the early 1980's, after acceptance of ordination of women as priests (1976) and revision of the American Book of Common Prayer, a number of small and relatively isolated groups formed, including the first group to call itself the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA, but not related to the current ACNA). Each had a bishop, and some effort had been made for said bishop to receive orders in historic succession (including some in the episcopi vagante traditions). Within a decade, they realized the problem of having only one bishop for each denomination: the desire to continue ancient tradition and have three present. Negotiations began, and agreements were reached, at least sufficient to provide new bishops. Interestingly, rarely, and then only at great length, were those agreements sufficient to join two smaller bodies into one larger body (although with time that also came to many).

I think this sounds more like that scattered start, as much as the beginnings of AMiA. As England is so much smaller geographically, such small bodies may be less able to fly under the radar. Then, too, there were not bishops of the Anglican Communion interested in offering institutional ties. It will indeed be interesting to see how this works out (which I use advisedly: I don't think anything will be "resolved" so much as "adapted").

Posted by Marshall Scott at Monday, 15 May 2017 at 8:00pm BST

Cynthia, the AME churches (African Methodist Episcopal) are Methodists rather than Anglicans. Wikipedia has an informative page:

Posted by Mary Clara at Tuesday, 16 May 2017 at 2:55am BST

"Many of the principles that they wished to defend had been rejected by the leadership of the Church of England in the early seventeenth century" (quoted by Kurt Hill in relation to CESA) is close to what I was thinking about the Jesmond group ("an essentially Puritan group"). There is, and will always be, genuine tension, discussion, disagreement, impaired Communion and division within any denomination exploring its foundation principles in relation to new situations and insights ("Thinking Anglicans" is predicated on this!). But the Jesmond development shouldn't be confused with this process - and what it teaches about scripture and proposes about what the Church of England should have been and should become seems to show this.

Posted by Peter Mullins at Tuesday, 16 May 2017 at 5:24am BST

Thanks Mary, I do know what the AME churches are. I'd never heard of the Reformed church and wondered if they were the same, which I now know that they aren't.

Even having taken EFM (Education for Ministry), we never covered the Reformed Episcopal Church. We did cover AME and Absalom Jones.

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 16 May 2017 at 9:41pm BST
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