Church Society - Safeguarding the CofE's Evangelical Identity
Sept. 21, 2012
There are times when all of us look in the mirror in the morning and ask questions like: "Who am I?" and "What do I want to be?"
2012 has, so far, been such a year of soul searching for the Church of England. Some of these will be obvious to the average follower of the news. The long running saga of women bishops came to an impasse this summer, with a possible breakthrough only achieved in the last weeks. Rowan Williams' announcement that he will soon step down brought on the necessary discussion of his replacement: which is effectively a decision about the public face of our national church for the next decade.
Yet there have also been some less newsworthy, but equally important, factors shaping the future of the church this year, such as the Sheffield Report which aimed to centralise theological training and hence profoundly influence the future generation of Anglican leaders.
Like other groups and fellowships which have a vested interest in the Church of England and deeply care about her future, Church Society has not been passively waiting to see what the outcome of this soul searching will be. Instead, we've been actively working to influence the church's development in line with her core values: the ultimate authority of the Bible, and the Protestant faith it clearly reveals as summarised by the Articles and formularies.
This month, the Society's council will be writing to the House of Bishops expressing our guarded support for the suggested rewording of clause 5(1)c. We shall express that while finding a form of words we can agree on is important, ultimately our primary concern is protecting the place of biblical ministry consistent with 2,000 years of Christian tradition.
Furthermore, the council will also be writing to Lord Luce, as many other organisations are surely doing, outlining the qualities Church Society considers important for the new archbishop: a man who both meets the qualifications set out in Titus 1 and has considerable experience of local parish ministry.
Finally, members of the council have been in dialogue behind the scenes trying to protect and safeguard the rights of colleges like Wycliffe, Ridley and Oak Hill to determine for themselves the content of their ministerial training in line with their evangelical convictions and subscription to the Anglican formularies.
Church Society, both through the patronage work of the Trust and in other ways, is active in the work of promoting and safeguarding evangelical ministry within the Church of England, not just on the issues that get the headlines, but on all the issues that matter to the church's identity and future.