Chris Sugden introduces the Be Faithful rally this coming July and gives a summary of how and why it came to be planned
Be Faithful! - Confessing Anglicans in Global and Local Mission will be held on 6 July 2009 at Westminster Central Hall from 10.30am to 5.30pm.
The aim is to encourage and envision Anglicans who are committed to the orthodox teachings of the Anglican Church and who are passionate about global and local mission.
Out of Gafcon
The event follows on from the GAFCON Jerusalem 2008 gathering, which issued the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration as an affirmation of historic orthodox Anglicanism and announced the formation of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.
Historic Anglicanism has been under pressure from a different Gospel being promoted by The Episcopal Church in the United States, the Anglican Church of Canada, and their well-placed allies. The toothpaste came out of the tube with the consecration of Gene Robinson, and the Instruments of Communion seemed powerless to put it back.
Jerusalem 2008 showed that far from being marginal, Gospel, Bible-based and historically orthodox Anglicanism is alive and well throughout the Communion, and mainstream with 40 million Anglicans (out of 55 million) committed to it.
The power of the historic faith
It is located in churches who are committed to addressing issues in society such as poverty, HIV/AIDS and aggressive secularism, by engaging with these expressions of human fallenness through living out and sharing the Gospel of the crucified and risen
The commitment of these churches to the transformation of people and society leads them to draw on historic Anglicanism and recover the power of the historic orthodox faith. They are growing not because they are fleeing from society but because they are engaging with society without compromising the Gospel. Faithfulness produces fruitfulness.
Be Faithful! will capture the energy, spirit and direction of Jerusalem 2008 and cascade it through the churches in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Jerusalem 2008 saw Anglicans from the evangelical, Anglo-Catholic and charismatic traditions united together in common purpose based on the biblical Gospel.
The Revd Paul Perkin, vicar of St Mark's, Battersea Rise, London, and chairman of the Be Faithful! planning team, is himself a member of the leadership of Reform and New Wine, representing both conservative evangelical and charismatic traditions. The Revd Francis Gardom of Cost of Conscience and Canon Beau Brandie of Forward in Faith are on the steering group.
Paul Perkin has said, 'This is not schismatic. The purpose is unity and mission. The focus of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans is of unity, solidarity and support of the majority of the Anglican Communion.'
What is the fellowship?
'The fellowship is a spiritual fellowship issuing from a concern for truth and unity. It is a renewal of our confessing Anglican roots and convictions, and will be forward-looking in Gospel mission locally, and in solidarity globally with Anglicans throughout the world, especially those suffering through poverty or discrimination.
Speakers at the 6 July gathering, where around 2,300 bishops, clergy and laity are expected, will include Bishops Keith Ackerman (President of Forward in Faith North America), Wallace Benn (Bishop of Lewes), John Broadhurst (Chairman of Forward in Faith UK), Michael Nazir-Ali; Canon Dr Vinay Samuel (India), Dr Chik Kaw Tan and Archbishop Peter Jensen (secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans <www.fca.net>).
Morning speakers will outline both the doctrinal basis of authentically Anglican churches and the global nature of confessional Anglicanism. Be Faithful! will demonstrate public support for the Anglican Church in North America.
And other gatherings
The conference will also focus on mission faithful to the biblical Gospel in a society being targeted by aggressive secularism. The afternoon will spell out the kind of ministries that Confessing Anglicans as a movement will promote and stand behind.
We will highlight areas of mission and growth in the UK which require godly oversight and encouragement. We will feature examples of church planting, training of men and women for ministry, godly and proper use of resources for ministry, evangelism, and godly biblical oversight.
The speakers, and others yet to be announced, will also lead gatherings in churches in the Greater London area on Sunday 5 July. Churches so far involved are St Marks Battersea Rise, All Saints Woodford Wells, Essex, St Stephens Lewisham, St Nicholas Sevenoaks and Christ Church Virginia Water, Surrey.
The following regional meetings will also be held:
May St Bartholomew's, Bath
15 May Christ Church, Virginia Water
18 May Holy Trinity, Platt, Manchester
19 May St Andrew's, Newcastle-under-Lyme
20 May Christ Church, Fulwood, Sheffield
These will be addressed by Bishop Wallace Benn, apart from the meeting in Bath (Canon Chris Sugden) and will include the 'Highlights' video of the Jerusalem Conference. They will give opportunities to address questions arising from the Jerusalem Declaration and develop regional initiatives.
The virus of secularization
The current public crisis in the Anglican Church has been precipitated by facts on the ground contrary to both the
teaching and the decisions of the Anglican Communion. The crisis is evidence of the struggle with the aggressive forces of secularization in society which have found an echo in the church and its leadership.
Those promoting this secularization process in the church are not shy of public statements and positions. Vinay Samuel, one of the speakers on 6 July, identifies that this strategy of those promoting abortion and gay marriage is to move as far to the extreme as possible, in order to draw the centre/middle ground nearer to a toleration or acceptance of their position (while not endorsing it). Their aim is to make those who take traditional orthodox positions look extreme, fanatical and out of touch.
Even so, some like the Bishop of Chester have had the courage to say publicly that the fact that 'a promoter of abortion on demand, who describes abortionists as engaged in 'holy work, might be given such a senior position (as Dean of a Divinity School) must call in question any possibility of normal relations with the province concerned. If any right-thinking Christian has doubted the potential need for a new province in North America, they should ponder your astonishing report.'
In response orthodox Anglicans need to establish a rallying centre around which to gather and grow. The Jerusalem Statement and Declaration provides the framework and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans provides the partnership for those rallying around the Declaration.
Stand with the orthodox
Those who affirm the teaching of the Bible and the Church always and everywhere must make their presence known publicly. Be Faithful! is to demonstrate that a significant body across the Church of England identifies with orthodox Anglicanism according to Canon A5 - as represented by the Jerusalem Declaration.
They do not claim to be the only ones who are orthodox. But too many say, 'Of course I agree with you, but I could never say so publicly' Many also express dismay at the actions of The Episcopal Church but have never done anything to encourage or support the costly stances of those who have resisted their policies in the United States.
Attendance is important to demonstrate personal identification and solidarity with orthodox Anglicans worldwide, for mission and against corrosive liberalism.
For further details of the national or regional gatherings please email <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Register online for 6 July at <www. anglican-mainstream.net> or write to Anglican Mainstream 21 High Street, Eynsham, OX29 4HE with a cheque payable to Anglican Mainstream for £15 a head.
'I learnt about business by running a tea-stall in the bush.' I met Eunice in April at the close of a woman's meeting in an Episcopal church in Juba, Southern Sudan. Most of her fellowship group, she told me, were war widows. Their church had until recently been a cinema, and had been given to them by a businessman. It holds 1,500 people but has Sunday congregations of 2,000 plus.
She took my colleague Revd David Holloway and me, who were visiting for Anglican International Development, to see her hotel on the banks of the Nile. Like many other hotels, it was composed of tents in serried ranks, an outdoor bar and television area, a tented restaurant (serving mango juice from mangoes from the trees above our heads) and an internet cafe.
Such hotels cater for the many hundreds who visit Juba on various work projects in a town that has grown from 100,000 to one million in two years. Eunice had used her business skills, learnt in the bush during the civil war, to establish the hotel and give employment to many returning refugees and others. She wants to set up similar businesses to help members of her women's fellowship.
Anglican International Development is a ministry of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans UK and Ireland, and has been commissioned to partner with the Episcopal Church of Sudan in assisting them to build a strong base as a church as the country faces an uncertain future. For further details, see <www.interanglicanaid.org>.
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