UPDATE FIF OCTOBER 1997
News from the Forward in Faith Regions
THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
Warmest thanks to all who helped to make the 1997 National Assembly the best yet! At the risk of leaving someone out, particular thanks are due to Bishop Edwin Barnes for his sermon, to Prebendary John Pearce for his Devotional Address, to Fr Beau Brandie and his team of stewards, to Geoffrey Wright and all the servers, to John Ridgeway-Wood for the music, to the catering staff and to those who ran the reception desk and, last but by no means least, to all the delegates, without whose presence the entire exercise would have been less than useful!
The National Assembly Eucharist in Christ the King, Gordon Square saw the Commissioning as Regional Dean for Northern Yorkshire of Fr Graham Sanders. Fr Sanders succeeds Fr David Hopkinson, who has had, with regret, to resign on account of ill-health. We thank Fr Hopkinson for all that he did for Forward in Faith in the region during his term of office and wish him a speedy return to good health and we assure Fr Sanders of our prayers as he takes up the mantle. Fr Sanders can be contacted at 4 Marlborough Road, Shipley, West Yorkshire BD18 3NX (Tel: 01274 587896).
At its September meeting, the Council also decided that a change to the make-up of two of the regions was necessary, in order better to reflect the division of dioceses between the Provincial Episcopal Visitors; henceforth, the diocese of Southwell will be attached to Sheffield and Wakefield, rather than to Derby, Leicester and Lincoln. And the Council is very pleased to announce that the Regional Dean for Sheffield, Southwell and Wakefield will be Fr Marcus Wakely, Vicar of S.Matthew, Carver Street, in the city of Sheffield. Fr Wakely will be commissioned at a Regional Eucharistic Festival on a date to be announced, probably early next year, but in the meantime can be contacted at 29 Winchester Road, Sheffield S10 4EE (Tel: 0114 230 5641). Fr Trevor Walker remains Dean for the Trent region, although some thought will now need to be given both to a name for the newly constituted region comprising Sheffield, Southwell and Wakefield, and to the question of whether the Trent region should be re-named.
Congratulations to Fr Martyn Neale, Sub Dean of the London Region, on his appointment at Vicar of Holy Trinity, Hawley - a Forward in Faith parish in the diocese of Guildford. He is to be succeeded as Sub Dean for London by Fr Andrew Stevens, Vicar of S.Nicholas, Plumstead, whose commissioning will take place at the London Regional Festival to be held at Christ the King on Saturday, 22nd November. Fr Stevens can be contacted at S.Nicholas’ Vicarage, 64 Purrett Road, Plumstead, London SE18 1JP (Tel: 0181 854 0461).
A delegate to the Assembly went home without his or her raincoat! If you’re missing a blue/grey raincoat and can telephone the Director and answer a simple question, he’ll be glad to return it to you!
FOUR-WARD IN FAITH
Delegates were much diverted at the Assembly by the presence throughout, complete with tape recorders and the like, of two staff from the BBC Radio 4 programme File on Four. Sadly, the programme which they were preparing will have been broadcast by the time this edition of New Directions appears, but rumour has it that it will be repeated on Sunday, 12th October. Check your listings and tune in!
THE GRAND LONDON DRAW
Towards the end of the Assembly, Forward in Faith London drew the winning tickets in their nationwide Draw. The 12 prizes went to: Cristine Wingrove, London N9; Sue Miell, Ilford; D Walton, Matlock; S Cole, Tamworth; Mr Pocklington, Haywards Heath; Arthur West, Swanley; Joyce Hill, London; G Adams, Derby; Fr Jamieson-Harvey, Cross Heath; Fr Hooton, Nuneaton; R Howard, Plymouth; and lastly - with no name - ticket number 12875. In order to claim your prize, please telephone Fr Malcolm Gray on 0181 360 2947.
RESOLUTIONS PASSED BY THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
97/01 Various minor amendments to the Forward in Faith Constitution Proposed by the Council of Forward in Faith
97/02 This Assembly, noting the ambiguous teaching on sex and sexuality currently being taught by some sections of the Church of England and other parts of the Anglican Communion, affirms and accepts as a reflection of its own beliefs the Statement of Human Sexuality produced by the 2nd Anglican Encounter in the South in February 1997. Proposed by the Reverend Tim Handley Seconded by the Reverend Graham Collingwood 97/03 This Assembly re-iterates its commitment to priestly formation and lay education. It encourages the Council of Forward in Faith to continue to take visionary, Christ-centred steps, which will lead to the renewal of the Church. It asks the Council of Forward in Faith to: 1)set up a residential study centre, which will: a) train ordinands and clergy in the areas of biblical studies, doctrine and patristics, and sacramental theology; b) provide appropriate courses for lay people, including Licensed Readers, Youth Workers and Sunday School Teachers; 2)consider how such a centre might be funded and sustained; 3)appoint a Director of Education to oversee the project. Proposed by the Reverend Simon Ellis Seconded by the Reverend Timothy Handley
97/04 This Assembly rejoices at the continuing provision for ordinands of our integrity at S.Stephen’s House, Oxford, and the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield and asks the Council to ensure that provision for ordinands of our integrity is also made on non-residential and part-time theological courses. Proposed by the Leicester Area Assembly
97/05 This Assembly welcomes the fact that priests of our integrity are not always discriminated against in appointments to senior posts; but wishes to express concern about apparent discrimination in appointments at incumbent level and a failure to consider priests of our integrity for parishes which have not passed Resolutions A and B. We ask Council to protest against this wasteful discrimination which is contrary to the spirit of Bonds of Peace. Proposed by the Leicester Area Assembly
97/06 This Assembly requests the Education Sub-Committee of the Forward in Faith Council to look into the character of School Assemblies and report back to the National Assembly in one year’s time. Proposed by the Norwich Area Assembly As amended by Mr Dane Batley-Gladden
97/07 This Assembly thanks all those who were involved in the recent York Conference for clergy, and in particular Fr David Ousley, Dr Peter Toon and Fr Jeremy Sheehy, the three speakers, and Fr Kevin Smith, the Chaplain to the Conference and encourages all clerical members of Forward in Faith to support the second and third Conferences in this series by their attendance. Proposed by the Reverend Ian Brooks
Seconded by the Reverend Ronald Crane
97/08 This Assembly unreservedly welcomes the recently published Open Letter from the Episcopal Synod of America to all faithful people in the Anglican Tradition and pledges itself to do all in its power to assist the Episcopal Synod of America in the attainment of the aspirations contained therein. The Assembly asks the Council of Forward in Faith to communicate on its behalf with the President, the Synodical Council and the Executive Director of the Episcopal Synod of America, in order to assure them of the support of Forward in Faith in all their endeavours, and in order to invite them to specify such practical steps as might from time to time be taken by Forward in Faith in order to articulate that support. Proposed by the Reverend Prebendary Sam Philpott
Seconded by the Reverend Ronald Crane
97/09 This Assembly believes that Bonds of Peace as a working document has failed in practical terms and therefore asks the Council of Forward in Faith to work towards the establishment by the end of this millennium of alternative ecclesial structures as mentioned in resolution 96/10 and agreed by the 1996 Assembly. Proposed by the Lincoln Area Assembly As amended by the Reverend Dr Roger Beckwith
97/10 This Assembly congratulates the Province of England and Scotland of the Society of the Holy Cross (SSC) on its inauguration and renewal. It affirms the work of SSC in strengthening and consolidating the spiritual life of priests according to Catholic belief and practice. Proposed by the Reverend Trevor Jones SSC Seconded by Mrs Anne Gray
97/11 This Assembly supports the members of the Norwegian Free Synod in their search for relationships with the National Catholic Church of America and expresses the hope that this will not lead to a fracturing of our eucharistic fellowship with them. Proposed by the Council of Forward in Faith on behalf of the International Synod
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 1997
A Statement by the Management Executive
THE DECISION by the Forward in Faith National Assembly to pass what will no doubt become known as the Kuala Lumpur Resolution (97/02) has already provoked various extremes of reaction both from delegates to the Assembly and from members and supporters of Forward in Faith. It is necessary, therefore, to place on record precisely both what its passing means or implies and what it does not mean or imply.
And first and foremost, what it does not mean or imply is any change whatsoever in the agreed policy of Forward in Faith. The policy of Forward in Faith on sexual morality, as indeed on all matters moral, was agreed in 1995 with the passing of Resolution 95/07:
"This Assembly asserts its acceptance of traditional and Biblical morality, which is applicable to all Christians, clerical and lay. This Assembly has no desire to castigate any individual whose life falls short of these standards, but will steadfastly resist any attempt to amend the Biblical basis of Christian teaching. This Assembly further asserts that pastoral and individual sensitivity should not be confused with laxity, nor used to confuse the Faithful or to erode the Christian Ethic"
There is nothing in the Kuala Lumpur Statement - despite its perhaps poor drafting - that is incompatible with Resolution 95/07. Indeed, it is a tribute to the Council of Forward in Faith that it managed in 1995, in just 76 words, to convey, entirely adequately, that Forward in Faith affirmed the traditional teaching of the Church on morality. Nothing has changed.
What the passing of Resolution 97/02 does mean or imply, however, is that Forward in Faith continues to stand alongside those in the worldwide Anglican Communion and elsewhere who consider that the ultra-liberal dilution and destruction of the faith practised by certain Provinces of the Communion - and in particular those of ECUSA - is most emphatically not of the Gospel. A failure to pass 97/02 would have been seen to line Forward in Faith up with the likes of ECUSA, rather than with our brothers and sisters in the Episcopal Synod of America - who, after all, are at the sharp end of the attack being mounted upon all of our integrity around the world.
Those who are now most vocal in their reaction to the passing of 97/02 - whichever way they voted - might do well to reflect on what it actually said. "This Assembly . . . affirms and accepts as a reflection of its own beliefs . . ." - a reflection, not the reflection. The use of the indefinite article makes it quite clear that the Assembly was saying that it accepted that the Kuala Lumpur Statement was simply one reflection - however blurred or distorted, as reflections so often are - of what it believes about sexual morality.
And all of us orthodox - whether heterosexual or homosexual, whether married or single, whether celibate or not, whether first world or third - all of us would do well to read again the final paragraph of the Kuala Lumpur Statement: "We live in a global village and must be more aware that the way we act in one part of the world can radically affect the mission and witness of the Church in another." That the debate at the Forward in Faith National Assembly took place against a background of threats from both sides of the debate to disengage from our corporate struggle was, surely, an affront to the Gospel of renewal which we preach. Forward in Faith was founded with a vision for unity and truth: to sacrifice our unity for the sake of truths that might better be addressed in the silence of our hearts and in the quiet of the confessional will do nothing other than ensure that we fail in all our aims and aspirations. Unity must be paramount if our mission and witness is to be fruitful and those who now feel tempted to turn their backs on Forward in Faith would do better to gaze with sadness on the divisions which have blighted the traditionalist cause elsewhere in the world and heed those words of Fr Mackonochie, of which the Master of SSC so tellingly reminded us at the Assembly on Friday afternoon: "No desertion. No surrender."
+John Fulham Chairman
Anne Williams Vice-Chairman
Geoffrey Kirk Secretary
Stephen Parkinson Director
29th September, 1997
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