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A New Diocese in England

The “Anglican Realignment” has manifested itself in many ways.

The Global Anglican Futures Conference (Gafcon) has united around the 2008 Jerusalem Declaration and in the Kigali Commitment of 2023 made clear their repudiation of the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Likewise, the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans (GSFA) has evolved from a once regional organisation to a global one focused on the Cairo Covenant. GSFA is gathering in Cairo for a significant meeting in its development in just a few weeks’ time.

The global realignment has resulted in two new Provinces - the Anglican Church in Brazil (Igreja Anglicana no Brasil) and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). These are not without significance. The former is seemingly the largest Anglican jurisdiction in that country and the same is true of the Canadian part of the ACNA.

More recently Gafcon has recognised other smaller structures: the Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa New Zealand (CCAANZ), the Diocese of the Southern Cross in Australia and the Anglican Network in Europe (ANiE).

ANiE is the creation of the Gafcon Primates Council, who in 2020, after seven years of preliminary work, determined that Europe should have a new proto-Province - ANiE comprised of two proto-dioceses - the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) (which has been in existence under the auspices or Gafcon since 2013) and the Anglican Convocation in Europe (ACE).

Over the intervening four years, with the consecration of two assisting bishops for each, both AMiE and ACE have become dioceses under the overarching leadership of Presiding Bishop Right Revd Andy Lines.

Yesterday (23rd May, 2024) the creation of a third diocese was announced - the Diocese of the Anglican Missionary Congregations (AMC) . AMC has grown from a single Nigerian diaspora congregation in Manchester to thirty-five congregations in the UK and in some parts of Europe. They are served by 52 self-supporting ordained clergy.

The development would appear to be significant in several ways.

First, although it is small, this part of the Anglican realignment resonates across the world simply because it is largely in the country of the once universally recognised “Mother Church”.

Second, although still small, the development brings the Anglican Network in Europe to around 80 churches and 100 clergy. That represents significant growth since its foundation and, more importantly points to the growing number of churches being planted or joining the Network every year. The oft-made objection that ANiE is too small (something that could once have been said of the church in Acts 2) is going to steadily fall-away. And, again, perhaps of greater import is that it is growing and has done each year for four years, not in decline.

Third, while English Anglicanism and in particular evangelical Anglicanism, including in ANiE has been, rightly regarded as too white and middle-class, the announcement yesterday speaks of something different, and is itself enjoying rapid growth. Anyone who has already had the privilege of worshipping alongside AMC congregants can testify to the blessing this increased diversity will bring.

Fourth, while there is some debate whether three or four dioceses, each with their own Ordinary, is required to form a Province, the growth of ANiE suggests that it might soon be able to leave the “proto” part of its description behind. The Anglican Church of Brazil was granted full Provincial status with only three dioceses so it will be interesting to see what the Gafcon Primates’ Council decide to do.

Fifth, as has become increasingly apparent, ANiE is the Gafcon plan for the UK. This was made clear in the Kigali Commitment which says:

“Since the inception of Gafcon, it has been necessary for the Gafcon Primates to recognise new orthodox jurisdictions for faithful Anglicans, such as the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), the Anglican Church in Brazil, the Anglican Network in Europe (ANiE), the Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa New Zealand, and the Diocese of the Southern Cross. We encourage the Gafcon Primates to continue to provide such safe harbour for faithful Anglicans.

“In view of the current crisis, we reiterate our support for those who are unable to remain in the Church of England because of the failure of its leadership. We rejoice in the growth of the ANiE and other Gafcon aligned networks”.

Quite rightly, that was not to ignore those remaining in Canterbury-aligned structures- the hand of friendship and ongoing support continues to be extended to those who remain in the Church of England but in a strikingly different tone and manner.

“We also continue to stand with and pray for those faithful Anglicans who remain within the Church of England. We support their efforts to uphold biblical orthodoxy and to resist breaches of Resolution I.10.”

At the final Press Conference at Gafcon last year, the Chair of the Gafcon Primates’ Council who is also a GSFA Primate was asked directly whether Gafcon would provide, “flying bishops in [the Church of] England”, the Most Reverend Foley Beach’s reply was clear,

“No.

We have a structure in place. We are encouraging those in England to fight and resist as best they can - but if they need oversight, we have a structure [ANiE]”.

Despite repeated attempts by some in England to persuade at least some Primates to do otherwise, that line has held across Gafcon and the GSFA.

Finally, global Anglicanism can always be complicated, but the AMC joining ANiE is triumphant example of good global relations. The AMC congregations are moving from the oversight of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) to the oversight of ANiE and absolutely doing so with the blessing of the Primate of All Nigeria, the Most Reverend Dr Henry Ndukuba.

The ANiE press release reports the AMC’s lead missioner, Venerable Dr Gideon Chukwudalu Ilechukwu saying,

“We are grateful to the Lord for what he has done in making it possible for us to be accepted as a Diocese in Gafcon’s Anglican Network in Europe. We are also grateful to the Most Reverend Dr Henry Ndukuba, Primate of All Nigeria, with whose blessings we got to this place.”

Not every reader will entirely welcome yesterday’s news but hopeful most can support the motivation for it as expressed by Dr Gideon Chukwudalu Ilechukwu,

“We are excited to be part of ANiE and we look forward to our ministry together in this family of believers in Christ. Europe needs the Lord and together as a team we will till this field by his grace.” 

 

 

 

 

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9 Comments


Guest
May 31

Wonderful news. AF - why do you think "not every reader will entirely welcome [this] news"?

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Guest
May 28

Right step in the right direction. We give God the glory

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Guest
May 25

I give God all the glory for the great thing he has done,God bless GAFCON, God bless ANiE,God bless AMC.

RICHMAN CHIDOZIEODU

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Guest
May 25

Thank God. To Him be all glory..

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Guest
May 25

I agree that any development within Gafcon that strengthens the unity and mission of Anglican faithful around Europe is indeed noteworthy and encouraging. It demonstrates a commitment to shared values and the common goal of fostering faith communities.

Can.Kingsley Akobi

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