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Anglican Alphabetti Spaghetti

A dummies guide to the plethora of organisations and acronyms linked to faithful Anglicans in the UK and Europe.

I once spent some time around military personel. Everything had its own TLA (Three Letter Acronym) right down to my KFS (take a guess). These terms create useful shorthand for those in the know but can be confusing, and sometimes intimidating, for those looking on.

In the run up to the Lambeth Conference - (more about that in the next blog), we are planning a series of 'dummies' guides' that might help our readers understand and interpret the jargon people will be throwing around.

Today we start with some of the different groupings - focusing on those which impact faithful Anglicans in the UK and Europe.

To get to grips with these groups, let's begin with three principles:

  1. Anglicans in the UK tend to differentiate between their relationship to the ‘jurisdiction’ to which they belong (the relationship with their bishop defined by canon law) and less formal ’fellowships’ which have been created to provide support and encouragement to local churches. The groupings reflect this.

  2. The Anglican Communion has global, national (provincial), and regional (diocesan) structures to which the local church belongs – this is echoed in the organisation of the various fellowships that have built up.

  3. Not all faithful Anglicans are 'evangelical': some fellowships have evangelical statements of faith, others bring together a broader coalition of orthodox Anglicans.

Anglican Jurisdictions (pre-2008)

Let’s start with the traditional provinces of the Anglican Communion that fall within the UK:

Each of these provinces is part of the global Anglican Communion and each is divided into a number of regional dioceses. Each diocese has at least one bishop and each province has an archbishop. The senior archbishop of each Church is called a primate, which can make for some confusing Google searches.

Then there are several other ‘independent’ groupings of churches, which have separated from the Church of England over the past 150 years, for example, the Free Church of England, the Church of England (Continuing)and the Evangelical Connexion of the Free Church of England.

Each of these Churches is governed by their own canon law, which sets out the rules of the jurisdiction.

Evangelical Fellowships

In 1961, John Stott founded EFAC (Evangelical Fellowship of the Anglican Communion) - a global organisation that encourages and develops biblically faithful fellowship, teaching and mission throughout the Anglican world.

Some provinces formed local chapters of EFAC - in the UK, we have the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), the Church of Ireland Evangelical Fellowship (CCIEF)and the Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales (EFCW). In some places local diocesan groups formed (known as DEFs or DEUs).

The CEEC provides a hub for many other evangelical fellowships, such as New Wine, Fulcrum, the Junia Network, and Church Society (with which Fellowship of Word and Spirit and Reform recently merged.)

Impact of Global Anglican Realignment

Much could be said about the challenges that have faced the Anglican Communion over the last forty years, but to keep things short there are two overlapping global groups who play an important role: The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches, (GSFA) and Gafcon. Both these groupings are orthodox, rather than purely evangelical.

GSFA, sometimes just known as the Global South, is a recognised grouping within the Anglican Communion, a gathering of bishops, who have consistently sought to uphold orthodoxy. To make this clear they recently switched the basis of their membership from geography to orthodoxy.

Gafcon began as a conference in 2008, in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision to invite those bishops who had ‘torn the fabric’ of the Communion to the Lambeth Conference. It was organised by a number of GSFAC bishops and some of those they had been offering oversight to in North America. More than 1000 bishops, clergy and laity, representing the vast majority of the Anglican Communion, met together, produced a statement of faith, known as the Jerusalem Declaration and agreed to support a new Anglican jurisdiction in North America, which became known as the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

Gafcon itself is not a separate jurisdiction. It is a movement of bishops, clergy and lay people who are seeking the renewal of the Anglican Communion. Gafcon has local provincial branches, in the UK these are Gafcon GBE and Gafcon Ireland. These branches bring together faithful people from all the different jurisdictions. Anglican Essentials Wales (AEW) is not affiliated with Gafcon but brings together the wider orthodox community in Wales in a similar way to a Gafcon branch.

Since 2008, Gafcon has also continued to support and recognise new Anglican jurisdictions in places where churches or leaders have rejected the orthodox faith, such as Brazil and New Zealand.

New Jurisdictions in the UK

In 2013, Gafcon recognised the Anglican Mission in England AMiE, as a missionary organisation to support those planting churches in places where diocesan bishops were preventing gospel growth.

In 2017, after the Scottish Episcopal Church had voted to introduce same-sex marriage, the Gafcon Primates asked the ACNA to consecrate a missionary bishop, Andy Lines, to give oversight to those clergy and churches forced to leave the Scottish Episcopal Church and to support AMiE churches.

Initially, it was thought that Bishop Andy Lines would offer oversight as part of a Missionary District of the Anglican Network in Canada (a diocese of the ACNA), in other words, the churches would be under the jurisdiction of ACNA. Over time it became clear that there were a number of theological and cultural issues which made that unviable, so, the Gafcon Primates suggested a longer-term solution. A new jurisdiction has been formed, the Anglican Network in Europe (ANiE; think proto-Province) which is made up of two convocations (think proto-dioceses); Anglican Convocation Europe (ACE) and Anglican Mission in England (AMiE). In the future, as more congregations join, other convocations may be added to the Network and in time it is possible the Anglican Network in England could become a Province. For now, ANiE, ACE and AMiE have their own constitutions and canons, which have all been authorised by the Gafcon primates.

Other groupings

So, there we go… our first attempt at showing how the different jurisdictions and fellowships fit together at a global, provincial and diocesan level. For those who like diagrams - this may, or may not, help.

Of course, we have not dealt with parachurch organisations like Latimer Trust, Evangelical Group on General Synod (EGGS), or Anglican Futures, because their role is to provide particular services to individuals and organisations, similarly we have not included conferences like ReNew or the Alpha Leadership Conference. Nor have we touched on the many groups that bring together Anglicans and non-Anglicans to do mission or social action projects together.

But, there is only so much one blog reader can take…


BTW: In case you didn't get it - KFS = Knife, Fork, Spoon

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

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