The Queen, the Church and the Fellowship, 13 July 2009
by Graham Kings
Date added: 30/07/2020
The Queen, the Church and the Fellowship
Graham Kings The Guardian 13 July 2009
The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans is strong on chutzpah and short on loyalty
We will keep formal administrative links with the formal Church of England, but our real identity is with global Anglicanism as defined by the Jerusalem statement and declaration.
This was the statement made by Christopher Sugden, executive secretary of Anglican Mainstream, at the National Evangelical Anglican Consultation at All Souls' Langham Place, London, on 15 November 2008. The consultation declined to vote on a resolution backing the Jerusalem declaration placed on their seats that morning, without the possibility of amendment.
On Sunday 5 July 2009, Christopher Sugden, now also secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans UK (FCAUK), was asked on the BBC Radio 4 Sunday Programme whether it was true that the Queen had written to him and the FCA to say that "she understood their concerns". He replied that this was "correct". Some sentences from her private letters, without their contexts, were then quoted the next day at the launch of FCAUK at Westminster Central Hall, London.
Loyalty has been pledged to the Queen – though the contradiction with the keeping of mere "formal administrative links with the formal Church of England" is particularly startling – and an attempt was made to present the correspondence of her courtier to FCAUK as her support. This has backfired.
Neither consultations nor the Crown appreciate manipulation. Buckingham Palace said it would not comment on private correspondence. Royal sources said the Queen was not endorsing the FCA and pointed out that she corresponds with a great number of organisations. The irony of that final word is that leaders of FCAUK have insisted that it is not an "organisation" but merely a "fellowship". Another irony is that the Supreme Governor of the Church of England is clearly a "woman leader" and "women's leadership" in the church at the highest level was hotly contended at the launch of FCAUK.
Traditionalist Anglican-Catholic groups such as Forward in Faith (FiF), who are against the ordination of women, have also not enjoyed being co-opted by the organisers. Although a strange alliance had been trumpeted between conservative evangelicals and conservative Anglo-Catholics, the launch manifested the marginalisation of the latter – especially in the afternoon session – and supporters of the latter have not been slow in expressing their sense of betrayal.
While agreeing with some of the clauses of the Jerusalem Declaration, the rallying document of FCAUK, and that bishops should not be consecrated who are in sexual relationships outside of marriage, I believe the way forward for the Church of England, and the Anglican Communion, is through the glacial gravity of the Anglican Covenant rather than through the setting up of opportunist, autonomous fellowships. In North America, there is a worrying trajectory. What began as a fellowship (Anglican Communion Network), became a church within a church (Common Cause) and finally split off completely to form a new church with its own archbishop (Anglican Church of North America).
From various reports of those present at the launch of FCAUK, "institutional loyalty" was a phrase repeatedly castigated. To downgrade the Church of England to a mere institution, and to imply that loyalty to it is unworthy, sits remarkably strangely with their declarations to the Queen but fits mere "formal administrative links". It should be noted that loyalty to the archbishop and bishops of the Church of England were conspicuously absent (in spite of ordination oaths). They were being bypassed. Preferred loyalty was to specific bishops in the Anglican Communion who back the Jerusalem Declaration.
The Church of England is not perfect: this is well known, and prayer is offered daily in love for her renewal. However, if you find the perfect church, whatever you do, don't join it: it will cease to be perfect.