The Archbishop of Canterbury’s office has released this statement on the proposed “Anglican Mission in England.” The tone is calm but the concerns are evident.
The announcement of the creation an ‘Anglican Mission in England’ prompts concern for a number of reasons. New mission initiatives are, as such, always good news; and the declared intention of the spokesmen for this new initiative to remain faithful to the structures of the Church of England is welcome.
However, it is not at all clear how the proposed panel of bishops relate to the proper oversight of the diocesan bishops of the Church of England. Nor is there any definition of what the issues are that might be thought to justify appeal to such a panel rather than the use of normal procedures. Furthermore, the ordination of three English candidates to the diaconate in Kenya with a view to service in England is problematic. It is not clear what process of recognised scrutiny and formation has taken place and how, in the absence of Letters Dimissory (the relevant formal letters from the sponsoring bishop), they have come to be recommended as candidates for ordination by the authorities of another province.
The issue is one of episcopal collegiality. There needs to be some further discussion of this development between those involved and the diocesan bishops of the Church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury has had the opportunity to speak with the Archbishop of Kenya about the situation: the good faith and fraternal good intentions of our Kenyan colleagues are not at all in question, but it seems that there were misunderstandings of the precise requirements of English Canon Law and good practice as regards the recommendation of candidates for ordination and deployment in mission. It is hoped that an early opportunity will be found to clarify what this new initiative seeks to achieve if it is truly to serve God’s mission in the most effective and collaborative way.
For Anglican/Episcopalians in TEC – this sounds like “deja vu” all over again. Now that it is happening in England – maybe the Archbishop will understand our “concerns.”