REFORM REPORTS PROGRESS ON PANEL OF ORTHODOX BISHOPS

This news story by Cranmer’s Curate appeared on the US-based orthodox Anglican news service VirtueOnline:

Revd Rod Thomas, chairman of UK Anglican Evangelical network Reform, reports significant progress on the development of a biblically orthodox Society within the Church of England with its own panel of bishops.

In his latest newsletter to the 1600-strong membership including 500 clergy, he reveals that the Reform Council has decided that the new Society announced at the October 2010 conference would not be formed “purely for the purpose of providing episcopal oversight for those who cannot accept women bishops. Not only was it unlikely that the General Synod would respond in a way that would be adequate but the effect might be to marginalise us. We needed to show that we occupied, and argued our case from, the middle ground. However, the development of a broader based Society, able to operate with its own panel of bishops across a range of issues could be a positive development”.

He reports that “a considerable amount of work has been done on this within the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) in the UK and an initial panel of (existing) bishops has been proposed. The Primates of the FCA worldwide have also been consulted. The doctrinal basis of the Society would be the Jerusalem Statement agreed at GAFCON in 2008. There might be two categories of membership – one for those who were supportive but who had no immediate ministry need, and another for those who did need alternative episcopal oversight”.

Mr Thomas continues: “The existence of such a panel of bishops could well be a help to the English House of Bishops in dealing with the current dilemma over women bishops. One possibility is that the House of Bishops may decide that in the light of the consultations in the dioceses, the present legislative proposals should be amended in order to provide better safeguards for those who are opposed to them. If this turns out to be the case, they might be open to positive proposals for changes that would enable parishes to have oversight from a recognised panel of bishops.”

He argues that “quite apart from the issue of women bishops, the formation of a Society could help in situations where irregular ordinations have had to take place over the last few years or will be taking place in the future. Where the ordinands involved have been through the Reform Panel of Reference, there is every reason to commend them and their congregations to the FCA’s initial panel of bishops for recognition and oversight. The Reform Council was warmly supportive of this – and supportive too of the idea that in due course a way should be found to give all those involved a public welcome”.

He concludes: “Needless to say, there is still much work to be done on all these proposals. In order to help the process, the Council agreed to set up a joint working group with Church Society to consider how a future panel of bishops might be selected.”

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