Comparing the creation of a new breakaway group of churches from the Church of England over their “drift” from “Biblical faith” to be similar to the creation of the Methodist church, leaders of the Anglican faith worldwide have given their support.
Hailing the emergence of the new grouping in England—which separated from the main church over issues such as homosexuality—leaders, bishops and archbishops in the Anglican Communion of Africa and the Americas gave their public endorsement. The primate group, the Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon), claims to represent over 40 million Anglicans worldwide and have given the Anglican Mission in England (AMIE) their full support.
The founding of the evangelical movement known as Methodism is credited to the work of former Anglican John Wesley and his brother Charles Wesley in the 18th Century. A separate church from the Church of England was eventually formed, although Wesley initially wanted Methodists to remain a part of the mother church.
Gafcon, which includes the archbishops of Kenya and Nigeria, is unhappy with other instances recently allowed by the mother church in England, including allowing a Muslim prayer service to be held in St John’s church in Waterloo, London. Members of the group, who believe that persecuted Christians worldwide have been betrayed by the Church of England, have been discussing plans for the Anglican faith’s future at meetings in London over the course of the past week.
AMIE, which is seen as an embryonic breakaway church in England, is supported by Bishop John Ellison, a retired missionary who is under investigation in the Diocese of Salisbury for allegedly setting up a new independent congregation. He is alleged to be overseeing a new church in the city, Christ Church, which operates outside the Church of England, but describes itself as Anglican.
“We continue to encourage and support the efforts of those working to restore the Church of England’s commitment to Biblical truth,” said AMIE, who have about a dozen affiliated churches. “Equally, we authenticate and support the work of those Anglicans who are boldly spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and whose circumstances require operating outside the old, institutional structures.”
“We are particularly concerned about the Church of England and the drift of many from the Biblical faith,” the group continued. “We do not regard the recent use of a Church of England building for a Muslim service as a minor aberration. These actions betray the gospel and discourage Christians who live among Muslims, especially those experiencing persecution.”
“I think we will have churches in place which will be regarded by most of the Anglican Communion as Anglican but not be Church of England Churches,” said the Most Rev Peter Jensen, former Archbishop of Sydney, Australia and General Secretary of Gafcon. “At the present moment, we are looking at a handful, depending on how it goes, that might be it, but who can tell?”
“Things have happened in the last decade, which have been truly astonishing. We are looking at a totally new age from the point of view of the cultural milieu around us,” Jensen continued. “Christians are having to work things out which worked out for millennia. This might be the beginning of something as big as Wesley.”