The Queen, the Church and the Fellowship
by Graham Kings, Bishop of Sherborne
co-published with Comment is Free Belief, The Guardian
‘We will keep formal administrative links with the formal Church of England, but our real identity is with Global Anglicanism as defined by the
This was stated by Christopher Sugden, executive secretary of Anglican Mainstream, at the National Evangelical Anglican Consultation at All Souls’
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,
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.
Traditionalist Anglican Catholic groups such as Forward in Faith (FiF), who are against the ordination of women, also have 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 marginalization 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
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.
Dr Graham Kings is Bishop of Sherborne and theological secretary of Fulcrum
The Rt Revd Dr Graham Kings is Honorary Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Ely and Research Associate at the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide.