Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Note: Unless you're an Anglican/Episcopal wonk, this post is probably not for you.
In Sheffield, South Yorkshire, statistics show that only 3% of the population regularly attend church. Back in 2002 the leadership team at Christ Church Fulwood were invited by senior diocesan staff to investigate the possibility of church planting, with the aim of sharing the Gospel with people who had moved into the new residential developments in the city centre. Despite extensive discussions, diocesan support for this initiative was withdrawn, but with mission our priority Christ Church Central was “born” in October 2003 as “a church for people who don’t go to church” outside the formal structures of the Church of England.
So.  Without the approval of the diocesan leadership, a Church of England parish planted a church outside the jurisdiction of the diocese.  Then the communities of the two churches, one Church of England, the other not, discerned that another church plant was in order, thus a second church outside the diocesan jurisdiction was established.  Did the leaders of the Diocese of Sheffield note the odd arrangement?
Nearly 10 years later both parent and daughter churches have continued to grow numerically and partnered one another in mission to the city. An expression of this partnership was the planting of Christ Church Walkley last year, with the initial members drawn from both congregations living in the area. Pete Jackson, who has been one of the associate ministers at Christ Church Central, is the founding minister.  
But wait.  Pete Jackson is not ordained.
Concern that his ministry and that of the new church should be appropriately recognised led us to consult the leadership of the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), who subsequently wrote to the GAFCON Primates’ Council with a request that they should facilitate Pete’s ordination.
Appropriately recognized by whom?  Anyway, Pete went to Kenya and was ordained deacon in the Anglican Church of Kenya by Bishop Josephat Mule of Kitui.  Are you still with me?  Apparently, the ordination in Kenya caught the attention of the officials in the Diocese of Sheffield, as is shown by the following statement from the diocese.

Reports are now circulating in the public domain of an ordination in Kenya in recent days. The Communications Office was inundated with calls wanting clarification and comment.

+Peter (Bishop of Doncaster)has issued the following statement today:

“The Diocese of Sheffield was made aware last week that Pete Jackson from Christ Church Walkley had been ordained in Kenya on Saturday 9 February 2013. This came as a total surprise as we had no prior knowledge or communication regarding this. We continue to seek further clarification and dialogue with those involved in the ordination at various levels and are taking advice so that we have a comprehensive picture of what took place. This will enable us to reflect further on the developments and their implications.”
AMiE (Anglican Mission in England) and AMiA (Anglican Mission in the Americas) see England and the Americas as mission territory in dire need of evangelization by the right sort of Anglicans, but the groups wish to remain part of the Anglican Communion.  I suspect their secret (or not so secret) wish is to take control of the communion and disseminate what they consider proper Anglicanism.

H/T to Simon Sarmiento at Thinking Anglicans for the links.

Adrian Worsfold, in his post titled "Entryism in the Church of England" says:
So, here we go, and outside London: entryism inside the Church of England.

Entryism is where a small body that keeps a tight control of itself invades and uses a host of a more mdoerate (sic) body because that body has a wider outreach than the small group could ever hope to acquire, despite the fact that the small body can attract to a limited extent larger numbers of its own fanatical types and some newer marginal people under its wing. The small group also takes opportunities to go out into the larger body and take over, bit by bit, as the opportunities present, units of the larger body's operation. The usual channels of decision making become subverted under the entryists' often informal and preplanned means of control. The model is trotskyite, and was shown with the actions of the Militant Tendency inside the Labour Party.

The larger body is usually undergoing weaknesses and transition, and is ripe for actions taken against it: and the small body seeks to weaken the host further as it takes to itself the hosts' shell institutions and acquire them to itself.
Adrian's take is interesting.  He sees the entryism "located at Christ Church Fulwood, which is C of E and the centre of the franchise."


Lois Keen said...

Oh my God - now that's Orwellian not to mention labyrinthine. Makes my head ache.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Writing the post made my head ache, Lois. When Rowan was being polite to the breakaways in the US, I wrote that England's time would come, and, indeed, it has. Why would the schismatics stop with the Americas, without having a go at the Canterbury crown jewel? Justin Welby has his work cut out for him.

Tobias Haller said...

I think Adrian is correct about the entryist strategy in England -- where the Anglican Evangelicals are both stronger and more extreme than in the US. (How many TEC types would openly oppose the ordination of women on the basis of "male headship"? -- When I mentioned this at a recent retreat for Episcopal college students they were amazed -- they'd never even heard of the concept. I noted it's right there in St Paul...)

Entryism is the strategy in England because of the establishment. In the US, these groups know that taking over TEC is impossible, and so the strategy is supersession --- they want to displace TEC altogether.

Frankly I don't think either effort will be successful, though the splinter groups in England will become indistinguishable from the rightmost portion of American evangelicalism.

James said...

You are of course aware of the saga at the back of all this - a similar attempt to create a church of England church that wasn't C of E, in Sheffield, way back in the late 1980s?

Check out the Wikipedia entry at

Grandmère Mimi said...

Tobias, I think you're right that entryism would not be effective in a TEC takeover, but it's possible the strategy was used in some of the dioceses in TEC, those whose members subsequently decided to take their leave from the church.

Grandmère Mimi said...

James, I did not know about the church in Sheffeild. Back in 1985, I was still part of the Roman Catholic Church, and stories about child abuse in the RC Diocese of Lafayette were just beginning to leak out. Of course, we were told that these abuses were isolated incidents.

Roger Mortimer said...

Only been a matter of time since a priest stripped by Bishop Butler of his license to officiate in the diocese of Southwark for organizing the unauthorized, irregular ordination of three individuals by a bishop of a church not in communion with the C of E, was reinstated by Rowan Williams on the recommendation of Michael Scott-Joynt, then bishop of Winchester. There will be more to come.

Roger Mortimer said...

[Not sure how I come to be using this account. Back to the drawing-board.]

Grandmère Mimi said...

Your cover is blown, Roger.

Grandmère Mimi said...

I guess pretty soon, they'll all be one big happy family.

Lapinbizarre said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lapinbizarre said...

Don't you love that avatar?

Grandmère Mimi said...

The Little Lord? Yes, I love it.

Anonymous said...

Big, but probably not happy ... this strategy reminds me of the political fanatics known as the Tea Party pretty much taking over the GOP ... there is a social theory that the most committed, even if in the minority, can get their own way nine out of ten times simply by being insistent, loud, and unwilling to compromise (thus being considered 'pure' and therefor admired)... sense and reasonableness can disappear when 'devotion" is perceived to matter more than any other quality. If C or E, or any other organization, is weak and unable to clearly define its position vis a vis the splinter faction, the splinter wins.

Grandmère Mimi said...

No, not happy. You're spot on, Marthe. Extremists of all stripes have a good deal in common.