Anglican Mainstream asked Rev Julian Mann some questions about his move from the Church of England to the FCE:
AM: As you leave your ministry in Oughtibridge, what are some things to give thanks for??
JM: For the people who have to come to faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and grown in their faith. And for the fact that the new Bishop of Sheffield is committed to their being a church graft into the Ascension from Christ Church Fulwood in 2020. A church graft for the uninitiated into these mysteries is when a minister on the staff team of a large church brings a group of Christian people with him to a smaller church in order for there to be more hands on deck for the Lord’s work in that parish.
AM: Many clergy move on after years of faithful service in a particular place, but very few leave the denomination. What were some of the reasons for you deciding to leave the Church of England?
JM: It has been a zig-zag journey for me to this point. But essentially the accelerating direction of travel towards the CofE becoming like The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States is the reason I am leaving. Some awful things such as authorised services of same-sex blessing are clearly going to be coming out of the gates next year. Anglican evangelical resistance in the CofE to the revisionist Gadarene rush I would suggest effectively collapsed in 1998 when the Reform Conference refused to endorse the plan put forward by David Holloway (vicar of Jesmond Parish Church, Newcastle) and Melvin Tinker (vicar of St John’s Newland, Hull) for a network of regional pastoral supervisors. This could have formed the basis for a biblically orthodox Anglican expression in Britain like the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).
AM: What are some of the attractions for you of the Free Church of England?
JM: The FCE are going to a lot of trouble to take in a refugee like me from the CofE. I am looking forward the Lord willing to serving Him in a biblically orthodox Anglican denomination with links to the GAFCON movement.
AM: Two years ago you wrote a book looking forward to various scenarios of what the country might look like in 2050. If we are likely to see further rapid change in which the culture might become more uncomfortable for Christians, what do you see as some of the priorities for local church ministry?
JM: Your [Andrew Symes’] two chapters in the book portraying the challenges for Christians in local churches with religion banned in the UK in 2050 I thought were the best at analysing the current trends and taking them to their logical conclusion, albeit imaginatively. Increasingly draconian ‘hate speech’ laws on the cards in the next couple of decades, unless there is a radical change of political direction, would make it much more costly for local churches and their pastors to proclaim the whole counsel of God in the Bible. Whatever denomination we are in, I would suggest that we as British Christians need to be praying now for the spiritual stamina to meet these cultural and political challenges and to keep on proclaiming the living Christ faithfully and lovingly in word and deed.