Women clergy not in the cards for British traditionalists
Traditionalist Anglicans in the UK are not prepared to accept women priests as a condition of forming an alliance with overseas groups to push back against the changing teaching on Christian marriage.
On 5 Oct 2017 the Bishop Primus of the Free Church of England, the Most Rev. John Fenwick the second hosted a gathering of orthodox Anglicans. On 6 June 2017 Bishop Fenwick hosted the first meeting of British Anglicans “representing a range of jurisdictions, organisations and churchmanships to begin to explore a united way forward.”
Approximately 20 church leaders met at St Andrews Free Church of England in Walsall in the West Midlands. The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey of the American Anglican Council and the Rt. Rev. Trevor Walters of the Anglican Network in Canada (pictured) were invited to facilitate the closed door meeting.
Sources tell Anglican Ink the day was spent in a broad range of discussion that looked at the history and powers of the Anglican “instruments of unity” — the unofficial entities that order pan-Anglican relations, as well as the deteriorating situation for traditionalists in the Scottish Episcopal Church, Church in Wales and Church of England.
The suggestion the groups comprising the unity forum adopt the “mixed” economy model used by the Anglican Church in North America were discussed. The meeting recognized that a number of GAFCON provinces ordain women to the priesthood: Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, the two Sudans, and the Congo — Nigeria does not.
The arguments proffered by supporters of the egalitarian school were not shared by the meeting with the majority favoring the complementarian understanding of women’s orders, as practiced by the Diocese of Sydney and conservative Evangelicals, or the sacramental understanding of orders held by Anglo-Catholics and the philo-Orthodox.
Proposals to consider new leadership of the forum were offered, however, it was decided to reaffirm the current regime led by Bishop Fenwick.
A spokesman for the ACNA present at the primates meeting in Canterbury, the Rev. Canon Andrew Gross, told Anglican Ink that he had not been briefed on the details of the gathering by his colleagues. The Unity Forum “is a gathering of orthodox Anglicans in England who are desiring to bridge their differences,” he wrote in a Facebook message to AI. “There are folks there from the FCE, AMiE, Scotland, CoE, etc. I believe most (maybe all) are part of Gafcon Uk, and wanting an increase in their unity in order to strengthen Gafcon UK,” he explained.
The Rt. Rev. Gavin Ashenden, a contributor to Anglican Ink and its sister website Anglican Unscripted, was present at the meeting, but took ill. He subsequently was admitted to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital suffering from a detached retina.