Statement from The Synod of the South American Diocese of the Free Church of England.
The Synod of the South American Diocese of the Free Church of England meeting on 28 March 2021, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, after a period of prayer and reflection, agreed and makes public the following declaration. The South American Diocese of the Free Church of England:
1. Has upheld and will remain faithful to the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and the testimony of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, believing that the Holy Scriptures contain all things necessary to salvation;
2. Remains faithful to and subscribes fully to the Free Church of England (FCE) Statement of Principles as written and bequeathed to us by our founding fathers, subscribing to what is written therein: “as a Protestant and Reformed Church, comes to reaffirm its steadfast witness against all innovations in doctrine and worship, by which the primitive faith has been disfigured or superimposed over time, and which were repudiated and rejected in the Reformation”; So we reject any spurious attempt at revisionism; we understand the Statement of Principles to be a confessional document that establishes the ecclesiastical foundation and boundary of FCE;
3. Conforms to the Constitution and Canons of FCE, submitting to the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of said church;
4. Confesses and holds fast to the 39 Articles of Religion as presented by FCE, and welcomes and conforms to the pattern of worship in the FCE Book of Common Prayer;
5. Noting the foregoing commitments, declares its abhorrence of the revisionism, doctrinal deviations and grave faults in church governance which have been introduced in a manipulative and underhand manner by Bishop Primus Rt Rev John Fenwick who:
a) has promoted revisionism in contradiction to the Declaration of Principles;
b) Has promoted revisionism in the FCE in action contrary to the Constitution and Canons of the FCE;
c) Has committed various abuses against the Canons of FCE;
d) Has promoted the closure of a fully functioning congregation, St Stephen’s, Middlesbrough and the dismissal of its minister, without complying with the due canonical and legal processes, without any pastoral concern for the members or due financial probity. Bishop Fenwick has acted like a wolf trying to scatter the flock of Christ. His actions are a serious breach of contract and misappropriation of the finances of a congregation by the Central Trust, which he chairs;
e) Decided to employ, despite warning, a publisher to publish his books, knowing that the same publisher caused financial losses to the South American Diocese. This same publisher misappropriated a donation fund that was destined for the publication of the Book of Common Prayer in Portuguese.
f) Promotes, by misusing his position as Primus and corrupting the principles of FCE, the dissension and dispersion of the flock of Christ; many good members and ministers have left FCE in Brazil and Venezuela because of Bishop John Fenwick’s poor witness; and the alienation of other brethren, many people, congregations, and ministers have given up on joining FCE when they see Bishop John Fenwick’s actions for themselves.
In response to the above there was no option other than for the Synod of the South American Diocese to declare itself to be in IMPAIRED COMMUNION with Bishop Primus John Fenwick, while this Diocese remains committed and faithful to the worship and doctrine of the Free Church of England. We note that Bishop Fenwick has been called on by many of his clergy and laity in England to stand down from leadership – for the peace of the Church we respectfully request he do so.
The Rev. Regis Domingues on behalf of the SYNOD OF THE SOUTH AMERICAN DIOCESE OF THE FREE CHURCH OF ENGLAND