Kenyan Anglican Primate Ordains UK Cleric as Honorary Canon in Nairobi
david at virtueonline.org
david at virtueonline.org
Wed Jan 14 22:12:38 EST 2009
Kenyan Anglican Primate Ordains UK Cleric as Honorary Canon in Nairobi Honoring the Gospel
By Charles Raven
January 13, 2009
It has just been confirmed by Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi that the Rev'd Tim Davies, 44, who leads Christ Church Central in Sheffield, England, has been made an honorary Canon of All Saints Cathedral Diocese, Nairobi.
At first sight, this may not appear unusual, but Christ Church is not a normal Church of England congregation.
In fact, it is not in the Church of England at all.
Its origins go back to the attempt by Christ Church, Fulwood, one of the largest Anglican Evangelical parish churches in England, to plant a new congregation to reach inner city Sheffield under Tim Davies' leadership. The local incumbent refused to co-operate and, because of the Church of England's legal status as the established church, the only way to proceed was to form an independent Anglican congregation.
This came with a price tag for Tim and his growing family. It involved him having to renounce his licence, losing most of what comes with employment as a Church of England clergyman including his guaranteed stipend, the entitlement to a generous family home and, of course, saying goodbye to any possibility of future preferment. He was not deterred and in October 2003 Christ Church Central was formed with a core group of 50 from Fulwood and prospered. By Autumn 2005 the congregation had outgrown its church building, and began holding services in a bar across the road. Now Christ Church has in turn planted another congregation and the two churches have a total Sunday attendance of some 220.
By African standards, this may not seem out of the ordinary, but in the English context of widespread cynicism fuelled by increasingly aggressive secularism and, moreover, in an inner city area where the Church of England has never been strong, it is remarkable.
It is tragic that such a church should have to function outside the Church of England, all the more so because it has a stronger attachment to the doctrine of the Church of England than most official parish churches. While Christ Church's web site (www.christchurchcentral.co.uk/) describes it as 'a church for people who don't go to church' it also states that 'we are unashamedly reformed, evangelical, protestant and Anglican'.
The Kenyan's decision to make this appointment is therefore much more than the honouring of one leader's courage and missionary dedication. As Tim Davies himself has commented 'this is one very tangible way that the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans is operating.' It is an honouring of the gospel itself, a sign of the new reality which is emerging with increasing clarity since the historic GAFCON gathering in Jerusalem last year, demonstrating that authentic Anglicanism is defined by the gospel itself in contrast to that confusing aberration which passes for Anglicanism in much of the Church of England today. Unless the Church of England can redefine itself by the gospel it at least nominally still believes, rediscover its converting power and curb its tendency to be a pliant expression of English civic religiosity, many more talented and energetic clergy will have to follow the same route as that which Canon Davies has had to tread.
Senior Anglican evangelical leaders in England and elsewhere in the British Isles are already expressing deep frustration about the way in which liberal prejudices are obstructing recruitment and training of the most able and committed ordinands. If this trend continues, a fresh missionary movement will emerge in England led by clergy who will look to the GAFCON movement and it's Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans for their validation rather than Canterbury. They will no doubt be encouraged by the GAFCON Jerusalem Statement which recognises 'the desirability of territorial jurisdiction for provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion, except in those areas where churches and leaders are denying the orthodox faith or are preventing its spread' (italics added).
The Kenyan Church's recognition of Tim Davies is a reminder that it is not necessary to be in the Church of England to be an Anglican Canon in England, and the GAFCON movement as a whole may well come to show that it is not necessary to be in the Church of England to be an Anglican congregation in England.
---The Rev'd Charles Raven is Vicar of Christ Church Wyre Forest, Worcestershire, England, an independent Anglican congregation affiliated to the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (UK & Ireland). He is also Director of SPREAD (the Society for the Propagation of Reformed Evangelical Anglican Doctrine) www.anglicanspread.org
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