18 December 2016
On 18 December, after years of the building being in a state of disrepair, the congregation enjoyed their first indoors service of readings and carols at St John’s with Trinity, Tottington. The service was followed by mince pies and hot mulled wine which were much appreciated by the attendees!
There was a good deal of positive reaction with many saying how much they’d enjoyed the service and the warm atmosphere – and they were glad to see the church back in use.
Church members had hand-delivered about 2,000 flyers advertising the service and they felt privileged to have been able to share the gospel with so many of their neighbours.
23-25 May 2016
This year’s Convocation took a radically new form. Some of the regular, routine items were shortened to allow most of the second day to be spent in Discussion Groups. Each member of Convocation had the opportunity to attend two of these. The topics covered Vision, Youth, Finance and Clergy recruitment, training and support. The feedback produced a wide range of ideas and material which is being analysed and will form the basis, under God, for various strategies for growth and renewal.
A related new initiative was a ‘Pound for a Pastor’ scheme, the aim of which is to encourage regular, committed giving to support clergy.
Convocation also gave final approval to amendments to the Canons to allow Overseas Dioceses to be formed. The Free Church of England has had overseas congregations since the 1850s, but this will be the first time we have made provision for them to be formed into Dioceses.
The Clergy Conference of the Northern Diocese met from 17th to 19th March at the Shipping Lanes Hotel, Morecambe. The guest speaker was the American theologian, speaker and blogger, the Revd Dr Peter Leithart, who spoke on themes related to the concept of Evangelical Catholicism. In the final session Dr Leithart gave a brief introduction to his new work on the Book of Revelation. Dr Leithart’s reputation attracted a number of visitors to the gathering and prompted some lively discussions.
Diocesan Synod on Saturday 19th March, held at Emmanuel Church, Morecambe, was memorable as the occasion on which we said goodbye to the Revd William Hall as Diocesan Secretary. Bill had served in that capacity since 2004 and discharged his duties faithfully. Bishop John Fenwick paid tribute to Bill and presented him with an inscribed silver bookmark on behalf of the Synod. Mrs Margaret Cassidy of Liscard was elected at the new Diocesan Secretary.
Synod spent quite a lot of time discussing how our finances can be maximised for growth and mission. A lively debated resulted in a number of suggestions to be fed into Convocation in May.
23 April 2016
On Saturday 23rd April (St George’s Day) Bishop John Fenwick ordained as presbyters Simeon Turner and Arthur Kay (standing on each side of him in the photo). The service took place in St John’s Church, Tottington, Bury, which is in the middle of a major refurbishment programme. Clergy and lay representatives from several Northern parishes attended. The service was followed by a buffet lunch. Simeon and Arthur will be serving the newly united congregation – St John’s with Trinity – in Tottington.
2 November 2015
On 2nd November, at the Marriott Hotel in London, Bishop Primus was a guest at a Dinner held in honour of His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, spiritual leader of millions of Orthodox Christians worldwide.
The Patriarch was in London visiting the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Christian leaders. He and Bishop Fenwick have known each other for forty years, when Primus was a theological student in Thessaloniki and visited Constantinople on several occasions.
Photo: The Bishop of London, Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain, Primus, Patriarch Bartholomew, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
17-19 October 2015
From 17th to 19th October Bishop Primus was in Lincoln for talks with representatives of the Traditional Anglican Communion, of which the local representative it the Traditional Anglican Church in Britain. The origins of the denomination are predominantly with members of the Church of England who left that Church following its decision to ‘ordain’ women in 1992.
The Bishop of the TACB, the Right Revd Ian Gray, had been a guest at Convocation in May, following which he had had a further meeting with Bishops John Fenwick and Paul Hunt at St Andrew’s, Bentley.
The TACB is part of a wider grouping, the Traditional Anglican Communion. Two of its bishops, Brian Marsh from the USA and Shane Janzen from Canada, were present at Lincoln for the talks with Bishop Fenwick. Bishop Gray and Primus signed a Letter of Intent to work towards closer unity should it be found to be God’s will.
28-30 September 2015
The Free Church of England was represented at the Forum of Churches Together in England by Bishop Primus and the Revd David Craven.
The Forum, which meets every three years, was held at The Hayes Conference Centre and Swanwick, Derbyshire, and brought together over 300 representatives of all the member Churches.
During the course of the Conference there were sessions introducing two of the ‘families’ of Churches that belong to CTE – the Orthodox and Pentecostalism. There was also a very powerful presentation by a group of young adults about an ecumenical week they had shared together in France.
The Forum is not a decision-making body, but there were many opportunities both to learn from others and to contribute to the discussions.
7-9 August 2015
At the invitation of the Right Revd Roald Flemestad, Bishops John Fenwick and Paul Hunt attended the Synod of the Nordic Catholic Church which was held in St John the Baptist Church, Olso.
Also attending were Prime Bishop Anthony Mikovsky of the Polish National Catholic Church and his ecumenical officer, the Revd Rob Nemkovich, who met with the FCE bishops to discuss how to expedite the dialogue between us. The hope is that we might be able to conduct it in parallel with the dialogue between the PNCC and the Anglican Church in North America, to avoid unnecessary duplication.
The Bishops also took the opportunity to talk with a range of attendees from various parts of Europe.
13-17 July 2015
Bishop Primus represented the Free Church of England at the International Congress of Catholic Anglicans held at Fort Worth, Texas, under the joint patronage of Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali and Bishop Keith Ackerman. Three REC bishops and a number of REC clergy were among the 350 delegates.
The Congress had a tight programme of worship, Bible Studies (by Bishop Nazir-Ali) and lectures. Bishop Primus was given a slot to speak briefly about the work and witness of the FCE.
He also took the opportunity to have meetings with Archbishop Foley Beach and Bishop Bill Atwood of the Anglican Church in North America; Bishop Paul Sobiechowski of the Polish National Catholic Church; Archbishop Shane Janzen of Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, Bishop Stephen Strawm of Anglican Church in America and Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali.
At this time of flux in the Christian world in general and in the Anglican family in particular, there are clearly many who are seeking to make common cause to defend ‘the faith once and for all delivered to the saints’.
18th June 2015
It was with great shock and sorrow that Bishop Primus learned that one of the victims in the Church shooting in Charleston was Mrs Myra Thompson, wife of the Reformed Episcopal Church presbyter the Revd Anthony Thompson.
In a message to the Most Revd Royal Grote, Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church, Bishop Primus, on behalf of the Free Church of England, expressed his shock at what has happened and asked the Presiding Bishop to convey condolences to Mrs Thompson’s husband and family, and to the wider Reformed Episcopal Church.