13th – 15th October 2016
The guest speaker at the autumn Northern Diocese Clergy Conference was the Revd James Paice, a member of the GAFCON UK Task Force. Mr Paice also spoke at Synod about growing Churches. At the service of Holy Communion preceding Synod, the Revd Geoffrey Andow was received into the ministry of the FCE from the Traditional Anglican Church in Britain.
19th – 20th September 2016
Bishop Fenwick attended the ReNew conference in Leeds. The conference is mainly of conservative Evangelical clergy in the Church of England and was a good venue for sharing information about the Free Church of England and its vision and mission.
21st June 2016
On 21st June 2016 the Provincial Council of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) formally declared itself to be in full communion with the Free Church of England.
In his opening address on 20th June Archbishop Foley Beach told delegates that the relationship with the Free Church of England would be one of the issues to be addressed: ‘During this council, you will be asked to affirm an agreement I have signed on our behalf regularizing the relationship between our two Churches. … It is time to formally recognize each other’s churches.’ The following day Bishop Ray Sutton, Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church and ACNA Provincial Dean and Dean of Ecumenical Affairs, duly presented his report and drew attention to the recognition of the FCE that it contained. The report was received unanimously by loud acclamation. The text of the declaration signed by Archbishop Beach is as follows:
The Anglican Church in North America recognizes their congregations, clergy, and sacraments, while pledging to work together for the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ and the making of his disciples throughout the world.
In response Bishop Primus sent a message of greeting to the Provincial Council, thanking them for this action and looking forward to deepening collaboration in the Gospel.
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.