It is my pleasure as Bishop of the Southern Diocese to welcome the Rev’d Dr Peter Sanlon as our newest full-time rector. Having announced that he intends to resign from his post in the Church of England, Peter will soon be giving himself full-time to developing Emmanuel Anglican Church – the FCE church he planted in Tunbridge Wells just over a year ago. FCE roots lie deep within the Christian community of Tunbridge Wells. A Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion Chapel existed there in which George Whitfield was instrumental in the founding of ‘Emmanuel Church’. Also, Bishop Cridge visited the chapel in 1876. So there is a long thread of FCE history connected to Tunbridge Wells.

Peter is known to many through his various books and writings but having got to know him over the past few years I know he is looking forward to the pastoral and missional opportunities Emmanuel Anglican Church offers.

I am thankful to Bishop James of Rochester for the support he has given Peter over the past five years. I also want to record my thanks to the Archdeacon Julie Conalty, who has been so helpful in this process. I am happy to hear she can represent the Diocese of Rochester when I conduct Peter’s Service of Reception into the FCE.

In the more than 60 years I have been a member of the FCE, I have not seen so much enthusiastic interest in our work as I see today. It was only a few weeks ago that we announced that Christ Church, Balham – a Co Mission Church – has decided to join the FCE.

In these difficult days there are other ministers and congregations looking for a way to be both Anglican and faithful – I am excited to see what the FCE can do to help. There are also young men wanting to explore Anglican ordination. As an experienced Church of England minister and former tutor at Oak Hill College, Peter has been improving our care and training of people with a vocation to ordained ministry.

All of this gives me cause to thank God and pray that through these efforts, many more will hear for themselves that ‘God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ Romans 5:8

Rt. Rev’d Dr Paul Hunt