This post has been update to include a new statement from Jesmond Parish Church.
We reported recently on an announcement that GAFCON had decided consecrate a missionary bishop to serve conservatives desiring alternative episcopal oversight within the British Isles.
But now, the Church Times reports that GAFCON UK and the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) seemed themselves to have been surprised by the consecration as bishop of a Newcastle curate by a South African church earlier this month.
The curate, the Revd Jonathan Pryke, has served at Jesmond Parish Church since 1988. He was consecrated by bishops from the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa (REACH-SA) at a service in Newcastle earlier this month, several sources told the Church Times.
But a spokesman for the diocese simply said today: “The Bishop of Newcastle is aware of reports concerning this matter and is seeking clarification.” …
The news also appears to have surprised GAFCON UK and the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), who agreed last week to appoint their own missionary bishop for conservative Evangelical parishes in Britain (News, 5 May), even though the new bishop is a member of AMiE’s executive committee.
The AMiE Executive Committee recently requested that the GAFCON Primates support the consecration of a Missionary Bishop. We were overjoyed when they agreed to do this for the sake of gospel growth.
We can confirm that the consecration of the Revd Jonathan Pryke was a gospel decision taken independently of AMiE. His consecration was never discussed at our Executive meetings.
Jonathan is a valued member of the AMiE Exec and we are thankful to God for his abundant gifts and wisdom. We will be praying for him in this new season of his ministry.
The Church Times offered further background on the situation of Jesmond Parish Church and the breakaway church, REACH-SA.
It was unclear whether Jonathan Pryke, who was ordained priest in 1986, had formally left the Church of England. He is still listed on the Jesmond Parish Church website as a “senior minister” in the parish.
REACH-SA, formerly known as the Church of England in South Africa, split from the Anglican Church of the Province of Southern Africa soon after its founding, in opposition to the Anglo-Catholic Archbishop of Cape Town.
In 2008, Jesmond Parish Church was listed as in impaired communion or seeking alternative episcopal oversight, by the Revd Rod Thomas, the then chairman of the conservative Evangelical network Reform.
The “impaired communion” was in fact first declared by the church in 1997 just before the Rt Revd Martin Wharton became Bishop of Newcastle, because of disagreements over homosexuality. Jesmond Parish Church was also accused of breaking canon law in 1998 when it appointed an unlicensed assistant priest to its staff.
Read the full story at the Church Times.
On St Athanasius’ Day, 2 May 2017, Jonathan Pryke, the senior minister, under its vicar, of Jesmond Parish Church, Newcastle upon Tyne, was consecrated a “bishop in the Church of God”. This was by the Presiding Bishop of REACH SA (the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa), formerly known as CESA (the Church of England in South Africa) and whose orders of bishop, priest/presbyter and deacon are recognized by the Church of England. But like the new ACNA (the Anglican Church in North America) whose orders are also recognized, it is not in communion with the Church of England. Officially the Church of England is in Communion with the heterodox ACSA (the Anglican Church of South Africa), and with the heterodox TEC (The Episcopal Church [of America]). But, in practice, many orthodox English and Global Anglicans are in communion with both REACH SA and ACNA.
The service took place neither in a Church of England “place of worship” nor an unconsecrated place of worship designated under s.43 of the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011. It did not take place in Jesmond Parish Church. The ceremony was according to the REACH SA consecration Holy Communion service with only REACH SA bishops taking part. The declaration, however, was to the Church of England’s Canon A5 which says:
“The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the 39 Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal.”
The oath was of “all due reverence and obedience” not to the Presiding Bishop of REACH SA but to “bishops and other chief ministers” under whom Jonathan is set. So he has a dispersed responsibility and duty: in things temporal to the Bishop of Newcastle, with whom, sadly, in things spiritual, Jesmond Parish Church along with other churches in the diocese are in impaired communion; in terms of Jesmond Parish Church, to the vicar of Jesmond and where there is united agreement, to the Jesmond PCC; and, pastorally, to one of the participating REACH SA bishops. This bishop particularly understands the English situation and does not want to see bishops “parachuted in” to form a new “orthodox church” or “province”. He sees the role of REACH SA simply as helping English people have the courage to take responsibility for reforming the Church of England to be in line with Canon A5, to evangelize and to see growth. This consecration took place after considerable discussion and encouragement from leaders in the Church of England, and with the Presiding Bishop of REACH SA convinced it right to proceed after discussion with the Secretary of GAFCON.
The press release continues with background from the parish about its decision to support Pryke’s consecration.
Photo via Jesmond Parish Church on Facebook