The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have recognised the Orders of the Free Church of England under the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967. The Measure gives the Archbishops authority to determine whether the Orders of any Church are ‘recognised and accepted’ by the Church of England.
The recognition of the Orders of the Free Church of England follows approximately three years of contact between the bishops of the Free Church of England, the Council for Christian Unity and the Faith and Order Commission, which recommended that the Orders of the Free Church of England be recognised. That recommendation was subsequently endorsed by the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops…
What is the Free Church of England?
According to Anglicans Online they are not in communion with the Anglican Communion.
The Free Church of England (see also Reformed Episcopal Church)
The first congregations of the Free Church of England were formed in 1844 by members of the Church of England anxious to uphold the doctrines of the Anglican Reformation as expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and the Book of Common Prayer, which many Evangelicals felt to be under attack from the Oxford Movement. A Constitution was adopted in 1863. In 1876 a branch of the Reformed Episcopal Church was established in the UK. The two denominations cooperated closely and united in 1927. The united Church is a member of Churches Together in England and is a Designated Church under the Church of England’s Ecumenical Canons. There were official conversations with the Church of England in the mid 1990s. The provision of modern language worship has been approved and a process of drafting and authorization is under way. The episcopal succession derives originally (but not solely) from the Reformed Episcopal Church. Only men are ordained to the historic Orders or admitted as Readers. (emphasis by Café)
Why was this group’s orders recognized? Some comments from Thinking Anglicans:
I was only moderately concerned about the CofE’s recognition when I first learned of it. (I was not happy with the absence of women among the Free Church of England’s clergy.) Reading the tortured explanation of the church’s “Anglicanism,” however, has raised my concern. Touting one’s relationship with ACNA as evidence of one’s Anglicanism is profoundly wrong-headed.
Justin Welby should—but I suspect won’t—make it clear that ACNA is not a member of the Communion and will remain outside it as long as The Episcopal Church wants to remain a part of the Communion.
Posted by: Lionel Deimel on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 at 1:07pm GMT
There’s something not quite right here. The first Free Church of England congregations were formed in 1844. Why is it only now that they are seeking recognition of orders?
This will set an uncomfortable and unanswerable precedent for the C of E when it comes to the Anglican Church of North America and any requests they may make. The House of Bishops are sleepwalking into what is prospectively a very divisive situation.
Yes, Lionel I agree, the new Archbishop of Canterbury needs to make clear that the ACNA is not a member of the Communion … but like you I doubt whether he will.
Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 at 1:45pm GMT
What do you think. Cause for alarm? or not?