On 1 June 2017, the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) announced the consecration of Canon Andy Lines as a missionary bishop, and subsequent developments have been reported in a number of posts. The AMiE is one of the two convocations of the Anglican Network In Europe (ANiE), the other being the Anglican Convocation in Europe (ACE).
Following the recent votes by the Church of England General Synod on the the Living in Love and Faith process (LLF), the ANiE has issued Alternative Episcopal Oversight: The Anglican Network in Europe (ANiE) and the Church of England (COE).
This states that in response to the Church of England’s bishops’ proposals and the General Synod decision “many are now considering what their options might be”. The aim of the document is to clarify “how ANiE can serve churches and clergy in the Church of England, and to be clear about what we are unable to offer in this context”.
The document summarizes “what ANiE might do if the current direction of travel continues: How ANiE will seek to serve”; extracts from the summary of what it cannot do, and the underlying rationale. are reproduced below.
“What ANiE cannot do
Offer informal episcopal oversight to those who choose to remain and contend within the Church of England (or the Scottish Episcopal Church or Church in Wales).
Carry out any episcopal ministry within the Church of England (or the Scottish Episcopal Church or Church in Wales). This includes ordaining and licensing clergy, confirming, baptising, presiding at Holy Communion, preaching and oversight and discipline of clergy and congregations.
We will seek to honour the consciences, decisions and timing of faithful brothers and sisters whether they remain and contend within Canterbury-aligned provinces or seek alternative provision.
We do not believe that ‘delegated’ or ‘extended’ episcopal oversight or ‘external episcopal visitors’ works in practice or in the long-term because every church and licensed clergy person in the Church of England is legally under the authority and oversight of the Diocesan Bishop.
Practically this means that ordination, succession and church planting remain (by law) with the Diocesan Bishop. Pastorally it means that the care and discipline of clergy remains with the Diocesan Bishop, the Church of England’s codes of conduct and the diocese’s safeguarding policies and procedures.
Licences, contingent on oaths of canonical obedience, require singularity and exclusivity, as the Lord Jesus Christ himself made clear, “No servant can serve two masters” (Luke 16:13, ESV). This principle was recognised and applied by provinces offering canonical residence to parishes leaving The Episcopal Church prior to the founding of the Anglican Church in North America. The precedent is therefore clear, to receive the oversight of an ‘alternative’ bishop requires first resigning any existing or previous licences.”
This latest document is a departure from AMiE’s earlier position, reported in Thinking Anglicans (March 2015) and in our post AMiE ordinations (December 2017), which focussed on “Anglicans within the structures of the Church of England”.