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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Gathering of [a few of] God's People


Ecumenical Communion at The Gathering 2012               Credit: The Presbyterian Church of Wales


After posting my previous entry I was reminded by a reader that the Church in Wales had approved the rite of Holy Communion for Ecumenical use. The rite, "The Gathering of God's People", can be found here. But is it the Sacrament of Holy Communion for Anglicans or an Agape Feast?

The gathering together of Christians is to be welcomed but there is a heavy price to pay when so-called 'unity' puts the Church in Wales outside the greater gathering of the Orthodox and Catholic Church.

The "Ecumenical Communion" service begins with a passage of scripture which has been used  to justify just about every liberal departure from the historic Christian faith, in particular the ordination of women: "In Christ Jesus we are all children of God through faith. There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female: [Response] We are all one in Christ Jesus.

What is unsaid is more alarming. Later in the service there is "An Affirmation of Faith" which replaces the Nicene Creed: "Let us proclaim our faith: 

We believe and trust in God the Father, 
who created all that is. 

We believe and trust in his Son Jesus Christ, 
who redeemed the world. 

We believe and trust in his Holy Spirit, 
who gives life to the people of God. 

We believe and trust in one God, 
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 
Amen.

That is fine for Sunday School children but how can that be reconciled with The Constitution of the Church in Wales which, under the Formal statements of faith, states:

 "The Church in Wales is a fellowship of dioceses within the Holy Catholic Church, constituted as a Province of the Anglican Communion. It maintains the threefold order of bishops, priests and deacons which it has received, and acknowledges as its supreme authority in matters of faith the Holy Scriptures as interpreted in the Catholic Creeds and the historic Anglican formularies, that is, the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons as published in 1662. Its calling is to nurture men and women in the faith of Jesus Christ and to aid them to grow in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, so that the good news of God’s grace may be clearly proclaimed in the world and that God’s Kingdom may be honoured and advanced."

The Catholic Creeds are central to our faith but the bishops of the Church in Wales skirt around them. Then in Holy Scripture: "We often see what we want to see ... We often use Scripture to reinforce viewpoints that we have already arrived at in other ways and for other reasons". – The Archbishop of Wales (here). That excludes Galatians 3:28 of course when it is wrongly used to justify the ordination of women.

The Bishop of St Asaph, the Right Revd Dr Gregory Cameron said: “We have been challenged by the Gathering of Churches in Wales to seek for unity among Christians. ... Jesus requires his followers to be one family: it’s time to take that command seriously.” Quite so Dr Cameron!

Back in 2008 Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council of Christian Unity posed the question to Anglicans: "Are you Protestants or Catholics? He said it was time to decide: "Ultimately, it is a question of the identity of the Anglican Church. Where does it belong? Does it belong more to the churches of the first millennium, Catholic and Orthodox, or does it belong more to the Protestant churches of the 16th century? At the moment it is somewhere in between, but it must clarify its identity now and that will not be possible without certain difficult decisions." See Fr Z's blog here.

Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church, a noted theologian and church historian, made a similar point when he blasted Anglicans for Renouncing the Faith here.

The response in Wales? "Chapels and churches from five denominations are being encouraged to think of themselves as The Church Uniting in Wales" - The Presbyterian Church of Wales (here).

Barry and his bishops are unable to spot the difference. Those who can are being ostracised for keeping the Catholic faith. Surely it should be the other way round if the Constitution continues to have any relevance in the Church in Wales.

10 comments:

  1. It will not be long before the Bench decree that the new 'service' for ecumenical use is obligatory for use in all Church in Wales churches.
    We shall all have to confess to "huddling" in Church!

    I doubt there will be any option for those wishing to adhere to a traditional and meaningful rite ,and just as in terms of the prospective arrangements for those who cannot in conscience accept the ordination of women, I suspect that any accommodation is likely to be nothing less than something around which the Bench can 'skirt' .

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  2. Going slightly off topic here, but there would appear to be an anomaly in the CinW ‘Formal statements of faith’. It states that it ‘maintains the threefold order of bishops, priests and deacons which it has received, and acknowledges as its supreme authority in matters of faith the Holy Scriptures as interpreted in the Catholic Creeds and the historic Anglican formularies, that is, the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons as published in 1662.’
    If one reads The Preface in the 1662 BCP for the making, ordaining and consecrating of bishops, priests and deacons it clearly states ‘No man shall be accounted or taken to be a lawful Bishop, Priest or Deacon in the Church of England …’ See the anomaly? The CinW says that it adheres to the 1662 BCP Ordinal, but that Ordinal states unequivocally that the sacred minister must be a man. The 1662 BCP ordinal has not be amended, so either the CinW can not ordain women to any of the three orders of ministry, or it has ruptured its link to the BCP. In which case why does the CinW still refer to the 1662 Ordinal? Perhaps this is an over looked loophole which proves that none of those ladies have in fact been ordained. Or is this His Darkness’ way of sneaking in ministers who are not actually ordained? If that is the case, he has already created his Uniting Church in Wales where the authenticity of Orders no longer matters. Likewise the validity of the sacraments celebrated by those so ordained is questionable.

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  3. Where are the Canon lawyers? Have they lost their authority too?

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    Replies
    1. I think there are two on the bench simple soul. That aside I suppose if you don't believe in the incarnation and/or the resurrection a simple affirmation of faith is very convenient.

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    2. Simple Soul! 'Ecclesiastical law, ceased to be law in Wales in 1920'. They, 'continue as we please', (His Hon Michael Evans 1997). Canon lawyers? Don't make me laugh!

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  4. What everyone here needs to understand is that once the "Uniting Church" has come into being, the Church in Wales will have ceased to exist. It's time to go to court to secure the assets of the Church for faithful Anglicans.

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  5. I have tried making this exact point on the Church in Wales' online forum but, unsurprisingly, the comments never make it past the moderator. I wonder if anybody else has tried to comment at this link: http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/review/2020-discussion-forum/

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  6. Archbishop Barry has ' drawn a line in the sand' !
    The dissolution of the Church in Wales is on the near horizon.

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  7. @Melchizedek: I've known some success at http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/review/2020-discussion-forum, and I'm sure the CiW isn't so narrow minded as to not allow genuine concerns to be posted. After all, I'm not sure ++Baz moderates the comments himself! I'd be keen to see as active discussion there as we see on here. What are Ancient Briton's views on the Harries Review? Why aren't active channels being used to pursue our genuine concerns for the future of the Church?

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    1. I am sorry if I have missed your contribution Hosea but I haven't noticed your name in the CinW discussion forum. What successes have you had?
      You can search for my views on the Harries Review using the "Search This Blog" facility in the right hand column (below the Flag Counter) entering "Harries Review".
      This I think was my first comment - http://ancientbritonpetros.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/church-in-wales-review-managed-decline.html

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