Wednesday, 7 November 2007

New statement on Richard Wood's ordination from vicar of Dagenham Parish Church

STATEMENT from Mike Reith, Vicar, Dagenham Parish Church
31st October 2007

Following the promise made in the summer by the Bishop of Chelmsford, The Rt Rev John Gladwin, that he would do everything he could to ensure Richard Wood was ordained to Dagenham Parish Church, we are now disappointed by his decision not to do so.

Richard has met with the Archdeacon of West Ham (3 times), the Canon Theologian at Chelmsford Cathedral, and the Bishop himself in the last three months. Each attempted to persuade Richard to change his mind. All have subsequently said how impressed they are with Richard’s gentleness and integrity. They confirm his overall suitability for ordination.

The Bishop himself agrees that Richard has every right to disagree with him over his Patronage and promotion of the pro-gay campaigning group ‘Changing Attitude’.

Furthermore, he acknowledges that it is within his authority to allow our Area Bishop to ordain Richard on his own. The Area Bishop is willing to do this and Richard would be happy to accept.

But the Bishop insists that Richard must take communion with him if he is to be ordained.

He feels Richard’s reluctance to do so means Richard does not accept the structures of the Church of England.

However Richard is unable to receive Communion with the bishop simply because such ‘table fellowship’ is one of the highest expressions of unity between Christians. And Richard cannot be at one with a high profile teacher who promotes what the bible says is wrong, in an area of life that puts people in eternal danger.

The real question is whether a bishop should use his position in the structures of the Church of England to compel Richard to eat with him against his conscience… and to say that Richard is against the structures of the denomination because he cannot be one with the Bishop in his patronage of a campaign, which is against the teaching of biblical truth.

Actually a precedent for Richard’s position was set by a number of international Anglican leaders in 2005, who similarly felt unable to receive Holy Communion with the Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church, because he publicly identified himself with the campaign for practicing homosexual leadership in his church.
The Bishop needs to recognise that Richard’s position is not that of a maverick disregarding structures, but one adopted by many of the most senior leaders of the denomination.

We have no doubt that, in due course, Richard will be ordained into the ministry of the Church of England. In the meantime, we intend to use his undoubted gifts as much as we are able to at Dagenham Parish Church and to provide for Richard's upkeep out of our own resources and the generosity of others.

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