Saturday, 28 June 2008

‘Gay row’ ordinand to be ordained in July

Richard Wood, the ordinand at the centre of a ‘gay row’ last year in the Diocese of Chelmsford, is to be ordained on Saturday 5th July by the Bishop of Barking acting on behalf of the Bishop of Chelmsford.

Richard’s ordination was halted at the last minute in 2007 when he said that he could not receive communion with the Bishop of Chelmsford over the latter’s role as a patron of the pro-gay campaign group, Changing Attitude. Richard, and his vicar, the Revd Mike Reith of Dagenham Parish Church, made it quite clear that although they accepted the lawful authority of the Bishop in his office, they did not feel able to share personal fellowship in the Lord’s Supper with someone they felt was imperilling people’s salvation and denying biblical teaching.

For the past twelve months, however, Richard has been working in Dagenham and living in the curate’s accommodation, whilst negotiations and discussions continued about his position.

It has now been accepted on all sides that there is no challenge to the Bishop’s authority from either Richard or Mike Reith, and no impediment to Richard’s ordination. The Bishop has accordingly given his direction that the ordination may proceed.

The ordination will take place at Dagenham Parish Church at 7.30pm.

Revd John Richardson

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1 comment:

LP said...

As someone who has read a bit of patristic and Anglican history & theology, this whole thing seems a little weird to me.

A priest does not have "apostolic authority" of his own. Rather, he exercises the authority of his bishop in matters ecclesiastical and sacramental.

So it seems to me an ecclesiology and sacramental theology which is quite different -- from that not just of the early Church but also of traditional Anglicanism -- making an argument that:
although they accepted the lawful authority of the Bishop in his office, they did not feel able to share personal fellowship in the Lord’s Supper

Holy Communion is not, chiefly, about "personal fellowship" between believers. Certainly it is that. But it is, more fundamentally, the sacramental heart of Christian unity -- it demonstrates and establishes our unity in Christ which is what gives us that fellowship with each other.

And it is that faith in Christ -- who, through His apostles, established the authority of the Church and of the bishop who, in that apostolic succession, are charged with preserving the faith delivered once for all to the saints -- and obedience to His Church from which episcopal authority in the apostolic succession ultimately derives.

Thus it seems strange to me that these men -- believing their bishop to have departed from that faith and obedience to such an extent that the cannot receive communion from or with him -- nevertheless have no reservations about his "lawful authority" which is established precisely to guard that faith... and which derives its authority and mandate from a fidelity to the very teaching of Christ and His apostles which they seem to believe he has abandoned.

Now, perhaps they see the matter differently, through a slightly different ecclesiology or sacramental theology. I don't mean to suggest that they are acting in bad faith or not being true to their own beliefs.

But, from a perspective of the patristic Church and traditional Anglicanism on these issues, I cannot find much coherence in this refusal to take communion from (or to agree with the teachings of) one's bishop while yet having no concomitant concerns over his "lawful authority".


[now banned on SFiF for articulating precisely this sort of traditional Anglicanism]