Sunday, 31 August 2008

Letter to all members of the electoral roll

As promised in the previous post here is the letter sent to all members of the electoral roll today:
The Parish Church of St John the Baptist

29th August 2008, Feast of the Beheading of St John the Baptist

To all members of the Electoral Roll of the Parish

We write to you in this period of reflection after the decision taken by General Synod on July 7th 2008. This decision was not about women bishops but about a secure solution for those who can not accept this innovation.
Since the early 90’s all knew that the admittance of women to the episcopate was a question of when and not if. In those early days the Act of Synod was given and promises made that the wide spectrum of traditions within the Church of England will be allowed to grow. For some Anglo-Catholics this was not acceptable and they went to pastures new. For others this was a way forward and remained. The system worked and as you know parishes like ours were able to thrive and grow and become significant parishes. The number of young men offering themselves to the Sacred Priesthood also flourished and a healthy number of vocations from among our young men are produced. From that crop future incumbents and curates for this parish will come.
Where those promises made 10 years ago genuine? It seems not. It now appears that the Act of Synod was intended as terminal care. What is on the table today is to abolish the Act of Synod and replace it with a code of practice. If one sees how many bishops voted on the 7th July there is not much hope that such a code would provide a reliable long term solution. This code is aimed at tolerating us, we do not want to be tolerated we need the security that will enable us to flourish and grow. We are being offered an honoured place, we need an equal place.
Some might say that there is still plenty of time and a very complex process. But so far the decision taken says that Anglo-Catholics are not wanted in the Church of England and that this same Church is not to be any longer understood as it was for a very long time as a broad Church. This, therefore, is not only a matter of concern for Anglo-Catholics but for all those who have at heart the Church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the bishops of London and Rochester and many other bishops are not happy with the vote taken on July 7th.
We need to stand up for our position as Anglo-Catholics and for the Church of England in general. One of the mottoes of the Anglo-Catholics is: No desertion – no surrender! We can not make proper representation to Bishops and the Synod as a loose association of parishes. We know that those who want us out are well organised and have worked their way through synod.
In the light of the above it is refreshing to know that all representations and any negotiations will be carried out by Forward in Faith. We know that from the autumn there will be a listening process and as a parish we need and deserve a place at that discussion table. To secure that important place we need to affiliate our parish to Forward in Faith. While the decision of affiliation belongs to the PCC, as your elected representatives, we would like everyone on the electoral roll of this parish to have a say. You can do so by talking to us or any member of the PCC. You could also do it in writing; we will ensure that all your thinking will be shared with the PCC. The PCC meeting during which this will be discussed is on Tuesday 16th September, so please make sure that any representations are made up to Sunday 14th September.
What will this affiliation require and mean? There are no boxes for us to tick; this is an Anglo-Catholic parish with resolutions A, B and C. Indeed, St John’s is the only resolution C parish in Rochester diocese not to be affiliated to Forward in Faith. After the vote is taken by the PCC and if it is, as we hope and trust, in the positive, our representatives will be able to take part in all the discussions, debates and decision making that Forward in Faith has to take. When the final package is on the table we will have had a share in its shaping. Whatever that package will contain might be the only thing that would make it possible for many to stay in the Church of England.
Finally but most importantly, affiliating the parish does not mean that our parish will be monochrome and that we all say the same thing and sign up to the same manifestos. We hope and pray that St John’s will be a beacon to the wider Church of how we can live happily in diversity respecting each other and making sure that everyone has a secure and equal place in the Church. We want to remain as we are: a really inclusive Church. Affiliating to Forward in Faith might help us keep this wonderful and happy congregation together, which at the moment is being put under great threat and pressure by synod.
We are sorry for such a lengthy letter, but we trust you understand the gravity of the situation. If you need more information on Forward in Faith please check the web site:, alternatively you may want to speak to Fr Ivan wearing the other hat as Clerical chairman of Forward in Faith Rochester or Mr Jim Cheesman, the Lay chairman of the same.
This comes with our best wishes.

Yours in the service of the Lord,

This letter is signed by:

Fr Ivan D Aquilina SSC
Mr Richard Wilson
Mr David Bonner

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