ACE and AMiE conferences
More than 70 gathered for the AMiE conference to celebrate growth and consolidation, to be reminded of the amazing love and grace of God and some key principles for continuing in faithfulness, and to hear about some plans for developing structures for mission. There are now 25 congregations or planting initiatives in the Convocation, and more in the pipeline. The first face to face meeting for two years was much appreciated, as it enables vital work of informal discussion and prayer that is lost in Zoom meetings.
Some of the ACE presbyters met in person in Leeds recently, prior to the AMiE conference, to pray together and discuss how ACE can plan for and enable growth with limited capacity. The team rejoiced in 3 new congregations who had joined since the beginning of the year as well as the sizeable number of ongoing conversations with others also looking to become part of the convocation. Much of the focus was on maintaining and embedding ACE’s values in our welcome, formation and culture, particularly providing an ecclesial home that offers gospel generosity along with gracious accountability.
Church of England: LLF process
The Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith process is nearing its conclusion with discussions at local level in parishes and Deaneries. CEEC takes the view that the evangelical voice needs to be heard through these discussions, and that those who have not yet taken the time to fully get to grips with complex questions of theology, culture and sexual ethics can benefit from getting involved. CEEC has produced a guide to enable evangelicals to engage graciously and faithfully.
Other evangelical Anglicans take a more critical view of LLF, saying it does not provide a level playing field for open discussion, but is slanted towards leading the church to accept radically different views on the bible and sexuality as equally valid, and to persuade conservatives to accept change for the sake of ‘mission’. Examples of this view can be found here and here.
The Free Church of England
The Free Church of England partnered with Reformed Episcopal churches in mainland Europe and the US, is also part of Gafcon GBE. More information on their history and current ministry can be found on our website.
Freedom of speech and thought; freedom for gospel ministry
The government’s proposal to bring in a legal ban on ‘conversion therapy’ has been criticised for going much further than just restricting coercive attempts to change sexual orientation. Instead, as the Minister’s Consultation Letter, now signed by nearly 5000 people and delivered to government in February, points out, the proposed laws threaten freedom to teach biblical doctrine on sex and marriage, freedom to have pastoral conversations about change of thought and behaviour, and would seek to prevent anyone from changing their mind towards a more conservative view about sex and gender.
Four Church of England Bishops have publicly rebuked those clergy who signed the letter, even though they are supposed to uphold the very teaching which would be restricted by the proposed ban. The main author of the Ministers’ Letter, Matthew Roberts, asks whether these bishops would really be prepared to see conservative clergy be prosecuted. See full report from LifeSite here.
Meanwhile in Finland, the landmark case continues of the Christian politician, on trial for publicly sharing bible verses and authoring a tract on the Christian view of sex and marriage. Last month Päivi Räsänen addressed the Evangelical Alliance of Spain, and her talk on the Word of God and freedom in Europe is available as a transcript as well as on video. She says:
“The more we keep silent about the teachings of the Bible on the painful issues of our time, the more powerful is the rejection. Our time challenges us to commit to the Word of God. We are especially called to stand firm in those parts of the Scriptures that contradict the spirit of the time.”
More interviews from around the world
Rodrigo Cavalcanti da Silva, originally from Brazil, is now living in Portugal with his family.
Orthodox Anglicans broke away from the Episcopal Church in 2005 as it was heading rapidly in a liberal direction. The Anglican Church of Brazil was recognised by Gafcon as a Province in 2018. Rodrigo led the establishment of a new bible-based seminary, mostly operating online. It now has more than 200 students. He has now planted a new church in Braga, and hopefully in more centres in Portugal. He asks for prayer for a venue.
Tim Anderson is an experienced minister who trained and served initially in urban centres in England but has been rector of a parish in Belfast for 20 years.
Tim gives an overview of the political and cultural changes in the island of Ireland, and the situation in the relatively small but significant Anglican Church. “Secularism is marching forward” but there are opportunities for re-equipping congregations for mission in a new context. A foundational leader of Gafcon Ireland, Tim is looking to encourage bible-based witness within the Church of Ireland which is predominantly “relativist and inclusivist” in its theology.
Scotland and Wales
Just one in three Scots now identify as Christian, reports the Glasgow Herald. Humanist Society Scotland claim this survey proves that Christianity should be excluded from public life, for example in schools, but Martin Ayers, Senior Minister at St Silas, Glasgow (Anglican Convocation Europe), says: “The historic mainline denominations may be experiencing decline, but there is an emergence all over Scotland of flourishing, vibrant, welcoming church communities. We are finding that many people in Scotland who are disconnected from the Christian faith feel disillusioned, and purposeless, and that there is an increasing openness to exploring Jesus’ claim to be the way, the truth and the life; and to experiencing the hope he offers.”
Similarly, though surveys show a decline in Christian belief and churchgoing in England and Wales, and erosion of Christian witness in the public square, there is still a well of appreciation for the work that churches do, from some politicians as well as at the grassroots. Evangelical Alliance have posted a report of the recent National Prayer Breakfast in Cardiff.
Crosslinks mission partner in Moldova, Bequi Innes, gave a radio interview on Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show, describing how her church and family are involved in offering welcome to refugees. Listen to the interview here.
War in Ukraine: How to help and what mistakes to avoid. An article from Evangelical Focus describes good principles employed by one European Christian NGO
The Church of England has produced a useful briefing including a “Toolkit” to help churches and individuals understand the issues and prepare to assist Ukrainians in different ways.
Cost of living squeeze
Price inflation, especially on fuel, will inevitably cause disposable income to shrink and real hardship for some. A new report suggests that this will could lead to reduced giving for churches. There will be increased calls on Christian communities to offer the love of Christ through practical help to long establish local residents as well as incoming refugees.
Looking forward to Easter
More than 750 churches are involved in this regular initiative of evangelism through the local church, resourced by a flexible central hub. Let’s pray for this!
The week that changed the world. Peter Walker’s excellent resource for Holy Week retelling the Passion Story in 12 short audio instalments, with accompanying video that takes viewers into the streets of Jerusalem to better envisage the final week leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.