What do you think about 'The Free Church of England'?

Discussion in 'Questions?' started by Antony, Sep 13, 2019.

  1. Antony

    Antony Member

    Posts:
    31
    Likes Received:
    19
    Country:
    England
    I just discovered this outfit and their splinter 'Evangelical Connexion of The Free Church of England' and wondered what the members of this forum thought about them.
     
  2. Will_

    Will_ Member

    Posts:
    77
    Likes Received:
    76
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican
    The Free Church of England, from what I understand, has orders that are recognized by the Church of England itself, and it is in communion with the Reformed Episcopal Church and thereby has some connection to the ACNA. I have seen sermons from FCE clergy before and they have been pretty good. They might be a good alternative for someone living in the UK and close to one of their parishes.

    I don't know anything about the "Evangelical Connexion", though.
     
  3. Symphorian

    Symphorian Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    351
    Likes Received:
    515
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    Anglican, CofE
    I'd not heard of them until quite recently. From their website it appears that they're quite a small body in England with around 20 churches.

    The nearest congregation to me is two hours drive away. Had one been nearer I might've considered visiting out of curiosity.

    There's an interesting (but older) thread on another religious forum including input from a former FCE minister:

    http://forum.ship-of-fools.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=70;t=022976
     
    Will_ likes this.
  4. Will_

    Will_ Member

    Posts:
    77
    Likes Received:
    76
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican
    That thread you referenced is quite interesting. I got some of my information from Wikipedia at

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Church_of_England

    but do wonder where that information came from after reading the "Ship of Fools" thread!
     
    Liturgyworks likes this.
  5. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,093
    Likes Received:
    1,071
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Episcopalian
    I am glad to see another Anglican on here besides myself pointing this out. Just out of curiosity, what is the distinguishing feature of the FCE? Forgive my ignorance here.
     
    Matthew J Taylor likes this.
  6. Matthew J Taylor

    Matthew J Taylor Member

    Posts:
    76
    Likes Received:
    62
    Country:
    Scotland
    Religion:
    Free Church of England
    The Free Church of England emerged in the 19th C from Anglican-identifying evangelical Methodists who were concerned both by Tractarianism, and, ironically enough, the very developments in British society and politics which motivated Tractarian concerns in the first place. Its founding theology was essentially that of the early Reformed Episcopal Church, but, initially lacking bishops, the ecclesiology was wishy washy.

    Initially it sought to combine the best of the Anglican, Presbyterian and Non-Conforming systems into a Free Church suited to England, but, especially upon contact with the Reformed Episcopal Church in North America, the FCE understood itself to be a thoroughly Anglican body which may learn from Methodists and Presbyterians etc. but would hold to Anglican doctrine, practice and polity as best as could be achieved in a non-established English setting.

    The FCE has a difficult balance between its "Free" side and its "Church of England" side.
    At the end of the 19th and into the 20th Century, these tensions led to the divide into three bodies:

    i) The Free Church of England - less Anglican
    ii)The Reformed Church of England - pet project of a rebellious bishop
    iii)The Reformed Episcopal Church (UK) - more Anglican

    The Reformed Church of England was absorbed into the Reformed Episcopal Church (UK) upon the death of its bishop and, in 1927, the Free Church of England and the Reformed Episcopal Church (UK) reunited into the "Free Church of England otherwise known as the Reformed Episcopal Church in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland". Normally this united body is referred to simply as the Free Church of England or the FCE.

    Through the 20th Century this union held through having a classical Low Church Anglican jurisdiction.

    In the 1990s tensions flared up again as discussion took place between the FCE and CofE about reabsorption into the CofE, potentially forming a body similar to the "third province" some conservative evangelicals have requested in recent years. This merger failed to pass.

    The next fight, in the early 2000s was over ecumenism. The thoroughly "Free" side was gravely concerned about the participation of the FCE in dialogues with insufficiently scriptural (i.e. insufficiently protestant) bodies whereas the more Anglican side could point to the Ecumenical origins of the Reformed Episcopal Church and our constitutional commitment to be in communion with all Christians.

    The anti-Ecumenical side went independent, initially with sympathetic bishops, and organised itself as the Evangelical Connexion of the Free Church of England. Their bishops are now retired and so they are now de facto Prayer Book Presbyterians. The Ecumenical side maintained control of the official structure and so is the side which has kept the name, branding, constitution and relations with the North American REC. Reunion would probably require a new generation of leadership in both groups who were not involved in the initial fight, as it seems there is severe mutual suspicion.

    Since then, the real question of the FCE's identity has been to what extent they, like the North American REC, should broaden their churchmanship. This is an ongoing debate, but, fortunately, it seems to have been kept a bit more calm than previous developments. For instance, Calvin Robinson, the television commentator and right-wing activist, who leans heavily into Anglo-Catholic (though not pro-Roman) understandings, was recently made a deacon by Bishop Paul Hunt, who is generally perceived to be the more Reformed of the bishops.

    Where this will go is impossible to say, and will likely depend heavily on the relationship that develops between the FCE and ANiE, the Anglican Network in Europe, GAFCON's missionary jurisdiction to the continent which is overwhelmingly based in the British Isles. An eventual merger or an REC-ACNA style status seem to me to be the best possible outcomes.
     
    Invictus likes this.
  7. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,807
    Likes Received:
    1,319
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican (ACNA)
    How did Fr Calvin square his convictions with the Principles of doctrine which every priest in the FCE must sign?
     
  8. Matthew J Taylor

    Matthew J Taylor Member

    Posts:
    76
    Likes Received:
    62
    Country:
    Scotland
    Religion:
    Free Church of England
    You'd have to ask him, not me.
    Whilst we are aquatinted, we have not discussed the matter, at least not as far as I can recall.
    A sufficiently strict reading of the Declaration of Principles can allow some wiggle room, as demonstrated by the Pastoral Letter on the matter from a few years ago.