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UK: Jesmond curate's breakaway consecration surprises both diocese and conservative Evangelicals - UPDATED

UK: Jesmond curate's breakaway consecration surprises both diocese and conservative Evangelicals

By Tim Wyatt
May 8, 2017

THE authorities in Newcastle diocese still seem to be in the dark after an assistant curate of a conservative Evangelical parish church in the diocese was reportedly consecrated bishop through the action of a breakaway Church in South Africa.

The curate, the Revd Jonathan Pryke, has served at Jesmond Parish Church since 1988. He was consecrated by bishops from the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa (REACH-SA) at a service in Newcastle earlier this month, several sources told the Church Times.

But a spokesman for the diocese simply said today: "The Bishop of Newcastle is aware of reports concerning this matter and is seeking clarification."

The Church Times has repeatedly attempted to contact both Bishop Pryke and his Vicar, the Revd David Holloway, but neither has responded.

The news also appears to have surprised GAFCON UK and the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), who agreed last week to appoint their own missionary bishop for conservative Evangelical parishes in Britain (News, 5 May), even though the new bishop is a member of AMiE's executive committee.

In a statement put out this evening, AMiE said: "We can confirm that the consecration of the Revd Jonathan Pryke was a gospel decision taken independently of AMiE. His consecration was never discussed at our Executive meetings.

"Jonathan is a valued member of the AMiE Exec and we are thankful to God for his abundant gifts and wisdom. We will be praying for him in this new season of his ministry.

"The AMiE Executive Committee recently requested that the GAFCON Primates support the consecration of a Missionary Bishop. We were overjoyed when they agreed to do this for the sake of gospel growth."

It was unclear whether Jonathan Pryke, who was ordained priest in 1986, had formally left the Church of England. He is still listed on the Jesmond Parish Church website as a "senior minister" in the parish.

REACH-SA, formerly known as the Church of England in South Africa, split from the Anglican Church of the Province of Southern Africa soon after its founding, in opposition to the Anglo-Catholic Archbishop of Cape Town.

In 2008, Jesmond Parish Church was listed as in impaired communion or seeking alternative episcopal oversight, by the Revd Rod Thomas, the then chairman of the conservative Evangelical network Reform.

The "impaired communion" was in fact first declared by the church in 1997 just before the Rt Revd Martin Wharton became Bishop of Newcastle, because of disagreements over homosexuality. Jesmond Parish Church was also accused of breaking canon law in 1998 when it appointed an unlicensed assistant priest to its staff.


GAFCON UK: Statement on the consecration at Jesmond Parish Church

May 8, 2017

Gafcon UK are aware that Jesmond Parish Church have for some years been in a form of impaired communion with the Bishop of Newcastle, and have developed a special relationship with REACH-SA (formerly CESA).

Over the past few years, several clergy have been ordained by REACH Bishops to serve in the Jesmond church network and in one other part of England.

The leadership of Jesmond church have for some time been speaking publicly about the need for new missionary Bishops in Western nations who can oversee new Anglican ministries in the Celtic model. The reasoning can be found in the statement from the 2017 Jesmond Conference, here.

Gafcon UK have been informed of the latest developments but cannot comment further at this stage.



Jesmond Parish Church Press Release
May 8, 2017

On St Athanasius' Day, 2 May 2017, Jonathan Pryke, the senior minister, under its vicar, of Jesmond Parish Church, Newcastle upon Tyne, was consecrated a "bishop in the Church of God". This was by the Presiding Bishop of REACH SA (the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa), formerly known as CESA (the Church of England in South Africa) and whose orders of bishop, priest/presbyter and deacon are recognized by the Church of England. But like the new ACNA (the Anglican Church in North America) whose orders are also recognized, it is not in communion with the Church of England. Officially the Church of England is in Communion with the heterodox ACSA (the Anglican Church of South Africa), and with the heterodox TEC (The Episcopal Church [of America]). But, in practice, many orthodox English and Global Anglicans are in communion with both REACH SA and ACNA.

The service took place neither in a Church of England "place of worship" nor an unconsecrated place of worship designated under s.43 of the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011. It did not take place in Jesmond Parish Church. The ceremony was according to the REACH SA consecration Holy Communion service with only REACH SA bishops taking part. The declaration, however, was to the Church of England's Canon A5 which says:

"The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the 39 Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal."

The oath was of "all due reverence and obedience" not to the Presiding Bishop of REACH SA but to "bishops and other chief ministers" under whom Jonathan is set. So he has a dispersed responsibility and duty: in things temporal to the Bishop of Newcastle, with whom, sadly, in things spiritual, Jesmond Parish Church along with other churches in the diocese are in impaired communion; in terms of Jesmond Parish Church, to the vicar of Jesmond and where there is united agreement, to the Jesmond PCC; and, pastorally, to one of the participating REACH SA bishops. This bishop particularly understands the English situation and does not want to see bishops "parachuted in" to form a new "orthodox church" or "province". He sees the role of REACH SA simply as helping English people have the courage to take responsibility for reforming the Church of England to be in line with Canon A5, to evangelize and to see growth. This consecration took place after considerable discussion and encouragement from leaders in the Church of England, and with the Presiding Bishop of REACH SA convinced it right to proceed after discussion with the Secretary of GAFCON.

"In the light of the vicar's fourth talk at the Jesmond Conference and the REFORM Covenant that expresses 'the need radically to reform the present shape of episcopacy and pastoral discipline to enable local churches to evangelize more effectively' the PCC supports planning for Jonathan Pryke to be consecrated for an alternative form of episcopal oversight."

Of course, two questions need to be answered. First, is it possible to have responsibilities in a Church of England parish while at the same time having episcopal responsibilities? Yes, certainly. For one of the Panel of UK GAFCON bishops before retirement was a priest in charge of a parish in the Church of England while at the same time a bishop of the Church of Rwanda, where he spent a month or two each year. Secondly, will this new role make a great deal of difference to Jonathan's work at Jesmond? No! He will spend 80% of his time in helping Jesmond Parish Church fulfil its mission of being faithful to its founder's 19th century vision of being "a central point for the maintenance and promulgation of sound scriptural and evangelical truth" and its 20th/21st century vision of "Godly Living, Church Growth and Changing Britain". And 20% of his time in helping establish new churches. This follows the model of episcopacy in REACH SA where everyone except the Presiding Bishop is in a charge of a congregation.

Jonathan already is a member of the AMiE executive and so committed to planting 25 new churches by 2025 (essential, under God, for evangelism and growth) and 250 new churches by 2050. The main thing that is significantly different now as far as Jonathan is concerned is that Jonathan can ordain men for the ministry, whereas other presbyter/priests of us involved in evangelism cannot. Some leaders obviously need this "power" (as the 16th century Richard Hooker would say) as more men are trained for ministry and to be faithful to Canon A5. Also they need it to help planted churches corporately keep faithful to Canon A5. At the Jesmond Conference a group of senior leaders including one REACH SA bishop and one English GAFCON Bishop, agreed that three bishops were needed, one being consecrated with REACH SA orders; one being consecrated as a result of an initiative by the GAFCON Primates; and one other.

It is hoped that the GAFCON Primates will secure the consecration of a man in such a way that will enable the reform of the Church of England, with him responsible to English Christians rather than a distant Primate. In this 500th anniversary year of the 16th century Reformation it needs to be remembered that the independence of the local Province was a major concern of the English Reformation as well as the primacy of the Bible and Justification by Faith.


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