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Anglican Battle Lines Drawn in Europe

Anglican Battle Lines Drawn in Europe

By David W. Virtue, DD
December 28, 2020

AS the Anglican Communion slowly devolves into two separate communions with new orthodox branches established in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland and Ireland under the aegis of GAFCON, new lines are being drawn in Europe heightening the growing schism in the Anglican Communion.

While African Anglican evangelical leaders have said there will be no formal schism, (they can wait out the demise of western Anglicanism,) there is the reality that Europe needs a full-blown orthodox response to the influence of The Episcopal Church.

The Living Church recently headlined news that four Anglican Church bodies in continental Europe would form a tighter bond electing new bishops and appointing clergy to serve in their geographically overlapping jurisdictions.

On December 15, the bishops of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe (also called the Episcopal Church in Europe), the Church of England's Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe (also called the Diocese in Europe), the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church and the Lusitanian Catholic Apostolic Evangelical Church authorized and released the Porto Covenant. This is a statement of mutual commitment that was drafted during talks in the Portuguese city in 2006 and refined through additional conversations hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

"Each of our churches is present on the continent of Europe for different reasons," said the Rt. Rev. Mark Edington, bishop in charge of the Episcopal Church in Europe. "It turns out all of those are valid reasons, and they guide us -- each in our own ways, and all of us together -- into God's future mission in a place so rich in Christian history."

The bishops pledged to a process of "full consultation" when the time comes for one of its number to be replaced, stating that those responsible "will, prior to the selection of candidates, inquire of the other three jurisdictions as to what qualities and other attributes they consider important in selecting candidates."

They also promised closer cooperation in appointing clergy in places where another jurisdiction also has a congregation and to coordination of new mission work in these communities. The jurisdictions of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches and the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe fully overlap, and the Church of England diocese also has several congregations in Spain and Portugal, the home of the Spanish and Lusitanian Churches.

There is little doubt that the driving force behind this maneuver is the Episcopal Church in consort with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

It is no coincidence then that this move comes hard on the heels of an announcement that a new European Anglican jurisdiction has been approved by GAFCON leaders.

The Anglican Network in Europe (ANiE) in partnership with new and existing church initiatives is being led by the GAFCON Missionary Bishop for Europe, Andy Lines.

"This new organization is an authentic expression of Anglican church life and mission, authorized and supported by the GAFCON Primates," said a press release.

"ANiE has been formed as a positive response to a spiritual crisis in Europe and the Western world. In mainline protestant denominations, many Bishops, theologians, clergy and other leaders have accommodated the Christian faith to ideologies of contemporary culture. The gospel message has been altered or lost, at a time when millions across Europe, increasingly influenced by secularism, have never heard the good news of Christ: his Lordship, his saving work, and the power of the Holy Spirit to change."

In June 2020, GAFCON leaders passed a resolution, recommending that:"Bishop Andy Lines be appointed as the Bishop of the Anglican Network in Europe, encompassing two convocations, the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) and the Anglican Convocation in Europe (ACE), and that Bishop Andy Lines be under the primatial oversight of whoever is the Chairman of the Primates Council for his point of accountability."

That would be ACNA Archbishop and GAFCON chairman Foley Beach, whose theology stands in direct contradiction to Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

In response to this, a growing number are pioneering and establishing new congregations, and are now finding a home in ANiE, looking to GAFCON for inspiration, authentication and oversight to continue as part of the faithful Anglican family worldwide.

ANiE is a partnership of biblically faithful Anglicans united around a shared commitment to the Jerusalem Declaration 2008 (a widely recognized statement of Anglican orthodoxy) and dedicated to making Christ known in Scotland, England, Wales and across the continent of Europe.


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