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Breakaway Anglican Priest could be the Future of Anglicanism in UK

Breakaway Anglican Priest could be the Future of Anglicanism in UK

By David W. Virtue, DD
May 8, 2022

The Rev. Lee McMunn looks, talks and moves like a man in a hurry.

He is watching England in the throes of complete spiritual meltdown. The Church of England offers little spiritual guidance or counter to the culture while it slowly capitulates on sexuality. The Church of England gives no gospel hope to a nation that has less than one million Christian worshippers in a country of 66 million.

McMunn, 43, born in Scotland, is the dynamic evangelical priest of Trinity Church, Scarborough in North Yorkshire. He started Trinity Church after he became disillusioned with the direction of the Church of England. He saw the theological direction the mother church was taking and switched his allegiance to the small but growing Anglican Mission in England with some 23 parishes. The upstart denomination has its own bishop in the person of Andy Lines. It can grow, unencumbered by a state church which McMunn sees as theologically moribund, increasingly unevangelical, unwilling to tell people that they are sinners in need of salvation. Church planting is his passion.

McMunn brought his message of hope and church growth to the Synod of the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word in Souderton, PA recently, under the leadership of the Rt. Rev Julian Dobbs.

"AMiE is a fellowship of faithful Anglican churches committed to gospel mission. We are passionate about planting, strengthening and partnering for the salvation of many and the glory of God. We run two conferences each year in order to refresh our minds, bodies and spirits as we seek to spread the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ," McMunn told VOL in an interview.

"Church growth consists of new converts to crisis' including those who had dropped out of church, those not attending, transfer growth with some coming from unhappy previous church experience and biological growth. We must trust the Lord to scatter the seed of the Word of God and not to give up on the Bible when things look slow."

McMunn said his call to service arose when he came under the influence of the late John Stott of All Souls, Langham Place, London. This was where McMunn was converted in 1997. "His sermon demonstrated his utter passionate commitment to truth, combined with authentic deep humility. The sermon was a mirror to see myself."

"I started out as a Baptist while studying at the London School of Economics where I had an existential crisis. My grandmother told me about All Souls and so one day I sneaked off and went to a service where I heard Stott preaching. What he said so impressed me that I gave my life to the Lord, finished my degree and became a minister trainee at the church, coming under the influence of Rico Tice, pioneer of Christianity Explored. I was later selected to train at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, got ordained and moved to Hull, where I was blessed to minister alongside the late Melvin Tinker at St. John Newland.

"I felt called to Scarborough to plant a church, but I was told they had no real job, no money and nowhere to live. I managed to persuade the diocese that I was needed, and they told me I had to raise 90,000 pounds ($112,000) up front. That was in 2017. I was ordained by the Church of England, but by 2020 I joined the Anglican Mission in England. I saw no future in the CofE. I left the Diocese of York. "I went to Hull in 2005 and got ordained. My role as Assistant Minister with a special focus on evangelism was created by the pioneering leadership of Melvin. However, before starting, the diocese said we had to raise 90,000 pounds ($112,000) up front. Gloriously the Lord provided everything! In 2017, I moved to Scarborough to plant a church with the Anglican Mission in England. I saw no future in the CofE."

McMunn said the AMiE is the British version of the American story of The Episcopal Church split. "It is now 12 years later, and we are the early leavers. We already have 23 parishes, and we are growing." His own parish regularly has 150 on a Sunday which started with 17, some 13 being kids.

"We have a mission culture based on the Great Commission. We are small but it is early days. We have been recognized by GAFCON as an authentic outreach outside the Church of England and our whole goal is church planting, a message he brought to delegates of the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word.

"The AMiE is implementing the three D's -- doctrine, devotion and discipline. The CofE is weak on upholding doctrine and discipline. "We only allow male presbyters; our churches are dotted around England. Our goal is 25 churches by 2025 and 250 by 2050. We will plant 30 churches by the end of 2030."

Questioned on why the British people seem to show no interest in the gospel; seem unafraid to face the big questions about life and death, McMunn said the British people have been sold an "alternative gospel."

"What the CofE has perpetuated is that everybody is worshipping in their own way; that you are fundamentally good, and you are going to heaven no matter what. The big questions of 'Who am I' and 'where is life going' is not being asked.

"To speak out about the Christian gospel we will need to embrace suffering because the gospel is not popular. We need the courage to be clear because words can be so vague like inclusion and diversity. We must address issues that are unpopular in the face of a hostile culture. We need to be clear about sin. We need to deconstruct the alternative message. Death is hidden from people; they live in denial."

McMunn recalls a time when he heard Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, former primate of the Church of Nigeria arguing that Anglicans must say 'this is not what IT is'; that is hard when suffering happens.

McMunn ripped the Living in Love and Faith report put out by the Church of England as an exercise in listening to people's experiences, but not listening to the Scriptures, the church's final authority on all matters of faith and practice.

"It might be contextually relevant, but out of context with scripture. There is a danger of listening because one can lose the ability to say something. Life can be lived as you want."

McMunn said the whole idea is to accept "mutual flourishing" where you can hedge your bets and be deliberately ambiguous.

"How convinced are we that God is sovereign in terms of salvation. We must ask who is Jesus, how do we present the biblical Jesus?"

McMunn drew on the theme of 'where should our home be'. "We are exiles, aliens, strangers and refugees in this world. "We are part of the exile story of Israel in the OT in Babylon. We are part of a story until the return of Christ. We live in exile, we don't run to the hills, we advance with courage. We rejoice, resist and rescue."


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