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Church Society expresses its solidarity with gospel partners

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Posted by Lee Gatiss, 4 Jul 2018

Lee Gatiss reports after the first meeting of the new Church Society Council in central London yesterday.

Yesterday, for the first time since our Annual General Meeting, the newly elected Council of Church Society met. I opened the meeting by reflecting on Ephesians 1:1-14 and God’s abundant blessings to us in Christ: unconditional election (verses 3-5), irresistible grace (verses 6-8), strategic wisdom (verses 8-10), and an inclusive gospel (verses 11-14 — it’s for anyone and everyone who believes in Jesus). We spent some time in prayer, praising God for all he has given to us and asking for insight, that all our plans would be in harmony with his plan to unite all things in and under Christ.

The Revd Dr Mark Burkill was unanimously elected to be our Chairman, with the Revd Paul Darlington and the Revd Dr Rob Munro chosen as Vice Chairmen. This nicely expresses the new unity between Church Society, Reform, and the Fellowship of Word & Spirit with these three former chairmen of the uniting organisations now leading us as we move forward together.

As a Council, we had re-read the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration from 2008 and were delighted to affirm this basis for the GAFCON movement. We warmly received the “Letter to the Churches” from the recent GAFCON conference in Jerusalem and are committed partners within this movement to renew the Anglican Communion and proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations. Several members of Council had been moved and encouraged by their attendance at GAFCON last month, which could well be (as one delegate put it) a turning point in the history of Anglicanism.

We were particularly enthusiastic about the ongoing ministry of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion (EFAC), which Church Society has supported since its inception. This article from our journal Churchman back in 1962 contains its very helpful doctrinal basis, and some notes on its history. With EFAC groups around the world, Church Society are very keen to affirm the sufficiency and supremacy of Scripture, justification by faith alone, the sole mediation of Christ, a non-sacerdotal pastoral ministry, and the pursuit of unity without compromising biblical truth. I attended an EFAC Council meeting in Jerusalem and was inspired by the work of EFAC groups worldwide.

Church Society has also decided to express its partnership and solidarity with other evangelical groups nearer to home in this country by fostering a closer relationship with Affinity. Affinity is a fellowship of Churches, evangelical Agencies, and Christians across the whole of the UK, including the FIEC, Baptist churches, Presbyterian churches, mission agencies such as Crosslinks and Crossteach, and gospel partnerships, seminaries, and publishers. I have personally been a member of the Affinity Council for several years, but we hope to strengthen our official ties here over the coming year, and continue to support the ministry of Graham Nicholls its director and the theological studies conference (at which I spoke last year).

We also reiterated our sponsorship and support for the ReNew conference, a joint venture between Church Society and the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), with whom we are in warm gospel fellowship as we seek together to pioneer, establish, and secure healthy Anglican churches and advance Anglican Evangelical ministries for the salvation of our nation. We urge all our members to sign up for this year’s conference which takes as its theme “Mobilise! Every Member Ministry.”

Council have appointed various groups and committees for the coming year, to take forward our mission and advance our aim to strengthen local churches in biblical faith and help shape the Church of England now and for the future. During the negotiations for the merger with Reform and the Fellowship of Word & Spirit, we decided that a number of key items would need to be discussed over the next 6-12 months as we bring our organisations together and work hard to amplify the voice of conservative evangelicals in the Church of England, clarify our concerns for the truth, and testify to the gospel together. We repeated our strong support for the Bishop of Maidstone in his ministry and the need to see it grow, and will in the coming months continue to look at how we express our fellowship with others nationally and internationally, how we can both contend and communicate better going forward, and how we might adequately resource the particular ministries we see as vital to these things.

We warmly welcomed the new Priscilla Programme being run by our Associate Director, Ros Clarke in partnership with Union School of Theology. This will provide top quality training to women in the churches. You can hear more about that in this week’s podcast.

Council have also decided that we should look for another associate director to work alongside me and Ros. They will be involved in political and networking aspects of our ministries, and help promote and advance the gospel in small, rural, and other evangelically-challenging parishes. A job description and advert for this exciting new post will be available here on our website soon.

There is much to do, and so we covet your prayers for wisdom and strength as we seek to put all these things into effect in the coming months. Please do sign up here to receive our free fortnightly email updates, if you have not already done so! May I also appeal for patience, prayer, and positivity from all our members and supporters at this time, as we seek to serve for the glory of God and the good of England?

Lee Gatiss is the Director of Church Society.

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