Advent 2012 Pastoral Letter from England

All this is very encouraging. Please keep the TTAC, its Vicar General and all the clergy and laity in your prayers.

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Advent 2012

My Dear Friends,

Greetings, to each and everyone one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ.

May I take this opportunity to welcome you to our new Diocesan Journal, The Clarion.

The Clarion has been produced as a direct result from the discussions that were held at our recent Diocesan Assembly, which tool place in Lincoln on October 26th.

It became very evident to me during our meeting that the time was upon us to once again go forth with joy and confidence in proclaiming not just what and whom we are, but to most importantly proclaim the saving message of the Gospels of Jesus Christ.

For several years, the Traditional Anglican Church (TTAC) had become involved with a process that sadly led to confusion and division. That chapter has now closed and our situation has been clarified once and for all. Never again will we allow ourselves to be placed into a position that is neither necessary nor desired.

Let me be very clear about this, what I am not saying is that we are against the unification of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Affirmation of St Louis is very clear on the subject: – “We declare our firm intention to seek and achieve full sacramental communion and visible unity with other Christians who ‘worship the Trinity in Unity, and Unity in Trinity’ and hold the Catholic and Apostolic Faith”.

What we were presented with was not acceptable to us as fulfilling our declared intention and petition on the issue; absorption is not the same as mutual recognition of our treasured place amongst the Holy Church of God, Anglican, Catholic and Apostolic.

So what is the nature of our Church, well again I refer us back to the Affirmation of St Louis as way of a reminder of what we are “we gather as people called by God to be faithful and obedient unto Him. As the Royal Priestly People of God, the Church is called to be, in fact, the manifestation of Christ in and to the world. True religion is revealed to man by God. We cannot decide what is truth, but rather (in obedience) ought to receive, accept, cherish, defend and teach what God has given us. The Church created by God, and is beyond the ultimate control of man.”

“The Church is the Body of Christ at work in the world. She is the society of the baptised called out from the world: in it but not of it. As Christ’s faithful Bride, she is different from the world and must not be influenced by it.”

The Traditional Anglican Church in Britain is a part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, it holds to the Christian Faith as professed by the Church of Christ from the earliest of times and in particular as set forth by the Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church and embodied in the Creeds known as the Nicene Creed, Athanasius Creed, and that commonly called the Apostles Creed.

Since our formation in 1996, we have maintained resolutely our Canons and Constitution; we will continue to do so until we have the space to undertake a comprehensive revision. However we also need to ensure that we have a standard form of worship throughout the Diocese and use those books as Authorised under the Ruling Principles of the Church. The King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer (1662). Please see the excellent article on the subject on the Book of Common Prayer by reverend Father Geoffrey Andow.

We have all witnessed the sad and distressing events that have taken place within the Church of England; we need to be clear on the issue of women and the ministry within this Church. I will again for clarity refer to the Affirmation of St Louis,

Holy Orders: – “The Holy Orders of Bishops, priests and deacons as the perpetuation of Christ’s gift of apostolic ministry to His Church asserting the necessity of a bishop of apostolic succession (or a priest ordained as such) as the celebrant of the Eucharist – these Orders consisting exclusively of men in accordance with Christ’s Will and institution (as evidenced by the Scriptures), and the universal practice of the Catholic Church”.

Deaconesses:-  “The ancient office and ministry of Deaconesses as a lay vocation for women, affirming the need for proper encouragement of that office.”

We are not anti women neither are we anti feminist, but we will continue to adhere to the essentials of Truth and Order as defined within the Affirmation of St Louis and the Ruling Principles of this Church. We fully recognise and encourage lay pastoral roles for women within the Church and that includes the ancient orders including that of Deaconess as a venerable vocation. It is a very important role which we should collectively encourage to meet the growing and demanding needs of the Church in the Community that it seeks to serve.

Our Assembly witnessed in the spirit of Love and Unity the views of all of those who were present, I was determined that the voice of everyone should be heard and understood. Everyone has a right within the Church both Clergy and Laity to express their opinions and views on every aspect of the live of the Church and its collective Ministry.

We are here to proclaim and teach the Gospel message of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, so we have to begin to seek ways in which we can make ourselves more visible.

We have made a very good start by first re- establishing our presence on  the World Wide Web. The site is still in its infancy and will be continually developed until we all feel that it is comprehensively meeting the needs of the Church. The review of our publicity material needs reviewing urgently, so that those who inquire of what we are or who we are need to have to hand easily understandable leaflets etc, that spell it out.

The web site will help address this to a certain extent, Michael Wilson our webmaster is making documents assessable in PDF format already, but more needs to follow. We have within our midst one of the finest journalists in the country Father Tony Fry, I pray that in time Father Tony will edit our Diocesan Journal once he has cleared time and space within his busy schedule.

Cathedral, during the Assembly discussions, a point was made that we should consider that St Katherine’s be made our Cathedral Church. In February 2005 our former Archbishop John Hepworth visited St Katherine’s just before its programme of restoration was due to commence. As a result of his visit he issued a Certificate for the Erection of St Katherine’s as the Cathedral Church for the Traditional Anglican Church in Britain. It was conditional that the restoration programme be completed before the said Church could be erected as our Cathedral. After an extensive £2.3 million restoration project the building works are now complete. As a result we can now proceed to formalising the process.

We will form a Cathedral foundation and appoint Canons. The installation of the  Grand Organ has commenced with the 32 foot pedal open now being in place. The work will last several moths but we hope to have this work completed by Easter 2013. We have had a light peal of six bells donated and hope to be able to fund their installation next autumn. The Cathedral will have its own dedicated website with a direct link to our Diocesan site and the TAC website also.

Election of a Bishop, during the Assembly discussions, the question of our having our own Bishop was raised. I want to emphasise that this topic was not on the Agenda, but in the sprit that the meeting was held the subject was raised and debated. We agreed to pass a Motion on the matter in which it was agreed that we petition  the College of Bishops to arrange for such an election to be held as soon as is practicably possible. The Motion also stated, that I be elected to the position. I was very humbled by the outcome. The Motion received unanimous endorsement. The motion will be forwarded to the College of Bishops in accordance with the wishes of the Assembly.

Officers, All of the officers of the Church have been confirmed into office, I am delighted that Paul Jones has accepted the position of our Registrar. Michael Wilson has agreed to continue as our Diocesan Secretary and Christopher Houghton has been appointed as our Diocesan Treasurer. All of our officers are based at St Katherine’s and can be contacted directly by telephoning the Priory  Centre on 01522 579490.

Development All of us want our Church not to simply “continue” but to grow and attain a national presence. We have to reach out wherever and whenever we can. The work of the Kingdom is not an easy one, particularly in a nation that has developed into an insular, selfish and secular society. However that should not act as a deterrent to our sacred mission to proclaim the Gospel Message. We need to encourage men into the ministry and to welcome enquirers with open arms. We are not here to Judge but to save society from raid moral decline.

We must encourage the establishment of new missions and parishes. We need an effectual support system putting in place so that all of our isolated members receive regular Communion, news and relevant information from across the diocese. We are a member Church of the Traditional Anglican Communion, this is a Global Communion made up of 47 Churches throughout the world. We will try to ensure that news and events from around the Communion are assessable and shared by all.  For those of you with the availability of the internet you can log into the TAC web site at www.traditionalanglicancommunion.org

Finance or lack of it is obviously a problem for our Diocese; however I can report that our Diocesan Treasurer Christopher Houghton is making good and steady progress in resolving the historic issues from the past. However if we are to continue to develop the Diocese more has to be done. Good stewardship is essential and regular donations and tithing will help us to support the development of new missions and the training of new priests.

So here we are at the beginning of Advent a word derived from the Latin meaning coming. The Lord is coming and the preparation for Christmas is an important theme for Advent, but it is more involved than that. Advent in the truest sense allows us a vision of our own lives as Christians and what might be possible to achieve in our daily lives.

The vision that Advent reveals is in two parts. In the first instance it allows us to look back to the first coming of Christ at Bethlehem. It then focuses our minds to the time when Christ will come again. It is in this interval between the past and the future that we find meaning for our own lives as Christians.

We acknowledge and celebrate the certain knowledge by Faith of Christ as he appeared amongst us in the form of flesh and blood when he took on our humanity. He came to show us what life could and should be. He gave us a vision of the true principles upon which all of us can build true and valid lives.

When in ordered time Christ left this earth we know that he did not abandon us. He is with us in His spirit, His Church, the Blessed Sacraments, the Holy Scriptures and each other. He is with us and keeps His vision of life before us.

When Christ comes again in Glory and Majesty, his Glory will be revealed. No longer will He be hidden behind the symbols of the Liturgy or the words from the Scriptures. He will be revealed in His fullness in a presence that will continue forever.

This is the greater significance of Advent. In this short penitential season we observe and inwardly digest the time from Christ’s birth to His Second Coming. This season of Advent gives to each and everyone of us the vision of life for the future.

This is the time for the Church to build upon the foundation that we laid in our October Assembly, a time to become more involved, more caught up in the meaning and possibilities of life as a Christian community. Remember we are not only preparing for Christmas but also for Christ’s Second coming. That in essence means that when He comes again, we will be fully awake, ever vigilant, prayerful and watchful.

To Conclude,

Obituary notices for the TTAC were very prematurely written indeed by those who should have known better. Those who were present at our 2012 Assembly will have shared in the incredible Loving and Holy atmosphere in which we conducted ourselves. What a complete contrast to the last Diocesan Assembly that was held in Portsmouth in 2010.

We are all sad by the loss of close friends through the almost inevitable misunderstandings that took place. I want to assure you all that I welcome any who might wish to consider returning to the TTAC. If they make direct contact with me, I will be only too happy to meet and discuss any request. Indeed, we welcome any individual or group that might wish to join us. Simply contact the diocesan office or any member of our Church.

I want to thank each and every one of you for your steadfast and faithful witness. You are all God’s special and Holy people and you’re continued Faithfulness in adversity is indeed truly special and very precious.

I also want to take this opportunity to welcome to our family the Reverend Father Dr. Frederick Jones, Deacon Robin Westwood and Harry Eddowes.

I wish you all a Prayerful Advent and a Blessed and Holy Christmas.

May Almighty God Bless and Keep You all

Yours in Christ Jesus

Father Ian+

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3 Responses to Advent 2012 Pastoral Letter from England

  1. Pingback: Obituary Notices for the TTAC (UK) Were Very Prematurely Written « Fr Stephen Smuts

  2. Stephen K says:

    Father, I see the Bishop’s reference to an article or essay on The Book of Common Prayer by Fr Geoffrey Andow. I once knew Geoffrey. Do you have news of him or do you have a link to his article?

    • I saved the old TTAC website to my hard disk, but don’t have the article of Fr Andow. He once worked with Fr Patrick McEune in the ACC under Bishop Hamlett. I understand he is still in Wiltshire and is still with the TTAC. I don’t know him personally, but I have only heard good said of him.

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