Free Church of England and the Union of Scranton

This is interesting – Økumeniske samtaler i Storbritannia.

I suspected this for a long time, but it was all kept under wraps. Bishops Flemestad of the Nordic Catholic Church has revealed ecumenical work between the Union of Scranton and the Free Church of England. The work begun last year between these Churches led to a statement. I don’t read Norwegian, so can only give a summary based on a Google translation.

There has been a dialogue between the FCE and the Union of Scranton “with a view to possible membership in the Scranton-union”. This is expected to lead to an English local Church member of the Union of Scranton. There are further steps envisaged.

Website of the Free Church of England.

* * *

Update in the original English version sent to me by Bishop Flemestad (direct quote):

ECUMENICAL CONVERSATIONS

The Nordic Catholic Church has strong bonds with Anglicans. However, the liberalising innovations in the Church of England have complicated our ecumenical relations with them and at the same time made many Anglicans who cherish the Catholic heritage look for a new home.

In response, the Nordic Catholic Church has, together with our Mother Church, the Polish National Catholic Church, explored ways which could provide a new realignment for non-Roman Catholics, using the Union of Scranton as a means of achieving this. In this endeavour, we were encouraged by our affinity with the Free Church of England and conversations were initiated during 2012.

These talks have proved to be constructive and the following statement has been issued:

Official Statement from the International Catholic Bishops Conference of the Union of Scranton

On September 15, 2012 the International Catholic Bishops Conference (ICBC) of the Union of Scranton made the following motion:

The ICBC authorizes Bishop Flemestad to begin a dialogue with the Free Church of England on behalf of the Union of Scranton based upon the ‘Requirements for Communion with the Polish National Catholic Church’ (October, 2010) with the eventual goal of membership in the Union of Scranton.

Since then Bishop Flemestad has met on several occasions with representatives of the Free Church of England.

At a meeting in Scranton, Pennsylvania on 11-12 February, 2013, Bishops of the Polish National Catholic Church, the Nordic Catholic Church and the Free Church of England met and had a very fruitful discussion during which documentation was presented and discussed. In light of this meeting the International Catholic Bishops Conference anticipates being able to work with the Free Church of England to build up a Catholic jurisdiction in the United Kingdom.”

The next stage is for the conversations to be reported to the International Catholic Bishops Conference in April and to Convocation of The free Church of England at its meeting in May.

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9 Responses to Free Church of England and the Union of Scranton

  1. Tom Lemmens says:

    Aren’t they rather low church? I hope that this means they’re moving closer towards their catholic roots, instead of the Union of Scranton moving closer to the reformation.

  2. Dale says:

    Are they not also in communion with the Reformed Episcopal Church in the United States, which is also recovering a more non-Roman type of Catholicity?

    • William Tighe says:

      But not only, I believe, with the Reformed Episcopal Church, but with the Church of England in South Africa (which has been in quasi-communion with the Anglican Communion via the Archdiocese of Sydney), a body which since 1936 has permitted the administration (i.e., “celebration”) of the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis by deacons and, with their bishop’s permission, by laymen.

      UNLESS, that is, when the Free Church of England split into two bodies in 2003-04, the more “moderate” part being the denomination with which this post is concerned, and the other, the “Free Church of England — Evangelical Connexion,” a thoroughgoingly Evangelical Protestant body, the CESA chose to be in communion with the latter. Perhaps Fr. Smuts might know about this; I certainly don’t.

  3. Neil Hailstone says:

    If we study the relevant documents of the Union of Scranton it is very clear that the FCE would indeed have to make some changes prior to admittance. I find it very interesting that this is apparently being considered.

  4. Rt Rev Dominic Stockford (ex-Connexion) says:

    The Evangelical Connexion of the FCE has had links with CESA [ed. Church of England in South Africa constituted in 1938] – some of its clergy are from that body. I cannot imagine that CESA would touch the FCE with a bargepole. If they would, then I wouldn’t touch CESA with mine!

  5. Dale says:

    Looked at the local Reformed Episcopal parish’s web site, a few hundred miles from where I now live, they seem to be offering a full high mass on Sundays, with incense; they have no statues, but plenty of ikons. Looks promising (well, at least to those of us who are traditional Anglo-Catholics).

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