A possible road map from here....
Following the vote at General Synod and the clear trajectory for the Church of England, there are many ministers and churches that are seriously evaluating their future within the Canterbury-aligned structures.
ANiE is seeking to serve and help by providing pastoral wisdom, care, guidance and support to ministers who wish to think seriously through their own position and that of the church family they lead.
This page is a resource to help ministers and churches discern how best to proceed and to land in a good place for their ministry and the gospel future for their church family. They provide a pathway and process, along with links to other resources.
Pray! Pray! Pray!
“Those who honour me I will honour.”
(1 Samuel 2:30)
"We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you."
(2 Chronicles 20:12)
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths."
Stage 1: Process the Moment
Understand the proposal made by the HoB & the decision of GS, as well as the reaction of various groupings around the UK and of the global church.
Clarify the issues it raises, why they matter and how we ended up here (eg dysfunctional episcopacy and non-Anglican ecclesiology).
Examine your conscience. Work out where you stand personally on the issues and at what point they would cause you to go against your own conscience
Take time to grieve, lament and repent
Clarify the implications for you personally as a Christian, a husband/wife, a father/mother, a presbyter. Note both your thinking and your emotions (however conflicted and muddled).
Clarify the implications for your relationships: with your bishop, with your congregation, with your community. It’s not just about you.
Consider attending an ‘On the Edge’ with Anglican Futures.
Communicate the facts as you understand them to the above.
Don't get stuck here!
Stage 2: Assess the possible or proposed responses
Identify the options available to you and share widely (at least with your current leadership).
Research the experience of how others have responded in other places.
Assess, together with others, how they address and materially change the situation identified in stage 1.
Assess the possible cost/benefits of the options, materially and relationally. (At this point, members of your current congregation may wish to pause their giving to build a launch fund for a new entity. If it’s not required it can be gifted as originally intended later on).
Assess your current needs spiritually, mentally, emotionally and how they could be met.
Determine what key fixed point(s) you have (eg spouse’s job, health needs, kid’s education, location, housing you own, ministry calling).
Communicate your conclusions.
Stage 3: Explore an alternative future
Whatever you do, the parish church will continue as an entity. An alternative will necessitate leaving in some form (eg office, building, housing).
Co-construct a clear vision for a long term sustainable gospel community of disciple-making disciples (as opposed to a chaplaincy for people in a lifeboat), serving the needs of the wider church now and in the future. (eg CCAANZ “Not just for us, not just for now”, connectedness historically and globally).
What is required to achieve that vision in this place, with these people?
Is that realistic or achievable?
Are you the right person to lead this?
Consider other ministry and/or secular opportunities, here or elsewhere (allow yourself to dream) with a new or different group.
Sketch out and draft together with others what a new congregation might possibly look like in your context. (Be imaginative and allow yourself to be different):
What fundamentals will you hold?
What polity will you adopt? (eg Congregational / Presbyterian / Episcopal)
What values will you espouse?
What will gospel partnership look like practically?
How will you connect with people? (Think like a missionary)
How will you resource the ministry?
How will you be governed? What adjustments will you need to make personally as a result? (Alternatives will probably involve higher levels of accountability than most have been used to)
How will ministry look similar or different to what you’re leaving?
How will you enfold folk who discover you as a result of leaving, who may be very different?
Begin to trial the community, prayerfully articulating the vision and values with appropriate training as required, including whether you are the person to lead it, and if so, in what capacity.
Think... how will you gather and form a team?
(e.g. bringing people together from various places for a particular location)
Explore options of groups looking for a pastor.
Take the time to allow others to catch up with you, or you with them!
Talk with someone who has planted a church with a similar vision or in a similar context
OR someone who had taken an alternative path.
ACE & AMiE can put you in touch with someone appropriate.
STAGE 4: Decide
On the basis of Stages 1-3, prayerfully decide and commit to a plan personally and invite others to follow according to their conscience. Step up and take the lead. Avoid votes that will not change anything (remember you cannot take a CoE parish out of the denomination).
Seek licences and affiliation to your chosen network/jurisdiction. There will be a joining process with timing implications. With due diligence, ACE & AMiE may be able to enter a Memorandum of Understanding prior to resigning your licence in the CoE.
Work out what it looks like to leave well and commit to it.
Work out when you will actually leave, what notice is required and when you will begin any new venture (e.g. what is the best time of year in your context).
Communicate with all who will be affected, ideally individually, or with the offer of a 1-1 conversation (spouse / family / wardens / bishop / pcc / congregation / community). This needs to include clear summary (one sentence why you’re starting a new thing, what it’s going to offer, to whom it will be connected).
Have a clear, timed comms strategy
Examples of leaving messages:
Philip de Grey-Warter’s church family briefing: www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLKvODr5rYY
James Oakley’s church family briefing: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ua47vydDJ1E
Josh Maynard’s announcement: https://aceanglicans.org/2023/02/06/more-pioneers/
Stage 5: Pre-launch Phase
Consider gathering regularly (to share vision & values, build & train the team) before launching. This needs to include a clear explanation and rationale for your fundamentals & polity.
Create a legal entity (eg CIO) with appropriate policies (eg Safeguarding), banking, insurance (eg public liability, employers, trustees), licences (eg CCLI). (Help is available with CIOs from Anglican Futures, and model policies are available from Stewardship)
Consider interim funding arrangements (until you have a CIO) through an Individual Recipient Account from Stewardship.
Understand and adopt your chosen network’s policies and code of conduct.
Create membership handbook (the CIO ‘rules’).
Go for it!
The whole process is flexible, but we anticipate that it will take 9 – 12 months, possible 18 months, for a group to leave a Church of England parish and formally join one of the ANiE dioceses.