24th March 2023
The Bishops of the Anglican Network in Europe have seen correspondence from the Most Rev’d Andy John and the Bench of Bishops of the Church in Wales to their clergy concerning the recent consecration of Rt. Rev’d Stuart Bell as a Bishop for the Anglican Convocation in Europe (ACE). In this letter they make clear that they do not recognise Stuart Bell’s episcopal ministry, and instruct Church in Wales clergy to “stand back from receiving communion at services held under the auspices of ACE”.
Archbishop John and his Bench are correct in their assessment that members of ACE are not under the oversight of the bishops of the Church in Wales. They are also right to locate the immediate cause of this division in the decision by the Governing Body of the Church in Wales in September 2021 to permit blessing of same sex couples in church. However, the background to that decision has been many years of promotion by Church in Wales’ leaders of a radically different interpretation of Scripture and Christian life, influenced by Western secularism, and not consistent with orthodox Christianity as recognised by the majority of the Anglican church worldwide.
Stuart Bell, in his powerful speech following his consecration, said that the emergence of ACE in Wales is a tragic necessity in the face of false teaching in the national church. The Archbishop and his Bishops may sincerely believe that all Anglicans in Wales should simply accept what has happened and “live with difference”. But this is not the view of the vast majority of the Anglican Communion. Both Gafcon and the Global South Fellowship of Anglican have stated clearly that the leadership of the Church in Wales have violated Lambeth 1:10 and further torn the fabric of the Communion.
Contrary to what Archbishop John and his Bishops have said, it is the the Church in Wales which has placed itself out of communion with the majority of Anglicans worldwide by departing the historic, orthodox, biblical faith. Faithful Anglicans living under such failed oversight need a spiritually safe home and a hope for the future. We are grateful that Gafcon has provided this by authorising ACE as a genuine Anglican jurisdiction.
As ACE develops in Wales under Bishop Stuart’s leadership, its members will continue to make plans for the future together, and enjoy fellowship, with those faithful Anglicans who remain in the Church in Wales. Our unity with them remains in the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ revealed in his word written, not in recognition by erring institutional structures.