Bishop revokes licence of rogue Evangelical - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
November 10, 2005

Bishop revokes licence of rogue Evangelical

-10/11/05

The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Rev Dr Tom Butler, has revoked the licence of a minister after conservative evangelical clergy staged an "irregular" ordination.

The Revd Richard Coekin unofficially ordained three of his staff as deacons in south London at the beginning of the month.

Mr Coekin had earlier threatened to take action of this sort unless the Bishop of Southwark dissociated himself from the House of Bishopsí Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships.

The ordinations were reportedly backed by Reform, the evangelical network, whose 600 clergy members are increasingly rejecting the spiritual authority of their bishops in protest at their stance on gay and lesbian people.

About 30 Reform clergy, a number of whom are General Synod members, attended the ordinations at a proprietary chapel in Wimbledon that belongs to the Church of England, but is not part of a parish ministry.

In a letter to clergy in his Diocese explaining why the minister had been suspended, the bishop wrote ìWe do not do schism in the Diocese of Southwarkî.

The Bishop pointed to Church tradition and law that bishops from outside the Diocese have no authority to perform ordinations within it without the express permission of the Diocesan Bishop.

The case was made more complicated by the bishop concerned being a bishop from the Church of England in South Africa, a church not in communion with the Church of England nor a member of the Anglican Communion

As well as revoking Mr Coekinís licence the Bishop of Southwark made it clear that the three people involved in the unauthorised ordination, Andy Fenton, Richard Perkins, and Loots Lambrechts had no legal authority to claim to exercise ordained ministry in the Church of England in the Diocese of Southwark.

The full text of the bishop's letter to Clergy in the Diocese of Southwark

8th November 2005

Dear Colleagues,

You will, by now I am sure, have heard about the unauthorised ordination at Christ Church Surbiton on November 2nd. In the light of this, I have written to the Revd Richard Coekin revoking his licence. I am writing to you now with some necessary detail.

As many of you also know Richard has been the Assistant Minister of the Proprietary Chapel of Emmanuel, working out of Dundonald Wimbledon, and has spear-headed the planting of several congregations in the Diocese of Southwark. Parish clergy, Archdeacons and Bishops alike have been involved in an ongoing exchange with Richard concerning the necessity for such church plants to occur only with the agreement of the vicar of the parish in which the plant is set. This has not always been the case, and evangelical parish clergy in the diocese have been particularly concerned when such plants have seemed to oppose their own witness and mission. For this reason, we were not prepared to support the selection and training of further ordination candidates from or for Dundonald unless future church plants followed our Diocesan Guidelines.

The recent Pastoral Statement from the House of Bishops concerning Civil Partnerships occasioned a further exchange of letters. Richard informed me on October 25th that unless I dissociated myself from this statement he would regard himself as being ìin temporary impaired communionî and would no longer be able to accept my oversight; he further indicated that he intended to proceed with the ordination of ìeligible staffî by a visiting Anglican bishop. No details of the time or place were given, but the service took place at Christ Church Surbiton on November 2nd without my having been further informed. The Bishop, a Bishop Martin Morrison, was from the Church of England in South Africa, a church not in communion with the Church of England nor a member of the Anglican Communion. (The Church of England is in communion with the Church of the Province of South Africa).

I had alerted Richard to the ìOverseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967î which states that bishops from overseas may only perform Episcopal duties in a Church of England Diocese by commission in writing of the Diocesan Bishop and with the consent and licence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. None of the clergy concerned were given this authority. There may, therefore, be further consequences to the action of November 2nd.

In the meantime Richardís licence has been revoked (although I am told that he has twenty-eight days to appeal to the Archbishop), and you should be aware that none of the ëeligible staffí involved in the service - Andy Fenton, Richard Perkins, and Loots Lambrechts - has any legal authority to claim to exercise ordained ministry in the Church of England in the Diocese of Southwark.

I am sorry to burden you with all of this, but the matter is basically quite straightforward; by long standing Church tradition and law, bishops from outside the diocese have no authority to perform ordinations within it without the express permission of the Diocesan Bishop. We do not do Schism in the Diocese of Southwark.

With best wishes,

Grace and Peace,
+Thomas Southwark

Bishop revokes licence of rogue Evangelical

-10/11/05

The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Rev Dr Tom Butler, has revoked the licence of a minister after conservative evangelical clergy staged an "irregular" ordination.

The Revd Richard Coekin unofficially ordained three of his staff as deacons in south London at the beginning of the month.

Mr Coekin had earlier threatened to take action of this sort unless the Bishop of Southwark dissociated himself from the House of Bishops' Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships.

The ordinations were reportedly backed by Reform, the evangelical network, whose 600 clergy members are increasingly rejecting the spiritual authority of their bishops in protest at their stance on gay and lesbian people.

About 30 Reform clergy, a number of whom are General Synod members, attended the ordinations at a proprietary chapel in Wimbledon that belongs to the Church of England, but is not part of a parish ministry.

In a letter to clergy in his Diocese explaining why the minister had been suspended, the bishop wrote 'We do not do schism in the Diocese of Southwark'.

The Bishop pointed to Church tradition and law that bishops from outside the Diocese have no authority to perform ordinations within it without the express permission of the Diocesan Bishop.

The case was made more complicated by the bishop concerned being a bishop from the Church of England in South Africa, a church not in communion with the Church of England nor a member of the Anglican Communion

As well as revoking Mr Coekin's licence the Bishop of Southwark made it clear that the three people involved in the unauthorised ordination, Andy Fenton, Richard Perkins, and Loots Lambrechts had no legal authority to claim to exercise ordained ministry in the Church of England in the Diocese of Southwark.

The full text of the bishop's letter to Clergy in the Diocese of Southwark

8th November 2005

Dear Colleagues,

You will, by now I am sure, have heard about the unauthorised ordination at Christ Church Surbiton on November 2nd. In the light of this, I have written to the Revd Richard Coekin revoking his licence. I am writing to you now with some necessary detail.

As many of you also know Richard has been the Assistant Minister of the Proprietary Chapel of Emmanuel, working out of Dundonald Wimbledon, and has spear-headed the planting of several congregations in the Diocese of Southwark. Parish clergy, Archdeacons and Bishops alike have been involved in an ongoing exchange with Richard concerning the necessity for such church plants to occur only with the agreement of the vicar of the parish in which the plant is set. This has not always been the case, and evangelical parish clergy in the diocese have been particularly concerned when such plants have seemed to oppose their own witness and mission. For this reason, we were not prepared to support the selection and training of further ordination candidates from or for Dundonald unless future church plants followed our Diocesan Guidelines.

The recent Pastoral Statement from the House of Bishops concerning Civil Partnerships occasioned a further exchange of letters. Richard informed me on October 25th that unless I dissociated myself from this statement he would regard himself as being 'in temporary impaired communion' and would no longer be able to accept my oversight; he further indicated that he intended to proceed with the ordination of 'eligible staff' by a visiting Anglican bishop. No details of the time or place were given, but the service took place at Christ Church Surbiton on November 2nd without my having been further informed. The Bishop, a Bishop Martin Morrison, was from the Church of England in South Africa, a church not in communion with the Church of England nor a member of the Anglican Communion. (The Church of England is in communion with the Church of the Province of South Africa).

I had alerted Richard to the 'Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967' which states that bishops from overseas may only perform Episcopal duties in a Church of England Diocese by commission in writing of the Diocesan Bishop and with the consent and licence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. None of the clergy concerned were given this authority. There may, therefore, be further consequences to the action of November 2nd.

In the meantime Richard's licence has been revoked (although I am told that he has twenty-eight days to appeal to the Archbishop), and you should be aware that none of the ëeligible staff' involved in the service - Andy Fenton, Richard Perkins, and Loots Lambrechts - has any legal authority to claim to exercise ordained ministry in the Church of England in the Diocese of Southwark.

I am sorry to burden you with all of this, but the matter is basically quite straightforward; by long standing Church tradition and law, bishops from outside the diocese have no authority to perform ordinations within it without the express permission of the Diocesan Bishop. We do not do Schism in the Diocese of Southwark.

With best wishes,

Grace and Peace,
+Thomas Southwark

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