Sunday, October 15, 2006

Together for the Gospel



Tonight nine of our church travelled to Maidenhead for the "launch" of the Reading-Affinity partnership of churches (not sure how many churches are actually involved - maybe 10?).

Will Stileman, vicar of St Marys Maidenhead hosted us, with Graham Cooke of Kennet Valley Free Church preaching from Philippians 1, with contributions from James Muldoon of Carey Baptist Church, and Adrian Reynolds of Yateley Baptist Church.

I'm encouraged to see both Free and Anglican churches entering into partnership - time will tell what God will do through this. Many of the church leaders involved are well known to me through their partnership with Reading University Christian Union which continue to be a source of great encouragement.

Great to catch up with friends, and to meet a few new people in the crowd.

17 comments:

  1. Glad it went well. My parents were there I believe... (not that you know them!)

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  2. I met some Carey people... some called the Seymours who presumably aren't your parents... and a guy called Keith whose surname I didn't get.

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  3. Yeay! I do think Affinity is a great idea now it's being implemented :) Even if I'm bound to be biased towards it. Very glad some evangelical Anglicans have joined in - it's hard to get them to see the need for expressing their gospel fellowship with those outside of the Communion! Though to be fair, it can sometimes be almost as hard to persuade FIEC-ers of the need to express gospel partnership with those outside of FIEC... The recent (now Affinity) Gospel Partnerships have been great at this too.

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  4. Certainly encouraging to see people working together. I was encouraged by the event being headlined Together for the Gospel - was that you Mr Reynolds? - my longer term question is can we bridge as wide as the American T4G and include some of the more charismatic minded churches (A lot of our church would be charismatic but it doesn't always show enough....)

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  5. Yep, I know the Seymours very well; and Keith is one of the elders.

    I would like to see Affinity become more like T4G in its affirmations/denials, and reaching beyond traditional evangelicalism into churches we never thought we could have fellowship with...

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  6. Great news. I believe the Yorkshire gospel partnership were the first partnership to affiliate to affinity officially. On the revolution I say.

    As a small footnote, for those interested in the way things pan out in history, does this mean that Lloyd-Jones had the better argument than Stott and Packer after all? ;)
    See the blog I did a while ago on this sort of thing;
    http://peteatcollege.blogspot.com/2006/09/1966-and-all-that.html

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  7. I don't think the Anglicans have any intention of leaving the CofE at the moment - even if they can form good partnerships beyond it... though it'd be interesting to see what might happen if the CofE crosses lines that go too far for the evangelical Anglicans (assuming there are some points where staying becomes intolerable).

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  8. It is a mere two days until we reach the 40th anniversary of a historic defining moment in British conservative evangelicalism...the night that Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones issued a call to evangelical, gospel, unity and was contradicted by some impromptu remarks by the chairman John Stott.

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  9. Yeah, I agree re. evangelicals leaving the CofE soon, not likely.

    However, that granted, the gospel partnerships looks more 'Lloydian' and certainly don't sit well with the policy proposed at Keele in 67 by Stott and co - reform by walking the coridoors of power, engage in the anglican conversation and so on. I think Anglican Evangelicals (or is it the other way round?) are starting to realise how ineffective that attempt at 'reform from above' has been (by and large - take George Carey's stint at the top for a cracking example) for the gospel. Lloyd-Jones was concerned evangelicals in mainline denominations would sacrifice the gospel and unity with other evangelicals on the altar of prominence and participation in their denominations (and of course the ecumenical movement) and to an extent he has been proved right (note the evangelicals in the anglican church who in recent years have pitched evangelicalism as 'one branch' in the tree of authentic anglicanism).

    Hence the new emphasis on unity with other evangelicals at a grassroots level, and as regards their own denomination - 'reform from below'. All of which I welcome and praise God for. Along with the new readiness of many 'men in brown' to put aside the gripe with the 'men in frocks' and stop being angry about 1966 and get on with some good stuff locally. Amen and Amen.

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  10. The problem with structural changes is that you need enough people and they have to stand firm - so you probably have to have people like Peter & Philip Jensen who will shout loud and take a stand on things, rather than the classic British softly-softly approach...

    Ground-level is the 39 Articles priority, and is where the real stuff happens. The structures should simply serve the local church, which is "the hope of the world" as Hybels says.

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  11. Dave, you seemed to jump from Pete's mention of MLJ's address to the question of Anglicans leaving the CoE. That's exactly what BEC and now Affinity (and MLJ's address - he was a visionary, not a planner) wasn't about - not a call to get out necessarily. Of course, Stott was scared it'd have that effect, and as many within BEC/Affinity were/are recent principled secessionists themselves, they'll personally disagree with their brothers & sisters who remain in. It's an important thing, so it's right to be convinced about whether evangelicals are right or wrong to secede or be in any given mixed denomination. But it's also right to express unity in gospel truth between those who disagree on that. And that's part of what BEC was about since its founding (long before) and is doing a better job of expressing since its relaunch as Affinity.

    Er, where do I hand back my PR badge when I leave here? :)

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  12. I guess my thinking was in terms of when a church has two groupings that it is part of (i.e. an affinity grouping and a denomination), does it stay in both long term or inevitably draw closer to one than the other...

    particularly from an Anglican angle we're practically independent churches on a functional level - sure there are a few denominational connections but basically the parishes are left to do their own thing.... and then we join a partnership where we can build good positive relationships for the gospel...

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  13. I have to admit to pinching the "together for the gospel" tagline for the Reading Affinity meeting. Though I cannot claim "gospel partnership is a necessity not a luxury" as Graham attributed to me!

    So much of this is based on trust, isn't it? Overcoming the suspicions needs trust. I think that's partly why we're starting fairly low key - you can't launch in straight away with a joint church plant if you've not built up that trust. Part of the reason for the FIEC (my background) and Anglican mentality, I think, is lack of trust.

    That frustrates me as I always want to move things faster than they go naturally! Still, patience is apparently a virtue...

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  14. ...apparently so. I'm just very excited that we have a beginning.

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  15. Will Stileman was the first person who told me the Gospel. He's also doing Nottingham University's House Party this year.

    All I seem to remember about him, was thinking he was a bit posh!

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  16. Ah, it's brilliant how God can use even posh people! ;-)

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