Australian support for Missionary Bishop

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The Archbishop of Sydney, the Bishop of Tasmania and the Bishop of North West Australia have taken part in the consecration of a Missionary Bishop for Europe.

The three Australians joined a host of Anglican leaders representing the majority of the Anglican Communion as well as Bishops of the Anglican Church of North America at the consecration at Edman Chapel, on the campus of Wheaton College in Illinois.

The Rev. Canon Andy Lines was consecrated as a missionary bishop for Anglicans in Scotland, the UK, and Europe, outside the official structures of those provinces. The appointment gained added significance with the recent vote of the Church of Scotland, to allow same-sex marriages.

The Scottish Synod amended canon law on marriage, removing the stipulation that it is between a man and a woman. The church's drift away from Biblical doctrine on marriage also puts it at odds with the rest of the Anglican Communion and coincides with a decline in membership. Figures just announced showed it had declined more than other Scottish churches.

Bishop Lines will be able to give support to Scottish churches disenfranchised by the marriage vote.

Backing the appointment of the new bishop was the Global Anglican Future Conference, GAFCON.

GAFCON's chairman, the Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, summed up the feeling of the congregation, saying “You are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses…  Remember you are not alone.  You have not sent yourself.  All these people here have come to say, ‘Amen’ to the mission that has been entrusted to you.”

For the Australians, who included the Bishop of North West Australia, Gary Nelson, Bishop Richard Condie of Tasmania said: “We are a long way away from the Scottish Church, and from the things that have unfolded in Europe in recent days, but we stand in solidarity with our Anglican brothers and sisters from around the world.”

In a letter to Australian Bishops, Archbishop Glenn Davies of Sydney said some would 'disagree and disapprove' of his participation in the ceremony. But he said the Scottish vote as 'amounts to another significant and sad moment in the life of the Anglican Communion, akin to the consecration of Gene Robinson in 2003.'

"As you will all know, I consider such an action to be a travesty of the rule of Christ, of the doctrine of the Book of Common Prayer, and therefore an abandonment of the principles of Anglican doctrine to which we have committed ourselves in the Fundamental Declarations and Ruling Principles of Sections 1-6 of the Constitution. I consider that such a departure from the teaching of Scripture, 'the ultimate rule and standard of faith', casts doubt upon the nature of our communion with the Scottish Episcopal Church, since such communion needs to be consistent with the Fundamental Declarations (Section 6)." the Archbishop told Australian colleagues.

"I do not make the decision lightly, nor do I wish to cause division among our episcopal ranks. However, I believe that my participation is an act of solidarity with those who contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints . Not to participate, since I shall be present, would send a signal of a different kind, and one which I do not believe would bring honour to Christ and his gospel." he said.

“This is not a border crossing exercise - that is a misunderstanding of the ministry” Archbishop Davies said in a video after the ceremony. “The world is large enough for any particular church, any particular denomination.”

Archbishop Davies said he hoped Bishops would "rally to defend the Bible's teaching on marriage, not merely for the sake of correct doctrine, but that we might preserve the message of the gospel for the salvation of all. As we celebrate 500 years of Martin Luther's brave efforts to withstand those whose teaching was contrary to the gospel, new days bring fresh challenges for defending the truth."

Photo: Anglican leaders surround Bishop Lines at his consecration (credit: Andrew Gross, GAFCON)

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