Interregnum news: 25 April 2023

The following Interregnum newsletter was printed and handed out in the Parish Hall on 25 April at the APCM and is available in both churches:

PCC progress on finding a middle way for parish unity

The PCC has been taking action as promised in the Interregnum News on 22 January as follows:

  1. * Welcomed the new Bishop of Oswestry to the parish in early February when the PCC had a long discussion with him. Bishop Paul advised us to leave The Society and Forward in Faith, plus revise our new draft Resolution and Statement of Need.
  2. * Established there is no need for a 4 week notice period of a PCC decision to leave the Society and Forward in Faith (as these are membership subscription organisations which we can leave at any time), while there is a need for a 4 week notice period for the PCC to vote on adopting the revised Resolution and Statement of Need for arrangements set out in the House of Bishops Declaration.
  3. * Updated the revised Resolution and Statement of Need to add further clarity, with some wording from the Bishops. Adding such detail in the Resolution and Statement of Need means prospective applicants know exactly where we are coming from and what has been done to try and create unity in the parish.
  4. * Asked the Bishop of Oxford to approve oversight by the Bishop of Buckingham and a relationship with the Bishop of Oswestry, which he has done.

What this means for our parish

Once we leave The Society and Forward in Faith, we can seek interregnum cover from any male Anglo-Catholic priest, not just those who are Society/FiF priests. It also means the advertisement for the new Rector can go to a wider pool of male priests in the Anglo-Catholic tradition rather than being restricted to FiF/Society members only.

As explained in the January 2023 Interregnum news, legally, the parish cannot limit applications only to male priests without having a Resolution and Statement of Need under the arrangements set out in the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests; it means we are asking for our parish to have a male priest. While our parish has a resolution in place we can:

  1. * appoint a male priest as Rector to provide sacramental, pastoral and teaching ministry
  2. * invite any female priest to provide pastoral and teaching ministry

The questionnaire responses showed that even among the majority who are in favour of the ordination of women and would be happy to have a female priest as Rector of this parish; many thought this parish would need to appoint a male priest this time to accommodate the minority (about 17%) who do not accept the sacraments from a woman priest.

Although we could probably argue the new Resolution and Statement of Need falls short of what many of us want, it does mean that as a congregation we can all worship and celebrate Mass together with the same priest.

The alternative would have been to rescind the existing Resolution completely and open applications to everybody regardless of gender then make provision within the parish for those who could not accept the sacraments from a female priest (if one had been appointed). In reality this would mean asking a priest from Forward in Faith/The Society to conduct alternative services, otherwise some of our parish family would go elsewhere to worship, which the PCC do not want. We really want to keep everybody together at All Saints and SMSG if we possibly can.

The Lord will not abandon us in this unique chance to grow as we go through this change.
We have the lovely Fr Tunji, Fr Malcolm plus occasionally Fr Ian and Fr Victor covering for our worship who are making this whole process easier. We have drafted a middle way which we hope is a bridge between our differences; it aims to be as caring and inclusive as possible.

We need to pray for patience as we sort through these thorny issues which many of us are passionate about. We ask our fellow parishioners for your forbearance and prayers while we urgently attend to this and seek a new Rector for our Parish.

New Resolution and Statement of Need

You can find the existing Resolution and Statement of Need, plus the new revised Resolution and Statement of Need within the folders in both churches and online at SMSG PCC subcommittee draft proposed new Resolution and Statement of Need revised April 2023