Monday, February 18, 2013

Anglican Church of Kenya ordains minister for church plant in Sheffield, England

Anglican Mainstream Press Release

In Sheffield, South Yorkshire, statistics show that only 3% of the population regularly attend church. Back in 2002 the leadership team at Christ Church Fulwood were invited by senior diocesan staff to investigate the possibility of church planting, with the aim of sharing the Gospel with people who had moved into the new residential developments in the city centre. Despite extensive discussions, diocesan support for this initiative was withdrawn, but with mission our priority Christ Church Central was “born” in October 2003 as “a church for people who don’t go to church” outside the formal structures of the Church of England.

Nearly 10 years later both parent and daughter churches have continued to grow numerically and partnered one another in mission to the city. An expression of this partnership was the planting of Christ Church Walkley last year, with the initial members drawn from both congregations living in the area. Pete Jackson, who has been one of the associate ministers at Christ Church Central, is the founding minister.

Although recommended by the Reform Panel of Reference and trained at Oakhill Theological College, Pete had not been ordained since Christ Church Central was not part of Sheffield Diocese. Concern that his ministry and that of the new church should be appropriately recognised led us to consult the leadership of the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), who subsequently wrote to the GAFCON Primates’ Council with a request that they should facilitate Pete’s ordination.

We are immensely grateful for the leadership of the Archbishop of Kenya, Eliud Wabukala, as chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council, and to the Bishop of Kitui, Josephat Mule, who ordained Pete as a deacon in the Anglican Church of Kenya on Saturday 9th February. We see this event as the latest expression of Gospel partnership between the churches in Sheffield and Kenya. Tim Davies’ father was Provost of Nairobi cathedral in the 1970s, Tim was born in Kenya and is himself an honorary canon of All Saints Cathedral Nairobi. Christ Church Central already supports mission partners in Nairobi.

We travelled to Kenya to support Pete and experienced a warm welcome and amazing hospitality from our brothers and sisters in Christ. Pete was welcomed by the other ordinands on a week long pre-ordination retreat in Kitui, led by the retired bishop of Kirinyaga, Daniel Ngoro, who also preached at the ordination service on the challenges of shepherding the flock from Ezekiel 34, John 10 and 1 Peter 5. The service in Kitui cathedral, conducted in three languages, was marked by praise and joy and a real sense of being part of the worldwide family of God. Nine men were ordained deacon, to serve local communities, in the Kenya Defence Force and further afield. Pete was invited to read the Epistle. Afterwards we were invited to share lunch in the bishop’s office.

The following day, we had the privilege of joining the congregation of All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi for Morning Prayer, one of their numerous Sunday services which cater for a worshipping community of some 5,000 at this strategic city centre venue. There is clearly a heart for the city and the nation: prayers were offered for the presidential election on 4th March and the national anthem sung. The cathedral is hosting both presidential and vice-presidential live TV debates.

As we look forward to GAFCON 2 in Nairobi later this year, it is interesting to reflect on the global shift in Anglicanism, with the perception of doctrinal and moral incoherence of the Church in England compared with the courageous and publically acknowledged leadership of Archbishop Eliud. We caught a glimpse of the respect in which he is held, by “the man in the street”, when we were walking back to our parked cars after supper at a local restaurant. On a warm quiet evening, two security guards were sitting down and as the archbishop walked by, informally dressed, one nudged the other and they stood and bowed their heads. The archbishop smiled, waved and walked on.

Tim Davies, Senior Minister, and Jane Patterson, Trustee, Christ Church Central