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UK: Renew Conference calls for every member ministry

UK: Renew Conference calls for every member ministry

By Chris Sugden
Church of England Newspaper
September 26, 2018

"Evangelical churches are booming. The Church of England is not" wrote Rod Liddle in last week's Sunday Times. He claimed the C of E had replaced God with the virtue-signalling of the liberal elite. "The Bible", he wrote, " emphasises personal responsibility. We are constantly enjoined to do the right thing. To work hard, to save, not to steal, not to shag around, not to be avaricious. To raise children in a monogamous family unit in which parents of different genders are lawfully married. To teach those kids right from wrong. To worship God above all else and to pray for forgiveness for our frailties."

Mr Liddle would be pleasantly surprised to find that over 450 Conservative Evangelical clergy and PCC members gathered in the Queen's Hotel Leeds (an excellent venue) on September 17-18 for the fifth Renew Conference to do just that were leaders of Church of England parishes and congregations. Their average age was nearer 40 than 65. A well managed content-filled twenty-six hours focused on Bible exposition, how to engage every member as active Christian ministers in their communities, and to ensure every town and region had a Christian community dedicated to making the Biblical Gospel known. The conference's energy recalled Eclectics Conferences of 35 years ago when young clergy reported on risky and creative initiatives.

Bible expositions and talks from those leading active Christian churches complemented interviews and case studies, most impressively from women, of every member ministry.

Self-criticism of the evangelical movement called not for biographies of outstanding preachers but for 'ecclesiographies' of effective Christian churches to counter a culture of 'individualism'. Several evangelical Anglican churches across the country had clearly trained and scattered church leaders who in one case had built a team-led church with four Sunday services, six hundred adults, three hundred children and ten further church plants. Another focus was on how to begin an Anglican congregation in the front room. While 'mutual flourishing' has yet to be the norm in many parts of the CofE, the conference was reminded it had yet to reflect the racial diversity of the UK population.

In an after-dinner interview Peter Jensen told how as Archbishop of Sydney he personally met victims of child abuse, and offered them his personal apology on behalf of the church for the awful things they had suffered. Each had responded by becoming quite still for some time. Clearly that apology mattered more than anything else.

Renew is a partnership of the Anglican Mission in England (AMIE), Reform/Church Society, Latimer Trust and Stewardship. It seeks to pioneer, establish and secure healthy local churches inside and outside the Church of England. The focus of a session with experienced members of General Synod who also fulfilled diocesan roles was to remain within the Church of England, at least for as long as its formal teaching remained according to the Bible, and its articles and formularies. Renew showed the Church of England can hardly afford to lose them.


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