Free Church of England Evangelical Connexion Covenant
The following covenant has been set forward by members of the Free
Church of England distressed by the liberalism of many in their
The FCE (Evangelical Connexion)
FRAMEWORK OF REFERENCE FOR
COVENANTING CHURCHES & INDIVIDUALS
"That in all things Christ might have the preeminence"
1. In keeping with the primitive history of
the Free Church of England and the Reformed Episcopal Church the body
is to be known as A CONNEXION OF COVENANTING CHURCHES and is not a new
denomination. A main purpose of the CONNEXION is to reaffirm the
Protestant, Reformed, and Evangelical character of the 1927 union.
2. We continue to accept the DECLARATION OF
PRINCIPLES of the Free Church of England as our basis of faith and
receive the Document AGENDA FOR RENEWAL as the initial way forward for
our continuing churches. Both statements confirm the 39 Articles of
Religion (revised) and 1785 Book of Common Prayer as the doctrinal
standards of the CONNEXION. Individual Christians (scattered
members) or overseas churches can also covenant to identify with the
CONNEXION. In future meetings, nothing is to be discussed or
proposed contrary to these standards.
3. The CONNEXION will meet annually for
Conference to include spiritual nurture; prayer; business-consultation;
policy-making; the receiving of reports; and the appointment of
committees with interim authority only.
4. The actions of the present ecumenical bishops of
the Free Church of England, in making themselves the focus of unity,
rather than Convocation, under the Word of God, and in excluding
evangelical churches and ministers, appear to have made reconciliation
for the foreseeable future impossible. We view with great alarm any
system which robs the Lord Jesus Christ of His position as the Chief
Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls (1 Peter 2:24-25).
5. In view of the above, (4), the CONNEXION must be
functionally and financially free. A Central Fund is to be set-up for
the administration of the said CONNEXION. We commit ourselves, through
our legal advisor, to seek an immediate orderly and equitable division
of all FCE assets.
6. Local churches are to be responsible for
the selection and appointment of their own ministers in consultation
with the Bishops, Examination Board and the Annual Conference. Licences
are to be issued to accredited clergy and laity, by the bishops, under
the authority of the Annual Connexional Conference.
7. Evangelical Bishops, recognised by the
CONNEXION, may undertake episcopal duties on invitation of the local
congregation and with the approval of the Connexional bishops.
8. The Connexion reserves the right to select
candidates, ordain ministers, and consecrate bishops when necessary for
the good order, future growth, and needs of the churches. The Connexion
may also implement the present Canon 41 to receive duly ordained
evangelical ministers, without Episcopal re-ordination.
9. We reject much of Dr John Fenwick's recent
history of the Free Church of England and especially the interpretation
of the FCE as 'England's best-kept ecumenical secret'. Our official
history remains Bishop Frank Vaughan's, THE FREE CHURCH OF ENGLAND to
which we intend to add our own supplement, THE FCE - INTRODUCTION TO A
CHURCH OF ENGLAND EVANGELICAL TRADITION – A REPLY TO JOHN FENWICK, to
be published in 2005. This CONNEXION will not be a member of Churches
Together, or of the modern ecumenical movement, but will seek to
promote 'the gospel of justification by grace alone, through faith
alone, in Christ alone', in accordance with AGENDA FOR RENEWAL.
It will also seek to foster evangelical ecumenism.
10. In view of the long and sad history of
Freemasonry in the Free Church of England, we adopt the REC/FCE NEW
ZEALAND statement on Freemasonry, which regards it as incompatible with
“That membership of Freemasonry and other secret societies be deemed
inconsistent with the profession of the Christian Religion and that
those who remain members be pastorally counselled accordingly.”
Approved at the meeting of the
Connection on 12th November 2004. The above covenant to be signed
by all holding office in the Connexion and to be available for
local church, national press, and general public use.