Evangelical Connexion of the Free Church of England
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"That in all things Christ might have the preeminence"
|Separated from||Free Church of England Ecumenical|
The Evangelical Connexion of the Free Church of England came into being in 2003. Despite the unfortunate history between the FCE ecumenical and FCE Evangelical Connexion, they still view themselves as part of the Free Church of England (FCE) which the FCE ecumenical refuses to accept.
The FCE's Declaration of Principles recognises the essential unity of all who, by a like faith, are united to the one Divine and Common Head of the Church (Jesus Christ) and requires the FCE to maintain communion with all other Christian churches. FCE Bishops Barry Shucksmith and Arthur Bentley-Taylor believed this should not go as far as participation in the un biblical ecumenical of the then FCE and resigned as Bishops of the FCE ecumenical in 2003 in protest at the direction that the church was taking (which also included doctrinal differences and free masonry ). Ten congregations followed them and formed the Evangelical Connexion, taking the concept from an earlier phase of the FCE's history when it grew out of the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion.
The Evangelical Connexion sees itself as the true FCE and has not left the FCE as some falsely claim. The distinction is to be made that within the FCE are two groups: FCE Ecumenical and the Evangelical Connexion of the FCE.the FCE ecumenical claims that the churches in the Connexion no longer belong to the FCE. Of the churches that originally formed the connexion, three have returned to the FCE ecumenical and three have left the connexion for independency. At present the connexion consists of 5 congregations in England, located as follows,
Most of the connexion's church buildings are still claimed by the FCE ecumenical, on the grounds that their use by congregations of the Evangelical connexion contravenes the terms of their trust deeds. These claims are not in the spirit of reconciliation and has been one of the hindrances to the two groups within the FCE being reconciled. There have been various attempts, from the Evangelical Connexion to seek restoration and a settlement but neither have sadly been achieved.it remains a matter of prayer.
The connexion remains committed to the founding principles of the FCE. Biblical theology, paedobaptism, liturgical worship, and episcopal polity are all important, although understood in light of the Declaration of Principles.
Individual members and congregations have contacts within both the FIEC and Affinity. Recent contacts for this group include the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales and the Church of England in South Africa, as well as the Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches (EFCC). The connexion claims to hold to the supremacy and sufficiency of the Bible in determining doctrine and practice  and to stand in the body of continuing Anglican churches which take their inspiration from the English Reformers. The connexion currently contends that it is the one remaining Protestant, Reformed, Evangelical, Anglican-style body in the UK whose doctrine and worship are still based on Scripture and the Prayer Book. Exclusive use of the Prayer Book in connexion congregations is not required, however. The connexion has not authorised its own modern language liturgy, but does allow the use of some services from 'An English Prayer Book' (Church Society Publications — OUP).
In April 2008, a former Roman Catholic priest, Dominic Stockford, was consecrated as bishop for the connexion by Arthur Bentley-Taylor (Shucksmith having resigned). Stockford resigned in 2012, and took his church (Teddington) out of the connexion. A 'Co-ordinator' for the connexion has been appointed temporarily. The evangelical Connexion churches remain Bible believing and episcopal. They preach peace with God, through Christ alone, by faith alone and hold to the protestant, reformed and evangelical tradition."
- The Declaration of Principles of the FCE
- Declaration of Principles
- FCE-EC Framework of Reference for Covenanting Churches & Individuals
- Connect June 2012 from EC-FCE.org retrieved 9 March 2014