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|
The Evangelical Connexion of the Free Church of England came into being in 2003 as a result of secessions from the Free Church of England. The Evangelical Connexion is not part of the Free Church of England.
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, who held more fundamentalist and ultra-protestant views, believed this should not go as far as participation in what they termed 'the unbiblical ecumenical dialogues' of the FCE and resigned as Bishops of the FCE in 2003 in protest at the direction that the church was taking. Ten congregations followed them and formed the Evangelical Connexion, a name derived 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 refutes the charge that it left the FCE. However, since the Evangelical Connexion separated from the FCE its numbers have declined, and it has suffered its own internal divisions which have resulted in congregations returning to the FCE or becoming independent. Of the churches that originally formed the Connexion, three have returned to the FCE and three have left the connexion for independency. At present the connexion consists of 5 congregations in England of which only 3 are currently active, located as follows,
Most of the Connexion's church buildings are still claimed by the FCE, on the grounds that their use by congregations of the Evangelical Connexion contravenes the terms of their trust deeds.
The Connexion remains committed to its interpretation of 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 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