The Third Province Movement

In this issue of our Newsletter, I want to focus attention on the Third Province Movement (to which some of our members may belong).  Though not having acquired the reputation for publicity that Forward In Faith has over the years, the Movement continues with quiet resolve under the leadership of Mrs. Margaret Brown to advance its beliefs and claims to all who will listen to it.

The membership of the Movement recently received a copy of its thirteenth Newsletter.  This is filled with sensible observations on the state of play regarding the tortuous discussions and negotiations in the Revision Committee of General Synod over women bishops and the provision (or denial of it) for traditionalists, be they of catholic or evangelical hue.

What is noteworthy about the Third Province Movement is how it has stuck to its guns in asserting that the only way to resolve the crisis dominating discussion in the Revision Committee is for the C. of E. to establish a ring-fenced province, whereby such an inception would “stop the infighting, and we could all get on with the true mission of the Church which is surely to gain the world for Christ”.  Amen to that!

Like Forward In Faith with which it shares many objectives, the Movement rejects any idea of a code of practice as a means of catering for those opposed to women bishops and priests.  It believes that any code would offer totally inadequate protection.

It is detectable that in Forward In Faith circles at the highest level, within the last year or two there has been a weakening of demand for a third province.  Yes, that we should strive for possibly three or four non-geographical dioceses seems to be where the requirement has been going, but not for a province as such.  There is a subtle distinction here between asking for a province as opposed to asking for several dioceses.  By not insisting on its request for a province, Forward In Faith has appeared to have signalled to its opponents what it now regards as a lesser requirement.  Contrast this with the confident way in which Forward In Faith presented in its book, “Consecrated Women?”, its blueprint for an additional province.  Within the current negotiations, whether conducted within the confines of the Revision Committee or elsewhere, you do not make voluntary concessions until you have to.  You do not concede any ground unless it is part of a quid pro quo.

In this matter the Third Province Movement is to be commended for not shifting its ground.  To many readers the solution provided by a third province is the only viable one that will enable traditionalists to remain within the Church of England, faithful to the type of church with which they grew up decades ago.

The Newsletter of the Movement also turns its attention to the workings of that arcane body, the Crown Nominations Commission, in particular to the inadequacy of appointment of orthodox (male) candidates to bishoprics especially of diocesan type.  The Movement’s members are invited to write to Mrs. Caroline Boddington (the Archbishops’ Appointment Secretary at The Wash House, Lambeth Palace, London, SE1 7JU) asking that more diocesan bishops of traditionalists’ integrity are appointed.  No doubt, we in Forward In Faith should follow suit if we have not yet done so.

And then there is the matter of the coming elections to General Synod, due to be held in the early Autumn of this year.  Forward In Faith has strongly commended the need to strive for election of as many traditionalists as possible to what will be a smaller General Synod.  It is good to know (from reading the Newsletter) that the Movement feels equally strongly that sound men and women should come forward and stand for election to this important body.

In the diocese of Lincoln, our Administrative Council of Forward In Faith would be pleased to hear of individuals who would be willing to stand as candidates (contacting Fr. Andy Hawes on 01778 591358, Mr. Chris Daubney on 01507 568231 or Mrs. Carol Ticehurst on 01526 342076).

Finally, anyone wishing to find out more about the Third Province Movement or wanting to support it can write to The Third Province Movement, Luckhurst, Mayfield, East Sussex, TN20 6TY, sending a stamped envelope for reply.