On Saturday 1 June, approximately 80 people gathered at Oak Hill college for the Church Society annual conference and AGM.
Rev. Lee Gatiss, Church Society director, spoke on ‘confessional’ Anglicanism, and particularly the usefulness of the 39 Articles, now in their 450th anniversary year.
Mr Gatiss gave a historical outline of the Church of England at the time of the Reformation. He explained that it had come to embrace ‘The true profession of the gospel … the Protestant Reformed religion’, and that this is still its official constitution today.
He then discussed the theological character of the Articles, describing them as universally catholic. They also take sides on some of the key debates of the Reformation, such as over the sacraments.
He outlined Canons A2, A5 and the Declaration of Assent where the Articles are cited, noting that reference to the Articles is still required by all clergy.
Following this talk, the Church Society held its Annual General Meeting, chaired by its President, Viscount Brentford. The council elected several new members. The council now consists of men and women in various ministries, both lay and ordained, across a broad spectrum of ages.
Rev. Dr Peter Adam, former Principal of Ridley College, Melbourne, then spoke about reforming the church today. He outlined some positive aspects of the Church of England, such as the many thriving parish churches, and some good theological training on offer.
He explained that the root problem of the church is sin, including our own sin, and that this needs to be taken account of when analysing the current Anglican landscape. He then outlined two areas which need to be a focused on, if the church is going to be reformed today.
First, we need to trust our sufficient Saviour, Jesus Christ, as it is his responsibility to build his church. Second, we were encouraged to take our responsibility seriously. This includes evangelising the nation and working hard to engage in the structures of the Church of England — ‘democracy is demanding, and what it requires is engagement’.
Dr Adam finally highlighted that lay people and clergy can have an influence on reforming the church from below. CDs are available of both talks (www.churchsociety.org).