There was overwhelming support for the merger of Church Society with Reform and the Fellowship of Word & Spirit (FWS) at the Church Society AGM. At a packed meeting, former chairman of Reform, Bishop Rod Thomas, was elected President of Church Society to succeed Wallace Benn.
A new council was elected, unopposed, with members from both FWS and Reform amongst their number, including Rob Munro, the chairman of FWS and Mark Burkill, the chairman of Reform. The constitutional amendments needed to enable the merger to go ahead were passed with overwhelming majorities as members of Church Society met for their annual meeting at Oak Hill College in North London, led by chairman, Paul Darlington.
Director of Church Society, Dr Lee Gatiss, said, ‘I am thrilled at the huge vote of confidence in this merger shown by our evangelical constituency, not only today but over the last few months. Now the real hard work begins as we prayerfully seek to continue reaching our nation for Christ through the Church of England, by contending for the faith, reforming the structures, and strengthening local churches in biblical faith.’
The AGM took place during the annual Church Society Conference, this year on the theme of ‘Flourish: a Strategy for Growth in the Church of England’. Lee Gatiss and Rod Thomas gave extremely helpful and challenging presentations, the former looking at the growth of the early church in a hostile world, and the latter looking at opportunities and obstacles to flourishing gospel ministry in the contemporary context.
The conference ended with a panel discussion of questions ranging from pastoral concerns such as suicide rates among young men, to issues of patronage and the appointment of conservative evangelicals to parishes.
Following the conference, attendees were invited to stay for the St Antholin’s Lecture, at which Donald John Maclean spoke about William Perkins’ doctrine of the church: ‘Ours is a true church of God: William Perkins and the Reformed Doctrine of the Church’. It was wonderful, if a little unexpected, to hear a Scottish Presbyterian encouraging us to stand firm and fight on in the Church of England!
We are grateful to God for such an encouraging day of people coming together to demonstrate their commitment to evangelical unity within the Church of England, and pray for his continued blessing as we seek to work out that unity in practice over the coming months.