Free Church of England Orders recognised
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have recognised the Orders of the Free Church of England under the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967. The Measure gives the Archbishops authority to determine whether the Orders of any Church are 'recognised and accepted' by the Church of England.
The recognition of the Orders of the Free Church of England follows approximately three years of contact between the bishops of the Free Church of England, the Council for Christian Unity and the Faith and Order Commission, which recommended that the Orders of the Free Church of England be recognised. That recommendation was subsequently endorsed by the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops.
When someone who was originally ordained in the Free Church of England or any other church whose Orders are recognised under the Measure wishes to minister in the Church of England, the first questions to be considered are those of whether the person concerned is suitable for ministry in the Church of England and if so, whether any further training is necessary. Where those questions are resolved satisfactorily, the Archbishop of the relevant Province can decide to give the minister permission to officiate in the Church of England without re-ordination, either permanently or for a specified period.
The Right Revd Christopher Hill, Chair of the Church of England's Council for Christian Unity, said: 'I hope there will be good relations between us and especially in those places where there is a Free Church of England congregation.'
In a statement, the Right Revd John McLean, Bishop Primus of the Free Church of England, said: 'We are grateful to the Archbishops for this recognition of our common episcopal heritage. I pray that it will not be an end in itself, but will lead to new opportunities for proclaiming the Gospel.'
The first congregations of the Free Church of England were formed in 1844. It is governed by a constitution and canons, and has two Dioceses in England and is a member of Churches Together in England. It is already a Designated Church under the Ecumenical Relations Measure 1988. Further details can be found on the website: http://www.fcofe.org.uk/