Sunday, 1 October 2017

The Bishop’s Gambit: Gavin Ashenden's Consecration

 BBC Jersey

A former Jersey vicar has been made a bishop in Canada. Gavin Ashenden, who was the vicar of Gouray Church, has been consecrated by the Christian Episcopal Church of Canada and the USA at a service in Vancouver.

Jersey Evening Post

A JEP columnist and outspoken critic of the Church of England has been made a bishop for Anglicans opposed to same-sex marriage.

Christianity Today

Gavin Ashenden, the former chaplain to the Queen who earlier this year resigned from the Church of England over its 'liberalising' trend, has been consecrated a bishop.

The stories about Gavin Ashenden being consecrated a Bishop has been reported in an extremely misleading fashion, probably because newspapers do not have the time or the effort to investigate in any depth.

And yet, for a Minister who has resigned as Queen’s Chaplain, and then said he is leaving the Church of England, to then tell the media he has been consecrated a Bishop should set alarm bells ringing.

So here are the facts:

Gavin Ashenden has been consecrated as a "missionary bishop" to the UK in the “Christian Episcopal Church”, one of what are called “Continuing Anglican churches”  that emerged in the United States in the ongoing disputes in The Episcopal Church over the ordination of homosexuals and women. The first break came with the ordination of women. These churches could not tolerate that and broke away, citing theological reasons which their members held.

It should be noted that Gavin Ashenden himself has said on his blog that this gives him no legal status as a Bishop in the Anglican Church: 'I will oversee anybody who asks...  Obviously my oversight will be informal, it will have no legal basis at all.'. 

Although working in the UK, he is technically under the canonical authority of a Canadian bishop in the Christian Episcopal Church. So what is this body?

The Christian Episcopal Church (XnEC) is a “Continuing Anglican jurisdiction” consisting of parishes in Canada and the United States and with oversight of several parishes in the Cayman Islands.

The latest figures on worldwide membership, with the CofE by comparison, are as follows:

Christian Episcopal Church - 0.0003 million, about 300 members
Church of England - 17 million

It is also part of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) which is an international communion of churches independent of the Anglican Communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The TAC churches have been formed outside of the Anglican Communion churches over a number of different issues. The principal issue was been the ordination of women although it has broadened to include gay rights issues such as gay marriage.

Gavin himself has stated he does not believe women priests in the Church of England can be validly ordained. He sees them as “dressing up” as priests, which is ironic as it comes from someone now “dressing up” as a Bishop in a Church outside the Church of England.

While in Jersey, this meant that he did not accept the legitimacy of the Rector of St Martin's Church Gerry Baudains, nor would accept any others such as the new Rector of St John.

It is notable that some other clergy in Jersey also hold similar views, which is why the Jersey Canon law has yet to be revised to include women bishops. A women bishop currently has no jurisdiction in Jersey, despite the Church of England passing the measure in UK Canon law back in 2014, three years ago.

The Isle of Man changed the same year but changes in Jersey, delegated by Bob Key to a lawyer to work in "in his spare time" got nowhere. Guernsey, when asked by me, said they were waiting on Jersey. Part of the new Dean's remit is to change Jersey Canon law without delay.

The Christian Episcopal Church says that “Its bishops celebrate the fact that their Orders derive from both Anglican and Roman Catholic successions”. However their orders are neither accepted as valid within the Roman Catholic Church or the Anglican Communion. In short, this is a piece of flummery for the media.

So to sum up so far:

Gavin Ashenden is a Bishop in the Christian Episcopal Church – not in communion with the CofE, essentially  a breakaway sect like Society of St. Pius X with the Roman Catholic Church.

As far is the Church of England is concerned, his is an irregular consecration not recognised within the Anglican Church either here or in England. Rather like the SSPX, which broke away over Vatican II, this church broke away over women's ordination. It is a church that sees itself as exclusive and pure as a result.

It is based mainly in the USA and Canada and latest statistics - around 300 members (worldwide).

It is in fact a breakaway splinter group from another breakaway church! Founded in 2002, it was the result of a split from another body which left the Episcopal Church in 1992.

It has only three congregations. But it has an archbishop and primate nonetheless.

Of course if he is declared consecrated by the small breakaway group, people will think he has some kind legitimacy within the Church of England on a par with the Bishop of Dover or the Bishop of Winchester.

This is important, especially when he is given a platform in a newspaper to promote his own views which include intolerance of women priests, gay people and Muslims.

In fact he has no authority as an Anglican Bishop within the Church of England, and a very spurious claim to legitimacy.
So far, the media seem to have fallen into this trap.


James said...


There is much, MUCH more to it than this.

There is an odious man called Adrian Hilton who blogs as Archbishop Cranmer, and his blog (which attracts those who are traditionalists) had an article on this, with a link in the comments section to an article here. Note the bishop's statement:

Since the gracious acceptance by Her Majesty the Queen of his resignation as one of Her Majesty's Chaplains, and his recent resignation from the ordained ministry of the Church of England, the Right Reverend Gavin Roy Pelham Ashenden is now in a position to make known to the members of the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion, and to the British public in general, his status as a Bishop of the Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Therefore, as the Principal Consecrator of Bishop Ashenden, I should like to make it known at this time that he was duly approved as a candidate for Consecration by the Archbishop and Bishops of the Christian Episcopal Churches of North America; and that he was then duly, lawfully, regularly, and canonically according to the prescribed rites and ceremonies of the undivided Catholic Church consecrated Bishop on the Seventeenth Day of October in the Year of Our Lord 2013, publicly before the face of a Congregation of Christian Faithful in the Pro-Cathedral Church of Saint Saviour, by me the Right Reverend Robert David Redmile, Lord Bishop of Richmond, British Columbia, and assisted therein by the Most Reverend Theodore Chris Casimes, Primate of the Christian Episcopal Churches of North America, the Right Reverend Timothy Joseph Klerekoper, Bishop of Seattle, Washington, and the Right Reverend Nicholas John Geoffrey Sykes, Bishop in George Town, Grand Cayman Island, British West Indies, and Suffragan Bishop of Richmond.

At the time of his Consecration, Bishop Ashenden was appointed to be my Suffragan in Normandy for the Channel Islands and France, and he will continue in that office as well as that of Suffragan Bishop in and for England.

At the time of this so-say consecration, Mr Ashenden was (to my knowledge) employed by the Church of England as a house for duty clergyman at Gouray, and he retained holy orders to continue to serve as a Queen's Chaplain.

Póló said...

Clericalism at its worst. Let's hope people take this as confirmation of the wisdom of ignoring him.

Thanks for the background. Should be shouted from the Jersey rooftops.

Interesting you should mention that other great churchman, Bob Key, in this context.

There's a pair of them in it.