On the 12th February 2020, the Church Council voted to leave the Church of England and join Anglican Mission in England (AMiE). This was the result of nearly a year of prayer, discussion, and discerning, following the appointment of Rev Peter Leonard as Archdeacon for the Isle of Wight.
This is not such an extraordinary decision, for nearly 193 years “St. James’s Church has followed a faithful but unsensational course. Her Incumbents have been men of industry and integrity but they have not achieved, nor indeed have they sought, national prominence. They have not become public figures, nor have Prime Ministers paid tribute to them on their deaths. St. James’s Church has not been in the vanguard of liturgical experiment nor has there been a reputation for advanced ceremonial or avant-garde theological views. Her clergy have preached the Word and administered the Sacraments, visited the sick and comforted the bereaved.”*
This has been the witness and heartbeat of the ministry at St. James’s for nearly 200 years. Our decision to leave was because the gospel of repentance and faith had been severely undermined at our local level and as a result was restricting our gospel aspirations. The Bishop of Portsmouth consistently defended and supported the Archdeacon in his same sex civil partnership and his theological position as chairman of OnebodyOnefaith. We had to act with grace, integrity and clarity, and in joining AMiE we are excited about the future gospel opportunities on the Isle of Wight.
As a Proprietary Chapel we have enjoyed a great working relationship with Church Society who as trustees, appoint the Minister and own the buildings for the advancement of the gospel in Ryde. We are very excited to be fostering the relationship between St. James’s, Church Society and AMiE, and see this as truly pioneering for Anglican gospel witness in this country, and a natural outworking of the goals and objectives of the ReNew network.
There is a great anticipation that with AMiE we will progress our gospel aspirations of growing the ministry at St. James’s and planting new churches on the island. The Anglican presence on the island, through the Church of England, is shrinking at an alarming rate. We are excited that with the encouragement of AMiE, churches will be planted, established and secured. We truly desire to see the true Anglican Church grow and be a wonderful blessing for the island.
We have been so privileged that the church family have been overwhelmingly supportive of the move away from the Church of England and to join AMiE. We are not a large church, but with a membership of 154 we have steadily grown, as a clear Bible ministry has taken root in many lives.
Please pray for us as we adjust to life in the AMiE family, that we might continue, above everything else, to be faithful witnesses to Jesus Christ and the gospel of repentance and faith.
Bishop Andy Lines writes:
“St James’s Ryde and I have had a long association, from their support of my family serving as mission partners in South America with the South American Mission Society in the 1990s, through partnering in world mission in Tanzania, Czech Republic and Myanmar with Crosslinks, and supporting the Lines family to this day.
I am, on the one hand, thrilled that this move to join AMiE brings us together more closely in serving the Lord’s mission, but on the other, by a sadness at the reason this has proved necessary. I commend them for their principled decision and the courage of their convictions, and look forward under God to seeing how they will contribute to AMiE and to the cause of Jesus Christ on the Isle of Wight and beyond.”
Dick Farr – Church Society Trust:
“St James’s has been part of the Church Society group of churches since 19th May 1904, and we have been thrilled to see the steady growth as the Gospel has been preached and the church faithfully taught.
We are saddened that the actions of the Bishop of Portsmouth in appointing Rev Peter Leonard as Archdeacon for the Isle of Wight, have precipitated St James’s move from the Church of England to the Anglican Mission in England.
Our patronage Trust is not restricted to Church of England churches and so we look forward to continuing to support St James’s, thankful to God for its longstanding commitment to the Apostolic Gospel and Bible ministry.
We are also excited to pioneer this tripartite relationship between St James’s, AMiE and Church Society. In days of division we want to model working together for the sake of the Gospel and the lost, in this case on the Isle of Wight.”
* A Short History of St. James’s Church Ryde by Stephen Green p3