Church So­ci­ety di­rec­tor wel­comed at Com­mis­sion­ing ser­vice

The Church of England - - ANGLICAN LIFE - By David Mea­ger

On Satur­day 2 March, Christ Church, Cam­bridge, was filled for the Com­mis­sion­ing Ser­vice of the Rev Lee Gatiss as Di­rec­tor of Church So­ci­ety. The ser­vice was led by Bishop Wal­lace Benn, former Bishop of Lewes, and Vice Pres­i­dent of Church So­ci­ety. Af­ter a hymn, psalm and read­ing, the Rev Paul Dar­ling­ton, Vicar of Holy Trin­ity, Oswestry, preached on Jude 17-25. Paul en­cour­aged those of us in­volved in the work of Church So­ci­ety to con­tinue to con­tend for bi­b­li­cal truth in the Church of Eng­land, and to do so in a way that was win­some and gra­cious; in the hope that we would not only see the truth pre­served, but also that those op­posed to the truth might be mer­ci­fully won to it.

Fol­low­ing Paul’s ser­mon, Bishop Wal­lace led the com­mis­sion­ing part of the ser­vice which in­cluded rep­re­sen­ta­tives from sev­eral con­ser­va­tive evan­gel­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing Dr Kirsten Bir­kett from Oak Hill Col­lege, and the Rev David Jack­man, former Pres­i­dent of the Procla­ma­tion Tr ust. The rep­re­sen­ta­tives put a num­ber of ques­tions to Lee, in­clud­ing whether he would ‘pro­mote and main­tain the true pro­fes­sion of the gospel, the Protes­tant Re­formed re­li­gion’, and also whether he would ‘work to pro­mote unity amongst all those who sin­cerely be­lieve this gospel, what­ever their de­nom­i­na­tion.’

Af­ter the com­mis­sion­ing, Lee then spoke about his vi­sion for Church So­ci­ety. This in­cluded a brief out­line of the his­tory of the So­ci­ety whose fore­bears were es­tab­lished from 1835. It was th­ese fore­bears who had main­tained protes­tant Angli­can­ism over many years and through which the Angli­can Church League in Aus­tralia and the Church So­ci­ety both de­rive. Both share a com­mon an­ces­tor in the Na­tional Church League!

Lee then out­lined the main ar­eas of work that the So­ci­ety is in­volved in to­day in­clud­ing cam­paign­ing, pa­tron­age, and pol­i­tics, and the vi­tal role that the So­ci­ety has to play to­day in both church and state. Lee’s re­frain was that all should be done for the glory of God and the good of Eng­land.

Fol­low­ing Lee’s talk, prayers were led by the Rev Dr Simon Vib­ert, Vice Prin­ci­pal of Wy­cliffe Hall, Ox­ford, fol­lowed by a fi­nal hymn by AM To­plady, then bless­ing by Bishop Wal­lace. The ser­vice was closed with Lee and Kerr y Gatiss be­ing in­vited (un­ex­pect­edly) onto the plat­form for a round of ap­plause! The mu­sic was well led by an ac­com­plished mu­sic group. Af­ter the ser­vice a good time of fel­low­ship was en­joyed over tea in the hall.

Over­all the day was a great en­cour­age­ment as we com­mit­ted to God Lee’s fu­ture min­istry with Church So­ci­ety. Please do con­tinue to pray for Lee, Kerr y and the fam­ily as they em­bark on this strate­gic work.

Bishop Wal­lace Benn

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