The Evangelical Connexion
Free Church of England
otherwise called The Reformed Episcopal Church
FRAMEWORK OF REFERENCE FOR
COVENANTING CHURCHES & INDIVIDUALS
"That in all things Christ might have the preeminence"
Declaration of Principles
1. In keeping with the primitive history of the Free Church of England and the Reformed Episcopal Church the body is to be known as A CONNEXION OF COVENANTING CHURCHES and is not a new denomination. A main purpose of the CONNEXION is to reaffirm the Protestant, Reformed, and Evangelical character of the 1927 union.
2. We continue to accept the DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES of the Free Church of England as our basis of faith and receive the Document AGENDA FOR RENEWAL as the initial way forward for our continuing churches. Both statements confirm the 39 Articles of Religion (revised) and 1662 (revised) Book of Common Prayer of the Free Church of England as the doctrinal standards of the CONNEXION. Individual Christians (scattered members) or overseas churches can also covenant to identify with the CONNEXION. In future meetings, nothing is to be discussed or proposed contrary to these standards.
3. The CONNEXION will meet annually for Conference/Convocation, which will include spiritual nurture; prayer; business consultation; policy-making; the receiving of reports; and the appointment of committees with interim authority only.
4. In keeping with the early history and present Constitution of the Free Church of England, Bishops cannot make themselves the focus of ecclesiastical unity. We affirm this role for the whole Convocation under the Word of God. We do not exclude the possibility of a future reconciliation with previous FCE churches but this seems unlikely for the immediate future. We view with great alarm any system which robs the Lord Jesus Christ of His position as the Chief Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls (1 Peter 2:24-25).
5. In view of the above, (4), the CONNEXION must be functionally and financially free. A Central Fund is to be set-up for the administration of the said CONNEXION. We commit ourselves, through our legal advisor, to seek an immediate orderly and equitable division of all FCE assets.
6. Local churches are to be responsible for the selection and appointment of their own ministers in consultation with the Bishops, Examination Board and the Annual Conference. Licences are to be issued to accredited clergy and laity, by the bishops, under the authority of the Annual Connexional Conference/Convocation.
7. Evangelical Bishops, recognised by the CONNEXION, may undertake episcopal duties on invitation of the local congregation and with the approval of the Connexional bishops.
8. The Connexion reserves the right to select candidates, ordain ministers, and consecrate bishops when necessary for the good order, future growth, and needs of the churches. The Connexion may also implement the present Canon 41 to receive duly ordained evangelical ministers, without Episcopal re-ordination.
9. We reject contemporary writings which deal with the history of the FCE/REC in a revisionist manner. Our official history remains Bishop Frank Vaughan's, THE FREE CHURCH OF ENGLAND to which we intend to add our own supplement. This CONNEXION will not be a member of Churches Together, or of the modern ecumenical movement, but will seek to promote 'the gospel of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, in accordance with AGENDA FOR RENEWAL. The Connexion will also seek to foster evangelical ecumenism.
10. In view of the long and sad history of unbiblical, Cultic and secret societies, membership of such bodies is discouraged. This includes any movement in conflict with the original Declaration of Principles of the REC/FCE, currently in use.
Approved at the meeting of the Connexion Convocation on 10th May 2005 The above covenant to be signed by all holding office in the Connexion and to be available for local church, national press, and general public use.