More than 300 people witnessed the commissioning of Dr. Colin Podmore as Director of Forward in Faith Monday night, as the former Clerk of the General Synod pledged to “work for the unity of the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ and for its mission in the world.”
Members of the organisation were joined by former and current members of the General Synod and staff of the National Church Institutions, reflecting what Dr. Podmore described as “the breadth of the Church of England, and our commitment to the ‘mutual flourishing’ of its diverse traditions.”
Twelve Anglo-Catholic bishops and over 40 representative priests concelebrated the Mass at a packed St. Alban’s Holborn, in a liturgy drawn from Common Worship and sung to the setting ‘Collegium Regale’ by Herbert Howells.
During the service, the Rt. Rev. Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham and Chairman of Forward in Faith, promised that the charity would “continue to speak the truth in love about those issues which exercise us, because of their impact, as we see it, on the unity and apostolicity of the Church.”
Encouraging those who take a different view on the issues of the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate to hear the organisation’s message “with an equal love,” Bishop Jonathan’s sermon lamented the “tragedy … that the Church of England should have come to this: that faithful Anglicans who are inspired by convictions which the whole of the Church still affirms in her title deeds and carries in her DNA should be perceived by some as disloyal, a fifth column perhaps.”
But he acknowledged that “no doubt blame … can be distributed across the whole Body [of the Church],” encouraging members of Forward in Faith to “never give anyone the excuse to suggest that we are simply another churchy pressure group.” The challenge, he said, was to “keep going joyfully, and to keep on in love,” on what was, admittedly, a “rocky path.” But the promise of Scripture was that the vision of “one body, one Spirit, one faith, one baptism” has already been fulfilled. Forward in Faith’s task, he suggested, was to ensure that truth was not obscured.
Bishop Jonathan reminded the packed church that the “minority position” many of the congregation shared is, paradoxically, one “deeply committed to the widest, most inclusive vision of unity and catholicity, that the world may believe and come to Christ.”
Dr. Podmore began work at Forward in Faith, which has thousands of members across the Church of England’s dioceses, after Easter. He joined following almost twenty-five years on the staff of the Archbishops’ Council at Church House, Westminster, during which time he variously led the secretariats handling the Church of England’s ecumenical relations; its liturgy; and the business of the General Synod.