Free Church of England Orders recognised

The Church of England has moved to recognise the Orders of the Free Church of England.

The Free Church of England was formed in 1844 and there are two Dioceses in England today. It is a member of Churches Together in England and is a Designated Church under the Ecumenical Relations Measure 1988.

Under the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967, the Archbishops have the authority to determine whether the Orders of any Church are 'recognised and accepted' by the Church of England.

Now anyone originally ordained in the Free Church of England may minister in the Church of England with permission from the Archbishop of the relevant Province without re-ordination. The appointment may be permanent or for a specified time.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have recognised the Orders of the Free Church of England following three years of dialogue between the bishops of the Free Church of England, the Council for Christian Unity, and the Faith and Order Commission.

The recommendation to recognise the Orders of the Free Church of England came from the Faith and Order Commission and was subsequently endorsed by the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops.

The Right Reverend Christopher Hill, Chair of the Church of England's Council for Christian Unity, said: "I hope there will be good relations between us and especially in those places where there is a Free Church of England congregation."

In a statement, the Right Reverend John McLean, Bishop Primus of the Free Church of England, said: "We are grateful to the Archbishops for this recognition of our common episcopal heritage. I pray that it will not be an end in itself, but will lead to new opportunities for proclaiming the Gospel."

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