Statement from Fr Simon Ellis, of St Laurence, Long Eaton, and Holy Trinity, Ilkeston:
I announce today my forthcoming resignation from the posts of Vicar of St Laurence, Long Eaton and Priest-in-charge of Holy Trinity, Ilkeston. My last Sunday service will be on 6th March, 2011. I have been selected and approved by the Vatican and by the local processes to serve God in the newly established Ordinariate in England and Wales, offering leadership in this part of Derbyshire. I begin a journey in Lent and will be ordained as a Catholic priest sometime in Pentecost.
The time for discernment is over for many of us, but not without the process placing a burden on all of us as we have tried to learn more about what our plans were, whilst respecting the need for space and confidentiality. Now that this is reaching a conclusion, you can be assured that you have my respect and my prayers for your future individually and corporately.
I have been immensely privileged to have been the leader in both parishes of St Laurence and Holy Trinity. I would like to record thanks for the support and sterling work of my Churchwardens, Fr Paul Waters, Ruth Pechey (Reader), the Parochial Church Councils and all those who have worked with me in the church and community in the past decade. I also record my thanks to other ministerial colleagues in both towns, in the Deanery and Diocese, not to mention the wider networks of ecumenical activity. We could not have achieved what we have done without the grace of God and without the fresh anointing which his Spirit gives daily and weekly from his word and sacraments.
As I prepare for this exciting new chapter in the life of so many Anglicans who will journey into the Ordinariate, I want to express to you and to God my profound thanks for the 42 years I have had in the Church of England, and the past thirteen years of ministerial priesthood. I am not turning my back on my spiritual patrimony, but hoping that this rich experience will be put at the service of the wider church.
Our hope was that either the Church of England could remain even a broad church, or that it might one day even reclaim its apostolic calling. However, observing closely the Church of England over the past twenty years, the faultline lies in placing a higher importance on appearing relevant and contemporary than on remaining faithful to the gospel. Consequently, for many of us in the Catholic movement, attempting to uphold biblical views on the person of Christ and language about God the Father, about priesthood and episcopacy, about marriage and family life and the status of human life has become increasingly difficult. Forty years ago such views were mainstream, twenty years ago they were tolerated minority views: now those who hold such views are simply marginalised.
Many have come to see, by contrast, that the Catholic Church in this country has become the main conscience of the nation, able to offer biblical truth and the gospel life of true freedom which people so desperately seek in this age of relativism, despair and fundamentalism. More importantly, the offer from the Catholic Church to Anglicans [Anglicanorum Coetibus, announced November, 2009] to move as groups in to the fullness of communion with Catholicism – whilst maintaining their spiritual patrimony – is something we have prayed for over many years and is, I believe, a prophetic moment for the wider church and the world.
As for the Church of England, I assure all those who continue to serve within it of my prayers and best wishes. Friendships will still remain and I shall continue to attempt to build positive ecumenical relations with all of God’s holy people. God (and you) forgive me for the times of failure which we pastors feel keenly. We are, indeed, earthen vessels.
I am so overwhelmed with thanks for so many blessings and hope that you will hold Kate, Rebecca and Anastasia and I in your prayers as we prepare for this new chapter in our lives and in the life of God’s Church.