Monday, June 21, 2004

Issues Call to Put Focus and Efforts on God’s Mission of Love for His Church

By Jeremy Reynalds
Special Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

SIDCUP, U.K.  (ANS) -- July 8 will be a very special day for the Church Army’s Anne Williams.

On that day Williams will be admitted to the office of evangelist in Sheffield Cathedral by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church Army’s David Coleman reported in an e-mail.
A few days later she will become the first female evangelist in the 122 year history of Church Army to chair a session of the General Synod, which takes place in York between July 9 and 13.

This will be quickly followed by her formal licensing at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Ford Estate, Sunderland by The Bishop of Jarrow in her new role as Community Missioner.

The Church Army is a society of evangelists within the Anglican Communion, which exists to enable people to come to a living faith in Jesus Christ

As an opponent of the ordination of women, the irony of being the first Church Army Sister to Chair the Synod is not lost on Williams.

In an e-mail from the Church Army Williams said, “Some folk have very strange ideas about what I stand for. I believe passionately in the ministry of women within the church; we have a tremendous role to play across the church in mission and evangelism. However so often we do not recognize the gifts God has given us or if we do recognize them we are not encouraged to use them to their fullest potential.

“During my College training I have been sustained and encouraged by the mutual respect shown by fellow Christians of differing views,” Williams said in the same e-mail. “Women’s ordination has just celebrated its 10 (year) anniversary, and I hope that whilst respecting each other's views we can now get on with doing those things we can do together and put all our focus and efforts on God's Mission of Love for His church.”
According to the Church Army, Williams has been an evangelist in training for the past 18 months at Church Army’s Wilson Carlile College. She said she has welcomed the opportunity to explore her calling and it has strengthened her resolve to encourage more laity to step out and become full-time evangelists.

“I never imagined that at 56,” Williams said, “I would pack up and go to college to become and evangelist. I am learning so much, being challenged in God’s name daily and feel very privileged.”

Commenting on Williams’ appointment to Chair the General Synod the Bishop of Jarrow said in an e-mail from the Church Army; “I am delighted that Anne has been afforded this honor. She has served the diocese and the national Church well for a number of years. I look forward to licensing her in July to her new role as Community Missioner on the Ford estate in Sunderland and Mission Enabler working with catholic parishes across the diocese. This is an exciting new post which will fully engage Anne’s many gifts and infectious enthusiasm.”

In an e-mail from the Church Army Stephen Parkinson, Director of Forward in Faith added, “Over the past few years as Vice-Chairman of Forward in Faith, Anne has demonstrated an admirable ability at chairing sessions of our annual conference and I am only surprised it has taken General Synod this long to discover her talent!”
Williams, who has been Vice-Chairman of Forward in Faith since 1994 and has previously served as a District Councilor in Easington, said she is thrilled to have been asked to chair the Synod.

“I have been a representative of Durham Diocese on General Synod since 1990 and feel very honored to have been invited to serve in this way,” Williams said in the same e-mail from the Church Army. “Although I love the cut and thrust of the debates, members can be assured that I will do my best to ensure we keep to the timetable and get smoothly through all the business we need to.”

Forward in Faith is a worldwide association of Anglicans who do not accept the ordination of women as priests or as bishops.

Philip Johanson OBE, Church Army’s Chief Secretary commented to the Church Army, “This is a deserved honor for Anne and I am delighted that the work of our evangelists is recognized in this way. Anne cares passionately about mission and evangelism and this provides a great encouragement to our evangelists who are working so hard to make a difference at the cutting edge.”

For more information on the work of Church Army see  For more information on Forward in Faith see 

Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance writer and the founder and director of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter, or He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico and is a candidate for the Ph.D. in intercultural education at Biola University in Los Angeles. He is married with five children and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at Tel: (505) 877-6967 or (505) 400-7145. Note: A black and white JPEG picture of Jeremy Reynalds is available on request from Dan Wooding at

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