From time to time I like to give my limited platform over to people and projects that I find fascinating, and/or see the face of Jesus in. My friend James Paice is one of these – he’s just gained a new hat, and could be called ‘transdenominational’. James lives and pastors down the road from me – so I sat down with him earlier this week to have a conversation!
1) Hi, James, who are you and what do you do?
My name is James Paice and I am the Vicar of St Luke’s Wimbledon Park in SW London.
We are a parish church that was financed by Emmanuel Wimbledon about 100 years ago.
We are a medium sized parish church with plenty of families and spread of ages.
2) How did you end up in ministry?
I had a call to ministry shortly after my conversion at university. However, I felt it was important to get some experience of secular work so I went to work in the City where a number of my friends were going to work, and where I knew there was a good church that I could get involved in.
I then went to work as a lay assistant in a church in central London to explore ministry. I wanted to get more training on how to teach the Bible so I went on the Cornhill Training Course and whilst I was on that I went forward for selection for ordination training for the Church of England.
3) What does Gospel faithfulness look like where you are?
We seek to teach the Bible week by week in a faithful and applied expository way, and to teach it in groups and one-to-one. We do seek to be an outward looking church and to teach the whole counsel of God to all ages by a variety of means.
4) I heard you have a new role – could you explain what that’s all about?
I have been involved with the Free Church of England for a while and I have recently been made FCE Church Partnerships Officer.
This is to help encourage mission partnerships between Church of England churches and the Free Church of England which is currently being revived.
5) The Free Church of England – who are they/you?
The Free Church of England was established in the 1840s by clergy who were concerned that the Church of England was losing its Protestant and Reformed roots.
It is like the CofE but in minature: it has its own liturgy, bishops, canons, constitutions, disciplinary procedures and so on.
After some years of decline, it is now growing. Both of its dioceses are signed up to GAFCON (the Global Anglican Future Conference) and it will be well represented at the conference in Jerusalem in June of this year.
6) Sounds exciting! How does the FCE relate to the C of E?
FCE clerical orders are recognized by the Church of England and vice versa. This means that clergy are interchangeable, and can serve in each denomination- they do not need to be re-ordained. A number of CofE clergy such as myself hold licences in both churches which enables us to minister in both churches. This has long existed with other denominations also, for example with the Methodist Church.
7) What is your prayer for the future of the Church in England?
My prayer is that biblical Anglicanism will flourish and that revisionism which has destroyed the church in much of the USA and Canada will be resisted.
Faithful Anglicanism will take a variety of forms: through the Free Church of England, through the Anglican Mission in England and through the Church of England itself. ‘Mixed economy Anglicanism’ is going to be increasingly the pattern in the UK for the 2020’s and beyond.
You might ask why, as someone who is part of a Vineyard Church, was baptised in a Grace Baptist Church, and has been formed by an Anglican training college, FIEC Churches, UCCF, and a larger Anglican Church in London, why I was excited to hear about James’ new role. The answer is simple: unity. Jesus prayed for unity, and whilst I don’t want to pretend that more is happening than is, I am always delighted when robust partnerships and relationships can exist, for the sake of the Gospel and the extension of the Kingdom of God. I’m fascinated to see what the FCE will do in this exciting new time.