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Rico: ‘I was naïve about current culture in the CofE’

Well-known evangelist Rico Tice has recently left the Church of England and now worships at the International Presbyterian Church (IPC), Ealing.

Iain Taylor

Figure Image
Rico Tice

In an exclusive interview with Evangelicals Now, he explains why he made the switch, and what his advice is to evangelicals themselves wrestling with leaving.

en: Rico, what prompted this decision?

RT: Last October I was one of six evangelical leaders of parachurch organisations with connections to the Church of England who wrote to Justin Welby and all the bishops explaining our deep ‘heaviness of heart, soul and mind’ about the church’s onward trajectory toward affirming same-sex marriage, specifically the new Prayers of Love and Faith. We called upon the archbishop to resist the influence of cultural values when they are in opposition to those of the Bible, and did this because it was harming our ability to work with orthodox people from other denominations – how could they trust us? We received no substantive response from him, and that was a key moment in my decision to leave.

en: Why have you now become a Presbyterian?

RT: I retain my Permission to Preach, so I can still speak in Cof E churches. But I think it vital that I demonstrated clear separation from a church that no longer affirms Biblical orthodoxy, especially with regard to preaching repentance.

en: Why did you join the Ealing congregation?

RT: I had spoken at IPC before and had been friends with the minister, Paul Levy, for 20 years. Theologically we are very similar. I like its model of eldership, I see myself as Reformed, I hold the Westminster Confession very dear, and I am a paedobaptist. It is also one of the few growing denominations, and it seemed a very natural fit.

en: What is your role there?

RT: I am still an evangelist, but now at my local church as well as for Christianity Explored. So I have led training on evangelism, including Christianity Explored, Hope Explored and The Word One to One. But I am just an ordinary member of the congregation; I go morning and evening wih the family. We have joined a fellowship group and we enjoy lunch with other church members every Sunday.

en: Might you ever rejoin the Church of England?

RT: In one sense I have never left, for I consider myself a cradle-to-grave Anglican and I remain deeply committed to the Global South model of world Anglicanism. But the sad fact is that the Church of England has left Anglicanism.

For me the present situation is utterly heartbreaking. In retrospect I was naïve about our current culture in the Church of England, because I never thought I would see such a clear, pervasive denial of the Christian’s need to repent of each and every sin they commit.

en: What advice would you give to evangelicals thinking of leaving the Church?

RT: First, if your incumbent is orthodox, be loyal to him and hear him out; these are very complicated times. But please encourage him to stay faithful to the gospel, to repentance. God will do His work of regeneration as we call people to repent, just as He did this work in us. And do your best to stay friendly with those who are orthodox but have a different strategy. We are all part of the same flotilla, which is why I retain my permission to preach – I want to serve my brothers and sisters who are still in the Church of England. Secondly, support other orthodox local Christian structures and denominations. As I look to the future it’s clear that we’re going to need each other.