THINKING ANGLICANS

Conservative evangelicals to form "shadow synod"

Updated again Wednesday evening

John Bingham of the Telegraph reports: Church of England parishes consider first step to break away over sexuality.

A group of parishes is preparing what could be the first step towards a formal split in the Church of England over issues such as homosexuality, with the creation of a new “shadow synod” vowing to uphold traditional teaching.

Representatives of almost a dozen congregations in the Home Counties are due to gather in a church hall in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, later this week for the first session of what they say could eventually develop into an alternative Anglican church in England.

Organisers, drawn from the conservative evangelical wing of Anglicanism, say they have no immediate plans to break away – but are setting up the “embryonic” structures that could be used to do so if the established church moves further in what they see as a liberal direction…

There is a further report with some additional usefui background information from Ruth Gledhill in Christian Today Anglicans consider new synod to oppose gay marriage

…In England, there is already a number of conservative groups such as the Church Society, and Reform. Dr Sanlon has written for the Church Society.

There are also the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, which is signed up to Gafcon’s Jerusalem Statement and Declaration, and the Anglican Mission in England, a mission society promoting gospel growth in England.

Anglican Mainstream is a fifth…

…A spokesman for Anglican Mainstream said: “This is not an initiative organised or directed by Gafcon.”

But he said there were many similarities between them and Gafcon.

“This is a local initiative designed to send a clear message: we hold to the unchanging truths of the Gospel and the formularies and teachings of the Church of England. We oppose the relentless slide towards revisionism in the Church of England structures. We will take action to protect our congregations and our mission.”

According to the Daily Mail:

…A Church of England spokeswoman said: “The Shared Conversations process over the last two years included the participation of over 1,300 members of the church in regional and national settings.
“Through those conversations, deep convictions have been shared and profound differences better understood. It is our hope that what has been learned through the relationships developed will inform the way the Church conducts whatever further formal discussions take place in the future.
“The Church of England is episcopally led and synodically governed. Within that structure, many like-minded parishes join together in a range of organisations, meetings and assemblies to share mutual support and debate.”

Readers who want to know more about the views of the organiser of this event may find this book review of interest.

Updates

Andy Lines, the Chairman of GAFCON UK Task Force has issued this statement.

Andy Lines is employed as Mission Director of Crosslinks, and has PtO in Southwark diocese, but according to Crockfords has served only in South America, and has never held any parochial office in the Church of England.

Read the GAFCON Chairman’s August letter in full for comment on the CofE.

And this from GAFCON UK.

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Susannah Clark
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Peter Sanlon, in his book review of ‘Amazing Love’: “In reality the book has a much larger goal. The goal is nothing less than a wholesale revision of the Christian Faith into a different religion.” That is a pretty extreme view, held by a minority that feels beleaguered. The majority view in Synod is much more moderate, and the provisional measures being explored or taken are frankly a sign that they fear they are losing the argument in the Church. In the end, the Church, and Church property, is a national entity, and decisions will be taken by Synod as… Read more »

robert ian williams
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robert ian williams

You have to understand the mindset…homosexuality to conservative evangelical Christians is a perversion of sexuality. There can be no compromise.

Unfortunately they do not see the illogical basis of their concern, as they have compromised on contraception and divorce.

Fr DavidH
Guest
Fr DavidH

It will be a day of great rejoicing when these hate-filled people leave. They seem to think accepting gay marriage is to change the whole Christian religion. It is they who have altered the Faith from one of love to horrible legalism.

Turbulent Priest
Guest
Turbulent Priest
Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

This is interesting. Mostly, from where I sit, because this chap is not using AMiE, nor yet the much-trumpeted FCA England branch, nor yet Reform, nor even putting themselves under the episcopal control of Rwanda or Nigeria or wherever. He seems to be going it alone. Yet another breakaway?

Kate
Guest
Kate

What of LGBT people in these parishes? How will they be served? Surely the days of a minister making decisions like this for their entire parish must be over? The church response is entirely inadequate. Ministers and parishes cannot be allowed to behave like this.

Leonard Clark
Guest

“Another opening, another SHOW, in Philly, Boston or Kokomo” … we told ye so, Merry Olde!

I know, I know, I must be cheritable and “love them anyway”…better this time, you than me.

Leonard Clark

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

That review is pretty shocking, both for its dressing up of pretty visceral hatred in borrowed academic clothing, and for its ability to look cultured and academic while actually being a list of whinging and ad hominem attacks. One might call it cargo cult book reviewing: it looks like a review, all the form is there, but it’s just an excuse for the reviewer to ride their hobbyhorse. The last time I saw the word “homosexualist” in print it was an in-joke in Auberon Waugh’s diary in Private Eye. Bron stopped writing for the Eye in the mid-1980s when Hislop… Read more »

Nathaniel Brown
Guest
Nathaniel Brown

This is a good thing, as has proved to be so in the Episcopal Church, which is now free to do those things which it discerns to be right. In the end, after much passion and rhetoric had been spent, a handful left It will be so in the C of E.

But what of those inside the departing parishes or dioceses? Will there be flying bishops to care for them?

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Seems premature, as CoE is still persecuting its gay, married, clergy…

Father Ron Smith
Guest

If Doctor Peter Scanlon is truly representative of the ’72’ who have written, advising the Church of England’s Bishops to stick to the old ways of being Church; what is he doing dismissing his perfectly functioning robed Parish Choir at Tunbridge Wells? Is he looking for the upholding of traditional ‘Tradition’ – or his own ideas, according to his brand-new description of what that term might mean? It strikes me this young man needs to take a step back from his dictatorial stance and listen to those in his parish with a lot more experience of what life in the… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

Good luck, I guess. The actions of a tiny con-evo remnant are of no great consequence. Change will be signaled by an exodus of the vast open evangelical crowd, of which there’s, so far, no sign.

Indeed, just in the last week, Ian Paul’s blog posted an article questioning the givenness of sexual orientation, followed by a confident reassertion of the traditional position. When thoughtful, leading moderates like him aren’t close to changing their mind or changing denomination, you know there’s much left to do.

Con-evos could rest easy; but then, if they did, they wouldn’t be con-evos!

Father David
Guest
Father David

Mmmmm! Looks to me as though the Church of England is to spawn its own internal version of GAFCON. Surprisingly this development has sprung up when more and more Diocesan Bishopricks (HHH spelling) are being given to those of an Evangelical bent. We wait to see who succeeds Richard Chartres, if it happens to be yet another Evangelical then all five senior positions will be held by Evangelicals. The creation of a so called “shadow synod” is a sad development. Will the Conservative Evangelical Bishop of Maidstone give this unfortunate development his blessing or will he remain loyal to his… Read more »

lorenzo
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lorenzo

He’s positioning himself to be a bishop in one of these bodies, Mr Pemberton, if he brings a few parishes with him and becomes known as a leader of the opposition. Sad.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

He is no more going to set up a rival CoE diocese than the Ordinariate set up a second Church of England.
There is no mechanism for a second established CoE to exist alongside the current one.
These priests and parishes can do what the Ordinariate did – leave.
The parishes will remain as CoE parishes.

Andrew Welsby
Guest
Andrew Welsby

One can only hope that the relevant diocesan authorities will will be as even handed with this breakaway group as they were with those who left to form the personal Ordinariate of OLW. Go, by all means, but the buildings, parsonages, stipends, pensions et al, remain the entailment of the Church of England, not a sect. Those responsible for ecclesiastical matters in Royal Tunbridge Wells should be well versed in the relevant canon laws.

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

DavidH – . If they leave, many subsidised liberal parishes will close for lack of central funds. We have to be honest about the numbers and money calculations. Don’t imagine that wasn’t part of the situation facing Rowan Williams with dean John and Reading. That’s why I think TEC should lead a global liberal communion and finance it

David Runcorn
Guest

FrDavidH ‘these hate-filled people’. Please be careful with such language. The ones I know and talk with – and I have been part of this tradition for years – are not at all actually. The Evangelical tradition’s passionate devotion to the Bible means that in this context if scripture is believed to condemn same-sex relationships this is primarily a matter of obedience to what the Bible teaches. It is a theological issue. And it needs to be addressed theologically. My conservative friends are right to insist on that – and this is happening steadily. (though it concerns me that this… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

” The Evangelical tradition’s passionate devotion to the Bible means that in this context if scripture is believed to condemn same-sex relationships this is primarily a matter of obedience to what the Bible teaches.”

Odd, then, that they appear a great deal less bothered about divorce, about which the reported words of Jesus speak quite a lot, than they are about homosexuality, about which the synoptic gospels have approximately nothing to say.

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

A liberal, anglican view of scripture obviously weakens the fundamentalist branch upon which Con Evos sit. The ‘gay debate’ is simply the presenting issue which challenges a descredited view of scripture which is not shared by ‘thinking’ anglicans. Let’s not dignify hate-filled homophobia with the name ‘theology’, as David Runcorn suggests. Hate is hate, even when it’s backed up by so-called ‘proof texts’.

JCF
Guest
JCF

We in North America (TEC & AngChCanada) warned you, CofE. We warned you, we warned you, we warned you.

Schisms are created by schismatics. Nothing more, nothing less.

David Runcorn
Guest

Interested Observer Not odd at all. It is not a question of being ‘less bothered’. Some are still divided on divorce actually. You can trace a clear theological journey re divorce and re-marriage through this tradition if you want to. But that was a debate that happened several decades ago.
Meanwhile Fr DavidH might reflect he is using hate language of his own on this thread.

Nathaniel Brown
Guest
Nathaniel Brown

“Okay – we’ve shared conversations, we have listened compassionately, but we didn’t get our way, and now we’re leaving”?

Kate
Guest
Kate

I think we have all known people divorced through no fault of of their own and felt immense compassion for their situation. It is incredibly hard to suggest they should be denied future companionship. If conservative evangelicals feel that same compassion we should be pleased that they do, not berate them for hypocrisy. Rather we should see it as something to build upon. For me the teaching is clear and divorce is neither allowed nor possible. But we are also taught by Jesus to look at the consequences – the fruit – of any policy and when I do that,… Read more »

David Emmott
Guest
David Emmott

How many such parishes are we talking about? How many of them already withold their parish share on grounds of ‘principle’? So even if financial blackmail is intended on their part, how is it going to be very effective?

As with the ordinariate, if they want to carry on independently they will have to find their own buildings and fund their own clergy. And as with the ordinariate, I would be surprised if more than a tiny percentage of their laity follow them.

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

An interesting and entirely positive development. Over women, they adopted a fight not flight strategy. Here they seem to be taking steps to form their own kind of Third Province, except it will have no legal or constitutional standing. The flight will come without a fight. That has a lot to commend it to the CofE at large. Parishes cannot leave the CofE. They can make a lot of noise, withhold their Parish Share and in the final analysis physically lead their flocks elsewhere, on which point it is interesting to speculate the extent to which this is a “grass-roots… Read more »

Andrew Lightbown
Guest
Andrew Lightbown

what on earth is a ‘shadow synod?’Are its members lay, and clergy, elected? Does it have a bishop or two? Who is its provincial? Whatever else it is it is not a synod. Also, the idea that those on the progressive side have not engaged with the issue theologically is wide of the mark; they have for years, just not on the terms that conservatives accept.

Malcolm Dixon
Guest
Malcolm Dixon

As a member of Diocesan Synod in the diocese in which Dr Sanlon plies his trade, this thread fills me with the deepest dismay: 1) that Dr Sanlon is setting up yet another secessionist grouping, when so many others already exist, to which he could have allied himself. 2) that Dr Sanlon has chosen to launch this initiative in the middle of a period when his diocesan bishop (and sole patron of his parish) is in the middle of an extended period of absence abroad, visiting linked dioceses in Africa. I trust that those ‘holding the fort’ in his absence… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

The problem is that in our present context it is not necessary to “believe” that “the Scripture condemns same-sex relationships” absolutely, any more than it condemns mixed-sex relationships in part. For one thing, there is no “evidence” that Scripture “condemns” a life-long, faithful, committed same-sex civil marriage. And the idea that Scripture somehow “condemns” all same-sex relationships absolutely also rests on tenuous ground: the solitary prooftext against lesbians is by no means certain (that is, both the tradition and modern scholarship disagree as to what is being referenced in that isolated verse. ) So, as with so much else, Scriptural… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest

Kate Greetings. RE your comments on NT and divorce – if you are interested here is an example of an evangelical theologian working with the NT texts on divorce and remarriage. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/october/20.26.html. If you follow the link on Christianity today you can track how conservative bible teachers have responded (if you haven’t better use of a late summer evening). It is a glimpse of theological method and argument within the spectrum of the CofE Evangelical world these days.
(He has also written a Grove booklet on the subject – Divorce and Remarriage in the 1st and 21st Century).

Nicholas Henderson
Guest
Nicholas Henderson

This is a tiny group which is no bigger than other small pressure groups in the Church of England. It is most unlikely to become a mass movement and represents no more or less than the half dozen or so other exclusive organisations threatening this and that with dire consequences in the Church. The story is of course a silly season gift to the likes of the Daily Telegraph and the Mail.

Turbulent Priest
Guest
Turbulent Priest

David Runcorn…please read the article referenced in the Kent Times (my earlier post). I know nothing else about this person, but I’m afraid that, to me, this feels like the ways that fanatics always behave: the interests of individuals being subsidiary to those of the cause, whatever that is. Whether it’s political or religious, left or right,conservative or liberal. “Hate filled” certainly is consistent with the actions described there. Or, worse still, motivated by the kind of “love” that loves humanity but doesn’t love individual human beings. It comes to the same thing. David, please look at the pictures of… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“So, as with so much else, Scriptural interpretation in this instance is a matter of choice. For some reason, some people choose to make this interpretation” Thank you, Tobias! Here in the secular sphere of the Great State of California, we have a FEW “Christian” (i.e., Christianist) colleges who insist they have the right to ignore civil rights laws re LGBT students (and discriminate against them), “because of the Bible”… http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article83988247.html …IGNORING the larger number of Christian& church-affiliated colleges, equally Bible-believing, who do NOT make such claims. It’s a CHOICE to be homophobic. You make the *presumption* that the Bible… Read more »

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

All things considered I wonder why the C of E ordained this chap…not much tolerant generous orthodoxy here…the C of E has made a rod for its own back…he is the sort of person who is unlikely ever to be comfortable in such a church.
re Andy Lines “these churches are prepared to take action to protect their congregations”…not parishes one notes, thus betraying the sectarian mindset. I hope what these actions will be are soon spelt out so appropriate action can be taken.

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

What is it about Tunbridge Wells that makes it such a battleground for extremism? First the vicar of St Barnabas ran away to a tiny Roman Catholic enclave. Now an evangelical vicar wishes to dwell in a gay-free zone where he can remain uncorrupted. Is it a qualification that clergy in that town are all “Disgusted, Tunbridge Wells”?

David Runcorn
Guest

Turbulent Priest. Thank you. I have read it. But local newspaper reports are not usually the best place to get the full story of church life are they? – particularly when there is conflict involved. Many parish clergy have scars to prove it. From personal parish experience I also know how choirs can be notoriously intrenched institutions. But the report does says “The PCC decided, after lengthy consultation with the congregations and local residents, to implement a new pattern of services from September 1, 2014. Sadly some members of the choir were unable to accept these changes; others have embraced… Read more »

Nick Nawrockyi
Guest
Nick Nawrockyi

Over the last few years, we often hear that if evangelical churches leave the CofE, then there won’t be enough money to sustain the remaining parishes. Or it’s phrased in terms of evangelical churches “subsidising” liberal ones.

Serious question, because I don’t know the answer: is this true? Are there facts and figures to support it? It seems like a huge generalisation to me, but it’s often thrown out there as truth, and I don’t think I’ve seen much evidence.

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

I’ve noticed that we’re always assured by people who are in no way threatened by the con-evos that they really are great guys, who haven’t the slightest bit of hate in them.

They know this because these people are not hateful to or around them. Could that be because they are not the target of these peoples’ hate?

Father David
Guest
Father David

“First the vicar of St. Barnabas ran away to a tiny Roman Catholic enclave”. I understand that the Ordinariate in this country has approximately 1000 members (Thinks I wonder what Pope Benedict was told about the number who were likely to defect?) The Ordinariate congregation at Pembury boasts 130 members. That’s 13% of the total in one congregation which is in all probability larger than many C of E congregations.

Fr William
Guest

I think Dr Sanlon and his ilk very good for the C of E. We need more of them. My churches have benefited enormously from a neighbouring parish that sounds like his – a Reform parish whose refugees land up with me. My Sunday congregations have swelled, baptisms and weddings have increased, goodwill has increased enormously. I commend Dr Sanlon on his zeal and hope that it will work a treat for clerical colleagues in TW.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Choice? No. It’s more complicated than that. On a simple reading of the Bible, gay sex is sinful. It takes an holistic understanding of the Bible to realise that same sex relationship are acceptable. It’s not choice: it is ignorance. Evangelicals’ primary gift is telling people “Jesus is Lord,” and being believed. Mission. But IMO they make two fundamental mistakes. Firstly they assume everyone has the same gift so they expect all of us to be successful at mission. Their second mistake is assuming that they are also the best at interpreting the Bible. They are not: respectfully that is… Read more »

Fr Paul
Guest
Fr Paul

Turbulent Priest – It’s not only Conservative Evangelical churches who want to evolve in their worship and run up against musical directors and robed choirs who will not move an inch. Is there really that much difference between biblical conservatism, social conservatism and musical conservatism?

They all come from a mindset that refuses to accept that society, including churches can evolve. A refusal to accept that perhaps the church should be trying to reach those whose views on what church might mean are not as narrow as their own.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Having uprooted a 150-year Anglican choral tradition at the church, I wonder what former choristers make of this statement:

“This is a local initiative designed to send a clear message: we hold to the unchanging truths of the Gospel and the formularies and teachings of the Church of England. We oppose the relentless slide towards revisionism in the Church of England structures. We will take action to protect our congregations and our mission.”

Pot calling the kettle black?

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Thank you, Tobias: “So, as with so much else, Scriptural interpretation in this instance is a matter of choice. For some reason, some people choose to make this interpretation” Thank you JCF “It’s a CHOICE to be homophobic. You make the *presumption* that the Bible agrees w/ your homophobic opinion, then ignore all arguments to the contrary.” Yes, again, it is a CHOICE to proof text the Bible to justify this hate and make it central to their “church.” David Runicorn, the theology and scholarship have been done and the inclusive position is solid as can be. Inclusion, dignity, and… Read more »

Nathaniel Brown
Guest
Nathaniel Brown

I wonder which is the more truly Christian, to accept differences and come to the table together in mutual respect despite disagreements; or to break away and refuse to worship with the “ungodly”?

Tim Chesterton
Guest

I find it interesting that so many people around here who hate evangelicals (yes, if they will insist on using that word, I will use it too) are quite sure they understand our psychology, our spirituality, our motivation, what makes us tick, what we’re good at, what we’re not good at, etc. etc. I spent a week at Regent College, Vancouver this summer, immersed in the thinking evangelical culture. I met smart people, gifted scholars, kind and loving people, people who did not approach the Bible assuming they already knew what it was going to say to them, people who… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

RE: Andrew at 5:26 pm 31 Aug:

I’ve thought that, myself. How far back should he go to oppose this revisionism? After all, one could point out that the CofE was “revised” after Henry VIII’s death to the RCC. Does he oppose the revisionism after Henry? Gonna go back full Catholic in all but obedience to the Pope? I believe earlier articles than the 39 existed, so the 39 are a “revision” of the CofE, earlier articles affirming things like the celibacy of clergy!

Father David
Guest
Father David

“musical directors and robed choirs who will not move an inch”. Three cheers for good and talented Musical Directors and robed choirs who add so much quality to the worship of Almighty God. This summer my own choir spent a week singing God’s praises in Bristol cathedral with the added bonus of a well attended and much appreciated lunch-time concert. Last Monday they sang Evensong at Westminster Abbey. The Precentor kindly wrote the MD a letter of thanks which included these glowing sentences:- “We appreciated the quality of the choir’s singing, and our worship was much enriched by your contribution.”… Read more »

Rich
Guest
Rich

In answer to Nick, some analysis was done in Southwark Diocese in recent years: 14 out of the 20 largest churches are evangelical and 7 out of the largest 10 are evangelical. So not universally, but evangelical churches tend to be larger.