Comments: Update on AMiE and GAFCON plans for England

To keep things in perspective, the Church of England has 16000 churches in over 12000 parishes. 33 churches have signed up to support AMiE.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Sunday, 25 September 2016 at 7:15pm BST

OK: con-evos get their border-crossing antics, lay officiation, and I'll even throw in some funky Geneva gowns; and in return for allowing the remnant wall themselves off in ghettos of pure pureness, provinces get to ordain and marry whoever they bally well please.

Deal?

Posted by James Byron at Sunday, 25 September 2016 at 9:24pm BST

When this happened in the US, at least TEC could say it was because "we fought the good fight." In CoE, it's coming because CoE is considering fighting the good fight, maybe.

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 25 September 2016 at 9:57pm BST

Interesting to see AMIE's use the word, "evangelize" as a stand-in for the phrase, "spread hate in."

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Sunday, 25 September 2016 at 11:33pm BST

The Church of England cannot say they were not warned that this could happen.

TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada were bedevilled by similar conservative incursions into their territorial area with the result that ACNA became the intruder on their doorstep.

The Church of England must not compromise its integrity by bowing to GAFCON pressure, to take the Church back into the middle ages by rejecting the Gospel move towards inclusivity.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 26 September 2016 at 1:00am BST

Some of those churches are new (eg King's Church Guildford) but others are supposed to still be part of the Church of England. That's going to be a problem. What's worse is that some of them have associated schools. Even if the Church of England was willing to give up churches - and I hope they wouldn't - nobody can seriously believe they would surrender schools too. And those who advocate parishes and ministers being able to choose whether they follow any new teaching on same sex marriage might wish to ponder how that might affect LGBTI children brought up in schools associated with churches which opt out of new teaching. And is it acceptable that the children of a gay Anglican couple might not be admitted to their local church school because of the sexual orientation of the parents or because the parents are turned away from the associated church? Is that really something we are prepared to tolerate?

And if AMiE intends to plant hundreds of evangelical churches where does that leave CofE's own plans to grow by expanding evangelical churches? Aren't both going to be fighting over the same type of worshipper? Doesn't this suggest that Reform and Renewal, as a strategy, is a busted flush which needs to be updated with a new strategy?

Posted by Kate at Monday, 26 September 2016 at 1:07am BST

I took a deep breath and watched the video. Beneath the predictable language and images, and the weird language about how long God's arm is, there was a blur. Just why is this 'Anglican'? How do AMiE churches relate to Church of England churches, if the latter are being exhorted to make a link with one of the former? How does starting an AMiE church differ from, say, an HTB church starting a plant?

Posted by Helen King at Monday, 26 September 2016 at 8:13am BST

Losing 33 church communities (out of 16000) is regrettable (if indeed they actually did leave, when faced with losing their church property etc).

However, it is survivable, and if they left may God bless them on their continuing journey.

As the Church Times leader points out, the crux is how many more might leave, and that will hinge on whether 'unity in diversity' is pursued and people's consciences respected.

The loss of 33 church communities is a far lesser loss than: the exclusion of LGBT+ people from full acceptance and affirmation; the abysmal signal that sends out to the (largely unchurched) people of England; the loss of the gifts LGBT+ people bring to the Church; the narrowing of the Church if many from one wing departed. The Church of England deeply needs its evangelical wing.

The key is to evolve towards gay marriage, which more and more churches will ultimately embrace, while trying to carry more conservative churches by allowing conscientious opt-out for individuals and communities, many of which may in time evolve (as was the case for Nick Bundock's church after the tragic death of a lesbian teenager).

The Church of England is a national church, and the churches belong to the nation and national church: therefore AMiE need to understand that they will not inherit buildings that belong to the nation. They will effectively be starting their own denomination from scratch. If 33/16000 church communities were to leave... 15967 would still be carrying on the Church of England.

What is essential is that sufficient respect for conscientious opt-out is afforded (as it was with women bishops) to hold the much broader evangelical wing of our Church together with everyone else, and respect, and value it.

We are one in Jesus Christ, and unity in diversity is a precious principle, and beyond that... if people *still* want to leave then that is their choice to make, but in the end the numbers who leave will probably be about 0.3% of the Church, and perhaps their departure in the face of change has been inevitable all along, but is negligible compared to the harm done to gay people and the witness of the Church if they are appeased, or the African Churches are appeased. Respect for conscience works both ways, and local churches now need the right of conscience to bless (and ultimately marry) LGBT people in committed relationships.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Monday, 26 September 2016 at 8:40am BST

Susannah

Women form more than 50% of the membership of the Church of England. It was an unstoppable tide and even then we have needed a quota to equalise things in the House of Lords. There's no parish where women are unwelcome, where they can't marry.

In contrast according to the Office of National Statistics under 2% of the population is LGBTI. Even Stonewall put it at 6-7%. Of those most are gay men. The number of lesbians, intersex people and those who battle gender dysphoria are minorities within a minority.

Leaving everything else aside, a minority needs stronger protections than a majority. What worked for the ordination of women simply doesn't translate. And an opt out would leave LGBTI people in some parishes unwelcome at their local church and unable to marry or have to get a minister in specially.

Posted by Kate at Monday, 26 September 2016 at 2:35pm BST

The camel's nose is now under the flap of the tent. And so it begins.

One would have thought that the Church of England would have learned something from the experience we've had with these folks in the USA, but, apparently, no.

Posted by jnwall at Monday, 26 September 2016 at 8:06pm BST

Don't clergy serve under a vow of obedience to their bishop? Where are the bishops of these 33?

Posted by Tom Downs at Monday, 26 September 2016 at 8:35pm BST

Ugh; here we go again. All the Church of England needs is more Calvinist Evangelicals. One would have thought that the CofE might have learned a thing or two after chucking the original Puritan bitter enders out after 1662…But I guess not. At least being a state Church they can’t rip off your properties.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Posted by Kurt Hill at Monday, 26 September 2016 at 8:37pm BST

I wonder if newly ordained curates should be licensed to serve a title in these parishes. When I was a DDO in the London diocese some young ( male) ordinands went from St Helens Bishopsgate to Oak Hill College and back again.

Posted by Perry Butler at Tuesday, 27 September 2016 at 12:12am BST

I strongly suspect that the allowance by the Church of England for sympathetic clergy to re-marry divorcees (with the permission of the local Ordinary) might have been the cause of more departures by the Evangelical conservatives than even the ordination of women clergy.

Allowing sympathetic clergy to conduct Same-Sex Blessings - I estimate - will cause less defections amongst open-minded Anglicans. This is surely a sign of the Church becoming more in touch with the realities of its membershp and of society at large.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 27 September 2016 at 9:57am BST

A lot of schools live in constant fear of "being sued" and "the compensation culture", even though in absolute terms the number of such actions, never mind the number of such actions being successful, is tiny, and the costs are usually borne by insurance anyway. To an extent it's understandable: fighting and wining a court case is a massive logistic and emotional drain, so avoiding getting involved, even if you're going to win, is wise. But taken to its logical conclusion you see schools living in mortal dread of getting a letter from someone whose cousin once met someone who had met someone who'd danced with a solicitor. Sometimes, saying "go away and come back when you've got a court date" is the best medicine.

As in this case: a tiny handful of churches who are trouble anyway want to leave? Let them leave. Don't engage with them, and particularly don't pander to them. Let them leave. They'll be happier, you'll be happier, everyone will be happier. If they are convinced to stay, their unhappiness will stay as well. Call their bluff. Don't like being members of the CofE? Don't be members of the CofE.

Instead of spending time worrying about a minute proportion of current members of the CofE who will never be happy until gay people are being burnt at the stake, why not instead focus on the vast, vast majority for whom issues other than sex are far more important?

Posted by Interested Observer at Tuesday, 27 September 2016 at 1:38pm BST

Father Ron, you said "Allowing sympathetic clergy to conduct Same-Sex Blessings - I estimate - will cause less defections amongst open-minded Anglicans. This is surely a sign of the Church becoming more in touch with the realities of its membership and of society at large."

Sympathetic clergy have been conducting same-sex blessings for decades, often with the informal approval of those higher up.

If the C of E wishes to be "in touch with the realities of the majority of its membership and
society at large" it needs to start conducting same sex weddings.

Simon

Posted by Simon Dawson at Tuesday, 27 September 2016 at 4:52pm BST

"Sympathetic clergy have been conducting same-sex blessings for decades, often with the informal approval of those higher up."
That was all that was asked for at the last General Synod of the Anglican church of Aotearoa/New Zealand. I believe it may be happening in one or two places but very much hush hush. I have been reliably informed that it was likely that the motion would have passed if put to the vote but the conservatives declared that up to 4000 would leave the church if it was passed. So all has been put on hold for another 2 years with yet more committees.
Despite this (or perhaps because of this IMO) the most recent synod in my city last week decided to close 10 of the 14 Anglican buildings within the city by 2020.

Posted by Brian Ralph at Wednesday, 28 September 2016 at 5:25am BST
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