A press release has been issued today about this. The full text of the release is below the fold.
Two letters accompany the release, and can also be downloaded:
The documents can also be found here.
EVANGELICAL CLERGYMAN APPEALS TO ARCHBISHOP
The Anglican clergyman whose licence was removed by the Bishop of Southwark following legal but irregular ordinations by a South African Bishop, has exercised his right of appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams.
Rev. Richard Coekin, Senior Pastor to the fast-growing “Co-Mission” churches of South-west London, claims that although his relationship with Bishop Tom Butler has been “impaired” by the House of Bishops’ recent statement on Civil Partnerships, which led him to seek help from a foreign Bishop, this does not legally or morally justify the removal of his licence. He still does not know of any valid reason for his licence being revoked.
This dispute has erupted over the authority of the Bible in the modern Church of England. Rev. Coekin said: “We were forced to seek valid but irregular ordinations for the staff of our growing congregations after more than two years during which our Bishop persistently refused to do so and because we are now distanced from our Bishop since he refuses to uphold basic Biblical principles of sexual morality. We did so with the wide support of both local and national “Mainstream” Evangelical leaders. I still haven’t been told why this can legally or morally justify the removal of my licence. I am now being included with those who have been proven guilty of gross immorality or heresy because of my loyalty to the Bible and traditional Anglican doctrine.”
In his appeal, he makes four main points. First, that the Bishop has formalised “schism” by removing his licence rather than accepting “impaired communion” over theological differences; secondly, that the Church of England report, “Issues in Human Sexuality” has already clarified that in the Bible, “Sexual activity of any kind outside marriage comes to be seen as sinful” and therefore, he is obliged, like all clergy and Bishops, by their ordination oaths, to oppose this controversial House of Bishops statement on Civil Partnerships as contrary to Holy Scripture; thirdly, that his previous “planting” of new congregations, which have never undermined other parish churches, should be welcomed rather than regarded as grounds for removing his licence and fourthly, that the South African Bishop who performed the ordinations is specifically excluded from church rules in this area and that no-one is guilty of organising anything illegal or improper.
While the Church of England proudly claims to tolerate a great diversity of doctrine and practice, this orthodox Evangelical is being targeted for his loyalty to traditional Anglican and Biblical doctrine by those intent on removing politically incorrect pages from Scripture. Rev. Coekin’s appeal to Dr. Rowan Williams comes in the context of questions raised by Archbishops of the global south, representing the majority of Anglicans world-wide, about the Archbishop’s ability to defend traditional Church of England doctrine because of his personally more liberal views.
The appeal letter to the Archbishop is attached, along with the letter to the Bishop of Southwark which forms part of the appeal.
For more press information please call Charlotte Flint, 07813 187362