InclusiveChurch PRESS RELEASE: Advent 2: 10th Dec 2006
Rebel churches want to destroy the traditional breadth of the Church of England
Today’s Sunday Telegraph reports that a small group of conservative evangelical parishes are intending to set up an alternative jurisdiction within the Church of England using retired bishops to provide their own, separate ministry. What they are objecting to is in fact the agreed position of the House of Bishops.
The Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser, President of InclusiveChurch, said “These rebel churches want to destroy the traditional breadth of the Church of England and turn it into a puritan sect. They must not be allowed to succeed.”
Britain is aware of the dangers of religious extremism. Now, more than ever, the message of a broad and inclusive Christianity needs to be heard. The Civil Partnership legislation has clearly offered new opportunities for people in this country to express a profound and committed love for one another. InclusiveChurch welcomes that.
These parishes are attacking their Bishops for upholding the agreed position on the Civil Partnership legislation. We urge the House of Bishops to resist this attempt further to divide the Church of England. The threats of financial penalties sound very like an attempt to bully the church into a particular position. Rather than engage with the world, these parishes seem to wish to separate themselves from it.
These proposals represent part of a wider pattern which will, if allowed to continue, distort and ultimately destroy the Anglican Communion. Across the Communion, we see attempts to replace the breadth and openness of Anglican theology with a confessional, protestant theology and practice. The recent irregular ordinations in the Diocese of Southwark, the statements of the Primates of the Global South at Kigali in July, the moves by the diocese of San Joaquin and parishes in the Diocese of Virginia to remove themselves from the Episcopal Church, and the appointment by the Church of Nigeria of Martyn Minns as a Bishop in the United States are all part of this strategy.
Alternative Episcopal Oversight, when it was created, set a dangerous precedent for Anglican Christianity. It implied that a “mix and match” church was possible, with people and parishes being able to choose their bishops according to their views on specific issues. The request for Alternative Primatial Oversight in America is partly a result of this precedent. This proposal to bring bishops out of retirement in order to promote a view of the church which appears increasingly single-issue and dominated by homosexuality is another.
We repeat, as we have said before; the Anglican Communion is a gift. In all its complexity and untidiness it has a great deal to offer the world. For that reason we have welcomed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s proposals for working out a Covenant between us.