Thinking Anglicans

more about the Anglican Mission in England

Richard Coekin has written a long article, titled We rejoice in the emergence of the ANGLICAN MISSION IN ENGLAND.

In this piece he explains in detail about the purpose of AMiE and why it was/is unhappy with both the previous and current bishops of Southwark. It needs to be read in full.

…For example, in the liberal Southwark Diocese where I work as a senior pastor and director of the Co-Mission church-planting network, we have been pushed into “temporarily impaired communion” with our Diocesan Bishop since 2005. This is because, despite Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (declaring that homosexual activity is wrong) he would offer us no assurance that he would teach that homosexual practice is sin and therefore something not to be tolerated among the clergy. As a matter of conscience under the Biblical command to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” with those “who change the grace of our God into a licence for immorality”, we cannot accept the oversight of a Bishop who refuses to teach such fundamental Biblical doctrine. The Bible is clear that un-repented wickedness (including homosexual practice) prevents us from inheriting the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). The refusal of church leaders to teach this truth with compassion and clarity imperils the salvation of gay people we seek to love in our community by suggesting that repentance isn’t necessary. In this conviction we have enjoyed warm fellowship within many Evangelical networks but have longed for orthodox Episcopal oversight within the Church of England that will support Biblical teaching in our church-planting movement…

Richard Perkins, of Christ Church Balham has written at The Urban Pastor about AMiE. This article reflects on a BBC radio interview from last week.

Robert Piggott, the BBC Religious Correspondent, got it about right on Saturday on Radio 4. In his piece on the Today Programme he commented that, in launching the AMiE, conservative evangelicals had parked their tanks on the front lawn of Lambeth Palace.

It’s obviously the case that the establishing of this new mission society is seen by some as unnecessarily provocative. Even by some of those who are orthodox on the issue of human sexuality. But it’s worth asking why some evangelicals thought that such a drastic move was necessary. A ‘conversation’ is supposed to be taking place between, if I may simplify, the liberal revisionists and the evangelical reformers. But clearly one side doesn’t feel that they’re being listened to. They are now, I’ll wager…

Some historical background can be found in this presentation by John Richardson.


  • Andrew Goddard has also posted an article called:
    Civil Partnerships & Same-Sex Relationships in the Church of England on the Fulcrum website, which gives some context to the sexuality debate:

    Fulcrum’s position on AMiE is fairly robust:

  • Grumpy High Church Woman says:

    Good to know they have such a guardian of morality as Wallace Benn as a leader … (see item about Chichester).

  • Charlotte says:

    Richard Perkins writes nonsense. He might fantasize that gay people are treated in a loving manner in the evangelical church, should any venture within the doors of such a place, but the reverse is the case, as everyone knows.

    As everyone knows, what a gay or lesbian person gets from an evangelical church is: whispering, finger-pointing, rumor-mongering, bullying, shunning, and exclusion. Not to mention offensive, ugly stereotyping, obvious loathing, expressions of astounding ignorance, and an overwhelming nastiness, pouring out in torrents from the pulpit as well as from the congregation. It’s so mean-spirited that most want nothing at all to do with evangelicals, or with any church whatsoever.

    I suppose evangelicals think this is loving behavior. They are loving another person by pointing out his/her sins. Why, they might point out a few of their own while they’re at it, don’t you think — but no, evangelicals don’t do that. They know they are among the saved, and their business is judging and condemning the reprobates.

    It’s only necessary to add that evangelicals inflict their “loving behavior” on people, not for being gay or lesbian, but for violating their own very rigid gender-role expectations. After all, they have no way of knowing what other people do in bed. The fright and loathing evangelicals display around gay people has everything to do with their expectations for being a “proper man” or a “proper woman.” I have known evangelical priests who thought that “being gay” = “cross-dressing.” Yes, that’s the state of knowledge among evangelicals — but how could it be otherwise? They are too busy dictating to others to learn even the simplest things from them.

    The rest of the Church of England should be celebrating the formation of AMiE, because it means that the evangelicals will soon be gone from among you. They will inflict maximum damage on the Church in their leaving (think the birth scenes in “Alien”), but when they are gone you will be a healthier, saner, better-respected, and better-attended Church than you are now. And a more godly Church as well.

  • sjh says:

    Do the people at Fulcrum and AMIE really think any gay people are paying any attention to their attempts to control other people’s sex lives. Who do they think they are to attempt to exercise this control? I know of one evangelical Christian who committed suicide because he was unable to reconcile his faith and sexuality. That is the result of their arrogance and attempted control and their ‘listening’ to gay and lesbian people, though only the ones who agree with them of course.

  • Laurence Roberts says:

    But clearly one side doesn’t feel that they’re being listened to. They are now, I’ll wager…

    No, I don’t feel we queers are being listened to now.

    I notice it is all about liberals and conservatives talking or not — Coekin and co say not about speaking and listening to the gays they say they love so much.

    If he does love me I have to say it remains unrequited – he’ll have to woo me. Now there’s a thought !

    Meanwhile gay life goes on as creatively, inventively, sometimes courageously and yes, as gaily as ever ! Why do they sound so tight-arsed – I can’t begin to imagine.

  • Simon Butler says:

    While I might understand your righteous anger – and possibly your pain, Charlotte – most of us in the Church of England do not want to be rid of our Evangelicals. Indeed, some of us consider ourselves such. What we long to be rid of this naked land-grabbing based on so-called ‘biblical principle’, which this tiny minority within the wider Evangelical family seem to specialise in. The vast majority of Evangelicals – including those in Southwark Diocese where I serve – are heartily sick of this self-delusional posturing. Orthodoxy (whatever that is) is NOT under threat in the Church of England – and the Bishop of Southwark has pointed this out to Richard Coekin et al (in my hearing). That they choose to ignore that reality only shows up their real agenda which is to pick a fight with the Diocese of Southwark in the vain attempt to garner wider Evangelical sympathy and support. Their web postings are ridiculous when compared to the facts on the ground and I and others will do all we can to prevent such schismatic (=sinful) behaviour from flourishing. The Church of England – and the Diocese of Southwark – is a perfectly safe place for Evangelicals.

  • Chris Smith says:

    I tend to agree wholeheartedly with Charlotte who posted in this thread. I saw the Anglican evangelicals try to launch one of their “churches” here in San Francisco and it failed. They turned people off almost immediately with a Billy Graham style but much more aggressive. They represented themselves as an independent Anglican Church, not affiliated with ECUSA. They suddenly disappeared and no one has seen them since. I think Charlotte is right. These kind of evangelical groups have so shown their colors that ordinary, decent human beings are ashamed to be near them. Their hypocrisy and arrogance was at times, glaring. This movement is about to peak I believe. Their homophobia, while sometimes hidden, is quite obvious once you engage them on the issues of human sexuality.

  • JCF says:

    “we cannot accept the oversight of a Bishop who refuses to teach…”

    This is *heresy*. A bishop’s charism for oversight has NOTHING to do w/ what s/he “teaches” (or refuses to teach).

    If said bishop’s taught doctrine is excruciatingly heterodox, the proper episcopal authorities will try the bishop.

    But it’s not up to clergy to decide whether they will accept the bishop’s oversight based upon that doctrine.

    I can’t believe how bald-faced Coekin is about this. As a (similar minded?) US politician would put it, Coekin has Choots-spa!

  • Hugh James says:

    I do know evangelicals who fit Charlotte’s description, but not all do, For example, Accepting Evangelicals is a open network of Evangelical Christians who believe the time has come to move towards the acceptance of faithful, loving same-sex partnerships at every level of church life, and the development of a positive Christian ethic for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.See for more information. I do believe we should not stereotype evangelicals or any other group of people.

  • Robert ian Williams says:

    Unlike the tiny ordinariate group ( who had to stretch the law to get charitable donations) at least the AMIE are self financing, and have a enough people to be a church within a church for a very long time.

    AMIE simply formalises the situation, which has been de facto for years.

    Its a type of UDI.

  • Jeremy says:

    “[C]“ontend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”

    Presumably this is the faith that approved of slavery.

  • Chris Smith says:

    I wonder how AMIE finances materialized? Where did their actual funds come from? Are they from a few wealthy members or are they from organizations set up to support right wing causes in various forms? I would really like to know. While it is true that not ALL evangelical Christians are rabid right wingers, the general populations of the evangelical communities at least as far as I have observed over the years, tend toward the right wing and thus has considerably less tolerance for others with differing views. I have met very loving, kind, evangelicals who not only “accept” but embrace the GLBT communities, but these congregations are in San Francisco, where the climate for accepting others who have a different set of views is quite friendly. If the evangelical movement in the Church of England had started with a similar focus as those evangelical Christian communities here in San Francisco, perhaps AMIE would not exist at all. Underlying all of this is, most likely, homophobia more than anything else.

  • There is, of course, the ethnic perspective. Consider the statistics compiled and released last year by the Research and Statistics Department of the Archbishop’s Council and, this year, by the EHRC (briefing paper 1).

    The average age of Anglican churchgoers reported in the UK was 61, although, in London, it’s 54. By comparison, a recent survey indicated that the average age of UK Pentecostal churchgoers is 32.

    In 2005, there were 16,247 Anglican churches in England, with an average congregation size of 54. In contrast, there were 2,227 Pentecostal churches in England, with an average congregation of 129. While the older Christian denominations are generally in decline, the New/Independent and largely evangelical churches are experiencing significant expansion. The waning influence of evangelicals in the comparatively moribund CofE should be contrasted with the rapid growth of evangelical churches beyond Anglicanism.

    Minority Ethnicities have risen from 7.9% of the population in 2001 to 12.6% in 2010 (source: GS 1844). Why is the proportion of Minority Ethnic MPs (4.2%) staggeringly higher than the proportion of UK Anglican clergy drawn from the same minorities (2.8%)? Why does the Anglican church have less ethnic diversity than the ‘excluding’ evangelicals.

    While several commentators have lamented the lack of openness towards sexual diversity, I’m sure that AMIE recognises the evangelistic impotence of the CofE among Minority Ethnicities and will focus much of their outreach towards them. There are many who don’t want to part with Anglican tradition, yet feel that their voices are not heard in a church that continues to do little to embrace ethnic diversity beyond token appointments and superficial initiatives.

  • cryptogram says:

    I note from Crockford that Mr Coekin is also a solicitor. His exegesis if scripture bears the hallmarks of the lawyer’s approach. See Matthew 23:13, 15.

  • Laurence Roberts says:

    ‘I know of one evangelical Christian who committed suicide because he was unable to reconcile his faith and sexuality.’

    God love him

    Thank you for sharing this- it should reduce us all to silence and to tears.

    ‘(On that day)It will be more tolerable for Sodom…’

  • Laurence Roberts says:

    of course Simon Butler Evangelicals are safe everywhere unlike gay folk.

  • Laurence Roberts says:

    Why do so many Evangelicals and others, here and elsewhere seem to write and talk as if their / our beliefs are objective or scientific facts, rather than beliefs ?

    Do we really think that this or that item of the creeds is factually true, rather than being truths of faith ?

    Facing that beliefs are belief can make quite a difference, you know.

    For one thing we not be so embattled or at logger-heads about things – need we ?

  • John says:

    ‘The Church of England – and the Diocese of Southwark – is a perfectly safe place for Evangelicals.’

    I think this is completely right. It is also true of Liberals (forget all the hysterical stuff about if and when the Covenant is passed, liberals will forever be defeated – in this matter, as in others, people will simply disobey -as pretty well all groups do). Is it true of gays? Yes and no. Depends where you are, depends how vocal you are, depends what sort of church career you want.

  • Fr Mark says:

    Richard Coekin: “We clearly needed to discover if the new Bishop would be orthodox in the presenting salvation issue of homosexual practice.”

    It’s pretty breathtaking to describe attitudes to homosexuality as a salvation issue – I can’t see how any Bible-believing Protestant could elevate anything not mentioned at all by Jesus to such a level. Is it just me or are these men unhealthily obsessed with the whole thing?

  • A J Barford says:

    We should embrace the AMiE as we should the Ordinariate – to provide those opposed to equality legislation on both wings of the C of E a safe haven with which to proceed at a glacial speed on these issues.

  • guyer says:

    i think it would be cool if the AMiE took on the mortal sin of gluttony, given the obesity rate in the West and the malnutrition and starvation rates elsewhere…no that it’s a sexy issue, but anyways, just sayin’…

  • Erika Baker says:

    I would wholeheartedly agree with you that AiME recognises the power of evangelicalism and that this is the expression of faith that most appeals to a large section of minority ethnicities.

    To be honest, the liveliness and sheer joy of an evangelical service is something I would truly appreciate in our more liberal churches too. And where there is a genuine grappling with Scripture, any decent evangelical priest can deliver a stunningly enriching service.

    But that’s not how AiME developed. Genuine evangelicalism has merely been hijacked to pin an anti-gay agenda on to.

    There are as many people among ethnic minorities as there are among any other group of people. There are African Changing Attitude groups, there are Africans who sought asylum here because they were persecuted because of their sexuality.

    These people need to be protected too, they also need churches that slowly begin to understand more about them.

    If only evangelicalism could liberate itself from those who turn homophobia into a salvation issue and if it could return to its origins, it would be a most appealing part of the Christian spectrum. For its own sake, it must realise that being identified with a single issue only is, ultimately, self-defeating.

  • Richard Ashby says:

    ‘I know of one evangelical Christian who committed suicide because he was unable to reconcile his faith and sexuality.’

    I have never forgotten the case of a young man from East Anglia (I think) who was also unable to reconcile his faith and sexuality. After he killed himself his father said that his son was better off dead than gay, and went on to found an ‘ex-gay’ organisation.

  • Richard Ashby says:

    ‘This is evident from a loss of confidence in basic Biblical doctrine concerning the uniquely saving substitutionary death…’

    The Church of England has never authoritively defined the meaning or the workings of the atonement and the bishops no doubt have a great variety of definitions. I wonder why this grouping of schismatics haven’t fallen out with their bishops on something I would have thought was much more important for them.

    So once again one has to ask why these people are so obsessed by homosexuality and why now.

    There are of course, no more LGTB people around in society or the church than there were 40 or 50 years ago (when interestingly it was communism that evangelicals so feared). What has happened is that we are so much more visisble. It is this very visibility which makes us threatening. We challenge their comfortable beliefs and make them confront the inherent contradictions in the Bible and their insecurities. The Bible has to be authoritative for them. Cultural context, translation and interpretation as well as 21st century scientific and sociological insights challenge tradition teachings. The Bible has to be accorded inerrency, for without that it doesn’t clearly articulate for them the position they want to take on homosexuality. To engage with the challenge we represent is dangerous because it threatens their whole carefully crafted economy of salvation. So I would suggest that their fear of homosexuality is a symbol of their fear of engagement with the contemporary world in which Christianity as they know it could not survive. The danger for them, which they don’t seem to be able to acknowledge, is that in their quest for biblical faithfulness they are excluding the vast majority of both Christians and the unchurched who will happily carry on with their lives while AMiE retreats into irrelevant holiness.

  • Mortal sin, indeed. Where in the bible does it indicate the level of consumption that would make a person guilty of gluttony? In fact, Christ himself said, ‘The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard’ ( Matt.11:19)

    Also, St.Paul positively endorses the endorphin kick that food produces. He told the Gentiles of the God who: ‘did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with *food* and gladness.’ (Acts 14:17, emphasis mine)

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t want bishops poking around in my larder. What I consume in my dining room should remain strictly between me, McDonalds and God. What next? B&B owners imposing their calorie-restricted regimes on their larger guests.

    Some of us have had to struggle with food issues all our lives. There’s considerable scientific research that points to a genetic cause of obesity. We don’t need the ‘food fascists’ sneering down their noses at the more ample members of our congregations. Neither do we need them assuming that we all go home to do nothing more than insert artificial feeding tubes. Do you eat shellfish? That’s also forbidden in the Bible.

    You may not be aware of the work of a group called ‘Be-fat-itude’. A recent survey of church seating showed that the average seat width in anglican churches is only 18″? Surely, this demonstrates institutional prejudice.

    As for the theology, you may want to read my monograph ‘Reasonable and Roly’…Yes, we may decry the suffering throughout the world, but thank God for food and lots of it. BTW, food *is* a sexy issue! 😉

  • david rowett says:

    David Shepherd’s comment about ethnic minority representation needs a little bit of a reality check, even from this non-statistician. For starters, it’s a complete red herring to make comparisons with ethnic minority MPs for the obvious reason that there’s no ‘faith test’ (so far as I know) for those wishing to enter parliament. And I smell are other examples of nifty footwork to grind the ConsEv axe. That’s not to say there’s no cultural issue here – clearly there is – but let’s please approach it with a bit of logic, rather than compare oranges with gudgeon pins.

  • Perry Butler says:

    I remain puzzled as to how this Co-Mission set up currently relates to the C of E. Ch Ch Mayfair is clearly a London parish church with licenced clergy..indeed one of them is someone I saw through the ordination process when I was Edmonton DDO, tho I see that he is described on their website in one place as curate ( quite C of E!)and elsewhere as Elder ( ??!) Coekin holds a licence in Sothwark tho he ministers in one of the few proprietory chapels left ( and is therefore rather semi-detached) and some of the other churches seem to be “plants” meeting in school halls pastored by clergymen whose provenance is somewhat unclear..some ordained by a C of E in South Africa bishop and some ,now, ordained in Kenya.How many people actually go to these “plants”?Curious that they regard the Bishop of London as sound in contrast to Southwark.. whatever assurances he may have given nothing is done in the London diocese about clergy in civil partnerships ( and London must have the greatest number) nor the ( few) openly gay clergy living in relationships…I suppose he takes the view he took over Charles and Camilla..” show me the evidence” ( ! )

  • David Rowett,

    I didn’t compare the proportion of Minority Ethnicity Anglicans (MEA’s) in the total Anglican population with the proportion of Minority Ethnicity MPs in the UK parliament. I did compare the latter with the *proportion of MEA’s who become clergy*. One might assume they had already passed the Anglican ‘faith test’ of baptism and confirmation beforehand.

    I did quote the GS 1844 statistics on ethnic leadership diversity in the wider society, and (in the same way that many others have compared the level of sexual diversity outside of the church), I declared that our Anglican leadership is a striking anachronism. No-one here would suggest that the added ‘faith test’ legitimises the lack of sexual diversity in Anglican leadership, would they?

    The low proportion of MEA clergy and preferment is a striking ecclesiatical scandal that cannot be swept under the carpet.

  • Laurence Roberts says:

    After he killed himself his father said that his son was better off dead than gay, and went on to found an ‘ex-gay’ organisation.

    Posted by: Richard Ashby on Monday, 18 July 2011 at 8:44am

    Striking presumption – straight folk feel quite able to pass comment on our value and whether we ‘should’ live or die ?

  • Samuel Denyer says:

    I struggle to understand the ecclesiology behind these statements. The C of E *is* an episcopal church: that cannot be ignored. If you declare yourself out of communion with your bishop then that is when the bishop as principal eucharistic minister and focus of unity – within the diocese and with the rest of the church – bites. Is there not a strong case that the bishop should withraw the license from any such person, if only to complete the process initiated by the individual and tidy up things at his end? If you are out of communion with your bishop, then you have left the church, no?

  • john says:

    ‘The low proportion of MEA clergy and preferment is a striking ecclesiatical scandal that cannot be swept under the carpet.’

    I entirely agree with that.

  • commentator says:

    Samuel Denyer speaks the truth. These folk speak of ‘impaired communion’ which means broken communion. So they are not part of an Anglican diocese but have chosen to be non-conformist. It IS possible to disagree with your bishop and remain part of his diocese. Many people do just that. If you say you are in ‘impaired communion’ you excommunicate yourself. Why not keep your personal integrity and purity intact and leave?

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