The Guardian has this report by Andrew Brown: Money becomes new church battleground.
The Rev Paul Perkin seemed bewildered by the question: what was his take on the latest scheme for conservative evangelical churches to withhold money from the rest of the Church of England in order to keep it out of the hands of liberals, gay people or women priests?
“I can’t talk about that,” he said. “You’ll have to ask James Paice.” Both men are vicars in south London. And both are directors of the company set up last month to implement this scheme, the Southwark Good Stewards Company. It is the latest, and perhaps the most serious, move in a bitter power struggle within the CofE and the wider Anglican communion.
Not contributing to central funds could represent a serious threat to the rest of the CofE, whose cohesion depends in part on a redistribution of money from rich, largely suburban and middle-class parishes to the inner cities and the countryside where congregations are too small and the buildings too old to be economically sustainable.
Although the Good Stewards Company claims not to be separating from the rest of the CofE, this reading is plausible only if you assume it is the rest of the CofE that has separated from Christianity.
The money will be made available only to churches that commit themselves to a rejection not just of homosexuality, but of liberalism: they must sign “in good faith” a declaration that they will “reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed … Pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.” Such people include the present archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams…
…Five retired English bishops, among them Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the former bishop of Rochester who was the evangelical candidate for archbishop of Canterbury last time, have promised to act as bishops for those clergy who sign up to the pledge not to accept women bishops or tolerate gay people in the church. It is not at all clear that these arrangements are legal, since the authority of the bishops over their clergy is established by the law of England. But any legal battle would be enormously expensive and time consuming. There is no sign that the rest of the Church of England has the stomach for it.
One crisis is approaching rapidly. This summer the synod must decide whether to accept legislation allowing women to become bishops that will not make special provision for their opponents. The present draft is the product of years of wrangling. If it goes through unamended Nazir-Ali predicts that more clergy will come over to his organisation. They will attempt to leave the rest of the CofE, taking their money and their churches with them – all the while claiming, as their rhetoric already suggests, that it is the rest of the church that has left them.
But if the bishops water down the draft to avoid this open split the other side – a great majority of the church – will probably rebel. Campaigners for women bishops threaten to vote the whole measure down rather than accept amendments that would give them a permanent second-class status. The bishops meet later this month to decide and their space for compromise is vanishingly small.