Some of the largest churches in London and Oxford have announced estrangement from the Church of England, including a pause on paying financial contributions.
St Helen’s, Bishopsgate, a large evangelical church with an outreach in London’s financial quarter, was the first to react to the decision by the General Synod to approve a report by the House of Bishops that introduces prayers of blessing for same-sex couples.
The global Anglican groupings of GAFCON and the Global South Movement, representing the majority of the world’s Anglicans, declared they were out of fellowship with the Church of England because of the move, which goes against the clear teaching of Scripture.
Above: The chairman of the Global South, Archbishop Justin Badi of South Sudan, speaking in support of St Helen's
The newest province in the Anglican communion, the Anglican Church of Mozambique and Angola, issued a statement saying the blessing of same-sex civil union couples is “a serious departure and abandonment from the biblical teaching on marriage that this Church has affirmed, taught, and practised for over 500 years of its existence.” The province’s Synod of Bishops also deplored the fact that the C of E decision would “affect and divide the Anglican family instead of preserving the unity of Anglicans”.
In London, the senior minister of St Helen’s, the Rev William Taylor, announced a broken partnership with the Church and its local bishop.
“The Bishop of London has confirmed her views through speeches at General Synod and in answer to questions at press conferences and on national radio,” Mr Taylor said in a video (see main photo). “Her statement, that the Church is silent on the matter of sexual activity in same-sex relationships, is not silence. It speaks volumes.”
Leadership cannot be deemed effective when vast swathes refuse to follow ...they have walked away from the true Church of God.”
Mr Taylor pointed out that the lay vote was only narrowly passed (45 to 40 per cent). “The bishops seem determined to persist with their proposals, exalting their own views above a very substantial minority of those who cannot accept it. Leadership cannot be deemed effective when vast swathes refuse to follow.
“The bishops have exalted their desire for an institutional political consensus above the authority of Jesus’ word. And, as a result, they have walked away from the true Church of God.”
Another large church in the centre of London, All Souls’, Langham Place, has also paused its financial contributions to the Church of England.
“We cannot participate in such a departure from biblical Christianity,” the All Souls’ parish council said in a letter to the Bishop of London. “In considering our position, we are also mindful of our partnership with the global Anglican Church and also with smaller orthodox churches within the London diocese and across England, and our desire to stand with them in upholding historic Anglican theology.”
Joining the growing list is St Ebbe’s Church in Oxford, which is suspending financial contributions to the diocese whose bishops have supported same-sex blessings. The money instead will be put in a trust fund.
The parish’s rector, the Rev Canon Vaughan Roberts, said: “St Ebbe’s clergy have already declared that we are in impaired communion with the bishops in our diocese, which means that we will not welcome them to preach, confirm, ordain or conduct our ministerial reviews, and we will not take communion with them”.
Watch the Rev William Taylor’s video here and a supporting video from the Archbishop of Sydney, Kanishka Raffel here.