Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Liberal Anglicans declare war on conservatives in the Church

From the Times Online, August 4, 2009, Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent, reports the following "deal breaking" news from the Church of England with wider ramifications in the World Wide Anglican Communion if what the article [here in it's entirety] indicates, comes to pass:

And now, live from England...

Liberals in the Church of England declared war on conservatives including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams tonight.

Condemning as “flawed” Dr Williams’s recent declaration that the way forward lay in a “twin-track” Anglican Communion, liberals revealed plans to bring in same-sex blessings and gay ordination in England, as has happened in the Episcopal Church in the US.

Their strategy will be to attempt to win the General Synod, the Church’s governing body currently dominated by evangelicals, over to the liberal cause. The opportunity will come next year when the quinquennial elections for a new synod are due.

Liberals from organisations such as Inclusive Church, set up and led by Giles Fraser, the new canon chancellor of St Paul’s, and the long-established Modern Churchpeople’s Union, will attempt to win key seats throughout the Church’s 44 dioceses in what look likely to be the hardest fought elections since the synod came into being in 1970 and which could turn into a battle for the soul of the established Church.

If they take enough of the 400-plus seats in the houses of clergy and laity, the liberals will attempt to bring in total acceptance of homosexuals, overturning all restrictions on their ministry and approving same-sex blessings for civil partnerships and gay ordinations and consecrations.

The liberals in England have made their strongest bid yet for equal treatment for gays in the wake of last week’s acknowledgement by Dr Williams that the Anglican Church is in schism in all but name.

In a response to the decision last month of The Episcopal Church of the US to go ahead with gay consecrations and same-sex blessings, Dr Rowan Williams argued for a “two-track” Communion in which the Church was divided between those with differing theological views of homosexuality. Dr Williams appealed for this to be seen not in “apocalyptic terms of schism and excommunication” but rather as “two styles of being Anglican”.

Organisations representing women priests, lesbian and gay Christians and liberal Roman Catholics and evangelicals have joined forces to condemn Dr Williams’s response as “flawed” and plan their own strategy to effect the same innovations in England as have been made in North America and that have plunged the Anglican Communion into schism.

“We wish to reaffirm our loyalty to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the scriptures, our commitment to the Anglican way, and our celebration of and thanksgiving for the tradition and life of the Church of England,” the liberal groups said.

Referring to Dr Williams’s reference to same-sex unions as a “chosen life-style” and his assertion that those who have made such a commitment are analogous to “a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond”, they accused Dr Williams of being inconsistent in the light of past statements he has made, which gave the impression of a more liberal stance.

Signatories to the letter such as Inclusive Church are planning a survey of all gay and lesbian clergy in the Church of England. They believe that in some dioceses, such as London and Southwark, the number may be as high as one in five. They also intend to conduct a survey to find out how many same-sex blessings have been carried out in secret.

“We acknowledge, once again, that there are and always have been many loyal, committed and faithful bishops, priests and deacons — properly selected and ordained — and many lay people who are LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender] or who work alongside LGBT people with delight and thanksgiving,” they said in their statement. “We reaffirm our commitment to working for the full inclusion of all people at all levels of ministry.” The Times has learnt that talks are already under way about forging permanent links between liberal parishes in England and The Episcopal Church, rather as the conservatives have linked up through the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and related bodies. A new US Episcopal Church outpost in London is also being considered, should any liberal parishes in England wish to affiliate with The Episcopal Church in the US in the way that many conservative US parishes have affiliated with evangelical provinces in Africa and the Southern Cone.

Hat tip to Barbi Click of "Feathers and Faith", key player in Integrity USA Missouri.

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