Tuesday, 27 July 2004

Reform wages war

Today’s issue of The Times has an article by Ruth Gledhill
Bishops face cash boycott for supporting gay priests which says in part:

Evangelicals in the Church of England are planning to boycott and withhold funds from bishops who support gay priests.

The plans, published yesterday, have been drawn up by Reform, the influential conservative evangelical grouping that represents up to a third of the 9,000 stipendiary clergy in the Established Church.

If the proposals are endorsed, as expected, at the Reform conference in October, evangelical parishes whose bishops support the liberal gay agenda will refuse to allow them into their churches to perform confirmations and other services. They will also channel funds away from the diocese and into Reform’s evangelical mission.

… The plans make clear the growing fears among evangelicals around the world that the Lambeth Commission, set up by Dr Williams to resolve the crisis, will fail adequately to discipline provinces such as the US and Canada, which have taken the lead on the gay issue.

I don’t understand the quoted figures, since clergy membership of Reform is generally held to be no more 5% of the total number of clergy.

There is also a squib about this in the Telegraph.

Again the “1700 members” number is quoted, but this is total membership claimed, and even if it were all clergy it would be nowhere near one third of the total.

The Reform press release is not yet on Reform’s own site, but can be read in full below the fold.

PRESS RELEASE FROM REFORM
REFORM CHARTS WAY AHEAD FOR EVANGELICALS IN CHURCH CRISIS

The present crisis in the Anglican Communion over whether or not to accept the Bible’s authority on matters of human sexuality now demands action in the Church of England, concludes a new paper from REFORM, the nationwide network of Anglican evangelicals.

The paper, written in preparation for its national conference in October, has been circulated to all 1700 members of REFORM today. It says that the same attitudes to the Bible that have caused splits in the Anglican Communion are now present within the Church of England. It argues that church unity must always be based on the Word of God – something the Church of England has always stood for. It therefore urges members to find out where their own bishops stand. If their bishops are unable to support the Bible’s teaching on human sexuality then parishes should act to express their ‘impaired communion’. In some cases this may involve churches changing the way they fund their own and others’ ministries, effectively by-passing their dioceses; refusing to invite their bishop to conduct confirmations; and seeking ‘oversight’ from other, biblically –faithful, bishops elsewhere in the Anglican Communion, as Primates from the Global South are already offering according to their Nassau Statement and submission to the Eames Commission.

The paper proposes that REFORM sets up a ‘Panel of Reference’ to act as a source of advice and support for churches in a state of ‘impaired communion’. The panel, made up of senior evangelical clergy, could also advise overseas bishops on the need for their involvement.

The paper is the result of months of consultation among evangelicals in the Church of England. Put together by a special working group of REFORM members, it has been extensively discussed at three regional conferences – in London, Sheffield and Exeter – during 2004. It will now be debated at the full national conference which takes place from 11th to 13th October.

Commenting on the paper, REFORM chairman David Banting said: “ We know that hopes for resolving the present crisis rest on the Eames Commission which will report the week after our conference. However, unless the Commission reaffirms our Anglican commitment to the Word of God by isolating the false teachers in the Episcopal Church of the USA and Canada, then the Anglican Communion will disintegrate. We cannot assume we are immune in the Church of England. Many of our bishops either endorse the liberal agenda or are allowing it to progress unchecked. We believe that evangelicals must act now to prevent disaster. We are not looking for uniformity – simply for all our members to take one step forward – whatever they judge that to be in their own dioceses; and we are hoping to set up instruments of support.

We are delighted that one of the leaders of the Anglican Primates of the Global South – Archbishop Greg Venables – is going to be with us at our conference in October and that we will also hear from Phillip Jensen, the Dean of Sydney Cathedral. We are looking forward to a conference that will help us set our sights on how to carry forward gospel work as Anglicans who wish to stay faithful to their Biblical heritage.”

Note To Editors

The full text of the paper ‘A way forward in the present crisis for the Church of England’ is attached to this press release. Further copies may be obtained from the REFORM office at PO Box 1183, Sheffield S10 3YA, or downloaded from the REFORM web site at www.reform.org.uk

For Further Information

Contact:
David Banting (chairman): 01708 342080
Rod Thomas (press officer): 01752 402771(office) or 07906 331110 (mobile) END

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 27 July 2004 at 8:57 PM GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England