The Glory Has Departed
Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence
Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Friday, February 13, 2015
The coming ecclesiastical war in the Church of England heated up this week when the Diocese of Southwark, roughly the equivalent of TEC's New Hampshire diocese, found itself in crisis. The diocese is notoriously liberal with gay partnered priests and a penchant for all things liberal, except for a tough group of Reform Evangelicals who have decided to take up the fight.
The evangelicals issued "The Southwark Declaration" calling on clergy and lay people in the diocese to affirm, among other things, the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures and their supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
"We affirm, with Article XX, that 'it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything that is contrary to God's Word written.'
"We affirm the teaching of Scripture (Genesis 2.24, Mark 10. 7, Matthew 19.5), the Book of Common Prayer, and Canon B30 ('Of Holy Matrimony') that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life. We affirm it is the one God-ordained context for sexual intercourse. We affirm resolution 1.10 on human sexuality of the Lambeth Conference (1998).
"We call upon all the Bishops, Archdeacons, and the senior staff of the Diocese, alongside all clergy and licensed lay ministers, to affirm these truths, live by them, and to teach in accordance with them.
"We call upon the Bishops to appoint to positions of teaching authority only those who hold to these truths in good conscience."
This is the first opening salvo in what will lead to the ultimate break-up of The Church of England.
To make that point, VOL published an exchange between David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Director of Reconciliation and Colin Coward, a gay priest in a partnered relationship who heads Changing Attitude, the UK equivalent of Integrity the Episcopal Church's unofficial pansexual organization.
Porter revealed that the Church of England could split with as much as 80% of the Church accepting non-celibate partnered homosexual relationships while the other 20% go their own way.
Porter further admitted that the Pilling Report was an "ill-conceived exercise...because it was formulated by a male only group." It was marked by a lack of coherence and incompetence in the Church, he added.
Porter then made the grand admission that the Church of England Province is the primary problem for the Anglican Communion because the other Provinces no longer really know what the Church of England is!
Porter further admitted that the issue is missiological. Because there is no decision-making process, there can be no consensus in the Church on how the Church should respond. He acknowledged that there are diverse and contradictory responses to the issue of sexuality and gender in the Church.
Coward then said Porter conceded that the church is in fact planning for fracture. "The intention is to change the tone of the conversation and take some of the toxicity out of it, acknowledging that there is no agreement between us and Reform.
"David assumes there will be a fracture and when it happens, it will be small and done with profound sadness, with a measure of grace, disagreeing well. Conversations are a process."
You can read my story on this in today's digest.