Skip to comments.Edgehill [CofE conservative revolt]
Posted on 12/10/2006 4:15:22 PM PST by sionnsar
According to the Telegraph, a major conservative rebellion will soon be underway in the Church of England:
Liberal bishops who support homosexual priests are to be barred from entering some churches and money intended for Anglican coffers will be withheld.
In a dramatic escalation in the Church of Englands civil war over homosexual clergy, scores of evangelical churches will break their historic links with liberal bishops who oversee their parishes.
The deepening of the conflict represents the "ultimate" protest by conservative clergy against liberal bishops support for homosexual priests who have used the Civil Partnerships Act to "marry" their boyfriends.
The rebel clerics are setting up a panel of retired bishops to provide pastoral care to parishes in dioceses run by liberal bishops. The move is similar to the provision of "flying bishops" to opponents of women priests when they were first ordained in 1994.
Up to 100 churches have said that they intend to split from their bishops and seek support from the new panel. That is likely to mark only the beginning of the schism, however, as the panel of conservative bishops will provide an attractive alternative to other disaffected parishes.
No doubt, Dr. Williams will once again wish that he'd stayed in Wales.
Leading evangelicals will meet the Most Rev Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, on Tuesday to deliver papers laying out the plans for a restructuring of the Church.
The archbishop will be told that dozens of churches in liberal dioceses feel forced to take the radical step of breaking with their bishops. The initiative has been organised by Reform and Anglican Mainstream, evangelical groups that represent about 2,000 parishes. The initial number of disaffected parishes could rise dramatically, however, because traditionalists from the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church have expressed their support.
Other evangelical parishes might also follow suit if an incumbent bishop with whom they agree is succeeded by a liberal cleric.
This could have a devastating impact on the Church of England.
The revolt will deal a fresh blow to the embattled archbishop, who has fought to hold the Church together despite entrenched views on both sides of the debate. It also threatens to cripple the Churchs finances, because about 40 per cent of its income is supplied by evangelical parishes. Liberal bishops risk the loss of millions of pounds of income as parishes that are traditionally the largest contributors withhold funds.
The decision to take action is likely to have serious financial repercussions. The average annual income from parishioners in evangelical churches in 2003 was £84,000, compared with £40,000 in non-evangelical churches, according to latest figures from Christian Research. The Church receives about £250 million a year from evangelical worshippers.
The bottom line is that C of E conservatives will no longer accept mere rhetoric.
In an effort to mollify conservative Anglican leaders, the archbishop vowed last year that it would be "a disciplinary offence" if clergy wanting to "marry" their boyfriends failed to give those assurances.
While some priests such as Mr John, who "wed" his long-term lover in July, have stated that they are in a celibate relationship, others have flouted the rule and escaped censure. In Durham diocese, the Rev Christopher Wardale had his "marriage" to his boyfriend, Malcolm Macourt, blessed in church.
The evangelical rebels have lost patience, believing that the archbishop is relinquishing control over a Church deeply divided by gay clergy and that many of their bishops are turning a blind eye to these "marriages".
If this report is accurate, it is difficult to see how Dr. Williams can possibly hold things together. The C of E wouild take a major financial hit even if only half the evangelical churches withheld funds. Liberal bishops could, one supposes, depose clergy who wouldn't let them in the door but that wouldn't turn the financial spigot back on; indeed, liberal heavy-handedness might cause even more evangelical parishes to withhold funds and take that much more money out of Lambeth's coffers.
On the other hand, if Dr. Williams were to concede to conservative wishes and start disciplining liberal bishops or clergy, he would anger and alienate the left and probably hasten a split. It's not too tough to imagine a liberal bishop barring the Archbishop of Canterbury from his diocese while paying for a visit by Katharine Jefferts Schori as well as attending every liberal Anglican meeting anywhere in the world that he possibly can.
Will anything come of this? It's difficult to say given the inborn Anglican reluctance to engage in anything that smacks of defiance. But this story bears watching.
Do you think that the conservatives in England are encouraged by what is happening here in the US?..
It's a possibility.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.