Anglicans consider new synod to oppose gay marriage

St Mark's Church, Tunbridge WellsThe Voice of Hassocks/Wiki Commons

Nearly a dozen evangelical churches in the Church of England that oppose gay marriage are to align themselves with the world's leading conservative Anglican coalition.

About 12 parishes from three counties in the south of England are meeting this week to show support for the Jerusalem Statement, the statement of faith drawn up by the worldwide Global Anglican Future Conference, or Gafcon.

The meeting will be hosted by Rev Peter Sanlon, Vicar of St Mark's, Tunbridge Wells in the Rochester diocese.

They will discuss the possibility of a new Anglican synod to be set up if the Church of England moves towards formalising same-sex blessings or gay marriage, according to the Telegraph.

The Church's bishops are meeting later this year to discuss the next steps after the two-year "shared conversations" on the issue of sexuality. 

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In England, there is already a number of conservative groups such as the Church Society, and Reform. Dr Sanlon has written for the Church Society. 

There are also the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, which is signed up to Gafcon's Jerusalem Statement and Declaration, and the Anglican Mission in England, a mission society promoting gospel growth in England.

Anglican Mainstream is a fifth. Andrew Symes, writing recently for them said: "Many clergy and laity are now asking: If my theological views, nominally considered 'orthodox' by the church of which I am a member, are in reality seen as the problem by that institution, then how can the church be seen as 'orthodox', and what are the options for me and others like me who want to remain Anglican, but orthodox?"

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is from a conservative evangelical background but according to Christian Today, at the Greenbelt arts festival he described how he was "constantly consumed with horror" at how the church treats gay people.

Dr Sanlon told the Telegraph: "If senior leaders of the Church of England water down the teaching of the Church of England on key issues like homosexuality, then this synod could easily evolve in to a new Anglican jurisdiction in England. The Archbishop of Canterbury has signalled that he is aware of the possibility that a significant proportion of the church will not accept a change in the church's teaching. This could be the beginning of that playing out.

"I am not leaving the Church of England - but in order to stay, I need new partnerships and structures to discharge the mission of the Church of England, which is to bring the message of Christ to every postcode in England."

A spokesman for Anglican Mainstream said: "This is not an initiative organised or directed by Gafcon."

But he said there were many similarities between them and Gafcon.

"This is a local initiative designed to send a clear message: we hold to the unchanging truths of the Gospel and the formularies and teachings of the Church of England. We oppose the relentless slide towards revisionism in the Church of England structures. We will take action to protect our congregations and our mission."

Christian Today has reached out to Dr Sanlon for comment.

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