The Church of England is investigating a rogue conservative cleric in Newcastle who has been consecrated a bishop without permission.
Rev Jonathan Pryke's ordination is a sign of a traditionalist faction splintering from the main CofE with evangelical churches being given the option of pledging allegiance to the new breakaway movement.
A senior minister at Jesmond Parish Church, Pryke was consecrated by a bishop from the deeply conservative Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa in a special service last Tuesday.
The move caught Church officials by surprise and the Bishop of Newcastle is looking into what happened.
Motivated by fears of a liberalising trend within the CofE over sexuality, one conservative grouping, GAFCON UK, are threatening to plant a 'missionary bishop' to oversee evangelical parishes in the UK.
But Pryke's appointment appears to be something different with GAFCON's head, Archbishop Peter Jensen, denying they were responsible.
'This is not exactly parallel to the GAFCON initiative, and indeed is entirely independent of it. But it does show, I think, that the situation in England is becoming very difficult for those who want to hold the traditional and biblical view,' he told Anglican.Ink.
Pryke is a member of Anglican Mission in England – another conservative breakaway movement – but his consecration as bishop was not under their authority.
'We can confirm that the consecration of the Revd Jonathan Pryke was a gospel decision taken independently of AMiE. His consecration was never discussed at our Executive meetings,' a statement read.
'Jonathan is a valued member of the AMiE Exec and we are thankful to God for his abundant gifts and wisdom. We will be praying for him in this new season of his ministry.'
Details of the consecration have yet to be made public but Jesmond Parish Church has long been antagonistic to the wider CofE body.
Long running disputes over homosexuality led to fall outs with previous Bishops of Newcastle and they are declared as in 'impaired communion', with their official Church superiors.