Church of England bishops urged 'to step back from the brink' on same-sex blessings

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The Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) has made an urgent appeal to bishops to reverse course on blessings for same-sex couples. 

The CEEC made the call after attending GAFCON IV in Kigali, Rwanda, where over 1,300 orthodox Anglicans gathered from 52 countries last week to discuss their future in the increasingly divided Anglican Communion. 

The conference ended with a statement rejecting the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury over his support for plans to introduce same-sex blessings in the Church of England, which were backed by the General Synod in February.

Reflecting on GAFCON IV and its statement, the CEEC said, "The sense of grief, dismay and betrayal expressed by delegates from all around the Communion towards the English bishops and the Archbishop of Canterbury, was both palpable and profound."

The CEEC statement continued by calling for urgent deliberations on the creation of new structures within the Church of England to prevent irreparable divisions. 

"What is now clear is that, in the event of the General Synod endorsing blessings for people in sexually active relationships outside of heterosexual marriage, the Church of England will confirm she has "chosen to impair her relationship with the orthodox provinces in the Communion". She will thereby ensure that the Anglican Communion will cease to exist in anything like its current form," the CEEC said. 

"CEEC therefore urges the House and College of Bishops to step back from the brink in order to explore a 'settlement' in England urgently that might avoid the Church of England suffering the same internal division as the Communion has experienced in the last two decades.

"Given that about 45% of the General Synod has clearly articulated the conviction that the proposals of the bishops are unacceptable, urgent consideration needs to be given to a form of good differentiation involving structural re-organisation without theological compromise.

"Following this path could prevent the unity of the Church of England being torn apart in the same way that the Communion has been."