CofE same-sex blessings will increase risk of schism, evangelicals warn

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Plans to allow services of blessing for same-sex couples will only promote disunity and push the Church of England and wider Anglican Communion towards schism, an evangelical body has warned.

The Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) said it was "grieved and dismayed" by the plans, which will be put to the General Synod for consideration in February. 

In a communiqué, the CEEC said that the prosposals "will create further division and broken fellowship" within the Church of England and cause "a greater tearing of the fabric of the worldwide Anglican Communion". 

The statement calls on evangelicals to "urgently" communicate their "profound concerns" about the plans to their bishops and Synod representatives ahead of next month's debate.

They must also be prepared to take "wide scale and far-reaching action" if the blessings are implemented, the CEEC said, adding that it would pursue a new structural arrangement if this happens.

"We believe that the responsibility of the Church of England is to serve the nation by proclaiming the gospel, not by compromising with prevailing culture," the communiqué reads.

"We are convinced that these proposals will undermine and damage the mission and discipleship of our churches, especially among young people.

"Furthermore, CEEC believes it is inappropriate for the General Synod to consider the House of Bishops' proposals before revised pastoral guidance has been issued, which could redefine the discipline and teaching of the Church of England." 

The statement ends with a call to the House of Bishops to reconsider the proposals and withdraw them.

"We remain committed to the highest degree of unity possible within the truth and doctrine of the Church of England. However, we believe that the current proposals will prevent us from walking together and promote disunity, even schism," the CEEC concluded. 

"It is clear that the strength of feeling amongst parties with differing convictions indicates that we have to find a better way forward.

"In the event of the current proposals being pursued, CEEC will continue to advocate a settlement, without theological compromise, based on a permanent structural rearrangement resulting in visible differentiation." 

The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) Chairman and Primate of South Sudan, Justin Badi, has warned in a separate communiqué that allowing blessings for same-sex couples will lead to a state of impaired communion with many provinces in the Anglican Communion and "a re-configuration and a re-structuring of the Communion as we currently know it".

He called the proposals a "farcical compromise" and said that the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, as a "moral leader and a figure of unity within the Communion" will also be "severely jeopardised".

"What the English bishops are recommending constitutes unfaithfulness to the God who has spoken through His written word," he said.

"Their response belies the loss of confidence by the bishops in the authority and clarity of the Bible as we have received it. They are re-writing God's law for His creation; laws that are re-affirmed by Christ in the Gospel accounts."