Conservative parishes declare 'no confidence' in Archbishop of Canterbury
Two Anglican churches have declared 'no confidence' in the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in the latest feud over Church of England teaching on sexuality.
The unprecedented move by St George's Becontree and St Elisabeth Becontree will further heighten tensions as bishops draft a new teaching document on the CofE's stance on gay marriage.
Rev Steven Hanna and Rev Simon Smallwood accused Justin Welby and John Sentamu of 'unbiblical leadership' in a letter publicising the votes to the conservative blog site Anglican Mainstream.
Given 'the failure to teach sound doctrine and the refusal to refute, publicly, false teaching and practice, each congregation was asked to consider the current leadership in light of the biblical requirement for bishops', the two vicars said.
The two congregations also declared 'no confidence' in their own Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, who has called for official thanksgiving services for gay couples.
The two churches said they had no confidence in any of the three leaders to 'uphold publicly biblical and traditional teaching and practice on sexual morality and refute publicly any that oppose this teaching and practice, namely that "faithful sexual relations blessed by God are only those within the boundaries of biblical and traditional marriage between a man and his wife"'.
Bishop Stephen Cottrell said in March the CofE was seen as seen as 'immoral' for its refusal to welcome gay marriage and that it should reach an 'agree to disagree' compromise over gay marriage as it had done over women's ordination.
At the time Hanna told Christian Today Cottrell should repent for his remarks and warned of further action.
'We call all our bishops to public repentance – both for what they have said publicly and for what they needed to say clearly but haven't publicly said,' Hanna said then.
The latest rebellion against the CofE hierarchy comes after Scottish Anglicans became the first in the UK to allow gay marriage in church.
In response conservatives planted a 'missionary' bishop to oversee traditionalist parishes who disagreed with the move.
The Archbishop of Canterbury rebuked the move and accused conservative bishops of 'cross-border interventions' warning against the 'great disturbances and discords' the move could cause.
Welby's decision not to condemn the Scottish Episcopal Church's move has enraged conservatives and been welcomed by liberals as a sign of the CofE's trajectory.
Lambeth Palace declined to comment on the votes of no confidence. Christian Today has also contacted the Archbishop of York and the Diocese of Chelmsford.