Evangelical Anglicans create new City of London deanery chapter over CofE's gay blessing plans

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A new deanery chapter for the City of London has been formed by a group of evangelical Anglican clergy opposed to the Church of England's plans to introduce gay blessings.

The announcement of the new Church of England City deanery chapter was made on the website of St Helen's Bishopsgate, one of the largest evangelical Anglican churches in London.

In a statement on its website, the church said, "After the House of Bishops' recent departure from the Bible's teaching on marriage and sexuality, new leadership structures are needed."

It added that the deanery chapter will "promote ongoing healthy Church of England ministry" and support the work of existing evangelical bodies within the CofE, including the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC).

The deanery chapter held its first meeting in the City of London on Monday, attended by 10 clergy.

Phil Martin, the vicar of St Botolph's Aldersgate, has been elected as the acting area dean and tasked with chairing meetings going forward.

In a video message, he said, "Since the House of Bishops has departed from the Bible's teaching on marriage and sin, and therefore from the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, change is needed, new structures are needed."

Rev Chris Fishlock, senior minister of St Nicholas Cole Abbey, said that the members of the deanery chapter plan to meet together regularly.

He extended an invitation to "all clergy in the City of London who are compelled to resist all episcopal leadership from the House of Bishops on the grounds that their proposed Prayers of Love and Faith undermine the Church of England's doctrine of marriage such that we can no longer walk in partnership together".

In response to its formation, the Diocese of London issued a statement saying that the deanery chapter has "no legal substance".

"The Diocese was first informed a few hours ago that a group of clergy in the City of London is seeking to set up its own parallel, unregulated structures, outside of those of the Diocese of London and the Church of England. This unilateral move would have no legal substance," the diocese said.

"The initiative has been announced publicly, without discussion, at a time when constructive ongoing dialogue continues here in the capital, and across the country, following the House of Bishops' proposals in response to the six-year Living in Love and Faith process.

"As a Diocese, we remain committed to working together through our differences, recognising the strength of our shared faith in Christ, and all that brings us together."