A former Queen's chaplain has quit as a Church of England priest after a long-running objection to what he saw as the liberalising trend of the CofE.
Canon Gavin Ashenden made the unusual move of resigning his orders on Friday, Christian Today can reveal, leaving more than 35 years of ordained ministry.
An ardent conservative on both sexuality and women priests, Rev Ashenden confirmed to Christian Today he had signed the 'deed of relinquishment' under the Clerical Disabilities Act 1870. This starts a six-month interim period before he officially leaves the Church.
He declined to comment on the move until his six-month waiting time is up.
It comes after the long-standing critic of the Church left his post as Queen's chaplain in January following a row over a Quran reading in Glasgow Cathedral. The Shropshire-based priest criticised the decision by Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary's Cathedral, for inviting a reading from the Islamic holy book at the Epiphany service on January 6.
'After a conversation instigated by officials at Buckingham Palace, I decided the most honourable course of action was to resign,' he said at the time pointing to a 'a very important convention that the Queen should not be drawn into publics affairs where she is deemed to be taking a position'.
His decision to leave ministry in the Church could lead others to follow suit. A number of conservative Anglicans have voiced their concern about the Archbishop of Canterbury's call for a 'radical, new Christian inclusion' after a report maintaining a largely conservative stance on sexuality was rejected by the CofE's ruling general synod.
'There is no sign the Church of England is going to reconsider its policy of accommodation with the secular culture,' Ashenden said in a previous interview with Christian Today.
'It has abandoned certain key and apostolic norms,' he added, warning the CofE would collapse within decades because of its refusal to adhere to conservative Christianity.
He contrasted the year-on-year decline in England with the rapidly growing churches in Russia and China and said the difference was they had 'not made an accommodation with the culture'.
He said in the January interview: 'There are two kinds of Anglicanism. A secular Anglicanism and a traditional biblical Anglicanism.
'I see myself and others as very soon having to make a choice.'
He described himself as 'in limbo' between the CofE and other Anglican churches around the world.
'I certainly look at worldwide Anglicanism and I associate myself with some parts of the Anglican church that have kept the biblical faith. And I increasingly disassociate myself with parts like the Church of England.'