GAFCON should stay out of our territory, says Scottish Anglican leader

Bishop David Chillingworth

The leader of the Anglican church in Scotland has described as 'regrettable' the decision to appoint a 'missionary bishop' to England and Scotland.

Bishop of St Andrew's David Chillingworth was speaking in response to an announcement by the conservative group GAFCON that it is to appoint a special bishop' for conservative Christians in Europe.

GAFCON, made up of primates from nine Anglican provinces and five 'branches', made the decision at its recent meeting in Lagos, Nigeria.

GAFCON was set up an an attempt by its leaders to stand against what they regard as unbiblical acceptance of homosexuality among some churches in the West.

Chillingworth said: 'In June, the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church will reach the final stage of consideration of changes which would make possible same-sex marriage in our churches. The news that GAFCON intends to send a missionary bishop to Britain is regrettable.

'The Anglican Communion functions as a global communion on the basis of respect for the territorial integrity of each province. This move is a breach of that understanding.

'The outcome of the synodical process which will take place in June is not a foregone conclusion. The voices of clergy and lay people from across Scotland will be heard both in debate and in the voting process. The Scottish Episcopal Church is working closely with those who find this proposal difficult to accept. Whatever the outcome may be, it is our intention to be and to remain a church which honours diversity.'

GAFCON said last week that it was responding to the voice of faithful Anglicans in some parts of the Global North who are in need of biblically faithful episcopal leadership.

'Of immediate concern is the reality that on 8th June 2017 the Scottish Episcopal Church is likely to formalise their rejection of Jesus' teaching on marriage. If this were to happen, faithful Anglicans in Scotland will need appropriate pastoral care,' the organisation said.

GAFCON already has several conservative churches outside the structures of the Church of England, under the Anglican Mission in England. GAFCON said: 'These churches are growing, and are in need of episcopal leadership. Therefore, we have decided to consecrate a missionary bishop who will be tasked with providing episcopal leadership for those who are outside the structures of any Anglican province, especially in Europe.'

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, currently visiting Jordan and then Israel, has declined to comment so far.