Jesmond church defends consecrating renegade bishop: We're not causing a split

A conservative church is defending a move to consecrate its senior minister as a rogue bishop in the face of sharp criticism from fellow evangelicals.

Jesmond Parish Church insists it is not causing a split in the Church of England after Rev Jonathan Pryke was consecrated a 'bishop in the Church of God' without permission from the archbishops.

Jonathan Pryke, listed as a senior minister at Jesmond Parish Church, was consecrated a bishop through a breakaway Anglican faction in South Africa.YouTube / Clayton TV

In a question and answer sheet handed out to its congregation on Sunday, the church's leaders warn conservative ministers are being 'filtered out' in the current CofE system.

'The aim is not to create a new denomination,' parishioners were told according to the Thinking Anglicans blog.

'This is one small but necessary step on behalf of faithful Church of England ministers and congregations nationwide in our mission to the nation.

'This is not a step of "leaving the Church of England". It is the theologically liberal bishops and clergy that have "left the Church of England" doctrinally.

'This is a step to preserve the Church of England's heritage and mission which we have received.'

The Q&A goes on to say without new conservative bishops to ordain new conservative clergy and plant new churches, it would mean 'biblically faithful ministers finding it increasingly difficult to be ordained and deployed by the current system, as people are "filtered out" according to their views on homosexual practice and the ordination of women.'

It goes on to refer to 'the confused Church of today' with bishops denying traditional teachings like the Virgin Birth and male headship and says: 'We need new style English bishops here "on the ground" to plan for and enable the urgent spread of the gospel nationwide – especially through church planting.'

It adds church growth requires 'the ordination and deployment of new ministers who are biblically faithful – which the current system, sadly, can hinder.

'And we hope that some of those ministers will move into existing Church of England posts as well as new church plants, to contribute to the recovery of the gospel and to further the ministry of men and women for church growth.'

The Church of England is investigating the incident after Pryke was consecrated by the presiding bishop of a breakaway Anglican faction in South Africa. 

A spokeswoman for John Sentamu told Christian Today: 'The Archbishop of York has been informed by the Bishop of Newcastle that a minister who holds her licence in that diocese has been made bishop in a ceremony held under the auspices of an overseas Church.

'All clergy of the Church of England are bound by Canon Law, which forms part of the law of the land.

'Whilst the facts of the matter are being investigated it is not possible to say how what has happened relates to Canon Law so it would not be appropriate at this point to offer further comment.' 

The provocative move has been criticised by fellow evangelicals including Ian Paul, of the blog site Psephizo, who told the BBC the time for a split was not yet.

'The Church of England's belief is described in its liturgy,' he said.

'So the red line for anyone of orthodox persuasion is when liturgy is changed.'

Christian Today contacted the Diocese of Newcastle but a spokeswoman would not confirm whether the Bishop had spoken to Jesmond's leadership.

Senior Anglican leaders in the Archbishop's Council are meeting this week in Lambeth Palace where the issue is likely to be raised.