Muslim prayer services banned in consecrated churches - bishop of Southwark

A Muslim prayer service was held at St John's Church in Waterloo in March.Wikimedia

Non-Christian acts of worship such as Muslim prayer services are banned in consecrated churches, the Bishop of Southwark said today.

Rt Rev Christopher Chessun made clear there will be no more services like that held in St John's Waterloo in March and he also made clear that the vicar, Canon Giles Goddard, holds an orthodox faith as stated in the Christian creeds.

The Inclusive Mosque Initiative celebrated an "Inclusive Jummah" led by woman imam Dr Amina Wadud at St John's at the invitation of Canon Goddard. There was criticism after a video of the event appeared to indicated that Christian imagery and iconography, including pictures and statues of the saints, the Virgin Mary, Jesus as well as the stations of the cross, had been covered up.

In the statement released today by the diocese, it was also made clear for a second time that Canon Goddard had apologised.

The statement read: "Following the event at St John, Waterloo on 6 March 2015, the Bishop of Southwark has made it quite clear that acts of worship from a non-Christian tradition are not permitted in consecrated churches.This has been communicated in writing to the Vicar of St John, Waterloo by the Bishop along with a clear message about the seriousness of this matter, and the consequences should there be any repetition. He has received, in writing, a full apology for the breach which resulted from this event, together with a categorical assurance that there will be no repetition or similar event.

"The Vicar also indicated in his letter his concern that his comments, at the end of that event, have been interpreted in a way that have suggested that he and St John's do not conform to an orthodox interpretation of the Christian faith. He has made it very clear that he assents fully to 'the faith which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds to which the historic formularies of the Church of England bear witness'.

"Bishop Christopher has made it clear that he is fully committed to promoting serious and constructive engagement between Christians and Muslims, but that clarity about boundaries is foundational for effective interfaith work."