An Anglican splinter group in the UK ordained its own clergy for the first time on Thursday night at a service in east London.
Nine men were ordained by Andy Lines, a 'missionary bishop' consecrated in the wake of the Scottish Episcopal Church's decision to permit gay marriage. A number of senior conservative Church of England figures played prominent roles in the service.
The move will be seen as provocative as it sets up Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) as a rival Anglican Church to the Church of England.
Several retired bishops attended the ceremony at East London Tabernacle Baptist Church and a number of active CofE clergy were also present. Before the service a CofE spokesman said any clergy who 'participate actively' in AMiE's services would be breaking canon law.
Rev David Banting, a well known evangelical in the Church of England and vicar of St Peter's Harold Wood in the Diocese of Chelmsford, joined in the laying on of hands of the new ordinands – a key part in the process of ordination.
It is not clear whether this amounted to breaking the Church's canon laws.
In a move that is likely to increase tensions with Lambeth Palace, two senior conservative Anglican leaders, the Archbishop of Nigeria and the Archbishop of Uganda, sent a video message welcoming the move. Both figures boycotted a meeting of global Anglican leaders called by the Archbishop of Canterbury in October over deeply entrenched disagreements on gay marriage.
Rev Rico Tice, senior minister at All Souls' Langham Place, a large evangelical church in central London, preached the sermon.
Jane Patterson, a senior conservative member of the Church of England's general synod, gave a reading and Susie Leafe, director of the evangelical grouping Reform and a member of the General Synod, said prayers.
Before the service a Church of England spokesman said: 'It has come to our attention that Bishop Andy Lines, a Bishop in the Anglican Church in North America, will be carrying out some ordinations this week in a denomination calling itself the Anglican Mission in England.
'For clarity, this group is not part of, nor affiliated with, the Church of England, nor is Bishop Lines's parent denomination part of the Anglican Communion.
'Under our canon law, Church of England clergy are unable to participate actively in the group's services.
'Our prayers are, of course, with all those seeking to proclaim Christ.'
The eight ordained as deaons were Jon Cawsey, Alistair Harper, Christopher Houghton, Kenny Larsen, Martin Soole, Robert Tearle, Matthew Thompson and Christopher Youngs. Peter Jackson was ordained a presbyter.