Southwark Minister Stripped of Licence Following Controversial Ordinations

The Bishop of Southwark has stripped the minister behind the controversial irregular ordinations in the Diocese of Southwark of his licence, reports The Church of England Newspaper.

|TOP|Bishop Richard Coekin, minister of Dundonald Church in Wimbledon, was warned in a letter from the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt. Rev. Tom Butler, he would lose his licence if the ordinations of Andy Fenton and Richard Perkins went ahead.

The two men were ordained last Thursday by Bishop Martin Morrison, from the Church of England in South Africa, a small breakaway denomination out of communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Following the move, Rev. Butler issued an uncompromising letter to diocesan clergy in which he said: “We do not schism in the diocese of Southwark.”

The ordinations are the result of differences with the Bishop of Southwark over his support for the House of Bishops’ Statement on Civil Partnerships. Speaking on behalf of himself and the two men, Rev. Coekin said, “it is obvious to us that this Bishops’ new statement on Civil Partnerships assumes the legitimising of gay sex.”.

Rev. Coekin further defended the decision to ordain the men after failed requests to Rev. Butler to distance himself from the Bishops’ statement and to ordain the men himself.

He said: “If earlier he had found a way of ordaining our staff, we would not have needed to go further. Now, however, with our communion impaired, we looked elsewhere for the ordinations needed.”

|AD|The ordinations were attended by a number of evangelical leaders and supported by the conservative group Reform at their National Conference. The move was also supported by 500 in the congregation.

Rev. Coekin said: “I didn’t recruit all this support – it was volunteered because other evangelicals feel so strongly against the Bishops’ Statement on Civil Partnerships and agree with our stand.”

He added: “I have been asked to explain how I can, in conscience, disobey my diocesan bishop. I have doe so with great reluctance and sadness.”

Rev. Coekin explained: “My obligation, as a Christian, is first to God and his Word and I feel bound, in conscience, to disobey my bishop where he asks me to do something contrary to the plain meaning of Scripture and especially where my interpretation is supported by history, by scholarship and by the vast majority of the Anglican Communion.”

Bishop Tom Butler said in a letter to Southwark clergy that church law requires bishops from outside a diocese to seek permission from the diocesan bishop to carry out any Episcopal acts. He said this was the primary reason for revoking Rev. Coekin’s licence.

Bishop Butler added that the situation was made more complicated by the fact that the CESA Bishop is outside the Anglican Communion.

The action was deemed “un-Anglican” by the Rev. Richard Jenkins, secretary of the liberal grouping Affirming Catholicism.