St Helen's Bishopgate in split with local Anglican churches over sexuality
One of the largest evangelical churches in the country is withdrawing itself from relations with neighbouring Anglican churches over irreconcilable differences on their teaching on sexuality.
St Helen's Bishopgate, which attracts nearly 2,000 worshippers across its four services each week, declared it was in 'impaired relationship' with fellow Church of England parishes in its deanery in central London.
William Taylor, rector of St Helen's, cited 'the widely publicised views held by certain members of the deanery chapter' as reasons for the split.
'We (the clergy, wardens and PCC of St Helen's) no longer consider these church leaders who have ceased to 'believe and uphold the Christian faith Church of England has received it' to be 'walking together' with us in any meaningful partnership', he told the area dean Rev Oliver Ross.
Although Taylor's letter did not make explicit which church leaders he was referring to, Rev Bertrand Olivier, the openly gay vicar of All Hallows by the Tower which is half a mile from St Helen's, told Christian Today he was 'not surprised' by the decision.
The separation, which Taylor said he hoped would be temporary, means St Helen's staff will not join their fellow Anglican leaders for joint services or anything that implies 'partnership in the gospel'.
The letter was published as a splinter Anglican group, Anglican Mission in England, held its first ordination service in east London, setting itself up as a rival Anglican church to the Church of England. Taylor attended the service along with a number of other conservative CofE clergy.
The area dean, Rev Oliver Ross, told Christian Today the deanery 'respects the decision St Helen's have taken and welcome their commitment to remain part of the diocesan structures'.
He added: 'We welcome where they can be involved with us in the future.'