NEWS : July 6, 2009 – CCFON
Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic groups opposed to liberal developments within the Church have created the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.
Thousands of Anglicans, unhappy with the Church of England’s position on the blessing of same-sex unions, the ordination of women and homosexuals as priests, gathered in London today to support the launch.
The group claims it is not looking to break up the church but simply voice an opinion, but critics say the move will undermine the church and the authority of the archbishop of Canterbury.
Speaking to Premier is Revd Dr. Graham Kings, Bishop of Sherborne, who is concerned over the impact of this launch. He said:
“I hope very much that it doesn’t cause a split. The difficulty is positions could be laid out now so that in the future, if they think a split is necessary, they can easily do that. Unity in the Church of England is crucial.
“If this is just another voluntary agency then there’s no problem. The danger is that it moves from being a voluntary agency to being a Church within a Church and then a third move to being a split and setting up as a Church.”
The launch of the FOCA mirrors that of the US Episcopal Church. Traditionalist Americans left the Episcopal Church after the ordination of the openly gay Rt Rev Gene Robinson and split into a small separate Church.
The breakaway US church has now joined with the fellowship, which was set up by conservative Anglican bishops and leaders in Jerusalem in the wake of the ordination of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire.
The group says it promotes a traditionalist reading of the Bible which does not support active homosexuality. But their views have faced heavy criticism. On of the main supporters of FOCA, Dr Nazir-Ali told the Sunday Telegraph:
“We want to uphold the traditional teaching of the Bible. We believe that God has revealed his purpose about how we are made.
“People who depart from this don’t share the same faith. They are acting in a way that is not normative according to what God has revealed in the Bible.
“The Bible’s teaching shows that marriage is between a man and a woman. That is the way to express our sexual nature.
“We welcome homosexuals, we don’t want to exclude people, but we want them to repent and be changed.”
Revd. John Richardson supports the Fellowship and hopes it can help Anglicans across the world:
“Part of the appeal of FOCA is to be more aware of Christians facing real difficulties on the front line in areas like the Sudan where they are under pressure form not only poverty and war but from Islamic militants. I don’t think the Anglican Communion has always stepped up to the plate to support people in those sorts of situations.”