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Rector threatens split if new Bishop of London tolerates gay relationships

Rector threatens split if new Bishop of London tolerates gay relationships
Rev. William Taylor of St Helen's Church said a break may be "unavoidable"

Kaya Burgess, Religious Affairs Correspondent
https://tinyurl.com/y6ucdqhv
December 13, 2017

One of the largest churches in London has threatened to break from the Church of England if the next Bishop of London has liberal views on sexuality.

St Helen's Bishopsgate, which was William Shakespeare's local church, is a large evangelical church whose congregation holds orthodox views on homosexuality and marriage.

The announcement of the next Bishop of London, to replace Lord Chartres who retired this year, is expected in the new year.

The rector of St Helen's has said that his first question to the new bishop will be to ask him or her to "declare as sin what God calls sin".

If the bishop does not condemn homosexual relationships as sinful, then some form of break will be "unavoidable", the Rev William Taylor said last week in a sermon at the church, which attracts 2,000 worshippers across its four Sunday services.

He said: "We now wait to see what the new Bishop of London's views are."

The bishopric of London is one of the five most senior roles in the church; the others are the archbishoprics of Canterbury and York and the bishoprics of Durham and Winchester.

The secretive panel charged with nominating a new bishop -- which includes the Rev Charlie Skrine, an associate rector at St Helen's -- will be aware that it is a particularly sensitive appointment in a city that encompasses a wide range of theological views.

Lord Chartres has said that the Diocese of London is plagued by "intense factional strife" between supporters and opponents of the ordination of women as priests in the early Nineties. It has been suggested that the new bishop could be the first woman to hold one of the five most senior roles; however, this is considered unlikely given the row over women priests.

The next bishop will have to find a way to placate both sides of the row over sexuality, including the liberal members who want the Church of England to conduct same-sex marriages and conservative members who want a firm condemnation of gay relationships.

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Right Rev Stephen Cottrell, is considered to be one of the frontrunners. He has called for services of "thanksgiving" to be permitted to bless same-sex marriages, but has not called for the church to change its definition of marriage to start performing same-sex weddings.

Last week nine priests were ordained into the Anglican Mission in England, a breakaway church that opposes gay marriage and female bishops.

*****

St. Helen's Vicar offers a rebuttal to Times story.

December 13, 2017

Dear Church Family,

You may have seen a misleading report in The Times today. Contrary to what it says we are not 'breaking' from the Church of England nor are we planning to do so. My letter applied my sermon of 3rd December (which you can listen to below, especially from 29:13-35:22), i.e. temporarily impaired relationships where necessary, but in other respects full and active members of deanery and diocesan structures.

I shall be praying for all of us as we approach this two weeks that we 'make the most of every opportunity' and find many, many answers to our prayers in fruitful Gospel ministry amongst colleagues, friends and family.

With warm greetings and wishing you a very happy Christmas,

William

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