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Chalke comes out fighting after EA ejection

09 May 2014


THE founder of Oasis, the Revd Steve Chalke, has criticised the decision of the Evangelical Alliance to end Oasis's membership, but insists that he does not regret his support for same-sex relationships.

Mr Chalke said on Tuesday that it was "regrettable" the Evangelical Alliance (EA) had ejected Oasis last week after discussions between the two groups for more than a year.

Mr Chalke, who is also the Baptist minister of Oasis Church, Waterloo, in south London, wrote an article in January last year in which he argued that Christians should support permanent and monogamous same-sex relationships (News, 18 January 2013).

In a statement on Friday last week, the EA said that, even though the board of Oasis had not taken a view on the issue, they had not complied with requests to give equal prominence to the "traditional" view of same-sex relationships on their website and in their resources.

"After many months of prayerful discussion, the Evangelical Alliance council concluded that a relationship between an organisation and one of its members in which the member felt it could not comply with a reasonable request from council was not tenable."

In a response on Friday of last week, an Oasis spokesman said that they had made changes to their website content, and believed that their relationship with the EA could have continued.

Mr Chalke described the EA's move as a mistake. Oasis continued to support the Alliance's basis of faith. "This issue isn't in their statement of faith," he said. "It seems to be promoting the issue of sexuality to an issue that is essential to salvation. We have urged them to be a big table around which Evangelicals of different shades of opinion can sit and talk.

"This is a conversation that the whole Church is having, and must have. To stop the conversation and remove us sends the message that, if you're of this view, we don't want to talk to you."

Mr Chalke said that he had no regrets about making a stand. But he said that it had always been phrased as a "conversation".

"I happen to be of the view that we should be accepting to people with other sexualities. But this is my view; it's not even the view of everyone in Oasis. On the website we set up a blog so anyone of any view can post what they think. It's a completely open thing."

In a message to members of the EA on Tuesday, the group's director, Steve Clifford, said that individual members were free to believe what they wanted as long as they stood by the Alliance's basis of faith.

The reason Oasis were expelled, he said, was not to do with their views on sexuality, but rather because the relationship had broken down over the website dispute.

But Mr Chalke was unimpressed by the EA's suggestion that Oasis should "equally profile" the traditional position. "Our question back is: 'Why isn't there room for a more progressive view on the EA website?'"

"I am an Evangelical," he insisted. "Oasis works with Evangelical churches around the country. I don't think [being forced out] will make any difference to our mission."

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