THE PCCs of two large conservative Evangelical churches in central London — All Souls’, Langham Place, and St Helen’s, Bishopsgate — said that they would pause payments to their diocesan Common Fund until they knew the outcome of the General Synod’s deliberations on Living in Love and Faith.
In a letter, dated 3 February, to the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, the PCC of All Souls’ expresses “concern and sadness at the response that has been presented by the House of Bishops as the outcome of Living in Love and Faith”.
Last month, the Bishops announced proposals to allow clergy to offer services of prayer and thanksgiving for same-sex couples and bless same-sex civil marriages. (News, 20 January)
The All Souls’ letter says that such proposals “abandon confidence in God’s Word and in doing so they move the Church of England away from her historic formularies”: they are, “in practice”, a “change in the Biblical doctrine of marriage”.
The letter concludes: “Given the current proposals, the PCC voted this week to pause all Common Fund payments until we know the outcome of General Synod and have taken the time necessary to work through the implications of any decisions coming from it.”
A letter, dated 30 January, to Bishop Mullally, from members of the PCC Standing Committee at St Helen’s, Bishopsgate, expresses “grave disappointment and concern at the House of Bishops’ response to Living in Love and Faith. . . we regard both the House of Bishops’ Report and the Draft Worship Resources as unbiblical, contrary to the doctrine and teaching of the Church of England, and therefore entirely inappropriate.”
The letter says that the House of Bishops report that accompanied the proposals “pays lip service to the Church of England’s doctrine of marriage, while commending a means by which, in practical terms, the doctrine of marriage may be circumvented and undermined”.
The letter also objects to “the autocratic nature of the process [which] appears to have bypassed the elected clergy and laity of the General Synod”.
It concludes: “We shall await the conclusion of the General Synod in February before seeking a conversation about the provision which will be necessary for those forced by your decision into having no acceptable episcopal oversight. Whilst we await developments and give prayerful consideration to our response, the PCC has asked us to pause our current contributions to Common Fund.”
A spokesperson for the diocese of London said on Wednesday: “The diocese will continue to support the stipend, housing, and pensions of those clergy on Common Fund and to provide the usual diocesan support. We will continue to honour all our responsibilities, pastoral and legal, to every parish in the diocese, whatever decisions they may make in response to LLF. Those decisions will not affect the legal relationships between the diocese and individual parishes.”
The director of strategy and operations for the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), Canon John Dunnett, said that the CEEC did not comment on individual cases, but that it encouraged churches concerned about the Bishops’ proposals to take appropriate measures to show their depth of feeling about this issue.