THE Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) is planning to hold “large-scale meetings” in June, but only for those who have signed up to “resist” moves to bless same-sex couples in church.
Invitations to the meetings were sent to signatories of the CEEC’s declaration, launched in March (News, 24 March) in response to the decision made at the General Synod to allow church blessings for same-sex couples (News, 9 February).
The invitation says that the meetings — at All Souls’, Langham Place, in London, on 17 June, and at Holy Trinity, Platt, in Manchester, on 19 June — are “being held in order to take counsel together regarding the proposals around the Prayers of Love and Faith, and to hear the wisdom of voices from around the Anglican Communion”.
The Archbishop of South Sudan, the Most Revd Justin Badi, and the Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Revd Kanishka Raffel, are expected to be present at the meetings.
The invitation email also asks that those who are invited “do not ‘promote’ these gatherings”, as “communications around it might be a little sensitive and we need to ensure that they are overseen via the CEEC Comms team.”
On Wednesday, the national director of the CEEC, Canon John Dunnett, said that the meetings were “to enable Evangelicals concerned about the proposed Prayers of Love and Faith to pray together, study scripture, listen, and take counsel.
“These meetings are private meetings, and are intended to be discursive in nature rather than a platform for any announcements. The meetings will involve lay people, clergy, and bishops from across the different Evangelical networks within the C of E.”
Also on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Archbishop Raffel said: “The Archbishop was pleased to accept an invitation to speak.” Archbishop Raffel, the spokesperson said, “enjoys connections with many in the Church of England. After hosting the Archbishop of Canterbury in Sydney last year, he is also hoping to spend some time with Archbishop Welby during his visit.”
Last September, the diocese of Sydney declared a “breach of fellowship” with the Anglican Church of Australia on issues of sexuality (News, 23 September 2022).