Below is the text of a letter written by the Rev John Parker to his parish. The background to this controversy can be found here.
It is with a great deal of sadness that I have taken the decision to resign my licence and leave the Church of England. Hence I will cease to be the Rector of [the Benefice of All Saints, Fordham and Eight Ash Green, Colchester] with effect from the 1 August 2019.
This has been the hardest decision I have ever taken and is not without deep emotion. It is the product of the last 2 to 3 years, and has not been undertaken (in the words of the prayer book regarding marriage) lightly, carelessly or selfishly, but reverently and after serious thought.
I have listened to the godly advice of many to come to this decision as well as wrestled with it, through much prayer. I am grateful for all who have prayed for me.
Many of you will be aware of the unprecedented situation that now exists in the Church of England. You will know also how, as Incumbent, I have had the desire to stay and fight for faithfulness within the Church of England. However, I have come to the conclusion that this is no longer possible for me in my role here.
You will be aware of the conversations I have had with Bishops Roger and Stephen and the stand I have taken with them, breaking communion with them and the Deanery regarding same sex marriage, transgender baptisms and the promotion of transgenderism in C of E primary schools.
As you know my understanding of scripture is that we should not be in financial partnership nor fellowship with those who teach what is false, because I believe this to be unscriptural. To continue in fellowship and financial partnership is, I believe, not to trust in God.
I believe I have taught this scriptural case and so because I believe it to be what the Bible teaches, I believe it is the revealed will of Jesus Christ. I do not feel at liberty to ignore Jesus Christ’s instruction on this issue and because every wedding and funeral provides funds for the Diocese, Bishops and those they appoint, many of whom promote what is wildly contrary to scripture, in conscience, I can no longer work for the Church of England. I believe I must practice what I preach.
Of course, I respect those brothers and sisters in the church family here, and nationally, who do not share this conviction and have a different understanding and want to continue to send money to support the Diocese, Bishops and ministry over and above what we receive back. I do not share this view and after having given time through teaching, leadership and discussion for us to come to one mind on the subject, this has not been the case.
Of course I have considered other points of view and read counter arguments, but I have not found them biblically persuasive. The potential for division and ongoing conflict that this has brought about, has meant that it seems wise for me to leave and give the church the opportunity to recruit someone who has a commitment to remaining in fellowship within the Church of England for longer than I can.
Ongoing conflict on this issue would not be good for myself or others. This decision has been informed by advice from elsewhere in the Anglican communion. When the ACNA (Anglican Church of North America) was leaving the Episcopal Church (TEC) , this was very painful and riven with long conflict. Three things were advised:
- That we do not spend a lengthy time of acrimonious disagreement on these issues, given that different Christians have different “red lines” regarding what it means to be faithful to the scriptures.
- That those who leave (the Church of England) need to do so in such a way that we are not guilty of agency in which we seek to start something new (whilst in the Church of England).
- That there is a home for those who in conscience cannot remain (within the Church of England) ready for those whose red lines are crossed in the future, a rescue boat for them and for the lost who need Christ. To leave and seek to set up this “rescue boat” at the same time, in a hurry and inadequately, by bruised people, is unwise given the levels of spiritual exhaustion that “friendly fire” brings to leaders.
Hence, whilst I am a convinced Anglican and because my heart is very much with those ministers, churches, Dioceses, Bishops and Archbishops who are supportive of GAFCON (some 70 million globally) it seemed right that I give my remaining years of ministry to this movement rather than seek to persuade others of the need for it within the Church of England in genuine financial partnership.
What has been made clear through observation of the global Anglican communion and conversation with many, is that it is highly unlikely that there will be a red line upon which everyone agrees and so moves together. This has not yet happened despite the clear red line of the canons being changed in the USA, Canada and Scotland. To wait for such a moment is, I believe, to wait indefinitely and to embrace compromise. My red lines have already been crossed.
So, because of this wisdom but fundamentally, the teaching of scripture, and a variety of other though lesser reasons, I have decided to leave the Church of England. My last Sunday will be 14 July 2019. We are very grateful for the love and support we have enjoyed here from so many and want you to know that you are all in our hearts.
Our hope and prayer is, that whilst some may not yet understand this decision and others may find it difficult, we may live in peace and harmony as we seek to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are not leaving ministry, though I am taking a break from ministry. We are not leaving the Anglican communion, though we are leaving the Church of England. We remain united with you in our prior calling, to belong to Jesus Christ and to serve his church as Anglican Christians.
We remain united with you in our conviction that the Bible is God’s word. We hope the future will be marked by mutual understanding and peace between us and in time, mutual flourishing in our respective callings. We believe and hope that whilst we remain in the area, ties of gospel partnership, fellowship and friendship will remain as we seek to serve the one Lord Jesus Christ who binds us together in the unity of the Trinity.
With much love in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Revd John Parker