Chelmsford: Evangelical clergy confirm vicar’s testimony

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“We are used to being told that we don’t belong”

Representatives of conservative evangelical clergy from the Diocese of Chelmsford met on Wednesday 12 June to discuss, among other matters, Bishop Stephen Cottrell’s letter to clergy of June 2019.

“We noticed it was carefully worded,” said Kieran Bush, Vicar of St John’s, Walthamstow. “It gave the impression that the Bishop had never suggested that John Parker should leave the Church of England. The truth is that Stephen Cottrell has, on more than one occasion, told clergy, including John Parker, that if we disagree with the approach the Diocese is taking on matters of human sexuality we should follow our consciences and leave. There were more than thirty clergy at one of the meetings.”

It was after a smaller meeting, in September 2018, that John Parker and another colleague felt compelled to break fellowship with the bishop.

“We are all concerned about the growing climate of intolerance and the number of clergy who are finding their position in the Church of England increasingly untenable,” said another member of the group, Mark Holdaway, Rector of St Michael’s Kirby-le-Soken with All Saints, Great Holland.