A second minister has left the Anglican Church of Australia headed for the new Diocese of the Southern Cross set up by the conservative GAFCON (Global Anglican Futures) group.
Peter Judge-Mears told his congregation yesterday at St John’s Wishart, in southeast Brisbane that he had resigned and that next Sunday would be his final Sunday at Sy Johns.
After a short break, Judge-Mears will “commence with the Diocese of the Southern Cross on October 2.”
He leaves sespite the recent announcement of the Archbishop of Brisbane, Phillip Aspinall, expecting no change in the progressive stance of the diocese of South Queensland, which evangeklical ministers report finding a difficult environment.
“Sybil and I have been privileged to walk alongside you through times of deep sorrow and times of great joy, he told the St John’s parish.
“Sadly, over these 14 years [he has served at St John’s as Associate Minister and later as Rector}, I have witnessed the increasing divergence between received Anglican theology and the theology of the diocese. This culminated in the Archbishop’s Synod address and the changes to Faithfulness in Service.”
Faithfulness in Service is the Anglican Church of Australia’s conduct standard; progressive dioceses have revised it to permit sexual intimacy outside of traditional man-woman marriage. In his synod Address, Phillip Aspinall was critical of conservative evangelicals in the Anglican Church.
“Although I have appreciated the time and graciousness that the Archbishop has extended to discuss my concerns, my concerns have not been allayed,” Judge-Mears writes. Neither has the recent resignation of the Archbishop, who merely gave a clear voice to the theology now taught in our theological college and from the pulpits of our churches. Most of you have known the struggle I have had since synod and are aware that this decision has been one I have wrestled long over. I am concerned that the mission of Jesus with which we are charged should be delayed no longer.”
The pattern set by Peter Palmer, who was followed by two-thirds of the Beenleigh Anglican parish in joining the Diocese of the Southern Cross is likely to be replicated in Wishart, with Judge-Mears likely to be joined by parish members in his new church.
Peter Judge-Mears had set out his difficulties with the Diocese of Southern Queensland in an open letter to archbishop Phillip Aspininall in June last year.
“At the conclusion of your speech, you spoke of comprehensiveness in the Diocese, a comprehensiveness where ‘there is a place at the table for all who love God, who see God’s fullness revealed in Jesus Christ, who open their minds and hearts and lives to the Spirit, who study the scriptures with care and insight and who work in the world to see the values of the kingdom embodied,’ Judge-Meares wrote. “You had described those ‘who study the scriptures with care and insight’ as those who ‘say the biblical presuppositions no longer stand therefore the moral rules based on those presuppositions and rationale no longer must be regarded as prescriptive and we have the responsibility to revisit in our own generation questions about what responsible, holy, life-giving sexual expression looks like today.’
Judge-Mears adds “The scriptural understanding about moral issues is not based on human presuppositions but on God’s revelation as the creator. By giving your version of studying the Scriptures with “care and insight” and caricaturing views with which you do not agree, you make it clear that your idea of comprehensiveness excludes those who hold to the traditional understanding of the Scriptures (upheld by Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference), so that there is no place for me – that I am unwelcome, and that is very hurtful.”
In the letter Judge-Mears also describes Archbishop Aspinall as positioning the Southern Queensland diocese in opposition to Sydney. “Almost every year since then I have heard you attack the Diocese of Sydney; Moore College; and evangelical belief. You have styled Evangelicals as rabid, flat- earth, fundamentalists unable to think rationally. You repeatedly claimed “reason” as the specialprovince of the Liberal tradition alone. You have fuelled a hatred for the Diocese of Sydney that this Diocese loves to hate. And those of us with friends there in that Diocese – who have family there, who trained there, who heard the gospel there, who thrived there – are treated as objects of scorn and suspicion before we even open our mouths. This hate speech is even inculcated through our theological college where Evangelical beliefs are lampooned and the students who hold them are openly ridiculed before their peers.”