Church of England Evangelical Council calls for action and offers the Church of England a better way forward

[The Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC)] is grieved and dismayed by the House of Bishops’ response to Living in Love & Faith, and subsequent public communications, believing them to be contrary to the doctrine and teaching of the Church of England. If pursued, we believe these proposals will create further division and broken fellowship within the Church of England and a greater tearing of the fabric of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

We wish to alert the House of Bishops to the depth, breadth and strength of opposition to their proposals among members of CEEC, which represents lay and ordained, charismatic and conservative and open, egalitarian and complementarian evangelicals. The council is drawn from numerous different networks including Diocesan Evangelical Fellowships, EGGS, The Junia Network, ReNew, New Wine, Living Out, Latimer Trust, JAEC, Fulcrum, Fellowship of Word and Spirit, Crosslinks, CPAS, Count Everyone In, CMS, Christianity Explored, Church Society and evangelical College Principals.

Where CEEC stands

CEEC joyfully affirms its conviction that every person is made in the image of God and loved equally by Him. We delight in the current doctrine of the Church of England with regards to singleness, sex and marriage and believe them to be good for the flourishing of every individual. We believe God’s good design in these areas to be part of the church’s witness to a society exploring what it means to be human.

We welcome the communique of the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) and the reminder from Archbishop Justin Badi that the church is called to be ‘marked by its loyalty to God and the plain teaching of holy scripture – whatever the cultural winds of the day’.

CEEC repents of those times when we have failed to offer a Christ-like welcome to those who identify as LGBTQIA including those who are gay but have chosen to live a celibate life in keeping with biblical teaching.

Why CEEC rejects the House of Bishops proposals

We believe that the House of Bishops’ proposals and subsequent public communications are erroneous for a number of reasons, including:

  • Decoupling sex from its place in marriage between one man and one woman
  • Failing to explain and defend why they have departed from previous statements and decisions of the House of Bishops and the General Synod
  • Failing to offer a theological account of their claims regarding the distinction between civil marriage and holy matrimony, and the nature of blessing
  • Blatantly disregarding the convictions of the vast majority of the Anglican Communion and other major global Christian denominations
  • Failing to critique the modern sense of self and individualism and the sexualisation of our society, which is leaving our children and young people confused and vulnerable
  • Failing to provide a vision of the holy life in following Jesus as Lord.

We believe that the responsibility of the Church of England is to serve the nation by proclaiming the gospel, not by compromising with prevailing culture. We are convinced that these proposals will undermine and damage the mission and discipleship of our churches, especially among young people.

Furthermore, CEEC believes it is inappropriate for the General Synod to consider the House of Bishops’ proposals before revised pastoral guidance has been issued, which could redefine the discipline and teaching of the Church of England.

What CEEC calls for

CEEC calls on evangelical clergy, wardens, PCCs, and lay people across the country to communicate urgently their profound concerns about the proposals to their bishops and General Synod representatives ahead of the forthcoming General Synod and to continue in prayer for our church.

CEEC also calls on evangelicals to prepare to take wide scale and far reaching action in order to respond to the new situation created should these proposals be pursued. At its annual meeting this week, the Council agreed that CEEC will provide guidance as to what this action could involve, including with respect to relationships with bishops and engagement with dioceses and deaneries. CEEC will be supporting churches and clergy who feel vulnerable in the light of the House of Bishops proposals.

CEEC urges the House of Bishops to reconsider the wisdom of their current proposals and withdraw them. 

CEEC’s proposal for a better way forward

We remain committed to the highest degree of unity possible within the truth and doctrine of the Church of England.  However, we believe that the current proposals will prevent us from walking together and promote disunity, even schism.

It is clear that the strength of feeling amongst parties with differing convictions indicates that we have to find a better way forward. In the event of the current proposals being pursued, CEEC will continue to advocate a settlement, without theological compromise, based on a permanent structural rearrangement resulting in visible differentiation.

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