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World News

Evangelicals in Church of Wales ask for a conservative bishop to represent them in same sex blessings talks

The Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales (EFCW) has asked for representation on the bench of bishops from someone who believes marriage is only between a man and a woman. 

The evangelical wing of the Church in Wales, which is part of the Anglican Communion, has expressed sadness at the decision by the Church to allow the blessing of same-sex couples who had already got married outside the church and is asking for ways that their views can be represented. 

In a response statement to the vote, the group says it repents of how the Church has not always engaged well with LGBTQ+ people and that the gospel is for everyone, but that it believes this decision is wrong for the Church to take and has damaged unity locally, within the denomination and the wider Anglican Communion. 

The EFCW add: "Third, the decision dishonours those who, persuaded that Scripture teaches that sexual activity is restricted to heterosexual marriage, have chosen to remain celibate, often at tremendous personal cost."

Confirming what church-goers had been noticing, they say: "There have been and will be resignations from Clergy, Lay Readers, Worship Leaders, Church Wardens, Sunday School Teachers and parishioners. A number have withdrawn their regular giving to their churches. Others are determined to remain in the Church in Wales structure."

The EFCW make three requests: to appoint a 'conservative' bishop to the See of Swansea and Brecon, to clarify how the conscience clause will work and to promise not to bring in plans to introduce same-sex marriage any earlier than the five-year trial period. 

Expanding on this, the group states: "The Bench of Bishops currently speaks with one mind on this issue. However, it is clear from the breakdown of the vote at Governing Body that the Bench of Bishops no longer properly represents the convictions of the wider membership of the Church in Wales. We are grateful to the bishops for their intention that they have signalled, that a place will remain in the Church for those who hold to a traditional view. We ask them, therefore, to demonstrate this intention by appointing a bishop who represents the teaching of the majority of the Anglican Communion on sexuality."

Archbishop John Davies retired as Archbishop of Wales and Bishop of Swansea and Brecon in May 2021 and a new bishop is expected to be appointed later this year.
 
Regarding the right of any congregation to opt-out, the fellowship points out: "It is apparent that this clause is already being interpreted differently by different bishops, with some Clergy being told that dissenting Clergy will not have to surrender their church buildings for a blessing service. Other bishops believe they can exercise their prerogative to insist that a same-sex blessing service take place in any building in their Diocese, regardless of the conscience of the local cleric. This needs clarity and consistency across the Province with details on how dissenting PCCs, Lay Officers, congregations (as well as ministers) may be protected and cared for if they do not wish their church buildings to be available for such services."

Read the full response here
 

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