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London Anglican clergy set up alternative deanery chapter to provide for those opposing same-sex blessings

by Kelly Valencia

A group of church leaders in the Diocese of London has launched a new deanery chapter to provide for those who oppose same-sex blessings.

Led by Rev Phil Martin from St Botophs Aldersgate in central London, who will serve as the Area Dean, the group has been formed following plans by the Church of England to offer prayers of blessing to same-sex couples.

The group says it is both a "protest" and also “a helpful demonstration” of what they describe as the kind of “structural differentiation” needed for those who disagree with the church’s current direction of travel.

In a video statement, Rev Martin and Rev Chris Fishlock from Saint Nicholas Cole Abbey, explained the group has agreed to meet regularly and invite all clergy in the Diocese of London who feel “compelled to resist” to join their group.

Attended by ten clergy, the group held its first meeting in the City of London on Monday.

“It's worth saying that we're still in the very early days of thinking this new structure through. We really haven't got everything sorted yet,” they said.

“But we did have a super encouraging time yesterday as we met together. Ten clergy gathered and we heard a short Bible reading. We prayed, we then heard a ministry update from Phil and we prayed into the various implications of the work going on at St Botolphs Aldersgate, because we want healthy Church of England ministry to continue in the City of London deanery.”

The group also addressed the issue of curates who have paused their post-ordination training and that of future ordinands who, due to their conscience, do not want to be ordained by the Bishop of London.

“We acknowledge that there is an urgent matter relating to the selection of candidates who want to pursue Church of England Ministry", they added. "But who are unable to apply because of the House of Bishop's recent departure from faithful Biblical teaching,” they said.

The group says they will “aim to provide necessary and equivalent ongoing training” for curates and will commission prospective ordinands “so that they are enabled to work within Church of England churches until such a time that their ordinations can take place”.

However, the Diocese of London issued a statement declaring that the group is “seeking to set up its own parallel, unregulated structures” and has “no legal substance”.

It said "The initiative has been announced publicly, without discussion, at a time when constructive ongoing dialogue continues here in the capital, and across the country, following the House of Bishops’ proposals in response to the six-year Living in Love and Faith process.

“As a Diocese, we remain committed to working together through our differences, recognising the strength of our shared faith in Christ, and all that brings us together,” the statement read.

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