The current Church of England debate over marriage and sexuality is pushing the purchase of property up the agenda of Parochial Church Councils (PCCs), according to a new survey by Kingdom Bank.
Conducted at the ReNew conference, a gathering of evangelical Anglican churches, the survey revealed that 72 per cent of respondents believe the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) process is likely to prompt their churches to acquire buildings outside their denomination.
The debate, which would see prayers for blessing couples in same-sex relationships introduced in the church, is reaching its final stages with prayers expected to be commended “very soon” after upcoming General Synod gathering.
The issue has divided Church of England leaders, with some viewing the decision as a departure from Biblical teachings on marriage and the denomination's doctrine. Talks of churches leaving the denomination have resurged, with several churches withholding funds to the common pot. Other Anglican groups, such as GAFCON and AiNE have acknowledged church leaders getting in touch requesting more information regarding membership.
Survey respondents highlighted property needs, with 75 per cent prioritising housing in the next five years. In addition to that significant focus on residential housing, 53 per cent of respondents indicate considering purchasing or developing meeting spaces for their church in the next five years.
Paul Houghton, CEO of Kingdom Bank, said: “Faced with the possibility of the Church of England crossing a doctrinal ‘red line’ for many evangelicals, resulting in congregations feeling compelled by conscience to leave, we are now seeing churches engaging with the practicalities of such a departure.
“Top of most lists is securing the provision of housing which can be used for the minister and their family. Many larger evangelical churches have established independent property trusts as a precautionary measure over the past two decades, and now we are finding that smaller churches are following a similar approach.
“However, we should not forget that this prolonged debate and uncertainty is causing great stress for those in Anglican ministry, not least where the vicar knows that faithful bible teaching could result in their family being rendered homeless.”