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‘We can no longer walk with them’: One of CofE's largest churches breaks from bishops' oversight

by Kelly Valencia
St Helen’s Bishopsgate.jpg - Banner image
St Helen’s Bishopsgate

St Helen's Bishopsgate has announced it will no longer accept episcopal oversight from the Church of England's House of Bishops.

In a video announcement, Rev William Taylor explained it is in response to the bishops' decision to "exalt their desire for an institutional political consensus above the authority of Jesus's word", following the General Synod's vote to bless couples in same-sex marriage or civil partnerships.

"Despite the very substantial minority vote in the House of Clergy and Laity - 40 to 45 per cent against - the bishops seem determined to persist with their proposals, exalting their own views above a very substantial minority of those who cannot accept it. Leadership cannot be deemed effective when vast sways refuse to follow," Rev William said.

"The bishops of the Church of England have walked away from us. By contrast, we will continue to walk in closer union with those who uphold the teaching of God's word, and will actively develop stronger gospel partnerships with them," Rev William added.

He is referring to those leaders in the Anglican Communion who hold a conservative view of marriage. The church released the statement together with videos of support from the Anglican leaders in Australia and New Zealand and from the North America Archbishop and Primate, Most Rev Dr Foley Beach, who is also the chair of GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference).

Rev Willian also said Rev Foley would "make provision for the annual clergy review process at St Helen's" following the decision by several clergy to stop their relationship with the House of Bishops.

St Helen's has long advocated for a conservative view of marriage in the Church of England with threats to break away from the church if there was a move to a liberal view of marriage and sexuality.

In December 2020, the church announced its relationship with the House of Bishops was in "a state of broken partnership" as they could no longer agree with them in matters of sexual identity.

Before Synod earlier this month, the church also called the proposals "unbiblical, contrary to the doctrine and teaching of the Church of England" and "entirely inappropriate".

Rev William continued: "Without bishops, not limited geographically to any particular area, nor restricted in authority, diocesan in nature and jurisdiction, clearly not walking together with the House of Bishops of the Church of England, with the authority to ordain, licence and install Church of England ministers to Church of England livings, and to consecrate further bishops, there can be no long term security for Church of England evangelical churches or clergy.

"So my aim now, and for so long as I remain at St Helens, together with the PCC and other clergy and senior leaders here, will be to secure the future of Anglican evangelical ministry in London. We would love to do this within the Church of England. Anglican bishops and archbishops from across the globe are ready to help us. We do not stand alone."

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