Sunday, 15 June 2008

Leading Open Evangelical calls for 'robust response' to church's 'gay wedding'

Leading Open Evangelical and co-founder of Fulcrum, the Revd Dr Graham Kings, has called for a "robust response" to what newspapers are describing as a "gay wedding" held for two clergymen in the Diocese of London.

In the past, Fulcrum has been critical of bodies like Anglican Mainstream and REFORM for the way they have responded to developments in the Anglican churches of North America which have gone against recommendations of the Lambeth Conference and Primates' Meetings. Articles, comments and posts on the Fulcrum website have been particularly critical of GAFCON. In his statement, however, Dr Kings emphasised the fact that the ceremony, conducted by the Revd Martin Dudley, was "against the express wishes of the Bishop of London, and against the guidelines from the House of Bishops."

In an interview on Radio 4's Sunday Programme, however, the Dean of Southwark, the Revd Colin Slee, observed that the House of Bishop's guidelines on blessing civil partnerships were not "mandatory", nor were they "instructions". Instead, he said, "they are guidelines and clearly within them there is room for clergy to act when there are compelling pastoral reasons," adding that there therefore must have been such compelling reasons for Mr Dudley to have behaved the way he did.

Dr Kings's statement follows. The Fulcrum website, however, provides the disclaimer that "The opinions expressed are the authors (sic), and not necessarily those of the Fulcrum leadership team."

A public ceremony for blessing the civil partnership of the Revd Peter Cowell, Priest Vicar at Westminster Abbey, and the Revd Dr David Lord was held at The Priory Church of St. Bartholomew the Great in London on 31 May 2008. The Revd Martin Dudley, the vicar, performed the ceremony against the express wishes of the Bishop of London, and against the guidelines from the House of Bishops.

This ceremony was clearly designed as a 'wedding' in all but name. Such a rewriting of the Book of Common Prayer is preposterous. It seems to have been a deliberately provocative act and is reported just before GAFCON and the Lambeth Conference. The irony of 31 May being the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary will not be lost on many. There needs to be a robust response to this.
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