Evangelicals who stick to traditional Christian teaching on sexuality and marriage are pushing for a new bishop to be appointed to the Church of Wales following the results of a vote in early September to allow pastors to bless same-sex marriages.
The Church of Wales, made up of six Anglican dioceses in the UK, does not allow clergy to hold legally binding same-sex marriage ceremonies. However, in a Sept. 6 vote of 28-12 in favor with two abstentions, the clergy were allowed to hold blessing ceremonies for same-sex unions in their churches.
On Monday, members of the Evangelical Fellowship within the Church of Wales expressed their formal disagreement with the vote.
In a statement, the EFCW addressed the Church in Wales Board of Trustees, calling for more “clarity and consistency” in the plan to protect and care for churches and dissident leaders .
The EFCW calls for a new bishop, who it says can represent those who “cling to an understanding of the doctrine of marriage as being only between a man and a woman.”
The fellowship has further expressed that it finds the Central College of the Church in Wales “no longer properly represents the beliefs of all Church members in Wales”.
“[EFCW] deeply regrets the recent decision of the Board of Directors to authorize a liturgy to bless same-sex marriages and civil partnerships [and] we recognize the difficulties faced by bishops and others within the Church in Wales as they fought to provide better pastoral care for LGBT people, ”the statement said.
The statement acknowledges that the church “has not always engaged well” with the LGBT community by being “deeply insensitive” and “hurtful”.
“This is something of which we wholeheartedly repent,” the statement said. “The Good News of Jesus Christ is addressed to all, regardless of sexual orientation. However, the decision to introduce a rite allowing the blessing of same-sex unions, while well-intentioned, is the wrong step for the Church. “
The EFCW finds that the Church in Wales has “strayed” from the apostolic faith as revealed in the scriptures.
“The only biblical context for sexual activity is heterosexual marriage,” the statement said. “The new rite of blessing same-sex unions, which introduces a liturgy allowing the blessing of same-sex civil marriages, has de facto changed the Church’s doctrine on marriage.
The EFCW also said they found the approved vote had caused damage to the Church of Wales’ relations with “the majority of the provinces of the Anglican World Communion” – which took a “committed” stance in favor. of an orthodox understanding of human sexuality “.
Relationships with bishops and clerics who choose to perform such blessings are now “hindered,” the statement said.
“This decision brought disunity in the Church of God,” added the EFCW. “Such disunity is a serious and serious matter which afflicts the heart of God. The decision dishonours those who, believing the Scriptures to teach that sexual activity is limited to heterosexual marriage, have chosen to remain celibate, often at enormous personal cost.
Following the vote, ECFW says there are “a significant number of Welsh Anglicans” who are facing “difficult decisions as to where their future spiritual home is”. There have been and will be resignations from the clergy, lay readers, worship leaders, church keepers, Sunday school teachers, and parishioners.
“A number have withdrawn their regular donations from their churches. Others are determined to remain in the structure of the Church in Wales. A significant number are seeking help and guidance in deciding their future in the Church of Wales, ”the statement added.
“The EFCW is committed to assisting in this process of discernment, including conversations with those who offer alternative Anglican structures, and will continue to offer fellowship to all Evangelical Anglicans, whether they remain in the Church through Wales or leave it. “
While some clergymen have been told that dissenting ministers will not have to cede their church buildings for blessing services, the statement warns that other bishops “believe they can exercise their prerogative to insist that a same-sex blessing service takes place in any building in their diocese, regardless of the conscience of the local cleric. “
“This requires clarity and consistency across the province with details on how dissident CPCs, lay officers, congregations (as well as ministers) can be protected and supported if they do not wish to. that their church buildings be available for such services, “the statement said. asserts.
Even with the current “hardships, pain and sorrow”, the fellowship assures us that it will continue to place “its hope and trust in God.”
“God has not abandoned Wales or its people,” the statement concluded. “We pray for all those who are committed to proclaiming Christ boldly and faithfully to this nation, for in Him is help and salvation.”