St Helen’s, Bishopsgate rejects ‘partnerships in gospel’ with area deanery

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WHILE it will not leave the Church of England, St Helen’s, Bishopsgate will no longer take part in City of London deanery activities “that imply partnership in the gospel”, the Rector, the Revd William Taylor, has announced.

The morning after preaching a sermon that called for “unavoidable avoidance” of Christians who disagreed with the traditionalist position on same-sex relationships, he wrote a letter to the Area Dean, the Revd Oliver Ross, setting out the position of the parish’s clergy, churchwardens, and PCC. The question of same-sex relationships was not one “over which faithful Christians can ‘agree to disagree’”, he wrote.

“For this reason, and given the widely publicised views held by certain members of the deanery chapter, we . . . no longer consider these church leaders who have ceased to ‘believe and uphold the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it’ to be ‘walking together’ with us in any meaningful spiritual partnership.”

The letter, dated 4 December, continued: “Our temporarily impaired relationship means that we shall no longer take part in some activities within the the deanery that imply partnership in the Gospel. This will impact a number of areas including clergy chapter, prayers in deanery synod, and deanery services. In other matters we shall remain full and active members of the deanery and diocesan structures.”

CHRISTINE MATTHEWS/GEOGRAPH/COMMONSNoticeboard: St Helen’s, BishopsgateThe letter was presaged in a sermon on 3 December, “Workers and Wolves”, expounding Romans 16.1-23, during which Mr Taylor discussed the appointment of the next Bishop of London: “My first question to him or her will be: are you prepared openly to declare as sin what God calls sin, and to summon all people to repentance, and to do so publicly? And, if the answer is not, then there is an unavoidable avoidance for us all, every one of us. If we are concerned for the advance of the gospel and if we are unashamed of the gospel the close-knit team engage in a careful watch.”

He went on: “At this stage I don’t think it’s necessary for us to leave the Church of England.”

An Assistant Curate at St Helen’s, the Revd Charlie Skrine, is a member of the Crown Nominations Commission that is selecting the next Bishop of London (News, 16 June).

Several of the churches in the City of London deanery describe themselves as “inclusive”, including St Botolph without Bishopsgate, St Botolph without Aldgate, St Giles’s, Cripplegate, and All Hallows’ by the Tower.

This week, Mr Ross said: “The diocese notes and respects St Helen’s, Bishopsgate’s, position, and welcomes their commitment to remaining active members of the deanery and diocesan structures.”

The Archdeacon of London, the Ven. Luke Miller, said: “While I understand the break in public fellowship in the Chapter, I am pleased that St Helen’s continues to be part of the synodical and other structures, and look forward to continuing to work with them as with all the parishes in the archdeaconry.”

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