Church of England faces split as parishes discuss stance on homosexuality


A number of Church of England parishes are to meet in what could be a step towards a split over issues such as homosexuality, it has been reported.

Clergy from almost a dozen congregations in the Home Counties are due to meet this week in a church hall in Tunbridge Wells in Kent, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The Rev Dr Peter Sanlon, vicar of St Mark's Church in Tunbridge Wells, who is hosting the meeting, said he is not leaving the Church but added that he needs "new partnerships and structures".

He told the newspaper: "If senior leaders of the Church of England water down the teaching of the Church of England on key issues like homosexuality, then this synod could easily evolve into a new Anglican jurisdiction in England.

"The Archbishop of Canterbury has signalled that he is aware of the possibility that a significant proportion of the Church will not accept a change in the Church's teaching.

"This could be the beginning of that playing out."

He added: "I am not leaving the Church of England - but, in order to stay, I need new partnerships and structures to discharge the mission of the Church of England, which is to bring the message of Christ to every postcode in England.

"We have set these structures up in a very small embryonic form across three dioceses.

"My only problem now is coping with the number of clergy contacting me wanting to know how they can join in."

A Church of England spokeswoman said: "The Shared Conversations process over the last two years included the participation of over 1,300 members of the church in regional and national settings.

"Through those conversations, deep convictions have been shared and profound differences better understood. It is our hope that what has been learned through the relationships developed will inform the way the Church conducts whatever further formal discussions take place in the future.

"The Church of England is episcopally led and synodically governed. Within that structure, many like-minded parishes join together in a range of organisations, meetings and assemblies to share mutual support and debate."