Conservative evangelical clergy have compelled others to join the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and leave the Church of England in the on-going row over gay rights and women.

At the Reform conference in London yesterday, Reform chairman Rev Rod Thomas advised conservative parishes to seek authority from different bishops if their own diocesan bishops’ views were too progressive.

Rev Thomas went on to say that conservatism within the Church of England was being pushed out in favour of more progressive approaches that seek to accommodate gays and female clergy.

He went on to say that the Church of England was splitting, forming two religions which would rival each other, and urged support for GAFCON, which could provide alternative,
traditionalist bishops to parishes in the UK.

He said:

“Taking alternative oversight first: the reason we’re interested in Episcopal oversight at all is that we believe in being part of an Episcopal church for good theological and pragmatic reasons.

“However, where the teaching and actions of a bishop promote an unbiblical way of thinking, then we simply have to look elsewhere for a bishop.

“If we fail to do this then our congregations will not see us taking New Testament teaching seriously and the process of accommodation will continue.”

Despite rumours of a future split in the anglican church, Rev Thomas insisted that Reform do not wish to create a separate system, but rather, to win over the existing structure.

He advised evangelicals to stand for elections and increase their presence within the General Synod.

“We want to insist that we are not setting up a separate ecclesiastical organisation,” he said.

“Rather, we are a fellowship operating within a wider federation.

“And as a fellowship we seek to reach out to whoever wants to be a partner in the gospel.

“We must win friends to the cause.”

Already, 25 churches are interested in joining the new organisation, and many of these are currently operating outside of the established church as they do not have recognition from their dioceses.

A new structure could be set up by the Fellowship of the Confessing Anglicans, a body created by GAFCON, and these breakaway churches would be brought into it, effectively creating two rival church structures.

The Reform conference will conclude today.