(CEN) Evangelicals in uproar over Southwark liberal appointments

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The numerous liberal Catholic appointments in the diocese of Southwark are causing increasing concern for evangelicals, in a row that is threatening to split the diocese. The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Rev Christopher Chessun, has appointed liberals to the last seven senior vacancies in the diocese, including the Cathedral Dean and Bishop’s Chaplain.

Attending a meeting of the Southwark Diocesan Evangelical Union (DEU) last Monday, many felt he failed to satisfy the concerns of the 100 people in attendance. The Rev Stephen Kuhrt later said: “He has been politically naïve,” and called the situation an ‘absolute gaffe’. The vicar, who chairs Fulcrum, did not doubt Bishop Christopher’s integrity, but claimed he had been very badly advised. Fulcrum, while a more moderate evangelical Anglican group, joined Reform in the condemnation of the appointments, claiming the views of evangelicals were not being heard.

Read it all. Also, please peruse the Church Times article there as well.

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8 Comments
Posted April 15, 2012 at 11:27 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Jeremy Bonner wrote:

It’s worth remembering that a quarter of the clergy and two-fifths of the lay delegates in Southwark voted in support of the Anglican Covenant. (In the Diocese of London - just for purposes of comparison - one-third of the clergy and two-thirds of the laity supported the Covenant.)

April 15, 2:13 pm | [comment link]
2. MichaelA wrote:

Hi Jeremy, I wonder if you could clarify your point in #1? The Anglican Covenant is not mentioned in either article.

April 15, 7:46 pm | [comment link]
3. MichaelA wrote:

Stephen Kuhrt’s comments should give everyone food for thought.  Kuhrt+ has been a champion of the open evangelical movement, at odds with orthodox evangelicals on many issues.  However, on any view, he has always been a loyal supporter of this bishop of Southwark and of his predecessor (+Tom Butler).

So it very significant when the article says:

“Mr Kuhrt said that he told the Bishop that the appointments “couldn’t have done more” to encourage “separatist movements” in the diocese.”

If even the open evangelicals can see that the appointments have been very one-sided, then there can be little argument about it.  +Chessun has sent a clear signal to orthodox evangelicals and anglo-catholics as to how they will be treated in a liberal-dominated church - not all dioceses are like Southwark yet, but it is only a matter of time.  The oppression that occurred in TEC will inevitably occur in CofE also.

April 15, 7:52 pm | [comment link]
4. MichaelA wrote:

Here is the quote by Rev. Kuhrt in the Church Times article, in a little more detail:

“After a good hour of people making their points, Bishop Christopher responded. Rather than addressing the concerns raised with any clarity, he instead made a series of general and rather vague points about his hopes for the diocese. My impression was that Bishop Chris­topher is not necessarily capable of under­standing Evangelical concerns, and now has very few people around to help him with this.”

Mr Kuhrt said that he told the Bishop that the appointments “couldn’t have done more” to encourage “separatist movements” in the diocese.

Rev. Kuhrt is no doubt conscious that GAFCON will be holding its conference with 200 delegates from 30 provinces in London next week - in the diocese of Southwark.  The chairman of GAFCON is ++Wakabula of Kenya, the same archbishop who last year ordained three CofE ordinands as deacons to work in England. All three were from the Diocese of Southwark. 

Rev. Kuhrt is not what I would call “orthodox”.  But he does strongly believe in preserving the integrity and polity of the Church of England.  He is smart enough to see that if an ACNA-type alternative jurisdiction becomes a reality in England, Southwark is most likely where that will occur.  The catalyst will be liberal bishops and hierarchy who drive evangelicals to believe that they have no other choice but to form an alternative entity.

Whilst I don’t agree with Rev. Kuhrt on many issues, I suspect the time may come when many in the Church of England wish that he had been the Bishop of Southwark, instead of the (apparently) bull-headed and un-insightful Christopher Chessun.

April 15, 8:09 pm | [comment link]
5. Jeremy Bonner wrote:

Michael (#2),

Simply that the traditionalist minority in the Diocese of Southwark is perhaps larger than one might otherwise imagine (and not greatly different from that north of the Thames). Obviously, I assume a vote in support of the Covenant to reflect a traditionalist outlook, which may not be the case if those participating in the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans were inclined to vote “No.”

April 15, 8:56 pm | [comment link]
6. MichaelA wrote:

Apologies for my typo above.  The primate of Kenya is Eliud Wabukala.

April 15, 11:10 pm | [comment link]
7. billqs wrote:

Well it appears the next steps at an ideological purge are happening in the COE. 

First they alienate and drive out the most traditional element of AngloCatholics by not providing a safe harbor for upcoming women bishops. 

Now we find such ridiculous favoritism in appointments in Dioceses with a Liberal Bishop such as Southwark that it’s causing not only condemnation from the traditional evangelicals such as Reform, but even the much more moderate open evangelicals such as Fulcrum.

Should vast departures occur among the traditionalists such as Reform, along with the already departing AngloCatholics, the result will be similar to what we have seen in TEC- a more left-leaning church as a whole due to principaled departure of more traditional churchgoers and laity who have in the past provided a counter-balance to Broad Churchers and Affirming Catholics.

April 16, 9:53 am | [comment link]
8. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

Give the Bish an ASBO

April 16, 6:30 pm | [comment link]
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