Vicar’s new church is already being accused of extremism and homophobia

Philip de Grey-Warter is quitting the Church of England to form a new church

A vicar in Cornwall is resigning from the Church of England (CoE) and starting his own church, but local residents are concerned that it will be “extremist” and “homophobic”.

Philip de Grey-Warter announced that on September 29 he will lead his last service as vicar of Fowey, Cornwall, before leaving the Church of England and starting the new church, named “Anchor”, in the same town.

His resignation from the CoE, he said in his announcement, is over the church’s guidelines released in December 2018 and approved by the House of Bishops allowing trans people to be baptised to recognise their transition.

The concerns of local residents are rooted in the fact that De Grey-Warter’s Anchor Anglican Church will operate under the evangelical, anti-LGBT+ organisation GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference).

GAFCON was created in protest when the openly gay former Bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson, was ordained in 2003.

Speaking to The Irish Times, the Church of Ireland’s Maria Jansson previously said GAFCON used “homophobic and misogynistic rallying calls to gain a base from which they can access C of I governance, resources, parishes, schools and young. This has to be called out for what it is – religious extremism.”

church of england same-sex marriage

Demonstrators hold placards as they protest outside Church House, the venue of the Church of England’s General Synod, in London on February 15, 2017.(DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

The eighth point of GAFCON’s Jerusalem statement, in which is summarises its beliefs, is: “We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family.”

One Fowey resident told CornwallLive: “I am not a church-going Christian, but I do understand that Jesus’ message was one of love and acceptance for all – not discrimination in any way, shape or form.

“The GAFCON view that being gay is an illness which can be cured is deeply damaging and has no place in modern Britain. I hope the people of Fowey will not consider GAFCON views acceptable in our town or our schools.”

De Grey-Warter said: “I believe Jesus says what he means and means what he says. So my job as a minister is not like a chef, concocting or inventing the meal, but more like a waiter, serving up what the chef has already provided.

“I am not at liberty to rearrange the plate or add ingredients because of fashion or remove elements because someone somewhere thinks they’re challenging or unpalatable.”

The Church of England has been increasingly divided in recent years over the issue of same-sex marriage. 

The Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England launched on April 12 2019, seeking an end to rules that ban same-sex weddings in church parishes.