As the "liberal threat" in the Church of England increases, orthodox Anglicans warned that they may distance themselves from the church and carry out its own ordinations.
At an Oct. 16-17 meeting in Central London, the head of Reform – a traditionalist network of churches and individuals within the Church of England – said parishes discontent with the Church of England's liberal drift must prepare for "courageous action" which may include looking overseas for irregular ordinations in the future.
"As the Church gets more fractured maybe bishops or retired bishops will be able to help out so we can find an 'English solution,' but if not we may have to look overseas," the Rev. Rod Thomas, chairman of the Reform network, said to The Church of England newspaper. "This is not what we're looking for but as the pressure from liberals increases it becomes more likely.
"This would be a last resort," he added, "but you can see this happening more frequently as the liberal threat increases and we need to plan ahead to maintain our role of reforming the Church."
The network isn't seeking to leave the Church of England but rather reform it from within, according to the church newspaper.
After years-old talks of schism in the 77-million-member Anglican Communion, the third largest Christian denomination in the world, conservatives say the global family is torn beyond repair. Divisions deepened in the communion when The Episcopal Church – the U.S. branch of Anglicanism – consecrated openly gay bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in 2003.
Anglican leaders in February had presented what some considered an ultimatum to the American church, which responded last month saying they would "exercise restraint" in approving partnered gays as bishop and authorizing public rites of the blessing of same-sex unions. Episcopal bishops, however, said they would not retreat from their pro-gay stance and called for "unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety, and dignity of gay and lesbian persons."
"There will be no outcasts in this church, whether because of sexual orientation or theological perspective. God has given us to each other, to love and to learn from each other," said Episcopal head Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on Tuesday during a webcast at Trinity Church in New York.
According to Jefferts Schori, many Anglicans around the world support The Episcopal Church and where it's headed, including parts of the Church of England, she said during a Sept. 30 public forum.
The Anglican Communion calls its members to minister pastorally and sensitively to all including homosexuals but rejects homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture.
Reform's Thomas said the pro-gay lobby in England was likely to become more overt and persistent and the network must therefore get more serious about devoting themselves to reforms in the church, according to the United Kingdom's The Telegraph.
"But the good news is that there has never been a better time to do this. Evangelicals are becoming clearer about the issues that have to be fought and more determined to do the fighting," said Thomas.